While the capitalist press here continues to give maximum coverage to the treatment of so called pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, they are not reporting the ruthless clamp down on pro-democracy protestors this weekend in Brussels. Their supposed justification, if they could be called to account on this, would, no doubt, be that the concerns of the former are legitimate, whereas the concerns of the latter are misguided. China is a dictatorship, right? The EU is a democracy, isn’t it?
The first response to this is to ask what we mean by democracy. If you mean the opportunity to vote every few years for a selection of candidates representing parties that seek their funding from big business and wealthy individuals and offer more or less the same policies, all broadly supportive of the existing state, the EU cannot even meet this modest definition as it lacks a legislative assembly. The EU Parliament has limited powers to control its executive, the European Commission, and no powers to legislate. China’s claim to be democratic largely rests with the guiding role it affords to its Communist Party, which itself is governed by the principles of democratic centralism, and the existence of such democratic structures as, at one end, the National People’s Congress, and, at the other, village committees. It’s a complex system, well described in the Communist Party’s report on the 2011 delegation of Western European CPs to China, Which Road for China? [i]
The second response is that whatever residual claims the EU might have had to be democratic will be totally destroyed by TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership which is currently being negotiated in secret between the European Commission and the US government. This will result in a drastic curtailment of workers’ rights, strip away most legislation protecting consumers’ rights and safety, allow big businesses to secure huge damages from national governments and local authorities that legislate in ways that impede what now becomes their right to make profits.
TTIP must be opposed if we are not to see what limited democracy we still enjoy in this country destroyed. Our first line of defence should be the Labour Party, but this appears to have bought into the TTIP project. The dubious claim that economic growth in the EU will increase by 0.5% a year by 2027 if TTIP is signed cannot surely be seen by Labour as sufficient compensation for the number of jobs in the UK that will be lost, perhaps in the order of 600,000, let alone the loss of democratic rights and the power that will be transferred from the electorate to big business. Either they are even dumber than they look or they have sold out to the big business interests that now provide large amounts of their funding. Labour’s claim that TTIP can be tamed by excluding the NHS is pathetic. There is no way either our European ‘partners’ or the USA, with its huge and voracious healthcare industry, will agree to this.
Our next line of defence is the forthcoming general election. Candidates of every party must be challenged on whether they oppose TTIP in its entirety. If they won’t commit to this, they don’t deserve our vote. For Labour, standing on a LWA (Least Worst Alternative) platform will no longer work.
If this line of defence is breached? Let’s see. Meanwhile, our support goes out to the protestors in Brussels.
[i] £2.50 from the Communist Party, Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Road, Croydon CR0 1BD.