The Leave / Brexit vote in the referendum came in the end as a surprise, a narrow win for Remain was expected. This may be because the core Leave vote was in the run-down white working class communities of the now desolate English and Welsh industrial zones. A population trapped in conditions of long-term unemployment and poverty who no one really pays much attention to anymore.
Some on the left have seized on the makeup of this core vote to suggest that there was some progressive element to the Brexit vote despite the campaign being led by racist hatemongers and wealthy US-oriented neoliberals. Mostly that’s a mixture of wishful thinking and post hoc justification for having called for a Leave vote in the first place, but it is true that a section of the working class, C2DEs in marketing speak, voted to Leave in close to a 2:1 ratio. Is the class composition of that vote enough to automatically make it progressive regardless of content? And what does it tell us that a section of the radical left seems to think the answer to that question is yes, that it is enough to be anti-establishment?
1. The Brexit vote for the UK to leave the European Union demonstrates that even weak parliamentary democracy is incompatible with escalating neoliberal inequality. In the UK as elsewhere a tiny segment of the population have taken a larger and larger share of total wealth in the last decades. Particularly under austerity almost everyone else has seen their share of the wealth they produce decline massively.
2. The Remain campaign was headed up by the political class of the neoliberal establishment and backed by model neo liberal corporations like Ryanair. But because the anger against rising inequality was successfully diverted through scapegoating already marginalized people, in particular migrants, the Leave campaign was also lead by wealthy elitist bigots whose variant of neoliberalism looks to the former colonies and the US rather than Europe.
ANARCHISM AND DIRECT DEMOCRACY
1. Anarchists are generally hostile to decision making mechanisms that demand people put their faith in others to make decisions on their behalf without mandate or recall. We favour systems of direct democracy where the people either discuss and vote on an issue directly, or delegate other people to meet up for such discussions but these delegates are both mandated and recallable.
Last night (2 July) the IMF in effect put its weight behind the Syriza government and the call for a No vote (OXI) in the referendum. An image of Chile's socialist president Allende, murdered in the 1973 US coup 'backing' the No vote captured for us both the contradictions and dangers of Sunday's vote in Greece.
Reports are emerging that up to 500 migrants may have drowned off Malta as the boat they were trying to reach Europe in was sunk. The death toll through drowning in the Mediterranean as a result of the racist policies of Fortress Europe reached a horrific new peak over the summer with 2,200 people drowning since June according to the UNHCR. For comparison in the entire 28 year period of its existence some 136-245 people were killed by another migration barrier, the Berlin wall.
The Nice referendum is one of those odd occasions where anarchists are recommending the same vote as individuals and organisations we find odious. For instance some of those calling for a No vote are making racist panic arguments saying a Yes vote will result in 7.5 million Eastern Europeans moving to Ireland! It's rather obvious that anarchists who oppose all border controls have no time for such tripe.
This article was written at the time of the second Nice referendum in Ireland as part of 'Libertarians Against Nice', a WSM initiated campaign that distributed 15,000 leaflets as well as carrying our other activity. Because of right nationalist opposition to the treaty we were keen to publish material that put forward a distinct perspective, one that argues against the treaty from a class rather than nationalist perspective.
Restructuring and Resistance is an inspired book that succeeds in explaining why many people in western Europe are opposing capitalist globalisation. It does this by doing what the mainstream media will not, giving them a voice.
The EU is continuing the exploitation of the people of North Africa through creating a special trade zone of some of the North African countries similar to the free trades zones North America has created in Mexico. In Ireland this has been most visible with ‘Fruit of the Loom’ closing plants in the north west of Ireland and opening new plants in Morocco where workers are paid one seventh of what the (low paid) Irish workers were paid.
You may remember back in early December (2000) the news being dominated for several nights by coverage of the European Summit in Nice. An endless stream of politicians and political experts offered us their opinions on what new voting arrangements might be introduced. You might even be aware that there was some opposition on the streets of Nice to the summit, on December 7th most TV news items started with brief footage of a bank being set on fire