Friday, August 29, 2014

Anarchists and Left Communists Against Independence

Edinburgh Anarchist Federation have posted a blog that reflects many of the views of the Socialist Party enabling the Socialist Courier blog to quote extensively from it.

“Don’t buy into the ideology of the Yes campaign or its variant, left nationalism. Whatever the rhetoric of some on the Left, this is a Scottish nationalist campaign, just as the No camp represents a British nationalism.  Anyone who cares about class struggle politics needs to strongly oppose both.

Nationalism, whatever form it takes, does two things: it tries to create a community of interest between the bosses and the working class; and it binds this community to the capitalist nation-state, reinforcing the latter’s power and role in exploitation. There is no genuinely ‘progressive’ form that this can take. We have, as Paul Mattick observed, a century of experience of national liberation struggles where apparently progressive anti-imperialist movements culminated in an oppressive new ruling class. And we could now potentially see a new wave of independence movements in Europe in response to neoliberal restructuring and the more immediate crisis of capitalism.  Do we expect different results?...

Are smaller states better and more democratic? 

...Well, if we were to take a critical look at actually existing small European states we find:
That they’re certainly no more favourable to workers’ organising;
They are also coercive (which is the role of any state apparatus) and can be just as authoritarian (an example being the role played by the Catholic church backed by the Irish state);
They have been remarkably open to neoliberalism and austerity (which has had a devastating effect on small states from Finland to the Netherlands, never mind southern Europe);
There is a growing anti-immigrant trend related to systemic white supremacy across northern Europe;
That some have also sent willing to send troops abroad (Denmark in Afghanistan) or have aided others who have (Ireland again, offering Shannon airport for use by the US Air Force);
And they are always subject to the dictates of larger supranational structures and of capital itself....

The Nordic example

... Common Weal want us to emulate the Nordic states where thanks to a number of reasons – a strong labour movement,  available natural resources etc. – it has been able to maintain more of its welfare provision than Britain.
“ we still have a cabin on the upper deck, but it is the upper deck of Titanic.” - Asbjørn Wahl

 But all of the Nordic states have experienced their own neo-liberal offensive and inequality is growing there too.
Swedish welfare academic, Daniel Ankarloo, argues that the labour movement there has been ‘weakened by ... class co-operation’  and belief in a ‘social policy road to socialism’– i.e. that somehow the welfare model was an example of socialism in practice that just needed to be expanded.  Instead, to defend existing gains as well as to fight for a different society, we need to rediscover class militancy and that this, ‘radicalisation must ... come from below in the form of the self-organisation of the labour movement’. .

 What about the Scottish Left? 

...Both Common Weal and the vision of the Radical Independence campaign are concerned with trying to manage capitalism better.

 Common Weal is an explicitly class collaborationist think-tank – nicely summed up in its slogan ‘All of us first’.  Its proposals in creating a high-growth economy, are in reality about increasing the rate of exploitation and outcompeting workers internationally. Its advocacy of ‘work councils’ to smooth relations in the workplace is a necessary part of increasing productivity – i.e. profit. Where they have been used in Europe they have consistently undermined unions and workers’ militancy....

The most comprehensive statement made by members of the Radical Independence campaign, is a call for united frontism to the extent that socialism – even a bureacratic state ‘socialism’ – isn’t even on the agenda, but is treated as a utopian project for some distant future. It seeks to create a Scottish broad left – not an ‘anti-capitalist’ – party along the lines of Syriza or Die Linke, and it reproduces the same ‘Keynesian wish list’ based on the same weak analysis of the state and capital, critiqued so well by Michael Heinrich. Like Common Weal, it sprinkles radical rhetoric – participatory democracy, decentralisation – on its reformism.  It doesn’t differ substantially from the latter, but offers mild criticism of certain aspects, including its support for the Nordic model.

After the referendum

...We should not trust an independent Scottish state to share much wealth, to protect NHS provision, not to attack the unemployed or the disabled, not to make cuts, to deport people or remove trade union restrictions. Some are hopeful that the grassroots pro-independence movement will produce an oppositional social movement after secession.  But this is wishful thinking.  It would require it to reject its own ideological basis, its very nature as a cross-class alliance organised by forces who seek to gain political power. ..

Whatever the result of this referendum, the lasting gains we need depend most of all on our own capacity as a class for itself to organise and struggle...

The Internationalist Communist Tendency on the Referendum

The Left Communist organisation on their website also made some insightful comments of the referendum which again is well worth quoting

One of the ruling class’s weapons in its armoury is its ability to mask the reality of the exploiter/exploited class relation. Its web of cultural constructs is aimed at obscuring that reality - and the weave of that web is religion, race, gender and above all, nationalism. Nationalism isn’t “natural”. It is manufactured. It is the particularly manufactured ideology of the capitalist class. For them it is the perfect expression of their rule. They can pretend that in the nation we are all “free” even if some of us are freer than others because they have more money...Scottish Independence is just a diversion from the real issue based on a reactionary fantasy.

Post Referendum

If a ‘yes’ vote created a Scottish state, it would begin life already crippled with its share of UK National Debt – a sum estimated by the National Institute of Social Research to be £143 billion. That debt will have to be serviced, as will the debt incurred in the functioning of any capitalist state – borrowing for investment, infrastructure, defence, the social wage (pensions, health, welfare etc). For example, Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, is currently paying £5.8 million a year interest on its new 8 mile tram line even before any repayment of the £776 million capital costs.. Naturally, services such as libraries, social care, teachers and nurses etc ( all part of the social wage) are discretionary spending, while interest repayments are written in stone. The UK state, despite its vicious hacking back of the social wage, its use of cheap migrant labour to help drive wages down, its attack on working conditions and wages, has so far been unable to cut its deficit – in other words far from being able to address its debt, it is daily increasing it. Again, that debt incurs interest – and that interest is set by global money markets that take a very close interest in state spending. The Scandinavian states, for long hailed as examples of successful welfare states, are seeing their social spending slashed because the money markets demand it. National governments are expected to be ‘responsible’ (i.e. shaft the working class) or pay the price when they come to sell bonds, gilts or raise loans. This is an inescapable fact of crisis ridden global capitalism – no country is immune...

...Foreign capital investment, crucial to any Scottish state will expect, and get feather-bedded treatment in terms of grants and tax-breaks. What the workers will get can be seen in the brutal working conditions of the staff in the huge Amazon depot at Dunfermline. Any serious attempt by a Scottish government to improve working conditions there would see Amazon pack up and move elsewhere. No surprise in this – it’s how capitalism operates. The surprise lies only in the fact that so many are prepared to believe ‘We’re different up here’...

....There is only one internationalist response to this referendum – fuck it! The real issue for the world’s workers is that they face an increasingly dire future under whichever capitalist regime rules us.... Our only hope lies in getting rid of the system that produces such misery and such abominations. In the long run only autonomous working class struggle on our OWN terrain can hold out any hope for our future. In the short term, refusing to be dragged in to ruling class power plays is a crucial first step – seeing our class brothers and sisters sucked into nationalist traps in the likes of Ukraine, Libya, Gaza and Kurdistan only underlines the importance of this....

Socialist Courier has to add the caveat that neither group accepts our position that we support the democratic principle of voting in the referendum by going to the polling station and spoiling our ballot. Neither No, Nor Yes But World Socialism. 

1 comment:

Matthew Culbert said...

I have a postal vote and put a, “Neither Yes nor No but World Socialism”,sticker on my paper.You can get these at
Here is a sample one.I hope the link works OK