Showing posts with label SNP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SNP. Show all posts

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Scotch Mist

 In Scotland today it’s true that there is a struggle – as there is in England, Wales, Ireland, or rest of the world for that matter. But the struggle in Scotland is not, as the Scottish National Party would have us believe, the struggle for home rule, self-government, self-determination, or self anything. The struggle in Scotland, as in the rest of the world, is a class struggle: the struggle between the working class and the capitalist or owning class.

The SNP tell us, the workers, that independence from England and the control of our own purse strings will cure all our problems. What they do not seem to realise is that the problems they are going to try to solve are an integral part of the capitalist system, and history has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that within this system there is no satisfactory solution to these problems apart from Socialism.

The SNP talk about the Scottish culture and the Scottish way of life. But in what way is the life of a Scottish wage slave basically different from that of an English, an American, or for that matter a Russian wage slave? There is no basic difference in the way of life of the world’s working class because we all suffer from the same problems such as poverty and insecurity. Independence from England will not cure the poverty and insecurity of the Scottish workers, because they will still be the wages labour and capital relationship.

There is no truly independent country in the world, because international capitalism has made sure of this, and our own experience here in Britain, especially since 1964, should have brought it home to us. The past few years should have shown us just how independent Britain is, when foreign "bankers" tell the British government how to spend money, and how it must not spend money, in order to keep the international capitalist class happy.

Class Struggle
 Independence for Scotland therefore is a myth put about by the Scottish National Party, which further confuses the Scottish section of the working class and blinds them from the real struggle – the class struggle.

The outcome of the class struggle is the abolition of capitalism and an end to poverty, insecurity and the ever-present threat of war.

Socialism is a sane society, where the means of life will be owned in common by the whole of the world socialist community. By the means of life we mean the land, mines, factories, railways, and the like – in short, the means of production and distribution. In Socialism the rule of life will be : from each according to his or her ability, to each to according to his or her need. There will be no need for buying and selling, just a free world for a free people. It could be like that now, so why not do something about it ? The world is ours for the taking. So why not take it ?



From Socialist Standard No. 779 July 1969

Monday, January 19, 2015

Socialism cannot wait

The Socialist Party believes that socialism is the alternative to capitalism. Socialism requires the joint efforts of workers worldwide. Socialism is the only answer for the working class. And that we must organise as a class whose goal is that. The Socialist Party has never had as a policy that “socialism can wait.”

The Scottish National Party is the party of a certain segment of the Scottish capitalist class. Brian Souter, the owner of the Stagecoach transport network has given more than a million pounds to the SNP. Needless to say, he did so knowing full well that the party would not challenge his wealth or power. In particular, the SNP has made it clear that the bus system and the railroads will remain in the private sector. The SNP has gone out of the way to reassure the business community, including the transnational corporations, that they have nothing to fear because an independent Scotland would not threaten their interests. There can be no question that the SNP will act to protect the interests of the capitalist class, even though this means defending the interests of huge transnational corporations based outside of Scotland. The SNP has been skilful in presenting one face to the people and a very different one to the corporations. To the former the SNP claim to be social democrats who believed in greater equality and to the latter, the SNP stands for a strong economy and continued growth. The SNP leaders support a continuation of capitalist exploitation in an independent Scotland. This was summed up in their White Paper that proposed cuts to corporation tax for big business while seeking to bind the trade unions into ‘partnership’ and a ‘Team Scotland’ approach. In practice, this means accepting attacks on their wages and working conditions for the so-called “national interest”. The SNP has "tacked leftwards" in rhetoric, though not at all in policy implementation. Voting for nationalist parties simply helps to confuse and divide an already confused and divided British working class even more.

For too long, the left has accepted the orthodoxy that there exists a “right to national self-determination”, and that we should support any struggle to that end. The left is wrong, and that the damage caused by this mistaken idea is second only to that caused by the corruption to the socialist cause from the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.
At first hearing, the very sound of a “struggle for national self-determination” suggests that it is democratic and progressive. To throw off the yoke of imperial government, to fight the occupiers and the foreign-appointed governors: it all sounds just. And yet what does it amount to? Having thrown off the yoke of foreign rule, the ex-colonies of the European empires have largely established their 'own' governments. Has this seen their peoples achieve freedom and plenty? In most, undemocratic foreign rule has been replaced by undemocratic home rule. Different face in different uniforms hold the same guns, and the people still stare down the barrels.

Worse, the old colonial rulers retain all their former power through overpowering military supremacy and economic dominance. What the UK once controlled through occupation, the US now controls through their manipulation of trade backed by the implicit threat posed by their sole superpower status. The EU and China desperately compete, and the 'great game' of rival empires continues. The new 'home' governments of ex-colonies are allowed to line their own pockets and bully their populations, but are otherwise kept it in line. The question remains, when the left have supported demands for 'national self-determination' - which can only mean the right to form nation states - have they expected it to bring freedom and plenty? The answer is no. Socialists are internationalists, and do not believe that socialism can exist within a single state: the results of Stalin's 'socialism in one country' proved that forever. It can be seen that when the left limit their demands to what they see as the 'limited’ perspective of the people they claim to 'lead', this patronising nonsense does enormous harm. As a result, our most famous slogan must always be: “Workers of the world, unite!” We demand open borders, and the abolition of states altogether. We believe that states exist to oppress!

If socialists oppose the state, how much more that we oppose the nation state. It is bad enough that people should be penned by the world's rulers like cattle owned by farmers. It is worse that such states should attempt to exclude those of the wrong 'nation' or 'people' or ‘race’. In attempting to harness the power of struggles for national self-determination to the socialist cause, the left have dragged the workers’ movement into the mud and mire of nationalism. The right of self-determination is not national, but the right of every individual, and of all humanity. It includes to right to determine where to live and work, regardless of states, or borders, or 'nationality'. Humanity's freedom will not be won by building new states, but by destroying them all. The problem with countries is if you love your country or only your ethnicity, you separate from others like you. We become divided as a human race. Countries divide us; governments divide us; when we truly are one global species, one people.

We know that the future belongs to us, the workers. We know socialism is possible. We know that only the working class can bring socialism about. We need to build a society where we own the factories, the land, the transport—a society where we are guaranteed housing, education, healthcare and jobs. A society where there will be no borders for people. Rosa Luxemburg’s once wrote “socialism or barbarism” but these days we may very well qualify it by adding “Barbarism… if we are lucky”. Our choice in these days of environmental cataclysm is one world or none.

Friday, December 12, 2014

No Longer the North Sea bonanza

North Sea oil was central to the dream of Scottish independence in this year’s referendum. The wealth stored under the waves would buttress public spending, said the SNP, and it would also enable Scots to set up their sovereign fund as Norway has to hold some of its fruits for future generations.

The SNP predicted that oil would be selling now for $110 a barrel. Unusually, however, it forecasted that the price would stay constant over the next five years. Yesterday, North Sea Brent crude traded at one point at $64.24 (and could drop further). The world is now facing an era of cheap oil so the SNP is joining a long queue of people who got their predictions about oil wrong.

 Between 1991 and 2008, tax receipts from the North Sea grew strongly, reaching £12.4 billion, on the back of prices reaching an all-time high in 2008. From 2009, however, revenues have fallen, from £6.1 billion in 2012-13 to £4.7 billion in the last financial year and to £2.8 billion in the one ending next April. The drop equals roughly half of what Scotland spends each year on education.

The price drop may not be temporary. Global demand is “very subdued” and “buoyant” supplies are available from the US where shale is becoming increasingly significant. Some producers may increase, not cut, production.  Banks are rationing lending for energy giants. Projects must show that they can survive at less than $75 a barrel. North Sea investments are competing for cash that has other places to go. The North Sea fields are ageing. New discoveries are being made, but they are smaller than before. Existing fields are also becoming more expensive to run, and more prone to breakdowns. In the North Sea last year only 15 wells were drilled as production costs soared more than 15 per cent. The sharp rise in costs has led oil and gas companies to focus their investments in Norway and North America rather than the North Sea.

The Office of Budget Responsibility believed that oil and gas tax receipts would fall by £100 million between 2014-15 and 2019. Production would stay flat. However, the figures from the independent budget watchdog are already significantly out of date for now, since it was based on a $100-a-barrel price this year. North Sea crude, they estimated, would fetch $85-a-barrel for the rest of the decade.

Falling production and exploration will see employment numbers in the North Sea drop by around a tenth, a report has found. North Sea oil and gas could lose up to 35,000 jobs in the next five years, industry experts have warned. Although some of the job losses will come with the retirement of older workers, the report reveals that more than half of the workforce is under the age of 45. For every offshore job that is lost, three more industry jobs are lost onshore, according to union officials. North Sea oil represented 30% of Scotland's GDP (last year on $113 oil)

Jake Molloy, regional organiser of the RMT union in Aberdeen, said: “The offshore industry is facing what amounts to a perfect storm of a falling oil prices on global markets, the shale revolution, rising costs to extract oil and gas from the North Sea, and smaller and harder-to-access fields.”

An independent Scotland with a budget surplus and an oil investment boom? A fairy tale. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Class Solidarity

Socialist Courier can do little better than the views on the independence referendum propounded by John Wight, writer and political commentator. Socialist Courier may not endorse all his other political opinions but on his views on Scottish nationalism we can only concur. They reflect the ideas presented by many posts on this blog.

 “ I will be voting ‘No’ in this year's referendum on Scottish independence. I will do so as a statement of solidarity with working people the length and breadth of the United Kingdom.

There is undoubtedly much that is regressive – make that despicable – about the British state. The monarchy, the House of Lords, the country’s history of empire, colonialism, and its recent history of sowing carnage and chaos in the Middle East – all of those things add up to a damning indictment of a state formed in 1707 in the interests of a rising mercantile class, committed to colonial expansion and the super exploitation of the planet’s resources.

However, the notion that Scotland and the Scots were not party to this history – or played only a marginal role – is an insult to truth. The ill-fated Darien Scheme of 1698-1700, an attempt by the then independent Scotland to establish a colony in what is now Panama, succeeded in bankrupting the country, which led inexorably to the bulk of the Scottish aristocracy and merchant class – who made up the Scottish Parliament of the day - voting to enter the current union with England in 1707. Thereafter Scots played a disproportionate role in building the British Empire as generals, officers, and soldiers in the army, colonial administrators, slavers, and merchants - in the process creating great personal fortunes, and establishing Glasgow as the second city of the empire.

The unintended effect of the 1707 union was the homogenization of the working class throughout the newly formed British state. This homogenization was based on the common misery they were suffering at the hands of the factory and mill owners who controlled their lives under an economic system of unfettered capitalism. The need to organize collectively in order to resist the brutal conditions of the lives of workers across Britain transcended every other difference – whether on grounds of nationality, race, religion, or gender. This gave rise to the emergence of the trade union movement followed by the Labour Party at the beginning of the 20th century, reflecting the growth in size and consciousness of a British working class. This class identity remains relevant today at a time when the nation is being ruled by the most extreme and callous Tory government in generations. Simply put, it dictates that a bus driver in Glasgow has more in common with a bus driver in Newcastle, Liverpool, or Cardiff than he does with a wealthy fellow Scot.

With this in mind, I have increasingly found some of the arguments being made in support of independence by progressives and socialists within the Yes campaign disappointing. The central of those - namely that voting ‘Yes’ will rid Scotland of the Tories - is not only weak, it is cowardly. Firstly, you may get rid of the Tories but that doesn't mean you will get rid of Tory ideas, a few of which are front and center in the SNP's recently produced independence manifesto (or white paper), titled ‘Scotland’s Future’. The Scottish Nationalist Party’s positions on corporation tax, the monarchy, and NATO membership would sit more than comfortably in the pages of a Tory manifesto.

More importantly, the idea that abandoning millions of people who've stood with us - and us with them - in trade union struggles, political campaigns, progressive movements, etc, for generations - the idea that this can be considered progress is anathema to me. The analogy of the Titanic applies, wherein rather than woman and children, it is Scots to the lifeboats and to hell with everybody else.

Nationalism, unless rooted in national oppression, is a regressive ideology. It obscures the real dividing line in society - namely class - offering instead an abstracted analysis of the world through a national prism that takes zero account of social and economic factors, thus offering nothing but more of the same under a different flag. It is no wonder that Albert Einstein described nationalism as an ‘infantile disease’.

Our nationality is an accident of birth. It means nothing. You can't eat a flag. A flag doesn't heat a home or put food on the table. Nationalism offers a largely mythologized history in the process of inviting us to embrace a national interest, one that can only relate to the world behind false divisions of national, ethnic, or racial differences. Even when it comes to culture, the terms national culture obscures more than it illuminates. The traditional culture of the Highlands in Scotland, for example, means little to me as a Lowland Scot. I can appreciate it, of course, but not anymore or with any more feeling than I do any culture anywhere in the world.

The concept of the modern nation state is a relatively recent one. It traces its roots to the Treaty of Westphalia in the mid-17th century, which brought to an end the Thirty Years War in Europe. Out of it emerged the concept of national sovereignty, a political concept reflective of the early stages of capitalist economic development, with the resultant growth in international trade and the need to expand and protect both markets and sources of natural resources required to feed burgeoning manufacturing industries in the interests of competing capitalists.

However, much has changed in 350 years. In 2013 economic sovereignty does not lie with national governments as it did at one time. Today economic sovereignty in the West lies with global capital under that extreme variant of capitalism known as neoliberalism - or the free market. The notion that separation from a larger state would allow said smaller state to forge a social democratic utopia without challenging neoliberal nostrums is simply not credible. A patchwork of smaller states plays into the hands of global capital, as it means more competition for inward investment, which means global corporations are able to negotiate more favorable terms in return for that investment. The result is a race to the bottom as workers in one state compete for jobs with workers in neighboring states. In this regard it is surely no accident that Rupert Murdoch is a vocal supporter of Scottish independence.

Support for Scottish independence among progressives in Scotland is rooted in despair over a status quo of Tory barbarity. This is understandable. For the past three decades working class communities throughout the UK have suffered a relentless assault under both Conservative and Labour administrations. The Labour Party, under the baneful influence and leadership of Tony Blair and his New Labour clique, came to be unrecognizable from the party that created the welfare state, including the NHS, the party that once held full employment as a guiding principle of its economic and social policy. The embrace of free market nostrums under New Labour meant that the structural inequality that obtained after 18 years of Tory rule remained more or less intact. The market was now the undisputed master of all it surveyed. The consequence of Labour’s shift to the right has been to give rise to cynicism, disappointment, and lack of faith in politics among large swathes of voters, evinced in ever lower turnouts at elections. Issues such as the lies and subterfuge surrounding Britain going to war in Iraq in 2003, the MPs’ expenses scandal of 2011, followed by the phone hacking scandal - during which the unhealthy relationship between the owners and editors of tabloid newspapers and politicians was revealed - has only deepened this cynical disregard for politics and politicians in Britain, giving rise to anti-politics as the default position of many voters.

In Scotland – for decades a Labour Party stronghold – devolution has allowed a protest vote to make the electorate’s feelings towards this Labour Party betrayal of its founding principles known at the ballot box. Regardless, the most significant protest has been a non-vote, with turnouts at elections in Scotland following the pattern of the rest of the country in remaining low. For example, there was only a 50 percent turnout at the last Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2011, out of which the Scottish National Party (SNP) emerged with an overall majority, the first time any party has managed to do so since the Scottish Parliament came into existence in 1999.

However the argument that Scotland is more left leaning than the rest of the UK is one that seeks to conflate conservatism with England in its entirety, rather than a specific region of the country, which in conjunction with the antiquated first past the post electoral system of Westminster elections has thrown up Tory governments that are unrepresentative of where the majority of England and the rest of the UK sits politically. Scotland is no more left leaning than the deindustrialized North East, North West, and Midlands of England. Nor is it any more left leaning than Wales. The working class in Scotland is not any more progressive than its English or Welsh counterpart.

As a consequence, my ‘No’ vote in September will be both a rejection of nationalism as a progressive alternative to the status quo and a statement of solidarity with all who are suffering under this Tory government – not only in Scotland but throughout the United Kingdom.”

Rather than vote No which will be taken as support for the present status quo and support for the current UK state, the Socialist Party unlike Wight recommends spoiling ones vote by writing World Socialism and if that is not possible - abstention. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fudging the Figures

The Scottish Government “airbrushed” the global financial crash from its official case for independence to avoid showing Scots would have been thousands of pounds worse off outside the UK. 2008 was omitted from the 670-page Scotland’s Future white paper because of the “temporary effect” it had on the long-term economic picture.

The blueprint for independence, unveiled in November, claims each Scot would have been £900 better off in recent decades with independence if the economy had matched other small European countries. The Scottish Government’s figures cover 1977 to 2007. But new figures published by Holyrood’s independent financial scrutiny unit yesterday cover the most recent 1982-2012 period and show that Scots would be about £2,500 worse off.

Alex Salmond  was accused of “handpicking” statistics to suit his own case and ignoring the most up-to-date picture. The financial crash had a major impact on Scotland and saw the country’s two biggest banks – Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland – bailed out by the UK Treasury after falling victim to the sub-prime mortgage scandal.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Everything will change but stay the same.


“I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions” - Michael Collins, Gemini 10 & Apollo 11 

“You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch.’ ”- Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 

 “Clearly, the highest loyalty we should have is not to our own country or our own religion or our hometown or even to ourselves. It should be to, number two, the family of man, and number one, the planet at large. This is our home, and this is all we've got."Scott Carpenter, Mecury 7

The Socialist Party’s Scottish branches admit its limitations in the independence referendum debate. All we can do is educate ourselves and as many people as we can, giving them the means and the methods to educate others so they too can change other people's minds. This is the continuous educational process that the Socialist Party of Great Britain engages in. Our immediate task is to counter all this nationalist propaganda, either for separatism or maintaining the union. It is painful to watch otherwise intelligent people lend support to something that’s such an obviously bad idea. Too many live in denial and it is time for the rest of us to proceed towards a rational discussion about the real solution. The only real option is a sane social system.

The SNP has been promised that Scotland will keep the same queen, the same single market and same regulatory regime of the Bank of England , the same currency and EU membership. Separatists pledge the same TV programming and continued membership of Nato. Yet, in Scotland,  as in all other parts of the globe, capitalism and the quest for larger profits control every single part of our lives – from the day we’re born, until we take our last breath. Throughout our lives, we are forced into wage slavery. Capitalism has a stranglehold on our entire existence, and it has turned our entire lives into a profit-making venture. It has  commercialised everything that we do and turned ourselves into actual marketable commodities. An independent Scotland won’t change that, although it may change the person who holds the chains. The SNP is a capitalist party. It works on behalf of the capitalists. Nothing could be further from the truth when Left-Nationalists claim the independence of Scotland would not mean a step forward towards socialism. It would be a step backwards.  Whatever twists and turns lie down the road in the fight for socialism, one thing is certain: the success of that struggle depends on achieving the greatest possible unity of the working class, it is utterly ridiculous to argue that the working class ought to divide itself into two different countries in order to accomplish this unity. It is completely absurd to justify this with the false argument, disproven many times, that the battle for socialism would be easier if it were led by a more militant, nationally pure and homogeneous working class. People are not going to win by dividing themselves. The Left- Nationalists would have us believe that the national demands of the Scottish people can only be met through independence. Thus, they claim, the task is to transform bourgeois independence into a socialist independence. In reality, they find themselves in the camp of those promoting division of the working class. Supporting independence for Scotland  in the name of socialism is a hoax.

Nationalists promote a romantic picture of the future. In their ideal scenario, in a ‘free’ Scotland the economy would bounce back into a robust recovery, jobs would be plentiful, and all those paycheques would bolster a lively and politically stable economic scene with the Edinburgh government aiding entrepreneurial ventures with tax incentives. They would like us to believe and have others accept that home-grown national monopolies are somehow less exploitative than foreign monopolies and less subject to the impact of the general capitalist crisis. Capitalist enterprises, inevitably move towards becoming monopolies, regardless of the nationality of their owners.

The real referendum question is this - “Do you want to take your chances with fake promises of a better Scotland through independence or work towards a positive socialist future through revolution?"

At the onset of 2014, many people are now anticipating the prospect of a ‘global revolution'. There is no way of predicting where a mass protest movement will kick off next or what form it will take, but expect it to be an even larger-scale version of an Occupy movement. There is a  growing understanding among everyday people that we cannot rely on governments to affect the necessary transformation. In the now-famous words of Russell Brand there will be a “total revolution of consciousness and our entire social, political and economic systems”. In short, a revolution in our sense of self as global citizens , in which we equate our own interests with those of people anywhere in the world and we no longer conform to the capitalist vision of society in which we are forced to compete with everyone else as ‘others'. The Socialist Party is for a revolution in every sense of the word – in our values, our imaginations, our lifestyles and our social relations, as well as in our political and economic structures. The growing call for revolutionary change is shared beyond national borders and is for the common good of all people in all countries.

 Realistic proposals for planetary change do exist, as individuals and groups everywhere are discussing the necessary objectives for how the economy should be run democratically at all levels, from the local to global. An abundance of  thinking outlines the need for changes in every aspect of our economic and political systems which altogether articulate a basic but an effective blueprint for a new and better world. The Socialist Party calls for global revolution, not devolution. It is up to the working class to show that it will not be duped by nationalist nonsense and deceitful rhetoric.

 “The view of the earth from the moon fascinated me—a small disk, 240,000 miles away. It was hard to think that that little thing held so many problems, so many frustrations. Raging nationalistic interests, famines, wars, pestilence don’t show from that distance. I’m convinced that some wayward stranger would certainly know instinctively that if the earth were inhabited, then the destinies of all who lived on it must be inevitably interwoven and joined. We are one hunk of ground, water, air, clouds, floating around in space. From out there it really is one world.” 
“When you're finally up at the moon looking back on earth, all those differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend, and you're going to get a concept that maybe this really is one world and why the hell can't we learn to live together like decent people."Frank Borman, Apollo 8

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

No way, nae chance

Alex Salmond today announces the SNP policy statement on independence. Socialist Courier makes our own announcement on nationalism and Scottish independence.

Modern capitalism is a highly integrated international system. Production is organised across national boundaries, trade and finance operates on a world scale. No single country can be outside of this system. Contrary to the romantic  dreams of some nationalists, there is no way that Scotland can simply pursue its own economic destiny within its own frontiers. Indeed, many national states are now too small to function adequately in terms of the needs and pressures of modern capitalism. Thus the capitalist ruling class are compelled to think in terms of international cooperation and even planning, hence the importance of the EU to the corporations. There are not many who can deny that we live in conditions of a world economy. Capitalists all strive for world power. Self-determination of any nation can therefore never be a reality of any nation within capitalism.

A socialist economy in one country, say Scotland as many Tartan Trots advocate, would be compelled to act as a single “firm” competing on the world market with others, and, to that extent would be subject to the laws of capitalist economics. That is why “national socialism” or “socialism in one country” are contradictions in terms: they are economic impossibilities. The Socialist Party, however, views the revolution in our part of the globe as one link in the chain of revolutions which will emancipate the world from capitalism and establish world socialism. This conception stands in the center of the system of ideas which binds us together and animates all our propaganda work

We recognise that the peoples of the world have the same interest which is to end the barbaric capitalist system. We offer our support to the class struggles of workers from other countries who are confronting the same enemy. The Socialist Party of Great Britain are not advocates for Scotland’s independence. We are not Scottish patriots. There exists a fundamental difference of interests between the employing class and the workers. The Socialist Party must denounce the capitalist class and struggle against their henchmen in parliaments relentlessly, without exception, including in this independence referendum. We are anti-patriots but we understand a love of the village or town where we were born or brought up in is a natural sentiment. We who hate the existing nations have retained our little soft spots to the localities and neighbours we personally know.

Too often and from too many we have heard the denouncation of the foreign worker. They are the "scum of the earth" we are told.  Perhaps, a few may well be, just as are a few who have been born and bred in our own cities most definitely are. But we do know most migrant workers have never had a fair chance. They have been starved in body and mind, denied, exploited, driven like slaves from job to job. They have endured countless wrongs, injuries and injustices. They have learned the hard way that the law is for the strong, that it protects the class that owns everything and that the employers do not respect the law, but shamelessly break them. So should we cast blame on those who bend the law not to exploit others,  but simply for personal survival, to provide for their needs, to end their miseries and sufferings.

The fundamental struggle in the world is not a nationalist struggle but a class struggle. The class struggle is a political struggle and it is the class struggle that politically moves one social system to the next. Socialists do not support one nation state against another. We do not support foreign nationalist struggles any more than we support the Welsh and Scottish nationalists who want to cede from Britain. Workers must avoid conflating their own interests from nationalist organisations struggling for power and should oppose all other political parties to keep alive the case for Socialism as a separate political proposition in its own right. A SNP government in an independent Scotland as they do in a devolved parliament will try to straddle the class struggle and to represent one at the same time the interests of the owning class and we the people. Nationalist supporters expectantly and hopefully await the outcome. Socialists do not need to wait to prophesy failure. Try as they might no nationalist party can combat the laws of the capitalist system. Nor we do hold that if they are led by other men and women of more radical left leanings the outcome will be significantly different.

We have no enemies among the workers of other countries; and no friends among the capitalists of any country.  The workers of all countries are our friends and the capitalists of all countries are our enemies. The time has come for the workers to cease struggling for the interests of their masters and to fight for their own. Socialism groups men, poor against rich, class against class, without taking into account the differences of race and language, and over and above the frontiers traced by history. Nationalism has indeed proved to be a more potent political force this sad century than class consciousness. But, in face of its results, we re-assert the original socialist position that workers ought to act as a world-wide class with a common interest in working to establish a single world community without frontiers based on the world's resources being the common heritage of all humanity.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our time is now.

Alex Salmond told the SNP  conference that it was Scotland's time to be independent.

Marx helped to replace an early international organisation of the working class that had the fairly passive slogan “All Men Are Brothers” with the watchword with the instructive “Working Men of All Countries, Unite!”  They did so because history was demonstrating conclusively that the proletariat is the revolutionary class, that the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie is the struggle propelling mankind forward to the communist society which will liberate mankind from the reign of classes forever. The struggle of the working class takes place on a world-wide scale to defeat the capitalists on a world-wide scale. Socialists  “always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole”. This means the simple solidarity of one worker with another, irrespective of nationality.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain views the modern world as one inter-linked and inter-dependent economic unit. No country is self-sufficient. It is impossible to solve the accumulated problems of the present day, except on a world scale; no nation is self-sufficient, and no nation can stand alone. We believe that the wealth of the world, the raw materials of the world, and the natural resources of the world are so distributed over the earth that every country contributes something and lacks something for a rounded and harmonious development of the productive forces of mankind. We visualise the future society of mankind as world  socialism which will have a division of labour between the various regions according to their resources, a comradely collaboration between them, and production of the necessities and luxuries of mankind according to an overall world plan.

We think that the solution of the problem of the day—the establishment of socialism—is a world problem, we believe that the advanced workers in every country must collaborate in working toward that goal. We have, from the very beginning of our movement, collaborated with like-minded people in all other countries in trying to promote the socialist movement on a world scale. We have advocated the international organisation of the workers, and their cooperation in all respects, and mutual assistance in all respects possible.  The Socialist Party is opposed to all forms of national chauvinism, race prejudice and discrimination.  Nationalism  belittles, humiliates and rejects all that is foreign, and proclaims everything of its own as "pure". There is  no country superior to any other.

Everywhere in the world, a study of the national question reveals the use of differences by the ruling class as the foundation for its strategy of "divide and rule," of fomenting strife and friction between the toilers of various nationalities. In the ideology of race, the dominant classes have a much more potent weapon at their disposal than even religion and language. The latter, as social phenomena, are historically transient; whereas race, a physical category, persists. Unlike the white immigrant minorities, the black or brown immigrant, wears the badge of colour, which sets the seal of permanency on his inferior status.

In next year’s Independence referendum  there are only two groups officially sanctioned to campaign – those for the YES and the others for the NO.  It prevents the working class from freely propagating its own position. We unequivocably reject this.

A YES vote is a vote to reorganise capitalism in favour of Scotland’s bourgeoisie, which is after its share of the wealth. The SNP would use its power to collect tax to continue to subsidise Scottish capitalists. In an independent Scotland, the SNP would ask us to further tighten our belts in the interests of the “nation,” i.e. to profit Scottish employers. In an independent Scotland exploitation will still exist. The privileged handful that dominates our country will continue to profit from our exploitation .

Many workers are still drawn towards a YES vote despite the SNP’s alliance with capitalists. At least, they say, it is a step in the right direction, since independence will put an end to 300-odd years of “oppression”.  Scottish workers in order to maintain the competitiveness of Scotland’s business interests will always come second. Nor can the SNP’s plans for separation cannot eliminate the inequalities faced by the vast majority of Scottish workers.

Independence and separation means dividing the working class. This would divert the revolution from its socialist objective by weakening it in the fight to overthrow the capitalist class. Workers must unite to become the greatest possible force against capitalism. But separation would leave  the working class more isolated in the fight against the capitalist class.

A NO vote means simply supporting the status quo and a vote for Westminster and UK bosses. A choice of the pox against the plague.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain affirms an independent working class position that refuses to line up behind either of the two capitalist camps. We are fighting ALL nation chauvinism and for the unity of the WORLD working class. Our alternative is to continue the battle for socialism in Scotland and Britain, in Europe and throughout the globe.

Spoil your referendum ballot with the revolutionary slogan “world for the workers”

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lets Forget Differences and Talk of Similarities

World socialism the true cooperative commonwealth

“I look upon the whole world as my fatherland...I look upon true patriotism as the brotherhood of man and the service of all to all...National independence? That means the masters' independence...The flag? Does it wave over a country where you are free and have a home, or does it rather symbolize a country that meets you with clenched fists when you strike for better wages and shorter hours?" - Helen Keller

The modern nation state is defined as the product of merger of two concepts, namely the ‘nation’, which is a cultural and/or ethnic entity and the ‘state’, which is a political and geopolitical entity with jurisdiction or ‘sovereignty’ over a bounded territory. The state in its modern form is a relatively new institution emerging through the democratic revolutions that overthrew monarchies in England and France. There are many reasons for the rise of the modern nation-state, which has become the dominant form of state formation around the world today. One very important reason that comes to mind is the emergence of the idea of land as private property with clear ownership titles as against the notion of land as belonging to the monarch over which different people had only access for cultivation, grazing of animals or other uses. The modern idea of nation thus became closely tied to the notion of ownership of land and in many ways whether in Europe or the United States or Latin America the new nations that formed were essentially a coalition of many landowners who voluntarily agreed to have a common state apparatus to look after their welfare, security and governance. The fences that marked off private land were applied to language, culture, ethnicity and once fluid identities rendered into rigid, inflexible identities. The national identity, though it superseded all these other identities and helped unite diverse populations.

The process of recognition of new nations in recent times has been quite arbitrary and entirely dependent on the alignment of global or regional geopolitical forces in favor or against the struggle for independence. For example, why should  Kosovo be privileged over Kashmir or  South Sudan over Tamil Eelam in Sr Lanka when it comes to the “right to self-determination”?

 The idea of national sovereignty is a notional fraud. A nation-state is not sovereign in its affairs. In practice it means a mightier or the mightiest nation-state, regardless of law and ethics, may ‘sovereignly’ decide what is good for its own nation and by extension for the international community. In the world we live in today is there any nation that is truly “independent” or sovereign? Or is everyone just “inter-dependent” to varying degrees, with the idea of “sovereignty” just a chip for bargaining better terms and conditions in the world marketplace? The global capital flows determine the fate of even powerful nations. According to a McKinsey Global Institute report in 2010, the total value of the world’s financial stock, comprising equity market capitalization and outstanding bonds and loans, touched US$212 trillion and was more than three times as large as the total output of goods and services produced across the planet that year. The same year cross-border capital flows grew to US$4.4 trillion. Ninety percent of global capital flows run between three regions: the U.S., the United Kingdom and the European countries that use the euro. It is clear that as far as the world of global finance is concerned, outside these regions, the rest of the planet does not really exist at all! However these global capital flows have important consequences for all countries as each of them compete and chase the dream of attracting funds to their shores today. The erosion of sovereignty of nation states has occurred steadily in recent years as country after country brings down protective political and economic walls in their bid to woo global finance.

 When we still use the terms “homeland”, “motherland” or “fatherland” do we still believe that “land” is the primary basis of a nation and its economy? When corporations have become way larger than entire countries why should land and territory alone become synonymous with the idea of a nation?  If Wal-Mart were a country, its revenues would make it on par with the GDP of Norway the 25th largest economy in the world by, surpassing 157 smaller countries. In 2010 while Norway's GDP was $414.46 billion Walmart's revenue stood at $421.89 billion.  Exxon Mobil, with a revenue of $354.67 billion is bigger than Thailand with a GDP of $318.85 billion. Apple computers, with revenues of $65.23 billion, is bigger than Ecuador with a GDP of $58.91 billion. For quite some time now that the giant corporations of the world are on par with, or more powerful, than many countries in the world in terms of economic clout, even political clout in many parts of the world. The management systems they run are often as much or even more efficient than that of any state apparatus. What they lack in order to declare themselves nation-states and join the United Nations are essentially a national flag or an anthem, which any advertising agency can produce for them in a few days although some multi-nationals’ logos and advertising jingles are world recognisable and iconic plus their participation in global NGOs offer diplomatic influence. Security companies  already serve as proxy armies in conflicts. Today nation-states are being subordinated to global capital and the few powerful nations that act as their marketing agents. Corporations are the new empires of the globe and while nation-states are not about to disappear anytime soon they are a much weakened entity, shorn of genuine sovereignty and lacking independence of decision-making.

 An example of how nationalism has become obsolete look at the concept of Special Economic Zones which are common place all over the world today. While  armies are supposed to be jealously guarding every inch of national territory along the borders, the SEZs, created are deemed to be territory inside national borders but outside the jurisdiction of customs officersfor  the purposes of trade operations and duties and tariffs.

What does national identity of a nation really mean in today’s world? Are we not all citizens of the world, holding multiple identities (and in an increasing number of cases even multiple passports)? Our place of birth is accidental, but our duty to our class is worldwide. Socialism recognises no distinction between the various nations comprising the world. Socialism does not recognise national distinctions or the division of  humanity into nations and races. The position of the Socialist Party in every country is one of hostility to the existing political order. The socialist movement is global in sentiment and scope and the name, the World Socialist Movement, was deliberately chosen as an aspiration to be achieved. Capitalist production made giant strides towards internationalisation of the processes of production, distribution and exploitation of labour and this has made it easier for workers everywhere to see the necessity of organising ourselves on a world-wide scale.

Adapted from here 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The "Genuine" Independence Fantasy

According to Jim and Margaret Cuthbert, leading economists whose work on the Scottish economy has been regularly cited by the SNP, it is “not feasible that anything approaching independence can emerge from the current referendum”.

They argue “genuine” independence is required to challenge “vested interests” – from the world of finance, land-owners and the European Union – which they argue have been “flattered and reassured, and...protected” by the SNP.

We shouldn’t really be surprised by this statement. After all, part of the socialist case against nationalism is that the State, regardless of who forms the government, represents the ruling class.

We would take issue with the economists' forlorn and doomed hope that through “genuine” independence Scotland would have the power to take on those vested interests. The Cuthberts argue that any reform has to “threaten, and probably displace, some or all of the vested interests which currently hold sway”

Just what is “genuine” independence in a world economy of interdependent not independent markets. We witnessed how the recent crisis spread throughout the world without regard to a country’s supposed sovereignty and how Scottish-based banks were fully culpable and complicit in much of the causes of it.

There exists no such thing as "genuine" independence. It is a global capitalist system.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Remembering our history

The SNP would allow American bases on Scottish soil after independence – as long as they were non-nuclear. And just who would be doing an inventory check in a military escalation and crisis?

Salmond said the SNP’s support for entry into Nato was “to send a signal to our friends and partners that we wanted to assume responsibility as a responsible friend and partner.” Whats that about who sups with the Devil sups should have a long spoon? Salmond wants him in our back-yard.

On his visit to the United States Salmond spoke at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, a New York-based group set up in memory of Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (see here and here for this despicable man's history), and said: “Both the Declaration of Arbroath, with its search for a Scottish legitimacy, and the Declaration of Independence, with its affirmation of popular sovereignty, were sealed in the force of arms and struggle."

All nationalism is based on mythical history and nations have to create their ideologies from whatever scraps come to hand. Scotland is no exception and is perhaps luckier than most with its many tales of romance. The 6th April marks the anniversary of the signing of the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath.

"Yet if he should give up what he has begun, seeking to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own right and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be subjected to the lordship of the English. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself." - Declaration of Arbroath or properly titled "Letter of Barons of Scotland to Pope John XXII".

Stirring patriotic stuff. That it had ever existed was soon entirely forgotten and it was only rediscovered when a version of it was published by Sir George Mackenzie in 1680. It then becomes influential, but not really as an expression of nationalism but as support for those who wished to curtail royal power. It was only later that the Declaration of Arbroath came to be seen in purely nationalistic terms.

Scotland in 1320 was a very different country to the Scotland we know today therefore we should not ahistorically give to a medieval mind-set the sensibilities of a later, modern age. So we should what did the signatories of the document actually mean by "we" and "freedom"? The "we" who attached their seals to the document were all noblemen. And it was their freedom that it concerned. The authors of the Arbroath declaration most likely used the word "people" to mean "people like us". There you have it. The “people” of Scotland were the nobles, the majority of whom at that time were still fairly much culturally Anglo-Norman, despite inter-marriage within the indigenous Scoto-Gaelic ruling families and their further integration in terms of land holding and property ownership. As for the common-folk of Scotland; they had no say in the matter. Or in anything for that matter. The idea that the peasant in the fields or labourer in the towns had any type of say is laughable. The Declaration signatories certainly had no concept of popular sovereignty.

Those medieval signatories to the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath were merely feudal barons asserting their claim to rule and lord it over their own tenants and serfs, not leading any "liberation struggle". In fact, John de Menteith, who turned William Wallace over to Edward of England put his seal to the Declaration of Arbroath.

The claims that the Declaration challenged the traditional belief in the Divine Right of Kings and promoting in its place the notion that the nation itself was foremost and the monarch merely its steward, is argued solely to justify Bruce usurping the rightful king John Balliol, who it should be remembered Wallace acted as Guardian for. The section of the Declaration reading “if this prince [Bruce] shall leave these principles he hath so nobly pursued, and consent that we or our kingdom be subjected to the king or people of England, we will immediately endeavour to expel him, as our enemy and as the subverter both of his own and our rights, and we will make another king, who will defend our liberties” should be read as a cautionary warning and a veiled threat to Robert the Bruce himself for he had switched his allegence several times in previous years.

In a propaganda war, the Scots were at a disadvantage . The Pope in Rome had excommunicated Bruce who had decided to hell being just an English lord, I’d rather be a Scottish king and to achieve that goal murdered his chief rival in a church. He sent three letters to the Pope. The first was a letter from himself, the second from the Scots clergy, and the third from the nobles of Scotland that became known as the Declaration of Arbroath.

The lesser-known earlier 1310 Declaration of the Clergy (the clergy being usually the younger sons of the nobles) proclaimed the Kingship of Robert. It begins by stating that John Balliol was made King of Scots by Edward Longshanks of England, but goes on to criticise Balliol’s status, because an English King does not have any authority to determine who will be the King of Scots. Such authority rests with the Scots themselves and alone, ignoring the fact that the Scottish nobles had given up that right in negotiations with Edward over twenty years beforehand.

The Declaration stated: “The people, therefore, and commons of the foresaid Kingdom of Scotland, ...agreed upon the said Lord Robert, the King who now is, in whom the rights of his father and grandfather to the foresaid kingdom, in the judgement of the people, still exist and flourish entire; and with the concurrence and consent of the said people he was chosen to be King, that he might reform the deformities of the kingdom, correct what required correction, and direct what needed direction; and having been by their authority set over the kingdom, he was solemnly made King of Scots... And if any one on the contrary claim right to the foresaid kingdom in virtue of letters of time past, sealed and containing the consent of the people and the commons, know ye that all this took place in fact by force and violence which could not at the time be resisted.”
Like a lot of such grandiose statements we've seen down through the ages, the Clergy's declaration was nothing more than misleading propaganda, which sought to disguise the facts of history.

A more modern myth connects the Declaration of Arbroath with the American Declaration of Independence because both enshrined in their declarations the principle that sovereignty rests with the people. Firstly, as noted already it was not a "declaration" in the sense of the American Declaration of Independence or the French Declaration of the Rights of Man but a plea to the Pope. The Act of Abjuration (1581), where the Dutch deposed their Spanish ruler for having violated the social contract with his subjects could be just as easily cited as the influence on the American Declaration of Independence. Or even the English Declaration of Rights, which deposed King James II and brought to power William and Mary of Orange can be said to have had an influence on the Founding Fathers.
Nor should we over-look that although the Declaration of Arbroath says that the King of Scotland can be deposed if he abuses his power one hundred and five years earlier than the Declaration of Arbroath, at Runnymede, King John was forced to sign Magna Carta, giving his English subjects rights including the right to establish a monarchs rule. Nor should it be forgotten that between 1320 and 1603, Scotland had 11 monarchs. 3 of those (James I, James III, and Mary) were removed through assassination, civil war or deposition. In the same period, England had 18 monarchs. Of which no fewer than 7 (Edward II, Richard II, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III, and Jane) were removed through civil war or deposition. So who, exactly, had the richer tradition of overthrowing monarchical power?

If heroes are required then instead of Wallace or Bruce, the Scottish workers should look to the likes of Wat Tyler and John Ball, commoners, who in the 1381 Peasants' Revolt took London and beheaded the Archbishop of Canterbury. The true history of the exploited is about the resistnce of the Levellers and Diggers and the Chartists not the winners and losers of aristocratic family feuds for the throne of Scotland.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nationalism? No change

One of our companion blogs, Patience and Perseverance, writes:

“ It seems as if Salmond & Co are losing their enthusiasm for Independence? They intend to continue to use the £ sterling, hang on to the coat tails of the Windsors as head of state, and now: dual citizenship, what next? Given the foregoing, it would seem that the pursuit of Scottish Independence is going to be a pointless exercise” [we can add also the continued membership of the EU and Nato]

Indeed, the blog highlights how its alleged radicalism has become more and more watered down by the day as the SNP become more and more desperate for a “yes” vote.
The nationalisms that divide the world at present are the byproducts of fairly recent historical developments. Usually, they grew up as a particular section of the capitalist class sought to establish its dominance over the economic activities of the territory it inhabited. To do so successfully, it had to subordinate the state power to its own ‘national’ interests. The Scottish wealthy swung behind support for the 1707 union after a colonial adventure of their own failed and they prospered during the hey-days of the Empire. Today, many sectors of industry have experienced a decline so the notion of an independent Scottish parliament has arisen among sections of the Scottish bourgeoisie. North Sea oil has given this some credibility and is offered up as the panacea to the problems of the people of Scotland without any need for class war against capitalist interests. Scottish workers are led to identify with Scottish landowners and capitalists on the basis of a ‘shared nationality’ and through them with Scottish capitalism.

Some on the Left argue that the Scottish people are more advanced in political consciousness than their English equivalents, therefore there would be a ‘leftist’ majority in a Scottish parliament and moves towards socialism would be easier. Even accepting such a questionable premise, it is simply delusional and ignores the realities of power under modern capitalism. The ruling class has at its disposal massive economic wealth, which is concentrated on an all-Britain and on an international, scale. A Scottish parliament as envisaged by its ‘left-wing’ proponents would have no means of breaking either sort of power.  ‘Socialism in one country’ was impossible in Russia; it will not be any more possible in Scotland.  A Scottish parliament would represent no more than a bit of tartan frill to one part of the state machine of British and world capitalism. Certainly it would not be able to impede the real workings of the major capitalist institutions.The struggle to wrest the means of production from the ruling class is of necessity a global struggle.

Nationalism does not strengthen the real force for socialism, a united, class-conscious working class, but fragments and weakens it. The social revolution is a global event. Glasgow and Edinburgh branches of the Socialist Party give no support to encouraging separatist trends in Scotland. There is only one real alternative to the present capitalist state – a united and determined revolutionary workers’ movement organising for socialism.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

class loyalty

The media and the political mouthpieces of capitalist ideology have done their job well. Scottish workers are being caught up by the "patriotism" of the referendum debate - either for independence or for the union. Capitalism has reached a point at which it threatens all humanity and not just the divided national, religious, racial (or other falsely labeled) identity groups.

The patriotism of the capitalist class is better called national chauvinism. This "patriotism" equates loyalty to the nation with loyalty to the capitalist-controlled government and its policies. It seeks the acquiescence of workers in the crimes, aggressions, depredations and depravities of the ruling class and its agents.  It is intended to trick workers into sanctioning whatever is deemed in the interests of the business class. It's nationalistic baloney asserts that our interests as a “nation” are totally bound up with, if not identical , to those of our exploiters. But as we know, in class societies the state does not serve everyone equally. Instead, its main efforts are directed to helping the class that rules over the economy. In capitalism, that means essentially helping the capitalist class accumulate capital, repress opposition to their exploitative rule, and legitimise all the forms in which this goes on.  But to do this job well, the state has to appear legitimate in the eyes of most of its citizens, which requires above all else that its consistent bias on behalf of the capitalist ruling class be hidden from view. The flag and other patriotic symbolism are crucial to the success of this effort. Throughout, emotions play a much larger role than reason or thinking generally, and the strongest emotion evoked by patriotism is the pleasure of belonging to a cooperative social community where everyone is concerned with the fate of others. Unfortunately, the social community only exists in the shadow of an illusory community dominated by the ruling economic class and its state, where none of this applies.

Then there is a form of patriotism to which workers should adhere; it is loyalty, not to the institutions of the nation, but to the people; more precisely, to the majority of the people -- the working class -- with whom they share a common material interest. For workers today, class consciousness -- loyalty to one's class -- is patriotism. International working-class interests are the paramount interests to be served -- not those of any capitalist nation state. Without solidarity to one's class and to one's comrades. workers are helpless in the face of the ruling class's monopoly of the means of production. If workers can stick together, they can respond to employers' control of work. Solidarity between workers is therefore an essential prerequisite for success in class struggle. Class consciousness is the key to working-class victory in ending the class struggle.

Patriotism works to disguise the real differences which exist amongst people—which are differences of class and which involve irreconcilable differences of interests—and to encourage workers to identify with the institution—the state—which is the primary defender of class society. The slogan “workers of the world unite” is in part a call on proletarians to acknowledge that their home is in the company of other members of their class wherever they are to be found.

Scotland is divided into two classes -- the working class and the class of employers/investors that lives off its labour.  We can wonder how a capitalist party which of course the SNP is can keep on winning all the elections. The answer often lies far less in their programs than in the flag and other patriotic symbols with which these programs come wrapped. Most workers vote against their class interests because they "love" their "country".

There are a various definitions of what class is. Many of them assign people to class groups on the basis of cultural and behavioural attributes such as dress, speech, education levels, shopping habits, and employment sector. Such concepts are fallacious in that they reduce class to a matter of choice, taste, when it is nothing of the sort. Whether you read the Sun or the Times, or whether you shop at Asda or at Sainsbury's, is entirely irrelevant. The middle class are, in reality, workers. They too have to sell their labour to a master in order to survive, and the fact that the wages of that labour may be more, or that the job may be “white collar” rather than “blue collar” is of no significance.

In essence, there are two classes: the working class and the capitalist or ruling class. What matters is your relation to capital. The working class are the vast majority of people on the planet, those who must sell their labour in order to earn a living and survive. The ruling class are, to use a rough figure, the top one-percent of society. They do not have to sell their labour or work, but instead are maintained by expropriating rent, interest, and profit from the working class who produce it. They are, in short, parasites. The bourgeoisie are united across the national divide and therefore so should we. The working class must unite to fight against attacks and refuse to be divided or distracted. This is the only way to defend the gains of the past and fight for a future society worth living in.

Working people have only one country—the planet earth. There is only one foreigner—the boss.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

A Bosses' Scotland

Jim McColl, the founder and chairman of Clyde Blowers and one of the country’s richest men, has argued that Scottish independence would be the same as a “management buy-out” from the UK.

McColl who lives in Monaco explained “We have a government responsible for economic policy whose focus is not growth in Scotland but rather London and the south-east of England. That tells me Scotland is a nation in desperate need of a well-planned and thought-through management buy-out.”

The the pro-independence campaign Yes Scotland team plans to intensify its wooing of the capitalist class with plans to produce a “business plan” depicting Scotland as a new company seeking investment.

CBI Scotland however disageed with McColl reasoning. "... in actual fact the developing proposals of the Scottish Government are that all economic levers would not come to Scotland – for example, control over currency and interest rates.” it said.

As Scottish Courier has repeatedly said, the issue of an independent Scotland is a dispute beteen rival capitalists and workers should have no truck with either section of our masters.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Fainthearts Not Bravehearts

“Let's not be English, French or German anymore. Let's be European. No not European, let's be men. Let's be Humanity. All we have to do is get rid of one last piece of egocentricity - patriotism." Victor Hugo

The curse of nationalism is not new. There is always a load of myth and romanticism surrounding nationalism. Nationalism is an idea that varies in time and places which has as it central core the belief that a national population group is the most important political category, and political rights are primarily given to individuals as members of nations. Many of the areas within the UK have arguably been "nations" at some time in the past. Nationalism, for the Left is garbed in “national liberation” clothes to make it sound even more revolutionary. Nations, borders and flags indeed give people identity but that national identity is made up for reasons of power and controlling of the population that the nation state has inside its borders. For nationalists, freedom is achieved when an independent local government is established. Nationalist politics, however, cannot deliver freedom for the majority of people. The capitalist state is a structure of coercion which concentrates power in the hands of a small ruling class and despite constitutions and “rights” the state makes it impossible for the mass of the people to actively participate in the decisions which affect their conditions of life.

 Why love a country more than any another simply on the basis of the bit of soil you happen to have been born on? The only thing that matters is class, not nationality or any of the other diversions that stop the "have nots" from challenging the "haves". Whilst the "have nots" are busy feuding with each other on behalf of the "haves" they are missing the real battle.  It is the working classes who are sent to war to kill and be killed on behalf of the "haves". They are the true enemy, not the working classes of other nations. Nationalism is a politics of a frustrated local elite who seek to build support for their own class programme by arguing that class alliances and independence are the way to resolve the genuine grievances of the people. Yet the local ruling class is dependent for its economic and political survival on the maintenance on close ties with other capitalists. They accumulate wealth by relying on the multi-national corporations, who it joins in joint business ventures. We reject the idea that there is a common "national interest" between the different classes within a "nation". Their interests are in direct contradiction. The phrase "national interests" hides the interests of the ruling classes, which are against the interests of the people themselves. Nationalism is not a vehicle for the expression of the will of the majority of the people - the workers - but is instead a tool of the ruling class. It serves to distract the people from their daily misery with a romantic invention, appealing to their emotion over their intellect in order to create a myth of "national interest", in which all classes of a country have more in common than their respective foreign brethren. The realisation of an independent Scotland means the realisation of the right of the local Scottish capitalists to take power and exploit the proletariat. It is capital that will continue to dominate our political institutions in whatever form they take and capital has no country. Separatism offers precisely nothing to the working class.

The Indian poet and Asia’s first Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore wrote:

"The last sun of the century sets amidst the blood-red clouds of the West and the whirlwind of hatred.
The naked passion of the self-love of Nations, in its drunken delirium of greed, is dancing to the clash of steel and howling verses of vengeance.
The hungry self of the Nation shall burst in a violence of fury from its shameless feeding.
For it has made the world its food.
And licking it, crunching it and swallowing it in big morsels,
It swells and swells
Till in the midst of its unholy feast descends the sudden shaft of heaven piercing its heart of grossness.

Nationalism as a source of war and carnage; death, destruction and divisiveness, rather than international solidarity remains at the heart of Tagore’s poem. He said that if nationalism is something imaginary, humanity has to readjust their imagination  by extending the horizon of their mind’s eye, so that the fellowship of the species does not stop at a geographical border. The mythical image of nationalism as as a movement of pioneering, progressive, pious, peace-loving nation-building has been more than exposed. Every form of nationalism is no less aggressive or bigoted than is ever the case under a system of society where the laws of the jungle are presented as being the rules of civilised conduct. Every nation's flag is dripping with the blood of its enemies; every ruling class pays for its power in other people's lives.

The Socialist Party case against nationalism is straightforward. We do not advocate re-drawing the border. No socialist will ever fight to defend any border — we want to do away with the divisiveness of countries and states. Nationalism can never be a solution to the problems of oppression. The problem is class, not national, racial, or religious origins. As a class, workers have no country. The Scots do not own Scotland. There are two classes in society: those who possess without producing and those who produce without possessing.  Some Scottish workers identify with the aims of their rulers — they see their national identity as more important than their class identity with other workers. In this they are dangerously mistaken. Workers across the globe share a common exploitation at the hands of an increasingly global capitalist class. Nationalism means lining up with the same people who exploit them. Rather than submitting to the divide-and-rule  policy of the nation state, they should fight alongside other workers who, like them, exist to enrich the people at the top. Socialists say that a Scottish worker has more in common with an English, French or German worker than they do with their own boss. Nationalism has served as a convenient weapon of ruling elites to keep “the people” on-side. All sorts of unpleasant dictatorships have stirred up nationalist fervour to prop themselves up. We seek to do away with artificial boundaries and borders. The world will not be divided into countries by lines drawn on a map by capitalists to mark out their property. Our vision for a free society is that of a working class revolution which can finally uproot and defeat capitalism which brings not only exploitation but alienation too. Our goal is the humanisation of the economic system. We condemn the capitalist system where it must always be "You or I" and rarely "You and I".

We advocate class war and declare that the capitalist can never have interests in harmony with the worker. We hold up socialism as the only hope of the workers.
“Its coming yet for a’ that"

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Scottish Nationalism

Due to a broken link Socialist Courier is re-posting Vic Vanni's 1975 articles on the history of Scottish nationalism

Scottish Nationalism

Nationalists believe that all classes in society should hold allegiance to "The Nation". Socialists do not and point out how nations have always been the creation of a ruling group having nothing to do with working-class interests.

What is a nation? It is simply the people and the territory which have been appropriated by a class of robbers at some point in history. It has less to do with a common language, religion, race, culture, and all the other things which nationalists imagine or pretend are essential ingredients in the making of nations.

This is certainly true of Scotland and far from having a common history or anything else the population there are mainly the descendants of native Picts, invaders from Ireland (the original Scots), Western Europe and Scandinavia. After centuries of what were really tribal wars the whole land came under one king by the middle of the ninth century and the nation was born –by the coercion of the people and in the interests of a class of bandit chieftains.

Right up until the union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1707 there were really two distinct nations in Scotland. The Highlanders  spoke Gaelic and had a culture (way of life) very different from that of the dialect-English speaking Lowlanders. Indeed

“In rural districts, the Scottish dialect or dialects was barely intelligible even to a Scot of another district”
(James G. Kellas. Modern Scotland –the Nation Since1870. p. 7)

So the nationalist idea of a once united Scotland is just a myth. Yet no one can deny that despite over two hundred years of Scotland's incorporation within the United Kingdom most Scots feel themselves to be part of a separate nation. This can be explained by the fact that the Act of Union allowed Scotland to retain its own law, religion, and education system thus ensuring the continuation of national identity.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ruling by Fooling

 The Socialist Party constantly hammers home that the SNP are nothing but another party of the ruling class. The Scottish Saltire is a commercial asset. A brand label. It represents the economic and political interests of the capitalist classes. Many on the Left believe that Scottish nationalism is a progressive force, and can therefore be used. They either do not understand, or opportunistically refuse to accept the fundamental role of nationalism. Deceived by this, sincere people work in the nationalist movement only to discover that they have been misled and have been wasting their time. You can't be a good internationalist and a nationalist at the same time, just as you cannot be a good monarchist and at the same time a good republican. Workers have to make the choice.

Socialists are not working to divide the working class. We are working to get the whole movement on to the lines of class conscious revolutionary activity to achieve the social revolution. To socialists neither race nor creed should separate the workers of the world. We believe that the co-operative commonwealth cannot be reached till capitalism is overthrown by the workers. Socialists re-affirm "It is better to be a traitor to your country than a traitor to your class!"

It is not possible to achieve a socialist society in Scotland. This is because, if such a society were realised, it would be easily crushed by the capitalist states that surround it. A socialist Scotland is sustainable only if socialism has been realised world-wide. At the present time most that socialists in Scotland can do is create an organisation to spread socialist ideas.

It is too easy to simply place the blame for the failures of capitalism upon the shoulders of the banks and financial speculators. Such criticisms are a form of simple minded nationalism. The acute economic and financial problems currently besetting Scotland are a product of world capitalism.

Parties like the Scottish Socialist Party clamour for a state-capitalist solution to Scotland's problems but there is essentially no difference between their position and the position being held by the SNP. Both want a capitalist solution within a national framework. Their differences are rooted in mere modifications as to how wealth is to be distributed. Modifications in wealth distribution fails to change class relations. Neither want a real revolution in the character of the production process -- a socialist solution. There cannot be a "socialist" solution except within an international framework. In short the Scottish working class need the revolutionary awakening  mobilisation of the Europen, North American and Asian working class. Other than that a capitalist solution is the only solution possible.

The SSP call for more and more state spending as the means towards the solution of the problems of the working class. In other words it calls for the growing expansion of the capitalist state as the solution to social problems. In other words they want a stronger more all-embracing capitalist state. They are forever offering solutions that endeavour to make capitalist society more efficient. They want to save capitalism not overturn it. The SSP mislead the voters when they claim to have a "socialist" alternative to the policies of the SNP and the Labour Party. Nor are the nationalist policies of the SSP actually sustainable.

 Consequently the SSP are incapable of implementing nationalist policies nor social revolution. No-where in the world has capitalism been reformed out of existence. Nor can it be. The politics of the SSP are inherently opportunist. They fail to make clear that it is the character of capitalism that is the fundamental problem -- not incompetent governments. Socialists support the socialisation of the forces of production on a world basis. Consequently we don't support nationalist solutions to what are global problems

However, we should emphasise that the Socialist Party does not envisage a socialist world from which all the existing variations between different communities and cultures have been stamped out. That is total uniformity – with all people speaking the same language, reading the same books, watching the same television programmes. On the contrary, we assume that different communities each with their own history, literature and language may well desire to preserve their different cultural, environmental and artistic characteristics.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

One World

 Salmond says that devolution has failed to solve the problems facing people in Scotland and that an independent Scotland is the only framework within which these problems can be solved. The SNP argues that the problems facing workers in Scotland are due to"Westminster rule". If only there was an independent Scotland, they say, separate from the rest of Britain, then there would be full employment, higher wages, job security, better state benefits, a healthy health service and all the other things politicians promise at election times.

 Of course, devolution has failed. But that's because people's problems in Scotland were never caused by a lack of devolution in the first place. They were, and still are, caused by capitalism as the system of class ownership and production for profit. This is why independence is no solution either. As capitalism would continue in an independent Scotland, so would the problems. These problems are not caused by the form of government, and any government of an independent Scotland would still be compelled by the economic laws of capitalism to put profits before people, just as UK governments have been. An independent Scottish government would still have to operate within the constraints of the world capitalist system. It would still have to ensure that goods produced in Scotland were competitive on world markets and that capitalists investing in Scotland were allowed to make the same level of profits as they could in other countries. In other words, it would still be subject to the same economic pressures as the existing London-based government to promote profits and restrict wages and benefits. As if Ireland,which broke away from the United Kingdom in 1922 been any different. Since it is this class-divided, profit-motivated society that is the cause of the problems workers face in Scotland, as in England and in the rest of the world, so these problems will continue, regardless of whether Scotland separates from or remains part of the United Kingdom.

Independence would be a purely political constitutional change which would leave the basic economic structure of society unchanged. There would still be a privileged class owning and controlling the means of production with the rest having to work for them for a living. Just as now. Independence for Scotland therefore is a myth put about by the Scottish National Party, which further confuses the Scottish section of the working class and blinds them from the real struggle - the class struggle .

Neither London nor Edinburgh, but World Socialism!
Workers of the World unite for Socialism!

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Re-writing the past

Salmond will launch the SNP's campaign for  independence later this month claiming he is on track to win secession following last week’s local government elections. The Alpha and Omega for the SNP is the Scottish Saltire fluttering over a fully independent parliament. Lets not make any mistake, the cause of Scottish suffering is not the Union with England but the fact that the means by which Scots must live are in possession of a class which will not allow the people to use these means unless they accrue profit to that minority parasite class. Socialist Courier has shown that the Scottish capitalist class obtained their possessions by theft, that in the process of the thievery thousands of workers’ lives have been sacrificed.

Our allegation that capitalism was built upon the robbery and murder of the workers is fully justified yet the nationalists receives them with welcoming open arms, ignoring the fact that the patriotism of the master class, like their pretences of kindness, generosity, and magnanimity, is sheer hypocrisy and cant. The capitalist’s love of his country withers before a fraction percent on the yield of his capital. He has no scruples in displacing the Scot's worker with machinery, directly he can save wages by so doing or by exporting jobs and investment abroad if the returns prove greater.

Scots sing of Bonnie Scotland and its purple heather covered hills. Its not their Bonnie Scotland, nor their heather hills. A typical Scot could scarcely fill a flower-pot with the land he owns in Scotland. Its the bosses' Scotland. It is their hills. The government acts as their factor, serving their interests.

All nationalism is based on mythical history and have to create their ideologies from whatever scraps come to hand, and the Scots version is no exception.  But perhaps luckier than most with its many tales of romance.  But we should not  ahistorically give to a medieval mind the sensibilities of a later, modern age. Such as the idea of Wallace was an early exponent of “democratic patriotism”. Wallace never fought for an abstract “people” or even “nation”, but always in the name of a legitimate power of which he was but the temporary protector or “Guardian”  -  the disposed king, John Balliol. It was William Wallace's sole aim to restore Balliol to the throne of Scotland. And those medieval signatories to the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath were no more than feudal  barons asserting their claim to rule and lord it over their own tenants and serfs, not leading any  "liberation struggle". In fact, John de Menteith, who turned Wallace over to Edward of England put his seal to the Declaration of Arbroath.

Little known fact!
Edinburgh branch of the Socialist League was launched with a meeting of 500 in 1885. In 1887 William Morris writes in the Socialist League's Commonweal "In Edinburgh which is the most bourgeois town in Britain, we are able to get our halls filled Sunday after Sunday with the very best of workmen.They mean business..." Between May 1887 and May 1888 40 open air meetings and 29 indoor meetinhgs were held.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The failure is capitalism

Alex Salmond says that as devolution had failed to solve the problems facing people in Scotland and he expects people would be more prepared to listen to the SNP's view that an independent Scotland is the only framework within which these problems can be solved.

Of course, devolution has failed. But that's because people's problems in Scotland were never caused by a lack of devolution in the first place. They were, and still are, caused by capitalism as the system of class ownership and production for profit. This is why independence is no solution either. As capitalism would continue in an independent Scotland, so would the problems. These problems are not caused by the form of government, and any government of an independent Scotland would still be compelled by the economic laws of capitalism to put profits before people, just as UK governments have been.

The SSP and the assorted Tartan Trotoids will no doubt say "independence has failed because capitalism has been kept" and that what is needed an "independent socialist Scotland" and that then the problems will be solved. But they won't be, firstly, because socialism cannot be established in one country (we are living in an inter-dependent world and capitalism is a world system) and, secondly, because what the SSP mean by "socialism" isn't real socialism but only a national state-capitalism.

The only framework within which these problems can be solved -- which don't just exist in Scotland but are basically the same in all the countries of the world -- is a world community without frontiers based on natural and industrial resources of the world being the common heritage of all humanity so allowing production directly for use instead of for profit. In other words, world socialism not narrow nationalism. That will be the issue we will be  raising in the referendum when it eventually comes.