Michael Kidron

Tunnel or Bridge

(Spring 1962)

From International Socialism (1st series), No.8, Spring 1962, p.30.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

If Britain Joins
The Economist Intelligence Unit. 32 pp. 6s.

The Challenge of the Common Market
U.W. Kitzinger
Basil Blackwell. 152 pp. 10s 6d.

Britain’s Crisis and the Common Market
Michael Barratt Brown and John Hughes
New Left (7 Carlisle Street, London, W1). 48 pp. 3s.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s pamphlet is modest and has a limited aim: to trace the effect of Britain’s likely entry into the Common Market on British industry in general and on a selection of its branches. They believe that trade, iron and steel, light electrical engineering, the motor components industry, chemicals other than fertilizers and, to a limited extent, building materials will expand in the new environment, while heavy electrical engineering, motor car manufacturing, machine tools, fertilizers, paper and pulp, and wool textiles will suffer on balance. Probably the most important general conclusion, stressed repeatedly in the pamphlet, is that concentration and monopolization will flourish wildly in the new circumstances.

‘But at present’, they write, ‘it is still far from clear to what extent the movement towards greater concentration – which is a direct result of the wider market – will be limited by the application of the treaty’s rather vague anti-cartel clauses. A growing number of UK industries have already either reached agreements with their counterparts in the Common Market and EFTA or have decided to establish their own plant on the Continent. Experience within the Common Market shows that this movement will gather speed and the current trend towards larger industrial grouping in the UK will be hastened.’ (p.15)

Kitzinger’s book, prefatory to a larger academic work, is a very useful analysis of the forces behind European integration, its history, the extent to which it is a fact already and the problems which still face its protagonists. He has a good account of the overriding political motivations for integration and the manoeuvrings throughout its course. He shows in passing how important was the role of French imperialism in North Africa in forcing French capital to forego some sovereignty in exchange for Deutschmarks. But he is weak on the fundamental economic drives to integration, particularly on the need, if a modern productive apparatus is to be sustained, for a much more extensive division of labour than can be achieved within a relatively small economy such as Britain. This need is most obvious in the war industries, but not confined to them. This apart, Kitzinger’s booklet is an informative survey of the field and certainly the best – given its length – so far.

The same can hardly be said about the Barratt-Brown-Hughes pamphlet. It is a straight anti-Common Market brief. Contained within its maze of facts – some irrelevant but useful, others relevant but useless and, sometimes, downright misleading – the outlines of an alternative policy can be recognized. As with so much in the New Left it is a case of old utopias between new covers: at home we need a taxation policy to stimulate growth and achieve equality, we need ‘planning priorities’ etc.; abroad we need positive neutralism, an All-European Treaty’, SUNFED, teeth in GATT, etc. etc. Who should do it? how? and why? are never asked.

To forestall cries about injustice and distortion, let it be admitted: there is a newcomer to the utopian feast; the authors consider that EFTA should be resurrected as a counterpoise to the Common Market ‘for EFTA is fundamentally a neutralist bloc’! (p.36)

Last updated on 2 March 2010