Since David Cameron announced a referendum on whether Britain stays in the European Union, the debate surrounding Britain's role in Europe has triggered a flurry of conjecture regarding the likely outcome of the referendum and the consequences of a vote to leave the EU.
Gordon Brown is the latest to come out in support of the campaign to stay in the EU, claiming it is "not British to retreat to Europe's sidelines" and arguing that Britain needed to be in the EU to shape the continent's responses to terrorism, immigration and climate change. The Economist published a story this week outlining security concerns and questioning whether Britain is safer in the European Union, or outside of it.
Whilst the narrative of opposition to the EU is largely dominated by the right, we've put together an essential reading list of books that critically engage with the debate from a perspective of internationalism rather than the xenophobia that is so common amongst EU critics. Additional books on the list analyse the refugee crisis, the Syrian civil war, the Greek debt crisis, and the nature of the contemporary British far right.
Also new on the Verso blog is an exclusive extract from John Gillingham's The EU: An Obituary, in which he comments on Brexit, the EU’s democratic failures and offers cogent predictions of the European Union’s decline.
(image from The Economist)
To mark 'International Migrants' Day', we publish an article by London2Calais, an group of activists who have been organising supplies and activities in solidarity with those trapped in 'the Jungle' refugee camp. With the global number of refugees having passed the 20million mark for the first time since 1992, they highlight the interconnected political drivers of the exodus - largely western imperialism, regional and national authoritarianism, predatory global capitalism, and a violent, exclusionary border regime.
The recent gains of the Front National in France's regional elections may not represent 'fascism' in its classic form, but is a catastrophe none-the-less. Stathis Kouvelakis argues that such revivals of reactionary populism and the accompanying hardening authoritarianism of 'liberal democracies' shines a daming light on a 'radical Left' that is fragmented, weak, and bereft of any true counter-hegemonic project. Translated from the French by David Broder.
Jimmy Mubenga died of cardiac arrest whilst waiting to be deported on board an Angola-bound plane at Heathrow airport on 12 October 2010. Fellow passengers heard Mubenga scream, “I can’t breathe” as he was restrained and pinned down in his seat. G4S guards forced his head down and restricted his breathing, despite Mubenga already being handcuffed from behind.
On 16 December 2014, three G4S guards were found not guilty of manslaughter. This Black History Month, we remember Jimmy Mubenga and publish an extract from Antony Loewenstein's Disaster Capitalism exposing the institutional racism that acquitted Mubenga's killers, and the government-approved, corporate unaccountability that means G4S still secures massive contracts, earning £6.8 billion last year.
"Racism had become endemic within an economic system that produced dehumanization while suppressing transparency and neglecting proper training."
Photograph: Guardian, Graeme Robertson
In a number of recent articles, Jacques Sapir has argued for the 'logic of fronts', stating that the Left must temporarily subordinate its ideological differences with far-right groups such as the Front National to pursue the common objective of leaving the euro. Writing for Le Monde Diplomatique, Frédéric Lordon strongly rejects this view, arguing that any euro-exit must be from the left and to the left, not shackled to forces with fundamentally different conceptions of what 'national sovereignty' would entail.
By Frédéric Lordon. Translated by David Broder
Will the debate on the euro ever be free of the curse of the Front National? Without doubt, everything seems set on condemning it to this association, especially in an era when all kinds of confusion and hysteria mix together to the extent that it is impossible to have even the slightest rational debate. But what are we to say when some of the advocates of euro exit add to the intellectual mayhem, identifying themselves as of the Left but then calling for improbable alliances with the far Right?