Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Independence is the status quo

Judge by the friends they keep
Are nationalist movements revolutionary in and of themselves? The question we must ask ourselves is, do national movements strengthen or weaken capitalism. Since 1945 the number of nations has soared from about 60 to more than 180. The first wave of new sovereign states came with the decolonisation movement of the 1960s and 1970s; the second in the early 1990s with the break-up of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. If Scotland votes for independence it may spark a third wave.  Dozens of would-be nations are waiting in the wings. There is no “Great British.” What we find are the various English regions, Scots, Irish, Cornish, and Welsh. In Italy, we find the Lombards, Tyroleans, Venetians, Sicilians, or Romans. In Germany we find Bavarians, Saxons, Hessians, Prussians, Rhinelanders, or Brandenburgers. And in France, we find Normans, Catalans, Alsatians, Basques, or Burgundians. Similarly with Spain and many other “nations”.

Marxists must stand firmly for world socialism. The problems of the Scottish workers arise not from being linked to England and Wales, as the nationalists argue, but because of the repeated crises of capitalism which burden workers and their families north and south of the border. The oppression and exploitation of working people is a product of capitalist society and can only be removed by the socialist transformation of society. This requires the unity of all workers, irrespective of nationality, colour or gender.

 The Scottish nationalists may have jettisoned their "Tartan Tory" image but they are by no means a socialist party and the fact that they have certain ‘radical' policies compared to the Labour Party is neither here nor there. The SNP aim is not the overthrow of capitalism, but of working within the confines of capitalism and blame all the workers’ problems upon control from London.

 Capitalism created the world market and to which all national states, no matter how big and powerful, are subordinate. These are the times of multinationals and the global economy. If Scotland does become sovereign it will quickly discover that that sovereignty has been severely restricted by those increasingly dominant global corporations. Nations may be getting smaller, but corporations are getting larger. Of the 100 largest economies in the world, more than half are global corporations. The top 200 corporations' combined sales represent over one quarter of the world’s GDP. The power of corporations is usually sufficient to cow small countries and corporations have bribed or intimidated governments to put into practice rules that severely circumscribe their authority to express the will of their people. Today corporations can buy a PO Box number in the Cayman Islands to avoid tax in Scotland. Trade agreements grant extraordinary rights and privileges to foreign corporations and investors that formally give corporate rights precedence over the right of governments to govern their own affairs. If there is a dispute, foreign corporations can skirt domestic courts and directly challenge any policy or action of a sovereign government in often secret proceedings presided over not by judges, but by arbitrators, often corporate lawyers themselves.  Dozens of corporate challenges are currently winding their way through these “courts”. US tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing Uruguay and Australia over their anti-smoking laws. US company Lone Pine Resources Inc. is demanding $250 million in compensation from Canada because of lost potential profits from Quebec’s moratorium on “fracking”. The Swedish energy giant Vatterfall has sued Germany for its decision to phase out nuclear power, demanding billions in compensation.

Nationalism is a powerful and poisonous force.  Socialists should make no attempt to accommodate any form of nationalism which threatens the unity of the working class.  Nationalism, no matter how it is dressed up up with pseudo-socialist phrases does not represent a way forward for the working people. Class unity should be our starting point in the struggle for socialism. Only by class solidarity, can we hope to combat the poison of nationalism. Workers' unity must be in the fore-front not  an afterthought. It is the task of socialists to sweep away  national boundaries, not erect new ones.

We are endeavouring to show working people the plain facts of the position, regardless of whether these facts are palatable or not. People’s views are, in the main, the product of their particular social environment—they see the world from the point of view of the class into which they are born and with which their interests are bound up. Consequently small local enterprises (aspiring to be another giant conglomerate) struggle to break the bonds that interfere with the expansion of their business. They demand liberty yet the freedom they desire is commercial freedom—to exploit nature and the worker to the fullest extent possible. The mainspring of the nationalist movement is the desire for power and expansion on the part of some Scottish capitalists. We, who are workers, however, should concern ourselves with the bonds that bind us to the cogs of capital—that doom us forever to the toil and sweat of slavery.  The continuance of the private property system is the central idea in the nationalist movement, and so long as private property remains the miseries that necessarily flow therefrom will remain also and continue to afflict the workers under an independent Scotland. So long as private property is the order of the day it matters little to the propertyless Scottish worker who rules Scotland. It works out the same — we, the workers, are always the bottom dogs. Members of the Socialist Party have long since turned a deaf ear to the empty phrases of nationalism and patriotism, and look forward with hope to world socialism. This object, we claim, is far more worthy of the attention and support of Scottish workers than the chimeras of the SNP and their left nationalist allies. 

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