CWI - red or tartan?

As usual the question of nationalism and Scottish independence was once again very much to the fore. This has been an area of contention since the days of the Scottish Socialist Alliance, but in recent conferences voices in favour of internationalism and against Scottish separatism have been very much marginalised and motions calling for all-Britain organisational unity voted down without much debate. This year the issue was raised, albeit tangentially, from an unexpected quarter - namely the Committee for a Workers' International platform. The CWI comrades submitted an amendment to section 2 of the proposed manifesto, which is nationalist in the extreme. The amendment toned down the nationalism of section 2 and tried to offer a more internationalist perspective. Despite this it still called for separatism and independence. Contributions in support of the amendment revealed the schizophrenic attitude of the CWI. Their comrades stressed the all-Britain nature of the opposition to Blair's warmongering and the united way the firefighters' dispute has been conducted across the United Kingdom. They noted that the very strength of such campaigns lay in their all-Britain nature. The CWI comrades also pointed out that socialism could never exist in a single country. However, they could not quite bring themselves to take these statements to their logical conclusion and call for the ditching of the demand for an independent socialist Scotland - a position the CWI still favours. The arguments against the amendment were weak. Eddie Truman suggested that it implied Scotland was "incapable of going it alone" and that "we" could not get by "without the say-so, without the help of people outside". Presumably the comrade has never heard of such concepts as working class internationalism and unity - which are considered both fundamental and necessary by communists and revolutionary socialists. Alan McCombes said he saw nothing wrong with the amendment other than what it deleted - which, he said, put the case for independence from a socialist viewpoint rather than from the viewpoint of the SNP. Although comrade McCombes conceded that no one would argue that socialism in one country was possible, he then proceeded to do exactly that. But this is typical of the SSP leadership's shamefaced nationalism - it must attempt to disguise itself behind an 'internationalist' gloss. The Socialist Worker platform kept a low profile during the debate, but voted against the amendment. You would have thought that the sentiment contained in the amendment was closer to their politics than the substantive, which the SW platform comrades voted for. This was clearly not a principled decision, based on opposition to the amendment's continued insistence on independence - if that was the case an abstention was called for, since the same call was even more prominent in the original. Their vote against the amendment was undoubtedly motivated both by hostility to the CWI and by a desire to keep the majority onside for what the SW platform considered more pressing matters - eg, Palestine and the trade union political fund. The amendment fell by a significant majority. Another point of interest was the way the CWI voted on the ultra-nationalist motion from the Tay Coast branch, which called for independence to be the main campaigning issue of the SSP. The CWI were part of a small minority which voted against. The fact that this won overwhelming support is, frankly, breathtaking, given the strength of the anti-war movement across Britain as the Blair tools up for war on Iraq. Sarah McDonald