Open letter to Nicholas Anderson from Sheffield who gave up his British passport

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13/10/2015 by socialistfight


Soviet stamp showing Harry Pollitt: After World War I the Allies were trying to prevent the Bolsheviks from gaining power in Russia, the Jolly George was chartered to load ammunition and supplies in London for Russia. On 10 May 1920 the pro-communist dockers refused to load the vessel. It is believed that Harry Pollitt, whose picture appears on the stamp, was behind the action.

Open letter to Nicholas Anderson from Sheffield who gave up his British passport and  became an Irish citizen in 1983

Socialist Fight Flyer for demo at Tory party Conference Manchester on 4 October (3)

Nicholas was ashamed of being British because of the crimes of British imperialism (presumably after witnessing the deaths of ten courageous men led by Bobby Sands on hunger strike for political status in 1981).

Giving up your British passport is a silly thing to do because it accepts the lie that British working class people and the middle class (who are really working class but don’t want to admit it) are responsible for the crimes of the British Empire and modern day British imperialism. You didn’t do it, you couldn’t stop it and the only thing you can be accused of is not opposing it enough in the right way.

And that is most probably down to not understanding what it is and how to fight it. Changing your passport is a cop out.

It is true that the crimes of British imperialism are heinous, but so are those of French, German, Italian, Japanese and American imperialism, to name the biggest.

The US is the global imperialist hegemonic power who is primarily responsible for all the wars, famines, hunger and oppression on the planet because it is the central defender of the ‘international community’, global imperialism. This ensures that available supply of food, medicine, health care and education never reach those who need it became the rate of profit of finance capital and global transnationals comes before all else. The US have a military as big as the next 15 nations combined to sort out dissidents. They have invaded 50 nations since WWII to do just that.

And the ruling classes of oppressed nations; Ireland, Africa, South East Asia and Latin America were and are absolutely vicious against their own poor and oppressed. The crimes of Stalinism are indeed among the worst, because, like bourgeois nationalists, these ‘socialism-in-a-single-country’ bureaucratic monsters sought to appease imperialism as its agents within their own states.

Irish socialists are acutely conscious of the method of oppression of church and state in Ireland. But it is a nation historically oppressed by British imperialism. Irish capitalists oppress its own people partly as an agent of foreign imperialism and also in pursuit of its own profits and privileges. We should not use this in a racist way against all Irish people just as we demand you do not use the crimes of British imperialism against all British people.

And the north of Ireland is not even legally or formally British, the name of the state we live in is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This implicitly acknowledges the truth that the north of Ireland is a part of the Irish nation occupied by British imperialism because it is more powerful militarily, it imposed its will on Ireland with the assistance of the Free State government in the civil war of 1922-3 and it has the support of a Loyalist supremacist minority of the nation (18%) to hold on to it.

But we understand Nicholas’ motivation nonetheless in giving up the passport, whilst disagreeing. Many British socialists refuse to back England in football and rugby because of shame at the history of empire and fear of being associated with far right bigots and British chauvinists.

But learn the history of the British working class and you can be proud of that. If the Empire ruled the waves the working class brought the world the first trade unions and the Labour party and the global history of class struggle. Remember the Levellers and honest John Lilburne of the English civil war, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Chartists, the Dockers’ Tanner, the Bryant and Mays match girls, the Great Unrest of 1910-14, the Jolly George dockers, the General Strike, the wartime strike wave of 1941-3 supported by the Trotskyists alone, the Battle of Saltley Gate, the great Miners’ Strike and Wapping to mention but a few to be proud of.

True the trade unions and the Labour party leaders became corrupt, bureaucratic and British chauvinist but always there were those within them who sought to prevent the slaughter on the 1916 Somme, for instance, for the greater glory and profits of British or German imperialism.

With the victory of Jeremy Corbyn many more of these struggles will re-emerge; socialism will eventually triumph.

And then you can be proud of them and not just despise the Empire apologists but learn to do something to defeat them.

Warmongers like Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher and their political clones and heirs need defeating. A new generation of fighters is emerging to defeat them. They would live forever as heroes to many if everyone opposed to them abandoned Britain and became foreign citizens.

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