Scottish nationalism

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Sun Jan 28 15:53:08 MST 2001

Alan Bradley rightly notes:

>The present day Scottish Nationalism has sod all to do with the old
>Scottish state, and even less to do with the Jacobites.  They may use the
>symbols a bit, and at least some nationalists (even left ones) may
>vehemently disagree with the previous statement, but it is really a
>phenomenon whose roots lie firmly in the 20th century, not the 17th or

And if it is a product of the 20th century we would have to explain what
its 20th century roots are.

Did Scotland, some time in the 20th century, cease being part of
imperialist Britain and become an oppressed nation?

As far as I can see, this would have to be the case if Marxists were to be
expected to support Scottish nationalism today.

However, there is simply no evidence that some remarkable transformation
took place in the last 100 years which made Scotland a colony or neo-colony
or occupied and oppressed territory.

Alan understands this.  He appears to recognise that Scotland is not an
oppressed nation, but having opted to support Scottish nationalism anyway,
because it happens to have become popular among a layer of Scottish
leftists in recent years, he advances this justification:

>In a certain sense, the abstract question of whether or not Scottish
>nationalism is a reactionary particularism isn't the main one.  It's
>whether or not the actual movement around it is a threat to the British
>imperialist state.  I think it is, although its potential is unlikely to be

Actually, the question of whether a political trend is revolutionary
nationalist or a reactionary particularism is of vital interest to
Marxists.  It seems to me that this is the crux anayltical point on which
the DSP has made so many mistakes recently - eg on Yugoslavia.

The DSP was so concerned with backing the break-up of a Stalinist state,
that it didn't bother too much about the reactionary particularisms driving
this break-up, or even the fact that these particularisms were allied to
the Western powers and resulted in an outcome which has set back the
struggle for socialism in the Balkans.

>And I really couldn't care less about the territorial integrity of
>imperialist Britain.

Nor could people like myself, Paul Flewers and David Welch.  However, we
would be concerned about whether the break-up had reactionary or
progressive driving forces and outcomes/consequences.  The descent into
nationalism in Britain is a recipe for disaster.  It can only serve to
divide and disorient the working class of Britain.

In New Zealand, we have a South Island party now, which believes that the
South Island is 'oppressed' by the North Island and should go for
independence.  Of course, no-one takes this seriously.  But, according to
Alan's line of thought, if this started to win some support Marxists in NZ
should presumably go along with it.

A micro-state with South Island NZers and North Island NZers at each
other's throats.  Now there's a vision of what socialists want that will
really inspire the working class, eh?


"Don't Dream It - Extreme It" (Lana Coc Kroft)

More information about the Marxism mailing list