Bill Mitchell-en And Brexit…
The EU is neoliberal to its core and captured by corporate interests
There is some Twitter back and forth (I minimise my involvement) about Brexit – particularly, whether I still maintain that a no deal Brexit is a superior option.
The answer is Yes – but as regular readers will know – my position has always been conditional.
If you trace through my several blog posts on the topic dating back to June 2016 with these blog posts:
1. Britain should exit the European Union (June 22, 2016).
2. Why the Leave victory is a great outcome (June 27, 2016).
and then several more, you will find no uncertainty or wavering in my view.
First, I have provided several examples of how the Project Fear predictions of immediate collapse were unfounded and just blatant lying.
That includes the predictions from the vast majority of professional economists working within the Academy and institutions such as HM Treasury and the Bank of England. They all got it wrong.
Second, my assessment that Brexit was the superior option has always been conditional.
In my immediate post-Referendum blog post – Why the Leave victory is a great outcome (June 27, 2016) – I wrote:
… the choice will not free Britain from neo-liberalism but it does bring the debate back into focus – voter face to face with the British politicians.
There are no guarantees that the decision to leave the European Union will lead to good outcomes, by which I mean help those who have been disenfranchised by the neo-liberal system.
There are scenarios that would lead to the conclusion that exactly the opposite might occur. Indeed, UKIP has every right to claim it ‘won’ and to further pursue its racist plans.
And the right-wing Tories who have always hated Europe might push for even greater ‘competition’ and cuts to government spending and services, which would further undermine the fortunes of the weak and precarious.
Bosses might push for further cuts to wages and conditions.
And I wrote:
When I tweeted it was a ‘great outcome’ I didn’t say that good would come out of it. I also didn’t suggest that it would be a short-term recovery of prosperity or that the workers would benefit.
I was referring to the fact that class struggle now has a clearer focus within the British political debate. There is now a dynamic for a truly progressive leadership to emerge and bring the disenfranchised along with them and wipe out the neo-liberal hydra once and for all.
That is why the Brexit vote is excellent. British politics is now in chaos. How it sorts itself out will determine what the outcome leads to.
But progressive leadership now has space to challenge the orthodoxy. That is a great outcome.
It might take time to emerge and crystallise. But class struggle does not yield instant rewards.
But I see the Brexit choice as one of those monumental outcomes similar to the OPEC oil crises in the early 1970s that change the course of history. I do not need to remind anyone that the Monetarists exploited the OPEC chaos to capture undeserved credibility and pursue the neo-liberal agenda.
So always conditional.
Since then I have consistently indicated that Brexit could turn out to be a disaster for Britain. But it won’t be because it leaves the European Union.
It will be because it maintains the neoliberalism of the EU and consolidates that within its newly freed legislative remit.
All the Project Fear claims about trucks being stranded, soccer teams not able to get players, cancer rates rising, shops running out of food and all the rest of it are pure lies.
I also don’t think it is in the interests of Britain to let the EU dominate the withdrawal agreement. The sort of outcomes that appear to be forthcoming from that process are inferior to a No Deal Brexit. I maintain that position.
Britain should tell the EU what it is going to do and leave it at that.
While the neoliberal bullies in the EU will make threats about closing borders to trade etc, the Bavarian motor vehicle manufacturers, for example, will ensure (through the corporate lobbying exposed by the CEO Report) that the German government and then its influence on the European Commission etc, will not fulfill those threats.
They know they have a lot to lose if Brussels was to play politics with a Britain intent on leaving without pernicious agreements.
And assessing that Brexit in the short-run might cause disruption does not mean it will be an inferior option in the longer term, once British politics reorients itself away form the EU capture.
And, I realise that as an Australian living away from Europe, I have no particular ‘skin’ in the game other than my overall global concern for humanity.
I am sympathetic to those caught up in the Brexit imbroglio.
But attacking me because of that misunderstands the role of an intellectual. As an academic, I have a responsibility to bring knowledge to public debates to ensure they are evidence-based.
I have spent years studying Europe and I would suspect I understand the situation there as well as most. I never write about topics I do not feel qualified to comment.
Which is one reason I haven’t written about Venezuela, for example. I am doing on-going research on that topic to bring myself up to speed on the history, culture, politics and economics of that situation.
It is also odd, that the ‘you don’t live here’ argument is made by so-called ‘internationalists’ who extol the desire to create cosmopolitan unities that span the borders of nation states.
Gogoratu ondoko hauek: