Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Nationalism – the handmaiden of the capitalist

The Socialist Party is opposed to the state because it is the instrument of the capitalist class used to impose and maintain its domination over the working class. In overthrowing capitalism the world socialist movement aims to abolish ALL nation states and national borders. The proposition that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, which leads some people to support nationalists, invariably misjudges who or what the real enemy is, and so ends up dragging the working class into taking sides with 'nice” factions of the capitalist class in its squabbles with the 'nasty” factions of the same class. However, the real enemy of the working class is not any of these different factions of the ruling class but the entire capitalist system itself. The outcome of past 'national liberation' struggles shows that the working class always ends up being oppressed just as much by its so-called 'liberators' as it was by its old colonial foreign masters. Yesterday's freedom fighters have today changed from combat fatigues into business suits.

To speak of the Scottish nation' or 'the Welsh people' as if these are homogeneous entities flies in the face of the reality that capitalist society is divided into mutually antagonistic classes. 'The people as a whole' have never determined their own 'political, social and economic affairs'. In every country, political, social and economic policies are drawn up by, and in the interests of, the ruling class. What is presented as being for the good of the nation is purely for the benefit of the bosses. Any ideology which denies this is so, is a barrier which must be overcome if the working class is to assert its own independent class interests. By campaigning for independence, nationalists encourages workers to waste their efforts in chasing something which cannot be achieved. It is an illusion to suggest that a sovereign Scotland or separate Wales could determine its affairs free from the global economy. A government of an 'independent' Scotland or Wales would find itself having to come to terms with a worldwide economic system dominated by powerful trading blocs and transnational corporations. Its room for manoeuvre within this framework is extremely limited and would continue to be subjected to its domination.

Nationalism isn’t “natural”. It is the manufactured ideology of the capitalist class. Nationalism, whatever form it takes, does two things: it tries to create a community of interest between the bosses and the working class; and it binds this community to the capitalist nation-state, reinforcing the latter’s power and role in exploitation. There is no ‘progressive’ form that this can take.

The real issue is that they face an increasingly dire future under whatever capitalist regime. The world's working class has seen living standards falling across the planet. It is not surprising that there has been a rise of nationalist and populist movements. They all claim the old conventional status quo parties are the cause and they have the solution in their policies. They all want us to believe that they can manage capitalism fairly, that they can magically escape the imperative of capitalist production. They all pretend that the accelerating attacks on wages, conditions and social services can be blamed on others such as greedy banks, or tax-dodging rich rather than being integral and intrinsic to the global profit system.

We have over a century of experience of national liberation, anti-colonialism, separatist struggles which in most cases culminated in an oppressive new ruling class. Do we expect different results? Even if the Scottish government or Plaid Cymru are now against draconian cuts to the Welfare State, this is in no sense a permanent situation. None of the promised reforms from nationalists are guaranteed. Nor can we trust them to share the wealth, to protect social services, to not attack the unemployed or the disabled, not to make cuts, to deport people or remove trade union restrictions. Massive political and economic forces will be brought to bear on any post-independent government – it will be austerity policies for the economic interests of its ruling class. When the left nationalists employs radical rhetoric such as participatory democracy it is to soften their reformism with some mild criticism of the status quo. This is wishful thinking from these ever-hopeful entryists. 

The real issue for the world’s workers is that they face an increasingly dire future under whichever capitalist regime rules. Our only hope lies in getting rid of the system that produces such misery.

The nation state is the political organisation of capitalism. With socialism, nation states will disappear. The Socialist Party opposes every attempt to rally the working class to the cause of nationalism, a reactionary force which divides and weakens the working class.

The ruling class - or those who aspire to become the ruling class - have always been able to rope the working class into fighting their battles for them. Our attitude to the issue of nationalism may not find much of an echo among many workers at present, but for genuine socialists there can be no alternative to calling for a united working class struggle against the capitalist, foreign or domestic.

(with some extracts from Libcom website)

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