Socialism in one country?

The dream of an independent socialist Scotland continues to enthral the majority of SSP members. Moving the draft manifesto, to be publicly launched in a few weeks time, Alan McCombes, editor of Scottish Socialist Voice, rallied conference behind the 24-page document, which offers the Scottish people a vision for a separatist socialist future. The manifesto cannot be faulted in its commitment to the building of a new society free from war, free from poverty, free from exploitation, free from racism. However, part two calls for a "free socialist republic". It would commit Scotland to breaking away from the rest of Britain - and leaving behind unity with the English and Welsh people, not least the working class. As if expecting this aim to be attacked, comrade McCombes rejects the "scare-mongering of those who claim that Scotland is too small, too weak or too poor to go it alone and defy the new world order of the global billionaires" in the manifesto. But it's not the size that matters, comrade: it's the divisions and isolation in the here and now. The alternative hardly amounted to an alternative. Ronnie Stevenson (Glasgow Cathcart) moved a Committee for a Workers' International amendment to section 2. Supporting the call for independence was to be made more palatable by dressing it up in the colours of socialism. Hence comrade Stevenson held out the prospect of an abstract socialist England, Wales and Ireland as part of an abstract "confederation of socialist states of Europe". This view was supported by Senoiad Dailly (CWI, Glasgow Shettleston), who argued for the SSP to be part of an international socialist movement linking with the struggle for socialism in the rest of Britain. Comrade Dailly pointed to the current firefighters' dispute as gaining its strength from being united across Britain, not, as was recently suggested in the Scottish parliament, from looking for a 'Scottish' solution to the firefighters' demands. Jim McFarlane (CWI, Dundee West) spoke of the dangers of Scotland leaving itself in "glorious isolation", outside of and separate from the unity of the working class movement in Britain. However, their amendment was defeated. A motion from Tay Coast branch asked conference to reaffirm Scottish independence as a key strategic objective of SSP policy. It was moved by Joanne Coyle (ex-Scottish Militant Labour) and called on the SSP to strike at imperialism at its weakest link in the tradition of "Maclean, Connolly and Lenin, among others". This attempt to recruit Lenin as a supporter of Scottish separation is way off mark. Lenin did indeed support "the right of nations to self-determination" and thus the right to secede. However, advocating that self-determination should be used to achieve separation is another matter. Any decision must be based "exclusively on its merits in each particular case, in conformity with the interests of social development as a whole, and with the interests of the proletarian class struggle for socialism" (VI Lenin CW Vol 19, Moscow 1977, p429). And in general, except in extreme circumstances, Lenin advocated unity. Unfortunately those in the SSP majority who advocate independence, far from weakening international capital and destroying the British state, hinder the very working class unity needed to smash the UK constitutional monarchy and open the road to socialism. The SSP manifesto states unequivocally that we are an internationalist party. We want to build a "mass party of socialism". If we are serious about building and forging links with our brothers and sisters across Europe and the world, why sever links with our working class comrades in England and Wales? Why create another border, when our aim must be for the ending of all borders, allowing the world's population to travel freely and settle wherever they so wish? Worldwide developments cannot have gone unnoticed. February 15, saw millions simultaneously on the streets in London, Glasgow and around the world demonstrating against the war on Iraq and the attacks on democracy. This bears testament to a mass upsurge. The potential for building and developing a global working class fightback is there. Clearly the SSP's insistence that Scotland must "go it alone" flies in the face of this international movement. To build a mass party capable of taking on and defeating the UK state and the oppressive and often brutal attacks of the forces of capital is a task for workers not just in Scotland, but across Britain. Organised separately, we can hope only to weaken that state and isolate our strongest detachments. United, we will be able to see off not only the British state, but the system of capital that lies behind it - permanently. It is our duty as socialists to keep our class together. The dream of a "liberated, independent, socialist Scotland" (manifesto) can only be that: a dream. The task of liberation is one for the world's proletariat - organised in the first place against their 'own' state. Ronnie Mejka