Return to Recent Articles menu

Brexit update 3 -  Brexit and the left

Between opportunism and reaction

11 September 2019

At the moment the activity of the Left groups is to stand with social democracy and liberalism in  defending parliamentary democracy against the Johnson coup.

As explained elsewhere,  this is a necessary activity, but not a sufficient one. The major political forces are perfectly capable of fighting their corner. It could be predicted that they would turn towards parliament rather than mobilise on the streets, but the socialist groups lack the politics and momentum to build an extraparliamentary movement and are largely invisible.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the labour party brought new life and a new audience to sections of the British left, while others became more inward looking in their rejection of that audience.

In the West socialist groups are numerically weak, declining alongside the fall in membership of social democratic parties and trade unions. Workers activity has fallen off as they try to adapt to ongoing attacks and deal with supine political leaderships.

Numerical weakness is allied with political weakness. Socialist groups are split on Brexit, mainly because of a lack of class analysis. A fantastical "Lexit" was advanced either because of blatant opportunism, adaptation to British national chauvinism, or a mixture of both, with a pale reflection in the Irish movement.

Faced with an upsurge in racism and reaction, some socialists tried to ally themselves with the mob while others fell in behind the liberal opposition. It will not be easy to recover from this collapse, with leftists lacking the tools of class analysis that could put them on the right road.

The starting point for a regroupment is just such a class analysis. Say what  you see, then list the tasks that face the workers if they are to resist.

This is the foundation of a working class programme.

So the central points are for a socialist society at home, a United Socialist States of Europe abroad.

That doesn't mean that we won't stand with English liberals in defence of their sorry excuse for a parliamentary democracy. What we won't do is surrender the voice of the working class to join in that defence.

Brexit update 1 Britain
Brexit update 2 Ireland

Return to top of page