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par Leon TRESSELL
As a British citizen I was both bemused and outraged at President Obama’s recent lecture (1) telling us how to vote in the upcoming referendum on EU membership. It reminded me of a medieval feudal lord going to visit his one of his dominions and telling off his subjects and giving them a clear warning of what was expected of them. Since World War Two Britain has had this special relationship with the US during which the UK has been treated like a colonial possession by its American overlord.
Obama’s unprecedented intervention into the EU referendum campaign reveals how worried the Remain camp are at the possibility of ordinary people rejecting membership of the EU. The banksters in the City of London, in whose interests the Cameron government serves, have cranked up Project Fear and are using large amounts of black propaganda to panic people into voting yes to EU membership.
Over the last few months we have been repeatedly lectured and warned that to vote for leaving the EU would undermine the UK economy and cost thousands of jobs and lower living standards. The list of well meaning lecturers ranges from Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England to the Confederation of British Industry and the Institute of Directors.
The British ruling class and its puppet masters in Washington are clearly worried by the British people having the temerity to say no to a transnational organisation that does not represent their interests but those of the multi-national corporations and too big to fail banks.
Before we proceed further. We should stop and pause and ask some fundamental questions regarding the European Union. Why was it set up ? Whose interests does it primarily serve ? Who benefits the most from the EU ? Does the EU look after the interests of ordinary people in Britain ?
The EU and its predecessors the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC) is an economic-political construct whose primary purpose is to serve the interests of the European capitalists. When the ECSC was set up in 1951 at a time of high inflation and monetary instability the French and West German capitalists had come to the conclusion that instead of fighting endless wars against each other they needed to cooperate if they were to fully recover from the effects of World War Two.
In a world where two opposing super powers were dividing up the world into spheres of influence the French and German capitalists decided that were was safety in numbers and latched on to each other as a means of rebuilding their shattered economies. The French and German capitalists were also haunted by the prospect of revolution which had threatened to sweep over many countries in Europe (France, Italy, Greece) when the war came to an end.
Not surprisingly, the USA gave its blessing to its vassal states coming together at a time of heightened tension during the early years of the Cold War. Remember both France and West Germany (a vassal state created by the Americans in 1949) were leading members of NATO (also created in 1949) an American military alliance designed to cement the domination of Western Europe by American imperialism.
Throughout the history of the EU and its single currency the biggest winner has been its strongest component which is German capitalism. Indeed many would argue that German capitalism set up the EU and the single currency as project to promote its export industry which has done exceedingly well from the single currency.
From the ECSC through to the EU there has been a social aspect to it which has led many in the European socialist and trade union movement to regard it as a progressive organisation that looked after the interests of ordinary people. The European capitalists facing a strong labour movement have decided to periodically give concessions to improve aspects of ordinary people’s lives. The working time directive limiting working hours to 48 per week is one EU initiative that is often cited as showing how the EU is a progressive force that we should support.
The EU is a fundamentally undemocratic organisation which is run by the 28 unelected Commissioners who have enormous powers over the economic, political and social development of each member state. The European parliament is widely regarded as a toothless body that merely rubber stamps legislation that comes from the EU Commission. The undemocratic nature of the EU is shown by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal it is negotiating with American imperialism.
The EU Commission is currently engaged in top secret negotiations with the United States over TTIP. The vast majority of people living in the EU are unaware of this trade treaty which will effectively strip away national sovereignty from member governments.
Once signed TTIP will give incredible powers to multi-national corporations to challenge and sue national governments over any aspect of their laws that put barriers in the way of said corporations to make profits. This will have the effect of speeding up privatization of public services and have the effect of weakening health and safety/environmental laws. Under TTIP companies such as Monsanto will be able to overturn the EU ban on bee killing pesticides such as neonicotinoids and take legal action against the 19 EU countries that have banned the use of GMO seeds as barriers to free trade.
Various human rights groups warn how the EU has been accumulating a huge array of powers that are gradually undermining our civil liberties such as our right to privacy.
One of the prime objectives of TTIP is to open health, education and water services to American corporations. It will force the NHS in Britain to allow US companies to tender for contracts to run essential medical services at an exorbitant cost to the hard pressed tax payer. The Conservative government in the UK wants to privatize all 24000 schools forcing them to become academies that will be forced into unaccountable academy chains. Under TTIP these academy chains will be open to take over by US education companies that will want to run children’s education for a profit.
The election of a socialist party Syriza in January 2015 in Greece on an openly anti-austerity programme was widely welcomed by millions of people across the Eurozone. It raised hopes that at long last the European Commission’s savage austerity policies would be challenged by a government not in bed with the too big to fail banks.
From virtually day one of its administration Syriza was attacked and criticized again and again by the establishment media across Europe, by the European Commission and its political acolytes in Germany. The Syriza government that was elected on a programme of stopping the calamitous fall in living standards was told in no uncertain terms that there was no alternative to endless austerity that had sent unemployment to over 25 % of the workforce.
Syriza at first tried to resist the demands of the troika (EU Commission, ECB and IMF) for Greece to pay back its massive debts to the European big banks at the cost of cutting pensions, privatizing Greece’s natural assets and sacking thousands of public sector workers. The pressure became so great that Syriza called a referendum on 5 July 2015 on the terms of the troika bailout. This was unprecedented and had never happened before in the 40 year history of the Greek republic.
The Greek people responded with an emphatic rejection of the troika’s demands for endless austerity measures. Two thirds of voters said to no to the troika’s programme for destroying living standards and welfare provision.
The Nobel peace prize winning EU went into overdrive and hysterically demanded that the Syriza government ignore the democratic wishes of its people and accept the troika’s bailout demands or face ejection from the Eurozone and bankruptcy of the country.
In the face of gigantic pressure from the EU and all its member governments Syriza capitulated and accepted the terms of its unconditional surrender. The Greek government would receive rescue loans worth 82-86 billion Euros and in 2016 be forced to beg its funders for more money to pay its unpayable debts to the big European banks. This was to be accompanied by tax increases, pension cuts, public sector job cuts and the forced fire-sale privatization of Greece’s state owned assets valued at 50 billion Euros.
The leaders of the EU Commission and European Parliament had made it clear that they would do what ever it takes to bring the Syriza government to heal. Nothing and no one would be allowed to challenge the pro-bankster agenda of the European capitalist class. Even Paul Krugman, the Nobel prize winning apologist for Obama’s bailout of the Wall Street banks, was forced to comment (2) in the New York Times that : ”The trending hash tag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept ; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for”.
One of the main justifications for the founding of the EU was the premise that by bringing together France and Germany in close economic and political union there could be no possibility of war in Europe again. How wrong they were. First of all we saw the savage Balkan wars in the 1990s which the EU did nothing to prevent.
More recently, with the onset of Cold War 2.0 the EU has gone along the American Empire’s unrelenting aggression against Russia. The coup d’etat that overthrew the corrupt yet elected government of Yanukovich was seen by American imperialism as an opportunity to increase its destabilization of Russia. The chaos that ensued released centrifugal forces in Ukrainian society that led to the re-emergence of neo-fascist forces that have been used as the battering ram to attack the Russian speaking regions of Eastern Ukraine.
The Odessa massacre of two years ago which was carried out by neo-fascist forces was never condemned by the EU for what it was : an act of mass murder against Russian speakers. This massacre can be seen as the starting point for the bloody civil war that has raged in Ukraine for the last 2 years. It helped bring about the creation of the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic as Russian speakers sought to protect themselves against ethnic cleansing and racist violence.
The EU has responded to the break up of Ukraine by enforcing a series of economic sanctions upon Russia and Novorossia. These economic sanctions are clearly aimed at destabilizing Russia leading to the overthrow of Putin’s government and go hand in hand with NATO’s increasing military presence on Russia’s borders.
The EU seeks to promote trade and counter-terrorism deals with countries such as China and Saudi Arabia that have terrible record on human rights. Meanwhile, the EU seeks to stem the flow of refugees from the war torn Middle East by illegally deporting them en mass to Turkey which has an appalling record on human rights and protecting refugees.
Amnesty International recently savaged the EU response to the migrant crisis which has been created by the disastrous military interventions of American and British imperialism into Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Iverna McGowan (3), head of Amnesty Internationals European Institutions Office said that : ”As the world’s richest political bloc, the EU completely failed to come up with a coherent and humane response to the refugee crisis. … the thrust of the EU’s failing refugee strategy remains focussed on keeping people out, rather than providing the safe passage to Europe that could save thousands of lives”.
To compound matters the EU is turning a blind eye to human rights violations in its own back yard.
In both Hungary and the Czech Republic the Roma people face open racist discrimination which the EU has failed to deal with.
The EU is completely failing to live up to its grandiose promises of being a guardian of people’s basic freedoms at home and abroad.
In summary, the EU is a bosses club designed to look after and protect the interests of multi-national corporations and the bankster elite. The ordinary people of Britain and the rest of the Eurozone have nothing to loose but their chains as they suffer endless austerity measures, falling living standards, steady encroachments upon their privacy and human rights while being driven to war by a comprador elite that is a vassal of American imperialism.
The Dutch people against massive pressure from the establishment parties recently rejected the EU association treaty with Ukraine. On the 23 June it will interesting to see if the ordinary people of Britain follow the example of the Dutch citizenry and reject the bosses organisation known as the European Union.