This post was inspired by a post in Counterpunch.
Why is it that most liberals and “leftists” have such difficulty grasping that the EU is an oppressive institution?
Across Europe, unelected officials have usurped the power of national governments and imposed neoliberalism on 570 million people.
Millions of people have been reduced to poverty. The EU has imposed austerity on an entire continent, creating endless unemployment and ever-increasing woe. They have compelled ordinary workers to shoulder the burden of repaying a debt that was originally incurred as a result of the criminal behavior of Europe’s financiers.
One word should be engraved on the minds of those who persist in believing that the EU is a benign and progressive body: “GREECE.”
The EU’s destruction of Greece should have dispelled forever the delusion that the EU cares about the material welfare of ordinary Europeans.
But such is the power of the delusional thinking that not even the destruction of an entire country can shake people’s belief in the false virtues of the EU.
Greece has undergone the most devastating program of austerity ever implemented by any European government. Since Greece has a trade deficit, and cannot create euros out of thin air, average Greeks will remain enslaved and impoverished as long as Greece uses the euro.
By 2015 Greece had seen its economy contract by 27% as a result of the Troika’s diktats. Greek politicians favor this situation, since it makes them feel like gods above average Greeks, who live in poverty.
Entire families are starving on the streets, and have been reduced to despair by unrelenting attacks on their living standards. Many have committed suicide. Anyone who can get out of Greece is doing so.
Greece illustrates the evil of neoliberalism, which is neo-feudalism. Its purpose is to privatize everything, so that the 1% own the planet and everyone on it. It’s all about ownership. When a government imposes military conscription, the government declares its ownership of you. You must die for the rich, because you do not own your body. The rich own it. The rich also own the politicians.
The EU’s Growth and Stability Pact prevents large-scale public spending on vital social services to alleviate the effects of a recession, limiting deficits to 3% of GDP. As part of this neoliberal model, national governments are also required each year to submit their budgets to the European Commission for its approval. The Commission demands that the rights of workers take second place to paying off the debts accumulated by the financial sector.
In France, for example, the El-Khomri law seeks to increase the working week to 46 hours.
The myth of a pacifist EU
How could anyone view the EU as a progressive force, given the EU’s destruction of Greece?
Faith in the EU rests on a series of myths that are regarded as unquestionably true, and are never scrutinized.
One myth is that the EU has brought peace to Europe. According to this fairy tale, after World War II a band of far-seeing European statesmen resolved that European nations would never again battle each other. In a spirit of high-minded idealism (says the myth) these great statesmen took the first steps toward the establishment of a supranational body that would bring countries together in peace and harmony. Henceforth, the people in Europe would consider themselves to be “Europeans,” and be part of a joyous union that would provide peace and prosperity for all.
This is the idiotic myth that underpins the faith of many people. It is a childish view of history. It explains why in 2012 the Nobel Committee gave the Peace Prize to the EU, and also why 75% of Europeans agreed with the Nobel Committee that “peace and democracy were the most important achievements of the EU.” The people who believe this lie are prepared to forgive the EU anything.
In reality, what has prevented another European war is not the EU, but shifting power dynamics. By the end of World War II Western Europe was eclipsed by the USA, the only nation to emerge from the war with its standing enhanced.
Under the Marshall Plan, the USA gave aid to Western Europe on the condition that Western Europe moved toward having a single market that U.S. corporations could sell to. The American architects of the new world order cheered every move in the direction of greater European unity.
The USA also established NATO to further the cause of imperialism. NATO requires Western European countries to devote a significant part of their budgets to military expenditure.
Also, NATO and the EU pit Europe against Russia, whuch could result in another world war, only with nuclear weapons.
Politics, not pacifism. explains why there has not been another war between the major European states.
While the founding members of the EEC were joining together in a supposed spirit of “peace and harmony,” they unleashed a torrent of blood in their colonial possessions, and crushed popular calls for liberty. In Algeria the French waged a terrorist campaign that caused in1.5 million deaths. In Vietnam the French sought to retain control over their colony, eventually handing it to the Americans when the French could no longer sustain the cost of the military campaign. In Congo, Belgium crushed all demands for independence. Even after the Congo won its independence, France continued to interfere in the politics of the region, playing a role in the assassination of the elected Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.
Meanwhile the EU controls the economy of fourteen African nations by controlling France, which in turn controls the West African CFA franc, and the Central African CFA franc. One reason why France and the EU were desperate to kill Moammar Gaddafi was that Gaddafi wanted Africa to have its own currency, the African gold dinar.
In Kenya, the British, who were to join the EEC in 1973, waged a brutal war against the native Kikuyu throughout the 1950s in order to uphold the rule of the white settler elite, imprisoning many Africans in concentration camps, where they were subjected to torture.
Today European members of the EU remain as militant as ever, and they find an outlet in endless wars of aggression across the Middle East and Africa. The EU (and USA) have also resurrected the Cold War, and have fomented a civil war in Ukraine.
The EU has relentlessly punished Russia with sanctions, and expanded its influence into Eastern Europe so as to isolate Russia behind a ring of hostile states. Ukraine is merely the latest in a long line of countries that the EU has sought to annex to a Western alliance controlled by the US.
NATO was formed in 1949 to allegedly defend Western Europe from the supposed aggression of the USSR. Since the collapse of the USSR, NATO has more than doubled in size. NATO’s purpose is to extend the global reach of the US.
What started the civil war in Ukraine was the EU’s offer of an “Association Agreement,” under which Ukraine would have benefited from most of the advantages enjoyed by EU member states, without formally being a EU member. The agreement required Ukraine to sever economic relations with Russia, to which Ukraine is intimately bound to by a shared history. The agreement also required the Ukrainian government to pursue austerity and neo-feudalism (i.e. mass privatization). The agreement further required military cooperation between the EU and Ukraine as a prelude to NATO membership.
Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych liked this deal, but in order to implement it, he would have had to alienate half of all Ukrainians, who mainly live in East Ukraine. These eastern Ukrainians were opposed to NATO. They favored better relations with Russia. Therefore at the end of 2013, President Yanukovych declined to enter into the Agreement. This prompted protests in Kiev’s Maidan Square by Ukraine’s fascist parties, which were driven by a racist hatred of Ukraine’s ethnic Russian population. Both the EU and the US backed the protesters, and agitated for the removal of President Yanukovych. In Feb 2014, Yanukovych was overthrown in a coup. The new rulers implanted the E.U.’s Association Agreement that Yanukovych had refused to sign. When Eastern Ukrainians rebelled against the coup, the EU attributed Ukraine’s civil war to Russian aggression. (!!!!)
That’s the “compassionate harmonious EU” for you.
Defenders of the EU refuse to acknowledge the EU’s contribution to Ukraine’s civil war, and to the new Cold War, and to the wars in Africa and the Middle East. They defend the rhetoric of the European project, and ignore the reality. They think the EU serves a moral purpose, and that to oppose the EU is to be a racist. They ignore the destruction of places like Greece and Libya. They deny that the EU exists to advance the interests of the business class as against workers, and to enrich corporations at the expense of ordinary people.
There is a moral case for leaving, based on the fact that Brexit would probably result in the dissolution of the EU, and thereby ease the suffering of nations currently held captive by neoliberal economics. For example, it is doubtfule that the EU could long survive the withdrawal of one of its principal sources of funding.
A Brexit would be a gift to millions of people in the southern countries, who have been brainwashed into thinking that an escape from the economic straitjacket of the euro-zone is impossible.
If workers in Spain and Italy saw the U.K. break free of the EU, they would demand their own referendum.
The EU pressures member states to limit their budget deficits to 3% of GDP. For the U.K. this is absurd, since the U.K. creates its spending money out of thin air.
The pro-EU people say that a Brexit would destroy the U.K. However Norway and Switzerland get along fine without being members of the European Union. So do Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Belarus, and Moldova, and Iceland.
The EU’s competition rules forbid member states from subsidizing their manufacturing sectors. The EU also forbids the U.K. to raise tariffs on imports in order to protect the U.K. steel industry from Chinese dumping. The EU forbids anything that challenges the neoliberal consensus.
Liberals oppose a Brexit because of their twisted belief that a Brexit would strengthen the current Conservative government. If their belief was correct, then David Cameron would cheer for a Brexit, not oppose it.
The EU is designed to supplant national governments with a supranational authority that has no concern for ordinary people. When power was vested in national assemblies, these institutions, however imperfect, were at least answerable to their voters. When power was ceded to unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels, the business elites that ruled Europe were easily able to overcome popular resistance by dispensing with elections.
The EU’s neoliberal diktats cannot be repealed except through the unanimous agreement of all 28 member states. The electorate of a particular country can vote their government out, but they cannot revoke the laws that their government agreed to, nor exercise any control over the European Commission that enforces those laws.
The referendum is the only chance this generation will ever have to vote on their membership in an institution that wields far too much power. A vote to leave is a necessary stepping-stone to a more egalitarian society.
Liberals who are campaigning to remain have only been able to maintain their enthusiasm for the EU by ignoring its shameful record, and by clinging to an exalted image of a progressive body that has never existed outside of their imaginations.