Issue 28 of Revolution is out now! Includes Marxist analysis on the Brexit Crisis, the climate crisis and the supposed oil boom, looming trade union struggles, the YES movement and class divisions over currency in he SNP, the EU election, Corbyn and the Labour Party as well international news from the movement against the Bolsonaro government in Brazil and the striking dockworkers in France and Italy. We publish the editorial written by Ross Walker from the IMT Edinburgh branch.
As this is written, Theresa May is about to leave her job as Prime Minister. In doing so she’s opening the door to an even more turbulent political period throughout these islands. Currently, Boris Johnson is favourite to replace her but regardless of who becomes the next PM, we can be sure that they won’t be strong and stable.
The humiliating 9% result, the Tories got in the European elections is a harbinger of a disastrous General Election for them, which is partly why they wont call one. Farage’s Brexit Party dominated with 32%, thanks to their uniquely straight-forward message, to leave the EU. The exception to this was in Scotland where the SNP dominated, with 38%.
Less than two weeks later, May was forced to cuddle up with one of the world’s most hated men, Donald Trump, in order to secure deals for the British capitalist class in Post Brexit Britain. This state visit from the US president was met with tens of thousands of protesters. During a press conference, Trump even said that the NHS would need to be on the table for privatisation in a post Brexit Britain, sparking outrage amongst workers and youth. In reality, the NHS has always been on the table for privatisation, since the crisis hit, 11 years ago. Trump is just too stupid not to say it.
The 2016 Brexit vote, which marked the beginning of this political crisis, similar to the vote for Trump in the US, was a reflection of a mass rejection of liberal capitalism and the austerity, corruption and alienation that comes with it. Unfortunately, this rejection has given authority to the protectionist and xenophobic wings of the capitalist class, who neither have the intention nor the ability to deal with the crisis, as proven by comments form Trump and Farage about privatising the NHS.
Liberal commentators highlight this rise of protectionism and nationalism and claim it shows the masses are too ignorant to know what’s best for them. However, in doing this they reveal their own ignorance of the mass movements and class conscious which have emerged since the crisis all over the world.
School students have shown their radical potential by carrying out climate strikes throughout the world. Increasingly this movement is taking on an anti-capitalist character and no wonder. No problem shows the absolute destructiveness and impotence of capitalism than that of global warming. Impressively the newly invigorated environmental movement has pushed Holyrood to scrap plans to cut aviation tax by 50%. However the movement must and could go much further. Radical teachers’ strikes in countries such as Poland, New Zealand, the US and elsewhere show the potential power such a movement could have if it linked up with the working class, starting with the teachers.
In May, dock workers in Italy and France refused to board arms to Saudi Arabia, in solidarity with the Yemeni people currently being brutalised by Saudi military. In doing so they re-ignited internationalist tradition of dockworkers going back to similar actions in solidarity with the Russian Revolution, Vietnam against US invasion and the post war colonial struggles. In North Africa, the revolutionary movements in Sudan and Algeria have shaken the region and are a taste to what the future holds here.
There’s been a notable increase among precarious workers taking action in the private sector worldwide, with strikes occurring at companies such as Amazon, Weatherspoon, McDonalds and more recently Uber. More locally, Lothian bus drivers have balloted to strike over bullying and treatment at work during and could strike during the Edinburgh festival, something which will hit Scotland’s deeply exploitative tourism capitalists where it hurts.
Down south, workers and youth are taking a hold of the Labour Party machine and making it their own again. The Autumn conference will debate motions on the nationalisation of housing conglomerates, a socialist environmental policy and even the re-implementation of Clause Four, which would commit the party to common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. A new General election will release the potential of this movement on a mass scale.
Here, the mass movement around independence shown itself to still be alive with a huge march in Glasgow. The All Under One Banner in Galashiels even attracted several thousand. The YES movement has clearly been boosted by the SNP’s consistent and confident criticism of the Westminster, the Tories and Brexit and their seemingly clear alternative.
However life isn’t plain sailing for the SNP leaders. Last year, they released the Growth Commission for an independent Scotland promising deficit reduction, sterling-isation and solidarity payments to Westminster. This was a clear signal to the ruling class that the SNP leaders could govern Scottish capitalism ‘sensibly’. However, the commission has met significant resistance from membership and the wider YES movement. The SNP leaders attempted to placate this resistance by promising to set up a Scottish currency, but only after a series of six tests are met. The resistance was not placated and several SNP left wingers put forward an amendment at Spring conference to set up a new currency as soon as practically possible. In this case the SNP leadership were defeated by the rank and file who voted for the amendment, something which will embolden SNP members in the future and make it harder for the leadership to maintain such strict control over the party.
At the same time The SNP government has and will continue to come under pressure from the trade unions. We’ve seen this already with Glasgow council workers over the inspirational Equal Pay Strike and also with the teachers pay dispute. As this is written, Glasgow and Aberdeen airport workers are on strike over pensions and pay, two weeks after air traffic controllers struck in six of Scotland’s publicly owned smaller airports. These strikes pose questions to Holyrood over implementing austerity and privatisation. The pressure the SNP leaders face from the unions as well as the party’s left leaning rank and file will in time lead to clearer divisions in the independence movement along class lines.
The independence movement has a potential to be the vehicle of mass fightback against the rotten capitalist system in Scotland, however this is not predetermined. Socialists in Scotland must take the progressive, anti-austerity and anti-Westminster mood that fueled the YES campaign and take it to its logical conclusion of by fighting for the YES movement to be as socialist and internationalist as possible. We must point out that the pro-capitalist SNP leadership, whether they lead us to independence or not, will not lead the Scottish working class to liberation. This can only be achieved in the fight for a Scottish Workers’ Republic and part of a World Socialist Federation
We must build connections between the overwhelmingly left wing rank and file of both the Labour Party and the YES movement. A Labour government would have an opportunity to put the SNP MPs on the spot by asking them to back Labour’s left wing programme. If Corbyn opposes Trident renewal, defends migrants rights and the right for Scotland to hold another referendum, he would leave SNP leaders with no ground to attack him. In power, he could then call on the SNP to back his programme. This would either force SNP MPs to become anti-austerity in practice as well as speech, or expose those who don’t.
The ideas of revolutionary Marxism are gaining popularity throughout the world. It is our task to build around these ideas to end austerity, crisis and exploitation in Scotland, these islands and the world. If you want to get involved with us please get in touch.