Meeting the challenge of unity

Many on the left in Britain view Europe, the European Union and the euro with trepidation, verging on terror. By joining the eurozone, Britain will lose the last vestiges of its sovereignty and fall under the thrall of an unelected and unaccountable European Central Bank. The euro is supposedly the nuclear weapon in the hands of big business and those who want an EU capitalist superstate. Once the euro replaces the pound, the ability of the working class to exert its strength will be severely reduced, some say to vanishing point. Meanwhile in Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, etc, the class struggle continues unabated. The outlook of this left owes more to nationalism than internationalism. Their socialism is British or, even more risible, Scottish. 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. In Europe - meeting the challenge of continental unity Jack Conrad defends and develops that tradition - especially in light of the prospect of an EU which by 2004 is expected to have 25 member-states and a population of 450 million. Such a state formation - if it is centralised - can rival the United States politically as well as economically. The working class must learn from history if it to positively shape the future in its own interests. What Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg and others had to say in past centuries still carries lessons for us today. When it comes to the euro, instead of choosing between the 'yes' and 'no' factions of the capitalist political establishment, what is required is independent working class politics. That also applies to the EU itself. Jack Conrad argues that in order to realise the aim of a United Socialist States of Europe the left parties and revolutionary factions of the working class must be united around a programme of radically transforming the EU. Our twin watchwords must be extreme democracy and giving democracy a definite social content. Organisation at the highest level and unity in action are vital for success. The working class of Europe needs, he says, a single combat party - a Communist Party of the European Union. An important step in that direction would be a European Socialist Alliance. David Sherrief * Their United Europe and ours