Workers Vanguard No. 1060
23 January 2015
On the BTs National Chauvinism
We reprint below a contribution from a sympathizer of the Spartacist League. As regards last year’s Scottish referendum, the ICL defended the democratic right of the Scots to decide their national fate, but did not advocate a “yes” or a “no” vote on independence.
9 December 2014
Dear Workers Vanguard,
The “Bolshevik” Tendency has produced a pitiful attempt of a polemic against the ICL/SL position on the Scottish referendum which overwhelmingly focuses on “demonstrating” that the SL has a “Scottish exceptionalist” line, purportedly because founding Spartacist James Robertson is of Scottish descent.
Their “evidence” is hilariously absurd and shows the BT is incapable of recognizing contradictions, often relayed in the Spartacist press via humor. Robertson himself commented once that he’d been raised in the left socialist and Jewish traditions of the Shachtman organization where one’s main political/polemical thrust was often associated with humor as a way of stressing contradictions.
Robertson once remarked, “A scoundrel can have a sense of humor; but the lack of one may lead to methodological problems—an understanding of contradiction is as necessary to a sense of humor as it is to dialectics.” This proved prescient because he was writing in response to the resignation of a rightist, social-democratic member from the SL/B. This ex-member raised in his resignation his opposition to the SL’s line on a Scottish Workers Republic as part of the USSR. Robertson responded:
“Last and not necessarily least. ‘Scottish Workers Republic as part of the USSR!’: conceived as a heuristic lever to pry apart the Scots Nats and infuriate English reformists (and as the expression of a not very likely revolutionary variant), it hit real pay dirt. Don’s hatred for the idea is almost as extreme as that expressed in print by the all-purpose sundry English workerist left sell-out artist bully boy, Alan Thornett. Q.E.D.”
That this line prompted a similar bleat of outrage from the BT only further condemns them. What else really needs be said about a group whose various national units have always, always come out against the exercising of self-determination by oppressed nationalities in countries where they have sections? Their British group opposes Scottish independence and soft-peddles the issue of British troops out of Northern Ireland in the presence of reformists like the Socialist Party. Their Canadian group prides itself for opposing Quebec’s independence. Their German group opposed and ridiculed the struggle for Kurdish independence in a country where Kurdish nationalists are victimized and jailed by the German imperialists. Their polemic against the ICL’s support for Kurdish independence was originally titled “With Love from Absurdistan!” Their U.S. group has never dealt with Puerto Rican self-determination—the only time it is even mentioned by them is in the context of arguments with the SL about the national question in other locations.
When it comes to the struggle against racial oppression, they are worse than Debsian. Their U.S. group displayed a policy of open scorn to SL-led mobilizations in defense of blacks against fascist terror in the 1980s (the Daniel Patrick Moynihans of the left) and their New Zealand group barely ever mentions the Maori.
Where they have chosen to make a big stand on the issue of national rights and self-determination today is the Chinese deformed workers state, located right in the crosshairs of U.S. imperialism. The BT calls for a “revolutionary government in China” that “would signal its willingness to coexist with Tibet’s traditional ruling caste and Xinjiang’s mullahs as long as they retain popular support.”
Before that the BT loudly proclaimed the right of Albanian-populated Kosovo to self-determination and called for military support to the Kosovo Liberation Army in March 1999... after NATO began its war on Serbia in the name of “poor little Kosovo” with the KLA being blatantly militarily and politically subordinated to NATO imperialism. The BT only backed off this position a month later, claiming that the relationship between NATO and the KLA changed with the KLA becoming “decisively” subordinated to imperialism. The BT claimed, “This relationship is a product of the crushing military setbacks suffered by the KLA on the one hand, and the failure of Nato’s air strikes to deliver a quick and painless victory on the other.” So if only the imperialists had been more effective in destroying Serbia, the KLA wouldn’t have had to subordinate itself to the imperialists!
I will hazard a guess that when the BT finally gets around to writing about the imperialists’ war against the Islamic State, they will discover the need to support the Kurdish struggle against ISIS, despite the Kurdish forces operating under the direction, and in the assistance, of U.S. imperialism. I suppose once the imperialists give their blessing the BT will eagerly offer their support for “Absurdistan.”
That’s really about all that needs to be said about the BT’s position on the National Question.