Saturday, October 05, 2019

Workers have a world to win, not a nation to fight for

Yet again Scottish separatists are on the march, this time through the Edinburgh. It is the latest in a series of similar marches through towns and cities all across Scotland, organised by All Under One Banner. One of the speakers featured is that Tartan Trotskyist and known liar, Tommy Sheridan.

Workers in Scotland need socialism, not independence. Nationalists do not want to abolish capitalist exploitation. A sovereign Scotland can only serve capitalism. To pretend that the Union is the cause of all the problems is to deliberately fool the people. Scottish nationalism is an attempt to rally the working class behind the cause of the local bosses seeking better profits or a more secure market. 

Nationalism does not oppose capitalism. Nationalists acts in the interests of an aspiring ruling class. There are no shortcuts to the socialist revolution, and those who followthe nationalist path set back the revolutionary movement by chasing fake enemies. Nationalism is predicated on the myth of a common identity uniting all the citizens of a given country. This has been cynically and opportunistically promoted by the Scottish nationalists.

The Socialist Party wants to abolish the private ownership of the means of production and expropriate the capitalists. Workers fight each other instead of attacking the system itself. Nationalism emasculates the workers. It is used to divide the workers among themselves so they can ignore their real enemy. Separatism would divide the workers of Scotland from their fellow-workers in England. National divisions are a hindrance to working-class unity, and national jealousies and differences are fostered by the capitalists for their own ends.

It is nationalism that divides the workers so that the workers of one nationality struggle against the workers of another nationality for a few illusory crumbs the rulers throw out exactly for that purpose. If the working class divides its forces, this can only seriously hold back its victory. But if it remains unified, it will be able to triumph.

In the struggle to win the hearts and minds of the working class the Socialist Party has to contend with sacred beliefs and obstacles such as nationalism, the loyalty and patriotism felt by many for "their” country. Nationalism is at the top of the list of political illusions used to blind capitalism's victims. For the Socialist Party nationalist movements represent the interests of the capitalist class but politically they can take on a "right-wing" or a "left-wing" form.

The Scottish nationalists choose to present themselves as the latter. However, once the native ruling class has captured and consolidated its power, then nationalism becomes a conservative force. Workers should reject the nonsense idea of nationalism and should unite for their common good to abolish capitalism and work for socialism.

The Socialist Party opposes all nationalist movements recognising that the working class has no country. Feelings of loyalty to a nation-state are purely subjective, having no basis in reality. The working class in Scotland has more in common with the workers in other countries than it has with a land-owning laird. We resolutely oppose the politics of capitalism in which some people support the British version of nationalism against the Scottish brand of nationalism. Since we hold that workers own no country, why should we care which section of the class of thieves owns which national portion of the world? Workers own no country, so why should we care which section of the class of thieves owns which national portion of the world?

You don’t enhance the power of workers in their economic struggles against the capitalists by taking the same side as those sitting opposite you at the negotiating table and fraternally regarding them as your 'fellow citizens'. Yet depressingly large swathes of the Left have opted for a course of action that effectively submerges and obliterates working class identity in favour of national identity. We witnessed the Scottish Socialist Party convener, Colin Fox, sit alongside a hedge-fund manager in the 2014 referendum.

The obsession about Scottish independence is one which socialists meet all the time. We encounter it from Leftists who divide their time between paying lip service to the idea of workers of the world uniting and endorsing the nationalism of the SNP. Nationalists have always argued that Scottish workers would be better off in their own country, free from British rule. Socialists regard it as an irrelevance whether local capitalism is ruled by a Scottish capitalist state or by a British capitalist state or the multinational corporations. That modern nationalities are mere artificial devices for the commercial war that we seek to put an end to, and will disappear with it. Because of the economic interdependence of nations, the Socialist Party has always held that socialism must exist on a world scale. It has been an axiom with all socialists that the working class of one country should cooperate with the workers of all other countries. A class-conscious worker does not consider himself an American or British or Russian first, and a member of the working class second, but considers him or herself, first and always, a member of the working class interested in the struggles of the workers the world over.

For the worker in Scotland there is but one hope. It is to make common cause with the workers of other countries for the end of all forms of exploitation: saying to both English and Scottish capitalists: “A plague on both your houses."

For the true battle-cry of the working class is broader, more significant and more inspiring than mere nationalism, and that rallying cry is:



Anonymous said...

Although I admire your principals, I think your stance is too Utopian. "Workers of the world unite" is not going to happen, sadly.

The flaw in your argument is that you ignore the fact that within the developed capitalist world, and within Europe, there are different economic set-ups. Your argument implicitly rests on the assumption that all capitalist economies are the same. But an England-dominated, Atlanticist UK state is totally different from the Nordic states, for instance. Scotland could aspire to be more like its Nordic neighbours. Your idealistic, well-meant stance denies Scots the chance to escape the right-wing philosophies forced on us by London.

You also make the lazy assumption (beloved of the neo-liberal press) that civic the same as ethnic nationalism.

Support us, then fight the good fight with us, to achieve your laudable aims within an independent Scotland!

ajohnstone said...

Being accused of Utopianism is not new to the SPGB. But for all the promises and pledges from the Left that we can gradually step-by-step build socialism through reforms has also proved Utopian. So a kettle and pot springs to mind.

There are number of outward, superficial differences between various countries but capitalism isn't defined by such surface things. Perhaps you should examine what capitalist economics entails - production for profit, extraction of surplus value. Nordic nations are no different and they too are now embarking upon a series of austerity policies.

You assume that the Scot is different from the English. How so? Wasn't the miners strike demonstration enough of militancy and the heart of it was in Yorkshire. It was "Scottish" interests that operated Ravenscraig Steel with scab coal. The working class in Scotland is no more and no less progressive than its English counterpart.

Look at history. The Scots have frequently held conservative views in the past and there is no reason to say they will not in the future. There is nothing radical which is innate in the blood of Scot.

I'm of the age that I can still remember the Tory held Edinburgh council. Remind me again of the SNP pledge to be business-friendly and cut corporation tax.

Care to tell me of a separatist country that did not continue to suppress the working class. Shall we look at the Irish Republic and how it has never returned any labour party to office.

You try to argue that there is a difference between Scottish nationalism and ethno-nationalism of perhaps Hungary. But it is still based on privilege. Just like Catalonian nationalism, the driving force is that the economy can do better without England or Spain and to hell with our fellow-workers suffering there. Let them fight alone and weaken them. So much for class solidarity.

"Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's brains and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead.” - Arundhati Roy