1970s >> 1971 >> no-807-november-1971

To Join or Not to Join? That’s not the question

It has been claimed that Britain’s application to join the Common Market has been made ‘without a mandate from the people.’ If the issue is so vital and opposition to entry so widespread, why are ‘the people’ continuing to give their support to the Labour and Conservative parties which, when in power, negotiated with the Six? It is because they accept the present social system from which trade with its international rivalries; markets and tariff walls; cost of living; national sovereignty and grouping, such as the European Economic Community, are inseparable. This gives a clear indication of the level of political maturity of ‘the people’ of Britain. The idea that ‘the Nation’ is made up of people having a community of interests within it, and conflicting interests outside it, is a myth which is accepted to their detriment by the working-class majority in all countries.


The most important social division is world-wide between the minority which owns and controls the means of living and the majority who are propertyless wage and salary workers. Between them there is an antagonism which cannot be reconciled. The interest of workers in pursuit of better wages and working conditions is detrimental to those of the capitalists who must maximise their profits. The so-called national interest is, in fact, nothing but the interest of the owning minority — the capitalist class. The problems of trade and sovereignty are their problems. Hence the working class, who own no part of the country they live in and are faced with an antagonism of interest, with those who do own it, can have no national interest! In fact, they share with other workers throughout the world common problems and interests associated with their wage slave status.


“The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.” This was a fact noted as long ago as 1848 by Karl Marx and is as true today as it was then! The Common Market debate has shown this well. The Labour party now say they are against entry on Tory terms, although some of their leaders claim that these terms are not different from those they were prepared to accept. The Common Market debate was the highlight of this year’s TUC conference. They decided against and found themselves in the same political bed as the so-called Communist party, Enoch Powell, and the National Front. Neither the pro- nor the anti-marketeers have ever questioned the relevance of their attitudes to the working class as a whole. This comes as a result of accepting the capitalist mode of production with the wage labour and capital relationship as unalterable.


For the Socialist Party of Great Britain there is only one question — capitalism or Socialism? In other words, should the workers of the world continue to operate a social system that can only serve the interests of a minority; or establish a system that works in the interests of the whole of mankind. The Common Market involves changes within a private property society. Socialism involves the abolition of private property in the means of production along with all markets and the profit motive and replacing them with common ownership and production solely for use. The interest of the working class of all lands is to unite to achieve this end


Joe Carter