The internationalist hour…
We live in a globalised world. This is not just true of economics politics but culturally too; the internet, online gaming, all mean that your next door neighbour is as much somebody across the globe as the person you pop round to see for a cup of tea and a gossip. As a socialist and internationalist I welcome this. Of course, I condemn the undemocratic and socially unjust way that capitalism is going about things and want to see that changed. Indeed, I doubt capitalism, coming as it does with so many inherent contradictions can complete the process properly and indeed the hairline fractures are already there to see in the national tensions stoked by the nationalist right.
Whether it be calling for less immigration or calling for the EU to break-up, these people claim to be acting in ‘Britain’s best interests’. However, at every turn they undermine those interests and put their own short-sighted ideology before Britain’s economic well-being, before your and mine job, before our wages and living conditions. You want less immigration? Fine. Go ahead. Just don’t complain when you have lost your job because the economy has started contracting.
Internationalism and the ‘national interest’ are not opposite things, they are in fact, the same thing. This is probably true now more than at any other time in history. Of course, the left has always strove towards the internationalist ideal but not even the founding fathers of socialism could have envisaged how integrated our world is becoming and how rapidly we are proceeding towards a truly global village. Now, ‘workers of the world unite’ can move beyond being merely a nice slogan and be a practical unity that can be forged to bring so many people together. It is in the interests of the British worker that their counterparts in say India have proper employment rights because if they do one cannot be used as a way to undercut the other. International labour rights which are enforceable under international law should be a major issue for the left.
Corporations span the globe, wrapping their tentacles around many a country, but polity’s are struggling to keep pace. The European Union is hampered by its component parts clinging to outdated national shibboleths and indeed may fall purely due to the stubborn national pride of the few. The EU is a good example of the problems of globalisation and how we need to be creative with our solutions, yes the EU is totally undemocratic, but again part of the reason for that is nationalism, the national governments wont allow the European Parliament sovereign, law-making powers because it’s a privilege they want to keep for themselves and thus the people of Europe are denied a democratically elected and empowered Parliament.
Nationalism, protectionism, all these are great temptations for the left but they are a backward looking response to a process that the left’s critique of is only half-right. If it were to be fully right it would embrace globalisation in the internationalist spirit and seek to shape it to our ends while recognising the flaws in capitalist globalisation. Going back isn’t an option; down that road only ruin lays. It’s time for the left to return back to its roots and carry the internationalist flame forward, in doing so it will become the force for progress it once was, but debatably isn’t right now.