• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class

Islamabad.

There is an essential condition in the European Union’s charter of union according to which the under-developed countries of Europe that joined the EU allowed free movement of goods (free trade) only on the reciprocal condition that the developed countries would allow the free movement of labor.

What’s obvious in this condition is the fact that free trade only benefits the countries that have a strong manufacturing base; and free movement of workers only favors the under-developed countries where labor is cheap.

While joining the EU, Britain compromised on the rights of its working class in order to protect the interests of the industrialists, because free trade with the rest of the EU countries spurred British exports.

I am of the opinion that the British working classes must have overwhelmingly voted in favor of Brexit, because after Britain’s entry into EU and when the Schengen Agreement on abolishing the internal border checks among the EU member states became effective in 1995, the cheaper labor force of Eastern Europe flooded the markets of Western Europe; and consequently the wages of indigenous British labor force dropped and it also became difficult for them to find jobs because the foreigners were willing to do the same job for lesser pay, hence raising the level of unemployment among the British workers and consequent discontentment with the EU.

The biggest incentive for the British working class to vote for Brexit is that the East European workers will have to leave Britain after its exit from the EU, and the jobs will once again become available with better wages to the indigenous workforce.

Keeping in view the principle of reciprocity enshrined in the EU’s Charter that free trade should be made contingent upon the free movement of labor, now, when the international financial institutions, like the IMF and WTO, promote free trade by exhorting the developing countries all over the world to reduce tariffs and subsidies without the reciprocal free movement of labor, whose interests do such institutions try to protect? Obviously, such global financial institutions espouse the interests of their biggest donors by shares, i.e. the developed countries.

Some market fundamentalists who irrationally believe in the laissez-faire capitalism try to justify this unfair practice by positing Schumpeter’s theory of ‘creative destruction’ that the free trade between unequal trade partners leads to the destruction of the host country’s existing economic order and a subsequent reconfiguration, somehow, gives birth to a better economic order.

Whenever one comes up with gross absurdities such proportions, they should always make it contingent on the principle of reciprocity: that is, if free trade is beneficial for the nascent industrial base of the underdeveloped countries, then the free movement of labor is equally beneficial for the working classes of the developed countries.

The policy makers of the developing countries must not fall prey to such deceptive arguments, instead, they must formulate policies which suit the interests of their working classes. The only trouble is that the governments of the Third World are dependent on foreign investment and the global loan sharks, that’s why, they cannot adopt an independent economic and trade policy.

The so-called “multinational” corporations based in the Western financial districts make profits from the consumer markets all over the world and pay a share of those profits to their respective governments as bribes in the form of taxes. Every balance of trade deficit due to the lack of strong manufacturing base makes the developing nations poorer, and every balance of trade surplus further adds to the already immense fortune of the developed world.

A single large multinational corporation owns more assets than the total GDP of many developing nations. Without this neocolonial system of exploitation the whole edifice of supposedly “meritocratic” capitalism will fall flat on its face; and the myth of individual incentive would get busted beyond repair, because it only means incentive for the pike and not for the minnows.

Although, the champions of globalization and neoliberalism all over the world must be mourning the fate of EU after Brexit, but the recent success of right-wingers all over the world: like the rise of Trump in America, Brexit in Europe, the success of Modi and his hardline BJP in India, the emergence of Buddhist extremists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar and the ascendancy of Islamic hardliners in the Muslim-majority countries, all of these are not the success of conservatism, as such. Conservatism is an outdated political ideology which is simply not a match for the more refined liberal worldview.

The aforementioned reactionary anomalies signify only one thing: the failure of neoliberalism as a political and economic ideology. Social liberalism of ‘60s and ‘70s used to be an inclusive and egalitarian philosophy while neoliberalism, ‘90s-onwards, with its exclusive emphasis on economic growth and elitist values, and without any regard for social justice and class equality, is losing its appeal among the masses all over the world.

In fact, politics has become such a comic business after the onset of neoliberalism that actual comedians like Jimmy Morales won a resounding victory in the Guatemalan elections last year; similarly, the Italian comedian Beppe Grillo’s “Five Star movement” also secured more than 100 deputies in the last Italian elections; and the biggest tragicomic of them all, Donald Trump, too, is all set for a victory in November this year.

Finally and in the nutshell, I would contend that Brexit is actually a blessing in disguise for the EU as well as Britain. The latter always closely identified with the American interests and foreign policy, while France and Germany took the lead in managing the affairs of EU. After Britain’s exit from the EU, it will align itself more closely with the American policy; and the member states of EU too, in the absence of pro-US Britain, might be able to form a more cohesive and coherent union.

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and MENA regions, neocolonialism and Petroimperialism.

More articles by:

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and MENA regions, neocolonialism and Petroimperialism.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

May 22, 2019
T.J. Coles
Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants and Then Buys their Services
Thomas Knapp
A US War on Iran Would be Evil, Stupid, and Self-Damaging
Johnny Hazard
Down in Juárez
Mark Ashwill
Albright & Powell to Speak at Major International Education Conference: What Were They Thinking?
Binoy Kampmark
The Victory of Small Visions: Morrison Retains Power in Australia
Laura Flanders
Can It Happen Here?
Dean Baker
The Money in the Trump/Kushner Middle East Peace Plan
Manuel Perez-Rocha – Jen Moore
How Mining Companies Use Excessive Legal Powers to Gamble with Latin American Lives
George Ochenski
Playing Politics With Coal Plants
Ted Rall
Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat
May 21, 2019
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Locked in a Cold War Time Warp
Roger Harris
Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire
Patrick Cockburn
Trump is Making the Same Mistakes in the Middle East the US Always Makes
Robert Hunziker
Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming
Lance Olsen
Renewable Energy: the Switch From Drill, Baby, Drill to Mine, Baby, Mine
Dean Baker
Ady Barkan, the Fed and the Liberal Funder Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
Maduro Gives Trump a Lesson in Ethics and Morality
Jan Oberg
Trump’s Iran Trap
David D’Amato
What is Anarchism?
Nicky Reid
Trump’s War In Venezuela Could Be Che’s Revenge
Elliot Sperber
Springtime in New York
May 20, 2019
Richard Greeman
The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle
Manuel García, Jr.
Abortion: White Panic Over Demographic Dilution?
Robert Fisk
From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Western States are All Too Happy to Avoid Culpability for War Crimes
Tom Clifford
From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Persian Gulf
Chandra Muzaffar
Targeting Iran
Valerie Reynoso
The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition
Howard Lisnoff
They’re Just About Ready to Destroy Roe v. Wade
Eileen Appelbaum
Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings
Binoy Kampmark
Bob Hawke: Misunderstood in Memoriam
J.P. Linstroth
End of an era for ETA?: May Basque Peace Continue
Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
Paul Street
It’s Even More Terrible Than You Thought
Rob Urie
Grabby Joe and the Problem of Environmental Decline
Ajamu Baraka
2020 Elections: It’s Militarism and the Military Budget Stupid!
Andrew Levine
Springtime for Biden and Democrats
Richard Moser
The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos
Ron Jacobs
Uncle Sam Needs Our Help Again?
Eric Draitser
Elizabeth Warren Was Smart to Tell FOX to Go to Hell
Peter Bolton
The Washington Post’s “Cartel of the Suns” Theory is the Latest Desperate Excuse for Why the Coup Attempt in Venezuela has Failed
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Analysis of Undecideds Suggests Biden’s Support May be Exaggerated
Peter Lackowski
Eyewitness in Venezuela: a 14-year Perspective
Karl Grossman
Can Jerry Nadler Take Down Trump?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail