Conceptualising the European Union within the Context of Global Accumulation

by Anonymous

The debate surrounding the EU referendum has been, as one would expect, a facile omnishambles of rhetorical garbage and distorted statistics. Whether or not this can be attributed to the inability of mainstream figures and commentators to grasp political nuances. Or in a deliberate attempt to present the evidence as if every British resident were a simpleton open to the acceptance of the most overtly blatant bias. Either explanation, both probably bearing some element of truth, can be traced back to the fact that nearly every description of Britain’s position within the EU is grounded in some form of “pros and cons” based account.


This Vote Leave campaign poster is a prime example of the ridiculously basic nature of the EU referendum campaigns and debates.

To put it more plainly, those campaigning latch their political beliefs to the pros or the cons, to stay or to leave, and this is fed down to the voters via the most simple means possible. With such a polarised decision a polarised debate is hardly surprising. An attempt to conceptualise the EU, or indeed Britain’s role within it, fails to appeal when so much is at stake and concession of some form may have to be granted to the “other side” in doing so. But to truly understand what the European Union represents, and why it continues to aimlessly grapple with its political and economic difficulties, conceptualisation is the exact task that must be undertaken.

I personally have about as much sympathy for the European Union as I do the British State, next to none. In my opinion, European Integration and all that it has come to encompass must be approached as a pooling of sovereignty relative to the context of capitalist accumulation on a global level. At first glance, it may appear futile to present the European Union’s inception to be even vaguely protectionist considering the economic expansion prior to 2007. But the financialised, fictitious profits that drove such growth exist solely as short term profitability has ceased to exist sufficiently within a Western European labour force that must still be employed and reproduced alongside Western Capitalism itself.

In other words, the ability to absolutely and brutally exploit labour is outsourced to the developing world. Although there is nothing new here, it represents the means to which the majority of the capitalist world’s surplus value is appropriated today. Indeed, for capital to avoid being fictitious it must be derived from surplus value, yet the demands of Western Capitalism’s reproduction have evidently long since surpassed labour powers ability to sustain it. It is from here that the explosion of credit and securitisation can be found, not in the questionable morality of the banking sector. For Ficticious Capital represents an attempt to maintain Capitalist reproduction and has become absolutely integral to its survival, with crisis representing its dissipation and recession the inability of the Capitalist state to enact its resurrection to pre crisis levels. The role integration has had in facilitating transregional capital flows is as such no less grounded in this reality during the period of European growth than it is in its period of crisis.


Fictitious Capital represents claims upon future value and profit, this had come to dominate European economic activity.

The EU’s inability to in anyway reverse crisis and recession is commonly argued to be found in the irresponsible developments of the period of growth that preceded it, but in reality it must be traced to developments in the relations of Capitalist production. For despite the rose tinted accounts of the Social Democratic era; the period was as credit reliant then as it is today. That is, once the rebuilding of a devastated Europe ceased to be profitable enough, and the monotony of Fordist production demanded the inculcation of a consumer credit driven, home owning proletariat to offset any form of revolt against the imposition of wage labour.

A series of crises hinted at bringing at halt to proceedings but were strung out into the future through the expansion and variation of credit issuance. However it was the culmination in the Global Financial Crisis and impending recession that coincided with European Integration reaching its zenith. As such, the popular desire for integration today finds itself exhausted as the pooling of sovereignty has been found wanting in reverting the contradictions and crises of global capitalist production and profitability. Whether it be in the name of business or of people; a vague rallying call for Europe to stick it out together versus a retreat to nationalistic tendencies will suffice as a “democratic” choice as far as anyone with even an iota of political or economic power is concerned. That is of course, relative to any questioning of capitalism itself that could be uncovered by a broader, in depth theoretical discussion of Europe’s economic and political problems.

The question posed to Britain, is the best means of securing its position within global accumulation. As part of a European Union unable to balance its integration project with capitalist depression? Or through the rehashing of its Imperialist past, with the Commonwealth waiting desperately to repay our generosity, of course. Either way, the British economy will continue to suck its rents from the rest of the world in order to maintain the integrity of its financial sector and a decent standing of living for its citizens with whatever can be spared through generic white collar employment.


Regardless of the result the City of London’s financial and imperial dominance will continue to secure Britian’s rentier interests.

The binary choice of “In or Out” has inevitably proven to be an inherently right wing debate embedded in the state paradigm. As such I refuse to entertain it with anything more than a scribbled note to please myself, worthless no doubt, but hopefully one day we will cease to have a democratic process of equal worthlessness.

If you wish to contribute a similar piece covering contemporary economic and political events or left wing politics in general. Please contact James Clark at:@jclarkpolecon


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