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A socialist lesson from Kiev

NO TO NATIONALISM
The events of Ukraine may be far away from Glasgow and Edinburgh but the driving force of the conflict is very familiar.

 What is making people take one side or another and feel so passionately about it that they take to the streets in violent confrontations, is nationalism, that sense of identity based on “ethnicity” (and in Ukraine, language). Nationalism has made allies of people who we might have called "liberals" and people who we definitely call "fascists."

Nationalism is the idea that the most important thing about a person is his or her nationality When nationalism is strong, then people judge their politicians  by asking "Are they of the right nationality?" What this means is that leaders are not judged by asking, "What are their values?" or "Are they for equality or inequality" or even "Are they honest or corrupt?"

Evaluating politicians this way is a recipe for enabling leaders who are personally corrupt or who want society to be very unequal and undemocratic to gain power on the grounds that they are of the right nationality. Such leaders know that in order to make the correctness of their nationality trump all other concerns they need to keep "their" people in fear of another "enemy" nationality.  This is why some politicians relish and foment national or  ethnic or religious strife.  One way of doing this is to use the rhetoric of "freedom"

For those of us who want a socialist  society, the important question is not what nationality you are but whether you support or oppose the values of socialism - equality and mutual aid among people regardless of nationality. Ukrainians will continue to be oppressed by inequality, by the rule of the few haves over the many have-nots. No matter what nationality the haves are, their goal is to make sure that the have-nots remain dominated, exploited and oppressed by the haves.

And can the Scottish nationalists say an independent Scotland will be any different? The Socialist Party is confident that  ordinary Scots want a socialist society, meaning that if they were presented with that goal clearly spelled out they would say it would be wonderful to live in such a world. The Socialist Party is also sure that most Scots follow their political leaders because they hope it will result in an improvement in their lives by reducing the domination and oppression by the haves. This domination is all they know and experienced, and any big change such as the prospect of independence and the promise of having their nationality in power instead of the “enemy” nationality offers the hope that maybe it will make things better. But most Scots have never heard the case for genuine socialism and  think anybody who uses the word "socialism" wants another Soviet Union and Stalin.  All that is left is for them to choose which nationality to identify with and vote for.  People are in an ideological trap, in which only the haves win and the have-nots are doomed to lose. the Scottish working-class need to break out of this trap.

Instead of trying to figure out if it is separatism or the union to support it makes far more sense to build a socialist movement where we live. When it comes to keeping the have-nots out of power, the haves of all nationalities cooperate with each other far more than they fight each other to strengthen the power of the haves generally, everywhere in the world. . The best thing we can do to help the have-nots (in Ukraine) is to fight against the haves where we live and try to remove them from power.

Freely adapted from a Countercurrents post by John Spritzler

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