Brexit: a quagmire for all factions of the ruling class

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Brexit: a quagmire for all factions of the ruling class
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A great piece analyzing the dilemnas facing the British ruling class. The main problem for it seems to be that if the referendumn was called as a means of putting the European issue to rest, there is now no more consensus among the "main factions," that Brexit can or should be be effectively opposed. This is unlike the US, where three years after his election, Trump is still an outcast, whom the main factions are attempting to sabatoge at just about every turn. If they have moved on from Russiagate hysteria they are now on to a media campaign around "white supremacy" as the means of discrediting him. Of course, the circumstances are not entirely comparable--the British bourgeoisie has one chance to get Brexit right, while the US bourgeoisie will get another shot at Trump in the normal course of its democratic game in about 18 months.

Decomposition and the Left

I agree with JK's comments about this article: an excellent analysis and in continuity with that produced by the UK section in January, The British bourgeoisie is losing control of its political game.

One element perhaps to be developed, arising from both pieces: the effect of decomposition on the Labour Party, ‘Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition’ in GB.

Traditionally and generally, the ICC would say that the Parliamentary and extra-parliamentary Left was best placed in opposition except at moments of rising class struggle, or a times when the centre of right had simply outstayed it’s welcome, had become ‘worn out’ in electoral terms.

Given the low levels of class struggle and consciousness at present, it didn’t hurt the UK ruling class in the least to have a subdued Labour Party (albeit with a reactivated left flank in the shape of Momentum) with Corbyn its most unelectable leader since Michael Foot. This is in continuity with the general fading of Social Democracy as an electoral force in much of Europe and the Americas.

Nonetheless, given the rise of populism (UKIP, Farage, etc), the referendum mistake of Cameron and the subsequent unravelling of the bourgeoisie’s control over its own direction, it must be considered that the rise of Corbyn – sporting a classic UK Stalinist stance long opposed to the EU (“just a club for rich capitalists”) at the very time when the Labour Party might have played a pro-Euro role (forget all that guff about 'white workers wanting out of Europe' – a majority of Labour supporters who vote in many parts of the UK were and are ‘remainers’) and mitigated the mess currently unfolding.

Corbyn at the head of Labour should be seen as yet another ‘mistake’ of the British bourgeoisie under the pressure of populism and decomposition, IMO.

I thought this an excellent

I thought this an excellent analysis. The Tory Party coming up against Farage has been going on in one form or another, festering, since John Major's government but who would have predicted this mess. Parliament, as if to confirm popular opinion, has shown itself as a complete shambles with a no no-deal, no-Brexit majority completely unable to consolidate a voting bloc, instead fractionating and falling out amongst themselves or coming up with ludicrous ideas such as the Green Party's all women anti-Brexit front. As the text says, the present government clique knows what it wants and is pursuing it ruthlessly.

There's a strong imperialist element to this tied in with Trump administration of Britain's future relationship, as the text says, and Ireland could play a big part in this from both sides of the question.

I too wondered about the Labour Party and thought that Corbyn, a wily old Stalinist, might have been onto a winner by standing aloof and letting the Tories tear themselves apart but essentially the present situation is just as much a quagmire for the Labour Party. I don't think you can predict what will happen next but if Johnson does cut a deal it is back to the same situation that May was in...

Obviously, the situation has

Obviously, the situation has deteriorated a great deal since this article as published. B. Johnson is getting the bulk of the media hate, but one wonders if this is what he signed on for or was he set-up for it? The main factions seems intent on obstructing Brexit, but can't find a way to comfortably fit that into the narrative of democratic ideology. Parlianet has rejected a deal and now no deal. What does it want exactly? Johnson is presented as a lame duck by the media, unable to govern, yet not many want an election. What are they afraid of? Corbyn (who is no fan of the EU himself, really) or Johnson returned to power backed by Farage's Brexit die hards?

In any event, what is really taking a beating right now is the democratic ideology itself: "the people" vote for Brexit, yet it is obstructed at every turn, Trump wins an election, but there is a vicious media campaign to derail his Presidency. Demcoracy appears more and more openly to be an ideological veneer fo the ruling class. It is fine when it delivers the right result, but a great incovienence when it doesn't.

So that's why...

This article by a bourgeois academic is the best thing I've read so far in explaining exactly how and why the British ruling class has got itself into such a mess with Brexit, and in particular why the obvious interests of British capitalism have not been able to assert themselves - something that has been puzzling me for a while now...


MH wrote:

MH wrote:

This article by a bourgeois academic is the best thing I've read so far in explaining exactly how and why the British ruling class has got itself into such a mess with Brexit, and in particular why the obvious interests of British capitalism have not been able to assert themselves - something that has been puzzling me for a while now...


Interesting piece, but isn't his point that there really is no such thing as "British capitalism" anymore? Capital is globalized to the detriment of the (nation) state. Brexit (Trump and populism more generally) are something like rearguard efforts by the state to discipline the globalizing tendencies of capitlalism unleashed as a reuslt of the crisis. In a second rate power like the UK, this will obviously lead to all kinds of difficulties and will appear to most observers as irrational, "deluded" (as the author suggests) and even suicidal, but what about in the US? Is what is being challenged by populism some fundamental intractable interest of capital or is it only a predominant consensus of those factions of the bourgeoise who happen to be politically dominant today?

Of course, in today's muddled ideological universe, it may be the case that some of the more hardened Brexiteers (or Trumpists) are not really populists at all, but hard libertarian free marketers exploiting the chaos to their advantage, but this probably doesn't change the underlying dynamic of populism as a kind of mangled backlash to the most extreme tendencies of globalized capitalism.

Yes – good point. Even if we

Yes – good point. Even if we accept an element of hyperbole it poses some pretty big questions, doesn’t it? If globalisation/neoliberalism was essentially a strategy adopted by capital in order to put an end to the post-68 upsurge of class struggle then populism was part of the price it is paying for the success of this strategy in inflicting a deep political defeat on the proletariat. But if capital has become/is becoming increasingly detached from the nation state this could also be a factor in explaining why the prospect of a new world war has also receded? Maybe the whole model of a national capital mobilising 'its' proletariat behind the state to fight for national capitalist interests as part of a bloc became outmoded rather than simply being challenged by decomposition.

Whether capitalism itself is

Whether capitalism itself is becoming globalised and breaking away from the nation state is an interesting question. I think that there is a partial disengagement of national capitals alongside a need for a nation state to protect the interests of capitalism from the working class. Also the ideology of nationalism is still a poweful poison used by capitalists of all nations to keep the working class from developing an independent communist perspective. This can be seen in the current Brexit general election in the UK. All sides are scrambling to get their noses in the parliamentary trough. I think this may be the first nasty xenophobic election and workers may fall once more for this poison.