• S
    11.8k
    The EU referendum, in which the UK electorate has the chance to vote to either stay in the EU or leave it, is approaching. (The 23rd of June, to be precise). But, although I want to vote, I am still unsure about which way to vote. I had intended to vote to stay, but I've recently become more aware of the case for 'lexit', and now I have my doubts.

    I was particularly influenced by the purported link between the EU and human rights, and, having done a bit of research, found this website which explains the link quite well: https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/impact-eu-membership-equality-and-human-rights

    But then I was looking at this, for example: https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/42550/Launch+of+united+left+campaign+to+leave+the+EU

    Also, a few people who I find influential have made 'lexit' (or at least anti-EU) points, such as Owen Jones and Jeremy Corbyn - the latter of whom seems to have only recently made a concession, likely in no small part due to pressure from within the Parliamentary Labour Party, as well as concerns about avoiding division and maintaining unity within the Labour Party.

    So, how are you going to vote, and why? Or, if that question doesn't apply, then how would you vote?

    I'm particularly interested on the leftist take on this issue, because that's what's most likely to determine how I vote. And I know that most of us on this forum are left-leaning, so hopefully this discussion will attract plenty of replies.

    Also, although important, the economic aspect doesn't appeal to me as much. It seems complicated, tedious, and quite unpredictable in any case.
    1. Should the UK stay in the EU or leave it? (9 votes)
        Stay
        56%
        Leave
        22%
        Don't know
        22%
  • darthbarracuda
    3k
    Maybe if enough of these lexit left-wingers left Europe, there would be room for all the refugees.
    /s
  • Bitter Crank
    8.8k
    I am very grateful that I do not have to make a decision here in Minneapolis as to what you in the UK should do with respect to the EU.

    It is the business of European nationals to decide how to define their French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, or... whatever nationality. I'm old fashioned, I guess; if I were a Frenchman, I would probably think "France First."

    The bureaucracy of the European Union seems to be very intrusive and micromanaging. Some of that is good, of course. There are parts of American industry and agriculture that could benefit from some hard core picayune regulation.

    Europe didn't ask for the several crises which brought a tidal wave of refugees, migrants, and immigrants (whatever...) to your various shores. It has always seemed untenable that any number of displaced persons can be settled without aggravating social inequalities that already exist.

    I haven't been able to figure out which view is correct -- that the UK will do better economically apart from united Europe, or will do worse. And of course, we don't know what the medium term future is for Europe -- long term, don't know that either.

    I would definitely beware of these big trade deals. They are made on behalf of corporations for the benefit of corporations and investors. They have NOTHING to do with the ordinary interests of ordinary people. Aside from trade, they undermine national power (in favor of corporate power) in defining what can be disputed and how. For instance, a treaty may call for binding arbitration in place of the right to take a dispute to court. Binding arbitration might or might not be fair, but the arbitrators are not subject to judicial appeal. Workers--whether unorganized or members of unions--usually get the shaft. Almost certainly, the consumer protections put in place by the busybodies of Brussels will be whittled back to an ineffective nub. You'll probably get a big ear of GMO corn rammed up your asses whether you want it or not.

    States still matter, and especially states matter when the alternative is corporate institutions which serve corporate interests. In the corporate world, you are free in so far as you are profitable. If you can't make us money, what good are you?

    The main concern, and I don't know how to evaluate it, is: will being "outside of Europe" damage your present and future prosperity. Will it help or damage your national, social, individual interests?
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    The British Left was traditionally against the EU, but it has flipped over to the other side in recent years, which may be a legacy of New Labour's preference for bureaucracy over democracy. It shared a lot with the EU's own contempt for the demos.

    The dilemma for the European Left in general is manifested in the person of Yanis Varoufakis, the finance minister of Greece in the first months of the left-wing Syriza-led government last year, and self-confessed "erratic Marxist". He witnessed first-hand the economic short-sightedness and anti-democratic nature of the EU--which has carried out what is effectively a "coup d’état by stealth" in Greece and enforced a destructive and futile impoverishment of the country--and has thoroughly critiqued it in books and talks since he resigned from that post (when he failed to get anywhere with either the troika or his own Prime Minister).

    And yet he is urging British people to vote to stay in the EU. He hates it, but seems to think it can be reformed from within. I think his position is based on fears of a destructive breaking apart of what unity is left in Europe, combined with the continued resurgence of reactionary xenophobic populist movements such as Golden Dawn in Greece, the National Front in France, and so on. He may be right about that, and a break-up of the EU precipitated by Brexit is a worrying prospect in some ways.

    On the other hand, the divisions within Europe are intensifying as things stand, and this is partly because of the EU and the Euro. European unity built on a completely different foundation from the EU is an attractive prospect, but whether this requires a wholesale rejection of the EU or can be achieved in the way that Varoufakis envisages, I don't know. Personally I'm inclined to vote to leave (although I don't like the prospect of getting thrown out of France).

    As for the UK in particular, as with many of the members of the EU I think it could see a revitalization of its political life if it leaves.

    https://yanisvaroufakis.eu/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/charlie-evans/eu-referendum_b_9638336.html
    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/06/john-king-left-wing-case-leaving-eu
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    Also, don't dismiss the conservative case against the EU. There seem to be more conservatives than leftists making the same pro-democracy case against the EU that Tony Benn was making right up until his death. It's not really a left-right issue. And unlike the SWP, I don't think a specifically anti-capitalist campaign for exit is wise or realistic. There is, currently, no alternative to capitalism, and the best results for Europe will be founded on revitalized investment and growth.
  • Michael
    8.9k
    I don't know enough about economics to make a reasoned decision. I believe various financial institutions have said that staying in is better (although I'm sure others disagree) and so I'm leaning towards that.

    I don't give a damn about any of that nonsense about British laws being overruled by EU laws. All I care about is cheaper stuff and a higher wage.
  • WhiskeyWhiskers
    151
    I'm voting to leave the EU. At first I had no idea how I would vote if I was to do it at all. The first clue that began my swing toward Brexit was the observation that most 'establishment' politicians seemed to be desperate to stay. As a general rule, I have a fundamental distrust of politicians. So, if they say we should stay, then we should probably leave. The second clue was their economic forecasting; it was all doom and gloom. From my limited life experience, economic predictions are like weather forecasts. Reliable projections about the future of inherently complex and chaotic systems are overwhelmingly likely to be false. There are few economic arguments on either side that I find convincing, and even then I'm sceptical of the consequences of their facts. They may be right that leaving the EU would make it more difficult for skilled foreign workers to gain entry to the UK to work, but this fact alone might not be sufficient to draw the conclusion that leaving would therefore be bad. There are often hidden consequences in life that are obvious in hindsight but can't be seen ahead of time.

    None of the above is enough of an argument to base a vote upon, but it gave me enough of a reason to follow my intuitions and find out more. I found the BBC largely useless (not to mention clearly biased in some cases), so I started with Daniel Hannans, Why Vote Leave. What I found particularly convincing were his arguments for British sovereignty. I suppose I'm more patriotic than I thought, and unlike Michael (who clearly only seems to care about himself and his stuff rather than his country), I do care about our laws being overruled by EU laws. It's frankly shameful that some Brits have no respect for the one thousand years of unbroken development of our common law. Once I found out, it did bother me that we have individuals running the EU who have lost the competition of democracy, they lose the trust and support of their constituents yet somehow get appointed into the upper echelons of a shadow organisation that has no accountability to the voter. What gives me confidence that the Brexiteers are absolutely correct in their arguments for British sovereignty and democracy is that their arguments go unchallenged by the remain campaign. They obviously know they have no answer for it.
    I'm enormously sceptical of the 'superstate' that it appears the EU is heading toward. I see governments as a kind of machine, the larger and more complicated they are, and the more moving parts they have, the more they are likely to internally conflict and cease up somewhere in the system. The bureaucracy must be stifling. Governments, like solutions, are better simpler.

    There's more to it than that, but that'll do for now.
  • Michael
    8.9k
    I suppose I'm more patriotic than I thought, and unlike Michael (who clearly only seems to care about himself and his stuff rather than his country), I do care about our laws being overruled by EU laws. It's frankly shameful that some Brits have no respect for the one thousand years of unbroken development of our common law. — WhiskeyWhiskers

    I'm too wise to have principles. ;)
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    So, how are you going to vote, and why? Or, if that question doesn't apply, then how would you vote?Sapientia
    Britain has no chance to win the out vote :p . Some EU immigrants (who are Residents) can vote, and they will all vote against leaving. Historical Britain is fucked.

    To be honest, Britain should not leave. We should form the United States of Europe, and become the next global superpower. That's the only chance we have against Russia, who is threatening our borders. If Europe unites, it will be stronger than the USA - then nobody will dare threaten us. Russia and the USA both want a divided Europe, because we would be too powerful if we are united.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Maybe if enough of these lexit left-wingers left Europe, there would be room for all the refugees.
    /s
    darthbarracuda
    Let's kick ehm out, let's kick ehm out! ;) (at least those refugees are conservatives! :p )
  • WhiskeyWhiskers
    151


    You clearly do have principles; the principles of 'me, me, and me'. There is more to society than that.
  • Michael
    8.9k
    It's not just me though. I want the whole society to be in a better economic situation. What I think is stupid is a willingness to put national pride or historical respect above practical benefits. That's the sort of thing I mean by principles.

    So to be more specific, I'm too wise to have anti-pragmatic principles.

    ... But now I've had to explain it the jest is lost ...
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    What I think is stupid is a willingness to put national pride or historical respect above practical benefits.Michael

    But the concern "about British laws being overruled by EU laws", as you put it, is not a matter of national pride or historical respect. It's a matter of democratic control over legislation (which has progressed in Britain through various phases as the right to vote has been widened to accommodate class conflicts). The European Parliament does not come close to providing that, nor was it ever intended to. The European Commission and other unelected parts of the European bureaucratic executive hold the power.

    It [the European Union] began life as a cartel of heavy industry (coal and steel, then car manufacturers, later co-opting farmers, hi-tech industries and others). Like all cartels, the idea was to manipulate prices and to redistribute the resulting profits through a purpose-built, Brussels-based bureaucracy.

    This European cartel and the bureaucrats who administered it feared the demos and despised the idea of government by the people, just like the administrators of oil producers Opec, or indeed any corporation, does. Patiently and methodically, a process of depoliticising decision-making was put in place, the result a relentless drive towards taking the “demos” out of “democracy”, at least as far as the EU was concerned, and cloaking all policy-making in a pervasive pseudo-technocratic fatalism. National politicians were rewarded handsomely for their acquiescence to turning the commission, the Council, Ecofin (EU finance ministers), the Eurogroup (eurozone finance ministers) and the European Central Bank into politics-free, democracy-free, zones. Anyone opposing the process was labelled “un-European” and treated as a jarring dissonance.

    This is, in an important respect, the deeper cause of the aversion that many in Britain instinctively harbour for the EU. And they are right: the price of de-politicising political decisions has been not merely the defeat of democracy at EU level but also poor economic policies throughout Europe.
    — Varoufakis

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/05/eu-no-longer-serves-people-europe-diem25
  • mcdoodle
    1k
    I'm an active member of the Green Party which is supporting a 'Greener in' campaign. (There's a fair-sized and moderately influential 'Green bloc' in the EU parliament, and some skilled campaigners working to influence bureaucrats in Brussels)

    Nevertheless, I'm for exit. I voted against in the referendum of the 1970's, and i'm voting against now. To me the leftist arguments for being in the thing are highly pragmatic: look what they've done for rights/the environment/poorer areas, etc.

    The EU is a top-heavy network of unelected institutions with a relatively powerless Euro-parliament.

    The EU policy towards the economic problems of Greece, Spain and Italy has been highly dictatorial and in support of the foolish lenders to those states, who are dominated by big banks.

    Power should be distributed to the most local place where it can reasonably be exercised: that's one of my core political principles. The EU is a centripetal force opposing that.

    Sadly the Labour party and the Greens have decided to campaign to remain, which has unfortunately left the Brexit campaign looking like a bunch of xenophobic reactionaries. There you go: the political elites of the UK are in a bad way.
  • S
    11.8k
    Perhaps not the best solution. But we could make better use of the empty properties here in the UK - an estimated 22,000 in London alone - by giving them to those who need it, rather than allowing the super-rich to add them to their assets, leaving them unlived in and getting richer in the process. Hopefully our newly elected Labour Mayor of London will do something about that.

    “Today in London hundreds of thousands of people are stuck in temporary accommodation, on social housing waiting lists, or years of saving short of buying their first home. At the same time the global super-rich buy London homes like they are gold bars, as assets to appreciate rather than homes in which to live … Absentee owners should live in the house they own or sell up – or face uncapped charges until they do. No dodges or clever schemes to get round that.”
    - Tessa Jowell
  • S
    11.8k
    Also, don't dismiss the conservative case against the EU. There seem to be more conservatives than leftists making the same pro-democracy case against the EU that Tony Benn was making right up until his death. It's not really a left-right issue. And unlike the SWP, I don't think a specifically anti-capitalist campaign for exit is wise or realistic. There is, currently, no alternative to capitalism, and the best results for Europe will be founded on revitalized investment and growth.jamalrob

    I agree with many of the pro-democracy points against the EU. Both Labour and Conservatives have that in common, although Labour, unlike the Tories, is significantly more united in it's stance of reform from within the EU, rather than leaving the EU.

    Although it's not so black and white, some views on this issue can quite clearly be identified as either leftwing or rightwing. So, in that sense, it is a left-right issue. If you heard some of the comments that people have made at my workplace, I think that you'd agree that they sit firmly on the right. I find it concerning how commonplace these views are, and how easily influenced significant numbers of the general public are by them. I'm talking about the kind of ignorant rhetoric you hear on the subject of immigration. Not well-thought-out or empathetic, but ignorant, xenophobic, simplified echoes of what they've picked up from, say, reading The Sun, or a UKIP pamphlet, or listening to that bloke down the pub complain about "them bloody immigrants".

    I also don't agree that there's no alternative to capitalism. Of course there are alternatives - and that's plural, because there is not just a single alternative, but rather multiple alternatives. I'm guessing that you mean that there are no better alternatives, but I doubt whether you're justified in reaching that conclusion. It seems to me that you would have had to have done a heck of a lot of work to rule out every possible alternative.
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    I also don't agree that there's no alternative to capitalism. Of course there are alternatives - and that's plural, because there is not just a single alternative, but rather multiple alternatives. I'm guessing that you mean that there are no better alternatives, but I doubt whether you're justified in reaching that conclusion. You would have had to have done a heck of a lot of work to rule out every possible alternative.Sapientia

    You've interpreted me in an oddly literal fashion. I mean there is no realistic prospect of replacing capitalism and there is no good plan for how to replace capitalism or for what to replace it with. One can imagine things, speculate about what might work and how it might be achieved, but until there is a concerted and popular social movement with a good plan, it's utopian pie in the sky.

    As for left and right, right-wingers will hang their positions on the referendum just as left-wingers do (like the SWP), but my point was that the core issue, that of sovereignty and democracy, is not left-right (even if it is treated that way).
  • S
    11.8k
    We should form the United States of Europe, and become the next global superpower. That's the only chance we have against Russia, who is threatening our borders. If Europe unites, it will be stronger than the USA - then nobody will dare threaten us. Russia and the USA both want a divided Europe, because we would be too powerful if we are united.Agustino

    Ha. No. No we shouldn't. It just wouldn't work, because of the differences between the nations, and it could go badly wrong in various ways. And I disagree with it in principle, anyway. Let's not trigger another Cold War. And Russia hasn't done anything in recent years that has posed a serious direct threat to our borders. The brief crossing of airspace is either political posturing or has a reasonable explanation.
  • S
    11.8k
    You've interpreted me in an oddly literal fashion.jamalrob

    Not really. I briefly addressed what you said, and then I addressed what I thought you meant, which basically matches your subsequent explanation.

    I mean there is no realistic prospect of replacing capitalism and there is no good plan for how to replace capitalism or for what to replace it with.jamalrob

    Have you examined them all in depth? I doubt I'm even aware of them all, let alone examine them all, let alone in depth, let alone enough to have justifiable grounds to arrive at the conclusion that they're fatally flawed.

    There are many answers to the question of why it is that capitalism has persisted: which may also explain why there seems to be no realistic prospect of replacing capitalism. I'm sure it seemed that way to those who lived in a previous historical era under a different political system... yet replaced they were. But revolutions aren't brought about by a docile populace who simply accept and take for granted the status quo - the conditions have to be ripe, and, for starters, a certain sort of consciousness has to be ascertained by enough people.

    One can imagine things, speculate about what might work and how it might be achieved, but until there is a concerted and popular social movement with a good plan, it's utopian pie in the sky.jamalrob

    Well, yes, I agree with you there.

    As for left and right, right-wingers will hang their positions on the referendum just as left-wingers do (like the SWP), but my point was that the core issue, that of sovereignty and democracy, is not left-right (even if it is treated that way).jamalrob

    Again, I agree, although it seems that those on the right are talking more about sovereignity - and perhaps democracy, too - in relation to the EU, but perhaps that's due to the media.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    because of the differences between the nations, and it could go badly wrong in various ways.Sapientia
    If people left their pride, then they would easily choose this option, as we would all become stronger.

    And I disagree with it in principle, anyway.Sapientia
    With forming a USE? Why?

    Let's not trigger another Cold War. And Russia hasn't done anything in recent years that has posed a serious direct threat to our borders.Sapientia
    Nooooo, they've only annexed Crimea, terrorised Ukraine, threatened to attack Poland for the anti-missile shield, etc.

    And I say this while being one of the biggest admirers of Putin. I think he is quite possibly the only real political leader on the planet in this day and age. But he cares about his country and making it strong. We should do the same.
    The brief crossing of airspace is either political posturing or has a reasonable explanation.Sapientia
    @jamalrob - I'm really starting to need an eye rolling emoticon, would this be possible pretty please? :D
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    Well, yes, I agree with you there.Sapientia

    Well that's what it means to say that "there is, currently, no alternative to capitalism".
  • S
    11.8k
    If people left their pride, then they would easily choose this option, as we would all become stronger.Agustino

    I don't think that psychology is your strong suit, because your simple assessment is way off. It has little to do with pride. The position has an intellectual basis. At least from my position and those who share it. My objection isn't due to nationalist pride, but due to a reasonable wariness of the sort of political power structure that you're endorsing. You say that "we" would become stronger, but who really is "we"? I don't think that "we" are, or should be, bureaucrats in very high up, powerful, positions of authority. I don't want a President of Europe.

    With forming a USE? Why?Agustino

    Because I'm against the centralisation of power on that kind of scale.

    Nooooo, they've only annexed Crimea, terrorised Ukraine, threatened to attack Poland for the anti-missile shield, etc.Agustino

    Out of those countries, only Poland is a member state of the European Union and of NATO. And a threat isn't the same thing as a direct threat. But, yes, I'm not denying Russia's aggression, nor that it should be a cause for concern. And I'm glad that there have been sanctions. I just think that you're going overboard with the whole thing.
  • S
    11.8k
    Well that's what it means to say that "there is, currently, no alternative to capitalism".jamalrob

    Well, I wouldn't put it that way. Rather, no alternative has yet to definitively overturn capitalism. And that's hardly surprising.
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    Well, I wouldn't put it that way. Rather, no alternative has yet to definitively overturn capitalism. And that's hardly surprising.Sapientia

    But that's obvious, and it wasn't my point, which was that there is, currently, no realistic alternative to capitalism--which in this context means that there is no widespread social movement with a definite plan for how to organize society in the absence of capitalism, or for how the necessary transition would take place.
  • S
    11.8k
    But that's obvious, and it wasn't my point, which was that there is, currently, no realistic alternative to capitalism--which in this context means that there is no widespread social movement with a definite plan for to how to organize society in the absence of capitalism, or for how the necessary transition would take place.jamalrob

    Ok, but that's also pretty obvious. Anyway, best get to work then.
  • jamalrob
    2.4k
    Ok, but that's also pretty obvious.Sapientia

    First, it doesn't seem obvious to people like the SWP and other far left groups, who often talk as if the revolution is around the corner and as if there were still a militant revolutionary socialist proletariat, in Marx's sense, preparing to grab the reins of power.

    Second, the point was meant to support my view that the SWP's focus on a particularly anti-capitalist campaign for exit is misjudged. And that was meant to support my view that the issue is best seen as neither left nor right.
  • S
    11.8k
    First, it doesn't seem obvious to people like the SWP and other far left groups, who often talk as if the revolution is around the corner and as if there were still a militant revolutionary socialist proletariat, in Marx's sense, preparing to grab the reins of power.

    Second, the point was meant to support my view that the SWP's focus on a particularly anti-capitalist campaign for exit is misjudged. And that was meant to support my view that the issue is best seen as neither left nor right.
    jamalrob

    Ok. But then, I've never read an SWP manifesto. Have you? They must have been doing something with all this time. Maybe there's a good plan out there - or at least the beginnings of one. But then there's the rather large obstacle of it becoming sufficiently widespread and endorsed.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.8k
    So, at this time, what does political polling indicate would happen if the vote were held today? Which position (Stay or Exit) currently holds the best prospect of winning?

    Some EU immigrants (who are Residents) can vote, and they will all vote against leaving. Historical Britain is fucked.Agustino

    Is it the case that EU non-citizen residents can vote? It seems to me I read that expats not in the UK can not vote. It doesn't make sense for non-citizens (or subjects) to be able to vote and expats be unable to vote -- if that is actually the situation.
  • Michael
    8.9k
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36323010

    A UK exit from the European Union could wipe thousands of pounds off house values over the next three years, estate agents have claimed.

    Homeowners in London could lose as much as £7,500, while homes elsewhere in the UK could lose £2,300, the National Association of Estate Agents said.

    The report, jointly commissioned by the Association of Residential Letting Agents, said rents could also fall.

    I'm sold. Let's leave. ;)
  • unenlightened
    5k
    I'll be voting 'in' on the basis that the hated bureaucrats need strengthening against the hated capitalists, multinationals being larger than nations and corporate capitalism ruling the world almost unchecked.

    But it's all rather tangental to any leftist movement, unfortunately. I'm not going to be empowered much either way. But at the margin, the EU is more democratic than Megashite Industries ltd, and Dodgy Dave's bullingdon bullies.
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