"The struggle between competing nationalisms, British and Scottish, has created one of the most worrying changes in ideological outlook in Scotland"
talks about the co-opting, the slyness of the SNP,
" Political relevance was linked to a narrative of physical closeness. No room was given to the thought that the halls of Westminster had no relevance to the working class of London, let alone any other part of the UK."
"However, taking a look at ‘civic nationalist’ North European countries who are already independent (such as Norway or Sweden), we can see there is no easy division between cultural/ethnic nationalism and civic nationalism. Citizenship is not determined by ideals, but by meeting the cultural expectations and economic needs of the nation-state."
" Even now, if independence were to occur then the working class in Scotland would probably see some temporary concessions that would later be stripped away or made redundant while the government followed something akin to the pattern of the Isle of Man in terms of becoming a banking haven while pandering to the oil industry. This would be in much the same way Tony Blair gave some concessions when New Labour swept to power in order to clear the way for a highly accelerated privatisation programme."
"The option opened for radicals to call for changes to be made in areas the Scottish Parliament had some oversight, and keep pushing the envelope on these areas. A radical left campaign making noise on specific issues and demanding change before the referendum could have been a big enough thorn in the ‘Yes’ campaign that its leaders would have to cater to in some way.
Unfortunately the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) was set up by the ISG, a mainly-local split from the SWP, with the goal of them forging a new party of the left to replace the stump of the SSP in the political class of Scotland. By providing a degree of autonomy to local campaigning groups while keeping the focus solely on electoral politics, RIC it was able to forge a space for talk of a ‘new party of the left’ while also making the completely erroneous claim that what they were doing was somehow radical. RIC (along with most of the left in Scotland), started the independence campaign with a whimper and did little more than play the role of the left wing voice of the ‘Yes’ campaign."
"Increasingly electoralism in general, and an independent Scottish nation-state in particular, were pushed as only true way to enact radical change. Even large swaths of the anarchist movement in Scotland started to see the referendum as a means to radical change, abandoning the anarchist analysis of referenda as a means to offer legitimacy to the social relations of the state.
The SNP, already a party who had already made large moves to entertain capitalist interests, found that they were given a free hand by the Scottish left and so were to go largely unchallenged even when making overtures to their suitability to lead a nation-state. This was most visible when they dropped their commitment to leave NATO should they end up in charge of a newly-formed state, an action that had more vocal opposition from inside the party than from without.
As the campaign gathered a pace the SNP carried on presenting themselves as the opposition, now as the counter-point to the ConDem coalition. Without anyone pressing them hard on putting in place concessions, the SNP were able to target emergent areas of militant class struggle and disarm then co-opt working class movements that could harm their nationalist programme. Struggles around the bedroom tax, fracking, and the independent living fund, all of which led to militant direct action south of the border, were given concessions by an SNP eager to have smooth publicity around the referendum.
While it is good that these concessions have been made, we need to be clear that they were granted without the formation of a militant and self-organised working class and so without that build-up will be easier to dismantle once their usefulness had passed. These concessions also act as an indication of how fragile the nationalist campaign was in the run-up to the referendum, showing an opportunity missed, and a disappointing lack of initiative and a complete lack of class analysis from self-declared radicals. Many who would normally have engaged in agitation for working class struggle had been swayed enough by the ideas of nationalism that they didn’t build for confrontation out of a sense of shared interest in the founding of a nation-state (no matter how critical they claimed their position to be)."
"The reality of civic nationalism also came to light as the SNP backed an Australian-style points-based immigration system which would act as an incredibly racist, exclusive form of immigration selection. This isn’t to deny that an SNP government is more likely to accept an increased number of immigrants, but rather than being out of some civic sense of fairness it would be selecting those seen as needed to a Scottish economy in order to offset an ageing population and ensure a competitive labour force.
In terms of foreign policy, the SNP’s civic nationalism is concerned with uniting the country in order to out-compete on the global market, and to be a strong ally for the US, NATO and the EU. Presumably it seeks to support a ‘civic’, ‘inclusive’ rather than ‘jingoistic’ imperialism."
"Worse than this, in Inverness an elected Labour Party MP, Dame Anne Begg, took her party to the streets to campaign alongside Dave McDonald, the Scottish leader of the far-right National Front! Any suggestion that they did not know one another is unlivable given that McDonald had been active in electoral politics for the area since 2003 and they had been active in campeigning against one another. The Labour Party were happy to be ‘Better Together’ with Nazis."
The reactionary role of the referendum:-
"The mass engagement that took place around this campaign, lauded by so many, was totally encompassed within these nationalist paradigms. Grassroots groups and coal-face campaigns were diverted to discussion of nationalist ends. People were putting their energy into supporting one form of state or another, and leaving the real problems facing them here and now unchallenged. Nationalism and electoralism had combined to keep mounting class tensions focussed on helping mediate a dispute within the ruling classes."
"In any case Scottish independence now seems inevitable, it is just a question of when. The longer the SNP can hold off the more young voters (who are generally Yes-leaning) come of age while the older generation (which voted in a conservative No) dies off. However, the longer they wait, the more times they will have had to choose between implementing austerity measures and losing popularity or giving concessions. This means that until independence takes place there is still the opportunity to really push for large gains for the working class. Unfortunately, the way in which nationalism has divided us as a class and the huge re-establishment of electoral politics are preventing effective movements from forming."
"Authoritarian Trotskyist and Leninist groups will be leeching onto any eruptions of spontaneous class activity they can in order to take control and bleed them dry for members. While they make lots of talk about building grassroots movements, they have no interest in helping develop working class self-organisation. Instead they simply want to insert their party at the head of any emerging struggles. We have already seen the disgraced Socialist Workers Party buying their way back into campaigns and trying to use front-group tactics to give an air of legitimacy to their actions, while the Revolutionary Communist Group continue to parachute into areas while claiming their move to take charge is an act of solidarity."
"Where does that leave anarchists and other libertarians?
I reckon we will, as ever, be involved in the struggles that affect our lives. In doing so we need to be aware that reformist electoralism and nationalism will need to be faced. Diversions towards campaigns to simply replace one local mob of crooked politicians with another will be strong, while electoral options and nationalist futures will try to turn our heads.
To win the leadership of ideas I feel anarchists need to ensure that we are always putting our principled end goals into effect through our current calls for action, and making sure that we challenge others to do the same. If someone says they are voting for the SNP or are wanting to see an independent Scotland then find out why. Often it will be for an end result we hold in common, such as ending poverty or dismantling the detention system. We can argue the case for their involvement in groups founded on the principle of collective self-organisation, that take direct action over elections, and that reveal the perils of a nationalist ideology though securing their active participation in class struggle."