EU - Roads to Travel

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Maclane Horton
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Jan 13 2019 14:01
EU - Roads to Travel

EU - ROADS TO TRAVEL

Some seven come to mind.

1. Remain. No change. No turning. Just stay in the EU as is. It will mean a general election and probably voting again in more referenda until we get it right.

2. Leave. But stay in the full customs union obeying all the regulations but with no say in making them. Then start arranging a piecemeal series of dismemberments. Lots of fun fighting over the details.
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3. Leave. But stay in the customs union only for goods. No common market for services. No more rights of EU citizens to reside or work in UK. And in order to abide by the Good Friday Agreement, an open border with the Irish Republic for goods and visitors. Perhaps a maximum for visitors of 6 months residence per calender year, otherwise registration and official permission required.

4. Leave. But betray the DUP and put a customs border down the middle of the Irish sea. Great Britain will leave the customs union but Northern Ireland while staying in the UK will be bound by the regulations of the customs union for goods and for visitors.

5. Leave. But so that the Government of the Irish Republic and the EU establishment sell out on the Good Friday Agreement. In this way the UK completely leaves the customs union without retaliation on tariffs from EU and Ireland. However with border posts all along the partition line. Will dissident republicans or the new moderate Sinn Féin retaliate?

6. Leave. But the Republic of Ireland leaves the EU as well and establishes a customs union with the UK. So harmony on the partition line.

7. Leave. But the UK and the EU turn bloody-minded. A tariff and visitor deal is established on the same basis as North Korea. Economic turmoil. Helicopter gunships patrol the border. Governments fall. Populist parties take control. Capitalism in crisis.

What other roads are there? Which one are we going to take? When will we sleep safe in our beds again?

Scallywag
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Jan 15 2019 22:54

I wish there was more discussion on Libcom about Brexit.

I fear the possibility of a 2nd referendum with a 2nd vote to leave.

That I think would massively embolden the far right, cause more political chaos and might result in a very right wing fascistic government coming to power in the UK.

Spikymike
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Jan 16 2019 12:38

Well of course 'We' the working class as a collective entity, rather than the abstract 'people' and their 'representatives', aren't really making the decisions that will matter to us in practice.
There has been some previous discussion but maybe not in line with the Uk 'Left' versus 'Right' political advisors to our ruling class. See here for instance:
www.afed.org.uk/their-brexit-our-lives-and-our-planet
https://www.anarchistcommunism.org/2018/12/21/euromania-intensifies
https://libcom.org/blog/bosses-political-faction-fights-not-our-problem-...
https://libcom.org/blog/peoples-assembly-election-carnival and very briefly here:
https://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/2010s/2018/no-137...

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Jan 16 2019 19:52

That AF article feels a bit all over the place, like:
"Grass-roots democracy within an electoral system clearly doesn’t work, if a referendum result can be so easily thrown in the dustbin. The response to there even being another referendum, never mind the outcome, shows working class people what the elite really think of us.

But this realisation isn’t fostering working class unity, when the class is so divided over questions of labour, migration and national autonomy along the lines of Left and Right. A major problem with both Brexit and Remain positions is that they are producing cross-class alliances... And these include some of the left too, hoping for a socialist Brexit; through the looking class again. Other left-wing workers and unions are agreeing with industry bosses, who in general oppose Brexit. A second referendum just demonstrates to many that democracy is a joke."
Yep, with them so far, but then:
"On the other hand, a ‘People’s Vote’ is the only avenue that gives working people any agency at all during the current deliberations. And there is certainly an anarchist case for voting just as there was first time around, especially if it includes the possibility of remaining. A Remain vote, not a soft Brexit, is less of a threat to our internationalism."
So, is the message to choose the better, more progressive cross-class alliance? I'm not a total abstentionist, I'd vote in something like the Irish abortion referendum, but I do think anarchists, and particularly anarchist organisations aiming to offer a degree of clarity, should refuse to take sides in things like Brexit where the entire debate is just over how the state and capital should be managed. I'm not denying that there might be a reformist/humanitarian case for voting, and I wouldn't judge anyone for doing so on those grounds, but I can't see how there could be an anarchist case for voting to preserve the European Union.

Scallywag
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Jan 16 2019 20:17
R Totale wrote:
A second referendum just demonstrates to many that democracy is a joke."
Yep, with them so far, but then:

Not that I am in favour of a 2nd referendum, but I don't see why allowing one would be anti-democratic.

It's really pretty stupid that we only get one chance to vote on a major issue, and no matter how close the vote is, whatever side wins settles it forever. Especially so when new information comes to light after the referendum, like how much chaos it actually is to leave and how the leave side manipulated voters.

Spikymike
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Jan 17 2019 10:47

Agree with R Totale above about the content of that AF individuals article. The AF it seems in this case is far from pursuing a clear collective policy., but remember that before the first referendum there was an extensive debate in the libcom threads with not a few anarchists arguing for a vote against Brexit (and therefor for the European Union) on a variety of, at best, confused grounds. Doubtless the same splits would emerge again if there is another referendum.

redschlog
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Jan 17 2019 13:22
Scallywag wrote:
I wish there was more discussion on Libcom about Brexit.

I am so fucking glad there isn't. This is the typical bullshit they give us a 'choice' over. War on the brown people? Nope. War on the poor people? Nope. Shitty customs union? Yep. And when the workers choose the wrong option (out), they (deliberately?) screw the whole thing up so the right option (in) begins the only feasible alternative.

Scallywag: Basically no. The second referendum has been ruled out by oor Terry. So it's a for sure and certain. The previous result was a narrow out. For two years, we've been bombarded by jolly japes about the post-Brexit dark age, Brexit mongers like BJ (and isn't he just so like a mouthful of spunk) have been told to button their gob holes, and the left has embraced the EU (or neo-liberalism as we cynical old fuckers call it), so the next one is an in.

Scallywag
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Jan 17 2019 15:31

I didn't mean debate as to whether to leave or stay, I meant discussion as in what to make about Brexit and what it's implications will be.

I am not sure why you said a second referendum has been rulled out for sure and certain, but then said a second referendum would result in a vote to remain in the EU.

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R Totale
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Jan 17 2019 18:55

I think that bit was a joke - saying that if May had ruled something out, then that means it's certain to happen.
I'm less convinced by their claim that a second referendum would result in a win for remain: if anyone hasn't been paying attention, there's been really quite a lot of evidence that the centrist, pro-maintaining-the-current-conditions faction of capital have lost their hegemonic grip over a large and decisive section of the population, and I don't think that's reversed at all over the past two years. Certainly, there's been a lot of scare stories in the media about the potential results of Brexit in that time, but there's also been plenty of Tommy Robinson facebook live videos and minion memes about why it'd be the best thing ever, and who's to say which one carries more weight by now?

Anyway, in terms of potential consequences, I guess one thing to bear in mind is that there's a constituency out there (dunno how big exactly, but sizeable), who've arrived at a point where anything other than a hard Brexit will be treated as a "stab in the back" myth. Not saying that we should deliberately hope for a hard Brexit to appease said people, but I think it is worth considering when attempting to weigh up the pros and cons of various potential outcomes.

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fingers malone
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Jan 17 2019 21:46

What do people think about the proposals in the immigration White Paper?

There's a proposal that 'low skilled' EU migrants would be put on 11 month work visas with no right to bring their families over. The definition of 'low skilled' officially is that you only need school leaving qualifications, but the immigration White Paper is defining 'low skilled' as people earning under 30,000 a year which obviously excludes most people.

wojtek
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Jan 18 2019 07:15

Britain's loss will be Germany's/France's gain.

Mike Harman
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Jan 18 2019 09:30
Fingers Malone wrote:
There's a proposal that 'low skilled' EU migrants would be put on 11 month work visas with no right to bring their families over. The definition of 'low skilled' officially is that you only need school leaving qualifications, but the immigration White Paper is defining 'low skilled' as people earning under 30,000 a year which obviously excludes most people.

A lot of these will not only affect potential immigrants but also EU nationals who are already here. If the current Brexit deal goes through, all EU nationals in the UK will need to re-apply for settled status, which requires documentation of having been in the country for x amount of time - documentation that people have not previously needed. Therefore there's a reasonable chance that large numbers of existing residents will lose their status and become undocumented, making them considerably easier to exploit and criminalising them.

The 11 months work visa stuff also looks set to create both a tier of 'illegal immigrants' and people whose immigration status is tied very strictly to employment even for new migrants. All of this is combined means hundreds of thousands or millions of workers who can be very easily sacked/evicted and subject to deportation.

Meanwhile you have Angela Nagle, Eddie Dempsey of the RMT and others arguing that immigrants bring wages down (and hence borders should be enforced more strongly), completely ignoring the material consequences of immigration control on people's ability to organise.

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fingers malone
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Jan 18 2019 22:52

I think way too many people assume existing migrants will have no problems reapplying for settled status and are really underestimating the amount of paperwork required, and the fact that poorer people, who are more likely to have moved a lot and lived in rented places without contracts, are the people most likely to fall foul of these requirements.

I also think, Wojtek, that moving to France or Germany is not that easy for people on low wages and that it should be borne in mind that a lot of migrants are not so footloose and fancy free, they have children at school in the UK.

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Jan 21 2019 13:31
fingers malone wrote:
I think way too many people assume existing migrants will have no problems reapplying for settled status and are really underestimating the amount of paperwork required, and the fact that poorer people, who are more likely to have moved a lot and lived in rented places without contracts, are the people most likely to fall foul of these requirements.

Yeah, just to chime in here: I think there are far too many people seeing this simply as a vote 'for or against' the EU. It obviously is also that on an abstract level but, as fingers points out, what's ignored in that configuring the question like that is how it will affect the migrant section of the class in Britain: essentially, what's being voted on is, 'Do you want neoliberal capitalism with a harsh border regime, or do you want neoliberal capitalism with an even harsher border regime?'

To working-class people in Britain with their immigration status either sorted or unquestionable, the difference is basically negligible. To the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of working-class people whose immigration status is not so secure, its potentially life-changing. Reducing it to simply 'for or against' the EU or neoliberalism doesn't cut it as an analysis imo.

As for where the far-right fit into it all, they obviously stand to gain regardless of what happens. Anything short of a hard Brexit/no deal, they get to play off the 'Brexit betrayal' narrative that's been doing the rounds these past 2+ years. And if they get the Brexit they want, well, they've got exactly what they want (though I doubt they'll say that's they had in mind, if they get it).

Spikymike
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Jan 27 2019 17:55

Ok. ''A vote for or against the EU'' for some or for or against the Uk for others depending I suppose. As I said the same arguments as before would come up again if there was a second referendum. So Ed what are you saying - should anarchists and communists then vote to stay in the EU, vote for a poor deal or what?? Of course existing or potential immigrants to the Uk or to other parts of the EU now or in the future will not benefit overall from either result, but some immigrants in the UK and the EU might be less worse off as long as there is some kind of at least transitional deal. - which to be honest I think I and others assumed would be forthcoming but could be wrong it seems now.. The original referendum inevitably gave rise to huge divisions and a series of long lasting cross class alliances and campaigns that have only been of benefit to capitalism if not the specific immediate needs of key capitalist interest the Uk. Anarchist and communists are not significant players in determining the outcome of all this but we don't want to add to those divisions by joining in the same cross class alliances do we?
Edit: I forgot that Ed did vote to remain in the last Referendum - one of the few anarchists that owned up to the fact on this site. I appreciate that it was precisely the perceived likely bad impact on immigrants into the UK (above all other issues) that caused some anarchists to make that decision. I don't berate such good intentions just the logic behind abandoning an otherwise time tested principle.

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Jan 21 2019 16:01

Two quick points: one is that, for the sake of accuracy, it's worth distinguishing between "the migrants section of the class", and "the EU migrant section of the class" - for non-EU migrants, who are already at the worse end of a two-tier system, things are unlikely to get any worse, and they might even have some hope that things could potentially get better. Just to be clear, I'm not saying that because I think we should cheer on the end of free movement for EU migrants in the UK, but I think it's worth trying to understand the motivations of, say, Leave voters from South Asian backgrounds (can't find a good breakdown of the actual vote, but I think this and this are relevant).

I guess the question is, is taking up an explicitly pro-Remain stance the best way to fight Fortress Britain, or can we imagine other ways to do so? IMO, the "defend all migrants" demo just after the referendum struck the right tone, and while you can criticise it (in particular, I've heard that it misrepresents the actual position taken by Another Europe is Possible, which is a pretty big thing to get wrong), I definitely have some sympathy to the argument put forward in the "leave or remain, we all hate Tommy" article - although admittedly, that's about how best to beat the far-right, rather than beating the border regime as a whole.

Mike Harman
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Jan 21 2019 16:05
Ed wrote:
As for where the far-right fit into it all, they obviously stand to gain regardless of what happens. Anything short of a hard Brexit/no deal, they get to play off the 'Brexit betrayal' narrative that's been doing the rounds these past 2+ years. And if they get the Brexit they want, well, they've got exactly what they want (though I doubt they'll say that's they had in mind, if they get it).

If some version of a harder brexit deal goes through, they'll still have the EU as an external enemy which is constantly betraying the UK to point to, as well as continued attempts to reconfigure the UK immigration system to work on, so yeah there really is a gain for them in almost any direction and a lot of people who should (or possibly do) know better keep pandering.

Spikymike
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Jan 21 2019 16:05

And PS: In relation to the perhaps initially unlikely but now energetically argued 'No Deal' 'crash out' possibility there is this alternative approach from the South Essex Heckler and friends mentioned here:
https://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/answering-our-rulers-...

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Jan 21 2019 16:12

The thing is, the EU migrant section of the class and the non-EU migrant section of the class can also be the same people, in my job you have to be on a low income to access classes. and 53% of the students with EU passports are not born in the EU. In the 'nationality' section of the form EU nationalities come in at number 2, 3, and 5 (Spain, Portugal and Poland) but in the 'country of birth' section there are no EU countries in the top five. These students are mostly from Latin America and Africa.
People with EU documents but who were born in non EU countries are likely to be the poorer migrants and more likely to work in low paid jobs and have housing problems, and then later have problems regarding being able to produce all the tenancy agreements for everywhere they have lived in the UK, either because they lived somewhere without a contract due to housing need, or they moved several times and at one point lost paperwork. So any harsh deal regarding settlement procedures will be worse for exactly these people.

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Jan 21 2019 16:16

Regarding R Totale's point about South Asian people voting leave, nearly everyone I know in the UK who is from Colombia, Ecuador, Congo or Senegal has family in the EU (Spain for the first two, France for the second) and so they are anxious about ease of travel and family members coming to live here in the future. I think in South Asian communities this would be a lot less common so this would be a factor perhaps, but those issues for migrant communities in the UK shouldn't be brushed aside just because there are other large BME communities that don't share those issues.

Mike Harman
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Jan 21 2019 16:18
Spikymike wrote:
Anarchist and communists are not significant players in determining the outcome of all this but we don't want to add to those divisions by joining in the same cross class alliances do we?

I think we can be very clear doing the following:

Pointing out the cross-class alliances of the lexiters like the RMT leadership, Novara/New Statesman's Grace Blakeley, the FBU's Paul Embery, who are pitting the EU as 'financial capital' vs. a British 'productive capital', trying to sell pro-business stuff like state aid as some kind of 'democratic socialist' magic bullet for the UK economy etc. etc.

Really two-faced shit from lexiters talking about 'fortress Europe' as compared to free movement within Europe - except that that UK will continue to fund fortress Europe after exit (May committed to this months ago).

Similar with a slightly wider group than the above like Paul Mason, who combines wishing for a harsher border regime within the EU (no workers earning under median wage etc. nearly got that with the immigration bill going through now) with support for NATO.

Everyone that claims that the EU is 'neoliberal' and by extension the UK ruling class is somehow not, or that far right nationalist populism is not just another face of 'neoliberalism'.

All of these groups try to pass off their various variations of nationalist shit as 'marxist' of course, see QQ's blog debunking some of this: http://libcom.org/blog/over-supply-labour-depressing-wages-30102018

Being clear about the material impact of Brexit on the migrant working class, and how the fate of the migrant working class is tied into the fate of people with more secure status. NHS up-front charging and similar tend to be piloted with immigrants first, hundreds of thousands of existing workers moving to a more insecure status will very easily depress wages and conditions, situations like lecturers being told they'll be deported if they miss more than a week's work during the lecturers strike.

None of this requires some kind of pro-Remain or pro-EEA cross-class campaign.

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Jan 21 2019 16:50

Fingers - those are good points, and I totally hadn't thought of some of them. And I think the majority of South Asians did support remain anyway, I just think it's worth remembering how complex and contradictory the social bloc that voted Leave was/is.
I still feel that the old anarchist/direct action critique of electoralism holds true, that there's things we can do to show solidarity with migrants and fight the border regime that don't require us to wait for a particular day to vote, and that we can keep on doing after the polls close, but I'm sure everyone on this thread is aware of that already.
Oh, and one other point that's worth making is just how much money the Home Office can wring out of people, even EU migrants whose documentation is perfectly in order - for someone who qualifies for permanent residence, just getting the card is £65 and then a further £19.20 to have their biometric identification taken, which is a lot to someone on a tight budget but still cheap by the standards of Home Office fees. The new EU settlement scheme will be £65 as well, but if you qualify for citizenship and want to get naturalised then that's £1330.

Oops, nevermind that bit, literally immediately before I posted it Theresa May apparently said she's scrapping the £65 fee, can't imagine they'll be getting rid of the citizenship fee anytime soon though.

Mike Harman
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Jan 21 2019 17:00
R Totale wrote:
Two quick points: one is that, for the sake of accuracy, it's worth distinguishing between "the migrants section of the class", and "the EU migrant section of the class" - for non-EU migrants, who are already at the worse end of a two-tier system, things are unlikely to get any worse, and they might even have some hope that things could potentially get better.

It's quite possible things will get worse, the immigration bill slated to go through last week had clauses that affect non-EU migrants too. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46613900

There was also this report that visa restriction for Bangladeshi chefs (one of the big leave campaign pitches to non-EU migrant communities was stuff like this) hasn't changed at all, and employers associations that had supported Brexit now regretting it: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uk-curry-industry-brexit... - this is of course not the non-EU working class but the non-EU petit-bourgeois - however while people talk about South Asian leave voters I'm not sure I've seen a class breakdown at all so quite possible a lot of the leave votes were leveraged through small business associations promised that a £30k annual business expense would drop.

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jef costello
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Jan 21 2019 20:20

Totally agree with most of what has been said. The problem with Brexit is the huge number of people who will directly lose out. EU workers in the UK who risk losing homes, jobs, could be forced to leave and at the very least will be scrabbling around for documents and trying to find extremely high fees and lose access to healthcare, schools etc. Citizenship was 975 last time I looked, can't believe it costs even more now.

I comletely agree with fingers about accomodation, it is very hard to prove when you are renting, especially if you are subletting or flatsharing, Also proving work history isn't always easy, if you are living in a precarious situations keeping hold of years' worth of pay slips etc is not easy at all.

And then there are British people in the EU, who are now running all the same risks. I have found out that my job is safe, for now, but I am going to get a resident's permit all the same.

In the UK a family of four would be looking to find at least 4 grand, plus time off work to go to meetings etc, plus chasing up documents from power companies, phone companies, employers that may not even exist any more, costing money to call them from a landline (or more if you only have a mobile) . And if that leads to you losing your home then you might also lose your job, your kids schools, you lose access to healthcare and council services.

I'm no fan of the EU, but Brexit is going to cause a lot of harm to a lot of people and the only reasons in favour of it are racism (more or less overt) and ridiculous belief in some mythical Great Britain.

Maclane Horton
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Jan 24 2019 13:48

jef costello wrote that people had two reasons for voting leave – racism and a belief in some mythical Great Britain. Surely for some people (including this writer) there was a third reason. As the Anarchist Manifesto Ireland says:

"* The EU is the multi-nationals’ ideal world. Constantly manipulated by them to their self interest; constantly smoothing the way for them and channeling through their profits.
* Fortunately there is an anti EU bandwagon is on the roll. A strange lot of bedfellows admittedly, a mixture of the right and left, some of them indeed rather dangerous. Interesting times – ride the tiger."

Despite its having survived some three centuries and currently being on a roll, I still think a political system rewarding just 1% of the people (with another 5% of well-bribed collaborators) is a precarious system.

So the racists and the romantics want to help us to weaken the multi-nationals. Well the more people pushing the better. We need all the help we can get to topple the system. No problem with the romantics. The racism is worrying though. But in this case I don’t think it’s dangerous.

There might well be a case where it would be right to support the bourgeoisie in order to defeat racists. However not here and now with Brexit.

Spikymike
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Jan 25 2019 16:48

Given the original headline title and the relationship between the EU and it's still competing member states, with the UK in or out, there is still the continuing crisis of the Euro as outlined in these short articles;
https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2019/01/01/20-years-of-the-euro-p...
https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/the-euro-part-two-will...

ajjohnstone
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Jan 25 2019 17:29

The intellectuals chip in

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jan/25/fight-europe-wreck...

Quote:
Hence this exhortation to carry once more the torch of a Europe that, despite its mistakes, its lapses, and its occasional acts of cowardice, remains a beacon for every free man and woman on the planet.

Yet no mention of the reality of Fortress Europe

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Jan 26 2019 15:12
Maclane Horton wrote:
There might well be a case where it would be right to support the bourgeoisie in order to defeat racists. However not here and now with Brexit.

That's the thing though, it's an inter-ruling-class fight, so voting leave is still supporting one section of the bourgeoisie against the other. This is the bit that I get stuck on with both left/anarcho leave and left/anarcho remain arguments, they're both great at pointing out the problems with the cross-class alliance on the other side, but then kind of skim over the issue of the cross-class alliance on theirs.

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Jan 27 2019 09:34
Maclane Horton wrote:
jef costello wrote that people had two reasons for voting leave – racism and a belief in some mythical Great Britain. Surely for some people (including this writer) there was a third reason.

Yes there is also a misguided notion of national sovereignty and the idea that the ''local'' bosses are somehow better than the ''non-local'' bosses. Hardly something anarchists should be cheering for either, but outside of the left its at best a side issue in terms of brexit lets be honest. The main reason is anti-immigration views being prevalent among the over 40's who made up the majority of brexit voters,

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Jan 27 2019 09:54
jef costello wrote:
Totally agree with most of what has been said. The problem with Brexit is the huge number of people who will directly lose out. EU workers in the UK who risk losing homes, jobs, could be forced to leave and at the very least will be scrabbling around for documents and trying to find extremely high fees and lose access to healthcare, schools etc. Citizenship was 975 last time I looked, can't believe it costs even more now.
.

It cost us £1300 plus £150 for an English test, £60 for the life in UK test and another £100 odd of admin fees, so about £1500-£1600 in all. This has now increased of course, and will continue to do so as the service has just been privatised since brexit.. You used to be able to use the registry office but as of 2019 you now need to go to a private company and pay a few hundred quid for a ''premium service'' just to scan your documents.

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Jan 27 2019 10:19
R Totale wrote:
I still feel that the old anarchist/direct action critique of electoralism holds true, that there's things we can do to show solidarity with migrants and fight the border regime that don't require us to wait for a particular day to vote, and that we can keep on doing after the polls close, but I'm sure everyone on this thread is aware of that already..

I take your point but for me it all rings a bit hollow, I mean for millions of migrant workers in the Uk who don't have citizenship a ''critique of electoralism'' is somewhat of a moot point. They simply don't have the right to vote in national elections or the eu referendum in the first place . Of course ironically the electoraiists (i.e the labour left et al) didn't and won't ever campaign for them to have the vote. .