Between Westminster and Edinburgh: Whither the Scottish Proletariat?

A declaration on the prospects and limitations of Scottish secession from the UK by Red Century:

Red Century

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As the SNP calls for another referendum on Scottish Independence, the entire island of Britain is experiencing a collective flashback to the media circus of the first: Scottish elements excitedly plot a glorious new Scottish future, while Westminster repeats its fevered pleas for “British” unity, a unity built by imperialist collaboration and conquest.

It is an almost emotional position for those of us dedicated to the destruction of the imperialist Westminster State that Scotland should secede. What’s more, there is good theoretical basis for this position: Scotland as an “independent” state would not have the economic power abroad which Westminster has, and which is the basis of the latter’s status as an imperialist power. Like the South of Ireland, an “independent” Scotland would be a type of dependent country, not so dominated by foreign capital as semi-colonial countries such as the North of Ireland, but unable to play a significant…

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Atlanta

I went to Atlanta recently for a conference, which was not altogether successful for me in an academic sense. I’m not as successful as I might be in academia, I’m told by some US colleagues, because I put all my energy into politics. My invariable response is that by the standards of what needs to be done in the current context, I don’t put enough effort into politics.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I expected from Atlanta. I was told by white people in the north to expect it to be very racist, whereas I was expecting it to have a very “New Afrikan” character.

In either case, I spent a lot of time in very white or mixed areas, and did not sense a huge difference to the north. I was hosted by a relative of a friend from Scotland, who responded to this impression by saying “Don’t be fooled, mate. If you had more time here, I could show you, this is Apartheid South Africa”.

Segregation in Atlanta is noticeable, although in central areas it does not feel altogether different to the segregation in the north of the US. I was assured that if I were to return and go further north or south from the central areas of Atlanta, I would see just how bad it gets. I had been protected from the real Georgia, I was told. If I were to take a short trip beyond, I would see. Atlanta is not representative, Atlanta is not really the Deep South.

Upon returning, I saw the film “I Am Not Your Negro”, about James Baldwin, in which Baldwin claimed that there was no difference for Afro-Americans between the north and south of the US. In vulgar economic, cultural, legal, and historical terms, this is plainly false, and it is that difference which underlies the largest, most strategically important, and least recognised national question in the US (where leftists rarely mention national questions, unfortunately).

However, I don’t think Baldwin, wherever I disagreed with his assessment of the US’s present and potential future, would have claimed they were the same because none of those differences matter at all; I suppose what he meant is that capitalist centres where various (national) communities inevitably meet are the same in terms of their dynamics, and the intolerance of “white people” (the oppressor Yankee nation) does not stem from the laws in the south, but the laws in the south came about because of the dynamics between the oppressor and oppressed nations there.

In short, if Massachusetts were as full of Afro-Americans as Georgia, Boston might maintain some of its cosmopolitan charm (itself constantly tested by oppressor nation chauvinism), but the KKK would “have to” emerge in comparable numbers there.

While I was obviously happy to be spared any encounters with KKK culture, Atlanta disappointed me by not having a very “local” culture in any sense, again owing largely to where I spent most of my time, within an academic and petty bourgeois milieu, in areas with less Afro-Americans, but enough new transplants (not only white, but Asian, etc.) to give it an apparent social structure similar to those cities in the heart of Yankeedom.

As I said, when others tell me I don’t spend enough time developing my academic career, I regret not spending more time on political work, research, and connections. I wish that I could’ve spent some time venturing into the southern environs of Atlanta to bear witness to my host’s observations. I have taken a small number of road trips in the US with other people’s cars, all firmly within “Yankee” territory. Having recently procured a car of my own, I do intend to go on “fact-finding missions” in North American regions with a “local” character so as to be better versed in the local national questions.

As long as I’m here, I have to figure out how to help out the movement here, and to do this, I need to spend more time outside of academia’s preferred geographies.

Red Century is Born

I am extremely proud to announce the launch of Red Century, a new Marxist-Leninist publication for Britain, which in its own words has chosen today to launch because:

Today is a uniquely important International Working Women’s Day: It is the 100th anniversary of the February Revolution, which began with Russian women striking against the imperialist war the Tsarist state was imposing on the peoples of the Russian Empire. This democratic revolution marked the beginning of the revolutionary process that was to culminate in the October Revolution, the world-shaking moment which still inspires millions around the world today.

Sie war eine von uns.

Today is the anniversary of Comrade Ivana Hoffmann, internationalist hero and communist fighter who laid down her young life for the liberation of the Kurdish people in Rojava, the defeat of ISIS, and her Marxist-Leninist ideals.

Ivana’s martyrdom affected so many of us in so many ways. I remember first seeing her, with a mask round her face, in a video explaining why she had come to Kobanê in German, and seeing her dark hands and thinking how she was clearly different to the traditional German volunteers for Turkish revolutionary organisations.

Following her martyrdom, we learned just how different she was, from her mixed family background, to her LGBT identity, to her young age and deep dedication to the cause noted by her comrades and those who knew her.

Every nationally conscious Kurd I speak to knows her story by now. She is hailed as a hero by the Kurdish people, in spite of how very different she is. I have written a piece for English speakers on her significance which will emerge very soon. I can think of very little more to say that I didn’t say there, but I will say:

History is full of coincidences. It is an amazing coincidence that this brave young woman who inspired all of us would fall the day before International Working Women’s Day, fighting in the women’s battalions of the YPJ for a new February Revolution, when the original February Revolution was started by a women’s strike for International Working Women’s Day.

As we reach conditions close to a Third World War, we can only hope that new Februaries are close indeed. This is what Ivana Hoffmann fought for, and we must pick up her struggle.

Tomorrow, the fruit of a great deal of unity-struggle in Britain by followers of Ivana will be realised in the form of a new publication. Her struggle continues, and we must unite women, workers, and all the oppressed against the dark forces of fascism that cast a shadow from Syria to the United States.

Martyrs in this struggle don’t die, they live on in our every word.

Ivana Hoffmann lives on!