The EU question

Greg Schofield gschofield at
Thu May 3 20:03:09 MDT 2001

Sorry comrade to take so long to reply, I missed your seeing your post last

At 11:58  3/05/01 -0500, you wrote:
>The problem is not with reform as such but with your usage of the term.
>You suggest nothing which has not already been proposed by the right and
>centre of the labour party. Constitutional, judicial reform, political
>devolution, cultural resurgence, European army etc are all proposals
>filched directly from a Blairite or SDP-Green manifesto.

First, I am glad you did not take offense at my suggestion, I actually
believe that the topic needs a lot more clarity applied to it in general.

Second, my suggestion vis a vis the EU "reforms" is based on no real
knowledge of actual political conditions. I choose therefore to use general
ideas that I was pretty certain (by gut instinct at least) would have
already been raised in Euorpe. I am no way surprised that Blair and the
SDP-Greens raised similar demands.

I would only say that this very fact (that they have been raised) bespeaks
that they are in themselves somehow made obvious by the historical
emergence of the EU. Therefore I would treat this as an essential fact, a
common ground of reality - ie that some specific problems are there
suggesting some similar sort of response.

I don't think you would have problems with this as it does not necessarily
suggest how this response might be expressed, nor even whether it is in the
class interest to reform these problems - only that because of the
bourgeois nature of the EU some really galling and anti-democratic,
anti-people (etc) things are sticking out like sore thumbs (which can be
treated, cut-off or ignored by us).

>The urgent task at the moment therefore is to return to the radical and
>subversive meaning of words such as democracy and reform, rather than
>continue using them in their formalistic and bourgeois sense.

Comrade well said and to the nub of the whole problem. I could not agree
more, nor said it any better.

>A case in
>point is your discussion of dissolution of NATO. I am unquestionably in
>favour of a reform such as the dissolution of NATO. However, I recognise
>that the main impetus behind the dissolution of NATO at this point is not
>the European working class, but the European bourgeoisie whose quarrel
>with NATO stems from the desire of European capital to establish itself
>and Europe as an imperialist pole independent of the American.

Yes again this sums up the real problem well. The most reactionary, want
NATO to remain, the slightly more progressive (historically not class
progressive) want to make the EU a little USA and the working class wants

Given the historical situation if nothing else is done the "progressive"
european imperial party will eventually win (the bloc geo-politics is
asserting itself).

Now where we might also be of accord, is I don't think either of us believe
in magic wands or some incantation which will ensure that what communists
bring forward will be automatically saved from the old errors - rather this
is a risk we should embrace in order to go ahead.

But then again we are faced with a silly puzzle, silly because it dogs us
unnecessarily. What ever is concretely put forward (I am not suggesting
that I am doing this), will look like "reformism" in the bad sense,
however, if these concrete reforms are smothered in theoretical
qualification and dressed up in revolutionary sloganisation they become
buried entirely and lost from sight - worse they sometimes become real
reformism decorated in lots of red ribbons (I am sure we have all seen
aspects of this in the most extreme ultra-leftists groups - that is a
demand when it shorn of rhetoric being hopelessly banal and positively limp
- that is opposed to those times when shorn of rhetoric nothing remains at

We don't have to be dogged by these problems if we focus on the practical
aspects of the reform - strangely not the reform itself, for by itself
those crafty buggers the bourgeoisie will negate or partially negate even
the best - but the practicalities of struggle for the reform (that is the
critical bit especially as I see most reforms as more often then not as
simply obvious).

As you know the social democrat and liberals no sooner start to get a
reform implemented when of their own accord they also start watering it
down and making it amendable this is their nature.

Reforms therefore to my mind have two aspects.

1) They are obvious and they are there in front of us because problems
already exist - hence turning our backs on such things simply proclaims our
practical disinterest in actual realizing the interests of the working
class (obviously I have no interest in reforms that do not convey some
class interest).

2) Despite the material effect of the reform (and they do have an effect)
so long as the bourgeois rule they always have the advantage of responding
in ways that negate some or all of the effect (things change just not
necessarily for the better). Hence the essence of a reform (for communists)
can not be the reform itself even though the reform has to be real (based
on reality and changing reality). For the communist the importance of the
reform (for they are essential to struggle) is the nature of struggle
itself which has ideological, organisational and sometimes economic effects
far wider than any particular reform can have.

I would be interested on your comments on these two points (they could be
expressed a lot better) but my feeling is that we probably not be in any
real dispute (for I am not suggesting one exists at this level).

>Any criticism of NATO which lets European imperialism get of scott free,
>or worse promotes the internal renovation and restoration of European
>imperialism under the guise of "democratic reform", is at best worthless
>and formalistic piety. At worst it is a knowing deception which it is our
>duty to expose and criticise.

But exposed in struggle to achieve these definite ends. The only thing I
object to is subjecting people to theoretical spews when clarity,
simplicity and honesty will show the way. The thing I really object to and
have seen too often (there is no accusation here) is where a real struggle
is sent off the rails because of endless bickering about expression,
correct lines and attempts to impose abstract theory directly into what
should be just a call to do the bleeding obvious and change some definite
and given real situation.

I cannot conceive of struggle as anything but a war of manoeuvre where each
success presents another potential defeat which must be outflanked.
Criticism of NATO (or ANZUS in my area) immediately leads to direct
military problems which present their own agendas for reform (what is the
role of a proletarian army, what is a real defense force to be and what
strategies for defense that are effective and lessen the aggressive
possibilities of the armed forces - both internally and externally - I say
lessen because guarantees are worthless an army of any description is an
armed body and quite capable despite everything else of turning against the
workers interests).

In Australia our armed forces are rapidly turning themselves into a
deployment auxiliary force of the US - a role they had previously embraced
but not before so openly at the expense of actual domestic defense. These
changes have naturally caused many within the army to question their
purpose (as you know a good proportion of the force is always made up of
those who genuinely believe in defense who nonetheless never have a real
voice within the defense force - imperial concerns being the motivating

To challenge ANZUS naturally and inevitably leads to assessment of defense
strategy and even to the particular arms being kept (the only real military
threat to Australia is the USA). Now reformists might be cajoled into
dismantling ANZUS formally but I doubt that they could do so practically,
rather they would stop when they had a defacto ANZUS even if the paper had
to be torn up.

My point is to take such a question up seriously goes deeper and deeper
into the class nature of the actual problem and will turn up allies in the
most unexpected places. As the contradictions themselves are real they
cannot help but show the class nature of the problems themselves.

I might add because such struggle is one of manoeuvre (vis a vis actual
reforms being put up) constant assessment of the struggle and the forces at
its disposal are required - the simplest tactic our enemy employs is to be
resolute against even the most obvious reform (even a reform that may well
be in their interest - such things are not inconceivable) but only make the
reform after the movement behind it has lost its vigor or forestalls it
from making the next logical step - this must be dealt with on a continuos
basis - we need victories for the class, not concessions thrown to them as
after-thoughts, or reforms as pallatives.

>Which is why I mention the Labour Party and the SDP. These two "working
>class parties" have worked unstitntingly, through "reforms" and varied
>liberal window dressing, to align the European working class behind
>bourgeois and imperialist strategies, first European, then American and
>now European again, and against the mass of humanity that lives in the
>imperialized world.

I have no problem with this as I have seen it often enough in struggle in
my own country, but do not forget the contributions "revolutionaries" have
made by their abstentianism, or worse their out and out sabotage of
struggle in order to make this happen. It is a two-way street.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia

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