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A SCOTCH BROTH OF PECULIAR COMPOSITION

From the August 1944 issue of the Socialist Standard
As the war nears its climax, the capitalist political representatives—and their sidekicks—are doing a lot of jockeying for place and power in what they consider will be the political set-up. In Scotland, as in England, recent events in Parliamentary by-elections have indicated clearly that the working-class electorate are not whole-heartedly enamoured of the National-cum-Labour Government. A definite swing of the pendulum "leftwards" has been observed, and a post-war continuation of that process has been envisaged. The "Commonwealth" movement has had some measure of success in stealing the thunder of the Labour and Communist Parties. This organisation, which receives the financial backing of Sir Richard Acland and other rich men, has made attempts—with varying degrees of success—to take united Parliamentary action with the other reformist organisations, the Labour Party, Communist Party and I.L.P. "Commonwea…

Told you so

Throughout the referendum debate, the Socialist Party and this blog, tried to explain that there was no such thing as actual independence in the economic sense. That a sovereign Scotland would still be subject to the world market and despite all the SNP promises of jam tomorrow it would be still subjugated by world capital.
Today we see how the world market and the fall in oil prices would have directly impacted upon Salmond’s budget and any reforms he would have proposed. An independent Scotland in its first year would have faced a £6.4bn "gaping chasm" in its finances, the Treasury has calculated based on the slump in the oil price and would have forced the Scottish Government in 2016 to implement unprecedented levels of cuts in public services, according to the Whitehall department. The pay freeze announced by one of the biggest employers in the oil business in the North-east is just the first symptom of the chilling effect the low price could have on one of Scotland’s …

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. T…

What is nationalism?

The SNP have now released a draft constitution for a possible independent Scotland. As a left wing group also critical of nationalism explained, Scotland is to be offered a choice between two ‘Yes’options in the independence referendum: “ ‘Yes’ to an ‘independent’ Scotland under the British crown, NATO and  austerity policies; or ‘Yes’ to the current UK state under the British crown, NATO and economic austerity.” In this referendum you can choose capitalism...or ...ermmm...capitalism.

The Socialist Party lends no support to the ‘Yes’ fantasies about ‘national independence’. Nor do we endorse the “No” campaigners for the continuance of the status quo. We advocate a socialist change. We stand for a united working class not a class divided by nationalities or borders. Unlike some on the Left, the Socialist Party follows the advice given in the Communist Manifesto and disdains from “concealing their views and aims”, particularly by hiding behind the cloak of nationalist patriotism.

Natio…

The Break-up of Scotland?

Lerwick, the capital of Shetland is 18 hours by road and boat from Edinburgh – more than double the journey time from the Scottish capital to Westminster. Now Shetland, Orkney and the Outer Hebrides demand independence referendums of their own if Scotland votes 'Yes'.

 A petition currently before the Scottish Parliament is seeking referendums to be held on all three islands exactly a week after the rest of the nation votes on the future of the union with Westminster. In the event it should get the go-ahead, the 70,000 inhabitants will be given the choice of either staying in Scotland or seeking independence of their own. A third question following a successful yes vote will offer the possibility of staying within the UK while seceding from control of Holyrood.

It is estimated that up to 67 per cent of Scotland’s oil and gas reserves lie within the waters off Shetland and Orkney. All the islands have lucrative off shore renewable energy potential.

Steve Heddle, Convenor of the…

Nationalists - No Grouse with Capitalism

The independence debate is a dispute between sections of the capitalist class over what constitutional arrangement produces the better commercial benefits. Deluded left nationalists hang on to the shirt-tails of Alex Salmond, as desperately as the witch in Tam O’ Shanter clutches to the tail of the horse, in a belief that somehow the arrival of ‘socialism’ is brought closer by a sovereign parliament being installed in Edinburgh. However the reality is as we have always said - Scottish independence is of no concern to the working class, for an independent Scotland would continue to represent the interests of the corporations and employers.

This is confirmed when Blackrock, the world's biggest investment fund manager, said that fears an independent Scotland would become a "bastion of anti-business sentiment are unfounded, in our view".

It said: "The Scottish government would likely go out of its way to accommodate the oil industry in particular. Why risk killing the …

Engels Against The Nationalists

A word of caution against those Left Nationalists that evoke the authority of Marx and Engels and cite their sympathy for Irish and Polish independence. All is not so simple.

Engels concluded an article, "The Magyar Struggle,"  (1849),  with these harsh words:
“But at the first victorious uprising of the French proletariat,... the Austrian Germans and the Magyars will gain their freedom and take a bloody revenge on the Slav barbarians. The general war which will then break out will scatter this Slav Sonderbund, and annihilate all these small pig-headed nations even to their very names. The next world war will not only cause reactionary classes and dynasties to disappear from the face of the earth, but also entire reactionary peoples.And that too is an advance”

Was Engels advocating nothing less here than the physical extermination of the Slavic peoples? Not really. What Engels really wished to make "disappear from the face of the earth" were the Slavic national mo…

A socialist lesson from Kiev

The events of Ukraine may be far away from Glasgow and Edinburgh but the driving force of the conflict is very familiar.

 What is making people take one side or another and feel so passionately about it that they take to the streets in violent confrontations, is nationalism, that sense of identity based on “ethnicity” (and in Ukraine, language). Nationalism has made allies of people who we might have called "liberals" and people who we definitely call "fascists."

Nationalism is the idea that the most important thing about a person is his or her nationality When nationalism is strong, then people judge their politicians  by asking "Are they of the right nationality?" What this means is that leaders are not judged by asking, "What are their values?" or "Are they for equality or inequality" or even "Are they honest or corrupt?"

Evaluating politicians this way is a recipe for enabling leaders who are personally corrupt or who wa…

Quote of the Day

It is not often that the Socialist Courier blog will quote a member of the old Communist Party polit-buro but when he talks as a trade-unionist then his views are worth repeating

In 1968, the late Mick McGahey, president of the National Union of Mineworkers in Scotland, attacked nationalism, an increasingly prominent force in Scottish politics, as a bourgeois deviation from the class struggle:-
 “[The Scots are] entitled to decide the form and power of their own institutions,” he said at a specially convened trade union conference on devolution. “But Scottish workers have more in common with London dockers, Durham miners and Sheffield engineers than they have ever had with Scottish barons and landlord traitors.”


For A Socialist One World

Socialists are indifferent to the national interests of any particular country, our own included. The thing to which we are not indifferent to are the principles of socialism. Socialism involves internationalism*. The internationalism of socialism is other than the mere internationalism we hear so much of in the present day, the internationalism of particular interests, scientific, literary, or what not. This internationalism though undoubtedly itself a sign of the times, is an internationalism of expediency. The internationalism of socialism is an internationalism of principle. Socialist internationalism joins hands with that of anti-patriotism, with that of anti-nationalism. Our regret that all this heroism and devotion at the service of the modern nation-State is not always forthcoming when it is a question of fighting, not for the  independence of one nation, but for a new society for all peoples – for the socialist commonwealth. Would the time might come when the socialist ideal…

Class Struggle and the Nation

In the Communist Manifesto we read the following:
"Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle. The proletariat of each country must, of course, first of all settle matters with its own bourgeoisie."

 This passage only means that the  British workers, for instance,  cannot wage the class struggle against the French capitalists, nor can the French workers wage the class struggle against the British  employers, but that the British  bourgeoisie and the power of the UK State can be attacked and defeated only by the British working class.

The nation naturally arises as a community of interests of the bourgeois classes. But it is the State which is the real solid organisation of the capitalist class for protecting its interests. The State protects property, it takes care of administration, puts the rmed forces in order, collects the taxes and keeps the masses under control. The "nations", or,…

The Bosses Game

In all capitalist societies, a tiny class of people owns the means of production and profits by exploiting the workers’ labour. United, the overwhelming tendency of the working class would be to fight for a decent life for all, which is incompatible with capitalism. Powerful united struggles of the working class would inevitably demonstrate the need to overthrow capitalism altogether. If a party does not want to abolish capitalist exploitation, it can only serve capitalism. Since the working class is the only class with the power to overturn capitalism, the capitalists use every possible divide-and-conquer tactic to prevent this development. Racism and nationalism has been major tools of the ruling class. Capitalism is the source of national oppression and only socialist revolution can put an end to this oppression and to all forms of oppression.  The Scottish  ‘nation’ is by no means homogeneous. It is made up of classes. The present referendum rivalry between the sections of the ru…

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…

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’sindependent 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 Ba…

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, …

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…