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The Poison of Nationalism – The Nationalist Dead End

The Aberdeen Independence Movement (AIM) will host the North East Scottish Independence Conference in the Granite City next weekend and will be joined by an array of organisations including Women for Independence, EU Citizens, Pensioners for Indy, the Common Weal, Radical Independence Campaign and many more at the Copthorne Hotel, Huntly Street, on Sunday, April 8 from 11am to 6pm. Speakers include Gordon Smith of Pensioners for Independence, Ash Burnett from EU Citizens for an Independent Scotland, Fiona Robertson of Disabled for Yes and National columnist Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp of Business for Scotland.Speaking for AIM will be Theo Forbes.
We in the Socialist Party will not be present but our views on nationalism are very clear and we have explained them on this blog many times.

National borders are part and parcel of capitalist class society. Border control only applies to us wage-slaves,  never to members of the parasite class who are able to buy their way around the world. We are not dreamers.  The idea of a borderless world is not a utopian fantasy.

To those who argue that Marx supported certain independence movements we say Marx (and Engels) lived at a time when capitalism was still forming itself into nation-states and he supported some nationalist movements where they thought it would get rid of feudal and other pre-capitalist social structures to make possible new independent capitalist nations to emerge and thus widen the basis for the creation of the working class, the future gravediggers of capitalism. Today, there is no such thing as a progressive nationalism.

Nationalist ideas are widespread and political confusion (in particular, amongst the young) is as great, now as it was in the past.  At the moment nationalism is everywhere on the rise and its dangers cannot be underestimated but it is largely prevalent because we have been losing the class war. Businesses are going bust, insecurity is rising. Debt has been rising for years. There is no hiding the fact that capitalism is a disaster and the ruling class expects the working class to pay for it. The media is full of doom and gloom. Nationalism, has nothing to offer the working class. Only the end of capitalism can put an end to despondency and misery.  

When governments makes an appeal to swell the ranks of the patriots, there will never be a shortage of left-nationalists who, with "progressive" talk, will want to pull the workers in, disguising themselves as champions of “socialism”.  There can be no such thing as “better democracy” without the abolition of the capitalist state and the institution of a class-free society based on satisfying real needs. There is no emancipation for us under capitalism. Socialism is the only alternative to this crazy system. This system and its politics work only for the parasitic few and cannot be ‘reformed’ to work for the exploited many.

James Connolly wrote in 1897, "If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organisation of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain." Our conception of socialism has advanced beyond the notion of a “socialist republic” in any one country but Connolly here was merely expressing the idea that real liberation for the working class can only come with the overthrow of capitalism.

As world socialists, we argue that the only alternative to the social and environmental devastation offered by capitalism is that workers unite across borders for a common goal: a world without classes and states, where ‘the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all’. For this we need an global movement of socialists to offer solidarity and assistance.

The nationalism we oppose is not just the obvious racist variety of the likes of Farage or Le Pen. We have opposed the "national liberation" of the leftists. Simply, look at the fate of all the national liberation struggles which "succeeded". Today all remain under the control of capital and the workers in these states live in greater exploitation and poverty than ever. Every kind of demand for national rights, whether real or assumed, spontaneous or artificially provoked, under whatever political banner and goals it sets itself, ends up being absorbed into the struggles of the Great Powers with no possibility of playing an autonomous role other than serving as a means for the local capitalists to pursue their own interests and as part of a greater alliance line-up.

Every ‘nation state’ exists as part of a capitalist world economy where the necessity to generate profits and fall in with the demands of the world market ensures that ‘the nation’ is a class-divided society. In every national territory the struggle of the working class against exploitation by the capitalist class is the same everywhere. The only solution for the working class is to destroy all existing nation states. As Marx said "The workers have no country" but they do have "a world to win". Let the world’s working class take up the banner of class war everywhere. The working class will not accept the crisis-ridden system for ever. Events taking place all around the world are the tragic manifestations of this barbaric world from which there can be no escape except by a powerful resurgence of the class struggle. The enemy of the working class is nationalism. And the enemy of nationalism is a working class fighting for its own interests – which are the interests of the bulk of humanity. The only alternative is working class revolution. It may seem far off yet we need to step up our fight for a society without nations, borders, states, wars, and exploitation. Our war is the class war! 

The only war worth fighting is the class war.


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