Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Scots Have A Right To Say Yes, But They Should Say No - Part 2

“In our draft Party programme we have advanced the demand for a republic with a democratic constitution that would guarantee, among other things, 'recognition of the right to self-determination for all nations forming part of the state.' Many did not find this demand in our programme sufficiently clear, and in issue No. 33, in speaking about the Manifesto of the Armenian Social-Democrats, we explained the meaning of this point in the following way. The Social-Democrats will always combat every attempt to influence national self-determination from without by violence or by any injustice. However, our unreserved recognition of the struggle for freedom of self-determination does not in any way commit us to supporting every demand for national self-determination. As the party of the proletariat, the Social-Democratic Party considers it to be its positive and principal task to further the self-determination of the proletariat in each nationality rather than that of peoples or nations. We must always and unreservedly work for the very closest unity of the proletariat of all nationalities, and it is only in isolated and exceptional cases that we can advance and actively support demands conducive to the establishment of a new class state or to the substitution of a looser federal unity, etc., for the complete political unity of a state.”

There is no conceivable basis upon which the demand for the creation of a new class state in Scotland could be supported by Marxists on the basis of there existing “isolated and exceptional” circumstances. Far from it. Scotland is not, and has never been a situation of an oppressed nationality trapped within the boundaries of a larger state. The Scottish bourgeoisie built the British capitalist state hand in glove with their English, Welsh and Irish brethren. The oppression that the majority of Scottish people face is not national oppression, but class oppression, no different to the class oppression that the majority of English and Welsh people suffer. The answer to that class oppression cannot be found in a nationalistic diversion, but only in building a working-class response to it alongside their English, Welsh and Irish comrades.

Instead, the demand for independence drives a wedge between Scottish workers and their English and Welsh counterparts. Part of the argument raised by some for independence has been that Scotland has no Tory MP's, and that an independent Scotland would, therefore, be more progressive than the UK. Besides the fact that this places the interests of the Scottish workers above the interests of workers as a whole, it is both parliamentarist and specious. It has not always been the case that Scotland had no Tory MP's. In 1955, the Tories won a majority of Scottish seats, with 50.1% of the vote; in 1970, they still had 38% of the vote; as late as 1992, they had 26% of the vote. The SNP itself, although it is currently characterised as left-leaning, were termed “Tartan Tories” by Willie Ross, and in the 1970's, as with the nationalists of UKIP today, most of the SNP's seats were won from the Tories. There is absolutely no reason why, in an independent Scotland, when the raison d'etre for a purely nationalist party has disappeared, why the SNP will not be replaced, once again by a Scottish Tory Party, or itself take on that role, especially as, for the same reason, many of its voters will simply turn to a probably more left of centre Scottish Labour Party.

There is no reason why Scotland, as an independent small capitalist state, would be any more radical or left of centre than is Ireland. In fact, already we see some of the extent to which the opposite is likely to be the case. The extent to which the SNP try to appeal to that same small business class mentality, that is appealed to by other nationalist-populist groups like UKIP, is indicated by their tax policy.  They propose 

“1) Lower corporation tax to 20% (currently 30%) to attract corporate HQ activity to Scotland and to make indigenous businesses more competitive

2) Lower business rates to below the English level (currently significantly higher than in England)

3) Reduce business burdens which have a severe impact on small businesses in particular

4) Refocus the business support network of Scottish Enterprise”

The lower corporation tax, mirrors the same policy as that adopted by Ireland. The SNP in its attempts to also appeal to big business plans to scrap the Air Passenger Duty

This is an indication of the way the division of the working class into separate competing capitalist states inevitably weakens the position of workers vis a vis capital, and facilitates the ability of capital to promote a race to the bottom for taxes on it, for the protection of workers rights and conditions, and for wages. In a global economy, even quite sizeable states like the UK and Germany cannot, even if they really wanted to, enforce tax regimes on very large companies, because those companies can always move, or threaten to move their operations to some other country, which will offer more conducive arrangements. The real answer to that is the replacement of capitalist competition with socialist co-operation, but, in the meantime, the ability of capital to escape taxes, and to promote competition, so as to lower wages and conditions, is best prevented by removing national borders, and developing common tax and benefit regimes within the context of a larger framework. We need a single United States of Europe, so that we can establish a common corporation tax, income tax and so on that applies in every part of Europe, and thereby ends the ability of these large companies to play one state off against another, in order to attract its favours. The creation of a small Scottish state is the complete opposite direction to the road we need to travel, and the extent to which the SNP already propose offering these sops to business, is an indication of it.

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