Scotland and the SNP

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commiegal
Scotland and the SNP
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Just wondering what everyone's thoughts were on this? Ive not seen much analysis from a left communist point of view.

Alf
some reading material
commiegal
So would the ICC advocate

So would the ICC advocate that people not vote at all in the referendum as opposed to votong for yes or no? Sorry if that seems a stupid question. It seems to me that if scotland was to become independent it would have a serious impact on the UK state. I know a few people up there who are definitely not nationalists who voted yes because saw it as a protest against austerity, although i think there are equally strong arguments on the no side that it divides the working class. The thing is both sides used nationalism in their arguments and during the election and now that nationalism has been unleashed in england as well as scotland, its increasingly hard to control.

schalken
My take

commiegal wrote:
So would the ICC advocate that people not vote at all in the referendum as opposed to votong for yes or no?

Can't speak for the ICC, or substantively (I am an American who has not paid much attention), but I definitely would have advocated abstention. My reasoning is twofold.

First, to vote for one party/policy over another even as a "protest against austerity" is to endorse the non-marxist idea that politics is somehow divorced from economics, that austerity (or any other policy) is a completely independent intellectual invention, one summoned up according to the good or bad intentions of those advocating it, rather than a necessary measure to safeguard capital. To put it more succinctly, to vote is to give support to the false idea that "the economic laws of society are controlled by oratorial battles" (to quote a 1935 issue of the International Council Correspondence).

Second, by voting, one gives credence to the notion that bourgeois democracy is a valid tactic to "change things." Even if one says that the outcome doesn't matter, that their vote is a protest vote, the result is to accord some importance to the ballot box. But history shows that the ruling class is always eager to bring people to the ballot box, if only to keep them out of the streets.

LBird
Non-Marxist idea?

schalken wrote:

First, to vote for one party/policy over another even as a "protest against austerity" is to endorse the non-marxist idea that politics is somehow divorced from economics, that austerity (or any other policy) is a completely independent intellectual invention, one summoned up according to the good or bad intentions of those advocating it, rather than a necessary measure to safeguard capital. To put it more succinctly, to vote is to give support to the false idea that "the economic laws of society are controlled by oratorial battles" (to quote a 1935 issue of the International Council Correspondence).

The 'idea' that politics plays a great part in understanding economics is not 'the non-marxist idea that politics is somehow divorced from economics'.

That is, 'playing a great part' does not equal 'divorced' or 'completely undependent' or 'controlling'.

There is an inter-relationship between 'economics' and politics, and I'd argue that the separation of these by stressing 'the economic laws of society' to the detriment of 'proletarian politics' is the 'non-marxist idea'.

'Oratorial battles' have their place, in the proletarian struggle to develop our class consciousness in the face of ruling class ideas.

Alf
abstentionism on principle

Agree with Scahlken's reply. As our platform explains, abstentionism from bourgeois parliaments and elections is a principle in this epoch of history: 

 

In the ascendant period of capitalism, parliament was the most appropriate form for the organisation of the bourgeoisie. As a specifically bourgeois institution, it was never a primary arena for the activity of the working class and the proletariat’s participation in parliamentary activity and electoral campaigns contained a number of real dangers, against which revolutionaries of the last century always alerted the class. However, in a period when the revolution was not yet on the agenda and when the proletariat could wrest reforms from within the system, participation in parliament allowed the class to use it to press for reforms, to use electoral campaigns as a means for propaganda and agitation for the proletarian programme, and to use parliament as a tribune for denouncing the ignominy of bourgeois politics. This is why the struggle for universal suffrage was throughout the nineteenth century in many countries one of the most important issues around which the proletariat organised.

As the capitalist system entered its decadent phase, parliament ceased to be an instrument for reforms. As the Communist International said at its Second Congress: "The centre of gravity of political life has now been completely and finally removed beyond the confines of parliament". The only role parliament could play from then on, the only thing that keeps it alive, is its role as an instrument of mystification. Thus ended any possibility for the proletariat to use parliament in any way. The class cannot gain impossible reforms from an organ which has lost any real political function. At a time when its basic task is to destroy all institutions of the bourgeois state and thus parliament; when it must set up its own dictatorship on the ruins of universal suffrage and other vestiges of bourgeois society, participation in parliamentary and electoral institutions can only lead to these moribund bodies being given a semblance of life no matter what the intentions of those who advocate this kind of activity.

Participation in elections and parliament no longer has any of the advantages it had last century. On the contrary, it is full of dangers, especially that of keeping alive illusions about the possibility of a ‘peaceful’ or ‘gradual’ transition to socialism through the conquest of a parliamentary majority by the so-called ‘workers’ parties’.

The strategy of ‘destroying parliament from within’ through the use of ‘revolutionary’ delegates has been decisively proved to have no other result than the corruption of the political organisations who undertake such activities and their absorption into capitalism.

Finally, to the extent that such activity is essentially the concern of specialists, an arena for the games of political parties rather than for the self-activity of the masses; the use of elections and parliament as instruments for agitation and propaganda tends to preserve the political premises of bourgeois society and encourage passivity in the working class. If such a disadvantage was acceptable when the revolution was not an immediate possibility, it has become a decisive obstacle in a period when the only task on the historical agenda for the proletariat is precisely the overthrow of the old social order and the creation of a communist society, which demands the active and conscious participation of the whole class.

If at the beginning the tactics of ‘revolutionary parliamentarism’ were primarily an expression of the weight of the past within the class and its organisations, the disastrous results of such tactics show that they are profoundly bourgeois.

LBird
Voting

Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with Alf's comments about the hard-earned experience of the dangers of 'parliamentary elections' for the proletariat, and that political steps should be taken to prevent those dangers happening again, there is still a place for 'parliamentary elections' as a minor strand in proletarian activity.

The major strand must of course be building proletarian self-confidence (class consciousness) and self-organisation (workers' councils), but there is a role, while it exists, for gaining a majority in a parliament, to legitimise workers' power in the eyes of bourgeois democrats within the state.

During the revolutionary process, a (perhaps sizable) section of the ruling class, including members of the military officer corps, will come over to the revolution, and legitimising this revolution in bourgeois terms can only strengthen this tendency, and weaken the state.

This parallel 'parliamentary' activity can help weaken those arguing for a coup.

baboon
Elections

I agree with the position of schalken on the question of voting generally and commiegirl indicates how the question of anti-austerity is used to suck people into voting for what can only be another political faction of the bourgeosie that itself will implement austerity measures one way or another. I think that on the general question of elections in the change of period from ascendency to decadence, this is well laid out in the article on Jean Jaures on this website and all the more powerful for being from an "individual" point of view.

I think that the recent general election, including the participation and activity of the SNP, has been a significant victory of a coherent British bourgeoisie over the working class and in continuity with the post-1990 message that class struggle is finished and we need to pull together (particularly "working people") for the national interest. In a way the foresight that it used and the care that it took to get the right election result is a back-handed compliment to the working class and an indication of the constant fear that the bourgeosie lives in from it.

Before the appearance of the SNP in anything like the weight it has today, it was the trade unions that played the leading role of keeiing workers in Scotland divided from those of England and elsewhere. Even during the heights of the miners' strike for example, the Scottish NUM was run as an independent fiefdom looking out for its own particular interests. There's nothing to say though that the unions in Scotland can't work with the SNP or attempt to put up a phoney opposition to it should the need arise.

Link
whoever gets in, the ruling class wins.

 

I think what i'd like to add to the above posts commiegal is that to participate in elections in this period can also be seen as helping the bourgeoisie to manage capitalism and, in that it spreads illusions in the parliament as an apparatus involved in the management of capitalism, that can only draw the working class into supporting one faction or another.  To paraphrase: whoever gets in, the ruling class wins.

I would apply this not only to the scottish referendum but also to the EU membership referendum that is likely to appear before long.  This is perhaps even more of a problem for the left in that the for and against arguments for EU membership split right across the political spectrum.  

Personally I have quite enjoyed the slightly easier travel the EU gives and the ability to work and study in other EU countries but these are options that state capitalism and its use of passports took away in the first place - so politically it is clearly a product of the internationalization of capital and offers no genuine benefits for the working class. Above all though, for the UK working class it just doesn’t matter whether it has British or European masters for that is all that can be decided by such a referendum. 

Interesting elements of the decision for the bourgeoisie however will be whether the UK bourgeoisie will see it as economically beneficial to stay in the EU or go the nationalist route.  It will also introduce complications in relation to Scotland and its supporters for devolution/independence.

Crisanto
Unconditional abstentionism

Alf wrote:

As our platform explains, abstentionism from bourgeois parliaments and elections is a principle in this epoch of history

I agree that voting or abstention is a matter of principle based on the historical period of capitalism. This is not just a tactic against capitalism as what the leftists always insisted. Hence, in the epoch in which capitalism is completely decadent and the bourgeoisie is reactionary the only remaining proletarian principle regarding bourgeois elections is abstention or boycott (as the term used in the Philippines).

There is no "vote if" or "abstain if" in the current historical period.

lem_
i read a liberal defence

i read a liberal defence (partly against communists) based on the claim that participation in bour. democracy implies consent to it. yeah i don't know about the metaphysics - but the bour. vote is just so pointless on an individual level is just (and obviously) pointless - and in a group way it p uch certainly encourages particpation on different / many levels.

 

you can't vote without illusions IMHO