Taking Control Must Mean Defence of the Rights of All Human Beings
Theresa May gave her speech as leader of the Conservative Party to its conference on October 5. It was meant to set out her vision for Britain after Brexit. The Conservatives’ take on Brexit is for an outpouring of the racism and xenophobia of the ruling elite. This represents an intensification of the vile campaign of racism and chauvinism demonstrated during the Referendum campaign.
However, for the working class, far from succumbing to the chauvinism promoted by Theresa May and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, opposition to nation-wrecking and neo-liberal globalisation goes hand in hand with internationalism.
The fundamental feature of saying No to the EU has been opposition to austerity. Theresa May and her government have recognised this feature, and have hypocritically positioned themselves as the “party of working people”. But their ugly racist rhetoric demonstrates how opposed they are to the rights of working people.
One can look at their consistent racist immigration policy, their colonialism, their mixing up of nationality and citizenship. One can look at their refusal to recognise what it actually means to build a modern sovereign state. Hidden beneath the rhetoric is hysteria, and an anti-worker assault.
The issue of the working class taking control of the economy is not one of deciding anything based on race or national origin, but an opposition to the control of the economy by an imperialist ruling elite.
The government has such a good record, according to Theresa May, yet working people sense that “today that the world works well for a privileged few, but not for them” so who should they blame? It is clear that while in words the Tory leader can assert that “the referendum was not just a vote to withdraw from the EU. It was about something broader – something that the European Union had come to represent,” the government’s policy as embodied in the conference was something narrower: to replace internationalism with chauvinism. To remove the rights of immigrant workers is to continue the abuse of migrant labour and to attack the rights of all.
Numbers are not the issue; the “free movement of labour” – along with that of “capital, goods and services” – is not a freedom for the people. These are means to pay the rich, enforce monopoly right, attack the living and working conditions of both migrant labour and those resident in Britain.
Rhetoric and hypocrisy is the name of the game. What Theresa May said is: “So change has got to come. Because if we don’t respond – if we don’t take this opportunity to deliver the change people want – resentments will grow. Divisions will become entrenched. And that would be a disaster for Britain.” Well, yes. But what followed was pure chauvinism and contempt for the people, “respect the bonds and obligations that make our society work”, a “one United Kingdom”, a “Britain where everyone plays by the same rules and every person has the opportunity to be all they want to be”.
In opposition to this, the kind of Brexit required is one where power is transferred into hands of people of Britain, i.e. everyone who exists on the soil of Britain. The EU of the monopolies through its institutions and the so-called European Court of Justice (ECJ), a completely separate institution from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), had shown that it came down on the side of the monopolies, not the rights of working people. It represented the concentration of economic and political power in the hands of the EU monopolies. Now the Conservatives’ programme is on its own account to attempt to further deprive the people of their rights.
May’s Brexit programme is a corruption and hijacking of what opposition to imperialist globalisation represents. It is her Third Way: “to reject the ideological templates provided by the socialist left and the libertarian right and to embrace a new centre ground”. It represents only the self-serving interests and backward prejudices of the ruling elite that the government embodies. In this way, working people are also being blamed for the tsunami of racism and backwardness that is coming from the Conservative government. “Closing the door” is not synonymous with building an all-round, sovereign, self-reliant economy. Sovereign control of the economy is required. Control of the economy and international trade for mutual benefit are two sides of the same coin. The content of Brexit for the working class is opposition to imperialist globalisation. May is putting forward a corruption of this opposition to mean chauvinism and racism, which has been the stand of the establishment all along. The issue is who controls a sovereign economy. Control of a sovereign economy by the working class and people is precisely what Theresa May and the global monopolies would like to block. Her saying, “To bring power home and make decisions here in Britain,” is to throw sand in working people’s eyes since the people of Britain are brutally excluded from decision-making. It is “democracy” for the monopolies and the City of London, not the working class of Britain.
Theresa May spoke of “taking back control and shaping the future here in Britain”. The fact is that those who own and control the social wealth the working class produces have formed a monopoly front of the financial oligarchy to serve their narrow private interests. This is Theresa May’s “us all”. Through its control of the mass media and the official political discourse, this monopoly front wages constant ideological warfare to poison the people’s social consciousness. The stand of working people in the Referendum campaign has had to cope with this ideological warfare. The result in this context has meant opposition to the imposition of supra-national arrangements that negate nation-building and facilitate empire-building. It has meant opposition to the so-called free-trade agreements that give the right to the international monopolies to dictate terms to sovereign governments and peoples and ride roughshod over the rights of working people. It has meant opposition to interference in the affairs of sovereign peoples, opposition to aggression and intervention in the name of humanitarian causes, opposition to unequal treaties and predatory wars.
Exploitative relations between states must be ended, whether it is the supra-national entity of the EU of the monopolies imposing a wrecking agenda on European nations, or indeed Britain’s colonial relations with countries of Africa, its warmongering which has displaced so many people, its exploitation of the human and natural resources of the African continent, the Caribbean, the South Asian sub-continent, East Asia, and other regions of the world which has caused so much devastation that mass migrations of peoples have been forced. Not to mention the recruitment on a consciously racist basis for jobs, particularly in public services, and also the agricultural sector controlled by big land-owners and agricultural monopolies. As well as the racist attitude to who constitutes “the British”, based on national origin, and the imposition of the values of the ruling Westminster elite as “British values”. In fact, it is the new path for “Making Britain Great Again”. However, its prejudice is such that its effects are to further wreck the economy of Britain, not to mention its standing in the world. In this situation, the working class and people must unite in defence of rights and justice and settle scores with those who have defined both “Remain” and “Leave” in racist and chauvinist terms.
The working class organised as a potent political force in alliance with all the democratic forces of Britain must set their sights on the organisation of society on a new and modern basis. The crisis of working class representation remains to be resolved. Imperialist globalisation must be ended and instead a globalisation based on trade for mutual benefit and respect for sovereignty built in its place. This is not a matter of adopting correct or even simply pro-social policies. It is a matter of getting organised as a coherent force to spearhead that struggle to deprive the imperialist ruling elite of their grip on power. It is a question of getting organised to turn around the situation, and end everything old, rotten, chauvinist, racist and reeking of class privilege represented by the monopoly capitalists and their political representatives.
The will of the working class was decisive in the result of the Brexit referendum. Brexit for the working class and people means that solutions on how society and the economy is organised must be found by organising in Britain. It does not mean siding with one section or another of monopoly capital. Now let us all discuss and argue out what favours the working class and people.
“Seize the day,” as Theresa May appropriates the call of the progressive forces. But for the working class and people, seizing the day means rejecting the “choices” that the ruling monopoly capitalist class are “offering” the people. They are only offering “solutions” that serve the rich and the reactionary forces which seek to dominate the discussion.
The new situation demands new methods of organising and practical politics. There must be a modern “Brexit”, in the sense that working people fight to forge a path, make use of the opportunity, to take control of the future, advance towards a modern world worthy of and consistent with modern humanity. Brexit means that the people must play their role, an independent role, taking the initiative, and fighting to build a front of the people against monopoly right and for sovereignty and decision-making, and that the working class must take the lead, building a proletarian front in fighting for the people’s empowerment.
Uphold the rights of all! Organise to take control of the economy and society!