Editorial from the April 1999 issue of the Socialist Standard
Tommy Sheridan surely put his finger on it when he said, in a letter to the Glasgow Herald (10 February), that the "the problem is that wealth is owned and controlled by a tiny minority of society in an undemocratic and unaccountable fashion".
This obscene concentration of wealth in a few hands lies at the heart of all major social problems which confront us today. Far from being irrelevant, as some argue, the property question is the most important social question of the modern age. It cries out for a solution.
What, then, is Sheridan's solution? By his own account, it is "the collective ownership and democratic control of the means of production throughout Scotland".
This won't work. Scotland is only a small part of an economic system which embraces the whole world. It could never enjoy any real autonomy or self-sufficiency in the face of the world market. From day one it will be buffeted by hostile economic forces entirely beyond its control.
In no time at all, Scotland will be faced with two choices—either total ruin, or the complete restoration of capitalist economics. Councillor Sheridan's "independent socialist Scotland" would be neither independent nor socialist.
We completely share Tommy Sheridan's disgust at what capitalism does to people. We can readily understand his impatience for an end to poverty in all its hideous guises. But we think he has allowed his impatience to get the better of him, to lead him down short-cuts that go nowhere.
There is no sense in dodging the issue. Since the property problem is in its essence worldwide, the solution to that problem must also be worldwide. That is why the Socialist Party insists that the socialist transformation of society must be carried out on a worldwide basis. Quite simply, nothing less will do.
"Socialism in one country" is an illusion. That is the lesson of history. If the Soviets could not manage it, we fail to see how the Scots could.