Knowing what way to vote in the EU referendum isn’t easy. Europe has been good to us, but then it’s no angel. It doesn’t help that the “debate” is little more than the acting out of a Tory civil war and leadership contest, but decide we must.
On balance, membership of the European Union is probably a good thing for Scotland. When it comes to how this author will vote on 23 June, however, the jury is out. So far the entire campaign – on both sides – has descended into the rattling of clichéd slogans and populist claptrap, with only the “separatists” setting out a responsible and well-reasoned argument for Remain on the peripheries of UK politics. What the voting public needs most right now; more than simply being told how to vote by xenophobes on one side and neoliberal sycophants on the other, is some much needed perspective.
(@LeanneWood) May 23, 2016
As its ongoing diabolical handling of the refugee crisis and its economically aggressive intervention in Greece and Portugal demonstrate, the European Union is not a humanitarian institution with the best interests of humanity at heart. Constitutionally, from the 1957 Treaty of Rome, every EU member state is bound to the Washington Consensus, the neoliberal politico-economics of the free market, privatisation, deregulation, and the preferential revenue option for the rich. In essence what the European project has become is a super financial association with significant political clout, allowing Christoph Hermann to find that “Europe shares the same outcome with other regions of the world where neoliberal restructuring has been put into effect: There has been a major redistribution of wealth from work-contingent income to ownership-contingent income.”
Democratically the EU is opaque. Yes, in the strictest sense the European Union is a democracy, but then so Westminster. We don’t know how the instruments of European democracy work other than that, like in Britain, real power is in the hands of an unelected civil service of bureaucrats and technocrats of whom we have little knowledge, and over whom we have no control. In terms of protecting us from the globalised effects of unrestrained capitalism like TTIP and the expansionism of the US industrial military complex the EU is worse than useless, but, again it must be reiterated, that this is no different from the élitist and corporatist Westminster political superstructure we’d be left with outside the European Union.
We’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t. Given that neoliberalism – the global plutocracy – is the order of the day, the day-to-day business of governance and policy won’t change much no matter which way we vote (frustrating but true nonetheless). What then we must consider is which of these possible outcomes is better for Scotland; an isolationist and increasingly fascistic Westminster run United Kingdom held in check by European accord and regulations, or one without. As London returns less to Scotland through the mechanisms of the Barnett formula than the sum of what it takes, Europe does offer a wider market for exports and employment.
Tory austerity with its fetish for securitisation and the criminalisation of poverty is not the austerity of Europe’s more socially democratic models. Without the many enterprise and community development grants of a more communitarian EU, and left with the truly Dickensian mindset of Cameron, Osborne, Johnson, and Farage, Scotland – as with much of the UK – will find itself pushed politically and economically further to the edges of European civilisation than we are already geographically situated. The bottom line is that the EU is far from perfect. It was never constructed with us in mind, but then being on Westminster’s mind has never been much comfort to us.
Noam Chomsky on EU’s democracy deficit