THE looming exit — Brexit — of certainly England and Wales from the European Union (EU) — should not overly concern South Africa economically or politically. Certainly not in the short term.
But the Brexit vote should send warning signals to trade union and worker organisations everywhere. Because it has given a major boost to the xenophobic poison that resides within nationalism, distracting attention from an economic and social system that should be the prime target of growing calls for transformation.
The nationalist call to break from the EU actually amounts to the antithesis of the humanist core expressed in the union slogan: workers of all countries unite. This was a call for unity within an exploitative system, recognising that only by uniting could the sellers of labour protect themselves and, in the process, perhaps improve the lot of all humanity.