Too many on the left in Britain view the European Union with a combination of fear and loathing. The EU is rightly characterised as a ‘bosses' club’. However, this goes hand-in-hand with demands for a British withdrawal. Nationalism runs deep. Concern for national sovereignty, setting interest rates and the value of the pound have in some quarters replaced the language of working class solidarity and international socialism. As if national sovereignty was ever real. As if the British state was not a bosses' club. As if there is a British road to socialism.
However, there is another tradition. The tradition of Karl Marx, Fredrick Engels, Karl Kautsky, Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg. They viewed the voluntary union of peoples, and especially the working class, into the largest state units as being both something progressive and something to be actively engaged with. Against the Balkanisation imposed upon a ruined Europe after World War I, the Communist International called for a United Socialist States of Europe at the urging of Trotsky.
As shown by our pamphlet Remaking Europe and selection of articles, we defend and develop the internationalist tradition - vindicated, not least by the tremendous rise of class struggles in Europe. Our aim too is a United Socialist States of Europe … and obviously the place to realise that aim is within and against the existing European Union. Success in Europe is decisive for the ultimate success of the communist world revolution and achieving genuine human liberation.
Organisation at the highest level is vital. That is why we say the working class of Europe needs a single combat party - a Communist Party of the European Union. As a first step we urge left parties, revolutionary organisations, trade unions, cooperatives, etc, to unite around a programme of radically transforming the EU. Our watchwords must be extreme democracy, internationalism and the fight for working class rule.
European unity is one of the biggest, most complex and bitterly contested political issues of the day – there are no easy ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. Europe is an enigma. We are told it is a nascent military threat and a guarantor against war; a wide field of struggle and a remote bureaucratic machine; a black hole of patronage, subsidy and corruption and a global haven of stability, enlightenment and rationality. In this book, Jack Conrad argues that the working class can and must establish a ‘third’, fully articulated, camp with a view to winning our own, social, Europe. A Europe stamped by the working class, which is ready for its domination and rapid emancipatory extension. The 25 heads of government propose enshrining the virtues of neo-liberal capitalism, the EU’s quasi-democratic institutions and reformist palliatives. We need our own inspiring, and thoroughly practical, alternative.
A year after the election of Joseph Ratzinger to succeed John Paul II, he is steering the catholic church into new waters. Benedict XVI's Regensburg speech on September 12 marks a reassertion of a specifically catholic outlook, agenda and claims to universality, says Jack Conrad
Peter Mandelson's nomination as Britain's EU commissioner sheds light on the undemocratic nature of the EU. Jack Conrad examines how communists should challenge this institution - to build a truly democratic Europe from below
This weekend's special conference on Europe is an important opportunity for the Socialist Alliance to once again reassert its potential to unite the left on the basis of a genuine, programmatically-based and public debate around a key question of socialist politics today.
Jack Conrad discusses the great revolutionary's attitude towards European unity
Jack Conrad looks at communist theory and Europe