We publish here an initial statement by the Socialist Appeal Editorial Board on the Brexit vote, which has sent shockwaves across the whole of the British and European Establishment. The status quo has failed. Austerity has failed. Attempts to reform capitalism have failed. The system has broken – we need a revolution!
“Britain’s decision to leave the EU is the biggest shock to the continent since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The repercussions will be felt in the UK, Europe and the west.” “This is quite probably the most significant event in British history since the second world war.”
These are the words of the Financial Times, the sober voice of the ruling class. They express the panic and crisis that has swept across the whole European Establishment in response to Brexit. Britain’s departure from the EU is the latest and most acute expression of the profound political and economic crises of British, European, and World Capitalism.
Cameron has already fallen on his sword, paying the price for the reckless gamble he has taken for his own narrow political interests. The country has been plunged into a constitutional crisis, with a second Scottish independence referendum likely and the breakup of the “United Kingdom” now on the cards.
This was not simply a vote for “racism”. Where anti-immigrant sentiments exist, the blame lies with right-wing politicians and media who have whipped up xenophobia for years.
This was, at least in part, a cry of anguish – a lashing out against the rich elite and Establishment that have treated ordinary people with contempt for decades. After years of unemployment and deep cuts to working class communities, the most downtrodden layers in society have expressed their anger with a vote against the status quo of crisis and austerity.
In the absence of any militant, genuine alternative from the leaders of the labour movement, this discontent and rage has found an expression through a Leave campaign led by reactionaries, right-wing populists, and xenophobes.
Even then, the working class was clearly split on this question, with many traditional working class heartlands – such as Scotland and London – coming out firmly in favour of Corbyn’s call for a Remain vote.
It is important now, in the words of the philosopher Spinoza, “neither to weep nor cry, but to understand”. We must retain a level head and point out that the referendum result was not the cause of all the crises that have been unleashed by the Brexit vote, but vice versa.
The whole system has stalled and broken down, unable to advance living standards for the 99%. Discontent has been building for years across the whole of Europe, and now this burst to surface with violent repercussions. A new, even more turbulent period has now opened up in Britain and across the world.
The Blairites are already lining up to oust Corbyn, blaming him for their defeat. But right-wing leaders, such as Boris, Gove, and Farage, will not be beaten by the Blairites and their programme of cuts, privatisation, and “controls on immigration”.
The status quo has failed. Austerity has failed. Blairism has failed. The “centre ground” has failed. Attempts to reform the system have failed. Capitalism has failed.
The only way forward now is for Corbyn and the leaders of the labour movement to fight back strongly – to come out firmly and boldly with a socialist answer to the question of jobs, wages, housing, and public services.
The system has broken. We need a revolution!