Today the choice is still ‘socialism or barbarism’

ROSA LUXEMBURG: 101 years after her murder, Rosa’s key question - ‘Socialism or Barbarism?’ - is still the choice that people face in the 21st century

by Ken Ferguson

· A century after Rosa Luxemburg coined, amidst the mechanised slaughter of the great imperialist war, the slogan “Socialism or Barbarism” if anything it is more relevant than ever today.

Given the catalogue of horrors during that century starting with Luxemburg’s murder by para military thugs in league with right wing social democrats through war, concentration camps and nuclear missiles this might seem an exaggerated claim.

Yet in world in which humans possess both the tools and technology to create abundance for all and the heedless drive for profit which spawns climate crisis and the real threat of nuclear war this is the reality.

Here in Scotland and across the world we face a social, economic and democratic crisis as the tiny minority who control the planets’s wealth exercise their economic, political and military might to maintain their iron grip on power.

Unlike in 1914 however this now takes place in a world where humanity’s actions have created a climate crisis which—in a few years—threatens not just the lives of millions but the entire current existing shape of the planet threatening flooding, famine and resource wars.

Of course this crisis both manifests itself in different ways in different parts of the planet and the struggle around it also ranges in different ways from elections through demonstrations to bloody armed conflict.

Empire, racism, division
Here in Scotland, we were and are part of one of the major forces, the British Empire, which shaped the economics and politics of our present era with its attendant plunder, racism, bloodshed and division.

And of course over more than 300 years we were one of the major components mining and burning coal, forging steel, ships, locomotives and so on and thus are major culprits in the long process creating today’s climate crisis.

Yet faced with this stark reality we find our politics handcuffed to a revolting posh boys right wing Tory government bent on putting the economics creating the climate and social crisis into hyper drive.

Of course the Voice has long taken the view that the answer to this paradox lies in our own hands through talking the path of independence and breaking with nuclear armed free market madness of Westminster.

The question, for us, is not should this be done but how can the case not just for a change of flag over Edinburgh Castle but for a radically changed country firmly on side of those seeking both a Scotland and indeed a wider world putting people and planet first be won.

Formidable challenges
Such a course of action of course poses formidable challenges initially from the arrogant Tories in Westminster but beyond that from the wider and still dominant neoliberal elite and their hirelings in the media, universities, think tanks and ultimately police and armed forces. Indeed we had a whiff of that a few days ago when it was revealed that police in England had placed the peaceful protestors of XR in the same category as violent terrorists.

Firstly however how are we to break the obdurate resistance of Tories not just to independence but to the basic right to vote on the issue?

Many support the idea that 2021’s Scottish Election, if they return a pro-independence majority, can be the bulldozer to sweep away the Westminster No men.

Not according to Boris Johnston’s place man as Scottish Secretary Alistair Jack MP.

Speaking on TV to interviewer Gordon Brewer he haughtily dismissed the idea that the views of Scot voters expressed in a democratic election could possibly change the mind of the Johnson gang on Indyref 2. That, he said, would only happen after a generation or lifetime.

For the Yes movement the task of breaking that arrogance must involve not just legal cases, parliamentary jousts and marches.

It must face the hard fact that Scots voters, who overwhelmingly reject the Tories, and in particular Scotland’s working class, must be won to a vision that offers not just a break with Tory rule but a pathway to tackling the sea of injustice of housing, poverty, and insecure work replacing it with a sustainable, needs-based economics.

Certainly such an approach goes with the grain of Scots opinion but it will also have to face the need to break with the economics of the SNP’s neoliberal growth commission, a world of market based consumerism sitting alongside a burgeoning food bank sector dispensing 1, 000 emergency food parcels a day, poverty and war.

As we enter a new decade Scotland’s struggle for independence is not just an democratic demand but it opens the path to a fundamental change which both tackles the climate change and builds a society of skilled work, decent housing and healthcare as part of a people centred democracy. It can be an example to the world.

The socialist pioneers raised the slogan that in the struggle for socialist change, “We have a world to win.” 2020 urgently needs to see that work progress.

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