Time for the working class to bury British capitalism


Sir Gus O’Donnell, the most senior civil servant in the country, has broken cover with the public admission that the crisis of the capitalist system is so deep, so profound and so dangerous that it spells the end of the road for the British bourgeoisie and the complete break-up of the United Kingdom itself.

O’Donnell, who is retiring as cabinet secretary this month, issued his stark warning in an article published in the Daily Telegraph last Thursday where he said: ‘Over the next few years, there will be enormous challenges, such as whether to keep our kingdom united and how best to make the EU operate in the best interests of its citizens.’

The break-up and political and economic disintegration of the UK is a very real prospect which O’Donnell firmly lays at the door of the Scottish Nationalist Party which in the last election secured an overall majority in the devolved Scottish parliament and which is pushing for complete separation from England and integration into the EU.

Behind the SNP political ascendancy is the revulsion of the Scottish working class with the betrayals carried out by the previously dominant Labour Party.

Rejecting the right-wing reformism of the Labourites, they were attracted to the SNP with its populist policies towards the NHS and welfare rather than its demands for complete devolution.

Now, in the cataclysmic crisis confronting British capitalism and with the capitalist class demanding that the working class be ground completely into the dust to rescue the banks, O’Donnell clearly believes that the disintegration of the UK is inevitable as sections of the bourgeoisie in Scotland seek salvation by jumping ship and seeking integration with the EU.

This is truly a revealing admission about the dire future for British capitalism whose strength as the pre-eminent capitalist nation and the imperial master of the world throughout the 19th century was dependent on the union of the four kingdoms.

This was recognised from the outset of the English bourgeois revolution of 1640 during which Cromwell intervened in Scotland and created a union between the two former kingdoms – a union that the emerging Scottish bourgeoisie willingly embraced – and created a united Commonwealth parliament which included Scottish MPs along with those from Wales and Ireland.

When the bourgeois republic established by Cromwell was dissolved with the restoration of Charles II in 1660, this parliament was dispersed much to the anger of the Scottish MPs who continued to petition for the continuation of the union.

This was achieved with the Act of Union between the kingdoms of Scotland and England signed in 1707.

The integration of Scotland and Wales along with the English was complete and essential to the development of capitalism and the industrial revolution that turned the United Kingdom into the ‘workshop of the world’ and the dominant imperial power.

It should be stressed that Marxists have always distinguished between Wales and Scotland on one side and Ireland on the other.

The Welsh and Scots bourgeoisie embraced integration while, as Marx and Engels always insisted, every attempt at domination only strengthened the resistance of the Irish people.

If the creation of a ‘United Kingdom’ was absolutely essential for the development of capitalism in Britain the prospect of its complete break-up signals the final stage of its political and economic senility, and heralds the necessity of the socialist revolution.

O’Donnell, in short, is openly admitting that the bourgeois order in Britain is in terminal crisis, has reached the end of the road, and therefore deserves to perish, before it drags the working class down into the abyss with it.

The only course open to the working class is to overthrow it, and establish socialism, just as Cromwell and his revolutionary army of Ironsides buried the old Feudal order, and advanced humanity to what was then a new higher order of society, capitalism.

The UK, the first capitalist country, the pioneer of the industrial revolution and the first great imperialist power, is now imploding as part of the world crisis and specifically the crisis of European capitalism, because its contradictions have reached the point where they must be transformed by a socialist revolution.

O’Donnell has glimpsed the end of the road for British capitalism and now the working class must bury it, as rapidly as possible, as part of the European and world socialist revolution.