Jack Conrad (Weekly Worker 1078) calls on the CPGB to oppose Left Unity resolution (68) on self determination. He is mistaken and should reconsider.
The resolution makes three points “(1). We note the LU Manifesto called for the abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords but took no view on the Acts of Union which bind England with Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. (2). This conference calls for the abolition of all the Acts of Union, thus ending all jurisdictions by the British Crown over the sovereign nations of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. (3) By ending all Acts of Union, the people of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, will be able to freely choose their future relations with the people of England, whether as independent nations, or in some form of voluntary federal relationship or within the European Union or in whatever form they decide”.
Jack is perhaps worried about the threat opposition to these laws pose to the future of the Communist Party of Great Britain, the British Labour Party and the British Road to Socialism. This is the danger of national self determination or indeed greater democracy. If the people have democratic options and rights they might not do what communists demand. Of course the CPGB does not want to become CPEW or CPE. But voting against this resolution the CPGB will be putting its own self preservation before the democratic interests of the working class.
The real argument is in Jack’s criticism of the resolution. He asks “Does that mean they (the movers) seek the re-establishment of the Irish, Scottish and Welsh feudal monarchies? Probably not. No, the motivation is clear. Instead of the working class in Britain unitedly fighting for a federal republic and international socialism, the two comrades want the break-up of Britain into separate capitalist states. Oppose”.
First, of course, it is logical, if somewhat absurd, to suggest that anybody who aims to abolish the British constitutional monarchy wants to return to the feudal monarchy. Do the CPGB want to get rid of our dear Queen to bring back William the Bastard or Henry V? Jack’s words “Probably not. No, the motivation is clear” surely applies to the CPGB’s rejection of constitutional monarchy as it does to the Acts of Union.
So Jack’s real argument is about working class unity and the threat posed to the working class of any democratic reform that does not abolish capitalism. Capitalist states are merging and breaking up. This is quite normal and part of the ongoing struggle between imperialism and democracy. Queen Anne’s bloody Act of Union was central to the formation of British imperialism. It was not a democratic law and has not become so as a result of over two hundred years of the British Empire.
The key phrase in the resolution, which Jack ignores, are the words [Ireland, Scotland and Wales] “will be able to freely choose their future relations with the people of England”. Anti-Unionism and national self determination in the UK are the same principle looked at from a democratic angle.
All the Acts of Union were and remain part of the anti-democratic structure of the constitutional monarchy as much as the Privy Council or the House of Lords. Far from this ‘uniting’ the working class these laws are responsible for institutionalising class division. This is why the Tories are Unionists and the CPGB must not be so, unless you want to drag the name of communism through the mire and drown it in the foul waters of English chauvinism.