Upcoming Glasgow AFed discussions.
Tuesday 19th June – Scottish Nationalism – an Anarchist Communist perspective
Tuesday 24th July – Beyond Scarcity
Both 7:30pm in the Electron Club, upstairs in the CCA, 350 Sauchiehall St
Full blurbs below
Scottish Nationalism – an Anarchist Communist perspective
One way or another, the political landscape in Scotland and Britain as a whole is going to change after 2014 and it’s difficult to say what course this will take. As committed internationalists, anarchists oppose nationalism in any form. Rather than simply repeat long-standing principles, however, we need to articulate some kind of an analysis and ask ourselves how potential state reorganization will affect us and the wider class struggle and what exactly we should be doing and arguing as the independence debate increases in intensity.
The SNP has been following a balancing act. Firstly, it appeals to the working class through social democratic policies well to the left of any Westminster party. At the same time, they pander to any businessperson willing to back them, aim to cut corporation tax and make Scotland more competitive (i.e. intensify the exploitation of labour) and, despite their environmental image, fully support the expansion of the oil industry through potentially disastrous deepwater drilling.
What should anarchists be doing? As anarchists, we obviously shouldn’t argue for voting but nor should we fetishize the act of not voting. Of far more importance is that we are outside of the narrative and critique all political managers.
The Unionists (Labour, the Tories and LibDems) already come across as a crowd of imperial stormtroopers offering nothing but more of the same. However, especially since the left are unequivocally backing Scottish nationalism, there’s been little in the way of a challenge to the pro-independence camp’s claims or rhetoric of offering a social democratic alternative.
Scottish nationalists of all stripes claim that independence will represent a dramatic extension of democracy. Talk of Scots ruling themselves and of self-determination is an appealing rhetoric which masks the continuity of the class system: the working class will not suddenly become empowered but wealth and power will remain concentrated in the hands of a few. The decision-making power of the Scottish state itself will always be subject to the vagaries of global capital, the movement of transnationals, the bullying of London and controlling eye of the EU and IMF. More importantly, having a smaller nation state won’t lead to ever smaller democratic units and it won’t replace representative democracy with participative, direct democracy. To suggest otherwise is simply naïve, and misunderstands that working class people can only gain power for themselves through struggle.
The intensification of the nationalist project championed by all apparently ‘progressive’ opinion could have a significant effect in mystifying power and class relations and undermining the self-organisation of the working class in favour of its passivity and support for new forms of failed ideas. The best way we can put our case across is not through debate of abstract beliefs but through our ideas being embodied in actually existing organization and having the ability to achieve small changes through direct action and build on them.
Throughout modern Scottish history, workers’ movements have used the idea of a Scottish nation, some form of home rule, or even a socialist republic as a means to advocate their own power, cultures and meanings in opposition to centralized control. Instead of writing off these movements, however, we can recognise that wrapped up in the rhetoric is a genuine aspiration for self-determination. We need to argue against Scottish nationalists or anyone who pushes state solutions from co-opting the term ‘self-determination’ because it could only ever truly mean workers’ directly democratic control of society.
Anarchists are often charged with not being realistic. Achieving independence, even a left-wing republic, is certainly more ‘realistic’ than expecting the end of capitalism quite yet. If that and the reforms which it could gain are what parliamentary socialists are aiming for then maybe they’re on the right track (though reforms are easily rolled back). But this isn’t (pro-)revolutionary, it won’t affect capitalism. In fact, anarchism is realistic. We’re emphatically not arguing that it’s ‘revolution or nothing’ but that we can affect change (even just small victories) through bottom-up organizing right now and this can have a cumulative effect. It’s only though being highly organized that we’ll achieve anything, and though individual groups and networks are necessary, it’s most important that the working class generally is organized and autonomous – that it rejects social partnership, nationalism and boundaries. Whatever governments are in power, including an independent left-wing administration, they will have to confront and defuse this class power.
(Adapted from “Independent and Free?”)
Over 13,600 people starve to death every day and 14% of the world is malnourished. Preventable diseases run rampant while charities and institutions fight one another for the funds to find cures. Workers take industrial action to prevent the deployment of technology that would save back-breaking labour while welcoming welcome businesses and projects into the community that will poison the environment for generations to come. Education, communication and entertainment are rationed based upon what you can afford. People create art and enrich our society but live in destitution.
Many try to get the best they can within this system.
Many say this is just the way things are.
Anarchist communists say there is another way.
Glasgow AF & Friends presents a brief introduction on the conditions that lead to scarcity in the world and how anarchist communism directly relates to the drive to create a post-scarce society, followed by a round-table discussion upon the issues raised.