The EU is the new empire – it doesn’t deserve our support

Sawel ap Harri

A 6-meter wall, bristling with barbed wire. Abusive border guards stripping migrants and beating them.

People dying. Some, from lacerations inflicted by barbed wire, some from internal bleeding from beatings, others from drowning trying to reach a better life.

Yet this isn’t the USA’s wall, devised by the openly fascistic Trump. This is the reality in Melilla, Spain and Röszke, Hungary. This is the European Union, imperialism with a human face.

The European Union is seen by its supporters as a bastion of liberalism in a desert of intolerance yet the reality is that the EU upholds global inequality, using imperialist policies both within and outside of its borders.

The European project of internal ‘harmony’ is premised first and foremost on the exclusion of others, namely those from the global south, those with non-white skin and those with different religions.

Internal freedom of movement, possibly the EU’s most celebrated attribute, has been accompanied by the hardening of the common external border against migrants from outside the continent.

The EU, a block of 28 states, all of which, demographically are predominantly white and culturally are predominantly Christian or post-Christian.

There are three indisputable geographically European states that do not fit this description; Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo. Not a single one of these states are members of the EU.

We’ve seen this liberal arrogance towards other cultures and peoples by the supposed saviour of Liberalism, Emmanuel Macron.

He has stated in the past that Africa has a civilizational problem, without mentioning the imperialist meddling of Europe in Africa.

It seems that liberalism at home and imperialism abroad go hand in hand in fortress Europe.

Dominant

The European Union is sold as a way of transcending nationalism, yet the reality is that it is a vehicle for the larger European capitalist states to pursue their interest.

Imperialism is a system of exploitation that not only occurs in brutal forms through guns and conquering territory.

It also has subtler forms; loans, food aid, blackmail and it is through these subtler forms, we can best understand EU imperialism.

We see the EUs imperialist nature in its promotion of neoliberalism, through its expansionism in Central and Eastern Europe, its policies towards neighbouring countries, such as giving the fascistic Turkish state a Free Trade Agreement in return for buffering the migration of immigrants, and through its disciplinary mechanism which enforce austerity.

The EU internally reproduces the structured unevenness of the capitalist system whereby the dominant members such as Germany and France determine the fate of the weaker.

The Troika’s surveillance of states such as Greece and Portugal shows how the Union has used the chequebook, rather than the bullet to export the worldview of neoliberal capitalism.

Exploitation

Yet, the internal unevenness of the EU doesn’t stop it from presenting a unified imperialist face to the Global South both economically, and geopolitically.

According to the EU’s own website, Economic Partnership Agreements between themselves and African states are designed to contribute “to sustainable development and poverty reduction”.

In Capitalist society, “the need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.”

This is the backdrop to the EU’s re-conquest of Africa through its Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA).

EPA’s are designed to open up all of Africa for EU exports, exposing African producers to competition from vampiric transnationals that overwhelm local production.

Imperialist domination can be seen clearly in the exportation of coffee and cocoa. In 2014, all of Africa earned £1.5 billion from coffee. Germany, a processor of coffee, earned double that.

The EU’s imperialist trade agreements place a 7.5% tariff on roasted coffee, yet green (or unroasted coffee is exempt). Similarly, processed cocoa products such as chocolate, has a 30% tariff whereas unrefined cocoa is tariff-free.

This means that EU states reap the reward of the value-added products whilst not contributing at all to the cultivation of the natural commodity.

The EU keeps Africa poor, taking away all incentive for technological innovation and industrial development in Africa.

According to the World Bank, there are 300% more Africans in extreme poverty today than in 1981.

The EUs imperialist policies of dependency are doing nothing to help the struggle for African liberation, they are actively and purposely hindering African development through their trade policies.

Imperialism

Ernesto Guevara explained imperialist economic exploitation in 1971: “We, politely referred to as ‘underdeveloped’, in truth are colonial, semi-colonial or dependent countries.

“We are countries whose economies have been distorted by imperialism, which has abnormally developed those branches of industry or agriculture needed to complement its complex economy.

“‘Underdevelopment’, or distorted development, brings a dangerous specialization in raw materials, inherent in which is the threat of hunger for all our peoples.

“We, the ‘underdeveloped’, are also those with the single crop, the single product, the single market.

“A single product whose uncertain sale depends on a single market imposing and fixing conditions. That is the great formula for imperialist economic domination.”

Reformism cannot be a solution to these problems. Many on the Welsh nationalist centre-left seem to think that capitalism, and the EU, can be reformed.

That if we, and all other EU states were more like the Scandinavian states, the EU would be better.

This is the idea that the EU, and capitalism are not inherently, institutionally bad, but actors make it so.

Yet social cohesiveness in these states, as everywhere in developed nations, is dependent upon exploitation of others.

Sweden, known for its peace and political neutrality is the third largest per-capita arms exporter in the world, is arming the bastions of liberalism Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Norway dropped 588 bombs on Libya. The Swedish clothing company H&M exploits the Global South, keeping only 95cents of the profits of a t-shirt made in Bangladesh in the country.

Western nations capture most of the profit while it is the poor workers of oppressed nations that have the most input in terms of labour and resources. The same imperialism with better PR.

The EU, a lackey of capitalism, can never be reformed into something that improves the lives of the working classes both within the EU states and outside.

When liberals fight for the EU, they fight for freedoms at home and exploitation and imperialism abroad.

Some may have voted leave for the wrong reasons, but the inherent class character of the EU means that it must be destroyed.

Only then, can true internationalism, whereby the wealthiest states, made rich through their exploitation of others, will help the Global South, not through tokenistic gestures, but as equals on the international stage.

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Benjiman L. Angwin
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Benjiman L. Angwin

As many of those terms you used cancel one another out, which one is it:

Imperialism, capitalism, Capitalism, liberalism, Liberalism, neo-liberalism, Liberals. These are entirely different and contradictory ideas.

African Liberation? Go be an openly gay man in Mali and then talk about liberalism so negatively.

Better yet, read a book once in a while that opposes your anti-capitalist viewpoints. Back to my French breakfast. Au revoir.

Sam Parry
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Sam Parry
Edeyrn
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Edeyrn

Benjamin … Imperialism and capitalism can go hand in hand…..your lack of knowledge of basic political definitions is rather insightful

JE Lloyd
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JE Lloyd

Which is the greater impediment to Welsh sovereignty: the EU or UK? If the EU can support the rebirth of a free and democratic Wales, who (other than Brit nats) would not support the EU?

iantoddu
Guest

Those who do not believe it to be the case that the EU can support the birth of age and democratic Wales and are Welsh nationalists, for one. (And seeing what hasharpened in Catalonia, that seems to me a reasonable belief, whether I agree completely with it or not).

Greg Pickersgill
Guest
Greg Pickersgill

Russian-backed troll using selected points to undermine EU. Ignore. The best chance we had for autonomy – or even full independence – was within the EU and we threw it away on the false promises of English (some ultra-English, even those born in Wales) Westminster politicians (who may yet be proved to be in the pay of enemy states).

Alfyn
Guest
Alfyn

There are numerous problems with what you write, but let’s address the last and most salient point. Destroying the EU will not lead to world revolution, an overthrow of capitalism and an international brotherhood of workers and peasants, it will lead to fascism. That’s already where we are heading with Brexit which is driven by a fascistic hatred of foreigners. By supporting it you are doing just what the left did in the ’30s failing to differentiate between social democrats, conservatives and the Nazis. Do not make that mistake again, please.

Graham John Hathaway
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Graham John Hathaway

There’s really interesting in not hard to digest stuff in this landscaping of capitalism in the context of the EU. It reminds me of the firework I used to light as a child called a Jackie Jumper. You never knew where it was going to land but heck it was scary but lots of fun. The thinking is dominated by the excesses of global profits extorted from those who deserve better. No disagreement. If you really think this is going to change if we leave the EU which has been a significant source of much needed grants amounting to countless… Read more »

leigh richards
Guest

Well there’s nothing like a rich slice of ‘lexit’ hogwash to get the juices flowing in the morning. For the uninitiated ‘lexit’ being the term coined for those ultra leftists – like ‘Sawel ap Harri’ – who while professing to be international socialists and excoriating the EU as a ‘bosses club’ lined up with the hard right of the british tory party, the bigots of ukip and assorted british neo fascists to campaign for a leave vote in the 2016 eu referendum. The rationale for this bizarre stance being that a vote to leave the eu would usher in a… Read more »

Sam Parry
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Sam Parry

https://nation.cymru/2017/the-marxist-case-for-welsh-independence/

https://nation.cymru/2017/wales-has-the-attitude-of-a-beggar-we-must-decolonise-our-minds/

Few more articles by the British nationalist Sawel ap Harri. You haven’t actually engaged with any points in the article, rather you create a strawman of some British chauvinist.

CambroUiDunlainge
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CambroUiDunlainge

Play the ball not the man. This kind of argument where you attack the writer at every opportunity is completely unacceptable. It’s part of the problem in Plaid where people don’t like opposing opinions therefor just go on the attack – its extreme and it has no place in Welsh Nationalism. In fact I’d say its fundamentally against Welsh Nationalism to oppress people or views of others in any way.

Oh… and not once do you acknowledge the EU has its problems – so hardly a balanced counter argument you’ve got there.

Petroc
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Petroc

When freedom of movement occurs people move .. abandoning the socialist prison states, and failed corrupt states en masse from Cuba to E Germany. One cuban had to fell his garden mango tree as the state forced him to give a fixed amount .. almost all.. each year for free, he would normally have given excess away to neighbours, who had already felled theirs. It was the UK-US which has systematically destroyed the three Arab Socialist states of Libya, Iraq and Syria. It is the EU, Turkey and Lebanon that have taken the burden of refugees. The EU is a… Read more »

Philip Owen
Guest

And yet, Neoliberalism and Liberalism before it has lifted more people out of poverty than any other system ever conceived. In fact it’s the only system at any time to have been effective at lifting people out of poverty. (not the USSR, Maosit China, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Venuzuela). A skilled Welsh metal worker in 1780 was richer than any working man had ever been thanks to free markets and free trade. A benefit claimant in Ogmore is better off now than he was then thanks to the same system. Inequality has risen because there is more to be unequal with. Hunter… Read more »

Edeyrn
Guest
Edeyrn

Corporate capitalism does not empower the worker….only well organised co-operatives in which the workers share ownership give meaning and a sense of worth

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Workers should own the whole shebang, period! As it’s workers who produce all wealth, whether that be historical wealth or contemporary, then it is they who should derive the most benefit from the wealth they create, (I would say all the wealth, but that would ignore the need to re-invest in their own industries etc). Cooperative ventures offer some benefits to workers in a capitalist economy, but they are hardly a sinecure.

eric hall
Guest

I mean – you have to laugh don’t you? it’s as if the writer has never visited Calais (which he probably hasn’t given his obvious extreme xenophobia) and seen the fence that separates the mainland Channel Ports from the rest of mainland Europe so that the refugees can’t access the ferries and trains to the UK, and seen what happens to them when they try to climb the fence. That’s not an EXTERNAL EU border, that’s an internal border between the UK (British passport control is at the entrances to pass beyond the wire) and the rest of Europe, built… Read more »

Edeyrn
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Edeyrn

You know a writer, idealist or not…..raises some good controversial points when you see such a backlash in the comments.

Nation.Cymru is a great platform for different ideas. Diolch

Cymru Rydd
Guest
Cymru Rydd

Ridiculous over-reaction by some on here to an interesting and thought-provoking article. I wouldn’t necessarily agree completely with such a heavily weighted class-conscious argument, but it’s good to hear and consider such arguments. Surely? For the life of me, I can’t understand why the undemocratic, corrupt and empire-building European Union is such an emotive rallying point for so many Welsh nationalists? It’s as if all logic, historical awareness and rational thought goes out of the window immediately, once the name itself is mentioned, to be replace by emotion and feeling and a sense that anything ‘European’must be good and virtuous.… Read more »

Red Dragon Jim
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Red Dragon Jim

Agree with the need to discuss this article properly and respectfully.

But a Celtic federation is a non-starter. Ireland already has a federation called the EU. Scottish people want to join in.

It’s just us in Wales entertaining this notion. It’s not credible.

sianiflewog
Guest
sianiflewog

EU – empire? How come we are allowed to leave? Were it an empire, i assume Brussels would have sent in the storm troopers and arrested/assassinated that nasty ffaridge. All the EUkippers would now be sweating away in some forced labor camp. . . Actually, the eu isn’t so keen on Hungary’s right wing gov’t – same goes for Poland’s neo-fascist ruling partei. Whilst i voted ‘Ia’, i am a minor eurosceptic: {Ifan, please turn off the auto speller – it drives me mad}, i agree that mass uncontrolled immigration from mainland europe brought down wages for people like me.… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

Why are you still peddling the notion that immigration has undermined wages? It has been allowed to undermine wages because employers and government haven’t insisted that there should be rates for the job that are non-negotiable. Labour unions also have a part to play in this, and very few of the mainstream have come out in support of workers who are from other parts of the EU, or non EU workers. This has been left, by and large to unions like United Voices of the World, or the Industrial Workers of the World, (The Wobblies). It’s easy, and very lazy… Read more »

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

Give this article some respect for goodness sake. It’s not British nationalism, it’s the proper Lexit case. Equally, I don’t want to give the author the impression he is right! In my opinion Lexit is bad analysis. I don’t have an ounce of disrespect for the writer. I just think it’s completely incorrect and will say why. Migration into the EU from outside of it occurs to the tune of millions every year. Most of these people are not white. The power to make decisions on accomodating migrants or sending them back is devolved to each member state. Can I… Read more »

sibrydionmawr
Guest

My goodness, this tankie must have found bones in his ReddyBrek this morning! He makes some valid, (if somewhat histronic) points about the EU being a capitalist cartel, (yawn – didn’t we already know this?). He then goes on to point out that trade with developing countries is hardly fair or on a level playing field – again something that is hardly news to anyone who does a little thinking when reading the labels on ‘fresh’ produce on supermarket shelves, beans flown in from sub-Saharan Africa, tomatoes from Morocco etc. These are all produced under highly exploitative conditions. It this… Read more »

henacynflin
Guest

Very interesting to see the venom and ad hominem arguments in the comments here. It feels as if anyone raises a questioning view of the EU they are spreading heresy and need to be silenced. There are good reasons to question the future of the EU and to recognise that it needs radical revision. People might benefit from looking at DIEM25 ( https://diem25.org/what-is-diem25/ ) which recognises the same problems in the EU but feels that they can be fixed rather than feeling that countries (Greece in this case) need to withdraw. The Brexit referendum has caused such a polarization of… Read more »

Trailorboy
Guest
Trailorboy

Who gains by foretelling the demise of the EU? There will always be plenty of vultures (hedge funds, wealthy-powerful individuals or institutions and supposed trading partners perhaps) looking for rich pickings, but what exactly has that got to do with us here in Wales.

Red Dragon Jim
Guest
Red Dragon Jim

To be contrarian, the future of the EU is huge to Wales even if we are outside of it, because the EU is our next door neighbour in Ireland.

Predictions of the EU’s demise are utterly wrong. I thought during the Euro crisis that it might happen, but they’re pulling through.

Simon G F
Guest

Is this a serious article? I think not. It’s a piss-take to garner a reaction. I’m afraid to say, nation.cymru and responders, you’ve been trolled 😉

Simon G F
Guest

By the way, I don’t know why my picture shows up on my comments. Must have done it myself somehow. I look too serious. (It was for a verification ID) I have to figure out how to change it 🙂

Michael Matthews
Guest
Michael Matthews

For simular reasons the Uk do not deserve our support.

Bendigedig
Guest
Bendigedig

“Some may have voted leave for the wrong reasons, but the inherent class character of the EU means that it must be destroyed.”

Oh dear. Are you holding our breath for the socialist, internationalist utopia now we’re leaving the EU and all the rights that came with it?

Bendigedig
Guest
Bendigedig
CapM
Guest
CapM

Practically all of the content of the article could be applied to the UK pre membership of the EU, as a EU member and post Brexit.

“The European Union is sold as a way of transcending nationalism, yet the reality is that it is a vehicle for the larger European capitalist states to pursue their interest.”
Becomes
The United Kingdom is sold as a way of transcending nationalism, yet the reality is that it is a vehicle for the largest of the British capitalist states to pursue its interest.