Friday, October 28, 2011

REVIEW




Scottish Workers Republic: Scottish Republican Socialist Movement P.O. Box 16887 Glasgow G11 9EP £3.00

 by Wee Jimmie frae Auchenshuggle.

A CURIOUS periodical recently arrived at the New Worker office. Undated and unnumbered it describes itself as the “bumper issue” of the journal of the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement (SRSM).
 According to their website the SRSM was founded in 1973. Since then it has gone through a number of name changes and has suffered confusing splits, which are naturally caused by agents of British intelligence who seem to devote all their resources to these most dangerous enemies of British imperialism. Its relationship to other bodies – chronicled on their website such as the “Army of the Provisional Government” active in the 1970s – is unclear.
Clearly more nationalist than socialist they welcome the recent triumph of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the Scottish Parliament elections. Their main target seems to be the “traditional British Unionist Left”, who are abused rather than have their policies subject to withering criticism.
There is an interesting piece on imperialist reporting on Libya.  A touch of the Messianic is evident in a piece about Trident, which seems to suggest that it is essential to vote SNP to create a nuclear free Europe. A short but nevertheless rambling article on James Connolly by James D Young concludes the issue.
Anyone looking for a left-wing critique of the SNP policies or bourgeois Scottish nationalism in general is going to be disappointed. A party that hopes to maintain the British monarchy and seeks to lower corporation tax to please its multi-millionaire bankers and led by a former economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland is a tempting target for “Socialist Republicans”. But they can’t find their tongues. 
Poetry, of a sort, features strongly. The miscellany of poetry includes offerings that make William McGonagall appear positively Shakespearean.
There are some more inspiring efforts, including a satire on Edinburgh merchants by the 15th century poet William Dunbar, but this is marred by blatantly obvious typos and poor layout.
            Strangely enough for Scottish nationalists, they have an abysmal knowledge of Scottish history, one that seems to be derived from entirely from pictures on those shortbread tins sold in tourist shops.
 At one point we are informed that the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion was a “Scottish revolt against British rule”. The Jacobite rebellions were nothing of the kind; 1745-46 saw the final attempt by the absolutist French monarchy to put their man, “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, on the British throne. Some Highland feudal chiefs conscripted their followers into an army that treated Glasgow and Edinburgh as occupied cities before heading south to Derby, where they gave up the march on London.
 More Tory Jacobites were to be found in Lancashire than Lanarkshire. Their final defeat at the Battle of Culloden was at the hands of a British Army that included 12,000 Lowlanders and Highlanders and all Protestants, Presbyterian or Episcopalian, eager to rout their Catholic enemies.
They also distort the events of 1820, when the British working class was engaged in a desperate struggle for Parliamentary reform against a background of economic depression following the ending of the Napoleonic wars, which is romantically turned into a nationalist revolt.
Any left-inclined Scottish nationalist or a left-winger of a nationalist persuasion could take justifiable pride in the valuable role that Scottish enlightenment figures played in the role of developing the study of society, past and present, on which Marx later drew to good effect: Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, John Millar and William Robertson to name but few. The lessons of the Enlightenment are clearly lost on what are at best charitably described as the romantics of the SRSM.
This publication will be of great interest to collectors of political sectariana and anyone wanting a temporary change from the Fortean Times.