50 Years Ago: The Common Market

Well, it didn’t come off.

Mr. Heath and his men came back defeated from Brussels and presented the British public with another bogy man who was yesterday’s friend. President De Gaulle is now the evil man of British capitalism.

The Beaverbrook press took a somewhat different view, implying hopefully that the British government had seen the light from the Express building and had themselves broken off the negotiations.

“And Now—Forward,” screamed the Express headlines. Forward, we may ask, to what? Whatever the Express, or the Government, or anyone else, has to offer can only be another of capitalism’s gambles.

When the British government decided, several years ago, against joining the European Common Market, they were gambling. When they decided that that gamble had failed they put their money on another—on the application to join Europe. They made it quite clear that that was a gamble, that they were not sure whether membership of the EEC would benefit them or not.

So it is with all capitalism’s attempts to defeat its own problems.

President de Gaulle is gambling, now that Europe can unite as an independent capitalist power dominated by a Franco-German axis. But there have been plenty of other such gambles and plenty of other such pacts and many of them have failed even by capitalism’s standards. There is no reason to assume that France and Germany, whatever their pact says, will not end up fighting one another again.

Capitalism, in fact, is one big gamble. Since its fortunes hang on the tail of its unpredictable market, it can never be sure of what to do to secure its own interests.

The great tragedy is that the gambles are always paid off in working class lives and security.

(From ‘The News in Review’, Socialist Standard, March 1963)

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