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Issue #1731      May 18, 2016

In no position to lecture about corruption

Britain’s empire is dead, but the imperialist mindset lives on.It’s the mindset that blames former colonies and semi-colonies for corruption, when the chief corrupters are transnational corporations and governments based in Britain and other imperialist countries.

Thus Prime Minister David Cameron blithely tells the multi-millionaire queen of Britain and its crown dependencies and overseas territories that Nigeria and Afghanistan are “fantastically corrupt.”

It is as though British oil, mining, armaments and food corporations are not up to their necks in bribing and bullying politicians, civil servants and business people in Nigeria, which has been almost a fiefdom of companies such as Shell-BP, Unilever and Lonrho.

It is as though Britain and the US didn’t fund, arm and train semi-feudal warlords and Islamic fundamentalists to overthrow the progressive secular government in Afghanistan in the 1980s, before launching a full-scale military invasion of their own to install a thoroughly corrupt pro-Western puppet regime in Kabul in 2001.

As the spider at the centre of a global web of banks and tax havens which dodge taxation and launder dirty money from Bermuda to the Cayman Islands, from Jersey to Singapore, Britain has the least right of anywhere on Earth to lecture other countries about corruption.

It’s the same imperialist mindset that believes only British membership of the EU prevents the continent’s regression into bloody warfare. Yet Britain has bombed or invaded more countries over the past 20 years than every other state in Europe combined.

It must surely grate on the ears of peace-loving Dutch, Danish, Irish, Portuguese and other citizens to hear sermons from Cameron about how Britain holds back their innate belligerence. It is as though our own military escapades in the Falklands, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Sierra Leone never happened.

This ruling-class arrogance also finds its reflection in a labour movement which has never fully confronted its own collaboration in British imperialism, past and present.

For example, ex-prime minister Gordon Brown proclaims “Britain’s worldwide reputation for fair play and stability.” Impersonating Colonel Blimp reciting a list of imperial battles, he also told Daily Mirror readers: “We should demonstrate that in war, under Churchill and Lloyd George, and in peace, Britain always was, already is and can continue to be a leader.”

Thus Brown wants Britain to be “leading, not leaving, Europe,” labouring under the delusion that a reformed EU will defend jobs and security against climate change, Russian aggression and terrorism.

Likewise Alan Johnson, Labour’s cheerleader in chief for staying in the EU, tells the Sun that voting to stay in on June 23 will “ensure that Britain remains Great.”

Then there are those further left who believe we would be abandoning Europe’s workers and socialists to a grim fate should Britain leave the EU. As though workers in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece or elsewhere rely on the British government to win their battles!

International solidarity between workers and on the left does not demand that we all accept membership of an anti-democratic imperialist alliance, designed irreversibly to promote the common interests of monopoly capitalism.

On June 23, the biggest single blow to imperialism – whether British, German or French – will be for us to reject the near unanimous advice of big business, the bankers, NATO commanders and intelligence chiefs and vote to leave the EU.

Morning Star

Next article – Mine workers’ class action

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