by Kelvin Hopkins MP
The European Union (EU) is anti-socialist, anti-democratic and failing economically. It is surprising therefore that some good socialists and trade unionists still have EU sympathies. Even more surprising, is that many right wing neo-liberal Tories oppose the EU. Big businesses, neo-liberal conservatives elsewhere in Europe and the political class across the continent are committed to the European project, the abandonment of effective borders between European countries and the neutering of democratic member state governments in order to give total power to the market and the corporate world.
The process has been continuing by degrees, and occasional leaps, since and even before the 1957 Treaty of Rome established the original Common Market. Yes, the clue is in the title. Its objective has been to roll back the democratic socialist and social democratic world established across Western Europe after 1945. Marketisation, liberalisation and privatisation are what the Common Market, the EEC and now the EU have been about.
The 1980s Single European Act was the EU’s “Great Leap Forward”, with Maastricht, Lisbon and, of course, the Euro following from it. Gordon Brown, perhaps surprisingly, fought Blair to keep Britain out of the Euro and won. The Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) disaster of 1990-92 effectively destroyed the creditability of the Tories for a generation, and joining the Euro would have done the same for Labour.
Guardian economist Larry Elliott recently wrote a darkly amusing piece suggesting that had Britain joined the Euro, our economy would now have been wrecked – a kind of Greece writ large – and that we would have crashed out of the Euro, bringing down the whole single currency edifice with Nigel Farage seriously challenging to be Prime Minister!
The Eurozone economic crisis is deepening by the month, with unemployment over 12% and rising. Things in Greece and Spain are much worse, such that if we had the same levels of unemployment in Britain there would be eight million on the dole, not two and a half million, and over half of those under 25 would be jobless. It is now acknowledged that Greece will never be able to pay its debts and the allegedly socialist party PASOK is locked in a deadly coalition embrace with the New Democracy conservatives, inflicting appalling austerity and poverty on the Greek people. Greece and Portugal are being forced to implement fire sales of public assets while the anti-socialist conspirators across Europe quietly rub their hands in glee.
Other Eurozone countries are in crisis, with Italy looking to a possible bale out – quite a different order than those for smaller EU members. Even more significant is France, which is in increasing economic difficulty. France indeed may be the crumbling keystone which could see the whole Eurozone fall apart.
So what should happen?
The establishment of national currencies adjusted to realistic international parities and with member states setting their own economically appropriate interest rates would be an immediate priority. Greece, for example, with a new drachma would devalue substantially making imports more expensive and channeling demand into its domestic economy. Greek holidays would become cheaper, boosting the tourist trade and giving a kick-start to recovery.
When the rest of the Eurozone states have their own national currencies they will all be able to reflate their own economies, to begin to grow and create jobs. As employment returns, governments will have more tax revenues and be able to rebuild their public services and welfare states.
If this is not done, more pain will be inflicted on working people, and, if the left does not fight their corner, the fascist right may step in.
Who would now bet against Marine le Pen being the next President of France?