The recent quarrel over the timing and constitutional validity of the proposed independence referendum in Scotland has again pushed the national question to the forefront of British politics. Such developments give us a fresh opportunity to revisit this important issue.
Lenin in his book State and Revolution warned that the national question in Britain, which appeared resolved long ago, could raise its head under certain circumstances. This amazing prediction came true with the world crisis of 1974 and the deepening crisis of British capitalism. The re-emergence of nationalism in Scotland and Wales that Lenin had anticipated, was reflected in the growth of support for Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party throughout the 1970s and 1980s and up to the present.
It is a dialectical contradiction that the national question could arise when the historical justification for nation states has come to an end with the decline of capitalism itself. The creation of nation states was one of the historical achievements of capitalism in the period of its ascent, especially between 1789 and 1848. That the crisis of capitalism has led to a revival of latent nationalism is a reflection of the fact that this is the epoch of decline.
Hundred years ago, on 19 August 1912 to be precise, the first trade union organization was born in Nigeria. Though, it was initially called Southern Civil Service Union, it had about 500 memberships, which spread from South to North. It was later renamed Nigerian Civil Service Union after the amalgamation of the Southern and Northern protectorates. It was organized and headed by Henry Liebert who was a Sierra Leonean immigrant living then in Nigeria.
While attention is still on the draconian traffic laws recently imposed by the ACN government in Lagos, another major attack on the working masses of Lagos is already in progress. The Lagos state government had perfected plans to increase the taxes of the overtaxed workers of Lagos. The current payslip for July already reflects this crude reality. The State had increased the taxes payable by Lagos state workers without any form of prior discussion with the state NLC and the various public sector workers unions including the Nigerian Medical Association.
As usual, there is a news blackout by the mainstream media about this attack. The information got out when the governor summoned the State NLC and the public sector union leaderships to a meeting last week Thursday, 9/08/12, to inform them of the coup on workers' wages. Fasola claimed that due to the heavy debt profile of Lagos state, the government had increased the taxes of workers, in essence cut down wages, in order to pay the fictitious debt the ACN regime has incurred over the years.
The situation in Pakistan is almost identical to that of Nigeria. The scientific explanation of the Pakistani society as put forward by Lai Khan also applies to Nigeria and the underdeveloped economies of the world.
For quite some time now several so called secular parties, especially the MQM, have been campaigning around the idea that feudalism is the real cause of the country’s plight and its abolishment is the only solution to Pakistan’s tribulations. Their endeavour is in fact mainly to defend the petty bourgeois businesses and the Mafia capitalism on which they rely for their social and economic basis.
This cliché has been in vogue for decades. The ex-lefts and the liberal intelligentsia have been analysing Pakistan as a feudal society and defining the solution in the accomplishment of the national democratic or the bourgeois revolution for the development of the country.
From the Presidency, to Finance Minister Okonjo Iweala, up to the least in hierarchy of this regime, there has been ongoing murmuring about the economic tsunami that is fast approaching. Nigerians seem not to be too bothered about this inaudible cry of the regime; it has been a case of Government just crying to itself. This apathy of the people might prove catastrophic when this economic disaster eventually hits, because it is not a mere rumour mongering of the regime, incoming economic disaster is real and it demands that we adequately prepare.
Editorial Statement, Workers’ Alternative, Nigeria
The landslide victory of Comrade Adams Oshiomole [the former leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress] in the Edo State Governorship election on Saturday, 14th July 2012 marks a major watershed in the history of politics in Nigeria.
This was not only because it was contested by Adams, winner for two consecutive years of the man-of-the-year award during the long drawn out battle of the Nigerian workers against the Obasanjo administration’s series of attacks on the Nigerian masses; not only because it was a landslide victory in which Oshiomhole received over 75%(477,478 of 630,067) of the votes to beat the ruling conservative party PDP that got only 22.8%(144,235), despite a massive deployment of all their strength and wealth; but also because it exposed the uselessness and ineffectiveness of political “Godfatherism” [meaning that political God fathers is all you need to win elections] once the masses are involved in the equation.
The Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohammed Mursi has won Egypt's presidential election with 51.73% of the vote. Ahmed Shafiq, the candidate of the military, got 48.27%, according to the election commission. However these figures should be treated with caution.
The turnout was officially claimed to be 51.8%. However, many eyewitnesses say that the real level of participation was far lower than this. Even if we accept the official estimate, it would mean that the Muslim Brotherhood only won the support of about 25% of the electorate. Moreover, an unknown number of these votes may have come from left-wing people who voted for the Muslim Brotherhood as “the lesser evil”.
Huge cheers went up from thousands gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square after the result was known. But the cheering will not last for long, for these elections revealed deep fault lines in Egyptian society.
The Egyptian revolution has taken a new turn in the last few days. The ruling Military Council (SCAF) has launched a number of very serious attacks on the revolution. The military police can now arrest civilians at will and parliament has been dissolved. The generals have also announced additions to the Constitutional Declaration of March 2011 which give them virtually unlimited powers. What was supposed to have been the first democratic presidential elections in the history of the country has ended in a farce and a power struggle between two rival factions of the Egyptian bourgeoisie: The Muslim Brotherhood and the Armed Forces.
British doctors have gone on strike today for the first time since 1975 over the government cuts to pensions. Unsurprisingly, this has been met with a chorus of indignation by the Tories who have accused the doctors of “penalising patients” by taking industrial action.
8 in 10 doctors voting in the ballot of BMA (British Medical Association – the doctors’ trade union) members chose industrial action. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of the strike has been partial, despite the overwhelming yes vote to strike action.
It appears that the nation has not yet seen the end of victimizations and maltreatment of workers by the Dangote Group. A May 1 2012 online edition of the Workers Alternative gave an account of the gross injustice going on at the Pasta subsidiary at Ikorodu. In this current report, the workers bearing the brunt of the now familiar Dangote’s sword of Damocles are the Apapa cement workers.
The situation is moving at lightning speed on a world scale. After the Arab Revolution, events followed in quick succession: the movement of the indignados in Spain; the wave of strikes and demonstrations in Greece; the riots in Britain; the movement in Wisconsin and the Occupy movement in the U.S.; the overthrow of Gaddafi; the fall of Papandreou and Berlusconi; all these are symptoms of the present epoch. (See Perspectives for world capitalism 2012 (Draft discussion document) – Part One); and, if we may add, there was the magnificent movement of millions of Nigerian masses in January of this year.
These sudden sharp turns indicate that something fundamental have changed in the entire situation. Events are beginning to impinge upon the consciousness of ever-broader layers of the population. The ruling class is increasingly divided and disoriented by the depth of a crisis they never expected and have no idea how to solve. Suddenly, they find themselves unable to maintain control of society by the old methods. This description succinctly captures the current Nigerian situation.
Since the Gov Fasola-ACN administration in Lagos dismissed 788 doctors fighting for their rights on Monday 7/5/12, there has been a massive condemnation of the regime. The doctors were merely demanding that the State obey the agreement is signed with them last year.
This premeditated and insane action further exposed the true face Fasola and the ACN to many more people. Many are still in shock and pain because of the reckless actions of the Lagos State government.
The court was jam-packed with sympathizers across Lagos State to witness the court proceeding. Doctors from federal hospitals and even those in private practice came to solidarize with their affected colleagues. JAF members were also present en mass to solidarize with the 778 members of the Lagos state doctors who were unjustly sacked by the Lagos state government. The affected doctors were also present en mass.
The elections in France and Greece represent a fundamental change in the situation. The crisis of European capitalism has entered a new and turbulent stage. A mood of anger is sweeping across Europe. Of course, we understand that election results do not reflect the psychology of the masses with complete accuracy. They are like a snapshot of the mood at a given moment. But it is necessary to analyse election results carefully, since they do show certain trends in society.
It is very important that workers' activists in Nigeria study the developing events in Europe and Greece in particular.
The electoral results of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) reveal objectively a serious political failure. Its result of 8.48% (26 MPs) is an increase of its electoral strength by a mere 0.94%, in a situation where hundreds of thousands of workers and youth were moving to the left. While SYRIZA won 800,000 votes, the Communist Party won only 18,823 votes.
The delegate conference of the National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) is currently taken place in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, Nigeria. The Campaign for Workers’ Alternative, CWA, issued a special solidarity leaflet on the need for the union to support the struggle for the reinstatement of the victimized workers of Dangote Pasta. This leaflet is reproduced below.
Demand for Reinstatement of the Victimized Dangote Pasta Workers
Our tendency did not think the euro could even be founded, because of the impossibility of uniting economies headed in different directions. But for a while they in fact got away with this, due to the prolonged capitalist boom. In a 1997 document, “A Socialist Alternative to the European Union”, we pointed out that the euro would collapse “amidst mutual recriminations.” This scenario is now beginning to unfold before our eyes. [part 1]
We begin today the publication of the IMT’s analysis of the world situation. This is a draft document that is the basis of discussion within the Tendency and will be voted on with possible amendments at this year’s world congress of the IMT. Part One deals with the general crisis of world capitalism, to be followed by an analysis of specific areas of the world.
The situation is moving at lightning speed on a world scale. After the Arab Revolution, events followed in quick succession: the movement of the indignados in Spain; the wave of strikes and demonstrations in Greece; the riots in Britain; the movement in Wisconsin and the Occupy movement in the U.S.; the overthrow of Gaddafi; the fall of Papandreou and Berlusconi; all these are symptoms of the present epoch.
Once again Israeli and American imperialism are sabre rattling in the Middle East. This time Iran is the target. Over the course of the last ten years one sanction after another has been placed on Iran in order to pressure it to abort its nuclear programme.
In the course of the last couple of years the imperialists have upped the stakes in the conflict over Iran’s nuclear programme. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Iran “an existential threat” to Israel and has said that the Israeli regime would do whatever it takes to stop the Iranian nuclear programme.
Since last year four Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated, most likely through Mossad and CIA covert operations. At the same time the sanctions against Iran have been tightened, severely deepening the crisis in the Iranian economy. The latest major actions by the West have been the introduction of sanctions on Iran’s banking and oil sector. When the oil sanctions begin to bite, after being implemented at the beginning of February, the results will be catastrophic for the Iranian economy. Oil is the main source of income for Iran. Industry, services and agriculture are fully dependent on this sector. A collapse in income from oil could lead to major dislocation for Iran and especially for the Iranian people.
It is not ruled out that if the democratic facade of imperialism creates a crisis that threatens to unravel the economic system, the imperialist bosses would not hesitate to revert back to military dictatorship.
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