Trade deals (and in fact, the EU) exist to maximise growth and to orient our economies towards exports. From an environmental perspective, this is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. If we ever want to live in harmony with the nature of our home planet (and therefore avoid extinction), then we have to stabilise our economies and orient them towards production for the home market – and really, to prioritise production for our local communities. We don’t need to trade with Germany, or the north-eastern states of the US at all, for example. The climate and terrain is similar, and there is nothing that those regions produce that we can’t produce for ourselves, and vice versa. Let’s cut out the transportation of goods across the world, and produce for local consumption.
But it’s not just that. TTIP and similar trade deals were dreamt up by the corporate sector, for the benefit of the corporate sector, to allow them to suck more money out of our communities to pay to their shareholders. Environment and communities don’t enter their calculations. The only figures they’re interested in are GDP, exports and market share.
The argument that they use is that these trade deals will produce more jobs. But they don’t, they really don’t. An economy based on small businesses producing things for their local communities create many times more jobs that a corporate economy geared towards exports. And they’re better jobs – more interesting, better paid, more creative. See here for more on this.
- is secretive
- will accelerate the privatisation of the NHS
- will transfer wealth from taxpayers to corporations
- will transfer business from small companies to corporations
- will allow corporations to sue governments for introducing policies that potentially reduce their profits
So President Obama telling us that leaving the EU will make it less likely that we’ll be part of these trade deals (and specifically TTIP) is one of the best reasons I can think of for leaving the EU.
I suggest that the most important thing you need to know about EU policy is where it comes from – the European Round Table of Industrialists. Please read this and see if you can think of any way to break the link between the ERT and the European Commission – apart from leaving the EU.
I know that supporting Brexit puts you in the same camp as Boris Johnson, Ian Botham and Nigel Farage – not really the kind of people you want to hang out with – but we shouldn’t be sniffy about that, I don’t think. They might want to leave for different, and not very compelling reasons, but unless we want the future to be more corporate than it already is, I think that we have to leave.
I still believe all the things I used to believe when I was in favour of the EU – I believe in European (and global) unity – I’d like to live to see a world without borders in my lifetime (although barring a miracle, I won’t); and I’d like to see a winding down of the military machine, or at least an orienting of it towards defence rather than attack; but I’d like to achieve these things via a network of grassroots organisations, not corporate ones.
I think the (vaguely) left/green world has been bamboozled about this. We’ve been made to think that the EU and other corporate institutions are essential if we want peace, prosperity and the freedom to travel where we like and to work with / befriend / marry who we like, regardless of where they were born. But they’re not essential – far from it.
Obviously, no-one with any sense of right and wrong wants TTIP, but I’ve turned 180 degrees when it comes to the EU. It’s a corporate-controlled institution, and there’s no mechanism that I can see to change that. If you know of one, please let me know – but be specific: how are we going to stop the ERT writing EU policy via the EC? Please, nothing fluffy about how we’re all brothers and sisters, or ‘no man is an island’ or that the EU churns out good environmental regulations. If you can’t see a way to stop the ERT running the EU, then let’s leave. In fact, let’s go further than that – let’s dismantle it.
This editorial in Private Eye nails it – well said, Ian.
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1spacemao May 1st, 2016
We will have it even faster outside of the EU. It’s like when Alex Salmon said that the scots independence ref was a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity which has no basis on material reality, as the ref was a consequence of the prolonged crisis of capitalism, just like the EU ref is, and as people’s lives get worse, they increasingly turn to nationalism or devolution as a means of solving all the worlds problems – without understanding why those problems exist in the first place and that no amount of devolution can improve our lot if we remain divided by class structures and capitalism.
Obama is saying this threat despite not having any control with which to enforce his statement. The whole point of TTIP is that it’s a coup by corporations – the nation state has always been servile to capitalism (though necessary for it’s survival) and corporations don’t have any interest in slowing down TTIP (or similar trade agreement) adoption globally – so why would they? What possible reason could they have for shutting out the UK other than spite?
Leaving the EU is not going to weaken capitalism or the british bourgoise in any way shape or form, which is why many of them are pushing it. It will of course speed up the economic decline of the poorer regions, who export as much as 15% of their industry to the EU. And of course there are the 1.8 million workers from Europe in the UK whose lives will be uncertain whilst Britain rewrites it’s laws over the next three years. Whilst it’s likely that Britain will have to keep the freedom of movement laws in order to not have a total financial melt-down, there are many laws which will be soft targets for the Tories in the immediate future.
The reason d’etre of the left platform is that hope which says that a brexit will cause david cameron to step down – and force a new election, in which labour can win. This is three-fold speculation at best and labour opportunism at worst. There is no reason why any of that will happen.
So far, all the left brexit arguments are like ‘look at how bad the EU is!’ and whilst I do not fault any of those reasons, and whole heartedly agree with them, I can also talk for several hours about how bad my phone is (the fact that it spies on me, the fact that it earns money for shareholders who do not contribute anything valuable to society at all, the fact that it produces radiation, that it’s filled with apps and games designed to trigger addiction etc) but I would not throw it in the sea, and if I did, I would probably swim in after it! The left case for exit is simply a critique of the EU – and has 0 salt when it comes to why we should leave it now other than what if scenarios.
We cannot in good conscious peg our strategy on ‘what if’ scenarios when the very real affect this will have on EU workers and the very real threat of opening up a new line of attack for conservatives on working rights. Don’t take my word for it – Michael Gove said that if we left the EU we could ‘rewrite a swath of laws’ – I for one do not want to give him that opportunity.
2Dave Darby May 1st, 2016
But how do you stop EU policy being written by the European Round Table?
OK, here’s another question. If there was a plan on the table to introduce a World Union, on the same model as the EU (and, obviously, in today’s world, controlled by some corporate club like the ERT), would you support it?
I certainly wouldn’t. Why would we need another layer of corporate power? I think we have to build from grassroots, and remove as many to-down institutions as possible.
Centralised power can be seized. National governments centralise power, and they’ve been seized. They’re corporate controlled – I don’t need to tell you how they are. Any higher-level institutions in which power is centralised will be seized too – and the EU has been. And a World Union would be too – which is why I would fight it, and which is why I think we should be talking about how to dismantle the EU, not just leave it. National governments too, ultimately, but we don’t have the means to do that. We do have the opportunity, right now, to leave a corporate institution.
I’m not interested in forcing Cameron out – I’m not interested in party politics at all.
Here’s another one – would you like to re-nationalise the railways, or anything else that’s been privatised since the 80s? Impossible in the EU – would need unanimity, and that’s not going to happen.
The EU gives the impression of democracy at a level that allows the corporate sector even more reach, which is why it’s so pernicious.
To be continued.
(nb I don’t think it’s fundamental either way – the world will still be corporate if we stay or leave. I don’t feel the same way about this issue as I do about, say the concept of perpetual economic growth. That really is fundamental. If we stabilise the economy we’ll have a chance of survival. If we don’t, we won’t. But, in the end, that’s what the EU is for – to maximise growth. It says so on the tin. Not for me, thanks.)
3Darlene Cavallara May 2nd, 2016
I have been following this and appreciate your opinion and writing about the subject. I hope the UK does pull out of the EU and send a message to the world about local economies and the importance of getting control of our communities/nations is at this time when corporations have bought so many flags…I am also praying that the elections here in the US keep awakening and mobilizing citizens towards a complete overhaul of our systems and structures here. I believe we are at a historical crux in time and I share your same desire to see a world without borders and demilitarization globally. Let’s keep working together towards a peaceful future!
4Dave Darby May 2nd, 2016
PS, your phone. Are you with the Phone Co-op? No earning money for shareholders there. Easy to switch. Haven’t got a co-operative option for the phone itself yet, but Fairphone is at least trying to change things. Ultimately, it’s still sucking money from us to pay shareholders, but let’s see what options open up. We can complain about things, but there are also things we can do – whether it’s switching to the co-operative sector for as much as possible, going open source, providing things for ourselves etc. Unhitching ourselves from the corporate sector, in other words – and for me, unless someone persuades me otherwise, that clearly includes the EU.