1960s >> 1964 >> no-716-april-1964

Welsh Nationalism

In 1925 was formed Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party. One of its aims was to achieve Dominion status for Wales.

Today Plaid Cymru has become a national party and a real challenge to the Liberal and Labour parties. Plaid Cymru claims that English domination is the cause of the social ills, such as bad housing, old age poverty, unemployment and rural depopulation from which the people of Wales suffer. What is the attitude of the Socialist Party of Great Britain to Welsh nationalism? Do we support the aim of Welsh independence? The Socialist and the nationalist see society from different points of view. For the Socialist present-day society is divided into two classes: a capitalist class who own the means of production, and a working class who, having no property, are forced to work for the capitalists. The interests of these two classes are opposed and between them there is a class struggle. This transcends national boundaries.

For the Socialist the propertyless working class have no country. The nationalist, on the other hand, sees the inhabitants of one particular area as a unit having a common interest. He ignores the class division of society and the class struggle. For him the nation is all-important. He encourages the worker to believe he has a country. Thus Socialism and nationalism are opposed. They are irreconcilable. Nationalism is in fact one of the means which capitalism uses to blind the workers to class society. It is a delusion which Socialists seek to dispel. For this reason the Socialist Party is opposed to Welsh nationalism and does not support the demand for Welsh independence.

The cause of unemployment and other social ills is in capitalism and its production for profit. When there is no profit to make from production, then production stops and unemployment spreads. Unemployment is inevitable under capitalism.

Plaid Cymru sees the cause of Welsh unemployment in a mythical English domination. Here again the nationalist is mistaken. He sees poverty not as a class problem but as a national problem: a problem to be solved not by class emancipation but by national emancipation. Socialists are committed to exposing this way of looking at social problems. We deny that English domination is the cause of poverty in Wales and consequently hold that national independence is not the solution.

Plaid Cymru promises that if it forms the government it will introduce various social reforms designed to improve the lot of the people of Wales. We say that such reforms will fail. For it is the social system, and not the political regime, which will determine how people will live in an independent Wales. It is obvious that Plaid Cymru, despite its talk of “co-operative Welsh Socialism,” intends that capitalism in one form or another should continue after Wales has achieved independence. This means that poverty also will continue. National independence will merely mean that the capitalists of Wales will pay their taxes to a government in Cardiff instead of to a government in London—a change of no interest to the workers of Wales.

What then is the solution? Since these social problems arise from capitalism nothing short of the complete overthrow of this system will be sufficient. The Socialist Party therefore urges the workers of Wales to unite with workers elsewhere to set up a world Socialist system where the peoples of the world will co-operate to produce for their needs on the basis of the common ownership and democratic control of the means of life. This will be a society without frontiers, without nations and without war. This is the real alternative to capitalism and nationalism.

Adam Buick

Leave a Reply