Scottish nationalism shows growing divisions in the ruling class

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
jk1921
Scottish nationalism shows growing divisions in the ruling class
Printer-friendly version

The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Scottish nationalism shows growing divisions in the ruling class. The discussion was initiated by jk1921.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

jk1921
Good article. However, I

Good article. However, I think it is hard to describe the UK as a "well-established nation state." This raises the question then, is there one UK bourgeoisie or are there seperate English, Scottish, etc. bourgeoisies with their own interests? How do these factions overlap? I agree the mostly likely outcome of this is some kind of further devolution within the framework of the UK, but there does appear to be rising tensions within the UK bourgeoisie over the question of Europe, which on some level even seems to be threatening its territorial cohesion. Not only is the EU called into question, but now the UK as well? Of course, the UK bourgeoise seems to have been well-aware of this problem for some time with the the recent consternations over the meaning of "Britishness," etc, but this seemed more a response to immigration and the failiure to integrate Islamic immigrants.

On a more theoretical note, the ICC has often argued that any nation born in decadence is "still-born"? Would this be the case if Scotland became independent or was it already a nation prior to decadence within the rather unique arrangement of the UK? A similar question could probably be raised about Quebec in relation to Canada.

Demogorgon
"However, I think it is hard

"However, I think it is hard to describe the UK as a "well-established nation state." This raises the question then, is there one UK bourgeoisie or are there seperate English, Scottish, etc. bourgeoisies with their own interests? How do these factions overlap?"

Regardless of whether there has ever really been a British bourgeoisie or seperatate nationalist bourgeoisies working together (or the English dominating the rest), the fact is that they've largely been able to act in unison to defend their common interests. The broader point t make is that this unison is more and more under threat as the ruling class everywhere is splintering under the pressure of the historic crisis of their system.

Different states experience this historic decay in different ways according to their specific histories. The rise of the SNP is an manifestation of the general tendency; other nation states have their own difficulties (e.g. the lunatic fringe of the US right).

I don't think there's a direct relationship between the divisions on Europe (although very real) are directly impacting on the rise of nationalism in the sense of "We like Europe, lets abandon Westminster, create Scotland and join the EU". Rather, the nationalists see the EU as a way of maintaining the protection of being part of a larger bloc, while gaining more independence i.e. of furthering their long-term goals.

"On a more theoretical note, the ICC has often argued that any nation born in decadence is "still-born"? Would this be the case if Scotland became independent or was it already a nation prior to decadence within the rather unique arrangement of the UK? A similar question could probably be raised about Quebec in relation to Canada. "

Partially answered above, but Scotland (even in Alex Salmond's wildest dreams) has no intention of really going it alone. It's ambition is to create a Scottish Tiger modelled after the Celtic Tiger of Ireland in the framework of the EU. Of course, the wheels have fallen off Ireland's model and the Euro is no longer looking like the ticket to riches it might have before. So, in a sense, Scotland won't even attempt to become a truly independent nation in the classic sense and it's clear that any such attempt would be doomed from the start.

The rise of the EU in general points to the growing contradictions in the economic and political structures of capitalism. On the one-hand, there are powerful economic imperatives to break down national barriers, yet this is accompanied by the growth of nationalisms. Even trading blocs tend to fortify themselves against competitors more and more, reproducing contradictions that overcome within their boundaries on a higher level.

jk1921
Thanks Demo. Good post!

Thanks Demo. Good post!

jk1921
Hmm, this is an interesting

Hmm, this is an interesting discussion. I wonder though, and humour me here, if there isn't a little more reality to this than we have been willing to admit. Devo talked about the desire by some elements in Scotland to try to create a "Scottish tiger" in the vein of the "Irish tiger," but it seems the model may be somewhat different. (Comrades acan correct me if I am wrong) Wasn't the Irish boom based on banking and other financial shell games, whereas it seems the model being discussed for Scotland is one of trying to preserve the industrial/extraction base of the economy and maintain some level of the social welfare state as a buffer against the working class, but also as a way of disentangling Scotland from the downward trajecotry of a UK economy that has largely remained relevant to global captialism through the City of London. In a sense, the main factions of the UK bourgeoisie have chosen a more American model of financialization that has left the economy extremely vulnerable to global shocks, whereas it seems there is a faction in Scotland that would prefer to try to maintain a more traditional form of state captialism. Could part of this be elements of the Scottish bourgeoisie looking at the riots this past year and seeing an ugly premonition of the future for Scotland that the City of London model offers and deciding to try a different way.

In the end we know that neither model offers a way for any of the various national factions of UK captial and the fact that this is on the table in some way only shows the gravity of the dilemna facing it. But is it a coincidence that at the very moment that Cameron pokes his finger in Sarkozy's eye over the financial transaction task, elements of the Scottish bourgeoisie trump their more social democratic credentials? Is this all for show or is there some level of reality here highlighting some fundamental differences regarding the place of UK captial in the global economy and the best strategies for managing the crisis?

 

Demogorgon
"Wasn't the Irish boom based

"Wasn't the Irish boom based on banking and other financial shell games, whereas it seems the model being discussed for Scotland is one of trying to preserve the industrial/extraction base of the economy and maintain some level of the social welfare state as a buffer against the working class, but also as a way of disentangling Scotland from the downward trajecotry of a UK economy that has largely remained relevant to global captialism through the City of London."

Except the principal victims of the banking crisis were actually Scottish banks - RBS and HBOS. Edinburgh is very important financial hub. As for finance being the only "relevant" bit of the UK economy, this is not true. Manufacturing is still a bigger part of the economy in terms of GDP share than finance-proper (the wider category of services is much bigger of course).

What proportion of that industry is in Scotland, of course I wouldn't be able to say without further research. But Scottish shipbuilding (for example) would struggle greatly if it was cut off from lucrative UK military contracts.

In all honesty, I'm not sure there's a rational basis for Scottish independence (even in the limited form such "independence" would take as discussed above) at all.

"Is this all for show or is there some level of reality here highlighting some fundamental differences regarding the place of UK captial in the global economy and the best strategies for managing the crisis?"

I'd say probably a bit of both. There are certainly real divisions among the bourgeoisie and it's becoming harder to hold things together. Having said that, identifying the final result of a terminal illness doesn't mean the patient is dead yet! The UK bourgeoisie (or its dominant factions anyway) is still among the most intelligent and cohesive in the world, for all its difficulties. It's also able to use those difficulties against the working class in a conscious way - for example, transforming the MPs expenses scandals into a campaign about democracy, the "banker bashing" to deflect questioning away from the wider systemic issues, etc.

jk1921
Thanks Demo. I don't think

Thanks Demo. I don't think what you are saying is fundamentally incompatible with the point I am trying to make. It does look like there are some serious differences developing in the UK over what is the best "model" for the national captial moving forward. I do think it is significant that London has become a center--if not the center--of the global financial industry and it isn't inconceivable that there are factions of the UK bourgeoisie--some based in Scotland--that might think this is a mistake. Sure industry remains important. We have heard for well nigh 40 years now all about deindustrialization, etc. and yet industry and manufacturing remain important even in the U.S. rust belt; but there does seems to be something tangible to the dispute between factions of the bourgeoisie who have embraced "financialization" and those who are uneasy about it.

You may be right that there is no "rational" basis for Scottish independence, but this won't necessarily prevent the emergence of a faction of the bourgeoisie who thinks it could be a viable strategy for protecting the interests of the national or in this case perhaps sub-national captial.There is probably no rational basis for Quebec independence either, but it almost happened.

 

 

 

Demogorgon
I think your last paragraph

I think your last paragraph hits the nail on the head JK1921. All of these movements are gaining strength regardless of their rational content. I think our only point of disagreement (if we can even call it that) is whether Scottish nationalism represents an "industrial" wing of the bourgeoisie. I don't think it's quite that simple, although there is certainly an issue within the wider British bourgeoisie about the role of industry, e.g. Cameron's nonsense about rebalancing the economy etc.

jk1921
You are right Demo, its

You are right Demo, its probably not as simple as saying this or that faction of the bourgeoisie represents this or that form of capital--but I do think its possible that the Scottish nationalism reflects a certain desire by a faction of the bourgeoisie to rethink the "financialization" model and the tethering of Scotland to the City of London. I don't know how fruitful it is ultimately to think in terms of factions of the bourgeoisie being expressions of particular forms of captial, but I think its likely that the factional fights we are seeing reflect a growing discord over how to manage the crisis. Maybe it is more a fight over strategy than an expression of raw self-interest.

On the other hand, there does seem to be a growing assertiveness of the bourgeoisie from those areas where resource extraction is a major component of the economy: Scotland, Alberta, Texas, etc. There seems to be something about oil that produces a certain confidence. I wouldn't take Rick Perry's threat that Texas might secede from the United States too seriously, but the fact that this type of discourse made it into the Presidential race I think reflects the growing tensions between competing visions of how to address the crisis.

jk1921
Another thought I had was

Another thought I had was about the importance of the Scottish bourgeoisie to the reproduction of the national Labour Party. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't Scotland a bedrock of Labour's electoral support? What are the implications of Scottish nationalism for the overall division of labour between the various parties in UK national politics?

baboon
Without going into it too

Without going into it too deeply, and taking into account the effect that decomposition has on the "every man for himself"of the system, I think that devolution has generally been an ideological success for the British bourgeoisie. In Wales for instance, it's reinforced local democracy, strengthened the political apparatus and "grass roots" labour and leftist activism. Like Scotland, it's another imposed division for the working class to surmount.

jk1921
Devolution may have been an

Devolution may have been an ideological success in general, but has it been a material success for the Scottish and/or Welsh sections of the bourgeoisie? If so, has this been to the detriment of the overall national capital?