I voted to remain in the EU on 23 June 2016. If there was another referendum I would vote to leave. I have two main reasons for this. The first is that I understand more about macroeconomics. This is through reading in the period subsequent to the referendum. Classical economics has failed to make accurate predictions about the national, regional and global economics. While heterodox economics, like Modern Money Theory or Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), post-Keynesian post-Marxist has been much more effective in predicting the 2008 crisis. Part of the reason for this is that it does not assume that people’s decisions are rational, it considers the role of power and hegemonous groups.
Central to MMT is idea that a nation state, with its own sovereign currency, cannot become insolvent, it is solely responsible for creating its own currency and for spending that currency. There are other provisos, like for instance, a nation’s currency must not be pegged to another nation’s currency. This is the problem with the Euro and for those countries that have this currency. None of which are able to use fiscal policy to ensure that their economy works for their own people. In fact the European Central Bank (ECB) imposes austerity, it limits the extent to which each country can invest, through deficit spending. This is why Modern Money Theorists like Steve Keen and Bill Mitchell are eurosceptic. They predict that at some stage the eurozone will come apart, with considerable political and potential social upheaval. In the end, the UK is best out of this close economic union, even though it is not part of the Eurozone. According to Bill Mitchell, it is not brexit that is the problem it is austerity. That’s why those of the left should stop rerunning debates about the legitimacy of the referendum and focus attention on exposing the Tory government on its horrendous record on managing the economy. It’s not just their record on managing the economy, its the corruption also, they have abused their power by lining the pockets of their backers by giving them access to running state services for profit and through favourable taxation
My second main issue with the EU is its response the fascist coup in the US. The Donald Trump administration decieved the US voting poblic and persuaded them to put it into power. The US now has a dangerous far-right authoritarian and racist government. There are many who see the EU as an allience to counter the rise of fascism. I have little faith they will do this. The EU has failed to address the rise of the far right within its own borders, it is institutionally powerless. The reason for this is that inspite of being formed to ensure peace between European nations, its development as an economic block has turned neoliberal. The EU, by having the Euro, runs an economic system that minimises state intervention, encourages outsourcing and deregulation. It forces other nations to do the same. The EU will primarily protect its favoured form of political economy. And what we have seen with neoliberalism of the last 30 years, is rising inequality, unemployment or underemployement and stagnating wages, except for the wealthy. This is fodder for the far right, the same conditions that led to Trump in the US. The EU is wedded to neoliberalism, it will defend this and the Euro ahead of anything else, there are too many vested interests to counter any demise. And while the EU is a neoliberal institution, it is part of the problem and not a solution.
Two illustrations: A Labour MEP holds up a sign ‘He is lying’ while British fascist Nigel Farage speaks in the European Parliament. The EU leaders gather in Malta and issue a joint criticism of Trump. Both of these are platitudinous. The antidote to fascism (based roughly on Arendt) is through the public sphere. In Europe this would translate to radical economic and democratic changes, an end to neoliberalism; universal basic income and/or job guarantees; improvements in civic, institutional and workplace democracy; and progressive taxation. Fascism is overcome by empowering people to overcome it. I do not see any of this happening in the UK or Europe. Platitudes and indifference will have dangerous consequences.