What is the European Union?
Fundamentally, the European Union is an expression of capitalism at its current stage of imperialism. The union is an expression of the needs of capital of western Europe, mainly, at this time and age. It is an imperialist union that primarily has three purposes:
- To coordinate the offensive of European capital against the European peoples and workers. For example, this is seen in the coordinated attacks on the right to strike in various member states like Sweden, France, Belgium and Greece, where ongoing campaigns to limit the right to strike are waged.
- To coordinate capitalists of Europe in competition with the rest of the world. The capital of European countries have joined forces to better compete on the world market and to increase efficiency of exploitation of the peoples of the world for the sake of profit maximization. This does not imply that there are no contradictions within European capital.
- To coordinate the struggle of European capitalists against socialism. An important purpose of the predecessors of EU has been to coordinate the struggle against socialism. This battle is waged partly on an ideological level through repeated attempts to equate communism with fascism, and partly by economic means through blockades against socialist countries. A number of communist parties within EU have been banned or are in the process of being banned. In Poland, for example, there are ongoing attempts to criminalize communism itself.
Like all imperialist unions, the EU is a temporary one. In his pamphlet ”On the Slogan for a United States of Europe” Lenin argues that any inter-imperialist alliance must be temporary by nature. Apart from mutual interests, participating capital also has contradictory such, which could be seen clearly with the advent of Brexit. However, this does not preclude an extent of cooperation in dividing the world. As a result of the eastern expansion, the former socialist countries have been split between the imperialists of western Europe, where primarily German and French capital has had the opportunity to expand, but where also Swedish capital has been able to tap into and subsume the Baltic states, which would not have been possible without the EU and the coordinated actions to repel Russian capital.
Waging wars for new markets, resources and their transport routes has been and is an ongoing activity of all member states to the benefit of their own monopolies, with Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine as recent examples. While officially a so called peace project, the EU is being increasingly militarized through recent initiatives like PESCO. In this respect, tensions between emerging inter-imperialist alliances sharpen on all fronts as well as within.
Mechanisms that support anti-people measures in support of EU capital are being increasingly implemented, giving it new privileges in terms of tax subsidies and exemptions in the international competition with the US, China and Russia. Taking all this and the increasing military expenditures into consideration, the EU is a driving force, not for peace, but for escalated tensions and for greater risk of generalized military conflict.
This is what the European Union is today. An imperialist alliance, the purpose of which is to benefit participating monopolies. As such, we are opponents of the European Union in the same way we are opponents of any imperialist alliance.
Leaving the European Union
The view of the Communist Party of Sweden is that the peoples must have the right to decide their own path, which also includes the right to leave the European Union.
At the same time it must be noted that the imperialist system is subject to fundamental laws of development that cannot be avoided. These laws exist within the framework of the entire system, both within and outside the European Union. To stay competitive, capital of each country needs to act accordingly, notwithstanding membership or non-membership of any imperialist alliance. In times of sharpening inter-imperialist competition, each capitalist needs to improve their competitiveness, which naturally also implies worsening conditions for the workers of their respective countries. In order to survive, at any given moment, capital forms the alliances it requires. The dynamics and the conditions the working class faces will be the same no matter if our exploiters are a formal part of the European Union or not.
For that reason, we want to make it clear that a secession to the benefit of the working class cannot be made without emancipating the working class at the same time. Within the current system, as ruling class, capital will simply realign itself according to what configuration that momentarily benefits it the most, whether as part of the European Union or not. In the same way that the struggle for peace, against racism or against fascism cannot be made separate from the question of battling capitalism itself, the struggle against the European Union or any imperialist alliance cannot be made separate from the struggle against the ruling class and for socialism.
The only alternative to the EU and all imperialist alliances, therefore, is to organize society in a completely different manner, where monopoly capital is replaced by people’s power. It requires the abolition of the institutions of capitalism, including the state, and the foundation of a workers’ state. Only this way, the dynamics of capitalism can be replaced, and genuine international cooperation on equal terms, and in peace, can be fostered. Only this way, the inherent mass unemployment of capitalism can be eradicated and good living conditions for all working people established. For this reason, the struggle for leaving the European Union must at the same time be a struggle for socialism. Leaving the European Union without socialism is not a step toward socialism, but simply a step sideways to another configuration of capitalism.
The European Union and Sweden
In Sweden there are parties and organizations on the left and on the right who claim that if Sweden just withdrew from the EU then everything would be better. This is false. We note that Brexit, above all else, was a struggle between factions of British capital, where some positioned themselves toward a withdrawal while others did the opposite, and engaged themselves for continued membership in the union. From these two fundamental positions the campaigns for and against were organized. This also meant that the two standpoints were limited to continued participation in the imperialist system, but by different means. Thus, taking side for either, meant taking sides for both.
Slogans such as “Let’s take back control”, “We want our country back!” and “Believe in Britain” clearly show the ideological utilization of nationalism that characterized the leave-campaign. All seemingly classless slogans in one way or another aimed at strengthening the ”own nation”, which under capitalism by necessity becomes the strengthening of the existing capitalist nation. Thus, the nationalist slogans promote illusions. What control do the workers have in capitalist Britain, whether within or outside of the EU? The meaning of their ”independence” remains the same in either configuration, because their oppressors and the purpose of the oppression remain the same.
In fact, for the entire duration, Britain retained its independence as a voluntary member of the EU. A status which was not changed, but further validated by the Brexit process. In this context, the nations of Britain were never subject to the oppression of any new or external nations, only its own capital, which still remains the case. The same applies to Sweden, which is why the Communist Party of Sweden rejects any opposition to the EU founded in nationalism or the national question.
We find the same problem with a withdrawal from the “left”, the purpose of which would be to advance the peoples’ and workers’ positions in a capitalist Sweden outside of the EU. The rhetoric and the promises remain false.
The “left” that advocate an unconditional withdrawal create illusions about imperialism and about the possibilities that are at hand for the workers outside of the union. They mean that a withdrawal will improve the situation of working class in the individual country, as if the capitalists existed outside the context of imperialism, and were subject to a different set of rules outside the union than within. It is a dangerous game, because in the end the hopes will turn out to be the illusions they always were and all the promises that were given will turn out to be false.
Therefore it is crucial that the communists do not let themselves be used as tools for one capitalist faction or the other. It is of crucial importance that communists clearly present the only possible alternative to capitalism, the EU, and to all other imperialist congregations, which is socialism.
No to the EU and to capitalism, yes to socialism!