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Nationalism: A Step Backward, Not Forward

The “nation” and nationalism” are very deceptive notions. The “nation” to the nationalist parties designates everyone without exception: firemen, hospital workers, politicians, police, judges, industrialists, housewives and unemployed as citizens. But once the nationalists prevail, at the first important conflict we see the “national” police clubbing the “national” workers by order of the “national” state whose legality is maintained at all costs by the “national” judges: the “national” housewives and their children go without basic necessities, the “national” industrialists, maintain their profit level and the “national” financiers do great business.

Nations and the concept of nationhood are not eternal phenomena that have always existed: their appearance on the stage of history is the result of particular and concretely identifiable factors, occurring at specific historical periods in specific historical contexts. The creation of Scotland was no different. Feudal states were united by virtue of who ruled them, regardless of “national” considerations. The power was vested in the king, not in the nation and in Scotland there were bitter bloody struggles about who ruled, the clan chieftains or the king in Edinburgh. In today's world the struggle is now about mobilizing of the working class against the capitalist class, and the problem of socialist revolution. Rather than overthrow of capitalism and the building of socialism nationalists throw their lot in with the bosses.

The essential character of nationalist movements is that it is negative and opportunistic. It feeds on the justified dissatisfaction of the workers but only to divert their revolutionary potential up backwaters. It dare not strike at the roots of the wage-system. In a office or factory, there is always an owner (or shareholders) who lives off the work of others: these are the ones who really hold the power! The foremen and superintendents are only their watchdogs; they apply the rules the capitalist owners dictate; they “direct” the workers in such a way as to insure as much profit as possible, and when the industry is facing difficulties, they are charged with the laying-off, or they do the “pushing” to raise production; they also try to create division among the workers as they fight against their union or try to buy off their representatives. That is but one aspect of the capitalists’ power. As masters of production and of the economy, they control the state and the mass media. All the big newspapers, radio and television defend the outlook of those who invest in them, and they try to turn the people away from the true problems. If a party does not want to abolish capitalist exploitation, it can only serve capitalism – its role is that of the foreman in the plant. All the things that are tied to the state, the army, the laws, the injunctions, the taxation systems, are according to the needs of the capitalist class, not according to the will of the parties.

No one is going to hand workers socialism on a silver platter least of all the nationalists pretending to be revolutionaries. They want to rally the working class behind the nationalist cause. But nationalism weakens the workers. Shall we fight only to have Scottish bosses instead of English ones? Shall we unite with these small local-based exploiters in order to defend the country against the bad English? That is pure folly and very dangerous. Nationalism is a vain attempt to rally the working class behind the cause of a section of the ruling class who are seeking a better place in the sun. Nationalism does not oppose capitalism. Furthermore it is used to divide the workers among themselves so they can ignore their real enemy. In order to overthrow capitalism the workers need to unite – their main interests lie in such unity. Scottish separatism would divide the workers of Britain. We must oppose nationalism. There are no shortcuts to the socialist revolution, and those who follow the nationalist path retard the revolutionary movement. Through our work awe are showing working people that the only way to end oppression and exploitation once and for all is to unite in the fight for socialism. Our fellow-workers should unite for the goal of workers all over the world – for socialism!

Has the ruling class been weakened by the establishment of the Holyrood Parliament? Have we workers moved ahead in our struggle against the rotten boss system and for socialism as a result? NOT A BIT! Workers are still in the same fix. There has never a real gain for the working class. While workers have been fighting year after year, and needing better organization and class unity more than ever, the nationalist left-wingers has spent its time marching up and down streets, waving their Saltires. It’s up to us to organize our forces for a fight to the finish against the bosses. Nobody’s going to do it for us. The Left talks a lot about workers. It says that it wants to “liberate” the workers. But are they presenting the case for socialism? In reality the nationalists tells workers: “Don’t organize with your class brothers and sisters around the country and let yourself be led by the same people that screw you. Stay separate and isolated from workers in the rest of Britain who have the same enemies, defend the national culture of the bosses with your lives.” All of us have the same iron heel pressing down on our necks: the bosses’ state. The capitalist system crushes us. The bosses’ class is the root of all the problems in our society, and workers are always first to pay the price. To get rid of it, we need to unite in a single, fighting organization. Scottish separatists are workers’ enemies. With workers fighting together we can win.


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