Scottish Referendum, 18 Sept 2014

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jondwhite
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Jul 4 2014 07:41
Scottish Referendum, 18 Sept 2014

Scottish Referendum, 18 Sept 2014
Which way should workers vote?

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Steven.
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Jul 7 2014 19:46

There have been a few blog posts and forum discussions about this already. These two blog posts are good:
http://libcom.org/library/independent-free-glasgow-anarchists-take-scott...
http://libcom.org/blog/some-quick-thoughts-scottish-independence-2006201...

And this thread was quite good:
http://libcom.org/forums/theory/independent-scotland-anyone-12042012

But as that was from 2012 and the referendum is imminent I will leave this discussion in the forums, for discussion of the more up-to-date situation.

But in general my view is still the same as it was then: it doesn't matter which side workers vote for, what matters is the level of self-organisation of the working class.

Left-wing supporters on both sides of the debate can make arguments on why workers should vote one way or another, but each potential benefit is balanced by a downside. E.g. some say that an independent Scotland would elect more left-wing parties, but on the flipside it would mean a boost for right-wing parties in the remainder of the UK.

So I would argue for workers not have any illusions in government of whatever nationality, and instead to fight for their own class interests.

Scallywag
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Jul 9 2014 19:50

Thanks for posting this, I am unsure whether to even bother voting in this. I haven't got a clue how I should vote, neither side appeals to me and I haven't found any reason why I should vote one way or the other, so probably won't.

I don't really follow the events of this very closely, but it seems most businesses and the ruling British establishment really don't want this to happen, as well as the United States and EU countries, so I think it would cause a disturbance not just here at home, but internationally, whether that's a good or bad thing though I don't really know. Perhaps it's a change that's needed although I tend to see it as more of a problem.

Of course I wouldn't be sorry to see the UK lose it's power, influence and prestige in the world, wouldn't be sorry to see the scrapping of trident/NATO and neither would I be sorry to see us possibly get rid of the monarchy.

But, my concern is the potential trouble a break up of the UK could cause, especially in Northern Ireland, but also Wales might want to leave and then the English counties might want more decentralisation or maybe some federalist structure, this might cause tensions and doesn't make it any easier to unite as one working class. It ties people to nationalism, and promoting revolutionary libertarian communist politics probably isn't going to be easy during Scotland's honeymoon period with it's new formed government.

I am also concerned that this will make it more easier for businesses to exploit us, for example say an independent Scotland has greater working rights/conditions, greater regulations and a more militant workforce than England does, then the result may be that industry goes to England, people in Scotland lose their jobs and then eventually Scotland and England end up competing with each other for international investment by lowering wages, lowering working conditions increasing working hours and so on.

Internationally I'd be concerned in seeing this as providing further growth to nationalist or fascist movements.

Needless to say though I certainly don't like the status quo, and I don't like where we seem to be heading. Politics down in England seems terribly reactionary, and that scares me, especially the growth of UKIP. I don't have much love for the EU, but at the same time I really don't want us to be taken out of that with a party like UKIP being in charge, as their motivations for leaving that are pretty clearly to be able to destroy working rights and return Britain to it's imperial glory. I wonder if voting yes could prevent that and maybe change politics down in England in a positive direction.

ajjohnstone
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Jul 11 2014 07:26

None of the regular visitors to Libcom will be at all surprised by the predictable recommendation of the SPGB for the referendum which is to spoil your ballot paper.

Neither British capitalism Nor Scottish capitalism.

Our Scottish blog has numerous anti-nationalist posts and a variety of differing views on Scottish history.

http://socialist-courier.blogspot.com/search?q=referendum

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Jul 11 2014 19:27

I'll be voting yes.
Not because I think it's part of some 'road map to socialism'. It patently isn't.
Not because of any sense of nationalist pride. As you may guess from my moniker; I'm not Scottish.
Nor will I be voting yes out of any real political will to ferment change.
I'm simply voting yes because it will mitigate, probably only in the short term, the excesses of Westminster's austerity politics on me and my family. Which is a positive thing so far as I'm concerned, especially as it will only take me 10 minutes.
So far as I'm concerned it isn't a vote 'for' the SNP or 'Scotland' but a chance to vote against some of the especially shitty things that have been happening and seem set to continue should Whitehall be given free rein.
I don't see independence as offering great gains for the working class but locally it will hopefully reduce some of our losses without negatively affecting folk south of the border.
Also the Daily Mail and the Telegraph may actually spontaneously combust if it's a yes vote. grin

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Jul 11 2014 19:29

Also want to say that I'm not actually sure who annoys me most. The yes campaign or the no campaign. At least the no lot are unintentionally funny at times.

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Jul 13 2014 22:06

How to vote for anarchy:

1. Fold your ballot into a paper airplane.

2. Throw it at the nearest window.

3. Lobby others to vote this way as well.

Once that window breaks, the revolution has been elected. After which point our only social relation will be spontaneous camaraderie, and the only labor shall be joyous dancing in the street!

(Excerpt from "Class War or Glass War?" by a committee so invisible it doesn't even exist).

Edit: just to be clear, since I'm new here, this is a joke. Definitely not a Crimethinc-er, I just thought it was funny how their insurrectionism shares so much in common with electoralism if you replace ballots with bricks (as they've explicitly advocated on several occasions), especially as pertains to bourgeois independence versus creating an insular drop-out culture. Reading back over this, though, realized that it also sounds like some serious defenses of lifestylism I've seen.

Scallywag
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Jul 13 2014 19:41

What do people here think of this particular part of the Glasgow Anarchist post?

Quote:
What should anarchists be doing? I’ve been involved in a few ‘don’t vote, organize’ campaigns in past elections but there isn’t much of a case for actively campaigning against independence – especially since it’s unlikely that an open Scottish border would impede cross-border solidarity. To do so would be to de facto support the Unionists and it needs to be emphasized that each side of the debate represents a different nationalism. In truth, I don’t feel strongly about people voting in the referendum. If they think it’s worth the chance of, for example, finally getting rid of the nukes, rather than buying into nationalism, then I can understand that. As anarchists, we obviously shouldn’t argue for voting but nor should we fetishize the act of not voting. Of far more importance is that we are outside of the narrative and critique all political managers.

That seems to be what some people are doing here 'fetishizing the act of not voting' is there any point to doing that?

Obviously anarchists can't tell people that they should vote one way or the other and can't be deluded by nationalism, however if they as individuals think it's worth the chance of gaining some better conditions for the working class which might only be temporary then why not vote?

Even Chomsky votes sometimes does he not?

or is voting always something anarchists simply can't do ever?

or is it more that voting for the creation of a new nation state isn't something anarchists can do ever?

I'd agree though that this issue probably shouldn't matter to anarchists too much, that we shouldn't take sides and certainly can't let this be a divisive issue amongst us since it's irrelevant.

I was hoping people would discuss whether there is any possibility at all of better conditions for the working class if it's a yes vote, obviously without that developing into a debate, or whether this is just nonsense.

Also I was hoping people would discuss how it would effect the world if it did turn out to be a yes vote.

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Jul 13 2014 19:45

Fetishizing, smetishizing.. voting feels like writing out a How are we doing? card

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Jul 13 2014 20:21

I may be alone here, but I've always kind of thought that it was a myth that anyone fetishized voting. Doesn't everyone (even the right) view it as a kind of lesser-evilism which they feel less bad about participating in when they imagine that there are other schmucks who must actually take it seriously? (Could just be a thing in the states, where I am).

So, sure, staying home on election day won't do anything. And it can be fun to map out contingencies of each outcome (will this affect the Catalonian national independence movement? will this help the euro break into Britain? will this spur a few nuclear disarmaments? etc.). But, pretty quickly, that turns into a game of guessing the butterfly effect, which, if you can imagine conditions for struggle arising as an indirect and far away result of one side or the other, turns pretty quickly into just another excuse for lesser-evilism, and for legitimizing the political focus on the ballot instead of the factory. Like voting for Republicans, as a few leftists here I know have done, because they think it'll hasten the decline of the American empire before the BRICS are able to take power, leaving regions esp MENA to form their own independent national blocs (which one could just as rationally counter by saying it'll bring the two to war before there's enough international balance to avoid it).

I just don't really see how creating enlightened excuses to vote is very different from the reasons why anyone else does it. Not that I hold it against you if it'll help you keep food on the table, but then it's less a political question and more a lifestyle one, I'd say, like choosing to frequent a blue dumpster if it has more scraps than the green one does. Voting has power for the ruling class not because they're more able to influence its outcomes than us, but rather because it's a distraction from real political struggle which they can get us to participate in when we accept the ballot as realistic because, circularly, everyone else does, and thus waste our time using it to fight for shorter bread lines on the way home from work.

I'd even say stuff like campaign finance exists not so much to shoe-horn a business-friendlier titan into power, but rather because billionaires know it's pennies to them which will get a bunch of activists with a bunch less time to waste it all on signing petitions and the like (and thus get papers to waste more ink on party bull). It's why Goldman Sachs was one of the top five donors to republicans in the last few presidential races early on, while they were clearly losing and un-winnable, and then gave enough to be one of the top five donors to democrats once it was clear that that money was no longer even needed by the dems. Same exact thing goes for three other of the top ten donors in 2008 and 2012.

And, as for Chomsky on voting, well...
http://greatmomentsinleftism.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-one-about-noam-cho...

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Jul 13 2014 20:40

Also, it's no coincidence that the nationalist independence party of French Quebec was needed to distract popular support for the recent student uprising there back into the (more local) state, even as it then imposed the same tuition/police bullshit right away, with infinitely less opposition. I'd say that's the analogous case here, for England and Scotland ruling classes to use both "sides" as a way to attack struggle from a different angle, even if it means maybe a bit more social democracy than before (but not even necessarily that).

Fleur
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Jul 13 2014 20:41
Quote:
Also, it's no coincidence that the nationalist independence party of French Quebec was needed to distract popular support for the recent student uprising there back into the (more local) state, even as it then imposed the same tuition/police bullshit right away, with infinitely less opposition.

Seriously, no. Not a good analysis. Things here in Québec are a little more complicated than that.

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Jul 13 2014 20:50

Sorry, I know that everything's a little more complicated than a sentence or two makes it seem, but I'm not entirely sure what's wrong with what I said?

Fleur
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Jul 13 2014 22:01

I'm not sure in what way the Parti Québecois was needed to distract popular support from the student strike? There was a lot of support and disruption on the streets but as for popular support there was more hostility to the students than support in the general public. It looked as if the students brought down the Liberal government, and it was certainly untenable for them to carry on with so much civil unrest, what actually caused the government to fall was the sheer amount of corruption scandals coming out about the Liberals, especially in relation to their mafia connections, (also the same case with the PQ incidentally.) It can be argued that the student strike played a part in that election but the Liberals were going to be booted out anyway. It was more expedient to call an election around the issue of social peace on the streets of Montréal than around the issue of politicians taking money and free holidays on mafia kingpin's yachts. Both sides used the students, in one way or another as they provided a great distraction from some really, really hardcore corruption issues. Even so, knowing everything that everyone knew about what the Liberals had been up to, the PQ was elected as a very precarious minority government which couldn't do anything really. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did. (About 16 months.)

Independence is on life support here and I can't see it getting resuscitated any time soon. When the PQ called a snap election in the spring - just as the Premier's husband's mafia connections were being investigated by an ongoing corruption committee - they made the mistake of running on a semi-separatist platform and were wiped out at the polls. (It took 24 minutes from the closing of the polls for the news to call a majority Liberal government.) People would rather have the (other) corrupt party back in power than one who was calling for independence. There was a 70% turn out in that election, which was astonishingly high.

I think that there are far too many differences between Scotland and Québec to make much of a fair comparison. For one thing Québec is already far more independent than Scotland, the Québec legislature is far more powerful than the Scottish parliament and decisions taken federally in Ottawa effect us a lot less than those effecting Scotland from Westminster. We're also not signed up to the Canadian constitution, so anything imposed on us by Ottawa which s seen as antithetic to Québec can be vetoed if necessary. We also have a very distinct culture, which is different from the rest of Canada, which is very strong and not at all under threat, despite the fear-mongering bandied about by the PQ. (Not saying that there isn't a distinct Scottish culture too- please don't jump on me for that Scottish folks! )

It's interesting that when the PQ Premier made an official visit to Scotland last year, Alex Salmond and other high ranking SNP wouldn't allow any photo-ops with her. They practically shoved her in a broom closet and ushered her out the back door. She would have been bad PR. What the PQ represents is a failure of nationalism, right-wing, backwards and parochial. Incidentally that wasn't always the case, independence used to be a left-wing thing here.

And actually, being Québec, it's much, much more complicated than that smile

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Jul 13 2014 22:29

Ah, thanks for that helpful reply. Based on what I'd been reading at around that time, it had sounded like PQ used its power to split the popular support that did exist for the uprising--not that that was majority support, but, among the people who were joining in. Which probably only means that it fooled the US progressive press, mostly, with a few flags and press conferences and such. Apologies.

Fleur
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Jul 13 2014 22:59

No worries!
I'm not surprised though because compared to the US, or at least US politics, Québec is as progressive as fuck. It's a legacy of having been an extreme right wing, Catholic church controlled de facto one party state at one time, something which was utterly rejected in the 1960s and no-one wants to go back to. Attitudes here are very progressive and laid back, nothing opens very early in the morning, relaxed attitudes to all sorts of things like recreational drug use, free abortion on demand (there were people arrested protesting a clinic in Montréal - in 1989!) These things are going to really impress the US progressive press.

Pauline Marois and the PQ were utterly shameless when it came to the student strike. She put on her red square & banged her casserole when it suited but as soon as the election seemed imminent she put them away again. The election did scupper the student strike. They declared a truce and fizzled out when the election was over. But the students were collateral damage rather than an issue people went out and voted for and independence wasn't an issue at all in that election. In fact it was only accidentally an issue in the last election. Some high profile PQ candidates suffered from foot in mouth disease, brought it up and it became the only thing anyone talked about. Until then, for some years talking too stridently about independence was political suicide, which is what it turned out to be this year.

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Jul 13 2014 23:45
Quote:
we obviously shouldn’t argue for voting but nor should we fetishize the act of not voting.

I think this is probably the right line to take. The older I get, the less I find myself talking politics - not with workmates, friends, and certainly not family. If people want to vote, fine, it doesn't really affect how I relate to them politically or socially. If they ask me if I vote, I explain my reasons and leave it at that. I'd much rather have a situation where people view me as someone who's knowledgeable and supportive about workplace issues (or housing issues or benefits issues) than as the person who always bangs on about politics, or worse, not voting.

There are people that, as I've gotten to know them, I've tried to have deeper political conversations, but that's only because I think the time is ripe, if that makes sense. Like I said, I'd much rather spend my time trying to support co-workers or offering support to other groups of outside workers. In those cases, they know the backup is coming from an anarchist organisation and if they ask about an anarchist approach to voting or what exactly our politics mean, great. But it doesn't usually get that far and that's fine.

All that said, I think it'd be fine for an AF or SF group in Scotland to release a piece laying out an anarchist perspective on the Scottish independence vote. It'd be a good thing to direct people towards should they ask, but I'm certainly not going to be waving in any faces just for the sake of it.

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Jul 14 2014 20:32

I wasn't really aware that voting, in and of itself, was the issue with regards the referendum. It's not an election is it so I don't see what the problem with voting is in this context.

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Jul 14 2014 22:15
welshboy wrote:
I wasn't really aware that voting, in and of itself, was the issue with regards the referendum. It's not an election is it so I don't see what the problem with voting is in this context.

essentially it is an election, though, as it is not a simple practical question (like "should we bring back the death penalty?"), It is asking you to choose the government: a UK government or a Scottish government. And we are against all governments, so technically voting in it does go against anarchist principles. However, I would agree with others that there is no point fetishising voting/non-voting, as either way it doesn't matter: the point is the level of self organisation and direct action of and by the working class.

Certainly, though, an anarchist/communist organisation shouldn't support a vote one way or another

ajjohnstone
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Jul 16 2014 06:52

The referendum is a trick question ...either option offered is a YES for capitalism sad

Scallywag
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Sep 8 2014 21:43

'Anti-imperialist' argument?

Is there any substance to the argument that Scottish independence is a means to destroy or weaken British imperialism?

I mean obviously an independent Scotland would be an imperialist nation as much as any other, but would British imperialism really be any weaker?

Anyone know any good articles which critique this argument?

And sorry for bringing this thread back (I don't know if that breaks forum rules or not), but I thought I would annoy people more if I made yet another Scottish independence thread just to ask this question.

Also the reasons I am asking this is because 1. it's one of the most popular arguments 'left' nationalists make in favour of independence and 2. because the answer might help me better understand how imperialism works.

Also is this article bellow a good analysis of why the Scottish capitalist class even want independence, even if we don't agree with it's tactic of calling for a socialist no vote.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/06/21/scot-j21.html

BTW I don't really know much about the WSWS, what people on LIBCOM think of them and what type of leftist politics they align to and I myself don't necessarily support them.

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Sep 9 2014 08:15
Scallywag wrote:

BTW I don't really know much about the WSWS, what people on LIBCOM think of them and what type of leftist politics they align to and I myself don't necessarily support them.

WSWS:

- https://libcom.org/forums/theory/iso-chicago-teachers-strike-03112013#co...

- http://libcom.org/forums/general/wsws-chid-molestation-apologists-130220...

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Sep 9 2014 11:37
Keyboardiga wrote:
I may be alone here, but I've always kind of thought that it was a myth that anyone fetishized voting. Doesn't everyone (even the right) view it as a kind of lesser-evilism which they feel less bad about participating in when they imagine that there are other schmucks who must actually take it seriously?

I see regular facebook posts telling me not to waste my vote because 'people died for it!' I tend to ignore it, although I have said that people have died for freedom of religion so does that mean that I need a three-day weekend so I can go to the mosque on Friday, temple on Saturday and church on Sunday.
In terms of imperialism it's not much of an issue, the SNP don't seem likely to challenge any of the capitalist structures that maintain power in Scotland so I think it will be largely business as usual, they'll just be a feeding frenzy for the costs of devolution for a couple of years and the SNP's poorly thought-out (as far as I've been bothered to look, it seems like fag packet calculations by someone who doesn't understand numbers) economic policy will largely be at the mercy of the UK's pettiness.
I can see why absolute frustration with the government might lead to a yes vote and I wouldn't blame anyone for it. I know I wouldn't bother voting for it, nor campaigning not to vote.

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Sep 9 2014 12:33

Look at it the other way around - being Irish and all, I find it weird that some leftists have been blowing the internationalist trumpet as an arguement for voting no. I mean there are people in Ireland who think that independence beyond home rule was a mistake, and, would at least have us rejoin the commonwealth, but they are almost exclusively from the elite of Dublin's upper class, and on the fringes of the ruling Fine Gael party. Would anyone on the left seriously suggest that Ireland rejoining the UK would be progress or a sideward step, rather than a step backwards?

The break-up of the UK would be a massive blow to the English establishment, to reactionary forces in the north of Ireland, and yes, it will be easier for Scotish people to fight austerity, if the governemnt they are fighting is closer to home. It also will be a boost to people, like us who are always told that there would be chaos if our political ideas are put into practice, why? Because if independent Scotland does not become a basket case, and it won't, it makes those voices of doom less reliable in the minds of working class people.

I won't lose any sleep if there's a no vote, but I would unreservedly see a yes vote as positive.

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Sep 9 2014 12:51

The UK is hardly a "no borders, no nations" state of affairs. If the USA annexed Mexico, they'd be abolishing a border, but you'd hardly say that was progressive, would you?

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Sep 9 2014 13:27

But it's not one country, it's one powerful state being made less powerful.

Terry
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Sep 9 2014 13:31

It wouldn't be very difficult to make a case that most Irish people - at least Catholics north of the border and working class people south of it - would have been better off had the 26 counties remained part of the United Kingdom until more recent decades (maybe up until 1980). The new border cut off working class people in the south from the proportionately larger working class in Britain (and hence from a significant portion of social reform circa 1945) and Catholics in the north from their co-religionists in the south (for instance replacing the majority Catholic Royal Irish Constabulary with predominantly Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary). It is isn't an analogous situation to contemporary Scotland anyways.

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Sep 9 2014 13:49
Flava O Flav wrote:
But it's not one country, it's one powerful state being made less powerful.

What does the working class gain from that?

It's like leftists who support Russia or Iran or whatever because "American imperialism is most harmful and enemy number one". Freezing ears to spite grandma...

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Sep 9 2014 13:49
Flava O Flav wrote:
and yes, it will be easier for Scotish people to fight austerity, if the governemnt they are fighting is closer to home.

So that's why there's no austerity in London!

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Sep 9 2014 16:59

I already said what I thought the working class would gain in a previous post. But what does the working class gain from keeping the union? And how do you measure gain for the working class anyway? As if the question of self deptermination and it's effect on class consciousness can be reduced to accountancy!

jolasmo
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Sep 9 2014 17:05

It would be really great if people would stop responding to the argument : "Scottish workers gain nothing from independence" with "Ah, but what do they gain from the Union?" as if this was some sort of awesome comeback that is supposed to leave the internationalist camp completely flumoxed. Not every argument against nationalism is an argument in favour of another nationalism.

~J.