Monday, 15 September 2014

The Scots Have A Right To Say Yes, But They Should Say No - Part 3

In the 19th century, Marx and Engels opposed the demand for self-determination by many small nationalities in central and eastern Europe. They defined these nationalities as “non-historic peoples”. In fact, there have been hundreds of such nationalities throughout history. It highlights the difference between a nation and a nation-state. A nation or nationality is a group which shares a common culture, language etc. and has developed from Man's earliest history, usually having colonised some particular geographical area, or else has continued to exist as a self-contained nomadic people.

Native Americans, for example, comprised a series of such nations, as well as there being tribes within those nations. The Scots themselves comprised a nation, whilst similarly being divided into clans. France comprised around two hundred nationalities, each with its own language and culture. What we now know as the French language was only spoken by the administrative elite. In effect, all of these various nationalities, in France, constituted “non-historic peoples” who were unable to form themselves into a nation state. The French nation-state developed by subordinating all of these individual nationalities within its borders. It was in fact, brought about by the domination of the Franks who were themselves a Germanic rather than Gallic tribe.

But, whilst in England a similar process unfolded, and was witnessed in the perpetual battles for domination by contending Royal houses, the creation of the British nation state, by the Act of Union of 1707, was no such act of domination by one nation over the other. The same could not be said, however, in relation to the subordination of the Welsh, by the English, some centuries earlier.

However, the reason that Marx and Engels opposed the calls for self-determination, by these small nations, was, because having failed the test of history, to be able to have already formed themselves into viable nation-states, their only remaining means of achieving that end was by appealing to some larger state to bring it about for them. In the case of these small European states, that was Tsarist Russia. Whenever such small states are reduced to looking for such support, from other states, the result must always be reactionary. 

Paul Mason in a recent blog has pointed out that some in Scotland are themselves already looking to the gangster regime in Russia, and/or the Stalinists in China to ride to their rescue with the provision of financial support. Paul correctly states,

“People who fantasise that Russian money would save an independent Scotland — or Chinese — have to understand they would then be a pawn in geopolitics.”

It is hard to see, therefore, how a small Scottish capitalist state, that already is led to offer sops to capital in the form of lower taxes, and that may be led to look for support from large reactionary states like Russia, can, in any sense, be presented as, in some way, holding out the potential of being a progressive alternative to the existing British capitalist state.

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