Thursday, January 14, 2021

A Vision for Socialists in Scotland


The appeal of Scottish nationalism to working people in Scotland is, of course, a result of the failure of the Westminster Parliament to deliver the goods it repeatedly promises. The Scots are not the only victims in this; it is equally true to English and Welsh workers. But the Scots (and indeed the Welsh) have a ready-made ‘national’ conduit to which discontent can be channelled. The nationalists claim to be capable of solving Scotland’s social and economic problems. Our attitude in the Socialist Party, and, in particular, its Scottish branches, to independence is that no fundamental problem facing working people can be cured, or even seriously alleviated, by tinkering with the constitution.


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 workers need to unite – their main interests lie in unity. There are no short-cuts to the socialist revolution, and those who enter the nationalist path block the coming of a popular revolutionary movement by chasing fake enemies.


Socialist internationalism arises from the practical experience of the workers who feel that they have to cooperate with each other across frontiers and boundaries in order to defend their interests, their wages and their working conditions. The day-to-day experience of a worker standing at the factory bench next to a foreigner who, often through necessity, under-priced his or her labour, brought an understanding of common interests, an instinctive kind of internationalism.


Socialists are well aware of this very real and unedifying element in the existence of the working classes in a society where competition permeated every aspect of social life. This strife would end only with the abolition of private property in the means of production – that is, with the abolition of capitalism.


The aim of the workers’ movement is to curb the competitiveness of the workers, to bring under control that individualism which made them an easy prey for capitalist exploitation. The aim of the labour movement is to instil in the workers solidarity which would benefit them all as a class. That was the origin of the trade unions, the origin of socialism.


‘Workers of the world, unite!’ is nothing else but a call to eliminate harmful competition between workers within each country and to eliminate it also on an international scale. From this point of view nationalism is, in the first instance, the workers’ self-destructive competitiveness; internationalism was their solidarity transcending national boundaries.


Socialist internationalism may have developed from the cosmopolitanism of commerce; but it also surpassed that cosmopolitanism, overcame its limitations, and, finally, has come to stand in opposition to the capitalist cosmopolitanism.


A socialist understands that “socialist” and “nation” are mutually antagonistic words. Socialism is world-wide where nations remove national divisions and unite their economies for socialist production, so the benefits of global production flow to all the people. We live in a world of plenty, rich in resources rich, but, despite this abundance an estimated 700 million people go hungry every day. Millions more are food insecure, meaning they may have food today, but have no idea if they will have any tomorrow or next week. Additional millions can only afford nutritionally poor quality junk food filled with salt and sugar, increasing the risk of illness and obesity. Even in developed wealthy nations most people live from paycheque-to-paycheque with little or no savings as a reserve. Statistics around poverty and hunger are disturbing. There is no shortage of depressing statistics.  Covid-19 and climate change has intensified this crisis. Humanity, it appears, faces a choice upon the ways of organising society. Nothing has stopped the tendency of the rich to get richer while the poor get poorer. No major problems have been solved by capitalism. An economy based on the aim of maximising profit as fast as possible for a tiny ruling elite is an economy that belongs in the past. It is a failed economy. It cannot open the path of progress to society. A new aim and direction are needed. The capitalists must be deprived of their ability to carve up and use a productive socialised economy for their narrow privileged interests. Instead we must build a sustainable diverse economy that is human-centred and recognises that humans are born to society and depend on society for their livelihood and well-being.


The Socialist Party holds a vision of an emerging new world society that would break down the constricting barriers and frontiers of the nation-state. World socialism remains the vital principle for a new world.

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