THE EU REFERENDUM – WHAT IS BEING OFFERED TO US?

by George Laver

Amidst the giants of British politics, there is an ever-growing rift that threatens to split central parties in all directions. Even though the stereotypical dichotomy of the right-wing representing anti-EU camp – playfully dubbed ‘Brexit’ – and the left-wing representing the pro-EU camp tend to stand up to truth, there are subdivisions within the parties that make this a more complicated matter. In particular, the main figures on both sides having differed opinions over the matter.

For example, Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that he believes Britain should remain in the European Union (EU), whilst London Mayor Boris Johnson – an associate and old Eaton friend of Cameron’s – is thoroughly backing the ‘Brexit’ campaign. If anything, it shows that this point of contention can trigger big differences amongst the closest of allies. It is not just these individuals that we must consider, but also the collateral damage that their campaigning has: those who see their efforts will more often than not draw inspiration from them, casting an influence over their vote when the day arrives.

here are convincing arguments that have been made, mainly to do with the economic and legal implications of leaving the EU.

The quantitative impact upon the vote owing to major figure campaigning cannot be calculated specifically, but I still feel that valuable commentary will be lost amidst the discourse of which box to cross. The truth is that the issue is far from cut-and-dry, and the opinions that usually fall on deaf ears are the ones which fall outside of the accepted parameters of social opinion. When we are too focused on whether to choose black or white, we will lose sight of the real issue at hand — i.e. what is really being offered to us with this referendum.

(David Cameron © Spectator)

On both sides of the coin – to remain or to leave – there are convincing arguments that have been made, mainly to do with the economic and legal implications of leaving the EU. These issues can be spun as either having a positive or negative potential. However, from the perspective of a libertarian communist, I believe that we are missing the point: what potential could the referendum pose in shedding the authority and dominion of an unwelcome alliance of other countries?

Firstly, my argument should not be construed with that of the right-wing rhetoric of ‘Britain governing herself’, as I do not speak in the interest of nationalism, government, or homespun capitalism. However, I do make these calls in the interest of unloading a chunk of the stone from the mason’s back, so to speak (the final segment being, of course, the state and capitalism).

 the potential to trigger a hiatus, an uproar, and to at least attempt to make our voices heard amidst the calamity.

The EU established itself with a negotiable contract to ensure smooth trade amongst European nations, which naturally came to the benefit of capitalists, as it meant that capital could further transcend national barriers and flow freer amidst a multitude of complicit nations all within sacrosanct legal conditions – “a web for the rich, steel chains for the poor,” to paraphrase Proudhon. However, development seems to have run its course. Currently the EU stands as a catalyst for the generation of legislation and concurrently the dominion of a host of parasites further departed than those of our home-grown ones. Not only that, but institutionally, it is much larger than those of whom we are already dealing with on a national level, enabling the infractions made to be worse.

Therefore what is being offered to us with this referendum is the ability to either stay within the EU and put forward continuous attempts to reform our contract within, or to leave the EU and, from the perspective of politicians, formulate our own ‘British bill of rights’. If the current fluctuations amongst British politics are anything to draw inspiration from, there rests within the potential to trigger a hiatus, an uproar, and to at least attempt to make our voices heard amidst the calamity.

(© Emmanuel Dunand, AFP)

What this can do is not only allow people to come forward with their ideological standing, but also to allow us – radicals among the left-wing – to pool out amongst those who are demanding changes to legislation, make ourselves known, dispel myths about the supposed negativities of hard left theory, and work from there. If the people are not listened to, protest and further uproar will follow, will it not? The date set for the referendum has set the proverbial ball in motion, and people will at least demand to be listened to within the changing dynamics.

I feel it necessary to state again that I am not arguing from the same perspective of the right-wing camp — I do not see in the UK’s secession from the EU the potential to strengthen the octopus of government and its many arms. There is a silver lining to the cloud, though. There is contained within the potential to make significant changes – even if temporarily – to the conduction of affairs; to promote a more organised, autonomous, and local operation; to strengthen the state of beloved institutions such as a universal healthcare system and social welfare (which must necessarily operate within the contextual framework of capitalism); to take back, at least as a chunk, parts of our dignity.

Admittedly, it is only a segment – sooner a segment than nothing at all. For it to work, though, we must take advantage of the subsequent hiatus should the vote swing towards an exit, rather than a staying, conclusion.

Featured image © The Channel

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