Scottish Referendum And Tamil Leadership

In 1925 the British Empire sent gunboats up the Yangtze in an attempt to halt the Chinese revolution. Today all the now ex-empire can do is send three discredited party leaders to Scotland as it becomes clear that, regardless of the outcome, the Scottish referendum will represent a mass movement against austerity.

The Tory-Labour-Lib Dem leaders are desperately trying to somehow divert the momentum for a Yes vote for Scottish independence. Their very limited ability to do this reflects the demise of English capitalism. Its representatives know that their domination will be in tatters if Scotland goes.

Ever since the polls at the start of September showed that the Yes vote is up, the whole capitalist establishment has been in a panic. Having failed to assess the anger on the ground, they are now throwing everything they have at Scotland to try to reverse the Yes trend. But unfortunately for them, from bribes to terror to blackmail – everything they do is back-firing and weakening their position.

From Tamil-speaking people to the over 1.8 million people who marched in Catalonia for independence on 11 September, oppressed nationalities across the world are watching this referendum closely. It is revealing a number of truths about the world in which we live and those who hold the power in it

Big business and capitalist governments are united in their attempts to scare Scottish voters away from Yes. Obama has come to the assistance of Tory PM Cameron – and so too have the banks and big business bosses. It was revealed that the threat of an exit by the big banks (who smashed the economy and then got bailed out) was masterminded and initially leaked by Downing Street.

The nation state was born out of the development of capitalism. It serves the local market and helps to regulate international trade. Capital operates with these boundaries and limitations and stands directly opposed to the interest of any ‘national minorities’ who wish to break this norm. Capitalism is incapable of overcoming the limitation of the nation state as revealed by the disaster of economic crisis within the European Union. But the crisis of the capitalist system unearths, not just its limitations, but the horrific lengths it is prepared to go to in its own defence, and the falsity that capitalism in any way serves the interests of working, young and poor people.

Westminster’s austerity was a trigger for the Scottish working class to use this referendum on independence as an opportunity to resist. Concerns for social and economic well-being lie beneath the momentum for a Yes vote. Class anger at times finds its outburst through ‘nationalism’, “only the outer shell of an immature Bolshevism”. Improving living conditions – or a better Scotland in economic and social term is the main theme for many Yes vote campaigners.

But of course the capitalist Scottish National Party (SNP), although leading the Yes campaign, in reality weakens the case for a Yes vote by failing to offer a real alternative to capitalist austerity. Nonetheless it can however appear to the left of all the main parties, including Labour, because of their absolute commitment to cuts and joint campaign to terrorise the Scottish population.

The Financial Times, the mouthpiece of the capitalists, in an attempt to recruit more No votes, “revealed” to the Scottish workers that “Mr Salmond’s Scottish government, steered closer to English spending decisions than Wales”. Deutsche Bank screamed: “Scottish independence would bring austerity on a scale never seen before”! Their hypocrisy is breath-taking. Since when did they care about the austerity bringing misery to workers and young people in Scotland?

But the English “oppressors” and right-wing SNP leaders know that some concessions have to be made, whatever the outcome on Thursday, in order to hold back the uprising. This is another key point: the mass struggle, although a ‘proxy struggle’ through the ballot box not mass mobilisation, for better conditions and change will result in at least some gains. In this sense, the Yes vote will have reverberations among the English working class and the anti-austerity feeling will come even further to the fore with the potential to inspire mass actions.

The Tami National Alliance (TNA) leadership in Sri Lanka should take note of this. If they fail to put up a challenge to all the capitalist parties of the south they will lose the support of the Tamil masses eventually. But so far it seems the ‘natural allies’ for the Tamil leadership, either the TNA or its predecessors, had been the capitalist UNP.

If the SNP proclaimed or openly practiced support for the Tories it would be isolated. This is why the struggle for independence for Tamils in the past was forced to find its expression through other means. Such an emergence still stands as a possibility. Enjoying majority support among the Tamils is temporary – it is linked to the confidence of the masses and the emergence of a more convincing alternative offering to fight for the rights. It is therefore a matter of time before another force emerges, if the TNA carries on with its current strategy.

The TNA argues that they will seek some concessions within the borders of Sri Lanka. They want the support of all the capitalist governments and the direct involvement of the capitalist Indian state to win these concessions. This strategy is based on empty ‘logical arguments’ rather than any sort of understanding of the socio-economic forces shaping the world today. It is therefore destined to fail.

The TNA has mastered what is now called the “reverse lobby” such as that of the GTF in the diaspora. The capitalists across the world are united (including in India, Pakistan and China) in demanding that Tamils accept at least two things: one is the complete renouncing of militancy – by which they mean all forms of ‘struggle’. The other is the acceptance of some sort of concession which will only be possible within the boundaries of Sri Lanka. The TNA leaders and some diaspora leaders, bereft of any understanding that struggle is a powerful tool capable of winning significant concessions and more, now completely accept this proposition and are slowly beginning to campaign for it among Tamils. Though they dress this as a “strategy” and whisper that they still stand for the right to self-determination in “closed” conversations, their bankruptcy is becoming clearer to all. The threat that the TNA face from the Rajapaksa regime is the only thing that is holding back the Tamils from rising up against its leaders – or supporting another force. But that is not going to last, unless the TNA dramatically changes its course.

The Sinhala working class is ill-informed about why Tamils have historically demanded independence. Distorted through the UNP-supporting Tamil leaders – seeing their actions in the southern parliament supporting attacks against the living conditions, how can the Sinhala working class develop any understanding about the deep-rooted desire for better conditions that is expressed through Tamil nationalism? Without clarity on this understanding how can the rights of the Tamils be won? The English working class is not mobilised behind the Tories. But the Tories grotesquely try to appeal to the English working class, by holding back the rights of Scottish. If the SNP unite with the Tories, it can intensify not just the frustration of the Scottish working class, but the tension between these nationalities will be sharpening. In the end it will result in winning nothing for both Scottish and English masses.

This is the easy enough ‘logic’ for Tamil leadership to understand I hope. They should watch Scotland closely. And get rid of their rotten right-wing strategy, if they are serious about fighting for Tamils’ rights.

Whatever the result on Thursday, Scotland will never be the same again. Of course I will be among the tens of thousands of Tamils, inside and outside Scotland, who will be supporting the Yes vote.