Tuesday, May 31, 2005

FALL OUT FROM THE NO VOTE

The French Business Federation is crying about the No vote. They wanted to impose Thatcherism across France, which they claim would increase employment. (As though that were their main concern and not profits!) British unemployment figures (5.2%) are contrasted with France (10.3%) In terms of working class living standards these figures might not mean much. If most of the “extra” jobs in the UK are minimum wage or are of a precarious nature, then the only people to benefit are the rich minority who hire these slaves. Workers may well be better off on the dole in France than working for peanuts in the UK. There is also the problem of how that low unemployment came about - and this is certainly frightening to the average French worker. Thatcherism devastated scores of communities and ruined thousands of lives. In the heyday of the Iron Lady - in the 1980's - the unemployment rate in the UK was 12% and France only 2%. Hundreds of thousands of real jobs - i.e. making things - were destroyed and these were replaced by McJobs. Is this what the French workers want? Sure, stagnation is a drag, but the deliberate creation of misery is far worse.

The same is also said about Canada - our employment rate is always higher than the US. But who in their right mind would trade the Canadian situation for that of the American worker? US workers work longer, have far less vacation time, are overwhelmingly non-union, their UI is even worse than here, and in most states, thanks to the totalitarian "at will" law have no rights whatsoever.( See my Blog, March 23 for information on the evil "at will" law)

Some commentators have said that while “the French” find the Constitution too Thatcherite, “the British” find it too social. How do these commentators know what “the British” think? And which “British” ? Opposition to the constitution in France was working class. Would workers in the UK be much different in that regard? Perhaps this claim about what the British think is linked to the fact the progressive opposition in the UK does not have the resources that the French opponents have. The reason for this is that France is in many ways a more libertarian society than Britain. The authoritarian “first past the post” electoral system excludes all those Greens, Communists, and Trots who make up an important part of the opposition. The democratic press laws make sure that opposition papers get a wide circulation. French political parties are not petty dictatorships, thus Fabius and Hollande of the Socialist Party took opposite positions on the referendum, without the bullying, threats and expulsions that such opposition would incur within the Labour Party. (Think only of what the Blairites did to George Galloway for opposing the conquest of Iraq.)

Kevin Carson points out in the comments section of the previous article on the EU referendum, that while he is pleased for the Europeans, a weakened EU is not as strong a rival to US imperialism. I agree that the US should not be able to totally dominate the world and that a block composed of the EU, Russia and Latin America, would be a good thing. But the EU would be a much better rival to the US if it also provided a different model of society. The present Constitution was an attempt to import US style capitalism into Europe. The popular forces are pushing to create that alternative Europe, it might take a while to succeed and defeat the neocon reaction, but if it does, the whole world will turn to Europe and the US State and its corporate creatures will be in for a real shock.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Good point. I'd like to see Europe attempt an ideological counterweight, along the lines of the radical axis in South America (but less "mixed economy" and more decentralist than Chavez's "Bolivarianism").

8:35 PM  
Blogger Anglonoel said...

There is some comment about the EU on my blog under the heading "Europe 2- European Union 0", if anyone is interested.

12:21 PM  

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