Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Case for Self-Determination

By 'self-determination' it must be stressed that we mean working class self-determination. National self-determination for England is not an end in itself but neither should we reject the nation or wish to destroy its cultural history and the identity of its people. We do, however, fiercly oppose the 'Little Englander' nationalism of the English Democrats or UKIP who advocate isolation and old Tory values, which in the end will do nothing more than protect upper-middle class and right-wing hegemony in England.  Yet unlike the cosmopolitan political elite (and naive ultra-left dogmatists) we have seen that globalism has worked against the interests of the majority. Rather than serving the needs of ordinary people, today's neoliberal economics serve only the interests of large-scale capitalism by importing exploitation and driving down the wages of all working people. We conclude therefore that the English working class, like all working and oppressed people of the world, is subject to this neo-imperial New World Order insofar as we are exploited economically and ruled by a powerful elite: a super-rich, unaccountable minority which believes itself inherently and culturally superior to the majority; an elite which uses its own anti-democratic institutions to maintain the status-quo, by force when required. It is meaningless to speak of an 'oppressing nation', if the overwhelming majority of its people remain oppressed, and their sovereignty is lost through multinational corporate control of the economy as well as the power of state and supra-state institutions.
“In the cabaret of globalization, the state shows itself as a table dancer that strips off everything until it is left with only the minimum indispensable garments: the repressive force.” - Subcommandante Marcos (Zapatista)

One of the most marked features of advanced capitalist countries is the growing tendency on the part of monopoly-capitalism to reduce the scope and effectiveness of democracy, to obstruct the will of the electorate and reduce major political options. This trend has lead to the prevalence of coalition politics and neoliberal consensus we see today. The tendency of monopoly-capital to put decision-making into the hands of a small number of key people (career politicians, senior civil servants, business leaders and the EU) clashes with the need for real democracy, freedom and creativity. The situation we have now is that described by the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci: State control is maintained not just through violence and political and economic coercion, but also through ideology. The the ruling class has developed a hegemonic culture, which propagates its own values and norms so that they became the 'common sense' values of all. People in the working-class and lower-middle class identify their own good with the good of their political and business leaders and thereby help to maintain the status-quo rather than revolting. The narrative of empire is rehashed into a new 'inclusive Britishness' designed to create a false sense of unity between classes and directed, as it always was, towards maintaining upper-class rule and economic interests. The result is the suppression of working class self-determination and the exploitation of cheap imported labour. Our class faces daily, relentless assaults inflicted on us in the media and a constant onslaught of attempts to divide us and sideline our loyalties. The unfortunate effect of this situation has been the growth of far-right racism and corresponding politically correct reaction, leaving both ethnic minorities and the white working class scapegoated and demonised.

The promise of a united, social and democratic Europe has failed us too. Around 25 years ago when Thatcher pushed through the neoliberal single market as part of the Single European Act this marked the launch an anti-social Europe. The so-called ‘free movement’ of labour in fact only undermines wages and working conditions inside Europe. If ‘food-miles’ represent an unacceptably large carbon footprint, then ‘labour-miles’ and shunting human beings around Europe in the pursuit of profit is even more damaging. Norman Tebbit once famously told the unemployed to ‘get on their bikes’ to look for work. Now the EU and business bosses compel workers ‘to get on a plane’ and find work elsewhere in the EU. The cult of monetarist economics is enshrined in EU treaties. A major part of this cult believes that cutting budget deficits and imposing harsh austerity is an end in itself and mass unemployment and economic decline are a ‘price worth paying’ for curbing democracy and working class power. Unemployment in Europe is at a record high, and the Eurozone economy is shrinking. But all EU member state governments stick with endless austerity. This means wage cuts and dismantling public services before handing them to the private sector that created the economic mess in the first place. These attacks on the living standards of the working class have been designed, at base, to increase the ruling class's share of surplus value at the expense of the working class. In a time of economic crisis this is achieved by decreasing the 'social wage' - cutting the welfare state. The same thing is being carried out directly at work. Today the bosses take a much larger percentage of the surplus created by the working class than was the case in the recent past.

Our alternative is this:

The gaining of collective economic control of the nation's resources by the nation as a whole. The recognition of a diverse English cultural identity and the establishment of a revolutionary social-nationalism based on the decentralised model of the Commune. We do, however, aim to build strong alliances between our class in towns and cities, agricultural workers in the countryside, unemployed workers, working class refugees, and with other like-minded liberation struggles internationally. We oppose and fight against all forms of inequality and oppression, including that of women, ethnic minorities, gay people, refugees, and any other oppressed sector of the working class. We oppose racism, sexism, homophobia, national chauvinism, and anything else which divides our class. We are opposed to religious sectarianism and seek the complete separation of church and state and a secular society. The increasing destruction of our environment is due to mismanagement of industrialisation and the inevitable product of a system, which puts profit before all else, that is, capitalism. We are committed to sustainable and renewable energy sources, preservation of the ecology and biodiversity of our planet, with protection of all species and the promotion of a healthy environment for all people and animal life.

Western Europe is today gripped by a crisis of unprecedented dimensions. Enormous technical and economic potential exists side by side with a disarray in labour relations and signs of an unmistakable political and moral degeneration. This crisis sharply underlines the need to find a new democratic way towards a free people's Europe opposed both to neoliberal global agenda and the threatening rise of fascism. Autonomous England consider ourselves part of this process, a part, moreover, which can open up new horizons on the European plane and Internationally.  We do not advocate an all-or-nothing world revolution. Instead we believe that by radically altering the economic and social conditions in one of the world's most developed nations that we can change the the relationship between exploiting and exploited nations.

Unlike the existing parties of the far-left we put the real needs of people ahead of a fixed ideological fidelity. The revolution is not some never-to-be-reached nirvana, theorized and put off indefinitely by the chattering classes. The revolution can and must be enacted now by ordinary people, demanding and fulfilling the own needs and desires. However, we also firmly reject the petty populism of the right, which stirs division among us and ultimately only serves the interests of the rich and powerful. There exists no parliamentary road to liberation. We need to build an organised working class movement with the politics capable of leading the fight against capitalism. Our class is entitled to control over all the wealth of society and to obtain it through any means necessary.


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