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Video: Prof. Bill Mitchell, Dublin – Europe and the EU after Brexit


The Committee of the Annual Desmond Greaves Summer School lecture on “Europe and the EU after Brexit” at 2 p.m. on Saturday 15 February, by Professor William Mitchell, co-author with Thomas Fazi of “Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post- Neoliberal World”.

Co-hosted by the People’s Movement. In this internationally influential book the authors explore why the mainstream Labour movement and Left in the developed world ideologically disarmed itself in the 1970’s before a rampant neoliberalism.

The key neoliberal propositions which the mainstream Left bought into were that national sovereignty had become irrelevant in an increasingly complex and interdependent international economy and that globalisation had made individual States increasingly powerless in face of market forces.

Consequently the only hope of meaningful change was to “pool” State sovereignty and transfer it to supranational institutions such as the European Union, thereby regaining at supranational level the sovereignty that had been lost at the national level.

This represented an abandonment of the classical position of the Left as regards politics: namely, that the first duty of Labour Movement activists and lefwingers is to be the foremost champions of the fullest democracy.

This means that the Left in every EU Member State should stand for national independence and national democracy vis-à-vis the EU. This is “internationalism”, which is the supreme value of the authentic Left and is the opposite of “supranationalism”.

It is in fact the political value which Ireland’s James Connolly sought to advance when he took part in the 1916 Easter Rising with the aim of establishing an independent Irish Republic that, as he said, “would be a beacon-light to the oppressed of every land”.

Internationalism means standing for the right to self-determination of the different nations into which humanity is divided. In the European context this means working for the destruction of the EU.

The best way of bringing this about is to advocate that one’s own country or State should leave the EU and support other countries, or the political forces in other countries, that wish to leave it too. The defence of the democratic State against Transnational Capital and its related political interests which seek to undermine national independence and democracy is the principal ideological task before the Left in every European country today.

Bill Mitchell and Thomas Fazi are now working on a new book which extends and develops their “Reclaiming the State” analysis further.

Brexit will be a severe blow to the EU. It is a major historical event that the fifth largest economy in the world should leave what is in reality an aspiring Euro-federation.

The Left should not see Brexit and the current crisis of the EU and monetary union as a cause for despair, but rather as a unique opportunity to come to terms with the fact that the sovereign State, far from being helpless, still contains the resources for democratic control of a nation’s economy and finances: in other words that the struggle for national sovereignty is ultimately a struggle for democracy.

This need not come at the expense of European cooperation. On the contrary, by allowing governments to maximise the well-being of their citizens, it could and should provide the basis for a renewed European multilateral cooperation between sovereign States.

Kevin McCorry School Director GREAVES SCHOOL COMMITTEE: Owen Bennett, Mick Carty, Anthony Coughlan, Mary Crotty, Eddie Cowman, Karen Devine, Frank Keoghan, Patricia McKenna, Ruan O’Donnell, Cathal O’Murchú, Mick O’Reilly, Michael Quinn


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