No vote weakens rulers

Issue section: 

The key point that James Anderson makes in his article (“EU referendum: Better to stay and fight”, September SR) is that a socialist party’s stance on the EU cannot be drawn directly from socialist principles.

There are various possible “arenas of struggle” and so opposition to the EU is not unequivocally a socialist position.

Anderson’s argument is for a Yes vote with the aim of democratising the EU institutions. This would give focus and credibility to our internationalism in a way that wouldn’t be possible if we campaigned to stay outside.

My gut reaction to this tells me that this definition of internationalism only pushes the borders out from our small-c conservative and nationalistic islands to the borders of Fortress Europe and that this is not internationalism but Euro-provincialism.

Anderson chides Joseph Choonara (July/August SR) for referring to the Greek workers’ struggle as their own, and so not ours. This is a rather infamous insinuation as Choonara shows full appreciation for the heightened level of class struggle the Greek working class is involved in and total solidarity with it.

Choonara is simply recognising that the framework in which we act (our arena of struggle) is still dominated by national states and that we cannot fight Greek workers’ battles for them. The enemy is within and the best international solidarity is to raise the struggle against our “own” national exploiters and oppressors.

Anderson’s focus is less on this direct class antagonism and more directed at supranational campaigns around the European institutions and European legislation. His own juxtaposition of “hopeful forward-looking internationalism” and “defensive backward-looking insularity” is a poor caricature of his own and Choonara’s positions.

This brings us to the question of how best we intervene in the EU referendum — at the core of Choonara’s original article. The point is we will not be campaigning broadly speaking, but using the referendum to get our message across to those receptive to our ideas.

For me, the best strategy is to start from “No to Fortress Europe”, emphasising the fact that the EU is a “profoundly capitalist project” (Choonara’s words) and that the main struggle is with “our own” capitalists at home.

A set-back to the capitalist class brought about by a No vote might tip the balance of forces a little bit in our favour.

Simon Andrewes, London