Beyond Racism & Xenophobia: Brexit Supporters Reject The EU’s Neoliberal, Anti-Democracy Empire

British voters bravely rejected a profoundly undemocratic, neoliberal EU, which is perceived as placing the interests of the financial elite ahead of the needs of ordinary citizens.
By @dialogosmedia |
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    ATHENS — (ANALYSIS) It was one year ago when “leftist” activists across Europe and around the world declared that the European Union had effectively staged a coup in Greece, blackmailing the Mediterranean country into accepting harsh austerity measures after it had already rejected a referendum against more austerity.

    Yet these same activists are now decrying the British referendum result in favor of a “Brexit.”

    I sense some hypocrisy here.



    British voters bravely rejected a profoundly undemocratic, neoliberal EU, which is perceived as placing the interests of the financial elite ahead of the needs of ordinary citizens. Indeed, despite the claims of international media and numerous “intellectuals,” the British referendum result has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia.

     

    The EU: An unrepresentative, anti-democratic institution

    The bloc’s center of decision-making, the European Commission, is led by an unelected leader. And it’s current president, Jean-Claude Juncker, recently stated that European prime ministers “listen too much to voters.”

    “Too many politicians are listening exclusively to their national opinion. And if you are listening to your national opinion you are not developing what should be a common European sense and a feeling of the need to put together efforts. We have too many part-time Europeans,” the Telegraph quoted Juncker as saying in May.

    Juncker was heavily implicated in the “Lux Leaks” scandal, which revealed that the Luxembourg finance ministry helped multinational corporations “slash their global tax bills” during Juncker’s time as prime minister.

    Instead of punishing Juncker or members of his government who enabled this tax evasion, it is the whistleblowers who have been convicted. In the meantime, Juncker and other EU officials wag their finger at the people of countries like Greece, scolding them for not paying their taxes.

    The rest of the EU’s leadership is similarly unrepresentative. Neither the president of the Eurogroup nor the president of the European Council is an elected position. Even the president of the European Parliament is not elected directly by citizens. European commissioners are also not elected, and the European Parliament only has the right to “suggest” laws for consideration by the Council and Commission.

    Furthermore, there are no checks and balances, and there is no mechanism to recall EU officials, who, along with EU civil servants, enjoy lifelong immunity for acts performed by them in their official capacity.

    EU officials have repeatedly demonstrated contempt for democracy. Juncker has stated that “there can be no democratic choice against the European treaties.”

    Likewise, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, one of the EU’s most influential figures, has said, “Elections change nothing. There are rules.”

    Referring to popular opposition to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a major proposed trade deal negotiated in secret between the EU and the United States, Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for trade, asserted: “I do not take my mandate from the European people.”

    The TTIP, a marvel of neoliberalism similar to NAFTA, would severely weaken domestic restraints on business and allow corporations to sue national governments in special, unaccountable courts. Members of the European Parliament have been obliged to sign confidentiality agreements regarding the negotiations, while the Commission placed a 30-year ban on public access to key TTIP documents.

    Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-winning economist, recently argued that a “Brexit” would be preferable to TTIP for Britain. RT reported:

    “The US economist said TTIP represents a wholesale ‘rewriting of the rules with no public discussion.’

    ‘The dangers to our society are very significant,’ he added.”

    The EU: Neoliberalism, austerity and the death of democracy

    Democracy also didn’t matter to the EU when it forced the resignations of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in November 2011. Berlusconi resigned after the Italian Parliament approved EU-imposed austerity measures, while Papandreou was forced out after threatening to hold a referendum on whether Greece should exit the eurozone.

    With the EU’s blessing, these democratically-elected leaders were replaced by non-elected technocrats: former Goldman Sachs adviser Mario Monti in Italy, and Lucas Papademos in Greece. Papademos had overseen the country’s transition from the drachma to the euro as governor of the Bank of Greece. In an academic visit to EU institutions in 2013, I heard EU technocrats state that “Monti was the best thing to ever happen to Italy,” while adding their belief that “certain regions of Italy should be ruled directly from Brussels.”

    In 2013, the EU imposed a 30 percent “haircut” on bank deposits over €100,000 in Cyprus, a precondition for the approval of a so-called “bailout.” Though the Parliament of Cyprus initially rejected the EU’s demand for a haircut, the bloc forced the island nation to reconvene to approve a modified plan. Similarly, following a referendum in which Danish voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, voters were sent back to the polls the following year for a new referendum, which passed.

    In 2001, Irish voters rejected a constitutional amendment which would have approved the Treaty of Nice, but were sent back again the following year, when the amendment was approved.

    Earlier this year, voters in Holland rejected the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, but the agreement was nevertheless approved by the Dutch legislature.

    The keystone moment in the EU’s habit of rejecting referendums, however, came last summer, when 61 percent of Greek voters rejected the EU’s proposed austerity package. Not only was the referendum ignored, but the purportedly left-wing Syriza-led government agreed to an even harsher austerity package days later. The vote occurred amid a climate of financial strangulation in Greece, with banks shuttered and capital controls imposed, despite the EU’s vaunted “free movement of capital.” A European movement in “solidarity” with Greece dissipated soon after the betrayal, never to be seen again. This same movement is the one now rejecting the Brexit referendum result as “racist.”

    The snubbing of democracy is further evident by the European Commission’s recent challenge to a new French law which requires foreign truck drivers to be paid the country’s minimum wage when making deliveries in the country.

     

    The Euro: A pre-planned economic disaster

    Voters in France and Holland rejected the proposed European Constitution in 2005 — but their will was nevertheless ignored, as the proposed constitution was replaced by the Treaty of Lisbon, which serves as the EU’s governing document today. It is the world’s only constitution which explicitly contains neoliberal policies: It takes precedence over domestic law; it is self-amending (meaning no democratic debate is necessary in order for it to be altered); and it strips the European Parliament of independent legislative power.

    Neoliberalism is also built into the European common currency, the euro. According to the architect of the euro, economist Robert Mundell, the goal was to strip national governments of their ability to create fiscal and monetary policy. Instead of being able to devalue a national currency or increase deficit spending in response to an economic downturn, governments would be left with one option: austerity. The economic crises and austerity we are seeing in countries from Greece to Portugal today aren’t the result of a mistake with the euro; they are the goal.

    This has not been a victimless development. The Greek GDP has declined by over one-quarter in six years. Official unemployment has reached 28 percent, not counting the hundreds of thousands of Greeks who have migrated abroad. Earlier this year, a report issued by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights stated that there have been “large-scale violations” of human rights in Greece as a result of the austerity regime.

    In May, following EU demands, a 7,500-page omnibus bill was passed without parliamentary debate, transferring control of Greece’s public assets to a fund controlled by the European Stability Mechanism for the next 99 years. The ESM is a non-democratic, supranational body unaccountable to any electorate. Within this legislation, the Greek Parliament also rendered itself voteless: The legislation annulled the role of parliament to approve a budget or to enact tax policies.

    These decisions will now be made by EU institutions. If fiscal targets set by the EU, the International Monetary Fund, and the ESM are not met, automatic cuts will slash funding for everything from social spending to salaries and pensions. In earlier legislation, the Greek Parliament agreed to submit all pending legislation to the troika — the decision-making body formed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF — for approval.

    For historical precedent, look no further than the Enabling Act of 1933, in which the German Reichstag voted away its right to exercise legislative power, transferring absolute power to govern and to pass laws to then-Chancellor Adolf Hitler.

    Today, following the Brexit referendum result, it is Germany which arrogantly proclaims that “we won’t let anyone take Europe from us.” Here, “us” refers to Germany, not to the European people as a whole. The country has been the prime beneficiary of the EU project, particularly in terms of the eurozone economy.

     

    The EU: An arm of a corporate, imperialist empire

    Despite this damning reality, the public is repeatedly told that the EU is a force for peace and unity, the body responsible for preventing war and conflict in Europe following World War II. And some analysts have even argued that British voters opted for the Brexit due to racism and xenophobia that’s grown in response to Europe’s refugee crisis.

    These arguments conveniently overlook the fact that the refugee crisis in Europe is largely of the West’s making; a result of the imperialist military involvement of the U.S., NATO, and the EU in the Middle East, North Africa and Ukraine, among others.

    Furthermore, despite only making headlines in the past year, the refugee crisis has persisted for over a decade. Due, quite simply, to geography, countries like Greece have borne the brunt of this. Over 1 million refugees have entered Greece in the past decade, escaping conflict in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Once in Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy, these refugees have remained trapped as a result of the EU’s Dublin III Regulation, which requires the country where a refugee first entered the EU to process the refugee’s paperwork and asylum claims, while a refugee who went on to other EU countries is returned to the country of entry, if caught.

    Today, with the EU’s blessings, thousands of refugees are stashed away in glorified concentration camps in Greece and throughout Europe, such as the “Calais Jungle” in France and the recently-privatized decrepit former international airport of Athens.

    Meanwhile, the recent agreement between the EU and Turkey regarding refugees may violate international law, according to the United Nations and other human rights groups. This deal essentially bribes Turkey to halt the refugee inflow to Europe.

    A side result of this agreement is that NATO warships and the “borderless” EU’s own border guard, Frontex, are on permanent patrol in the Aegean Sea. It can be said that it is EU policy and the EU’s leadership which have proven to be racist and xenophobic, not British voters.

    Intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, in arguing against the Brexit, claim that it will bring Britain closer to Washington’s sphere of influence. However, EU membership did not prevent Tony Blair — a Brexit opponent — from following President George W. Bush into Iraq in 2003. Nor did the EU stop Britain, Italy, Spain, and other member states from joining the “coalition of the willing.”

    Like their counterparts in the mainstream media, Chomsky and other prominent leftists such as Yanis Varoufakis, the pro-austerity former Greek finance minister, and Jeremy Corbyn, the pro-”Remain” leader of Britain’s Labour Party, would have us believe that anyone in favor of Brexit is xenophobic and racist.

    Are figures such as leftist intellectual Tariq Ali, investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, former British MP George Galloway, and 17.5 million British voters all xenophobes? Were the 62 percent of voters who voted “no” in the Greek referendum also racist and xenophobic?

     

    The internationalist ‘left’ discredits itself and the legitimate case against the EU

    It is ironic that such prominent “leftists” are adopting the same position as practically all of the major global media outlets, including mouthpieces for the financial class such as Bloomberg, which, in opposing Brexit, are protecting their own vested interests in the status quo.

    Of course, none of this should come as a surprise when talking about the EU, an institution whose founders and early key figures include former Nazi and fascist collaborators like Walter Hallstein, a prominent law professor under the Nazi regime who went on to serve as the first president of the European Commission, and Guido Colonna di Paliano, a vice-consul for Mussolini’s fascist Italy who later became the EU’s commissioner for Internal Market & Services. In true fascist form, criticism of the EU was outlawed in a 2001 decision by the European Court of Justice.

    Leading intellectual and political figures such as Varoufakis, through his “Democracy in Europe Movement,” and Corbyn, plus movements including Spain’s Podemos, claim that they want a “better” EU. But an undemocratic institution founded by fascists and based upon a neoliberal ideology that’s inherent to its operations cannot be reformed.

    We are told that Britain will find itself “isolated” as a result of the Brexit. Yet this ignores the fact that Britain would be free to develop economic relations with any European country, in addition to having access to the British Commonwealth and global trading partners.

    Those decrying the loss of “free movement” as a result of the Brexit ignore the fact that Britain is not party to the Schengen Agreement. There would not be any obstacle, however, for Britain to sign treaties for, say, visa-free travel with other countries. Indeed, Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland have done just fine for themselves outside the eurozone and the EU.

    The “internationalist” left seems to assume that the only way to achieve peace and cooperation between the people of Europe is through the EU, as if by birthright. So much so, that it is willing to reject democracy when the results don’t go its way. In turn, the global media defends a status quo that suits its owners’ interests. Both demonstrate utter contempt for democracy when they disagree with the outcome.

    By painting Brexit supporters as racists or by belittling them, as youthful satire shows and purportedly apolitical publications have done, they discredit the legitimate case against the EU. While marketing the EU’s “common currency,” “no borders,” and ability to work across the EU, they ignore the EU’s undemocratic, neoliberal tendencies, leaving anti-EU campaigning to the Euroskeptic right and a smattering of true leftist voices.

    The “internationalist” left has discredited itself, and it has no one to blame but itself.

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    • SeaNote

      Europe is infested with Muslims. The limey’s don’t want any of that.

    • Thanks to their #BRexit leave decision, Britain is likely to suffer through a few years of economic depression before starting their recovery … few would want that immediate pain for the long term relief.

    • 2003james

      I can tell you with confidence that Jeremy Corbyn has never said or thought that ‘all the people who voted for Brexit are racists or xenophobes’. Not only isn’t his style, he was once against UK membership in the EU and knows that many Leave supporters have legitimate reasons for their choice.

      There are so many errors of fact and logic in this article that it really doesn’t contribute to an understanding of the situation.

      Referendums that demand simple choices among complex, intertwined issues don’t contribute much to good solutions or real democracy.

      • orwell11

        So he was against it before he was for it. OK, got it. Would you prefer a “less simple,” more convoluted referendum like the one in Greece last year, which was promptly thrown in the rubbish bin? Please, by the way, point out the errors in fact and logic in this piece… what I saw were most assertions were backed up by references to additional articles and material.

      • Would you please name some of the “many errors of fact and logic” in the article? Thank you in advance.

        • 2003james

          Here is the first one: “Jeremy Corbyn, the pro-”Remain” leader
          of Britain’s Labour Party, would have us believe that anyone in favor of
          Brexit is xenophobic and racist.”

        • 2003james

          This statement is just an assertion, no evidence is presented that he meant ‘us’ to be Germany. “Today, following the Brexit referendum result, it is Germany which arrogantly proclaims that “we won’t let anyone take Europe from us.” Here, “us” refers to Germany, not to the European people as a whole. The country has been the prime beneficiary of the EU project, particularly in terms of the eurozone economy.”

          • orwell11

            Sure it does. Germany is the pre-eminent political and economic power in Europe. To assert otherwise is to continue to live in denial, like most pro-EU apologists.

        • 2003james

          “But an undemocratic institution founded
          by fascists and based upon a neoliberal ideology that’s inherent to its
          operations cannot be reformed.” One way or another any institution can be reformed (though it may be better to abandon it)

        • 2003james

          “Jeremy Corbyn, the pro-”Remain” leader
          of Britain’s Labour Party, would have us believe that anyone in favor of
          Brexit is xenophobic and racist.” This statement is factually incorrect and avoids the context of Corbyn’s support for the EU.

        • 2003james

          “The bloc’s center of decision-making, the European Commission, is led by an unelected leader.” Big deal. The UK is lead by an unelected leader too. Reflects a bias to presidential style democracies.

          • orwell11

            There is a difference between a “head of state” and a “head of government.” May I recommend retaking Political Science 101?

            • 2003james

              Both head of state and head of government are unelected by the public in the UK. Aim before you shoot.

        • 2003james

          The author missed almost entirely that much of the debate in the referendum was between ‘nationalists’ with narrow view of their identity, and ‘internationalists’ who feel common cause with the people of Europe and the idea of Europe. Irrespective of the details of how the EU actually functions. That is certainly why most leftists joined the remain campaign. And nationalists can be a nasty bunch.

    • Yves Bouligand

      Any author who opens with “the British referendum result has nothing to do with racism or xenophobia” has destroyed his credibility. Take a look at poll data, such as the Ipsos poll referenced here, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/25/how-project-fear-failed-to-keep-britain-in-the-eu–and-the-signs/
      which shows that attitudes towards immigrants was in fact -the primary- issue that motivated voters, especially leave voters.

      As Berghoff Birns notes below, the smear against Chomsky and “other prominent leftists” is obviously false hyperbole. Chomsky has been vocal on the undemocratic nature of the EU, incidentally. Whatever you think about the EU, TTIP and other items, it doesn’t mean that British voters were brave for casting leave votes. And pointing out the obvious fact that the Brexit vote was motivated by anti-immigrant sentiment doesn’t mean you’re trying to convince people that all Brexit voters are racist. These are grade school-level distinctions.

      • orwell11

        Chomsky is in favor of Britain remaining in the Eurozone. He also signed off on Varoufakis’ fraudulent DiEM 25 movement which seeks to “democratize” the EU. This from the same former Greek finance minister who was pro-austerity and had no problem repaying the IMF “in full.” There’s also no “smear campaign” to speak of against Chomsky. There is very much a smear campaign though against pro-Brexit voters and you are contributing to it.

        As for mainstream polls, reported by pro-EU newspapers, you should know better than that.

        • Yves Bouligand

          The poll isn’t by the Telegraph, it’s by Ipsos. Show me actual data that contradicts it.

          I didn’t use the words “smear campaign,” I was referring to the smear, singular, that the author of the article wrote about Chomsky and others, and you’ve said nothing to contradict the claim that it’s false.

          And no, once again, pointing out that anti-immigrant sentiment drove the leave campaign isn’t an attempt to discredit pro-Brexit voters, many of whom doubtless voted out of worthy motives. It’s pointing out a fact about the world.

          • orwell11

            The ‘buyer’s remorse’ stories are nothing but propaganda, proving, once again: Never trust the mainstream media to tell the truth.
            Here are some poll numbers:
            …] Yesterday we warned that the biggest threat to the UK political process in the aftermath of the Friday referendum is neither an arguably fake petition to hold another referendum (it won’t happen), nor the so-called buyer’s remorse on the side of “Leave” voters, especially with ComRes confirming a negligible 1% of those voters were “Unhappy” with the outcome… […]
            On the EU referendum result:
            Happy: 48%
            Unhappy: 43%
            Indifferent: 7%
            (via ComRes)
            Vote split // On the ‪#‎EUref‬ result (Remain / Leave):
            Happy: 4% / 92%
            Unhappy: 88% / 1%
            Indifferent: 7% / 5%
            (via ComRes)

            • Yves Bouligand

              Those figures don’t address any of the things I talked about. But, then again, anonymous writers cutting and pasting on message boards are a much more reliable source than international polling agencies, so you may have a point.

              • orwell11

                Yes, international polling agencies that just happen to deliver the results supported by the newspapers commissioning those polls. As long as we agree with those polls though, it’s all good. And of course, zero comment whatsoever on the EU’s own rampant racism and xenophobia, which all the “anti-racists” somehow seem to keep overlooking.

                • Yves Bouligand

                  So the Ipsos poll was commissioned by the Telegraph, or pro-remain newspapers? Could be true, but I’m curious where the information comes from. And you haven’t said what we should be believing, instead of poll data. Gut feeling?

                  As to racism and xenophobia in the EU, that’s a separate discussion, not the point I was making, which was in direct response to faulty claims by the author of the article.

      • Athenaios

        The “racism” and “xenophobia” you imply as being a factor favoring Brexit are actually the result of the undemocratic nature of the EU, which (the undemocratic nature) was at the core of the Leave campaign. It is the EU with its undemocratic directives that, amongst other things, has mandated the more or less “open border” policy for the member states, a policy AGAINST THE WILL of the overwhelming majority of the people in each country.

        To separate the cause (the undemocratic nature of the EU) from one of its effects (the engineered by the EU Directorate influx into a country of people from other nations and continents against the will of the native people) and then, focusing solely on that effect, accuse the native people of “racism” and “xenophobia,” because they resent what is happening to their country, is dishonest.

        No one in his right mind would accuse a homeowner of “racism” or “xenophobia” if he would object to the presence of people in his house against his will. There is no difference in the case of native people objecting to the presence in their country of aliens they never invited.

        We live now in the midst of a monumental historical event. We are witnessing the implementation of a long ago conceived plan to commit genocide against the European people, by destroying their nation-states, the guarantor of their self-determination and freedom. The tool for this are the so-called refugees and immigrants from far way lands, whose entrance into the European countries is facilitated by many overt and covert methods by the powers that have managed to install their own people at the helm of supranational structures they created, such as the EU, or in big countries, such as the US.

        The lesson the people must draw from all these, is that there is only one path to their survival: the resistance to the plans aiming at their destruction. Kudos to the English who did not succumb to the threats and intimidation they were subjected to by the globalist mafia.

    • Bergoff Birns

      “Like their counterparts in the mainstream media, Chomsky and other prominent leftists such as Yanis Varoufakis, the pro-austerity former Greek finance minister, and Jeremy Corbyn, the pro-”Remain” leader of Britain’s Labour Party, would have us believe that anyone in favor of Brexit is xenophobic and racist. ” –This sentence is unhinged. Certainly Ali, Greenwald and Chomsky would find it absurd.

    • roccolore

      Many of the pro-EU notables are racist xenophobes who live in gated, all-white communities.

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