The EU question

Greg Schofield gschofield at
Tue May 1 22:45:31 MDT 2001

There is perhaps more agreement here than appears - no doubt three-quarters
of the appearance is due to my somewhat sloppy presentation.

At 11:28  1/05/01 -0400, you wrote:
> > The EU is above everything else a result of geo-political pressures
> > that have been with Europe for a long time. In fact, if proletarian
> > socialism had spread through Europe before-hand an EU type
> > resolution would be expected.
>This is simple formalism. A bottlenose and a shark share their general
>streamlined shapes, but they are quite different animals. Unified
>socialist Europe and unified imperialist Europe are more or less in
>the same situation.

Well yes they are quite different animals and they should be treated
differently. The question that given the EUs existence (again I am not
european so the question is treated abstractly) what should a communist
response be? The context, as I saw my reply attacking, was the idea that
despite its real existence whe should oppose it, abstractly.

My take is, given its reality, and the fact that some aspects of this
reality are precursors of what we would be happy with in the future, what
parts do we attack (as opposed to abstract oppositionalism). It follows,
how can its present form be undermined so that these more progressive
in-embryo features become pronounced and the less desirable parts be more
effectively struggled against.

The underwritten logic being that history has made the question of the EU
come up and so its consequences for the class cannot be ignored either by
uncritical embracing of it or it opposite super-critical abstract rejection
of it (it exists after all).

>While proletarian socialism in Europe would have elliminated national
>differences and established a socialist federation of free peoples,
>bourgeois supranationalism establishes a lock on popular freedom in
>order to relieve the different national fractions of the European
>bourgeoisie of any pressure from below, thus "unifying" them without
>dissolving the essential conflict inherent to the existence of
>_national_ imperialist states and bourgeoisies (a fact that most
>probably will not be superseded without socialism), to generate a
>space for inter-bourgeois bargaining that allows the stronger
>bourgeoisies to impose their rule on the weaker ones without
>proletarians (and subaltern classes in general) having any possibility
>to seriously challenge their decissions.  This is the antidemocratic
>core of the EU.

Hence I have no problem with the above characterisation of the EU in fact
this is a rather good summation of the problem as it currently faces us.

>In this sense it is not "geopolitical pressures", but
>inter-imperialist struggle, which made it necessary for the EU to
>exist. Of course, the existence of the Soviet Union operated as a
>greenhouse stove, but it was inessential.

Well one goes into the other and the vice versa - given capitalism it could
not be other than an imperialistic expression of geo-political realities
(hence a tiny backward island without many people may desire to be a world
poower but the geo-political realities speak strongly against it - under
socialism it would still be a tiny island but not so backward - a silly
example, but I don't think we are really in disagreement).

>Without some form of union, the bourgeoisies in Europe would have
>never been able to compete with their American counterparts. The only
>"geopolitics" at stake here is the geopolitics of world domination:
>without the unification, the EU would have been in a much worse
>situation, for example, to profit from the destruction of the Soviet
>Union, vis a vis the United States. This, of course, was a vital issue
>for the European bourgeoisies and, if you wish, you may call it
>"geopolitical" pressures. But these pressures were BORN FROM WITHIN.
>However, the sense in which I state this is exactly the opposite
>(sharks versus bottlenoses) than Greg's

Well I actually think we are more of accord, my use of the expression
geo-political has not helped - but if I remember rightly the role of
geography was not discounted by Marx in this regard - to this degree I have
tried (unsuccessfully to employ the terms geo-politics - again I would
refer to my previous reference to Engels and Sorge correspondence and the
role of Germany).

> > I would have thought that if [...] proletarian socialism had swept
> > across Europe the[e]n some of the aspects of the EU would have
> > followed fairly swiftly. I don't consider this to be a very
> > controversial statement.
>The problem lies in the question "_what_ aspects, exactly?"

Well yes - I am afraid I am too far removed from the situation (both in
direct experience and knowledge) to offer anything of substance in this
way, but the question you pose already assumes the ground I was trying
(unsuccessfully) to argue - the fact is there are some aspects and this has
to be taken into political account (vis a vis in opposition to abstract
oppositionalism). In this sense I would not make too much of it, in so far
as I am able to go you seem to have come to the same point.

>The fact
>that inter- EU trade has grown and that the EU is a recognition of
>this obvious element of truth does not make the EU any less
>reactionary: it is a bloc of imperialist bourgeoisies. I would say
>that this is the most important point: any movement that strengthens
>our own ruling classes is a movement against us, in a shorter or
>longer term it will prove a bad idea to support these

Yes but any movement at all always carries this potential. It is to the
extent that working class interests become realised that any particular
stand become judged. This falls back on abstract oppositionalism as well -
it makes absolutely no realiszing of working class interest so by like
measure must be accused of giving succor to the enemy camp.

I think we could both agree that virginal political purity, the utopianism
of it, is effectively a bourgeois agent in our camp.

>European workers have nothing to gain, in the long run,
>from support given to "European" bourgeois against Japanese or
>American bourgeois. Of course, in the meantime they will enjoy the
>benefits that are provided by a stronger bourgeoisie on the global
>scenario (that is, a larger share in the plunder of the peripheries,
>and so on), but, AND THIS IS ALREADY BECOMING EVIDENT, any of these
>gains will be short lived (one, two, three generations at most).

Therein lies a lot of contradictions with the very notion of the EU as it
has been created by the European Bourgeoisie (it contains the seeds for its
own destruction) - however, we should not resign ourselves to live through
the performance of such a play.

>Probably these issues are not as easily perceived in Perth as they are
>in Buenos Aires. But I am afraid Greg is not taking into account the
>concrete class contents of these inter-imperialist unions. In a sense,
>a unified _imperialist_ Europe (which of course sets a divide along
>the East-West border, thus generating _two_ Europes)

Great point and another contradiction that deserves to exploited by the

By the way would the Perth vs Buenos Aires comment be a veiled
acknowledgement of geo-political realities? (just kidding :  )

>  is better for
>workers there: for example, it avoids the menace of recurrent
>carnage. But (a) it simply displaces the location of carnage
>elsewhere, and (b) will put European workers under a much more
>dictatorial rule from their own bourgeoisies, through a super-state
>without any of the democratic features that had been obtained in
>centuries of struggle (Bolshevik revolution included: in the end,
>nobody benefited more from the heroisim of Russia, in the strict
>material level, than the Western European proletariat)

But each change, each step in capitalism's own evolution throws up more
grave dirt.

Remember this is not an argument for the EU but an argument against its
manifestation, it is only counterposed to the abstraction of those who see
political analysis as ending in mere denunciation of the real (the EU is
real like it or no, the point is to find contradictions within it to better
realise the interests of the class - well that is the point I was
struggling to make).

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia

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