The enormous advance of technology during recent times impels the leaders of the industrialised west European countries to promote convergence, cooperation and even unification of some of their countries’ mechanisms of economic control. They are motivated by deep conviction that if they fail to do so, they would be trampled by the capitalist might of the US and would have difficulty competing with Japan or other power centres that may emerge.
What we are witnessing in the community of the Common Market, and in the recent European parliament election campaign, does not signify the absence of contradictions, even serious ones, between the ruling classes of these countries. Rather, it shows that occasionally the needs of the economy and technological progress, and the fear of being ground down in the global power struggles override some of these contradictions and prescribe intensified cooperation.
Historically, the trend towards European unification is undoubtedly progressive. Revolutionary socialists should approve of it and act energetically within it for a revolution that will put an end to the regimes of capitalist exploitation in the West and bureaucratic oppression in the East.
Instead of which, what are most of the west European workers’ parties – both Socialist and Communist – doing? They tail behind the bourgeois leadership of their countries, and occasionally obstruct the trend of unification. A striking example of this is the French Communist party, which in the election campaign for the European parliament raised reactionary nationalist slogans, and in a hypocritical pretence of defending ‘its own’ French working class, opposed the accession to the Common Market of the poor south European countries (Greece, Spain and Portugal).
Revolutionary socialists ought to march as a single bloc, irrespective of borders and national differences, in the forefront of the movement for unification; work tirelessly for unification of Europe’s workers’ movements, including the trade union movement; promote right now an internationalist socialist consciousness, and endeavour to crystallise, together with revolutionary socialist circles in eastern Europe, a common all-European programme for a socialist revolution.
But how can one write about the trend towards unification of Europe without addressing the trend towards unification of our own region? And how can one write about the attitude of the Communists to European unification without addressing the attitude of the Communist parties in the Arab East to the aspiration of the masses of our region for unification? Whereas the ruling classes of the Arab world have been forced – in no small measure in response to mass pressure, but also out of economic and political interests – to set up and institutionalise common frameworks (such as the Arab League, established at the time under the auspices of the British imperialists), the Communist parties in the region have not seen fit to set up their own common regional framework.
Whereas the duty of socialists in the Arab East – as in Europe – is to march in the forefront of the trend for unification, and endeavour to crystallise a common programme for a socialist revolution, the Communist parties are at best dragged in the wake of the current, or worse: try to obstruct it.
In France two revolutionary groups set up a united list for the elections to the European parliament, under the slogan “For a socialist united states of Europe”. This list won over 600,000 votes (over 3 per cent of the votes in France). In the Arab East there are no elections for a regional parliament. But elections apart, it is possible and necessary to raise the slogan
For a socialist union of the Mashreq!
[Editorial, dated 10 September 1979, Matzpen #87, August–September 1979. The “Communists” referred to are the ‘official’ Communist parties]