Long live May Day! Defend internationalism!

In the midst of the carnival of reaction that is Brexit – with sections of the left like the CPB, the Socialist Party, the SWP, aided by the leaders of the RMT, playing the clowns, while Nigel Farage and Gerard Batten play the more serious forces of darkness – internationalism is at a premium.

May Day has always been a focus for workers around the world and this year it is a contrasting picture all right. With a monstrous racist and misogynist in the White House, and an admirer of fascist junta, Jair Bolsonaro, in the presidential place in Brazil, there are plenty of shadows all right.

In Europe too we have Italy’s Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orbán beating the drums of anti-migrant hysteria. Populist right wing parties are predicted to becomforme the largest single bloc in the EU parliament later this month.


Nevertheless the revolutionary events in Algeria and Sudan as well as powerful movements of resistance to Trump in the USA and to Brexit in the UK, with huge general strikes in India, and the formation of a new anti-capitalist workers party in South Africa, there a signs of hope too.

That is why socialists in Britain should not be triangulating with the anti-migration Brexiteers. Labour should completely and utterly reject accepting as a fait accompli the end of free movement and indeed Brexit itself.

Forty years in the European Union whatever its neoliberal policies (all pioneered in Britain long before they took hold in the continent) mean that millions of “Europeans” live, study and work in Britain and vice versa. The working class in Britain is multinational. It is our strength against our bosses, not something to bemoan.

Red Flag has fought and will go on fighting against Brexit and Labour’s concessions to it. We need to build links with our comrades across the Channel and the North Sea. We should reach out in solidarity with workers there fighting austerity, linking young people who mobilise for Youth Strikes and Extinction Rebellion.

To make this concrete we propose that all the internationalist forces in Britain and Europe should fight to reconvene a European Social Forum like the one in Florence in 2002, that launched the huge antiwar and anticapitalist marches. It is disgrace that we have fewer international links than we had then. Faced with climate change, faced with an assault on wages and the welfare state and soon to be faced with the next capitalist crisis, we need active solidarity.

Our outreach to Europe – our rejection of Brexit – is not because we ignore the fact that the EU is a would-be imperialist superstate. We need to fight together within Europe against its rulers, the bankers and bureaucrats.

If as seems likely Britain does take part in the European Parliamentary elections, then we say vote Labour – despite our criticism that it fails the acid test of internationalism. Why? Because the other anti-Brexit parties are not only tiny and unable to mount a serious opposition to Farage and Co. but also because they are not working class parties with roots in the trade unions and working class communities.

It is the only party that could win a people’s vote and reject the most destructive form of Brexit. It is a party among whose mass membership, we can fight to change its wrong policy on free movement. Labour is the only realistic barrier against a Farage landslide which will then be used to push for a no deal Brexit. And if you think Brexit has increased Islamophobia, racist attacks and patriotism, then you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Vote Labour in EU election but step up the fight to change its policy on Brexit and free movement.

Action programme for Europe

Within Europe our aims must be to end austerity and wage a fight to take the power into the hands of governments of working people. The next oncoming capitalist crisis must be met not with more austerity, but with socialisation of all firms declaring redundancies or bankruptcy.

We need united action against the rationalisation, plant closures and job losses planned by the big car and components factories across Europe. But we should also fight for social ownership and workers’ control of the transport sector so it can be built and run on renewable energy.

We should go beyond Labour’s timid pledges to renationalise rail franchise holders as their contracts expire and fight for a socialised pan-European rail network.

To facilitate these measures we will need to repeal the Lisbon Treaty and all neoliberal policies that obstruct the preservation and extension of public ownership.

We need also to replace the “posting of workers directive” and the ECJ’s Viking-Laval rulings with laws which give migrant workers rights to a living wage, recruit them to the unions in the host countries and give them full access to the social services.

Our demand must be to open the borders of Fortress Europe to refugees and those seeking work, granting those who wish to remain full citizenship and social rights. We need to dissolve Nato and bring back European troops from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. On the other hand we need to send aid – including arms to progressive forces fighting for human rights, democracy and socialism

We need to replace the toothless EU parliament, the unelected EU Commission and European Court of Justice with a sovereign European Constituent Assembly, elected by all those over the age of 16.

Last but not least we need a European revolutionary socialist movement as part a new Fifth International, whose slogan for our continent is: A United Socialist States of Europe.

Red Flag is a socialist organisation campaigning within Labour for a democratically planned and owned economy. We campaign for grassroots democracy in the labour movement, militant defence of the oppressed and an anticapitalist programme for the Labour Party. Against Brexit, for free movement. Anticapitalist and internationalist.

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