From the October 1953 issue of the Socialist Standard
The Welsh Nationalist Party claims to stand in the interest of the workers in Wales. It is not concerned with the fact that because of the international nature of Capitalism, workers are exploited everywhere and therefore the attack against exploitation must be on a broad front recognising no national barriers.
The W.N.P. naturally cannot possibly possess this world outlook being a parochial organisation not recognising exploitation as being synonymous with Capitalism.
Its members base their policy on the importance of the National State, demanding National Status for Wales arguing that with its achievement the workers' troubles will end.
They conveniently forget (at least they never mention) that Wales was as much oppressed (i.e. the people) when she was governed by the Princes of Wales of “Welsh blood” as she has been ever since the statute of Ruddlian: that she has been oppressed in common with the workers of other parts of the British Isles from the inception of Capitalism is not so much history but a tale of yesterday and today. If the Nationalists get their way it will be the tale for tomorrow as well.
In early mediaeval Welsh there were two classes—the Free and the Unfree, the Princes (Tycoysogion) knights and gentry (Boneddwyr) and the slaves (Caethion). The Nationalists completely ignore the progression of history commencing with the gens and developing into the nation, and the fact that the development of World Capitalism tends eventually to break down national barriers. "The society that organises production anew on the basis of free and equal association of producers will put the whole state machine where it will then belong: in the museum of the antiquities, side by side with the spinning wheel and bronze axe" (Engels: "Origin of the Family and the State").
The Nationalists, flying in the face of scientific analysis of society, base their appeal on two planks—the Cultural and the Economic. They have a certain following for their cultural policy among certain University "Intellectuals" and religious leaders whose minds dwell on the delights of the Mediaeval past and the "simple grandeur" of rural life. They are enthusiastic about the fostering of the ancient Welsh language and literature (The writer is pleased to include himself in the 40 per cent. who retain command over the Welsh tongue, and enjoys reading Welsh classical literature but what this has to do with combating Capitalism is difficult to see.)
It is when we come to the economic policy that we realise that this party of "Patriots" is just another party of Capitalism. A reading of its publications in both English and Welsh has failed to produce anything new apart from somewhat peculiar suggestions for the better administration of Capitalism.
Completely ignoring the fact that the "freedom" of the workers in self-governing states such as Finland, Denmark, New Zealand and Eire is simply freedom to remain an exploited, wage earning class, the Welsh Nationalists proudly present their pamphlet "Can Wales afford Self Government?" The first reaction of a Socialist born and bred in Wales and knowing something about the past and present of the country, is that the question is irrelevant. One could afford to buy a thousand aspirin tablets with which to poison one self but that is no argument for taking them.
The question that Socialists in Wales put to the Nationalists is—if Wales succeeds in obtaining Home Rule (i.e. Dominion Status though there is a wing of the Nationalist movement out for Republicanism) what will be the political outlook of the Welsh Government? Will industry be carried on for profit? Will monetary considerations rule the field of planning and production? The answer contained in the above mentioned pamphlet is clear—all the machinery of Capitalism will be in operation; nothing will have changed basically.
Welsh and other readers should not be carried away by cleverly worded statements (intended to woo the large industrial army of Glamorganshire miners) suggesting sympathy with "Socialism" whereas all they mean is nationalisation.
The choicest section is the part "proving" the possibility of setting up home rule. Eire is given as an example. In Eire, the firm of Rowntrees came to the rescue by building a factory in Dublin exploiting 600 workers. Exploitation, under these circumstances, is not exploitation because the Irish now have "Home Rule"!
As to the question "where's the money to come from?" the section dealing with the floating of Ireland's first National Loan takes some beating: " . . . the Irish Government courageously determined to float its first National Loan . . . the Loan was immediately over-subscribed. Among the biggest subscribers were . . . Church of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, and Guinness, Ltd." (so drink up, begorrah your troubles are over!)
The Irish Free State Government, in 1927, found itself having to float a second National Loan amounting to £7 million; £4 million of which was taken up by Irish and English Capitalists and £3 million in New York "the whole of the New York issue was oversubscribed within two hours" (our italics). It is natural that the Capitalists of U.S.A. should take out a stake in a paying proposition.
The Welsh "patriots" therefore have no compunction in pawning the freedom of the new National State to outside Capitalist interests right from its very inception.
What security do they offer for such loans? They mention the great resources of wealth beneath Welsh soil, "only waiting for timely stimulus and support," together with the skill and industry of Welsh workers. They say that "income derived from Wales by companies with headquarters in London would be taxed." What a revelation! The "foreign" Capitalists are to be allowed to exploit the Welsh workers first, and then are to be taxed. The Welsh wage slave will have the satisfaction of knowing that "his" government has rented his labour power to outside interests in order to receive the wherewithall to keep him alive!
We agree that as in the case of Eire the future Welsh Government need not worry about finance; it will be sufficient to advertise that the Welsh workers are up for sale; that they are available to any Capitalist concern that cares to come and exploit them—as they are at the present time.
Is there a case for Welsh Nationalism? From their own Capitalist point of view there might be—it might be more profitable to operate Capitalism from Cardiff than from London.
From the point of view of the Welsh workers, the position would remain broadly the same – he would remain the vehicle creating surplus value. He could—if he has a mind to—stagger to the mine or steel mill in the grey dawn singing triumphantly the words of the Welsh National Anthem and consider himself as having achieved his emancipation. On the other hand he could get down to the fundamentals of Socialism and throw his exploiters out whether they scream Nationalism, Patriotism, or any other brand of moonshine—in Welsh or English.
The land of Wales could raise its voice in a mighty chorus which would reverberate through the hills and valleys and beyond. “Workers of all lands, Unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains, you have a world to gain.”
This is the real message of freedom: these words spell freedom in any language.