Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

Post - EU Referendum and the Working Class

Learning from History

The working class has no interest in the EU Referendum result. However they do have an interest in its consequences particularly the need for class solidarity in respect to the danger of divisiveness, nationalism, racism and xenophobia.

The nature of a referendum is essentially divisive - an either A or B vote, and this last one has been arousing a lot of nastiness and intolerance. Neither option offered could ever solve workers' problems. Yet on the radio there were workers telling the interviewer that they "had their country back". Utter nonsense. The means of production and distribution are still owned by the capitalist class to the exclusion of the rest of society.

It is capitalism which causes the problems workers face on a daily basis and it is only the conscious, democratic and political action of a socialist majority that can end these problems once and for all through the establishment of socialism. It is only in socialism that “…the emancipation of the working class will involve the emancipation of all mankind without distinction of race or sex” (OBJECT AND DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES, Socialist Party of Great Britain)

Socialists also have no interst in the problems of a Labour Party whose MPs seem to have realised that their support base is shrinking fast and believe it can only be made right by replacing one leader with another. It can’t. The history of the Labour Party is a history of failure, as it is for any capitalist party.

Nationalisation programmes, regulation, Keynesianism have all been tried and failed. As too the free trade, free market globalisation policy of the Blairites which came crashing down on their heads in 2008. Shed no tears for the impending demise of the Labour Party. They have always been and still are a serious barrier to the establishment of socialism.

The 'Labour' Party has conned the workers for generations with vote-catching programmes of 'reforms', which are at best mere palliatives. These palliatives are designed to cause minimum difficulty for the capitalist class and are not aimed at solving the real problems of the working class. And the Labour Party denies the class struggle arising out of the exploitation of the working class.. Not to mention its fraudulent claim to be a Socialist party.

We have been told that the working class are not racist but some workers do hold racist views. Workers face innumerable social problems: poor housing, lack of resources, low pay, “zero hour contracts”, overcrowded schools, long queues to see the doctors, crumbling health care and no decent future for the children. Yet they mistakenly believe these social problems are a result of immigration. It is wrong. And it is historically wrong.

During the lead-up to the EU referendum there was clearly a sizeable anti-immigrant vote among the non-socialist working class who has deserted the Labour Party. And it has to be recognised not ignored because it has a history. Remember how Enoch Powell with his "rivers of blood" rhetoric got support from London Dockers - all of them Labour supporters?!

And back in the Thirties Mosley's Black Shirts were recruited from the Labour areas, just as today the Britain First's 'northern brigades' with their thuggish visits to over 60 northern mosques likewise would be mostly from Labour areas. Shortly after the result anti-Polish slogans were daubed on walls and racial abuse was thrown at workers from abroad. A shameful display of class disunity and political ignorance. As Shylock remarked:

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? ... If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?(Merchant of Venice – Shylock, Act III, Scene 1)

The racist Right has always used the "chip on the shoulder" propaganda and is one of the reasons why Hitler and Mussolini got mass support from the working class in the 1930s. Europe is now full of petty little corporals whipping-up hatred against “the other”. More Worrying still is the fashion to describe those who did not vote for Brexit as “traitors”. In the past State violence was inflicted on “traitors”. Traitors were publically hung drawn and quartered. It is a medieval term used by a medieval mind.

For the next two to three months, post-Brexit, workers are going to have to endure party political leadership contests. Workers should not to let themselves be side-tracked into yet more leadership trivia and time-wasting. Workers don't need 'leaders' to organise themselves effectively and democratically: what is needed is class-consciousness, and a clear sense of who we are and where we want to be, and how to get there.

It is clear that we are part of a world-wide working class with a powerful potential for establishing a world-wide social framework based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production and distribution by all of society. And how to get there rests with no one else but the world’s working class.

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