Sunday, 29 July 2012
The dangers of left wing nationalism and the limitations it poses
As the crisis in capitalism deepens the search for an alternative to austerity will be posed one form it can take could be nationalism and you may think three is only right wing nationalism and jingoism but there has and will be again left wing versions putting the nation state first in a left sounding rhetoric attempting to pose as anti austerity. In Ireland our comrades will be well aware with Sinn Féin who if they continue their course as posing as anti austerity and anti bailout will be sure to gain mass support. Like in Wales currently with the Plaid Cymru party they both look to play themselves as left of centre opposing austerity which given the scale and the depth of the crisis will gain them some support. But as we in the socialist party who oppose all forms of nationalism and jingoism and racism we look to unite workers across borders and believe whilst these left wing nationalist parties may well gain support in the short term due to their perceived radical edge they will eventually be exposed in the eyes of the working class due to their limitations of simply only appealing to workers in their particular country. This creates an interesting issue for us Marxists who look to unite workers we have to tae a careful tactful approach to dealing with left wing nationalists as they can be won over to Marxist ideas for sure but we must approach them in the right careful manner. Looking more closely at the welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru we can start to see their limitations and areas where we can expose them in the eyes of the working class to draw them apart from nationalist ideas. The election of Leanne Wood, a radical, republican, anti-capitalist woman, as leader of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru makes a sharp change from the party's more conservative leadership of the past and could attract trade unionists and young people to Plaid. Leanne has identified as a socialist and trade unionist and is chair of the PCS union group in the Welsh assembly. She has been prominent in support of many workers' struggles, anti-war demonstrations and anti-cuts campaigns. Her election as leader opens up the prospect of a more robust approach by Plaid in taking up social issues and in calling for independence. She has ruled out any coalition with the Tories, has been prominent in opposing cuts in public services, criticised the capitalist European Union and clearly opposed nuclear power, traditionally supported by Plaid Cymru because of the power stations that were at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd. Her election will make Plaid Cymru, at least on the surface, appear as the radical alternative, especially as the "two Eds" - Miliband and Balls - have said a future Labour government would maintain Tory cuts. It will put Welsh Labour under pressure as Wood accuses them of "sitting and waiting" while Wales sinks under the cuts. During the leadership election Plaid Cymru's membership increased by 23%. A thin but significant layer of young people were drawn into Plaid by Leanne's campaign. Voting for cuts However, while being the most prominent politician in Wales in support of workers in struggle, Wood does not have confidence that a mass movement can defeat the cuts or change society. For example, she opposed the 'needs budget' strategy put forward by a number of trade unionists and Socialist Party Wales that would involve mobilising a mass movement in support of a Welsh government refusing to carry out Con-Dem cuts from Westminster. Reluctantly, she supported a budget that included some cuts. And while calling for an economy that serves "our people rather than the market" and "a role for the state in the economy", Wood does not propose clearly socialist policies. She favours a "social economy" rather than a socialist economy. She supports decentralisation and cooperatives rather than nationalisation and calls for "a robust economic infrastructure that can shelter us from future economic storms". Wood has linked independence with a campaign for social justice that could resonate with many workers. Most working people have opposed independence partly because of the weakness of the Welsh economy, especially since the destruction of industry by Margaret Thatcher's Tories in the 1980s. But the prospect opening up for the Welsh economy - already valued at only 74% of the UK per-head average - with massive benefit cuts, regional pay and huge public service cuts, is to sink to eastern European or Greek levels even while part of the UK. The Con-Dem government plans to cut Welsh public sector wages by up to 18% through regional pay. When challenged by a TV commentator that independence would impoverish Wales, Wood replied: "Well we have that already within the UK." 'Cooperative islands' Support for independence currently stands at about 10%, but as Scotland moves towards an independence referendum in 2014 and the economic situation worsens in Wales, this is bound to rise. But Leanne's model of a string of cooperatives, islands of socialism in a stormy sea of capitalism, cannot possibly make up for the past destruction of industry and mining now to be accompanied with public service and welfare cuts. The tidal waves of capitalism would overwhelm these tiny cooperative islands. A weak, independent, capitalist Wales could withstand the forces of global capitalism even less than Greece or Ireland. Only a socialist Wales linking with workers in Scotland, England, Ireland and the rest of Europe can hope to defy the rigours of the capitalist markets. Plaid Cymru - a radical party? While Leanne Wood publicly supported the Occupy Cardiff camp, Neil McEvoy, the Plaid deputy leader of Cardiff council (supposedly on the left of Plaid), and denounced occupiers as extremist. He agreed that the camp should be moved from Cardiff Castle's grounds before the police used tasers and horses to break it up. Plaid-led councils have carried through big cuts in schools and privatisation. Plaid-controlled Caerphilly council has attacked facilities for Unison. A Plaid councillor has attempted to start a witch-hunt against Unison activists in Carmarthenshire. Whether Plaid's significant conservative section will accept a radical campaigning party remains to be seen. They could form a drag on Plaid's move to the left and even attempt to undermine Leanne Wood. A split or series of splits is possible given the breadth of ideas and cross-class support in Plaid. So this is all things which we will have to confront in time and develop a strategy too but something which will grow as this crisis in capitalism and the nation state begins to feel the strain of national interests With extracts taken from the www.socialistparty.org.uk and Plaid Cymru article written by Dave Reid a full timer for the socialist party in Wales.