By and large the Social-Democratic parties (and I include here the ‘socialist’ parties) in Europe support the EU. The reasons vary, but the underlying justification is that the EU is in part a social-democratic project. It seeks to encourage liberal economic policies, while trying to ameliorate some its worse effects – largely to keep the system running.
This position has certain implications in relation to Eastern Europe and ‘former’ communist countries.
- A wholesale denial that the economic situation in many Eastern European countries has become worse since 1989 rather than better. This entails a denial of systematic deindustrialisation and the resultant large-scale unemployment.
- A perverse suggestion that the EU’s free market means the free movement of manufactured products but not the commodity of labour power. That is, you call sell products on the capitalist market of the EU, but workers should not move to other countries. Why perverse? First, the movement of labour power is one of the commodities in a capitalist market. Second, one of the main aims of the EU is to drive down the cost of labour in Western European countries by employing lower-paid workers from Eastern Europe. This is to counter the law of the falling rate of profit.
- So you find social-democratic parties targeting ‘foreign’ workers so as to secure the wavering votes of workers in their ‘own’ countries.
- But why would workers from Eastern Europe move elsewhere for jobs? The only position remaining is the weak suggestion that ‘everyone seeks a better life’. Implicit in this suggestion is the agreement that matters have become worse in Eastern Europe since 1989.
- And you must – if you are of this persuasion – blame Putin, Trump and the ‘stupid’ Brexit voters in the UK for Europe’s current ills.