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A SCOTTISH RED HERRING

From the August 1939 issue of the Socialist Standard
The self-styled democratic champions of the British Empire are wont to ignore the violence and intrigue which have contributed to its upbuilding, not only abroad, but in these islands.
When their attention is called to these factors by foreign dictators they take refuge in the feeble excuse that it all happened a long time ago; an excuse which seems to make very little impression upon the spokesmen of movements for "national liberty."
In the case of Ireland we have had violent examples, recently, of the bitterness which still survives (in spite of a partial self-government), as a result of centuries of oppression. In Scotland a similar sentiment takes a more pacific, but none the less definite form.
The Scottish National Party is endeavouring to enlist the support of workers there, on the ground that they are worse fed and housed than their fellow-slaves in England, and that there is a larger proportion of their number out…

Have labour power, will travel

From the August 1997 issue of theSocialist Standard
Inside a feudal, pre-industrial society it could be said of the majority of those who worked that they would live, work, marry, procreate and die within walking distance of the place in which they were born. Modern capitalism has changed all that.
The needs of the market have torn asunder all the old social ties of community. Families are spread all over the world as workers desperate for employment seek to sell their labour power wherever possible. They enter into competition with resident workers and thus the seeds of suspicion and hatred are sewn.
The driving force of capitalism is competition. Capitalist against capitalist for a bigger share of the product of labour. Worker against worker in the search for a job.It is into this desperate struggle for a job that various politicians spread the poison of nationalism and racism.
This poison is world-wide. In France at the recent election, one-in-ten voted for the openly racist, anti-…

Fight for your World, Not your Country

We hear it said from many sides that the nations of the world have interests that are not in harmony with each other, and that each nation has to look to those things that it enjoys to safeguard against the aggression of other countries. This attitude is taken by a vast number of people who make these assertions which the facts of reality entirely dispute. This "Nationalism" which has been injected into the brains of the masses springs from a very reliable source, i.e., its origin in the condition of property in a given country.
To get at the ideas that flow through the institutions that exist and reflect definite interests, we must see who it is that owns property in different nations. By property we mean those things that the nation is dependent upon to make its livelihood.
Mines, forests, mills, mines, railways, waterways, are indispensable to the life of modern society. Around these means to sustain human life, we have a set of relations that correspond to the mode of p…

Tommy Sheridan - the Shameless Scottish Nationalist

Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity officially endorsed a vote for the SNP position for the May 7 General Election. A large majority of 65 or so delegates at their conference in Motherwell last Saturday voted in favour. A statement by the Solidarity executive described an SNP vote as “a progressive vote against the red, yellow and blue Tories” who “denied Scotland its independence last September.” Sheridan and Solidarity are openly supporting a pro-business party and a party that Surgeon has made clear will endeavor to put Miliband into 10 Downing St.
Shortly after the referendum vote Sheridan wrote: “in order to maximise the pro-Independence vote in next May’s General Election, all Yes supporters should vote for the SNP...” Speaking at the Solidarity conference, Sheridan insisted, “All my life I have called for a mass party of the working class. The SNP have become a mass party of the working class. They may be led by a middle class leadership, some of whom are certainly not socialists but…

For the planet not parochialism

Independence then socialism is often the nationalists’ favorite bait for workers. Independence is said to be a step forward towards the workers’ own liberation, a step towards socialism. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the conditions that prevail today around the world, movements for independence would not mean a step forward towards socialism. It would be a step backwards. Despite protestations of being populists nationalists work on behalf of the capitalists but those on the Left declare they merely wish freedom from “imperialist domination”. The Left-wingers simply play with words. The point of nation states is that they compete with each other, sometimes through alliances with other nations.  In fact it is usually through alliances with other nations, but this doesn’t make such alliances examples of internationalism.
The success of socialism depends on achieving the greatest possible unity of the working class and it is utterly ridiculous to argue that the working c…

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 …

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…

Oppose Nationalism

Socialists are internationalists. Whereas nationalists believe that the world is divided primarily into different nationalities, socialists consider social class to be the primary divide. For socialists, class struggle--not national identity--is the motor of history. And capitalism creates an international working class that must fight back against an international capitalist class. Capitalism is a world system and socialism can’t survive in one country, it has to be worldwide. For that reason the Socialist Party is implacably opposed to nationalism, which ties working people to our rulers and divides us from working people in other countries. The “national interest” propaganda binds workers hand and foot to their employers, blinding them to their true interest in working-class solidarity. Socialists argue that workers have no interest in the nationality of the factory owners or the land owners. We are working towards the working-class majority taking power and implementing common ow…

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…

Socialism is the enemy of Nationalism

Socialism is the enemy of Nationalism
Book Review from the December 1980 issue of the SocialistStandard
Nation et lutte de classe by Otto Strasser and Anton Pannekoek (Union generale d'editions, Paris.)
Before the first world war, Austria was a multi-national empire in which the Emperor and his bureaucracy ruled not only over Germans and Hungarians but also over Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians, Croats, Slovenes and others. As a result theoretical discussion of "the national question" became a speciality of Austrian Social Democracy. The problem was particularly acute in Bohemia where Germans and Czechs lived side by side and where a language quarrel raged over schools, jobs in civil service, signs in railway stations, and so on. Even the Social Democratic Party was not immune, the Czech party splitting in 1905 into those who wanted a separate Czechoslovakia and those prepared to work with the German-speaking party within the Austrian Empire.
Orthodox Social Democracy found diffi…

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…