Monday, April 30, 2012

The International by Billy Bragg


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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Replying to Inclusive Democracy

We have had Michael Albert's Participatory Economics, and Peter Joseph's Zeitgeist Movement , now we have Takis Fotopulos’s Inclusive Democracy, which i came across on Libcom

First posted here 

Like others here, i too must confess my ignorance of this line of thought upon future society. I was of course immediately struck, not by the differences it has with Parecon but its similarities in that both challenge the traditional and long held view that free access is an achievable and sustainable objective.

The basic unit of decision making in an inclusive democracy is the demotic assembly but i keep reading it as demonic - Is this a Freudian slip by myself?

What i find intriguing is this striving for a blue-print of how a future society will be organised, as i have suggested within my own organisation that we should do more in this area. But it seems, rather than leave many of the details up to those who will be carrying out the transformation of society and that world-wide, we can expect assorted variants and different emphasis and priorities, as well as particular unique implementation problems with implementation due to differing conditions and uneven development which Spikeymike has correctly indicated that in his Post 11 that we don't "assume an overnight transition to such a system on a world basis".

Parecon and ID and Zeitgeist take great delight in detailed descriptions of the minutia rather than making generalisations and out-lining the blue-print with broad brush-strokes.

ID is critical of Parecon in details of administration of future society but fully accepts Parecon's criticism of free access, from each according to ability , to each according to need. And comes up with its on version of how workers' remuneration will be organised.

My criticism of ID would be the same as with labour time vouchers, or Parecon prices, that they are an unnecessary complication and the exchange economy remains intact. Unlike many who see LTV as simply a transitional requirement, Parecon and ID advocates seem to view their systems as permanent, where their half-way measures pass themselves off as a libertarian model of communism, insisting that the chains of wage-slavery will be made of velvet.

From this Libcom exchange the first point i would challenge, of course, is the assumption that "free access according to need" is little more than a nice slogan because free access "presupposes a post-scarcity society which is really for the birds!" and so a mechanism for the allocation of scarce resources is needed and "it is naive to believe today that we already live in a post scarcity society bar the problem of distribution of resources, unless of course we believe that renewable resources can meet all our needs in which case we can believe anything! " Message 12

Indeed, this is the crux of the question and the crucial difference many will have with ID, which shouldn't go unanswered.

Let us define scarcity and abundance. It is limited supply - versus - boundless demand . Our wants are essentially “infinite” and the resources to meet them "limited" is the usual claim. According to this argument, scarcity is an unavoidable fact of life. It applies to any goods where the decision to use a unit of that good entails giving up some other potential use. In other words, whatever one decides to do has an "opportunity cost" — that is the opportunity to do something else which one thereby forgoes; economics is concerned with the allocation of scarce resources.

However, abundance is not a situation where an infinite amount of every good could be produced. Similarly, scarcity is not the situation which exists in the absence of this impossible total or sheer abundance. Abundance is a situation where productive resources are sufficient to produce enough wealth to satisfy human needs, while scarcity is a situation where productive resources are insufficient for this purpose. Abundance is a relationship between supply and demand, where the former exceeds the latter. In socialism a buffer of surplus stock for any particular item, whether a consumer or a producer good, can be produced, to allow for future fluctuations in the demand for that item, and to provide an adequate response time for any necessary adjustments.Thus achieving abundance can be understood as the maintenance of an adequate buffer of stock in the light of extrapolated trends in demand. The relative abundance or scarcity of a good would be indicated by how easy or difficult it was to maintain such an adequate buffer stock in the face of a demand trend (upward, static, or downward). It will thus be possible to choose how to combine different factors for production, and whether to use one rather than another, on the basis of their relative abundance/scarcity.

How do we tell when something is becoming scarce, and how do you pass this information on to others?" Well, we use the tools and systems that capitalism bequeathes us, which will be suitably modified and adapted and transformed for the new conditions. There is stock or inventory control systems and logistics. The key to good stock management is the stock turnover rate – how rapidly stock is removed from the shelves – and the point at which it may need to be re-ordered. This will also be affected by considerations such as lead times – how long it takes for fresh stock to arrive – and the need to anticipate possible changes in demand. The Just-In-Time systems are another well tried and trusted method of warehousing and lInkIng up supply chains which can be utilised. If requirements are low in relation to a build-up of stock , then this would an automatic indication to a production unit that its production should be reduced . If requirements are high in relation to stock then this would be an automatic indication that its production should be increased. And there will be the existence of buffer stocks to provides for a period of re-adjustment.
The modern world is a society of scarcity, but with a difference. Today’s shortages are unnecessary; today’s scarcity is artificial. More than that: scarcity achieved at the expense of strenuous effort, ingenious organisation and the most sophisticated planning. The world is haunted by a spectre – the spectre of abundance. Socialism means plenty for all. We do not preach a gospel of want and scarcity, but of abundance. If the assumption of abundance is not regarded as far-fetched (which, we say it is not) then there is a "better method of ensuring individual consumer choice than voting with vouchers/money: free access

Of course in socialism we may and proabably will have to cope with genuine scarcity...a bad harvest...temporary shortages.

It makes sense from an economic point of view to economise most on those things that are less available and to make greatest use of those things that are abundant. Factors lying in between these two poles can be treated accordingly in relative terms. Effective economisation of resources requires discrimination and selection; you cannot treat every factor equally – that is, as equally scarce – or, if you do, this will result in gross misallocation of resources and economic inefficiency.

"ID does not have any underlying assumptions about human nature . We don't accept the class assumptions of liberals about an 'egoistic' human nature nor the naive anarchist assumptions about a 'good' altruistic human nature., or any combination of them. We believe human nature has nothing to do with our DNAs and everything to do with our environment in a broad sense (social, political, economic, ecological etc)."
Message12

Glad to hear it because part of the case for free access is that such a distribution will influence peoples' behaviour in a future society. Continuing artifical rationing and restricting access and offering privileged groups extra remuneration as in "from each according to ability, to each according to work" is repeating the capitalist mantra of the capitalist work ethic. Why project into socialism capitalism?

If you are interested in blueprint models i have blogged a few of my own!!
http://mailstrom.blogspot.com/2012/02/socialist-blueprint-part-1.html
http://mailstrom.blogspot.com/2012/02/socialist-blueprint-part-2.html
http://mailstrom.blogspot.com/2010/02/open-letter-to-those-describing.html

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Replying to Parecon

When faced with the communist proposition that "The free distribution of goods means the appropriation of goods by individuals according to their self-determined needs." Syndicat, a supporter of Parecon, throws cold water over the idea "So this means anything goes, a person gets whatever they want, no conditions. that does not describe any kind of feasible social arrangement."

He uses a few arguments to bolster this view.

 In capitalism and Parecon workers are paid to work and this the incentive or coercion that makes them go to work. We wouldnt be paid in anarcho communism so according to it we will all tend to disregard the needs of others apart from those in our immediate vicinity because well we are all basically lazy who don't care for anyone but ourselves and our kith and kin. Therefore a moneyless economy is a non-starter.

 "your [moneyless] system will also encourage anti-social individualism. that's because a system encourages the development of traits if those traits enable people to win. if a person completely disregards social costs of production and leaving some items for others, that person may simply make it a point to be the first when new stuff comes in, and may take 10 shirts instead of 2 and so on. their greediness enables them to win in the sense that they end up with more stuff."

Or when he writes:
 "if people can request whatever they like, if we were to then aggregate the total requests, it is extremely likely this would be more than we have the capacity to produce...especially given a desire to shorten the workday. and what is the incentive for people to work on farms or behind sewing machines? their livelihood doesn't depend on it."

Challenging the views that people cannot control our consumption, that abundance is not achievable and unpleasant work will have no volunteers since there is no longer any monetary incentive tying (chaining) them to it.

But, in addition, to the above that he explains that without prices those social opportunity costs cannot be ascertained by people except in a numeric scale as in prices which fulfil that.:
"even if people want to be socially responsible, they can't be if they don't know the social opportunity costs of the things that have been produced. "laziness" or "greed" may continue to exist in the attitudes of people raised up in capitalism for some time but that isn't the only problem...and that problem would tend to diminish if the economy is organized on a self-managing and solidaristic basis. but how are people to know what is fair or reasonable for them to take?"

Nevertheless, to his credit and to a certain extent contracting himself, he actually agrees that in the social context people will be equally contributing.
"... in an egalitarian, worker run system I think there would be...and should be...an assumption of everyone who is able contributing insofar as they are able to do so, and, in that sense, putting in a similar effort."

And to discourage free-loaders, workers will be policed and sanctions imposed

"I think workers will work out some system for dealing with this. Workers are likely to resent those who are perceived as goofing off and not putting in a level of effort they are capable of and is expected of them by workmates. But there are various ways they might deal with this. They might penalize, reduce their consumption entitlement, censure...and ultimately kick them out of the production organization if the problem persists."

 "...i think everyone should be given the same credit per hour of work. of course someone may be slacking off, not pulling their weight. but their coworkers will know this if this is happening. and they'll resent it. they can warn someone, penalize them in some way...or fire them"


 Kropotkin recommended a similar approach,  "Friend, we should like to work with you; but as you are often absent from your post, and you do your work negligently, we must part. Go and find other comrades who will put up with your indifference!"  yet he declined to throw out the baby with the bath-water arguing that those who maintain against the case for voluntary labour that compulsion is necessary are little better that those critic who declared "without the whip the Negro won't work" or "free from their master's supervision the serf will leve their fields uncultivated."
Parecon promoters create a complicated and complex of  checks and balances since its proponents are unwilling or unable to accept that if given the right economic framework, then, in fact, humans can consciously co-operate, work and consume collectively. Parecon lack confidence that either there are sufficient resources on the planet to provide for all, or that human beings can work voluntarily to organise production and distribution of wealth without chaos, and consume wealth responsibly without some form of rationing. To have a system that allows wages to be dispensed on the basis of work carried out, allows money to circulate, and restricts access to wealth ( food or housing) unless you have sufficient money to purchase something, doesn't seem to be too far from capitalism in terms of its outward appearance and retains major elements of the market system. Parecon appears to be about building a massive and wasteful and socially unproductive administration for policing all the wage levels, labour outputs, prices etc. Anarchism/world socialism is not about creating ever greater bureaucratic structures, but the opposite - it will be about removing the barriers capitalism has developed which prohibit access to wealth, and at a stroke create an economic environment without individual (ie monetary or, in Parecon language, consumer credit accumulation) incentives. It is deeply and profoundly conservative, ideas that are derived from the theories of Von Mises and the Economic Calculation Argument. In denying free-access socialism/anarcho-communism Parecon adherents remain fixated to the lazy person, greedy individual critique of human behaviour and simply repeat conventional bourgeois wisdom about peoples' selfishness.

Michael Albert can be read explaining "...I think you believe, instead, that there is a capacity for humanity to generate as much nice and fulfilling goods and services as anyone could possibly desire to have, plus as much leisure as anyone could want, and so on. Well, is that really your view? If so, okay, we can agree to disagree. And, honestly, I can't imagine discussing it - further - because for me it is so utterly ridiculous, honestly.... Suppose everyone would like - if the cost was zero - their own large mansion, on the ocean, with wonderful fantastic food every day, with magnificent recording and listening equipment, with a nice big boat, with their own private tennis courts, or basketball, or golf, or whatever....a great home movie system, a wonderful violin, magnificent clothes, and so on and so forth, and, also, while they like creative work a lot, they would like a whole lot of time to enjoy their bountiful home and holdings - so they want to work only twenty hours a week and of course not do anything other than what interests them. What you seem to be saying is that you think that is possible... or, even if all that were possible, no one would want it. Both are false..."

"...if something is of no cost, and I want it, sure, I will take it, to enjoy it, why not..."


"...Tell everyone that they can have a free house, a really nice car, or two, whatever equipment the like for sports or hobbies, whatever TVs they would enjoy and other tools of daily life, whatever food they want nightly, etc. etc. because it is all free, no problem for them to take what they want. And see what happens....no one will be able to conduct themselves responsibly..."


"... since they can have product, from the available social product, regardless. So sloth is rewarded. Likewise greed..."

It appears that Parecon projects on to socialism the insatiable consumerism of capitalism, paying no heed to the changes in social outlook that would occur when people's needs are met and people feel secure, when the world is no longer based upon dog-eat-dog that in distrust, where the ostenatious accumulation of material goods cannot validate an individual's personal worth or their status since access is unrestricted. Goods and services made freely available for individuals to take without requiring these individuals to offer something in direct exchange creates a sense of mutual obligations and the realisation of universal interdependency arising from this would change people’s perceptions and influence their behaviour in such a society.

Society does require a rational, long-term attitude towards conserving resources yet present day society imposes intolerable conditions on the actual producers (speed-up, pain, stress, boredom, long hours, night work, shiftwork, accidents). Socialism, because it will calculate directly it kind, will be able to take these other, more important, factors than production time into account. This will naturally lead to different, in many cases quite different, productive methods being adopted than now under capitalism. If the health, comfort and enjoyment of those who actually manipulate the materials, or who supervise the machines which do this, to transform them into useful objects is to be paramount, certain methods are going to be ruled out altogether. The fast moving production lines associated with the manufacture of cars would be stopped for ever ; night work would be reduced to the strict minimum; particularly dangerous or unhealthy jobs would be automated (or completely abandoned). Work can, in fact must, become enjoyable. But to the extent that work becomes enjoyable, measurement by minimum average working time would be completely meaningless, since people would not be seeking to minimize or rush such work.

And let us not forget that the establishment of socialism through the struggles of a mass socialist movement it is reasonable to suppose that the desire for socialism on such a large scale, and the pre-requisite conscious understanding of what it entails and involves, will influence the way people behaved in socialism and towards each other. So why would most people want to undermine the new society they had just helped to create?

It can also be seen a third objection is raised to a moneyless society by Parecon.

Syndicat claims that "if all goods and services are free, there is no way whatsoever for the economy to know what the real preferences of people are for product. you won't have an effective economy. even if regions or communities decide to provide certain things for free, they will still need info on the relative costs and benefits of providing those things if they are to be able to discuss and make a collective rational decision about what quantity and mix of goods and services to provide thru free social provision. and to know what the social costs are you have to be able to measure costs on a common numeric scale, that is, you need prices for social accounting."

And elsewhere he wrote:

 "if all goods and services are free, there is no way whatsoever for the economy to know what the real preferences of people are for product."

 Of course there is. Its a called a self regulating system of stock control. It already exists and operates alongside the price mechanism (anarcho-communism will simply dispense with the latter and keep the former). How does it work? You go to a store and take a good. Other people take the good as well. What happens? The stock on the shelf declines. Someone comes along and monitors the rate at which stock levels fall (these days its all done automatically). This triggers an order for fresh stock from the suppliers. The suppliers too might find they are running low of particular input to manufacture the good in question. So this too triggers orders for more stock of the input in question. And so on and so forth. Right down the productiion chain. The economy knows exactly what the real preferences of people are! These preferences are indicated by the rate of take up or depletion of stock. Stocks which are are not depleting very rapidly suggest that people dont have a particularly strong prefernece for them. Conversely , stock which are depleting rapidly suggest a strong preference is being expressed. All this information is instantly picked up and acted upon in a completely self regulating manner by the anarcho communist economy. Their problem is that they are not looking at anarcho communism in terms of a feedback mechanism and are fixated on the idea of a priori central planning - deciding what to produce first and then setting about to organise production according. This is wrong.

Parecon claim that without the guidance of prices socialism would sink into inefficiency. According to the argument whatever one decides to do has an "opportunity cost", that is, to do something else which one thereby forgoes. Whereas Parecon relies on monetary accounting, socialism relies on calculation-in-kind. There is no general unit of accounting involved in this process such as money or labour hours or energy units. In fact, every conceivable kind of economic system has to rely on calculation in kind, including capitalism. Without it, the physical organisation of production (e.g. maintaining inventories) would be literally impossible. This is one reason why socialism holds a decisive productive advantage over Parecon because of the elimination for the need to tie up vast quantities of resources and labour implicated in a system of monetary/pricing accounting. In socialism calculations will be done directly in physical quantities of real things, in use-values, without any general unit of calculation. Needs will be communicated to productive units as requests for specific useful things, while productive units will communicate their requirements to their suppliers as requests for other useful things. Such non-monetary calculation of course already happens , on the technical level, under capitalism and as proposed by Parecon. Once the choice of productive method has been made, according to expected profitability as revealed by monetary calculation, then the real calculations in kind of what is needed to produce a specific good commence so much raw materials, so much energy, so much labour. In socialism this choice too will be made in real terms, in terms of the real advantages and disadvantages of alternative methods and in terms of, on the one hand, the utility of some good or some project in a particular circumstance at a particular time and, on the other hand, of the real “costs” in the same circumstances and at the same time of the required materials, energy and productive effort. On the one side would be recorded the resources (materials, energy, equipment, labour) used up in production and on the other side the amount of the good produced, together with any by-products. As already stated this, of course, is done under capitalism but it is doubled by an exchange value calculation: the exchange value of the resources used up is recorded as the cost of production while the exchange value of the output  is recorded as sales receipts. If the latter is greater than the former, then a profit has been made; if it is less, then a loss is recorded. Such profit-and-loss accounting has no place in socialism and would, once again, be quite meaningless. For Parecon costing it remains an inherent imperative.

Albert discloses "When I tell them that this means they have not only jettisoned prices, income, etc., but they have done away with all possibility of sensible allocation because they have no way to decide between options based on valuations ... ", they simply ignore it."

That of course as we have seen is simply not accurate or the truth. Anarcho-communists have put forward alternative means, whether they are practical or not may be questioned but it has never been ignored.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

We Are All Jock Tamson's Bairns


"Tell people that patriotism is bad and most of them will laugh and say: ‘Yes, bad patriotism is bad, but my patriotism is good!’ " - Leo Tolstoy

INTRODUCTION

Some accuse THE SOCIALIST PARTY members in Scotland of being unpatriotic. We are in fact proud to be anti-patriotic. But just because we are not prepared to back the efforts of Scottish nationalists to break away from the United Kingdom does not mean that we are a Unionist party. We don’t support the Union. We just put up with it! Socialists are just as much opposed to British nationalism as we are to Scottish. Our rulers have decided to ask us our opinion on the matter. We should be flattered, but don’t be fooled. Constitutional reform is of no benefit or relevance to us. So we won’t be voting “yes” or “no”. We’ll be writing the words “WORLD SOCIALISM” across the referendum voting paper.

The Socialist Party, part of the World Socialist Movement, argue that every nation state is by its very nature anti-working class. While we certainly sympathise with those oppressed and displaced on national grounds, we refuse to simply identify with the many "solutions" offered up by the liberals and leftists in support of the victims. The “nation” is a myth as there can be no community of interests between two classes in antagonism with one another, the non-owners in society and the owners (the workers and the capitalists). The state ultimately exists only to defend the property interests of the owning class at any given point in history – which is why modern states across the world send the police and army in to break strikes and otherwise seek to protect the interests of the capitalists andtheir businesses at every turn.

IMPERIAL CALEDONIA

The SNP's choice for the referendum date 2014 cannot be a simply a coincidence. However, the Scottish Wars of Independence and the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn were in reality a fight between two sets of Norman knights, English Norman and Scottish Norman, as in those days the ruling class in both countries was actually Norman.

The Act of Union was on behalf of the Scottish wealthy - a bailout. The disastrous Darien Scheme was backed by about a quarter of the money circulating in Scotland and its failure left the nobles and landowners – who had already been suffering a run of bad harvests – practically ruined. The Scottish ruling class voted to end its own parliament in Edinburgh. Did the Scottish ruling class, those "parcel of rogues", betray their country by accepting the Union? The hypothesis is only valid if we accept that those lords and merchants were somehow obliged to place "Scotland" above their own socio-economic interests. The surrender of Scottish sovereignty did not threaten the interests of them but indeed it specifically protected them. Scotland kept its own legal, church and education systems. More importantly, the Act of Union also gave the bankrupt Scottish ruling class access to the money markets of London. The Union was a very good deal for the Scottish ruling class. Most importantly, Scottish commerce got access to the growing empire that the English were carving out. Historically, the Scots were partners in the British empire, not an oppressed nation within it.

"It was not 'English capitalism' which caused the bones of countless Bengalis to bleach in the sun, but a fully integrated British capitalism in which the Scots played a leading role. Indeed, the capitalist class in Scotland was at the forefront, not only of colonial expansion, but also of the overseas investment characteristic of the imperialist stage of capitalism: during the late Victorian period Scotland invested abroad on a scale per head with no parallel among the other nations of the United Kingdom." - Neil Davidson (Scottish Imperialism and National Identity)

Today, the independence decision is again fundamentally a question of members of the capitalist class promoting their own particular self-interest.

The Scots are not an oppressed minority. Indeed, the idea that the Duke of Buccleuch is oppressed because he is Scottish is laughable. A worker in Glasgow or Edinburgh has more in common with his or her counterpart in Liverpool or Birmingham that he or she does with a landed Scottish aristocrat. Marxism explains how workers are exploited and unfree, not as particular nationalities, but as members of a class. To be in an "oppressed minority" at all it is usually necessary to first belong to the working class. From this perspective, identifying with the working class provides a rational basis for political action. The objective is a stateless world community of free access. Given that nationalism does nothing to further this understanding, however, it is an obstruction to world socialism.

THE MAKING OF A NATION STATE

Home is where the heart is; a place with feelings of belonging, security, comfort, childhood memories, bonds between people, habits and customs taken for granted, the familiar streets, smells, soundsr. In a broader context, home may be perceived as a wider geographical area, a country, a homeland standing for something more than a family’s local community. It is surely the shared identity, that elusive quality, love of one’s birthplace that people feel when they talk of "their country", the tangible and intangible connections.

Yet the nationalists talk about the Scottish culture and the Scottish way of life. But in what way is the life of a Scottish wage slave basically different from that of an English, an American, or the Chinese wage-slave? There is no basic difference in the way of life of the world’s working class because we all suffer from the same problems such as poverty and insecurity. Independence from England will not cure the poverty and insecurity of the Scottish workers, because we will still be subject to the wages, labour and capital relationship.

Nations are manufactured, not born. A nation is not a natural community that existed before the state, but that it's the other way round: the state existed first and then proceeded to impose on those it ruled over the idea that they formed a “nation”. States pre-existed and in a very real sense created nations. Nations are groups of people ruled by a state or a would-be state.The Polish nationalist Pilsudski observed that "It is the state that makes the nation, not the nation the state." What is a nation? It is simply the people and the territory which have been appropriated by a class of robbers at some point in history. It has less to do with a common language, religion, race, culture, and all the other things which nationalists imagine or pretend are essential ingredients in the making of nations.

The modern state is a product of bourgeois development. There exists a mistaken belief in a country's permanence - the myth of the "eternal nation", based on national character, or territory or its institutions and upon its continuity across many generations, the community's common ancestry. Political scientist, Benedict Anderson, discusses nations as socially constructed "imagined communities," because "the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion."

Nation is the name given by their rulers (or would-be rulers) to a collection of people with a distinct culture usually but not always based on a common language. The geo-political entity of the state and its machinery of government are not necessarily the same as the nation; and this forms the ideological basis for nationalism - the belief that a nation should become a state. Nationalism emphasises the distinctiveness of a nation and usually points to its statehood. Nationalist movements arose with the development of capitalism and the state. In the twentieth century, nationalism was, and still is, associated with movements for "self-determination". Nationalism, whilst a powerful tool of oppression, was created in part as a defence against imperialism and colonialism, against dominance from outside and in fear of being denied the rights of self-determination. It manifests itself like a sophisticated flag-waving tribalism, with pride, tradition, attitudes of superiority, enemies real and imagined. The concept of the nation is very real force in the minds of people today. The outlook of “us and them” is a strong notion in the lives of many people. The idea that the world is naturally divided into nations is widespread and deeply held.

Nations have taken a great deal of building. It wasn't always easy. There is almost no nation-state that has not had its borders drawn in blood, its foundations dug out of human flesh. The effort, though, has to be ongoing. States have required the use of an education system, to standardise learning, spread a national history and a sense of shared culture. The capitalist class needed the state, and its legitimising idea of nationalism and the nation. Culture resides in sets of ideas, values and practices. By imposing the idea of the nation upon a culture, complete with its inherent notions of territorial ownership and property, the ruling class impose their notions of property on the very self-image of the people within that culture. In school we are taught the history of the kings and queens, and of the wars in which the ruling class has been involved in over the centuries. The media reinforce this by reporting news from an almost exclusively parochial angle and encourage identification with “the nation” via identification with “our” sports teams and famous personalities.

THE WE CON

Nationalists believe “we”, the workers, should hold allegiance to "the Nation". Socialists do not. Socialists look forward to and struggle for a new world of common ownership and democratic control of society's resources, uncluttered with the frontiers and class divisions which go hand, in-hand with "the Nation". As socialists, we view nationalism as a dangerous poison. Nationalism is anathema to socialists. Wage and salary workers have no country. The world of nationalism is full of contradictions, odd ideas and illogical beliefs. It comes almost as a reflex action for people born and brought up in Scotland to use “we” and to regard themselves as part of a Scottish “nation”. So people spontaneously say such things as “we beat the English at Bannockburn” or “we won five gold medals at the Commonwealth Games”. Such usage is music to the ears of the ruling class as they know it means they have succeeded in getting their subjects to identify with them and their interests. Wage slaves who instead of seeing “we” as their class, have come to see it as “the Nation”.

The most important word in the political vocabulary is “we” since to get someone to use “we” in relation to some group of people is to get them to identify their interest as the interest of that group. Socialists are trying to get all those excluded from ownership and control of means of production to recognise the fact of their common interest as one class within capitalist society, to regard themselves as “we” and to use “our” and “us” only in relation to that class and its interests. Those who do own and control means of production and who derive a privileged income from this, they seek to convince the people they rule over that the “we” they should identify with is “the nation” as the nation part of what they call the “nation-state” they rule. The idea of “we” as collectively joined and looked after by our rulers is the most profound falsehood. The notions of nationality were irrelevant during the time of feudalism, just as they are today where the capitalist class, not the people of “Britain” or "Scotland", privately owns the means for producing wealth. To say “this is our country” implies that we all own it collectively, where we most certainly do not. *SEE APPENDIX

The nationalist idea of a united Scotland is just a myth. The “nation” is a myth as there can be no community of interests between two classes in antagonism with one another, the non-owners in society and the owners (the workers versus the capitalists). Workers have more in common with people like ourselves in other countries than with the privileged owning class of the country where we happen to have been born and work. The world-wide working class has a common interest, to end its exploitation and solve its problems, to join together to establish a world without frontiers in which the resources of the planet will have become the heritage of all, so that there can be production to meet needs and not for profit. One World - One People, where cultural differences will still be celebrated, but where we’ll all be citizens of the world.

THE TOOL FOR TRICKERY

Nationalism is a relatively new concept for social control, (religion was once the principle method of control over the majority). The illusions of nationality are yet another tool of the ruling class, intended to trick workers into thinking that this really is some kind of collective society, and to misplace their passions that could otherwise be directed into the class struggle. The presence of political nationalist ideas is an indication that some groups in society feel its real material interests are being frustrated by forces outside (or even inside the nation.) Of course the desire to achieve their aims is never expressed in terms of their own needs only. In order to enlist the necessary working class support such arguments as “justice”, “freedom”, and “the nation” are used to justify the real bone of contention and to give it an aura of sanctity. The current ruling class have cultivated such ideas as nationalism, propagating the illusion that we live in a society with a collective social interest. The more enlightened among them probably saw the effects of separating and alienating people from each other and their labour, and so stepped up the spreading of beliefs like nationalism in order to try and convince people that they were not so exploited as they really were, and that everyone had a common interest. The state ultimately exists only to defend the property interests of the owning class at any given point in history – which is why modern states across the world send the police and army in to break strikes and otherwise seek to protect the interests of the capitalists and business at every turn. As workers we have no real community of interests to gain from Scottish independence.


THE STOCKHOLM SYNDROME

So long as people think in terms of the "common good" of the "national economy", in terms of the overall performance of one unit in the world-wide division of peoples, they are, whether consciously or not, serving the interests of the capitalist class. All evaluations, priorities and hierarchies of value within a "national culture" are made from the point of view, from the self-interest, and, indeed, the apprehended self-hood, of the members of the capitalist class. When the economy is "doing well" it is doing so for the capitalists, when the economy is ailing, it is ailing for the capitalists. Workers, of course, do not share a common interest with their masters. It does not follow that if the "national wealth" increases, or if trade increases, or if profit increases, that higher wages will be gained by workers. In fact, capitalists can only make a profit by appropriating the wealth produced by the workers to themselves; but in the topsy-turvy world of ideology, it seems that workers will only have good pay and wealth when the capitalists are doing well. So it appears that workers and capitalists share a common interest. In fact, the interest of workers is conditioned by the interest of the capitalist, in exactly the same manner as hostages held by a kidnapper: unless the kidnapper-capitalists's demands are met, they will not allow the hostage-workers to have what they need to live. There is a well-documented effect of hostage situations, called "The Stockholm Syndrome" in which hostages under duress began to identify with their kidnappers, and believe in their cause. Nationalism works in much the same way. It is the Stockholm Syndrome on a grand scale. The working class who are dependent (under the current system) on the capitalists, to whom they are bonded by state-boundaries across which they are not permitted to escape, begin to believe that they share an identity with them.

Without this ideology of nationalism, capitalist states would be unstable since, being based on minority class rule, they need a minimum allegiance from those they rule over.

PATRIOTISM DIVIDE AND RULE

Xenophobia becomes a useful ally in promoting nationalism. Jonathan Swift wrote “the first principle of patriotism is to resent foreigners,” setting one section of population against another, has been used ultra-successfully all around the world – so successfully that great swathes of people can now rouse themselves, with no apparent external cue, against the newest threat, the most recent immigrant group, anyone who looks or sounds like they may be from a group that’s not their own such as asylum seekers. Enemies are required by the state elite. Enemies within and without, social, cultural, economic enemies to keep the population vigilant against all possible threats, to keep them fully occupied, suspicious of each other, divided, protecting the national interest against any wayward individual or group – including themselves. Enormous damage has been done, throughout the world, by the notion that one country and its people are superior to the others.

The only way to define a national identity is to define it in terms of what (who) it is not, i.e. negatively. Thus nationalism sets itself as being against other countries, striving to define a uniqueness of national culture so as to once and for all set its country apart from others, to know itself by what is un-like it. At one extreme this can include myths about race and blood, trying to attach the national abstraction to some trait of genetics or similar such nonsense. Since people have a strong desire to retain their own perceived identity, and to have a good opinion of themselves, often the creeds based on such identities function in a highly irrational, and ultimately, defensive way. And those who dare question the status quo become unpatriotic subversives.

Some socialists thought at one time that nationalist beliefs would fall apart as capitalism covered the globe and the entire planet became based on capitalist values. As nations became dependent on each other and general education increased among the masses, surely people would see that the concept of the nation would be obsolete? The next clear step would be to end the tyranny of the privileged minority that controlled the vast amounts of wealth and property and move towards common ownership. World socialism would be the end result. However, today capitalism is still here, and so is the idea of nationality. Nationality is perhaps more potent then it has ever been. People require something to sustain them. They feel lost in this vast meaningless world of capital, just another cog in the machine, and they would be right. Since the working class finds little meaning in its wage labour they search for meaning in other places. Often they find meaning in religion and/or the idea of the nation, as these ideas are clear and often connected, already set out by the ruling class and don't require much thought or struggle.

Tying nationality to sports can also sustain this backward nationalist mindset. People can hate other peoples or nations simply because they compete with them in sports. This can lead to acts of incredibly insane violence, since people, having no meaning in their work life, put great passion and meaning into their enjoyment of sports. Since the sport and the collective meaning and support of the sport tends to become their life, supporters of opposing teams and nations may seem like a threat to all they hold dear. This seeming threat to the very meaning of their lives can cause them to explode into open fighting. With no meaning from work, the sport, and sense of identity that comes with it, becomes their lives, and they defend it accordingly. It is no coincidence that a person with a immensely draining, alienating job and repetitive work, will tend to cling desperately to this collective idea of nationality, as they find meaning and comfort in this idea, since they have no meaning in their work. The illusions of nationality are yet another tool of the ruling class, intended to trick workers into thinking that this really is some kind of collective society, and to misplace their passions that could otherwise be directed into the class struggle.

Patriotism groups people according to their land of origin, as decided by the vicissitudes of history and within every country, thanks to the patriotic link, rich and poor unite against the foreigner. Socialism, however, groups people, poor against rich, class against class, without taking into account the differences of race and language, and over and above the frontiers traced by history. No one country's exploiters are so superior to the rest that the workers should sacrifice themselves in defending them. We see the harm that is done by national boundaries, that prevent workers from moving to be with whom they want to be with; prevent them from sharing their skills and their knowledge as they see fit; prevent them from seeing their common cause.

The confusion of nationalism manifests itself like a sophisticated tribalism, with pride, tradition, attitudes of superiority, patriotism and flag-draped buildings. Ill-considered rhetoric needs to be confronted, contested at any and every opportunity. Self-replicating, regurgitated mantras built on lies, fears and hatred need overturning without hesitation. Chop up society into more and more pieces, more separate entities, create more divisions, more fears and suspicions and when the globe is totally criss-crossed with walls and border posts shall we allow ourselves to become so paranoid, afraid and suspicious of each other that we finally close the door to our minds? The challenge is to dismantle the barriers which deafen, blindfold, shackle and dehumanise us. One of the last things the world needs at the moment is more states, with their own armed forces and divisive nationalist ideologies.

The interest of the wage and salary working class in all countries is to reject all nationalism, to reject in fact the very idea of “foreigner”, and to recognise that they have a common interest with people in other countries in the same economic situation of being obliged to sell their mental and physical energies in order to get a living. That interest lies in working together to establish a world-wide society of common ownership, democratic control and production for use not profit. Independence will not give the people of Scotland effective control over their own affairs. The only change that will do that is a change in the whole social system, replacing competitive production for profit and minority ownership by co-operative production. Neither devolution-max nor an independent Scotland can achieve this. It is only feasible in a moneyless, frontierless society. It is for the Scottish workers to see that their position demands that they should fight only for their class emancipation, and that nothing, constitutional reform or national independence, should draw them away from their determination to fight for the realisation of socialism. What is the “independence” some Scots yearn after, if it means being trapped inside the confines of capitalism?

THE “THEM AND US” MIND-GAMES

In Scotland today it’s true that there is a struggle - as there is in England and Wales or rest of the world for that matter. But the struggle in Scotland is not, as the SNP would have us believe, the struggle for self-government and self-determination. The struggle in Scotland, as in the world over, is a class struggle: the struggle between the working class and the capitalist or owning class. The SNP tell us, the workers, that independence from England and the control of our own purse strings will cure all our problems. They argue that the problems facing workers in Scotland are due to “Westminster rule”. If only there was an independent Scotland, they say, separate from the rest of Britain, then there would be full employment, higher wages, job security, better state benefits, an efficient health service and all the other things politicians promise at election times. What they do not realise is that the problems they are trying to solve are an integral part of the capitalist system, and history has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that within this system there is no satisfactory solution to these problems apart from socialism. Independence leaves our lives and the problems the profit system causes completely unchanged. Exploitation through the wages system continues. Unemployment continues. A polluted environment, and the general breakdown of society all continue. As far as solving these problems is concerned, independence is just a useless irrelevancy.

INDEPENDENCE FOR WHO? FREEDOM FOR WHAT?


Independence would be an extension of democracy, we are told, bringing power nearer to the people, so how can socialists not be in favour of this? Yet supporters of capitalism who talk about “democracy” always mean only political democracy since economic democracy - where people would democratically run the places where they work - is out of the question under capitalism, based as it is on these workplaces being owned and controlled by and for the benefit of a privileged minority. You can have the most democratic constitution imaginable but this won’t make any difference to the fact that profits have to come before meeting needs under capitalism. The people’s will to have their needs met properly is frustrated all the time by the operation of the economic laws of the capitalist system which no political structure, no matter how democratic, can control. If our rulers want to reform the machinery of capitalist government in this way, that’s up to them. But spare us the pretence that nationalism is some great extension of democracy. It is not imperfections in the political decision-making process that’s the problem but the profit system and its economic laws. And the answer is not political independence but the replacement of capitalism by socialism.

People are not machines, they feel lost in this vast meaningless world of capital, just another cog in the machine. They need something else, something to sustain them for do they get this from their work. People feel lost in this vast meaningless world of capital and its system of alientated labour. So naturally they seek meaning and often find that meaning in the idea of the nation and frequently tying nationality to sport to sustain this nationalist mindset. Other people are transformed into the "Auld Enemy" simply because they compete on the football pitch and the sense of identity that comes with the rivalry, becomes their lives, and they defend it accordingly from within the ranks of the "Tartan Army". Indeed "football nationalism" is of tremendous value to the capitalist class as it makes supporting "your country" socially acceptable. It not only diverts workers minds away from the problems that surround them, it allows politicians to reap the rewards of any "feel good" factor that springs forth from a good set of results. Many socialists play and watch football but it's a shame that nationalism has to taint what should be a wonderful event. As far as socialists are concerned, these attempts to try and make an appearance of a common interest with our exploiters is just like a thief playing on their support for the same football team as their victim. It does not change the relationship one iota.

One of the last things the world needs at the moment is more states, with their own armed forces and divisive nationalist ideologies. Nationalists like the SNP who preach the opposite are spreading a divisive poison amongst people who socialists say should unite to establish a frontier-less world community, based on the world’s resources becoming the common heritage of all humanity. Socialists and nationalists are implacably opposed to each other. We are working in opposite directions. Us to unite workers. Them to divide them.


OUT OF THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE.
WESTMINISTER OR HOLYROOD?


It is of no concern to workers in Scotland whether they are governed from London or by a separate 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. In the end, the point at issue - independence which leaves profit-making, exploitation and all the other social problems untouched - is so irrelevant that it is not worth taking sides. We don’t see any point in diverting our energies to changing the constitution but we certainly want things to change. We want people to change the economic and social basis of society and establish socialism in place of capitalism. We don’t want or care about Scottish separatism (any more than we care or support a “United Kingdom” or the ”European Union”.)

But we do want world socialism and do know that the way to further this cause is to advocate that and that alone. So-called self-determination encourages workers to waste their efforts in chasing something which cannot be achieved. Not simply because the native capitalist class preserves their power but any newly independent nation-state immediately find itself having to come to terms with a worldwide economic system dominated by powerful blocs and integrated on a global scale. The room for manoeuvre within this framework is extremely limited. Either the dominant power relinquished direct political control but continues to exert its domination at an economic level. Or the client state frees itself entirely from the domination of one imperialist bloc only by switching to the all-embracing hold of a rival bloc. Competition between nation-states puts pressure on each state to maximise its power to avoid subordination to others. States that have little power are under pressure to ally themselves with stronger states that have major economic forces at their disposal. In neither scenario is the result any real independence for the local capitalists or any weakening of imperialism as a whole. The formation of new nation-states can no more put an end to imperialism than the formation of new businesses can put an end to capitalism.

The interest of the working class in all countries is to reject all nationalism, to reject in fact the very idea of “foreigner”, and to recognise that they have a common interest with people in other countries in the same economic situation of being obliged to sell their mental and physical energies in order to get a living.

Will “independence” make the Scottish workers better off and happier?

Is it “London rule” that is responsible for the problems faced by workers in Scotland, or is it capitalism?

It can be seen in retrospect that independence for the vast majority of the people has simply meant the exchange of one set of exploiters for another. The realisation of "political independence" by a country leaves the workers' conditions untouched (or actually worsens them in some cases). As socialists, we don't take sides in this inter-capitalist argument. We don't support one section of the capitalist class or the other, and we don't have any illusions about the "sovereign power" of Parliaments to pass reformist legislation that can make capitalism work in the interest of the exploited class of wage and salary earners. Capitalism just cannot be reformed to work in this way; so transferring the powers of the House of Commons to a Scottish Parliament sitting in Edinburgh makes little difference.

Supporters of Scottish independence who talk about “democracy” always mean only political democracy since economic democracy - where people would democratically run the places where they work is out of the question under capitalism, because these workplaces are owned and controlled by and for the benefit of a privileged minority. You can have the most democratic constitution imaginable but this won’t make any difference to the fact that profits have to come before meeting needs under capitalism. The peoples’ will to have their needs met properly is frustrated all the time by the operation of the economic laws of the capitalist system which no political structure, no matter how democratic, can control.

Nationalism is anathema to socialists. Wage and salary workers have no country. We have more in common with people like ourselves in other countries than with the privileged owning class of the country where we happen to live and work. The interests of workers who live in Scotland are not opposed to the interests of those who live in England - or France or anywhere else in the world. Nationalists like the SNP who preach the opposite are spreading a divisive poison amongst people who socialists say should unite to establish a frontierless world community, based on the world’s resources becoming the common heritage of all humanity, as the only framework within which the social problems which workers wherever they live face today.

The world-wide working class to end its exploitation and solve its problems has to join together to establish a world without frontiers in which the resources of the planet will have become the heritage of all, so that there can be production to meet needs and not for profit, where cultural differences will still be celebrated, but where we'll all be citizens of the world.

Socialists oppose both the separatist Scottish nationalism and British nationalism and support only working-class unity to establish a socialist world. So it is clear, then, that socialists must oppose nationalism in all its forms: not just refusing to espouse their creed, but defying the rituals, the singing of "Flower of Scotland", the flag-waving of the Saltire or Lion Rampant or other expressions of loyalty to the nation-state, that help enforce the idea of nation in our minds. There is no national interest for workers. Self-determination for "nations" just equates with self-determination for a ruling class. It must be opposed in favour of self-determination for people, their self-emancipation. It must be opposed with socialism.

INDEPENDENT? - NAE CHANCE

Independence would be a purely political, a mere constitutional change which would leave the basic economic structure of society unchanged. There would still be a privileged class owning and controlling the means of production with the rest having to work for them for a living. Just as now. An independent Scottish government would still have to operate within the constraints of the world capitalist system. It would still have to ensure that goods produced in Scotland were competitive on world markets and that capitalists investing in Scotland were allowed to make the same level of profits as they could in other countries. In other words, it would still be subject to the same economic pressures as the existing London-based government to promote profits and restrict wages and benefits. Should self-government eventually be established workers will discover that they cannot will or legislate away the problems of capitalism. No country in the world, no matter how independent or rich in resources, has yet succeeded in eliminating poverty, unemployment, insecurity, etc. An independent Scotland would still have to operate within the constraints of the world capitalist system. It would still have to ensure that goods produced in Scotland were competitive on world markets and that capitalists investing in Scotland were allowed to make the same level of profits as they could in other countries.The workers are wasting their time when they struggle to make some aspect of capitalism better, to make capitalism more acceptable. Capitalism is not a system that can be humanised or reformed or transformed into something better. It is a profit system subject to economic laws which can only work in one way: as a system of profit-making and accumulation of capital in the interest of a tiny minority of profit-takers.

Those in favour of independence argues that the problems facing workers in Scotland are due to "Westminster rule". If only there was an independent Scotland, they say, separate from the rest of Britain, then there would be full employment, higher wages, more job security, better state benefits, a healthy health service and all the other things politicians promise at election times. But it is patently absurd. There is no truly independent country in the world, because international capitalism has made sure of this, and our own experience here in Britain should have brought it home to us. The lesson of the past few years should have shown us just how independent Britain is, when foreign bankers tell the British government how to spend money, and how it must not spend money, in order to keep the international capitalist class happy

Capitalism knows no boundaries, money has no accent. Independence is just not possible within the context of globalised capitalism. Certainly, formal political independence, or sovereignty, is possible, only where states have the full power to make decisions without reference to any supra-national rules or decision-making procedures. But there’s a difference between the mere legal power to do something and what can be done in practice. In practice all states, when exercising their sovereign power to make decisions, have to take into account the economic reality that there exists a single world market economy on which they are dependent. A state can exercise some degree of influence on how the world market operates in relation to it - it erect tariff walls, subsidise exports, devalue its currency - but this depends on its economic clout (such as the productivity and size of its industry and the extent of its internal market). Over the years capitalism has become more and more international, more and more globalised. This has tended to reduce the margin of manoeuvre open to states, i.e. has reduced their "sovereignty". The vital decisions affecting the local economy have little to do with Holyrood or Westminster. The inexorable process of globalisation has increasingly made redundant the question of "national sovereignty". Yet regional nationalists imagine they can buck the trend without even being against capitalism.

The inexorable process of globalisation has increasingly made redundant the question of "national sovereignty". The growth of multinational corporations, some with a turnover exceeding the GDP of most states, has dramatically transformed the role of government as the locus of economic decision-making. Many of the most important decisions are now made, not by politicians, but in the boardrooms of these multinationals in Wall St or Shangai. Likewise, the proliferation of trading links between different states has effectively blurred the lines of demarcation between nominally separate national economies. It would be more realistic now to speak of there being a single global economy. Even so, many locally-based businesses are indirectly tied into this economy as sub-contractors to multinationals. Not only that, the ever-deepening nexus of international linkages means they cannot escape recessionary perturbations emanating from elsewhere when these impact upon the local economy. At the same time, the limited leeway of governments to ameliorate such localised effects has been correspondingly reduced.

The nationalists emphasise a Scottish Parliament's "constitutional right" to control the economy, completely ignoring the fact that experience has shown this to be a purely paper right. The capitalist economy works according to certain economic laws which no government or legislative body can over-ride. So the argument about sovereignty is not really about what the constitution may or may not say. It's about the effective power that a capitalist state can exercise within the capitalist economy.

An independent Scottish government would still have to operate within the constraints of the world capitalist system. It would still have to ensure that goods produced in Scotland were competitive on world markets and that capitalists investing in Scotland were allowed to make the same level of profits as they could in other countries. In other words, it would still be subject to the same economic pressures as the existing London-based government to promote profits and restrict wages and benefits.



INDEPENDENCE - NAE CHANGE

Those who think that an independent Scotland would necessarily make things any better, there is sorry news. The conflict between the national and international fractions of the capitalist class would remain and it is perfectly plain that the rich who run the current devolved Scotland would be the same as the rich who would run independent "free" Scotland. The Scottish capitalist class run the country with the connivance of the Executive and they would continue to do so with the connivance of an independent parliament.

Since the creation of the Scottish Executive, business representatives have had access to the Executive and civil servants have been seconded outwards to the private sector. Companies involved include, Inward, Scottish Power, Scottish and Newcastle, Stagecoach, Ernst and Young, PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Outward: Lloyds TSB Foundation, Scottish Power, McGrigor Donald (law firm and lobbyist), Scottish and Newcastle and business lobby groups Business in the Community and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce. The Executive also run a scheme to second staff from road building and consulting firms to their Road Network Management and Maintenance Division. The biggest firms in the area such as Babtie, Scott Wilson and Fairhurst bid to be included in the scheme in which they supervise road building projects and even assist with the procurement process for such projects. As former Minister Andy Kerr noted inward secondments “foster and promote links, co-operation and a mutual understanding”. Not to mention the financial benefits of helping to decide which consultants get which road contracts. In Scotland the allegedly environmentally conscious members of the Business Council for Sustainable Development include road building consultancy Scott Wilson, two of the biggest users of natural (water) resources, Scottish Power and the brewers Scottish and Newcastle and the oil giant Shell. In such circumstances the distinction between civil servant, public official, elected representative and business operative begins to break down.

Academic David Millar points out:
"Scotland is governed not simply via the institutions of formal governance (meaning the political institutions of Scotland), and not simply via the traditionally understood “Scottish elite”, meaning either the various elite groups in the Scottish village or the Scottish capitalist class. Scotland is also run by political and economic decision-makers only some of whom are based in Scotland. Other centres of decision making are obviously London and Brussels, the Headquarters of the WTO/IMF/World Bank and the board rooms of the transnational corporations, including those which have no interest or base in Scotland."

The SNP represent that section of the Scottish elite which feels it could do better in negotiating with international financiers as a separate entity than as a part the United Kingdom. As an ex-Royal Bank of Scotland oil consultant, Alex Salmond no doubt intends cashing in on Scotland's North Sea oil reserves. Those oil and gas reserves play a large role in the opposition of the UK and unionist parties to separation. The major international oil corporations would have little problem with North Sea oil being transferred from UK to Scottish political control, particularly if any new Scottish government was prepared to cut corporation tax even further. The SNP has been courting the oil companies, opposing both the Con-Dems’ proposed one-off windfall tax on their profits and downplaying the effects of potential oil pollution and spillage. However, North Sea oil still provides substantial tax revenues for the UK government. Therefore, any British government will strongly oppose such a move.

There exists a section of the “business community” like fund-manager Angus Tulloch and transport operator, Brian Souter, who fund the SNP, and they do so not because they want to raise Glasgow’s life expectancy from the lowest in Britain, but because they believe that Scotland’s super-rich will benefit.

As already demonstrated, independence would be a purely political change which would leave the basic economic structure of society unchanged. There would still be a privileged class owning and controlling the means of production with the rest having to work for them for a living. Just as now. An independent Scottish government would still have to operate within the constraints of the world capitalist system. It would still have to ensure that goods produced in Scotland were competitive on world markets and that capitalists investing in Scotland were allowed to make the same level of profits as they could in other countries. In other words, it would still be subject to the same economic pressures as the existing London-based government to promote profits and restrict wages and benefits.

But even if it is likely that the Scottish working class will be promised a share of the oil revenues should they vote yes in 2014, like all politicians, Salmond will fail to make good on any pledge to increase working class living standards. And if the unionists prevail, Westminster politicians will also want to continue reaping the rewards for increased exploitation of the Scottish working class, not because they are Scottish, but because they are working class.

Many foreign corporations would quite happy if Scotland became a low tax haven as planned for by the SNP but it would probably lead to an economic "race-to-the-bottom" between the different nations and regions of the UK, with the promotion of competitive tax-cutting to benefit the corporations and the rich.

The wannabe Scottish ruling class will cooperate with the British ruling class and big business to prevent a too radical break-up of the UK and ensure that as much as possible remains of the UK state machinery by upholding the Crown Powers and protecting the City of London's economic control by retention of sterling. It leaves the Scottish ruling class in control within Scotland, but also free to profit from the existing global corporate economic order.

Freedom is not intended for the people of Scotland, but for big business. The only independence is for corporations to maximise profits

CLASS OR NATIONHOOD

Class existed before the nation state. Throughout history one ruling class or another has attempted to impose its view on those they ruled over, manipulating their passions and pretending that its interests and their interests were the same. So, in another of life's ironies, the masses waste their energy fighting amongst themselves, believing their interests and the interests of their rulers are linked.

To the socialist, class-consciousness is the breaking-down of all barriers to understanding. The conflict between the classes is more than a struggle for each to gain from the other: it is the division which reaches across all others. The class-conscious working man knows where he stands in society. His interests are opposed at every point to those of the capitalist class. Nationalism is not their interest but their rulers'. The presence of nationalist ideas is an indication that some groups in society feel its real material interests are being frustrated by forces outside or even inside the nation.

Nationalism is the ideology of always putting one's nation first. It is not necessary to be a powerful nation to carry out nationalistic policies and practices. Governments and corporations of every shade engage in nationalistic practices in the name of patriotism. National media and political parties manipulate patriotic feelings to forward agendas for personal profit. Nationalism is foremost about shoring up the power of dominant groups and legitimising their rule. To speak of "the nation" or its "people' as if these are the same flies in the face of the reality that capitalist society is divided into mutually antagonistic classes. "The People" have never determined their own political, social and economic affairs. In every country, those policies are drawn up by, and in the interests of, the ruling class. The nation is the camoflage which cloaks the struggle between classes. Nationalism has nothing to offer most of the time except blood, toil, tears and sweat. Nationalism is an ideology of sacrifice. 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 a barrier which must be broken down if the working class is to assert its own independent class interests. Nationalism conceals the real nature of capitalism, turns worker against worker and serves to impede working-class solidarity. Workers must know that under capitalism nationalism is now doing them great deal of harm, far more harm than the advantages it confers. Independence only enhances the power of the local boss class. Nationalism is an ideology of class collaboration. Socialists will not provide succur and support for the section of ruling class whose antecedents depopulated the Highlands for the sheep and the grouse.

Despite supposed barriers of culture, those of us who are working class are all part of one globalised exploited mass with more in common with each other than with our "native" bosses. Scotland, like every other country or state in the world, is class-divided: a minority of rich owners and the rest of us. We have no interests in common with them and anything which encourages the illusion that all the people of Scotland form a community with a common interest can only serve their interests. They need us to believe this because their rule and privileges depend on our acceptance. It benefits them to see the workers placing meaning and identity in things that are irrelevant and mythical to the truth of class struggle. Keeping the workers unable to see the true state of affairs in the world works to the ruling class's advantage. Throughout history one ruling class or another has attempted to impose its view on those they ruled over, manipulating their emotions and pretending that its interests and their interests were the same. So, in another of life's ironies, the masses waste their energy fighting amongst themselves, believing their interests and the interests of their rulers are linked. Nationalism has served to divide workers ideologically. Today it is probably fair to say that a majority of workers - to one extent or another - align themselves to their domestic ruling class. Historically, nationalism and national feeling have been the means of the capitalist class for both winning and retaining power. To promote and cultivate the notion that the area of our birth (“our” country) transcends or neutralises our class status or gives us a common cause with a class that socially deprives and demeans us, that imposes either mere want or grave poverty on our lives and the lives of our families, is to be cruelly deceived by the political machinations of capitalism.

Socialism groups men, poor against rich, class against class, without taking into account the differences of race and language, and over and above the artificial frontiers traced by history. The appeal to workers to a fake “cultural” identity and fake "national" unity are toxic to the real interests of the working class. The bonds which bind worker with worker, irrespective of nationality, are those of class solidarity. For as long as workers are deceived into viewing the world from a "national" perspective, they will fail to understand their condition in capitalism. The working class is deluded by nationalism. Such beliefs actively encourage people to co-operate with their "national" exploiters operating within borders determined purely by historical accident. Nationalism conceals the real nature of capitalism, turns worker against worker and serves to impede working-class solidarity. Since it is this class-divided, profit-motivated society that is the cause of the problems workers face in Scotland, as in England and in the rest of the world, so these problems will continue, regardless of whether Scotland separates from or remains part of the United Kingdom.

THE SOCIALIST OPTION

Just as capitalism is a world system of society, so too must socialism be. There never has been, and never can be, socialism in just one country. Socialism will be one world-wide community without national boundaries, a united humanity. It would also share a world administration. This is the socialist alternative to the way that capitalism divides the planet into rival states and sets people against each other. But this does not rule out local democracy. A world administration will not mean the power of central control over local democracy. In fact, a democratic system of decision-making would require that the basic unit of social organisation would be the local community. However, the nature of some of the problems we face and the many goods and services presently produced, such as raw materials, energy sources, agricultural products, world transport and communications, need production and distribution to be organised at a world level. One of the great technical developments under capitalism has been communications and the rapid processing and distribution of information. This will alter our awareness of being in the world and the boundaries between what is local and distant are shifted or become blurred. So, as well as the face-to-face contacts of our daily lives at home and at work with friends, neighbours and relatives, and as well as our part in local affairs, at the same time we would be involved with all other people in world issues and events of every kind.

The motivation for this new world comes from the global problems thrown up by capitalism. There are no parochial solutions to world problems like world poverty, hunger and disease. Ecological problems make a nonsense of the efforts of national governments. War and the continuing threat of nuclear war affect us all. The problem of uneven development means that many producers in the Third World suffer starvation, disease and absolute poverty. All of these problems of capitalism can only be solved within the framework of a socialist world.

Socialism will be a co-operative world wide system. National frontiers and governments and armed forces will disappear. Groups of people may well preserve their languages and customs but this will have nothing to do with claiming territorial rights or military dominances over pieces of the world surface. To move forward, the dispossessed majority across the world must now look beyond the artificial barriers of nation-states and regional blocs, to perceive a common identity and purpose.


THE SOCIALISTS’ TASK

Because political power in capitalism is organised on a territorial basis each socialist party has the task of seeking democratically to gain political power in the country where it operates. This however is merely an organisational convenience; there is only one socialist movement, of which the separate socialist organisations are constituent parts. When the socialist movement grows larger its activities will be fully co-ordinated through its world-wide organisation. It is suggested that socialist ideas might develop unevenly across the world, and that socialists of only a part of the world were in a position to get political control. This relates to the possibility that the socialist movement could be larger in one country than in another and at the stage of being able to gain control of the machinery of government before the socialist movements elsewhere were as far advanced. The decision about the action to be taken would be one for the whole of the socialist movement in the light of all the circumstances at the time. It would certainly be a folly, however, to base a programme of political action on the assumption that socialist ideas will develop unevenly and that we must therefore be prepared to establish "socialism" in one country or even a group of countries like the European Union. For a start, it is an unreasonable assumption that socialist ideas will develop unevenly. Given the world-wide nature of capitalism and its social relationships, the vast majority of people live under basically similar conditions, and because of the world-wide system of communications and media, there is no reason for socialist ideas to be restricted to one part of the world. Any attempt to establish "socialism" in one country would be bound to fail owing to the pressures exerted by the world market on that country's means of production. Those who become socialists will realise this and also the importance of uniting with workers in all countries. The socialist idea is not one that could spread unevenly. Thus the socialist parties will be in a position to gain political control in the industrially advanced countries within a short period of each other. (It is conceivable that in some less developed countries, where the working class is weak in numbers, the privileged rulers may be able to retain their class position for a little longer. But as soon as the workers had won in the advanced countries they would give all the help needed elsewhere. The less developed countries might present socialism with a problems, but they do not constitute a barrier to the immediate establishment of socialism as a world system.)

"...By creating the world market, big industry has already brought all the peoples of the Earth, and especially the civilized peoples, into such close relation with one another that none is independent of what happens to the others...It follows that the communist revolution will not merely be a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all civilized countries – that is to say, at least in England, America, France, and Germany.... It is a universal revolution and will, accordingly, have a universal range...The nationalities of the peoples associating themselves in accordance with the principle of community will be compelled to mingle with each other as a result of this association and thereby to dissolve themselves, just as the various estate and class distinctions must disappear through the abolition of their basis, private property." Engels

There is but one world and we exist as one people in need of each other and with the same basic needs. There is far more that unites us than can ever divide us along cultural, nationalistic or religious lines. Together we can create a civilisation worth living in, but before that happens we need the conscious cooperation of ordinary people across the world, united in one common cause—to create a world in which each person has free access to the benefits of civilisation, a world without borders or frontiers, social classes or leaders and a world in which production is at last freed from the artificial constraints of profit and used for the good of humanity—socialism. There is in reality only one world. It is high time we reclaimed it.

CONCLUSION

The idea that a line of a map, a so-called “national border”, should actually mean something concrete to the workers is laughable. Let's imagine that a human, born in the area of land known as England, is standing two feet from the “border” with the piece of land known as Scotland. Another human is facing them from across this line, a so-called “Scot”. Are these two people utterly alien to each other? Both people have to sell their labour power for wages, and are manipulated and exploited by a capitalist class. A typical nationalist would argue that they are alien because all English people are a certain way and all Scottish are a certain differing way. But any differences that do exist are minor. It does not alter the fact that they are all part of one globalised exploited mass with more in common with each other than with their indigenous bosses.

Differences of language, food, music and the like will continue to exist in a socialist world. Indeed, we would no longer be subjected to the “McDonaldisation” that we have today under capitalism. Different cultures can exist in the same geographical area and that individuals can partake of elements of different cultures. People living in the north of an island, off the north-west coast of the Eurasian land mass, can enjoy Irn-Bru and mutton pies, without being nationalists. But the World Socialist Movement does object to the exploitation of cultural differences for political ends and economic advantage. Nationalism and patriotism has run through politics like a malignant sore. That its workers should be patriotic is vital to each national ruling class and this, fertilised by official lies, is exploited by all governments. The very idea that a given country is owned by some inclusive “we”, based on common descent or culture which “we” all have an interest in defending; that “we” owe loyalty towards our own “fellow-countrymen” over folk from other lands – is the very premise that the nationalists latch onto and tout as their glorious cause. The professional politicians do their craven best to pander to this supposed collective identity. Independence for Scotland therefore is a myth put about by the SNP, which further confuses the Scottish section of the working class and blinds them from the real struggle - the class struggle.

To again emphasise, the illusions of nationality are yet another way the ruling class trick workers into thinking that this really is some kind of collective society, and to misplace their passions that could otherwise be directed into the class struggle. Nationalism is the ideology which seeks to justify the capitalist division of the world into separate “nation-states”. We utterly reject this view of the way humanity should organise itself. We condemn all nationalisms equally. When countries achieved independence little changed except the personnel of the state machinery, the local politicians, who would be able to award themselves grander titles and grander salaries.

Constitutional reform such as Scottish independence is of no benefit or relevance to us. It leaves our lives and the problems the profit system causes completely unchanged. Exploitation through the wages system continues. Unemployment continues. A crumbling health service, a chaotic transport system, a polluted environment, failing schools, rising crime and drug addiction and the general breakdown of society all continue. As far as solving these problems is concerned, constitutional reform is just a useless irrelevancy. The Scots should turn a deaf ear to the siren song of Scottish independence where any prosperity would as always only be for the elite ruling class and not for the working class.

We are told by the nationalists that it would be an extension of democracy, bringing power nearer to the people, so how can socialists not be in favour of this? Yes, Socialists are in favour of democracy, and socialism will be a fully democratic society, but full democracy is not possible under capitalism. Supporters of capitalism who talk about “democracy” always mean only political democracy since economic democracy--where people would democratically run the places where they work--is out of the question under capitalism, based as it is on these workplaces being owned and controlled by and for the benefit of a privileged minority. An independent Scotland can have the most democratic constitution imaginable but this won’t make any difference to the fact that profits have to come before meeting needs under capitalism. The people’s will to have their needs met properly is frustrated all the time by the operation of the economic laws of the capitalist system which no political structure, however democratic, can control.

The Scottish separatists see themselves as visionaries but they cannot see beyond the narrow confines of the nation-state, conceived in pre-medieval times and as outmoded as the clan system it replaced. It is the Socialist Party who are the true men and women of vision, who look forward to and struggle for a new world of common ownership and democratic control of society's resources. Socialists recognises the essential unity of the human race and the urgent need to celebrate it by building society on that basis. In a socialist society the traditional knowledge and expertise held by small communities will be respected, especially where this relates to local ecology and sustainable systems of land use, and hence priority given to local decision-making over whatever has to be delegated to wider regional or global democratic control.

The socialist position on nationalism is simple. Workers can waste their time supporting parties that openly stand for capitalism; they can delude themselves into believing that there is a half-way house between capitalism and socialism; they can even bury their heads in the sand and say they are not interested in politics. Or they can study the case for world socialism. They have the choice of enduring the miseries of capitalism within the confines of national frontiers or enjoying emancipation in a socialist world. Socialism is a sane society, where the means of life will be owned by the whole of the world socialist community. By the means of life we mean the land, mines, factories, railways, and the like - in short, the means of production and distribution. In socialism the rule of life will be: from each according to his or her ability, to each to according to his or her need. There will be no need for buying and selling, just a free world for a free people. Socialism will allow the fullest linguistic and cultural diversity. It could be like that now, so why not do something about it? The world is ours for the taking. So why not take it ?

Members of the Socialist Party understand the urge to do something now, to make a change. That makes us all the more determined, however, to get the message across, to gather our fellows to clear away the barrier of the wages system, so that we can begin to build a truly human society. As socialists we re-affirm that all peoples should seek their emancipation, not as members of nations or religions or ethnic groups, but as human beings, as members of the human race. They should unite to abolish the division of the world into so-called nation-states and to establish a World Cooperative Commonwealth of which we will all be free and equal members - citizens of the world, not subjects of nation-states.The goal of the socialist movement is not to assist in the creation of even more states but to establish a real world community without frontiers where all states as they currently exist will be destroyed. In a socialist society communities, towns and cities will have the opportunity to thrive – and people will no doubt feel an attachment to places that are real and tangible – but the nation states will be consigned to the history books where they belong. We will recognise ourselves, not as Scottish, British, French but as members of the human race. Then nationalism will have been well and truly buried.

It is clear, then, why socialists don’t take sides in the debate about whether it is better for workers to be ruled from Holyrood or from Westminster.

What is our alternative? The alternative to Scottish nationalism is not British unionism. Because one "nation" rules another, one does not have to chose one or the other. Socialism is the self-liberation of working class people, by their own efforts, creating and using their own organisations. As we live in Scotland we struggle for socialism here.

A plague on all their houses. Neither London nor Edinburgh, but World Socialism.

"The Communists are further reproached with desiring to abolish countries and nationality. The workers have no country. We cannot take from them what they have not got" The Communist Manifesto

APPENDIX

IS THIS LAND YOUR LAND?

Aristocrats and government bodies still dominate ownership of Scotland.

Half of Scotland is owned by just 500 people, few of whom are actually Scots.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/who-owns-scotland-1320933.html


Only 1 per cent of the 19 million acres of land in Scotland has passed into the control of local communities.
http://www.scotsman.com/news/so_who_owns_scotland_1_1153636


Currently, about half of Scotland is in the possession of 608 landowners and 10% of Scotland is owned by just eighteen of them. 6% of Scotland is currently owned overseas, primarily by private individuals. "Public" ownership of the land had reached a total of 16.8% of Scotland by 1998
http://www.cairngormsmoorlands.co.uk/moorland_land_ownership.htm

At present, of the rural land (94% of the total) 83.1% of this is privately held. Here, just 969 people, in a country of 5.2 million people, control 60% of it.
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/07/24/the-inequality-rarely-mentioned-in-westminster-scotlands-land/

UK Land Owners:
Forestry Commission 1,600,000 acres
Duke of Buccleuch 270,000
Scottish Executive - Rural Affairs 260,000
National Trust for Scotland 175,000
Alcan Highlands 135,000
Blair Charitable Trust (Private Trust) 130,000
Captain Alwyn Farquharson 125,000
Duchess of Westminster 120,000
Earl of Seafield 105,000
Crown Estate Commission (MOD) 100,000
Edmund Vestey 100,000
South Uist Estate Ltd.92,000
Sir Donald Cameron 90,000
Countess of Sutherland 90,000
RSPB (52 estates) 87,000
Paul van Vlissengenowner (of Calor Gas and the Makro cash-and-carry empire) 9 87,000
Scottish Natural Heritage 84,000
Robin Fleming 80,000
Hon. Chas Pearson 77,000
Lord Margadale 73,000

Foreign Land Owners:
An Unidentified Malaysian 1,600,000 acres
Mohammed bin Raschid al Maktoum Arab 270,000
Kjeld Kirk-Christiansen Danish 260,000
Joseph & Lisbet Koerner Swedish 175,000
Stanton Avery American 135,000
Mohammed al Fayed Egyptian 130,000
Urs Schwarzenburg Swiss 125,000
Count Knuth Danish 120,000
Mahdi Mohammed al Tajir Arab 105,000
Prof. Ian Macneil American 100,000
Lucan Ardenberg Danish 100,000
Eric Delwart Norwegian 92,000
http://www.highlandclearances.co.uk/clearances/postclearances_whoownsscotland.htm


"Because the condition of the workers of all countries is the same, because their interests are the same, their enemies the same, they must also fight together, they must oppose the brotherhood of the bourgeoisie of all nations with a brotherhood of the workers of all nations." - Engels Speech on November 29,1847 to mark the 17th Anniversary of the Polish Uprising of 1830

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