Friday, 29 August 2014

Working out what I will do in the referendum.

 
 
Problems with Yes Vs. No itself.
  • The referendum frames social problems as coming from whether power (by which I mean the government) is in London or Holyrood but this is a false understanding and a mystification
  •   An independent Scotland will still be oppressive.Capitalism, the state, patriarchy etc will remain but coming from Holyrood.
  • The Yes side can definitely be naïve. They tend to locate the source of problems in Westminister or Westminister's economic philosophy of Neo-Liberalism.
  • The problem is not that Scotland is not independent. The problem is not that unless Scotland is independent it will not be democratic, the problem is that regardless of whether Scotland is independent or not, it will not be democratic since states and governments THEMSELVES as institutions ARE NOT DEMOCRATIC!  A Yes vote will not usher in a new era of Scottish democracy never before seen anywhere else. RIC supporters are definitely mistaken on that.
  • A Yes vote will not save the environment. It will take the end of States and Capitalism to do so.
    An independent Scotland will come up against the global power of the US government, NATO, the WTO, The IMF and the World Bank.
  • Voting risks lending legitimacy to voting as a means of social change.voting risks giving legitimacy to representative democracy, to the State, to politicians.
    Voting risks giving legitimacy to the idea that Scottish independence is the essential and ONLY means of social change.
  • There's bad reasons to vote No and there's bad reasons to vote Yes.
  • It's a debate between factions of the capitalist class- the Yes side is state capitalist. The NO side is more private capitalist.
  • It's scary that dissenting voices skeptical of a Yes vote but who will not vote No  are silenced, ignored, called traitors etc. 
Yes is preferable to No.

"Vote Yes without illusions"
  • It is true a Yes vote is more likely(but not guaranteed or certain ) to protect the NHS, remove Trident,  slow the privatization of the welfare state.
  •  A  No vote is out of the question, it will just keep things as they are with westministers support of Fracking, ATOS, Wars, cuts to the welfare state, privatization of the NHS/ law/ policing/ the welfare state/ flood defences and more.
  • An independent Scotland will not solve the environmental crisis.
  • An independent Scotland will still be beholden to the WTO, The World bank and the IMF as well as the US government.
  • The SWP has a slightly better position on voting yes than other left wing groups who are not anarchist.

Anarchism and Voting.
  • Voting in itself is not anti-anarchist. Voting is not against anarchist principles if you vote Yes while doing direct action, being critical of the narratives of Yes/RIC and No and remaining a revolutionary.
  • If Anarchists are going to vote Yes in referendum then they should be skeptical and cynical about how much it will achieve, they should go into it fully aware of how it will not achieve our ultimate goals and should not pretend otherwise.
  • Voting is anti-anarchist if you reduce left wing politics down to Voting Yes or if you say it is the only way and reject revolution  or if you are voting Yes but do not get involved in direct action.



  • Bad reasons to vote Yes.
    1. Reformism( SNP, Greens, Labour, SSP, RIC)
    2. Leninism/vanguardism/ 'Dictatorship of the proletariat'  (SWP's reason for voting Yes?)
    3. the Nordic model.
    4. Nationalizing the oil like Venezuela.
    5. Belief in politicians, political parties, electoral politics,
    6. An independent Scotland may still vote Tory
    7. An independent Scotland is not necessarily going to be any more left wing.
    8. Bad reasons to vote yes either come from the reformist social democrats of the Yes campaign or from the supposedly radical supposedly more left wing group  Radical Independence Campaign(RIC)
    9. The idea we can now get the government we want or the society we want from a Scottish government.
    10. Utopian belief it will usher in a new kind of democracy or somehow the Scottish government will not be corrupt or inherently oppressive.
    11. Having government closer will not inherently make politics more democratic.
    12. The false belief that Scotland will avoid Neo-liberalism or Capitalism etc.
    13. False belief in a 'workers state' or a truly democratic government. Impossibilities!
    14. False belief Scotland could be socialist ( never mind the false ideas a 'socialist state' makes sense)
    15. Mistaken belief the source of all existing problems is Westminster rule.
    16. False idea that the environmental crisis will be stopped or solved by ending Westminster rule.
    17. Nationalism. Clinging to Scottish identity as some inherent thing. Anti-English sentiment.
    18. We're all in this together against Westminster or against the English.
    19. Opposition to revolution.
    20. The SNP- especially when they want the lowest corporation tax in western Europe and are very clearly capitalist 'Tartan Tories'.
    Bad Yes voters.


  • if someone is going to vote yes it must not be there complete politics. They must take direct action and join the struggles against oppression taking place right now. They must not delay social change till the vote or the never never land after Scottish independence.
  • If we decide that we won't vote we must take political action at the same time. Non voting must not be an excuse for apathy or pessimistic retreat.
  • Reject class struggle.
  •  Yes voters MUST NOT: Promote class collaboration, promote nationalism, reject revolution,

  • Good reasons to vote Yes.

    Possibilities.
    • How progressive will the Scottish government be when it can no longer blame Westminster?
    • Might get rid of Trident - is already getting people at the grassroots talking and thinking about it.
    • Might prevent or reduce imperialism and war.
    • chance to get rid of the monarchy
    • chance to get rid of the house of lords.
    • Might help protect the NHS
    •  escape ATOS
    • escape the Bedroom Tax
    •  might help protect the welfare state and disabled people
    •  looser border controls?
    • Might escape anti-trade union laws?
    • Might block fracking though the Scottish government recently approved of fracking.


    Concerns I have with Yes voters and Radical Independence Campaign(RIC)
    • I'm concerned by how the Yes vote is co-opted the left and turning supposed revolutionaries into reformists.
    • I'm opposed to left wing politics being reduced down to voting yes.
    • I'm opposed to left wingers who believe a Yes vote is the only means of improving society and is the way it will be improved i.e. who are not in favour of revolution.
    • WTO, IMF, World Bank and US government will stay hold sway.
    • NATO.
    • Economy might not hold.
    • Obsession with oil.
    • SNP are not trustworthy. Very favourable to big business.
    • could distract from revolution and suck energy from (1) struggles outside of the referendum vote (2) struggles for revolution.
    • Could lead to a resurgence of nationalism and love for the state, capitalism etc . people could (1) say well we voted for it so it's ours and become very hostile to criticism (2) when it falls short feel like the Scottish government belongs to them so feel a desire to reform it and drop all revolutionary ambition.
    • If it's a No vote , critics of the Yes side will be blamed.
    • If it's a No vote then given how much energy the Scottish left has put into a Yes  the Scottish left will be decimated at a time when the Scottish left needs to be more militant and more active than ever before.


    If we vote Yes
    we must stress again and again that voting Yes is absolutely no substitute for direct action.

    Voting Yes is no substitute for revolution.

    We must stress that an independent Scotland will still be capitalist, patriarchial etc. That it will still be oppressive. Voting Yes will not mean a more democratic government.

    http://foranewleftliberty.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/anarchist-thoughts-on-scottish.html
     

    Thursday, 28 August 2014

    Outline for coming essay *work in progress*

    It's deeply important to me to be understood in what I'm saying and to be clear in expressing what my position is. anarchists are in a  unique position which few are hearing. Simply put,  I have no faith in either Better Together or  any of  the pro-Independence side. Regardless of the result, I fully expect to protest the Governments of Westminister and Holyrood and I despise both since I despise all governments in the world-  past, present and future.


    Vote No?

    The problem is not Westminister or Neo-Liberalism.The problem is capitalism and that we are in the class struggle and that will not end until there is a revolution. Neo-Liberalism is just the most recent phase of  Capitalism, it's most recent  form in terms of how social and economic policy is implemented. Scotland will not be able to escape this fact even if it is independent.

    Vote Yes?

    I have to admit to having an emotional attachment to voting Yes and to being Pro-Scottish Independence. I have felt this way since I was 14 years old. For almost all of my life this is what I would've picked.

    The direction of debate pushed by the SNP has been appallingly concentrated on the question of oil and the continual exploitation and utilisation of fossil fuels. The SNP have already demonstrated their 'left credentials' are only at a surface level, having shown a cosy relationship to millionaires Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump. The SNP are merely the face of a very Scottish Capitalism. I feel justified in calling them nothing more than 'Tartan Tories' given Salmond's sniffing around in hopes he would give Scotland the lowest corporation tax in Western Europe. Like any other politicians ,the SNP will easily compromise when it's politically expedient to do so. They did a U-turn on Nato despite it a being long standing policy. There is no hope in them. I have deep concerns about what they will do having read the white paper they put out .


    I wouldn't be so rash as to say we should  ignore the referendum but it must be put in a wider context. Too often recently I have seen  Radicals narrow their focus down to what sort of paradise could be after Scottish Independence, without the usual  requisite qualifications or denunciations of the Capitalist system and it's related oppressions( Some worst examples would be in RIC or the SSP) To the extent this is happening, then the critique of national liberation movements is being proven correct. The debate around the referendum is diverting energy in unproductive ways and co-opting seemingly radical people into blinkered thoughts on reform while any consideration towards real change through revolution is thrown out the window. I'm worried Scottish Independence is acting to make a whole group of self identified radicals into reformists.

    I do not believe as others do (Particularly the Radical Independence Campaign) that Scottish Independence will usher in a brand new era of Scottish Democracy - I hold no such hope- and it makes me uneasy to mingle with such delusions. I would consider it politics as usual to tell the Scottish people that Scottish Independence will be a radical change if those who say it do not believe it in their heart of hearts. Those parties who identify as left wing inspire no optimism in me( as if they could anyway) As far as I can tell the parliamentarian Democratic Socialists offer nothing more than a return to Old Labour.

     As much as I am in favour of direct democracy, I am not enamoured with the form proposed by my fellows in RIC for example  and in any case do not for a second have any conviction that the capitalist state will adopt it( despite it being a vast improvement over the existing order and in spite of whatever public support there may be)

     Scottish Independence offers no guarantees of things getting better and no guarantee they won't get worse. All it offers is the promise, the potential. All it offers is possibility of reforms but only the possibility to make some things  slightly better. And given what we know about the state, about politicians, it's highly likely we'll be disappointed. We can't trust any politician ever.

    It's by no means obvious that having the state closer to home will make it any more democratic. As The Glasgow Anarchist Federation has argued, "having the political class closer to home doesn’t necessarily make replacing them any more difficult. If anything, 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 idea that the closer the government is to the people the more democratic it will be, ignores where the real power lies.Power is not exercised by governments but through them.  The real power lies with the capitalist class (domestic and international) - with bosses, with bankers, with multinational corporations, with landlords, with the WTO, with the IMF and  with the world bank .

    My worry is that under independence things will get worse. My fear is that  Scotland will become as Neo-liberal as England or anywhere else. Consider Salmond's unification and centralisation of the police force under the motives of 'efficiency'. It's already beginning most likely. There is lots of risks involved.  Would Trident necessarily be scrapped if  the Scottish Government chooses to remain in Nato?  How confident can we be that the Tories would never get in again?

     There is no guarantees that the left would be in a better position. While Scotland definitely does have leftism in it's history to a greater degree than England , this doesn't necessarily manifest  in practical terms. Sorry to tell the people of RIC, SSP and others, but it is not merely Westminster which prevents Scotland being an anti-capitalist or socialist country. Even if the left did get in power we anarchists know clearly they would either be ignored, co-opted( voluntarily or by necessity) or killed like Salvador  Allende. And none of us wish to see the state capitalist society proposed by the SWP. We have no nostalgia  for the soviet union and no desire to see the 'Soviet republic of Scotland'.


    Ultimately the Pro-Independence side offers the false hope and promise of "this time it'll be different" which is what politicians and political parties always say to revive hope in the dying belief in representative democracy.

    It seems entirely clear to me that the Referendum debate is mystifying what the real problem is- capitalism and all systems of domination, exploitation and oppression- in favour of presenting the problem in Scotland as due to where the power is located. Throughout this debate there has been the pushing of ideas of 'national unity' and  'national interest'  which act to hide where the real problems and solutions lie. These ideologies further confuse and distract the oppressed from what is necessary.  Even 'benevolent' nationalism does this.

    The referendum debate represents a debate between different degrees of kinds of capitalism. Most of the No side lean more towards private capitalism while those on the Yes side lean more towards state capitalism.

    an article on Libcom Some Quick Thoughts on Scottish Independence puts it very clearly
    "This all being said isn't an argument in favour of the union any more than the problems of the UK government are an argument for independence. Both camps ultimately represent class interests other than our own, no matter how much parliamentary leftists might argue otherwise. Even whether independence will make the lives of working class Scots (and Brits in general!) better or worse is a question of the degrees of capitalism"

    Will Independence increase the likelihood of revolution and/or increase our potential for action, for effectiveness?  There is no clear answer. Independence gives a smaller political territory to work with but the resultant nationalism however 'benevolent' could get in the way of this.

    With voting Yes ,there is very real danger of  ,if not buying into the mythology of a socialist Scotland, finally getting 'democratic government', belief elections are useful tools for social change etc.,  then at least propagating those ideas as if they were true. as anarchists we should not make it seem as if governments can represent us, as if governments are truly democratic, as if governments can truly improve society, as if elections are legitimate ,as if the state is  a legitimate institution, as if the only problem is WHO is in power not that there is someone in power at all .We should not give power to rulers of any kind ever.

    "This support of the underdog state or state in waiting must be opposed. There is no essence of national resistance, no essential oppressed national spirit which is being channelled by the national liberation forces. They are real organised forces with their own aims and goals – to set up a particular form of exploiting state, with particular factions in control of it. The nation is not something primordial to be repressed, but a narrative constructed by the capitalist state in the course of its development. Though the imperial structure comes to be part of the apparatus of exploitation over the working class in the territory affected, the rearrangement of this exploiting apparatus in favour of a ‘native’ state is a reactionary goal. As we have seen, the logic of nationalism is an inherently reactionary one, in that it functions to binds together classes into one national collectivity,.The problem is that the tendency to see the world in national rather than class terms is deeply engrained in the psychology of the left, as much as it is in wider society. Though leftists may be capable of criticising nationalism in their own back yard, they are incapable of doing it when faced with exotic foreign movements. "-against nationalism.





    The problem is not that Scotland is not independent. The problem is not that unless Scotland is independent it will not be democratic, the problem is that regardless of whether Scotland is independent or not, it will not be democratic since states and governments THEMSELVES as institutions ARE NOT DEMOCRATIC!  A Yes vote will not usher in a new era of Scottish democracy never before seen anywhere else. RIC supporters are definitely mistaken on that.

    A Yes vote will not save the environment. It will take the end of States and Capitalism to do so.
    An independent Scotland will come up against the global power of the US government, NATO, the WTO, The IMF and the World Bank.
    We must beware of Voting Yes becoming reformist. If it is done in the aim of seeking reform then that is a noble goal, but it must not be done with losing sight of the ultimate aim of revolution and an anarchist society. It must not end up promoting a kind of  "we're all in it together", we all have the same interests class collaborationism. Even a 'benevolent' nationalism promoted by the Yes campaign has a tendency to do this. It must not ignore class struggle, capitalism or the inherent oppressiveness of the state itself. It must not drop it's revolutionary spirit for the sake of a Yes vote.

    A Yes side could be used to pacify and tame more revolutionary aims and desires. This is a danger.
    I am worried by how I have seen self proclaimed radicals and revolutionaries channelled along this path and they seem to have been co-opted back into support for the Status Quo.

    The Yes side can definitely be naïve. They tend to locate the source of problems in Westminister or Westminister's economic philosophy of Neo-Liberalism.
    It is true a Yes vote is more likely(but not guaranteed or certain ) to protect the NHS, remove Trident,  slow the privatization of the welfare state. A  No vote is out of the question, it will just keep things as they are with westministers support of Fracking, ATOS, Wars, cuts to the welfare state, privatization of the NHS/ law/ policing/ the welfare state/ flood defences and more.

    if someone is going to vote yes it must not be there complete politics. They must take direct action and join the struggles against oppression taking place right now. They must not delay social change till the vote or the never never land after Scottish independence.

     If we decide that we won't vote we must take political action at the same time. Non voting must not be an excuse for apathy or pessimistic retreat.



    On the other hand, the SNP openly admit want the lowest corporation tax in Europe, have already been known to flirt with big business and would seek to make Scotland attractive to companies- meaning they would bend policy to be hospitable to business, suggesting they wouldn't be so different from the tories at all but merely 'Tartan Tories' .

    Politicians almost never keep their promises to the people, so how can we be sure(and odds are against us) that they will remove Trident, will not privatize the NHS etc?

    Would it be right for an anarchist to vote?  We of course aim to stick to anarchist principles like direct action which means rejection of voting as an effective means of social change, opposition to nationalism states and borders etc. Anarchists should neither be dogmatically in favour of voting, (which is anti-anarchist) nor should make out that not voting (by itself) will make a huge difference.

    It's not clear to me that we cannot assume that not-voting is the best strategy in all cases for all time.

      I suppose at best , A Yes vote could slow down the Neo-Liberal phase of capitalism in Scotland.

    If Anarchists are going to vote Yes in referendum then they should be skeptical and cynical about how much it will achieve, they should go into it fully aware of how it will not achieve our ultimate goals and should not pretend otherwise.

    1. The Nordic model is not  and never was socialist or or a utopia. It is increasingly explicitly neo-liberal.
    2. We DO NOT want to be using Scottish oil.  Venezuela is not a good example to be referencing on this!
    3. the SNP will be in charge of the first independent Scottish government, constitution etc
    4.  too much energy is being sucked into the vote and diverted from other causes we need to work on right now. the Vote is co-opting radicalism into reformism
    5. SNP want the lowest corporation tax in western Europe.
    6. the SNP will seek to attract business to an independent Scotland by doing anything corporations desire.
    7.  the current centralisation of the police force suggests an independent Scotland may have austerity or privatization.
    8. An independent Scotland may still vote Tory
    9. An independent Scotland is not necessarily going to be any more left wing.
    10. An independent Scotland will still be capitalist and in a Neo-Liberal world.
    11. An independent Scotland will still be swayed by the WTO  IMF world bank US government and multi-nationals.
    12. It is not certain Trident will be removed from Scotland.
    13. An Independent Scotland will not solve the environmental crisis it will only makes steps towards that.
    14. the economy might tank!
    15. Iceland is not more democratic nor is swtizerland.
    16. A No vote will destroy the left if the left put all there energy into this.
    17. A Yes vote may inspire nationalism and may draw people closer to the status quo ,closer to reformism and act to pacify any true revolutionary aspirations.
    18. There is no guarantees a Yes vote will protect the NHS, welfare state etc.
    19. It's scary that dissenting voices skeptical of a Yes vote but not No voters are silenced or shut out in a climate of fear where people feel worried about expressing their feelings.


    Spoil your ballot?


    One of my comrades suggested we could spoil our ballots in attempt to register our dissatisfaction with the options we've been given. Initially I found this convincing but no longer do. In UK, spoilt ballots are counted but it doesn't seem obvious what that would achieve. we can safely be ignored as cranks by them.


    Vote Yes or  Abstain?


    Voting risks lending legitimacy to voting as a means of social change.
    voting risks giving legitimacy to representative democracy, to the State, to politicians.
    Voting risks giving legitimacy to the idea that Scottish independence is the essential and ONLY means of social change.

    The reason anarchists favour direct action compared to voting, union bureaucrats or politicians is it puts power into peoples hands, it gives them control over their lives and so prefigures the society we would like to see while giving people the capability to imagine and implement it for themselves. It is the best means of creating the society we wish to see. We refuse to see a distinction between the ends we seek to achieve and the means of achieving those ends.

    We neither wish to claim voting will led to meaningful social change nor do we want to start claiming voting is immoral.

     Our objection to voting is that it does not overcome the political system, that it enforces The Spectacle that Guy Debord spoke of , that it encourages the passivity of the masses while creating the illusion they are doing something useful and that the system is responsive to people's needs . We oppose voting not because it's immoral but because it's not effective and infact  is counter productive to the end we seek.

    Vote yes only without illusions!  vote yes only while doing direct action too!


    What is abundantly clear however, is that nothing less  than the destruction of Capitalism, The state and all forms of domination for ever and always, that  nothing less than revolution( from the grassroots with mass participation without vanguards or 'dictatorship of the proletariat') will improve the world.

    As Mikhail Bakunin said, "Every state power, every government, by its very nature places itself outside and over the people and inevitably subordinates them to an organization and to aims which are foreign to and opposed to the real needs and aspirations of the people. We declare ourselves the enemies of every government and every state power, and of governmental organization in general."

    Conclusion.

    I will finish by quoting from a friends favoured position, the source of which I wasn't able to find but I think it correctly addresses the most essential point in a critical look at the referendum,

     "Personally I will vote "Yes", as I think it is a slightly more hopeful option than the status quo, but i think the most important point is that whatever the result of the referendum we will face a capitalist system whose drive for profit is attacking us through austerity, wars and actually destroying the planet through climate ...change. Intertwined with this is patriarchy and racism/ imperialism responsible for violence against and oppression of women and people of colour. Whether a government is based in Westminster or Holyrood its priority will be a "successful economy" in capitalist terms, which is profit. The attack from a Scottish government may be less brutal in the short-term, and that is a v important issue for those such as disabled claimants in the firing line, however the next global capitalist crisis would see a Holyrood government going for austerity just like in "independent" Ireland.

    The only way to effectively resist is by organising at the grass-roots, and trying to make links and develop struggles on an international basis, with a perspective of challenging the fundamentals of the oppressive system. It is very dangerous to foster any illusions that any politicians of whatever stripe can offer anything fundamentally different (even the Greens, when they got control of the council in Brighton, cut bin workers wages resulting in a strike, while social democratic governments from Brazil to Spain to France have all ended up attacking their own population. And I'm sure we need no reminders re Blair and the Iraq war!)

    As I see it [our organisation] aims to do something right now by advocating self-organisation and direct action, with the aim of creating a situation of counter-power which will defeat the attacks on us by making them unworkable. The bedroom tax is being defeated in Scotland because so many people refused to pay it, and because the authorities were scared that they would not be able to evict people without serious disturbances.

    Having said all that, I think a Yes vote could help create an opening for a movement to insist that peoples needs come before profit, but only if people realise that in itself independence changes nothing and that we will need to take direct action on a large scale if any of the hopes expressed by radical independence campaigners are to be realised at all. This would involve totally rejecting all spurious claims by the new Scottish Government that "we must all pull together so the new Scotland will prosper" - there is no national interest, it is just a sham to try and get us to identify with our exploiters."

     

    Sunday, 24 August 2014

    Anarchist Thoughts on Scottish Independence.

    Some Yes Naivety.


    Scotland’s vote is not about Braveheart or kilts or tribal nationalism. It’s about democracy



    Especially critiques of Yes naivety.

    Mine

    Thoughts on the Referendum with two weeks to go.

    Working out what I will do in the referendum. 

    Some points on the Yes side of the Scottish Referendum.

    Thoughts on Scottish independence as we close into the Referendum.

    A Cynical view of Scottish Independence.


    Others

    Some quick thoughts on Scottish independence


    Beyond the Scottish referendum by Mike Sabot.

    Independent and Free? A Glasgow anarchist’s take on Scottish Independence

    Rhetoric of disempowerment

    http://scotlandaf.wordpress.com/tag/radical-independence-conference/

    http://scotlandaf.wordpress.com/tag/independence/

    Not anarchist still good

    Common Sense, Scottish Thought and Current Politics     Richard Gunn

    The Poverty of Yes Voters arguments




    RIC

    Scotland the brave? Radicalism and independence - "Social justice can only be attained by limiting the operation of the market – by socialising the market so that it is regulated in part and converted into public ownership in others"

    Independence is the Only Option for a Better Scotland- "You must have noticed that the real independence movement is now almost indistinguishable from the movement for social justice in Scotland. These are the only people willing to talk about a Scotland different from the one we are being given by London. This is the only vision of a better Scotland anyone is talking about, or that anyone believes any more".



     

    Friday, 22 August 2014

    Some points on the Yes side of the Scottish Referendum.


    You can vote Yes but it should not be your whole politics. If you're voting yes you should also be taking direct action.

    Voting Yes will not solve current problems. The source of the problems is not Westminister and the solution will not come from just voting Yes in the referendum.
    1. The Nordic model is not  and never was socialist or or a utopia. It is increasingly explicitly neo-liberal.
    2. We DO NOT want to be using Scottish oil.  Venezuela is not a good example to be referencing on this!
    3. the SNP will be in charge of the first independent Scottish government, constitution etc
    4.  too much energy is being sucked into the vote and diverted from other causes we need to work on right now. the Vote is co-opting radicalism into reformism
    5. SNP want the lowest corporation tax in western Europe.
    6. the SNP will seek to attract business to an independent Scotland by doing anything corporations desire.
    7.  the current centralisation of the police force suggests an independent Scotland may have austerity or privatization.
    8. An independent Scotland may still vote Tory
    9. An independent Scotland is not necessarily going to be any more left wing.
    10. An independent Scotland will still be capitalist and in a Neo-Liberal world.
    11. An independent Scotland will still be swayed by the WTO  IMF world bank US government and multi-nationals.
    12. It is not certain Trident will be removed from Scotland.
    13. An Independent Scotland will not solve the environmental crisis it will only makes steps towards that.
    14. the economy might tank!
    15. Iceland is not more democratic nor is swtizerland.
    16. A No vote will destroy the left if the left put all there energy into this.
    17. A Yes vote may inspire nationalism and may draw people closer to the status quo ,closer to reformism and act to pacify any true revolutionary aspirations.
    18. There is no guarantees a Yes vote will protect the NHS, welfare state etc.
    19. It's scary that dissenting voices skeptical of a Yes vote but not No voters are silenced or shut out in a climate of fear where people feel worried about expressing their feelings.
     

    Friday, 15 August 2014

    Thoughts on Scottish independence as we close into the Referendum.

    To vote or not to vote?

    Voting risks lending legitimacy to voting as a means of social change.
    voting risks giving legitimacy to representative democracy, to the State, to politicians.
    Voting risks giving legitimacy to the idea that Scottish independence is the essential and ONLY means of social change.

    The reason anarchists favour direct action compared to voting, union bureaucrats or politicians is it puts power into peoples hands, it gives them control over their lives and so prefigures the society we would like to see while giving people the capability to imagine and implement it for themselves. It is the best means of creating the society we wish to see. We refuse to see a distinction between the ends we seek to achieve and the means of achieving those ends.

    Yes or No?

    It is true a Yes vote is more likely(but not guaranteed or certain ) to protect the NHS, remove Trident,  slow the privatization of the welfare state. A  No vote is out of the question, it will just keep things as they are with westministers support of Fracking, ATOS, Wars, cuts to the welfare state, privatization of the NHS/ law/ policing/ the welfare state/ flood defences and more.

    if someone is going to vote yes it must not be there complete politics. They must take direct action and join the struggles against oppression taking place right now. They must not delay social change till the vote or the never never land after Scottish independence.

     If we decide that we won't vote we must take political action at the same time. Non voting must not be an excuse for apathy or pessimistic retreat.



    On the other hand, the SNP openly admit want the lowest corporation tax in Europe, have already been known to flirt with big business and would seek to make Scotland attractive to companies- meaning they would bend policy to be hospitable to business, suggesting they wouldn't be so different from the tories at all but merely 'Tartan Tories' .

    Politicians almost never keep their promises to the people, so how can we be sure(and odds are against us) that they will remove Trident, will not privatize the NHS etc?

    Would it be right for an anarchist to vote?  We of course aim to stick to anarchist principles like direct action which means rejection of voting as an effective means of social change, opposition to nationalism states and borders etc. Anarchists should neither be dogmatically in favour of voting, (which is anti-anarchist) nor should make out that not voting (by itself) will make a huge difference.

    It's not clear to me that we cannot assume that not-voting is the best strategy in all cases for all time.

      I suppose at best , A Yes vote could slow down the Neo-Liberal phase of capitalism in Scotland.

    If Anarchists are going to vote Yes in referendum then they should be skeptical and cynical about how much it will achieve, they should go into it fully aware of how it will not achieve our ultimate goals and should not pretend otherwise.

    We must beware of Voting Yes becoming reformist. If it is done in the aim of seeking reform then that is a noble goal, but it must not be done with losing sight of the ultimate aim of revolution and an anarchist society. It must not end up promoting a kind of  "we're all in it together", we all have the same interests class collaborationism. Even a 'benevolent' nationalism promoted by the Yes campaign has a tendency to do this. It must not ignore class struggle, capitalism or the inherent oppressiveness of the state itself. It must not drop it's revolutionary spirit for the sake of a Yes vote.

    A Yes side could be used to pacify and tame more revolutionary aims and desires. This is a danger.
    I am worried by how I have seen self proclaimed radicals and revolutionaries channelled along this path and they seem to have been co-opted back into support for the Status Quo.

    The Yes side can definitely be naïve. They tend to locate the source of problems in Westminister or Westminister's economic philosophy of Neo-Liberalism.

     The problem is not Westminister or Neo-Liberalism.The problem is capitalism and that we are in the class struggle and that will not end until there is a revolution. Neo-Liberalism is just the most recent phase of  Capitalism, it's most recent  form in terms of how social and economic policy is implemented. Scotland will not be able to escape this fact even if it is independent.

    The problem is not that Scotland is not independent. The problem is not that unless Scotland is independent it will not be democratic, the problem is that regardless of whether Scotland is independent or not, it will not be democratic since states and governments THEMSELVES as institutions ARE NOT DEMOCRATIC!  A Yes vote will not usher in a new era of Scottish democracy never before seen anywhere else. RIC supporters are definitely mistaken on that.

    A Yes vote will not save the environment. It will take the end of States and Capitalism to do so.
    An independent Scotland will come up against the global power of the US government, NATO, the WTO, The IMF and the World Bank.

    Anarchist opinion in Scotland varies:  some advocate spoiling your ballot, some are Yes voters, some favour Scottish independence but not voting for it,



     Some replies to some anarchist discussion of Scottish Independence:



    "I am also told that to convince others to abstain reduces a government's legitimacy but since when does the legitimacy of a government matter?"

    To abstain from voting in of itself does nothing and can just lead to apathetic nihilism. Non voting must be mixed with direct action and building the revolutionary struggle.
    Legitimacy of governments is important .They seek to use ideology to look legitimate  for examples by means of representative democracy i.e. saying "well we are the elected officials".


    " Arguably if everyone votes for a particular government and that government refuses to remain accountable to its people (this could be by going against their previous policies or implementing new, undisclosed policies) then it is completely legitimate for the people to revolt. "

    I think this would be a fair point but has not happened with the current Cameron Tory government or hasn't happened on a wide enough scale.

    "We have seen in the most recent European elections that barely 30% of the population voted and yet those who won seats are still said to be "representative" of the people of Britain. They still maintain absolute power despite lacking legitimacy "

    True. But it is by saying they were voted in i.e. they use representative democracy and voting as an excuse.

    "To abstain within a passive society is to lose your voice within the system we currently have."
    I don't completely agree. We would argue direct action is the best means.

     Unless we are to see militant action becoming the norm, this is our only means of slowing the process of privatisation and preventing the continued implementation of a brutal ideology against the most vulnerable in our society. "

     

    Wednesday, 13 August 2014

    "As an anarchist, what I’m interested in is to think about power relations in order to build a society or at least some spaces which would be free, self-managed, supportive, feminist, egalitarian and empowering.
    As a feminist, what I’m interested in is to think about the power relations generated by the heteropatriarchy. It is one of the most revolutionary struggles, because it does not only demand to go and demonstrate and wave some black flags and gesticulate during meetings, but also to deconstruct gender and oppressive relations in all spaces and time, public and private, of our own lives.
    As an antispeciesist, what I am interested in is to think about oppressions, exploitations and murders perpetrated by humans on animals, in the name of culture, habit, gluttony, gastronomy or under the pretense of diference. But none of this is possible within the AF, since this organisation is nor a federation, nor anarchist. The AF has a single purpose : to be the AF and be self-sufficient, to keep up appearances and a shopfront, by exploiting an anarchist history which would be ashamed of it.
    Don’t want to be an anarchist just for the time of a demonstration.
    I don’t want a label devoid of meaning.
    I want anarchy to be a transformation of society and of ourselves, in order to abolish oppressions that I am subjected to and from which I benefit.
    Because when we choose to stay in an organisation which is in reality authoritarian, bureaucratic, antifederal, antifeminist, homophobic, sexist and speciesist, we are not making things progress, we are complicit in oppression."
     

    Saturday, 2 August 2014

    Errico Malatesta on violence.

    http://antidotezine.com/2014/05/01/anarchism-and-violence/


    "But if a man of honour declares that he believes it stupid and barbarous to argue with a stick in his hand; that it is unjust and evil to oblige a person to obey the will of another at pistol point, is it, perhaps, reasonable to deduce that that gentleman intends to allow himself to be beaten up and be made to submit to the will of another without having recourse to more extreme means for his defence?
    Violence is justifiable only when it is necessary to defend oneself and others from violence. It is where necessity ceases that crime begins"

    "The slave is always in a state of legitimate defence and consequently, his violence against the boss, against the oppressor, is always morally justifiable, and must be controlled only by such considerations as that the best and most economical use is being made of human effort and human sufferings."
    " The question may seem embarrassing, but it can be answered in a few words. For two people to live in peace they must both want peace; if one insists on using force to oblige the other to work for him and serve him, then the other, if he wishes to retain his dignity as a man and not be reduced to abject slavery, will be obliged in spite of his love of peace, to resist force with adequate means."
    "The struggle against government is, in the last analysis, physical, material. Governments make the law. They must therefore dispose of the material forces (police and army) to impose the law, for otherwise only those who wanted to would obey it, and it would no longer be the law, but a simple series of suggestions which all would be free to accept or reject. Governments have this power, however, and use it through the law, to strengthen their power, however, as well as to serve the interests of the ruling classes, by oppressing and exploiting the workers. The only limit to the oppression of government is the power with which the people show themselves capable of opposing it.
    Conflict may be open or latent; but it always exists since the government does not pay attention to discontent and popular resistance except when it is faced with the danger of insurrection. When the people meekly submit to the law, or their protests are feeble and confined to words, the government studies its own interests and ignores the needs of the people; when the protests are lively, insistent, threatening, the government, depending on whether it is more or less understanding, gives way or resorts to repression. But one always comes back to insurrection, for if the government does not give way, the people will end by rebelling; and if the government does give way, then the people gain confidence in themselves and make ever increasing demands, until such time as the incompatibility between freedom and authority becomes clear and the violent struggle is engaged. It is therefore necessary to be prepared, morally and materially, so that when this does happen the people will emerge victorious."
    "This revolution must of necessity be violent, even though violence is in itself an evil. It must be violent because a transitional, revolutionary, violence, is the only wayto put and end to the far greater, and permanent, violence which keeps the majority of mankind in servitude.
    The Bourgeoisie [the Upper Middle Class - the capitalist class] will never allow itself to be expropriated without a struggle, and one will always have to resort to the coup de force, to the violation of legal order by illegal means."
    "We too are deeply unhappy at this need for violent struggle. We who preach love, and who struggle to achieve a state of society in which agreement and love are possible among men, suffer more than anybody by the necessity with which we are confronted of having to defend ourselves with violence against the violence of the ruling classes. However, to renounce a liberating violence, when it is the only way to end the daily sufferings and the savage carnage which afflict mankind, would be to connive at the class antagonisms we deplore and at the evils which arise from them."
    "We intend to use force against government, because it is by force that we are kept in subjugation by government. We intend to expropriate the owners of property because it is by force that they withhold the raw materials and wealth, which is the fruit of human labour, and use it to oblige others to work in their interest.
    We shall resist with force whoever would wish by force, to retain or regain the means to impose his will and exploit the labour of others. We would resist any force any ‘dictatorship’ or ‘constituent’ [Communist or Fascist] that attempted to impose itself on the masses in revolt. And we will fight the republic as we fight the monarchy, if by republic is meant government, however it may come to power, which makes laws and disposes of military and penal powers to oblige the people to obey."
    "I have repeated a thousand times that I believe that not to ‘actively’ resist evil, adequately and by every possible way is, in theory absurd, because it is in contradiction with the aim of avoiding and destroying evil, and in practice immoral because it is a denial of human solidarity and the duty that stems from it to defend the weak and the oppressed. I think that a regime which is born of violence and which continues to exist by violence cannot be overthrown except by a corresponding and proportionate violence, and that one is therefore either stupid or deceived in relying on legality where the oppressors can change the law to suit their own ends. But I believe that violence is, for us who aim at peace among men, and justice and freedom for all, an unpleasant necessity, which must cease the moment liberation is achieved – that is, at the point where defence and security are no longer threatened – or become a crime against humanity, and the harbinger of new oppression and injustice.
    We are on principle opposed to violence and for this reason wish that the social struggle should be conducted as humanely as possible. But this does not mean that we would wish it to be less determined, less thoroughgoing; indeed we are of the opinion that in the long run half measures only indefinitely prolong the struggle, neutralizing it as well as encouraging more of the kind of violence which one wishes to avoid. Neither does it mean that we limit the right of self-defence to resistance against actual or imminent attack. For us the oppressed are always in a state of legitimate defence and are fully justified in rising without waiting to be actually fired on; and we are fully aware of the fact that attack is often the best means of defence…"
    "Revenge, persistent hatred, cruelty to the vanquished when they have been overcome, are understandable reactions and can even be forgiven, in the heat of the struggle, in those whose dignity has been cruelly offended, and whose most intimate feelings have been outraged. But to condone ferocious anti-human feelings and raise them to the level of a principle, advocating them as a tactic for a movement [as the Fascists do], is both evil and counter-revolutionary."
    "For us revolution must not mean the substitution of one oppressor for another, of our domination for that of others. We want the material and spiritual elevation of man; the disappearance of every distinction between vanquished and conquerors; sincere brotherhood among all mankind – without which history would continue, as in the past, to be an alternation between oppression and rebellion, at the expense of real progress, and in the long term to the disadvantage of everybody, the conqueror no less than the vanquished.
    It is abundantly clear that violence is needed to resist the violence of the adversary, and we must advocate and prepare it, if we do not wish the present situation of slavery in disguise, in which most humanity finds itself, to continue and worsen. But violence contains within itself the danger of transforming the revolution into a brutal struggle without the light of an ideal and without possibilities of a beneficial outcome; and for this reason one must stress the moral aims of the movement, and the need, and the duty, to contain violence within the limits of strict necessity.
    We do not say that violence is good when we use it and harmful when others use it against us. We say that violence is justifiable, good and ‘moral’ as well as a duty when it is used in one’s own defence and that of others, against the demands of those who believe in violence; it is an evil and ‘immoral’ if it serves to violate the freedoms of others…
    We are not ‘pacifists’ because peace is not possible unless it is desired by both sides.
    We consider violence a necessity and a duty for defence, but only for defence. And we mean not only for defence against direct, sudden, physical attack, but against all those institutions that use force to keep people in a state of servitude. We are against Fascism and we would wish that it were weakened by opposing to its violence a greater violence. And we are, above all, against government, which is permanent violence."