frontline 12 – Editorial

For a new alternative in Europe

Internationalism is central to the philosophy of the SSP. We stand for an independent socialist Scotland. But it is not a blinkered and insular type of independence. Nor is it the independence of the Scottish National Party (SNP) who argue for an independent capitalist Scotland as a “competitive” low wage economy within the European Union. Our vision is of a socialist Europe, and indeed a socialist world. Not the monolithic, Stalinist type of socialism that our enemies portray. Rather we see a socialism which protects cultural diversity and upholds self-determination for all nations.

The draft European Manifesto of the SSP (which has to ratified by the March conference of the party) makes this clear:

“The immediate goal of the SSP is not to create gigantic mega-states, nor to replace capitalist globalisation with socialist globalisation. Our aim is to build socialism from below - a socialism that is based on decentralisation, diversity and voluntary co-operation between nations. Socialism in the 21st century will not be built from the top tables of Brussels downwards, but will have to be fought for at local and national level upwards.”

Our involvement in the project of the European Anti-Capitalist Left is an expression of our internationalism, of our recognition that socialists around the world need to have the greatest amount of cooperation. We recognise that socialism cannot be built in one country but has to be international. We also recognise that just as the bosses corporations and governments collaborate internationally so must the left. This does not mean the type of brittle, undemocratic international that has dominated the socialist left since the days of the comintern. Rather we have to build democratic organisations that don’t dictate to their member parties.

The SSP was one of the founder parties of the European Anti-Capitalist Left, along with the Red-Green Alliance of Denmark, the Left Bloc of Portugal and the LCR of France. We have met approximately twice a year since the first meeting in Lisbon.

These meetings have been forums in which the participating parties have come together to clarify areas of agreement, and to forge a broad agreement concerning the main political questions of the day. The EACL meetings have discussed all the key questions that the left in Europe and the world has faced - capitalist globalisation, imperialism and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the question of the European Union and so on.

As these meetings have progressed we have succeeded in establishing general agreement on these issues. Each conference has published a statement outlining the key points.

The EACL project has also expanded over the past few years, increasing the number of nations and parties involved. This has involved parties from all across Europe. This has not always been a straightforward process. The left has a differing strength and differing degrees of unity and popular support in different European countries.

Thus the EACL has included up to three different organisations from England at different times, it has had only observers from key nations such as Germany. The participants of the EACL had largely come from outside of the Stalinist tradition. However as this tradition fractures and continues into crisis this has begun to change. The Party of Communist Refoundation of Italy has attended several meetings of the EACL, alongside it’s move towards the radical movement against corporate globalisation and the key role it played in the European Social Forum.

The EACL has been clear in its analysis of the European Union. It has explained the increasingly neo-liberal nature of the EU which has meant privatisation of services and attempts to build up the strength of European imperialism. The EACL has condemned the new European constitution which enshrines the market, does nothing to protect workers rights, establishes limits to social spending and expresses a commitment to NATO.

The SSP also rejects the Euro currency, not from the point of view of right-wing Union Flag waving nationalism but because it is an anti-working class measure which limits public spending and takes economic control out of our hands.

The EACL is committed to putting a common manifesto for the European elections in June 2004. In doing so it has struggled to put together a common European ‘party’ that would express our common beliefs and would qualify for EU funding. This has proved problematic with the Italian PRC deciding to stick with its old allies from the largely ex-Stalinist Group of the European Left in founding a new EU ‘Party of the European Left’.

For the SSP there can be no question of abandoning our principles in order to qualify for EU cash. We have no desire to link up with parties who have entered government coalitions and carried out spending cuts and attacks on workers rights, such as the French Communist Party.

The possibility still exists to put together an EACL ‘party’ for the EU elections and discussions have taken place with groups from Greece, Ireland and elsewhere. However whether or not agreement is reached we will stand on a principled manifesto which puts the interests of the working class first and which stands for a break with capitalism.

As the SSP votes to select prospective MEP candidates it must bear in mind the importance of the EU project for capitalism and the equal importance of building links with other socialists in Europe. To water down our commitment to the EACL, or to change our position on the Euro currency or the EU constitution would be a serious political error.

As the statement from the November 2003 meeting of the EACL in Paris made clear “Only a new political and social force on a massive scale across the European continent will be able to impose our social demands and realise our hopes for a better world. A “different Europe” is possible, but a different European Left is necessary.”