Thursday, December 19, 2019

Another Independence Referendum?

Sturgeon has now formally submitted an application for a second referendum on independence to Johnson and we can expect a re-run of 2014, many claims and counter-claims.

Marx supported and advocated independence for Ireland (and Poland). The circumstances which led Marx to support Irish independence no longer exist. Marx did support Irish independence but he did so primarily because he thought it would hasten the completion of the democratisation of the British state. Marx wrote of independence for Ireland helping to overthrow the remnants of feudalism not capitalism itself in England.

The nationalist argument, as propounded by the SNP is quite simple ― and wrong. The people of Scotland suffer because they are misgoverned from England. What they need is a sovereign country of their own so that they could begin to solve their problems. In fact, the problems faced by workers in Scotland is basically the same as those in Britain or any other country. These are caused by global capitalism and can only be cured by world socialism. The setting up of more frontiers in the world would be irrelevant and a waste of time. The SNP can offer nothing more than a sticky-plaster solution to a gaping wound problem in Scotland. It is of no concern to workers in Scotland whether they are governed from London or by a separate independent government in Edinburgh. This is because the cause of the problems they face is the capitalist economic system of production for profit, not the form of government. And the capitalist economic system would continue to exist in a politically independent Scotland.

The Socialist Party rejects allegiance to any nation and its members regard themselves as citizens of the world. We, however, accept borders between countries as they are (and as they may change) and work within them to win control of each State with a view to abolishing them all. Our aim is the establishment of a democratic world community without frontiers based on the common ownership of the world’s resources.

The Socialist Party’s anti-nationalism has its roots as far back as the Chartists. George Julian Harney, in an address to the Fraternal Democrats declared:

 ‘Whatever national differences divide Poles, Russians, Prussians, Hungarians, and Italians, these national differences have not prevented the Russian, Austrian, and Prussian despots uniting together to maintain their tyranny; why, then, cannot countries unite for obtainment of their liberty? The cause of the people in all countries is the same – the cause of Labour, enslaved, and plundered… In each country, the tyranny of the few and the slavery of the many are variously developed, but the principle in all is the same. In all countries, the men who grow the wheat live on potatoes. The men who rear the cattle do not taste flesh-food. The men who cultivate the vine have only the dregs of its noble juice. The men who make clothing are in rags. The men who build the houses live in hovels. The men who create every necessary comfort and luxury are steeped in misery. Working men of all nations, are not your grievances, your wrongs, the same? Is not your good cause, then the same also? We may differ as to the means, or different circumstances may render different means necessary but the great end – the veritable emancipation of the human race – must be the one end and aim of all.’

It reflects the view as expressed by the First International,
...The poor have no country, in all lands, they suffer from the same evils, and they, therefore, realise that the barriers put up by the powers that be the more thoroughly to enslave the people must fall. It is the poor, above all the poor, who will realise the dream of the gentle Anacharsis de Cloots, the orator of the human race, who will bring into being the great federation of the peoples. So come, young people, and help us accomplish this lofty task of the nineteenth century...' - (To the Paris Students, To the Students and Young People of All Countries From the Workers of All Countries, 1866.)

The SNP has built up its electoral support on the basis of being a better administrator of political affairs in Scotland than the unionist parties. Many who vote for them also think that a separate Parliament in charge in Holyrood can get better deals than an all-UK government.

The Socialist Party does not want nor care about Scottish independence any more than we care or support a “United Kingdom” inside the EU or an “independent Brexit Britain” so it’s not our business to advise those who really want this how to best go about getting it. The voice of the Socialist Party in Scotland is a small but constant one. All parties are in opposition to ourselves but we persist. Our Party will continue to expose those who, under the guise of liberators, continue to mislead the working class. The only independence the Socialist Party advocates is the independence of the working class. Supporting the nation-building of a new capitalist state results in the subordination of the workers' interests to the ‘national interest’. While we certainly sympathise with those oppressed and displaced on national grounds but as socialists, we have always opposed nationalism and refuse to simply identify with the many "solutions" offered up by the liberals and leftists in support of the victims. We must ask ourselves “independence for who?” and “freedom for what?”

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