Europe

1. Introduction: United Europe and the Marxist tradition

Working class socialists will advise workers how to vote in the UK’s European Union (EU) in/out referendum by addressing the actual question on the ballot paper and by evaluating the known, quantifiable consequences of the options. Judged on the basis of workers’ interests, it is clear that however much the EU is a capitalist club, however neoliberal it is, however hostile it plainly is to migrants and refugees seeking shelter – the alternative of “Britain out” in today’s conditions will be far worse.

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2. Marxists in the nineteenth century

Marx and Engels developed their original synthesis of socialism as working class self-liberation through combining elements of English political economy, Germany philosophy and French socialism. Marx and Engels inherited the common sense demand for a federal united Europe from other socialist writings of their time – for example Henri Saint-Simon and Augustin Thierry’s De la reorganisation de la societe europeenne (1814).

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3. The debate on a united Europe around the First World War

The threat of world war did not recede into the new century. On the contrary, it became clear by the second decade of the twentieth century that Europe was fast heading towards a terrible armed conflict. In these circumstances, the demand for European unity took on a growing urgency.

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4. The Comintern and the Fourth International

The nascent Russian workers’ state survived beleaguered the civil war and resulting economic collapse, but saw capitalism stabilise and the immediate possibilities of workers’ revolution recede across Europe. Lenin and Trotsky sought to reorient the Communist Parties through their joint work in the Communist International, particularly at the Third (July 1921) and Fourth (November 1922) Congresses.

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5. Third Camp Trotskyism on European unity

Just before Trotsky’s death, a dreadful schism took place within the Fourth International. A debate sparked by the Hitler-Stalin pact within the American SWP resulting in a split within Trotskyism, between the ‘orthodox’ strand of Cannon and Mandel on the one hand and the heterodox, Third Camp Trotskyism of Shachtman and Draper on the other. Within less than a decade they would become political formations with very different politics: the former a satellite of Stalinism, while the latter fought desperately to utilise Marxism to understand the new post-war world.

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Dutch anti-racists ask for help

Ninety demonstrators were arrested in Gouda, in the Netherlands, on 15 November, when they peacefully protested against a “Black Pete” show.

The Netherlands celebrates a Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) day on 5 December, and since the middle of the 19th century the figure dressed up as Santa Claus is often accompanied by another, “Black Pete”, who is “blacked up” to represent a Santa Claus’s servant or slave.

Ninety demonstrators were arrested in Gouda, in the Netherlands, on 15 November, when they peacefully protested against a “Black Pete” show.

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Europe (AWL conference document 2014)

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Click here for index page for documents from AWL conference 2014



In or out, the class fight goes on, but rather EU membership than withdrawal

Running scared from UKIP, the Tories have promised an in/out referendum on the EU if they win the general election in 2015. Significant sections of the labour movement are pushing Labour to offer a referendum.

Document adopted by conference, plus alternative text which fell for lack of a proposer, and background document considered by conference.

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Silencing the wage slaves

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Section on working class politics in Europe

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Articles:

Europe: The workers against mainstream politics (Hugh Jenkins)
Blair plans a coup against party democracy
The alternative Europe (Ken Coates MEP)
What real reformists think of Blair (Anne Mack)
Debate: Should we call for a workers' government?

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