When I was a young chap (before television, let alone the internet) there used to be at celebratory gatherings a silly collective song/dance called the Hoky Coky. Forming a circle the participants of this silly, but harmless, nonsense were encouraged to sing along with the music. The words included the following; “you put your left leg in, your left leg out; you do the Hoky Coky and shake it all about”. All the parts of the human anatomy were progressively instructed by the compare to be moved toward the centre of the circle and taken out again in time to the music, before ‘he’ (yes usually a he) called an end to the activity or the band stopped playing. To my mind this vintage form of keeping busy by fruitless ‘entertainment’ stands as a cultural analogue to the political encouragement the working classes are now having from the elite. Working people are being encouraged to put their efforts, time and votes into deciding whether to place themselves in and out of a capitalist Europe.
A number of years ago workers were encouraged by a section of the pro-capitalist elite to vote in – so things will get better. Now they are to be encouraged by a section of the elite to vote out – so that things will get better. Does the hollowness of that promise ring any bells? Should we be trusting any of them? To my mind its another invitation to a political game of Hoky Coky (or should that be Hocus Pocus) dressed up as a question of profound political importance – for everyone! The six-month (or more) debate on ‘IN’ or ‘OUT’ of Europe, dubbed ‘Brexit’, began in the UK in late February 2016 and doubtless will continue to dominate the media in Europe and elsewhere for some time. Despite the steady disintegration of the capitalist dominated European Economic Community and the crumbling socio-economic collapse of the various nation-states of the world – including the most advanced – the British media, in particular has focussed public attention on the outcome of a fairly useless referendum.
Is it not a remarkable fact that the issue of in or out of the European project has never been one instigated or generated by working people or the poor? There have never been petitions or demonstrations generated initially from working class organisations demanding the joining or leaving of the EEC. The question of being in or out of the economic and political organisation of European states has always been one that the capitalist and pro-capitalist elite have initiated and in some cases sustained. The topic is also one which has divided these elites on the basis of their perceived interests. Some have calculated that they would benefit from being in the ‘club’ others that they would be worse. Each side of this elite-promoted disagreement have sought to involve others including the working classes and poor (and their organisations) as voting fodder to assist whichever outcome they prefer.
In or out of Europe, the world will still be in the grip of a fundamental economic, financial, social, ecological and moral crisis, in which the elite ‘system’ will be used to impoverish the working classes and poor. The only difference to being in or out will be which set of finance-capitalists and bureaucrats will be at the forefront of orchestrating the squeeze on the living standards and welfare of the poorest in society. For this reason ‘in or out’ of the European Economic Community, the working-classes, white collar and blue along with sections of the middle-classes will be fighting not only to prevent further deterioration of their standards of living, but in many cases for their actual lives. The working classes and the poor would do well to concentrate their time and energy in achieving solidarity with each other than solidarity with one or other sections of the pro-capitalist establishment. Because ‘in or out’ our societies will continue to be ‘shaken about’ as the rich and their representatives defend their privileges with all means possible.
Roy Ratcliffe (March 2016)