II.3. SWP/IST: Subjective Internationalists, Objectively Supporters of the Patriotic Anti-EU Campaign

The Cliffite Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has also joined the camp of those who advocate Britain’s exit from the EU and its return to being an “independent” imperialist state. Basically, the SWP shares the same faulty logic of voting for Britain’s exit because the EU is a “bosses’ club,” as was stated by Charlie Kimber, the SWP’s national secretary:

It’s a bosses’ organisation designed to ease the exploitation of workers and sharpen the capacity of European capitalists to beat other capitalists. We don’t believe the EU will ever be a positive assistance to workers’ struggles.[1]

Similarly, the SWP stated recently:

Lined up on that side is Tory prime minister David Cameron and the majority of the British ruling class. That’s because the EU is a bosses’ club and is no guarantor of workers’ rights. It polices austerity across the continent. (…) The EU is a thoroughly pro-business project.” [2]

Like the Stalinists and SPEW/CWI, the Cliffites distort the meaning of the referendum. The SWP/IST claims that this will be a referendum polling the opinion of the people of Britain on the imperialist EU. As we have explained above, they forget – more accurately, they want to make the people forget – that this is in fact rather a referendum on how British imperialism is to be politically organized: either as part of the EU or “independently” (which will most likely really mean Britain’s becoming the complete poodle of US imperialism). This, and only this, is the real political meaning of the referendum!

Like the Stalinists and SPEW/CWI, the SWP/IST demagogically claims that the EU is “no guarantor of workers’ rights” and that it “will never be a positive assistance to workers’ struggles.” What a surprise! But, we ask our SWP comrades, has the capitalist British state ever been in any way more of a “guarantor of workers’ rights” and “will it ever be a positive assistance to workers’ struggles”?! Comrade Kimber, haven’t you heard about Margaret Thatcher and her brutal attacks on the working class in the 1980s?! Or do you want to claim that Thatcher would not have attacked the workers if Britain would not have been part of the EU?! If you think so, how do you explain that the same kind of attacks took place and still take place in countries which have never been part of the EU (like the US, Canada, Australia or Japan)?!

Again like the Stalinists and SPEW/CWI, the SWP/IST claims that a victory for the NO vote in the referendum would throw the Cameron government into a crisis:

A vote against the EU could also cause a crisis for our rulers. The Tory party could rip itself apart over its divisions on Europe.[3]

We repeat the argument we elaborated above: this will be a crisis from which only the right-wing of the Tories and the UKIP party would gain. How on earth can this be beneficial to the working class and the migrants?!

It is however also necessary to differentiate here and note that the SWP/IST refrains from the chauvinistic excesses of the openly patriotic Stalinists and the hidden patriotic SPEW/CWI. SWP/IST has always opposed immigration control and also took a principled stand during the chauvinist “British Jobs for British Workers” strike in 2009.

Likewise, the SWP/IST is more aware of the chauvinistic dominance of the NO-campaign. However, they don’t understand that this chauvinism is not by chance, but rather is due to the essentially chauvinist nature of the entire issue. Therefore, they do not completely drop their involvement in the pro-UK social-imperialist NO-camp, but take a clearly more passive position by limiting themselves to propaganda for a “relatively small groups of people” as SPW cadre Joseph Choonara explained in a recent article:

Our role in the referendum is to try to carve out a space for an internationalist No campaign. There are times when socialists put forward simple arguments and rally large numbers of people around them. There are other times when we have to provide clarity by making complex arguments to relatively small groups of people. The EU referendum is an occasion for the latter.[4]

Unfortunately, passivity and abandonment of mass agitation will not exempt the SWP/IST from the political trap of pro-British social-imperialism in which it has adeptly maneuvered itself. Falling in this trap is only possible if the SWP/IST comrades break with the NO-camp and take a consistently internationalist stand by opposing both British as well as EU-imperialism and advocating abstention in the referendum. In other words, they can avoid this pitfall only if they don’t ignore Trotsky’s advice about the necessity of the working class to break all links with “their” fatherland.

Workers‘ action can only begin by absolute opposition to the national bourgeoisie and its international combinations.[5]

[1] Charlie Kimber: We must not play into Ukip’s hands, SWP, Socialist Worker Issue No. 2353, 14 May 2013, http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/33289/We+must+not+play+into+Ukips+hands

[2] SWP: EU referendum debate can’t be left to racists, Socialist Worker, Issue No. 2455, 26 May 2015, http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/40616/EU+referendum+debate+can%E2%80%99t+be+left+to+racists

[3] SWP: EU referendum debate can’t be left to racists

[4] Joseph Choonara: EU referendum: Should we stay or should we go? Socialist Review July / August 2015, SWP, http://socialistreview.org.uk/404/eu-referendum-should-we-stay-or-should-we-go

[5] Leon Trotsky: Once Again the ILP (November 1935); in: Trotsky Writings 1935-36, p. 201


About RCIT Britain

What the RCIT stands for Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)is a revolutionary combat organisation fighting for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed. It has national sections in a number of countries. The working class is composed of all those (and their families) who are forced to sell their labor power as wage earners to the capitalists. The RCIT stands on the theory and practice of the revolutionary workers’ movement associated with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky. Capitalism endangers our lives and the future of humanity. Unemployment, war, environmental disasters, hunger, and exploitation are all part of everyday life under capitalism as are the imperialistic oppression of nations, the national oppression of migrants, and the oppression of women, young people, and homosexuals. Therefore, we want to eliminate capitalism. The liberation of the working class and all oppressed is possible only in a classless society without exploitation and oppression. Such a society can only be established internationally. Therefore, the RCIT is fighting for a socialist revolution at home and around the world. This revolution must be carried out and lead by the working class, for only this class has the collective power to bring down the ruling class and build a socialist society. The revolution cannot proceed peacefully because a ruling class never has nor ever will voluntarily surrender its power. By necessity, therefore, the road to liberation includes armed rebellion and civil war against the capitalists. The RCIT is fighting for the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ republics, where the oppressed organize themselves in councils democratically elected in rank-and-file meetings in factories, neighbourhoods, and schools. These councils, in turn, elect and control the government and all other statue authorities, and always retain the right to recall them. Authentic socialism and communism have nothing to do with the so-called “socialism” that ruled in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and which continues to do so in China and Cuba, for example. In these countries, the proletariat was and is dominated and oppressed by a privileged party bureaucracy. Under capitalism, the RCIT supports all efforts to improve the living conditions of the workers and oppressed, while simultaneously striving to overthrow this system based on economic exploitation of the masses. Towards these ends, we work from within the trade unions where we advocate class struggle, socialism, and workers’ democracy. But trade unions and social democracy are controlled by a bureaucracy perniciously connected with the state and capital via status, high-paying jobs, and other privileges. Thus, the trade union bureaucracy is far from the interests and living conditions of its members, based as it is on the top, privileged layers of the working class – a labor aristocracy which has no real interest in replacing capitalism. Therefore, the true struggle for the liberation of the working class, the toppling of capitalism and the establishment of socialism, must be based on the broad mass of the proletariat rather than their “representative” from the upper trade union strata. We also fight for the expropriation of the big land owners as well as for the nationalisation of the land and its distribution to the poor and landless peasants. Towards this goal we struggle for the independent organisation of the rural workers. We support national liberation movements against oppression. We also support the anti-imperialist struggles of oppressed peoples against the great powers. Within these movements we advocate a revolutionary leadership as an alternative to nationalist or reformist forces. While the RCIT strives for unity of action with other organizations, we are acutely aware that the policies of social democrats and pseudo-revolutionary groups are dangerous, and ultimately represent an obstacle to the emancipation of the working class, peasants, and the otherwise oppressed. In wars between imperialist states we take a revolutionary defeatist position: we do not support either side, but rather advocate the transformation of the war into a civil war against the ruling class in each of the warring states. In wars between imperialist powers (or their stooges) and a semi-colonial countries we stand for the defeat of the former and the victory of the oppressed countries. As communists, we maintain that the struggle against national oppression and all types of social oppression (women, youth, sexual minorities etc.) must be lead by the working class, because only the latter is capable of fomenting a revolutionarily change in society . Therefore, we consistently support working class-based revolutionary movements of the socially oppressed, while opposing the leadership of petty-bourgeois forces (feminism, nationalism, Islamism, etc.), who ultimately dance to the tune of the capitalists, and strive to replace them with revolutionary communist leadership. Only with a revolutionary party fighting as its leadership can the working class be victorious in its struggle for liberation. The establishment of such a party and the execution of a successful revolution, as it was demonstrated by the Bolsheviks in Russia under Lenin and Trotsky remain the models for revolutionary parties and revolutions in the 21st century. For new, revolutionary workers' parties in all countries! For a 5th Workers International to be founded on a revolutionary program! Join the RCIT! No future without socialism! No socialism without revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!
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