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. "


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