Friday, 30 March 2007

Castro smites Bush over biofuel

I was very happy to see today that Fidel Castro wrote an article for Granma lambasting Dubya for his newly found love for bio fuel. I was excited because this is Castro's first comment on international politics in quite some time, meaning that the old man is indeed getting better, and because it is always good to have such respected socialists commenting on environmental issues (the old left thinks environmental concerns are petty bourgeois).

On to the article itself now. The title of Guardian's report , "Castro warns poor will starve for greener fuel" is quite misleading, whether or not deliberately. By the title alone, it would seem that Castro is against green energy per se. Anyone who has been keeping an eye on developments in Cuba will of course know that this is couldn't be farther from the truth.

Castro correctly argues that the cost for producing biofuel from food will be paid by the poor people of the world as the third world countries that form the majority of agricultural producers will sell their food crops as fuel. What this implies is, in simple terms, a competition for food between the people of the third world and... cars:

Other countries in the rich world are planning to use not only corn but also wheat, sunflower seeds, rapeseed and other foods for fuel production. For the Europeans, for example, it would become a business to import all of the worldТs soybeans with the aim of reducing the fuel costs for their automobiles and feeding their animals with the chaff from that legume, particularly rich in all types of essential amino acids.

Further, he made the point that funding bio fuel production could lead to many poor countries to turn forests into farmland, thus exacerbating the problem of climate change. George Monbiot has been arguing along similar lines for some time now. The argument is supported by evidence of ever accelerating deforestation in the third world. The liberal sycophant will of course rush to tell you that this is because of "bad" and "irresponsible" governments - how strange that they only exist in the third world! - and that things would be far better if there was internal reform. Not once will it cross their mind that government corruption and deforestation is the product of the global North's imperialist exploitation.

But enough with bashing imperialism. None but the most empty headed liberal or crypto first world chauvinistic Trot would assert that the third world is responsible for its own problems. Let's take a look at what Cuba is doing to prevent climate chaos.

For one, Cuba has replaced all incandescent light bulbs and their ~90% energy loss with fluorescent bulbs that produce light of equal intensity at only 20% of the energy normal bulbs use. Cuba made this move 2 years before Australia enacted similar legislation. Of course, no major news source picked it up back then.

More importantly, Cuba and Venezuela have embarked on a joint effort to produce biofuel from sugar cane alcohol, thus sparing food crops. Forest protection and tree planting schemes will also ensure that Cuba's woodlands will not become the victim of her energy needs.

That's just a couple of the efforts that have earned Cuba the honour of being the only country with fully sustainable development. Meanwhile, in Britain, carbon emissions continue to rise while Brown and Cameron fight over whose policies are greener. The truth of course is that none of them is. There's really nothing green about spending an obscene amount of money on renewing Trident, when it could be spent on providing Free Public Transport.

You've got to be red to be green.

Look at us, we're activists!!!

The second session of the Scottish Parliament is now formally over. The 129-4=125 careerist party hacks left the hideous building to start their election campaigns. Until May 3rd, you should expect to see them addressing rallies, knocking on doors, talking to people on the street and doing every short of slimy trick to dupe the Scottish electorate into voting for them yet again. Jack "ape" McConnell chose to start his campaign by visiting a school building site. He is after all a Labour party member, looking out for workers! The Lib-Dem leader went to Aberdeen to "knock on doors". The Nationalists too launched their official campaign, with Alex Salmond giving a speech about how Scotland has chosen independence and that SNP equals independence; usual SNP drivel.

They all care for us now! They care for us for 35 days every 4 years! Never mind that they are nowhere to be seen when Parliament is in session and the hacks comfortably sitting on their benches. They are busy with running the country then, but now, they can engage with us, hear our concerns and pledge to do the best for us if we give them our vote. Really!

Hypocrisy, lies and filth.This is the reason for the growing apathy of the Scottish people, especially the youth, with which everybody seems to be oh so concerned. Apathy? I'd say antipathy. The turnout for Holyrood elections didn't drop from 58 in 1998 to 49.8 in 2003 because people "don't care about politics". What they don't care about is the politics of the bourgeoisie or, in more concrete terms, the politics of parties who row over who can save the NHS when they pursue the same filthy policies of handouts to big business and pay cuts for the workers. What more than half of the Scottish people don't care about is parties like the SNP and Lib-Dems, theoretically against the Council Tax in principle, voting against the SSP's proposal to scrap it.

But wait a minute. There's a party whose members are on the streets campaigning every week. There's a party that's not afraid to stir shit up a bit against the Blatcher government renewing doomsday weapons instead of using the money (TENS OF BILLIONS OF POUNDS) to provide student grants, free school meals and free public transport. Nor does this party cower away from matters reserved for Westminster.

This party, is of course, none other than the SSP. But why is the SSP not a party of hypocrites and capital sycophants? It's not because we are "good people". It's not because it just happened that honest politicians found themselves in the SSP.

It's because we are socialists. We are not responsible to this or that magnate. Our only allegiance is to the working class of Scotland and the world. This is what allows us to maintain our political integrity and stand when others cower. The parties of the bourgeoisie can only serve their masters' interests. Even if an honest person does find his or her way in one of them, which is unlikely, they won't be able to change anything. They'll be reduced to some "colourful" dissident voice, only to be assimilated by the dominant party ideology as the time passes, or to drop out of politics altogether.

The only change the parties of the ruling class can bring is change within the system. This kind of politics however completely misses the point - the system is the problem. As long as the system, capitalism, is in place, the problems facing the people of Scotland and the world will remain. There is only one way out of the current deadlock and it is socialism.

Now, that's a word neither Labour, nor the SNP like to hear.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

If Solidarity came to power....

The following was inspired by a similar post made by my friend Vassilis, on what would happen if Synaspismos won the Greek General Elections of 2004. If you are not familiar with the crisis in the Scottish Socialist Party it will make no sense to you.

A year of Solidarity in power

May 2007

It is May 3rd, the day of the election. Solidarity has registered below 1% in pretty much every poll conducted in the past few months. Nobody expects "Scotland's socialist movement" to return any MSPs but...

By diabolical coincidence, 1.5 million Scots decide to vote Solidarity, for a laugh. Solidarity becomes the first party to form an absolute majority in Holyrood. Tommy Sheridan, the self proclaimed mild mannered Clark Kent of Scottish politics, dressed in a blue lycra suit (as above), delivers a powerful speech about an obscure Scottish football team taking on Real Madrid and winning. He then likens himself to Evo Morales and goes on to say something about the Scottish working class making the right choice. He spends the rest of the month going around Scotland delivering similar speeches, oblivious to the fact that microphones amplify the volume of one's voice.


After a month of much merriment, Solidarity dissolves into three parties that form a coalition government: SWP, CWI-Scotland and STS (Sheridan's Tangerine Sycophants). Sheridan announces the initiation of negotiations with London for the separation of Scotland from the UK. The Westminster Parliament unanimously agrees that Scotland should become independent in order to prevent the rest of the UK from becoming the laughingstock of the international community by being associated with Sheridan.

Despite initial hostility to Scottish independence, the SWP finally goes along with it, stating that it will table amendments to the draft constitution of the newly founded state.

On the domestic front, true to his promises, Sheridan brings in the ban of airguns. After such a radical social reform, he announces that Scotland has passed into the stage of socialism.


The SWP presents its motions to parliament. Scotland is to be renamed North Britain and become an Islamic Republic in solidarity the Arab people targeted by American imperialism. In the same manner, Sharia law replaces Scots law. Angela McCormack states that this will send a strong message to the peoples of the world, making Scotland the mothership of the anti-imperialist movement.

Despite controversy, the motions are passed as the only group that opposed them within the Sheridan coalition, CWI-Scotland, was unable to attend the vote for reasons of senility.

Sheridan becomes Caliph.


The opposition parties raise the point that the Islamification of Scotland tramples the human rights of the predominantly non-Muslim population of the country. The SWP replies that there is no country in the world named Scotland. Sheridan adds that such fabrications are reminiscent of the "dark days of Stalinism" and responds by banning all opposition parties that oppose Socialist Islam.

Stevie Arnott, now Ayatollah-Commissar of Cultural Affairs, orders portraits of Sheridan to be displayed at all major public sites. He justifies this action by reminding the North-British population that Sheridan is the most iconic socialist of the post war era and that the move only actualized what was already the case in the realm of ideas (he is a philosopher you see).


Sheridan brings in mandatory prison sentences for knife-carrying. Cameras are installed in houses in order to enforce the new law. Scissors become the most popular utensil for cutting food.

Former SSP members are arrested and sent to labour camps in Orkney. Female members are burned at the stake for witchcraft. Sheridan announces that he has destroyed the scabs that tried to ruin him.

Witch-hunts are reintroduced in North Britain. In the spirit of Socialist Islam and North British tradition, accused women are given the right to appeal against the charges. They are then pushed off Edinburgh castle. If they survive the fall, their delving into the dark arts is proven and they are burned. If they do not, their name is cleared. An STS spokesman states that this is another great victory of Socialist Islam against political correctness gone mad.


The government nationalizes all brothels, strip club and sex-related industries. Attempts by the new state employees to organize in unions are ruthlessly suppressed for breaking that internal unity of the working class.


Sheridan stars in North British blockbuster "Orangeheart". The film follows the exploits of the mighty knight Thomas Al-Sheradin as he fights against witches, Queen's spies, Rupert Murdoch and Real Madrid.

He is awarded the Golden Raspberry for his outstanding performance.


Sheridan welcomes a North Korean delegation, sent by Kim Jong Il to share and exchange personality cult knowledge for the benefit of the two great nations. Some days later, Kim Jong Il is reported to have made a crackling speech with football similitudes. He also announces his intention to sue Hollywood for defamation over the film "Team America".

January 2008

The SWP tables a motion at Parliament suggesting that socialism should cease to be the official description of the North British socio-political system as it may be alienating to non-socialist Muslims. Sheridan agrees.

CWI-Scotland members die of collective heart attack. No one notices.


Sheridan delivers some more speeches.


The nation is shocked as Sheridan is reported to have had a tanning accident. Disappointment sweeps the country as an STS spokesperson announces that the Great Leader was unharmed and more orange than ever!


Without political opponents to play the hero against, Sheridan gets bored. He orders the North British army to invade England and take over Manchester. Cupids is finally merged with the state owned North British Sex Industry.

Westminster demands an explanation. Sheridan refuses to answer and announces his intention to sue the English government for libel, as he has never, ever been to Cupids.


The English army retakes Manchester and within days crosses the border. It enters Edinburgh and overthrows the Sheridan-SWP regime.

This is the first time in history that the Scottish people are happy to see the English army marching into the country.

Against Party Bureaucracy

As a follow up to my previous post about Venezuela, here's an article from Montly Review making exactly the same point as I did.

Against Party Bureaucracy:
Venezuela's PSUV and Socialism from Below

by George Ciccariello-Maher

In recent weeks, it has become clear that three of the major parties constituting the Chavista coalition will not immediately dissolve themselves to pave the way for the construction of the unified socialist party (PSUV) that president Hugo Chávez has demanded be created to usher in the next phase of the revolution. These "dissidents" include the Homeland for All party (PPT), the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), and the broad-based social-democratic party PODEMOS.

Their refusal has created a political firestorm of sorts: Ismael García, head of PODEMOS and perhaps the most openly critical of the president's proposal, refused to be forced into any "single line of thinking." He was promptly attacked by many Chavistas, and Chávez himself indirectly accused García of "raising the flags of the right." García himself has perhaps deepened the tensions on both sides by attacking the "fascist mindset" of those who would oppose pluralism within the Chavista ranks.

This falling-out has been deemed a serious crisis by many, but, while both internal and external critics of the unified party speak of an impending authoritarianism, their stance obscures the pernicious influence of party bureaucracies masquerading as "pluralism." In the end, if it blunts the influence of these bureaucracies, this "crisis" may be a blessing in disguise for the PSUV and the Revolution as a whole.

A Constituent Assembly for the PSUV?

As an example, we could consider the recently named "technical committee" whose task it will be to formulate the basic structure of the PSUV and push forward its consolidation during the next few months. This committee was named directly by the president (another authoritarian gesture, according to critics) and consists of six members: vice president Jorge Rodríguez; governor of Miranda state, former vice president and minister, and longtime Chavista heavy-hitter Diosdado Cabello; minister of education (and president's brother) Adan Chávez; militant activist and head of Venezuelan Popular Unity (UPV) Lina Ron; former nutrition minister and head of the Francisco Miranda Front (FFM) Erika Farías; and the last-minute addition of Antonia Muñoz, governor of the state of Portuguesa.

Now consider, if you will, the demand issued by PODEMOS: the election of a constituent party assembly as the first step to constructing a unified program. If such an election were held today, according to the breakdown of Chavista votes in the December presidential election, this committee would (hypothetically) look much different: it would most likely consist of three members of the Chavista MVR (the largest vote-getter by far, which has already announced its intention to dissolve to pave the way for the PSUV), one member of PODEMOS, one member of PPT, and perhaps one member of the PCV.

What does a comparison between the existing technical committee and a hypothetical election tell us? For starters, of the technical committee that Chávez named to drive the PSUV, only Diosdado Cabello raises eyebrows as a potentially opportunistic party bureaucrat. Rodríguez, a psychiatrist by trade whose father was tortured and murdered by police in 1976 (and whose sister is a member of the Socialist League which their father founded), has remained largely outside official politics, with the exception of a brief and commendable stint as head of the National Electoral Council. While Adan Chávez, Farías, and Muñoz are all MVR members, they also attest to the internal variety of the central organ of Chavismo: Muñoz, for example, is a self-described "fighting woman" who was even expelled from the party for 22 months for breaking ranks to run against official MVR candidates. (The fact that Farías is an out lesbian and that Muñoz was added to create a gender balance speaks for itself).

The naming of "Commander" Lina Ron is even more revealing. Ron is as hard-line as they come: a street activist by nature, she has shunned all offers of institutional positions in favor of mobilizing the poorest sectors of Venezuelan society to the radical wing of the Chavista movement. Formerly linked to the Bolivarian Circles, Ron defines her UPV as an organization populated by "radicals, hardliners, men and women of violence," the shock-troops of Chavismo, whose devotion to the revolution is unshakeable (UPV's logo speaks for itself: a fist punching a palm). Chávez has on many occasions distanced himself from Ron, especially around the time of the 2002 coup when his government was forced to take a decidedly moderate tack (he once described her as "uncontrollable"). Praise has not been lacking, however, as Chávez has also referred to Ron as "a soldier who deserves the respect of all Venezuelans."

The naming of Ron to the PSUV technical committee reveals one thing above all: a commitment to attack party bureaucracy. This, too, explains the cool response of organizations like PODEMOS who, according to Lina Ron herself, are only seeking to protect their privileged position within the revolution: these privileges, in the form of governorships and mayoralties, belong not to the parties but to the Revolution. Rather than recognizing this, according to Ron, PODEMOS had chosen the path of "gathering a club of friends in the Hotel Hilton, covered by the major press, to challenge my commander-in-chief." As Ron sees it, the future PSUV will finally dispense with this internal hierarchy: "the hour has come, in the united party, for everyone to enjoy equal conditions." Indeed, a full-page communiqué from UPV published recently in Últimas Noticias takes aim at PODEMOS, which it argues has "created a rupture within the Chavista bases only for the sake of the arrogance of party managers," and who as a result are weakening revolutionary unity and "doing the Empire a favor."

A similar pattern emerges when we consider the PSUV's "promotional commission," a body dedicated to the ideological development of the embryonic party (and which was also named by the president). This committee also includes some more conservative Chavistas like MVR general director Francisco Ameliach, but what is particularly notable is that nearly half of this commission have a past in guerrilla movements of one kind or another. This extends from octogenarians Guillermo García Ponce, formerly of the PCV and several armed movements and currently editor of Diario VEA to a younger generation of urban guerrillas like Ali Rodríguez Araque, who also served as head of PDVSA, and William Fariñas, formerly associated with the far-left Bandera Roja (Red Flag). While the PPT and PCV are represented, in Rodríguez Araque and current minister of popular participation (and author of the Law on Communal Councils) Davíd Velásquez, respectively, PODEMOS is conspicuously absent.

From Passive Representation to Active Construction

It is this attack on party bureaucracy that explains the tense intra-Chavista relations prevailing since December 16th, when Chávez announced the formation of the PSUV and the precondition that parties must dissolve in order to enter the new organization. The "glum faces" that Michael Lebowitz noted that night in the Teresa Carreño Theater represented the recognition that party privileges were under attack from the top as well as from the bottom. This paradoxical top-bottom alliance, one which takes as its point of departure a hostility to bureaucratized middle sectors, is perhaps best expressed in Chávez's oft-repeated argument that the votes garnered by the various parties in the past election "belong to Chávez, that is, they belong to the people." In the same speech, Chávez was explicit about the threat that the PSUV poses for party hierarchies: "For this new era we need a new political structure that is placed not at the service of parties and their distinct colors, but rather at the service of the people and the Revolution."

But how, procedurally, is it possible to circumvent party hierarchies while avoiding top-down authoritarianism? This is certainly a difficult task, but I will argue that when we compare the provisional timeline for the constitution of the PSUV with the counter-proposal offered by PODEMOS, the differences become clear. Specifically, the PSUV timeline foresees the following stages, taking place under the guidance of the technical committee: the first stage, already underway, involves the selection of 11,000 "promoters," or activists chosen for their exemplary ethical values, whose task it will be to travel the country activating, in the second stage (beginning March 24th), "socialist battalions." It will be these "promoters" and "battalions" who will carry out a census and registry of the new party in preparation for elections during the third stage (after June 24th). This election will give rise to a fourth stage, in which a constituent party assembly will formulate the PSUV's program (between August and November), which will then finally be voted upon by the new party's membership in a nationwide referendum.

How does this differ from the demands of the "dissident" Chavista parties? On the surface, the disagreement is about timing, but this conceals a more fundamental difference. PODEMOS has essentially refused to dissolve until they know the shape of the future PSUV, and are demanding that elections to a constituent assembly precede their adherence to any program. While one wonders how they plan to participate in such an election while representing their existing parties, the point is clear: the second largest Chavista party is hoping for a PSUV constitutional assembly which reflects their current electoral weight, thereby granting them a privileged position in the drafting of a party program that suits their needs. Hence PODEMOS has recently released their own proposal for the structure of the elections to the PSUV founding assembly: these should be 50% local, 30% on the state level, and 20% national. This 20% leaves more than enough space for the existing party bureaucracies to slide smoothly into the driver's seat of the new organization.

On the other hand, Chávez's timeline envisions a longer process which is more actively driven by the base: the "promoters" and "battalions" will essentially "go to the people" in the Maoist sense of the phrase, in order to educate and prepare them to construct the party themselves. This is clearer when we consider that the founding congress will be built on the representation of "socialist electoral areas," thereby privileging the election of local as opposed to national delegates. Hence while PODEMOS seeks to preserve their privilege by promoting a process of passive representation based on immediate partisan preferences, the timeline provided by Chávez is instead centered upon facilitating the active construction of the PSUV from below. It is this crucial difference that is overlooked by such observers as Margarita López Maya, who in clinging to an impoverished and representationalist view of democracy misses the fact that the best way to enable grassroots democracy is to check the power of party elites.

Despite talk of "crisis," the unwillingness of PODEMOS to embrace this process unreservedly might end up being their final gift to the revolution. If this active construction of the PSUV from the bottom up is allowed to proceed unhindered by those who would seek to immobilize the process, if the elections to the constituent party assembly can take place without the stale bureaucrats of the past, then the PSUV might be able -- if only for the time being -- to slow the creeping tide of bureaucratic petrification that threatens to hollow out the Revolution from within. That many such threats exist within the MVR as well, an organization which is already seeking a smooth infiltration into the PSUV, is yet another aspect of this danger that will need to be confronted throughout the entire process in the year ahead.

A Declaration of Trotskyism against Trotskyists

The Squirrel Vanguard:

  • Reaffirms its belief in the validity of the theory of Permanent Revolution
  • Reaffirms its commitment to the fundamental principle of the political independence of the working class and its vanguard.
  • Restates its opposition to bureaucracy, Stalinism and everything related.

However, the Vanguard denounces, in the strongest manner:

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

One party, one vanguard.

A couple of days ago, Hugo Chavez publicly called for the dissolution of the constituent parties of the government coalition into a single united, revolutionary socialist party. Chavez argued that the Bolivarian Revolution is entering a new phase of increased intensity that will "sharpen the contradictions" and that in order for the revolution to be successfully pushed forward, a new, strong and united socialist party must be established in order to reduce sectarian in fighting and be thus more effective in fighting the state bureaucracy which is, correctly, seen as the main enemy of the Bolivarian project. 13 of 24 parties that make up the coalition immediately agreed to the proposed unification, while others have required more time to internally debate the subject.

Sujatha Fernandes reports that the proposition has been met with mixed public sentiment. While many support the project, others have expressed concern about
its top down character, arguing that unity should be the product of grassroots processes rather than leadership directives. This is in line with the general criticisms of the Bolivarian process as a Bonapartist project of the Venezuelan national bourgeoisie.

I would say that first, we are not aware as to what extent this has been discussed at the base. As far as we know, Chavez's announcement might have well been discussed internally. In fact, it would be rather odd for the majority of the coalition parties to agree to a unification upon its announcement, if it had not already been considered within their appropriate party structures.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with establishing a united socialist party, putting forward a revolutionary programme. As long as it is structured in a democratic manner, allowing a multitude of opinions to be expressed and affect policy formation, I believe that such unitarism is in fact a goal to strive to. It could also be argued that the dissolution of current parties within a new socialist and radically democratic formation can help destroy a large chunk of the cancerous bureaucracy that plagues the movement. I don't think that one of the parties that reacted less than enthusiastically to the proposal was the Communist Party of Venezuela is coincidental. Such a merging, if carried out, will cost many a "professional revolutionary" his job.

Despite my instinctive hostility to "great leaders", I do have high hopes for this endeavour. Chavez stated that the party will be "democratic and humanist" - I've no idea what the latter's supposed to mean - and given that his record in government is one of constant democratization of the Venezuelan state, I do not, yet, have any reasons to believe that he is a hypocrite.

Contrary to other populist leaders, Chavez has not only delivered what he promised, but he constantly presents in himself in an ever more radical light. It could be that the social processes in Venezuela are pushing him leftwards and that he goes along with the current for opportunist reasons, or it could just be that he is indeed a man of principles that found himself in a position of supreme power. The future will show.

What's certain is that Chavez deserves our active support for every step he takes against the bourgeoisie and our criticism for every unnecessary delay and/or retreat.

Monday, 26 March 2007

When employees of the bourgeois state speak more sense than many on the left, you know there is a problem

The following was posted on The Socialist Unity Blog which by the way is very good.

This weekend marks the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The implications of that action are still with us.

'The onslaught that began March 24, 1999, continued for 78 days, causing an estimated 10,000 civilian casualties and inflicting widespread damage on the country's infrastructure. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's unprecedented attack against a sovereign state was done without United Nations authority and in violation of the UN Charter and international law. It also set a dangerous precedent: It transformed NATO from a purely defensive organization into a powerful alliance prepared to intervene militarily wherever it chose to do so. And it paved the way for the unilateral U.S. invasion of Iraq.

'Bill Clinton and other NATO leaders justified the bombing on humanitarian grounds. It was alleged that genocide was taking place in Kosovo and that Serbian security forces were driving out the Albanian population. Later, it was disclosed there was no genocide in Kosovo. (Of course, the outcome appears to be an independent quasi-state of Kosovo, as shall be recommended next week to the UN Security Council.) Before the bombing, several thousand Albanians had been displaced within Kosovo as a result of the fighting between Serbian security forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army. But nearly all of the Albanians who fled Kosovo did so after the bombing began. The real ethnic cleansing came after Serbian forces withdrew and more than 200,000 Serbs, Roma, Jews and other non-Albanians were forced to flee; more than 150 Christian churches and monasteries have since been burned by Albanian mobs.

'The bombing had little, if anything, to do with humanitarian concerns. It had everything to do with the determination of the United States to maintain NATO as an essential military organization. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of Warsaw Pact armies had called into question NATO's reason for existence. Why was such a powerful and expensive military organization needed to defend Western Europe when there was no longer any threat from Soviet communism?

'The armed rebellion by the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army provided Washington with the opportunity needed to demonstrate to Western Europe that NATO was still needed. So, it was essential to convince the news media and the public that atrocities and ethnic cleansing were taking place in Kosovo.This was done with relative ease by a campaign of misinformation aimed at demonizing the Serbs and by assertions by Mr. Clinton, Tony Blair and other NATO spokesmen that hundreds of young Albanian men were "missing" and that mass executions and genocide were taking place in Kosovo. Compliant journalists and a credulous public accepted these lies.

'In April, 1999, at the peak of the bombing, Mr. Clinton gathered NATO's political leaders in Washington to celebrate the alliance's 50th birthday. The party was used as a platform for Mr. Clinton to announce a new"strategic concept" -- NATO was to be modernized and made ready for the new century. There was no reference to defence or the settling of international disputes by peaceful means or of complying with the principles of the UN Charter. The new emphasis would be on "conflict prevention," "crisis management" and "crisis response operation."

'Usually when a treaty is to be amended or changed, it must be approved and ratified by the legislatures of the contracting states. This was not done with the North Atlantic Treaty. It was changed by an announcement from the U.S. president, with little or no debate by the legislatures of member countries. It may well be that NATO should be in a position to intervene militarily in the internal affairs of another country, but it surely is essential that the ground rules for such intervention be in accordance withthe UN Charter and only after concurrence of member states. NATO should not become a convenient political "cover" to justify the use of military power by the United States.'

Sunday, 25 March 2007

SNP unveils "independence" plan


BBC reports that Alex "I-look-like-a-St. Bernard dog" Salmond has revealed the SNP's plans for a referendum on Scottish Independence. This is yet more evidence that, as I argued some days ago, the SNP is increasingly turning into a clone of its Catalunyan counterpart, Convergència i Unió and should not be seen as a viable political force for Scottish independence.

Apart from restating the intention of the SNP to hold a referendum towards the end of their term in Holyrood, in order to prove that they are responsible in office - newspeak for "good bourgeois lapdogs" - Salmond also revealed the wording of the question that his party would ask the Scots. According to the BBC:

Voters would be asked if they wanted to negotiate a new settlement with the UK Government so that Scotland becomes a sovereign and independent state.

Got that? Negotiate a new settlement. What kind of "settlement" would British capital agree on? Certainly one that wouldn't hurt the Crown and the vast array of undemocratic powers it provides. Certainly one that would make Scotland a low-tax haven for big business. Most definitely one that would guarantee Scotland's remaining a junior partner to American imperialism. The SNP leadership would be quite happy to accept such a deal. At least Scotland will have her own national anthem, her own passports, her own UN representative and a whole lot of other important stuff like that!

SNP. It's time!

Or is it?

Unbreakable union of freeborn republics...

Fifteen years have passed since the dissolution of the Soviet Union on the first of January, 1992. The country - now region - with the most hotly debated - by its supporters, critical supporters, critics and enemies - political system in the world, has since then, been more or less ignored by people belonging to all shades of the political spectrum, apart perhaps from some largely irrelevant Stalinists, nostalgic about the olden days.

No one wants to talk about the post-Soviet republics. The left has moved on to more exciting issues like the new left wing wave that's sweeping Latin America, or the meltdown of imperialism in the Middle East while others might also focus on Nepal and the rise of the Maoists. On the other hand, liberals prefer to talk about things like the WTO, the EU, the "threat" of Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, while, depending on where they stand on the Iraq war divide, they'll also comment on how US action in the Middle East is necessary to maintain Western security, or how it is irresponsible and destabilizes the region. If there's any mention of the post-Soviet and Eastern bloc countries, it is invariably within this framework. Russia helps Iran with its nuclear programme, Poland whines about Gazprom and Germany, the Ukraine's prospects for EU accession seem slim - the formerly real-socialist countries' political past is referred to only when there is some sort of clash of interests between said countries and the West. When Russia pursues her own imperialist objectives, Soviet Cold War mentalities are to blame. When the right wing authoritarianism that has spread all over Eastern Europe, and beyond, rears its ugly face, it is, naturally, considered an undemocratic residue and brushed aside as yet another problem to be dealt with by the liberal democratization process.

But that's as far and deep as any (mainstream) references to the real-socialist past go. That the fall of this deeply flawed and perverted form of socialism was, for the majority of the Soviet population, the greatest catastrophe that has befallen them in modern history, is rarely touched by socialist and liberals alike. By the left, the fall of the USSR is seen merely as a justification of their criticisms (degeneracy for Trotskyists, revisionism for Stalinomaoists). Every, 7th of November, their party press will carry an article about how important the Russian revolution is, how it shows that capitalism carries the seeds of its own destruction and more importantly, how the eventual fall of the USSR shows that their criticisms were right all along. They'll also add that what Russia needs now is the establishment of a true Leninist (meaning Trotskyist or Stalinist depending on whose paper it is) party.

Liberals on the other hand will usually deny that what happened in 1992 was a disaster. The grave problems faced by Russia and the rest of the post-Soviet republics are only the negative legacy of "Communism" and they can only get better, as long as democratization continues and governments remain responsible (it's up to them now, we helped as much as we could!). Somehow, they fail to see a connexion between the gangster capitalism unleashed by Tsar Yeltsin and fostered by Tsar Putin and the fact that the top 9 countries by suicide rate are all former real-socialist states. Further, that Russia suffers from an annual population decline of 750-800,000 is for them unconnected to the "shock therapy" advised by the Harvard economists and gleefully implemented by their Russian lackeys.

When faced with the facts, the liberal sycophants of global capital will quickly point to the Baltic countries - most often Estonia; here are successful, liberal democracies with booming economies! They will of course fail to mention that said economies have been built on the huge ethnic Russian minorities (25% in Estonia and 29.6% in Latvia) that lack citizenship and live in poverty.

The situation in the former Soviet Union is desperate, no matter how many pairs of rose-tinted glasses bourgeois commentators may look at it through. The only answer to the problems of the working class in all CIS countries is the creation of a new socialist movement. The task of any such future movement is threefold: First and foremost, it must make a powerful stand against fascism, as it is expressed by both the growth of the far right (National Bolshevism in Russia, neo-Nazism in the Baltics etc.) and the growing authoritarianism of the former Soviet states. Second, it must challenge any illusions the working class may hold about capitalism promoting "freedom and democracy" and offer a socialist alternative. Finally, it must fight against the culture of top-down, great leader politics that is prevalent amongst the left of the former Soviet states.

Given the lack of political culture and atomization the working class suffers from after decades of Stalinist rule and authoritarian capitalism, that any attempt to establish a united, powerful and participatory socialist movement in certain. It is equally undeniable however that there is no other way forward.

Friday, 23 March 2007

... and the British empire still nurtures them.

Yesterday, Thursday 22, the New Labour government announced that it would give £1.2 million to the Ulster Political Research Group, the political wing of the filthy paramilitary Ulster Defence Association.

The money is supposed to fund a project by the Loyalist thugs to improve deprived communities, mostly in Belfast. In return, the government expects from the UDA to cease all illegal activities. According to the UPRC, the UDA is genuinely interested in becoming a non violent community association.

Now, as El Blogador comments, there is nothing wrong about investing in deprived communities in order to raise their quality of life. There is however something outrageous about the government giving handouts to an organization that is actively involved in the drug trade that plagues the communities of Northern Ireland (and Western Scotland), a group with known neo-Nazi associations which has been involved in the murders of more than 100 republicans and catholics. They are the problem and the New Labour lackeys are paying them to go away.

Of course, this should not come as a surprise to anyone. Their co-operation with the British State is not really a secret. Similarly, if the US government announces tomorrow that it will give some millions of dollars to the KKK to fund community projects in the South, we won't be exactly shocked.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

The New Vanguard pt 2

The last post was about how radical democracy is conductive to both increased party unity and political/tactical effectiveness. Here, I will use the organizational structures of the SSP as a model on which a new vanguard party can be built, while also discussing the challenges posed by the attempt to establish a united, radical party of the left that brings together a variety of often contradictory traditions of thought. The constitution of the SSP is available here, should you wish to go through it.

So, how does the SSP work? Well, quite unsurprisingly, the SSP's sovereign body is the National Conference, which meets annually. Conference is the only body that can amend the constitution of the party, while it is also responsible for developing party policy and laying down basic strategic guidelines. It is composed of delegates elected directly at branch level, as well as delegates from platforms, affiliated unions party networks and Scottish Socialist Youth (which have to be party members). The Conference agenda is composed of motions tabled by branches, the Executive Committee and the National Council, as well as from platforms, networks, affiliates and the SSY. The agenda is prepared and structured by the Conference Arrangements Committee (CAC) which is elected annually at Conference in order to make all necessary arrangements for the following one. Executive Committee members cannot be part of CAC. This dynamic ensures that Conference does not become a well rehearsed carnival of acclamatory function. In traditional socialist groups/parties, conference agenda is prepared by the Central Committee (which is organized by the executive body, whatever its name may be) and most usually is little more than a series of Committee resolutions which are presented to the delegates for ratification. The key difference is that in the SSP, motions have been developed at branch level, with the participation of grassroots activists and are therefore the product of the political experience of the whole party, while in ortho-Bolshevik organizations, policies are presented for ratification to the delegates from above, much in the way that bourgeois governments conduct "yes or no" referenda.

On to the National Council (NC) and the Executive Committee (EC) now. The NC is the body that governs the party in between Conferences. In that manner, it can be said that it is analogous to the Central Committee of other groups. But similarities end here. Unlike its more traditional counterpart, the NC is not central. Instead of being elected by delegates at Conference, it is composed of branch delegates that are elected by branches annually (and are of course recallable at any time). Apart from ensuring that all regions of Scotland are adequately represented, this structure also eliminates an unnecessary mediation, the election of the electors. It is also important to note that all members of the SSP can freely attend National Council meetings and participate at debates (without of course having voting rights). The executive is also part of the NC and can submit motions to it. The EC does not however dominate the NC as branches, networks and the SSY can all submit motions (and amendments) which are included in the agenda.

As you have probably guessed by now, the EC is the SSPs "politburo". It is defined by the constitution as the body that "provides political and strategic leadership and is responsible for the day to day running of the party". Again, the key point in which the EC differs from the executives of other organizations is the way it is elected. All members of the EC are elected either as such, or as National Office-bearers that are automatically on it, at Conference. At other groups of past and present, the executive was elected by the Central Committee meaning that there were a total of three mediations from a branch member to the executive: branch member => conference delegate=> central commitee=> executive. The SSP has managed to eliminate one part of this sequence bring the leadership closer to the base. Further, the EC is accountable to the NC for all its actions and is obliged to refer all major decisions to it. Given that the NC is composed by branch delegates, the leadership is almost directly accountable to the base membership.

Finally, the SSP recognizes the right of its members to establish internal platforms/tendencies and welcomes diversity of opinion as "a healthy source of debate and new ideas". I would also add that it strengthens the party's unity as it reduces the possibility of members feeling alienated and marginalized because of their views.

Of course, we, as all new, pluralist vanguards must take care not to become a mere coalition of groups. Platforms should not become parties within the party. Platform members should adopt the mentality that the vehicle for socialism is their party, not their platform, and therefore, their ultimate allegiance should lie with the party. The sectarianism that plagues the left is not automatically dispelled if a sect joins a unity-project. It is quite possible that the sect will join with opportunist intentions, aiming to either rise to a position of control within the party or to simply use it as a front of recruitment. We faced this problem in the SSP and it almost cost the party its life. The SWP and CWI platforms, both of course more loyal to their central committees based in London rather than the SSP, would often act divisively within the party (one of the most prominent examples being them breaking off from the SSP bloc to join their non-SSP comrades during the G8 protests in 2005) and, after understanding that they had no hope of turning it into a mirror image of themselves, decided to help Tommy "ban-airguns" Sheridan - whom they both hate as much as they hate each other - split it. Gregor Gall had already pointed out the tendency of the SWP to act in an ultra-sectarian manner more than a year before the split.

The key lesson of the split is that while the New Vanguard must respect and welcome differences in thought while also providing its members with as much opportunity to act on their own terms and enrich their own experience as possible, it is also necessary to establish a culture of unity and develop measures to protect the party from the sectarians who would seek to undermine it. After all, democracy has no meaning without a degree of centralism; democracy - binding decisions = discussion. The minority should accept the sovereignty of the majority, without this meaning that the minority should be disrespected and/or marginalized.

Concretely, this means that a party should be prepared to take disciplinary measures, up to and including dissolving and/or expelling internal groups that undermine its unity. For the SSP particularly, it means that the SWP and CWI can never be allowed to rejoin the SSP as such, even though individual members that have left them should always be welcome.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

The New Vanguard pt 1

Rosa Luxemburg is a rather understudied theoretician. Unlike Lenin's, Trotsky's and Mao's her name has not really served as the basis of the label of a distinct ideological current within revolutionary socialist thought. There's no Marxism-Luxemburgism or Revolutionary Socialist Internationalist Party (Luxemburgist). Those that define themselves as Luxemburgists usually do so informally. In fact, her tradition has been claimed by everyone apart from the most dogmatic ortho-Stalinists (and Maoists). Anarchists have made a hero out of her because they view her as some sort of arch anti-Bolshevik communist (never mind that she supported the Bolsheviks all the way). Trotskyists have token respect for her, most likely because Trotsky wrote an article entitled Hands off Rosa Luxemburg! directed against Stalin.

Both approaches are, of course, mistaken. On the one hand, Luxemburg never rejected vanguard hegemony as anarchists seem to believe. She argued that the task of the revolutionary party was to instill revolutionary consciousness into the masses of workers, involving them in radical participatory political processes, thus increasing their practical experience (hours of which are worth years of theoretical education) and their understanding. On the other hand, most Trotskyists have never really understood the living core of her organizational theories - revolutionary democracy. They either find their wee sects organizations to be adequately democratic anyway, or reject her arguments as bourgeois deviations, often using the Marxist differentiation between form and content, appearance and essence, with spectacular ineptitude, to support their arguments.

You see, most "Trotskyists" are themselves unable to distinguish content from form, essence from appearance and necessity from contingency. This is why, in more than 60 years, they have failed miserably to come up with a more successful mode of political organization and action. I can already hear them protesting: "but things haven't really changed" "capitalism is still capitalism" "the basic relations are the same". Aye, capitalism has not changed much since the onset of the era of imperialism. It is still capitalism. Accumulation and proletarianization are still active processes. All true. But we do not fight capitalism at its base. Any revolutionary movement seeks to affect change at base level necessarily through political mediations. In plainer Marxist jargon, all of our political activity is necessarily superstructural. Now, it is undeniable that the superstructure of capitalism has undergone massive changes since the 1900s, when the organizational structures of most parties that identify with the Bolshevik tradition were elaborated. The status quo fights us on different terms and it is on different terms that we must organize our struggle. Sticking to a historically definite model that was developed with the aim of fighting against the combined forces of the Russian autocracy and the Russian bourgeoisie, can only be described as tactical anachronism that is condemned to failure (no, my ortho trot readers, your inability to make a breakthrough despite the prospects opened up by the collapse of stalinism is not solely due to false, trade union consciousness. Lenin was a passionate advocate of self criticism, remember?). You see, the essence of Leninism as an organizational principle does not consist in the particular structures that Lenin put forward, but rather, in the idea that the most politically conscious elements of the working class must group together into a single (not hundreds) political force with the aim of educating the working class to socialist ideas

Sectarianism, the disease that has plagued the revolutionary left -particularly Trotskyists- for years, is also, to some extent, a product of this inability to distinguish between necessity and contingency etc. The ideological justification of sect formation usually is most commonly grounded firstly in the split in the Russian Social Democracy and secondly in the decision of Trotskyists to set up the 4th International in opposition to the Stalinist Comintern. The underlying rationale of sectarians is that, if the revolutionaries of old were right to abandon obsolete, revisionist, opportunist, add-negative-adjective-here political formations in order to more efficiently pursue their political objectives, then it is right for them to do so as well. The result is well known to all of us: a huge number of wee sects are squabbling over theoretical matters while the combined forces of the bourgeoisie freely indulge into more imperialist plunder and domestic exploitation. Hal Draper, in The Myth of Lenin's concept of the party criticised such petty in fighting arguing that Lenin had stressed the need for unity on principled grounds, that is, unity of all currents within a single socialist party provided that the democratic processes of the organization were properly functioning and respected by all. In practice, this means that when losing an argument, a group should not break away to form its own little inconsequential organization, but rather, stay in the party and argue its case. In a similar manner, Lenin also rejected the idea that the winning group should make concessions to the other, should it threaten to leave because it has lost a political argument. This isn't any particularly complex Leninist concept. It is elementary respect for workers' democracy.

So where does Luxemburg come into this? As I said earlier, the essence of Luxemburg's organizational thought is the principle of revolutionary democracy. An organization operating along radically democratic lines, with the leadership being fully accountable to and controlled by the rank and file, with the right to organize internally and with the greatest possible extent of participation in policy formation on the part of the activist base, is, unlike what most of self-proclaimed Bolsheviks believe, in fact going to be more stable and unified in the long run, than a monolithic, top down formation who's only semblance of democracy consists in electing the leadership and ratifying its decisions, every so often - a veritable clone of bourgeois democracy!

Whether we like it or not, different opinions do exist within parties. "Factions" form organically. It is far more productive and comradely to recognize such differences (in fact, we should welcome them; a basic postulate of dialectics is that progress is only created through contradictions) than to pass a ban on "factionalism" in order to impose a fictitious unity of thought within the party, something neither possible, nor desirable (unity in action and thought are two very different things). A group is far more likely to split and form its own wee sect if it is not allowed to voice its opinions, concerns and criticism.

Similarly, regarding efficiency, a radical democratic party structure, accompanied by a participatory political culture is the only way to fight for socialism that is productive in the long run. Not only does participation and interaction of rank and file members increase the depth and width of the pool of collective experience, but it also helps develop the political, theoretical and organizational skills of individual members, eradicating thus the need to rely on a small number of full time cadre that invariably perpetuates itself and stifles any initiative. In more abstract dialectical terms, the end is always determined by the means. Socialism is about working towards a positive transcendence of alienation, an end to both economical and political dispossession. You can't pursue socialism through a vehicle that itself perpetuates the alienating characteristics of capitalism, as they pertain to power relations, just as you can't make coffee by dropping a tea bag into hot water!

So, "What is to be done"? I believe that, to an extent, we in the SSP have made some progress towards creating a new vanguard on "Luxemburgist" lines, so to speak. Tomorrow, I will try to offer a short description of the internal workings of the SSP and how these relate to the issues discussed here. Now however, I'm off to bed.

Monday, 19 March 2007

I almost fell off my chair laughing

So, I was skimming through the BBC news website as I regularly do and came across this. At first I thought I read the subtitle wrong. Then, I reasoned that there had been a mess up. It was just too ridiculous, nay, outrageous, to be true. But it was!

David Cameron has staked the Tories' claim to be the party of the NHS, pledging to end the targets he says are destroying the service.

Cameron, at his party's rally, went on to say that only the Tories can save the NHS from the abysmal situation Labour has brought it into. Alright Mr we-must-regain-Scotland's-trust Cameron, how do you propose to fix the NHS? The same way you fixed the railways? Excuse me, but I'm inclined to take one year long waiting lists for a single examination rather than turning the NHS into a new British Rail.

Anyway, I don't really want to talk about the NHS at this point. None of the filthy bourgeois parties that are likely to win Westminster or Holyrood elections can bring it close to anything vaguely resembling decency.
What prompted me to make this post is the extent to which bourgeois parties in Britain have become so utterly identical that they do not even respect their token differences that could, until some time ago, provide them with a semblance of ideological differentiation.

Since the beginning of the 90s we've often seen formerly "leftist" parties like Labour, PASOK, the French SP etc. moving rightwards, adopting key policies of their arch-enemies and pushing forward the most hideously neo-liberal agendas. Liberals and crap-talkers of all shades usually argue that this is a reflection of the realization, on the part of the "leftists", that a market powered liberal economy is naturally more efficient and productive than state intervention and "socialism" (for most of them, socialism=taxes). However, I have yet to see a liberal explanation of why traditionally market happy parties would move towards policies that have been traditionally "owned" by populists and social democrats. Why, oh why are Karamanlis and Cameron so interested in ESY and NHS respectively?

As a Marxist, I tend to look at class relations to explain political developments. Thus I am inclined to offer a class analysis of why an absurdity such as the Tory leader being concerned with Green issues and standing in front of an "NHS-YES" banner would ever take place.

We Marxists view political parties (at least most of them) as class vanguards, that is, political organizations representing the interests of a certain class, or stratum. Simplifying, we could say that traditional market happy parties represent the bourgeoisie while populist and quasi social-democratic parties represent the petty bourgeoisie and labour aristocracy respectively. Since we believe that the interests of the working class lie in socialism, we believe that said interests are represented by those political forces that fight for socialism. As I said, that's a rather simplistic way to look at things as, for one, the workers themselves will most usually follow social democratic and populist rather than socialist forces, while it is equally usual for a self proclaimed socialist party to act in a manner that is completely opposed to the goal of socialism. At any rate, this simplification is still useful when we are examining political developments in the non-socialist camp.

So what's happening? Well, we Marxists believe that capitalism, by its nature, simplifies class antagonisms the more it develops, due to the tendency of capital to accumulate. As accumulation proceeds, the lower strata of the petty bourgeoisie are forced into the proletariat while its highest tie themselves to the ruling class. Such a viewpoint renders the processes of "post-ideology" politics much clearer. As the bourgeoisie fuses with the highest stratum of the petty bourgeoisie (or "middle class") it inevitably comes to adopt parts of its political agenda. Similarly, as the aforementioned stratum moves increasingly closer to the bourgeoisie, its own vanguards will move towards the latter's agenda as well. Political differentiation thus fades away and the dominant parties (vanguards) become representatives of different interest groups rather than objectively different class interests, as has been the case in the United States for years.

On the one hand, this fusion of the bourgeoisie and sections of the petty bourgeoisie makes the former's political hegemony far firmer. Neo-liberalism appears to be triumphant, as even its perceived arch-enemies have embraced it. On the other hand, the simplification of class antagonisms and the swelling of the ranks of the proletariat opens up unprecedented prospects for a regrouping of socialist forces into one, unified vanguard and thus, for the overthrow of capitalism.

Sunday, 18 March 2007

A tartan butcher's apron!

So it appears that Alex Salmond has been gradually managing to curb the hostility of British capital to the prospect of Scottish Independence.

In just a few days' time, we have witnessed prominent bandit banker Sir George Mathewson announcing his support for the Scottish Nationalists and Stagecoach magnate Brian Souter donating an obscene amount of money to the party. True, the overall mood of British capital might be decidedly pro-unionist as it has always been, but "mutinies" such as the above do appear to have a quite disquieting effect on Tony Blair and look-how-British-I-am Gordon Brown, which is understandable given the meltdown of Labour in Scotland, one of its traditional heartlands, which has made the SNP the most likely party to lead the next Scottish Executive. With Holyrood elections less than two months away, we should only expect more doomsday scenaria to be weaved by the New Labour leadership (the Tories have been relatively silent. I suppose that this is because they have crap support in Scotland and that a possible removal of those "rebellious Scots" from the British electorate might actually give them a chance to get back in power south of the border) and its lackeys.

Of course, I couldn't care less about what Blair, Brown, or Souter and Mathewson think about the pros and cons of Scottish separatism. What I do care about is what this change of tender tycoon hearts translates to politically.

The average Left unionist would, of course, seize the opportunity to attack the struggle for Scottish Independence as bourgeois or petty-bourgeois (they can't really make up their you see) nationalism, an evil project that will undermine working class unity on the island to the benefit of the ruling class. I do not wish here to deal with the pseudo-internationalist broken record of the Brit left. The time will come for that in another post. What I want to address is what these developments actually mean for those on the left that do support independence.

To begin with, it is necessary to remind ourselves that Scottish Independence is not an abstract demand rooted in romantic nationalism. The average Scottish working person that is supportive of independence is not so because s/he wants to see the Saltire flying over Edinburgh castle instead of the Union Jack. The demand for Scottish Independence is the product of the synthesis of a number of other key issues affecting the Scottish people, whether political, such as the democratic deficit, or economical, such as the grinding poverty experienced by people in Scotland. Such problems can never of course be permanently solved within a capitalist framework. They can, however, be at least addressed by a government that is not completely preoccupied with sucking up to big business through moderate measures such as providing free school meals and scrapping the council tax.

The problem though is that the SNP is more and more dependent on big business; its quasi social-democratic era under William Wolfe's leadership in the 1970's is long gone. The SNP has been gradually abandoning its formerly populist programme for an increasingly neo-liberal agenda. The revelation that the nationalists will (should they win in May) put separatism in the freezer until they have proven able to govern (govern what? Holyrood?) should not really come as a surprise to anyone. For the SNP (or better, its leadership) and its bourgeois masters fiscal independence is just as good as full separation as fiscal autonomy (that is, the ability to give even bigger handouts to capital) is what they're really after. Even their old policy of withdrawing Scotland from NATO has been effectively (although not officially - more like RESPECT has abandoned socialism) dropped meaning that even if Scotland does break away from the UK, she'll still be a loyal lapdog to the US.

All this effectively means that the SNP cannot deliver independence, or better, it cannot resolve the real problems that the demand for independence springs from. At best, the SNP can deliver formal independence from the UK, offering us a tartan clad version of the British state apparatus. Most likely however, the SNP will follow the path of its Catalunian counterpart.

So what is our task? We must break the hegemony of the SNP over the pro independence movement and at the same time show that the struggle for independence cannot but go hand in hand with the struggle for socialism and republicanism. The false-separatists are just as much an important political opponent as the unionists. We must also challenge the left-nationalist notion that growing support for the SNP is somehow a positive thing because it brings us closer to independence. It doesn't, not in any meaningful way. We must also challenge the rather abstract demand for "A referendum on Scottish independence" by Independence First. Referenda can be manipulated and it is a huge political blunder to campaign for one when you are not sure to win it. Further, campaigning for an independent Scotland in the abstract, as IF does will also not get us very far in the long run. If we are to gain the active support of the Scottish people we must be able to present a tangible alternative to the British state, rather than rely on their national pride.

The struggle for Scottish independence must be conducted on explicitly republican grounds while building socialist hegemony over the movement must be our primary objective. MacLean's call for a Scottish Workers' Republic is just as relevant now as it ever was.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Red Squirrel's Lair FAQ

What's the Lair?

The Red Squirrel's Lair is a blog, shockingly enough. It is not however a personal blog, so you won't be finding any family, holiday or food pictures here, nor will you be learning anything about my exciting personal life. I've got a live journal account for this kind of crap.

It should also be noted that the Redness of the Squirrels is indicative of their political orientation, not their race.

So what is it about?

It is a political blog. Herein you shall find commentary on various current issues about which you may or may not have seen/heard/read on the news as well as abstract theoretical ramblings ranging from Marxist legal theory to the nature of state power etc. Most of the stuff that will be posted here will be from a Marxist perspective though the Vanguard may sometimes host non-Marxist opinions provided that they can be placed on the far left of the political spectrum.

What do squirrels have to do with politics?

Nothing, I just like them and find their ability to mix labour and play quite inspiring - a positive transcendence of alienation.

Alright, why a lair though? Don't squirrel's have nests?

Indeed they do, but I find "lair" to be a much cooler word than "nest". It's more menacing.

What's the squirrel vanguard?

The squirrel vanguard is the term that is used to refer collectively to the regular contributors to this blog.

So you're like, a communist?


And are you in any group?

I am a member of the Scottish Socialist Party, but not everyone posting here is.

For more, just read the darn blog.