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Editorial: Nats whae hae

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 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.

It is clear, then, why socialists don’t take sides in the debate, aired in this month’s elections to the Scottish Parliament, about whether it is better for workers there to be ruled from Edinburgh (as the SNP says) or from London with a little help from Edinburgh (as say the British Nationalists of the Labour, Liberal and Tory parties).

The SNP 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, job security, better state benefits, a healthy health service and all the other things politicians promise at election times.

This view is echoed by the so called Scottish “Socialist” Party and Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity (with Sheridan) Party. But it is patently absurd. This would be a purely political, not to say 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. Maybe the pillar boxes would be painted tartan but that would be about all.

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. And as the government of Ireland, which broke away from the United Kingdom in 1922 and where things have never been any different. Not even the national state capitalism proposed by the SSP and Sheridan would make any difference. As in Cuba, exports would still have to be competitive and popular consumption restricted to achieve this.

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 SNP is promising a referendum in 2010. What an irrelevant waste of time and energy that would be, but it’s their alibi. If they get to form the regional government of Scotland their excuse for not delivering (as capitalism won’t let them) will be that their hands were tied and that their promises will only be able to be honoured after separation.

Our opposition to the SNP should not be interpreted as support for the Union or the Labour, Liberal or Tory parties that support it. We are just as opposed to them. A plague on both their houses is what we say. To adapt a slogan, "Neither London nor Edinburgh, but World Socialism".