A wave of anger is sweeping across the class in Europe. Wildcat strikes in Britain; battles with the cops in Athens and millions of French workers downing tools in a general strike that paralysed the country last week.
The ruling classes of Europe are determined to put the entire burden of the slump on the backs of working people. They’re going to slash state welfare, pensions and social provision. They want to drive down wages through social dumping by closing down their operations in high-wage areas and setting them up in other parts of the European Union where labour is cheap or recruiting cheap labour from poorer regions of Europe to undercut existing rates for the job. This is what Blair and Brown called the “free market” that they told us was going to usher in an era of prosperity for all in the European Union.
It’s what Brown and Co will soon be telling us about the joys of joining the Euro now that the pound is sinking.
For years Labour and the majority of the leaders of our unions have elevated the EU as an instrument for social progress and economic advance. They say that the EU is becoming more representative through the authority of the European Parliament and establishment of regional autonomy. The social-democrats claim that the anti-working class “directives” and “rulings” can be reversed. The revisionist and left social-democratic circles that still pose as communists in some parts of Europe argue that the EU can be reformed to serve the interests of working people.
But the EU with its toothless parliament, ruritanian regional governments and farcical referendas that only count when the vote agrees with what has already been decided by the powers that be, hasn’t been reformed. Nor can it ever be under the Treaty of Rome.
The neanderthal section of the ruling class, who still dream of an independent role for British imperialism, is also opposed to the EU. That’s why some of their minions are trying to divert the unofficial energy workers strike movement down nationalist and racist lines to reduce it to the demand for “British jobs for British workers” that was shamefully resurrected by none other than Gordon Brown himself in September 2007.
These people, like the rest of the ruling class, have nothing in common with workers apart from the fact that they owe their entire parasitical existence to the labour of others. The real enemy of the working class is the employer, not the imported labour from abroad.
Now people see the European Union for what it is – an institution designed solely for the benefit of the oppressors and exploiters – and millions upon millions are seeing through the lies of the bourgeoisie and taking their anger onto the streets. What little benefits the EU has brought such as increased trade and open borders could all have been achieved through separate agreements and treaties.
In fact the European Union is neither genuinely federal nor democratic and every stage of European integration has been financed by working people through higher indirect taxes, lost jobs and lost benefits. The European Union cannot be reformed. It must be dissolved and the Treaty of Rome, which established the Common Market in the first place, and all addenda repealed.
In the meantime the dispute within the energy industry must be resolved through free collective bargaining. The union leadership should take a leaf out of the wildcat’s book and call on the mass membership to defy the anti-union laws to force the Labour Government and the Labour Party whose financial survival depends almost entirely from funding from the unions to meet their demands.