From the time of the Russian Revolution of 1917, it has been recognised that acute problems attend the construction of socialism in conditions of ideological isolation. Before 1924, Lenin, Trotsky and all other Soviet leaders believed that the crucial importance of foreign trade and investment for Soviet development implied the assistance of other socialist countries. When it was clear that Soviet development would have to take place in conditions of the USSR’s international isolation, Stalin advocated the necessity of creating “socialism in one country”. This meant that the primary souces of investment and consumption had to be generated within Soviet Russia itself. The forced collectivisation of agriculture was carried out primarily to break the power of the peasantry while extracting grain surpluses for national consumption and to finance vital imports of foreign capital and technology.
Scottish leftists commonly advocate the creation of an independent socialist republic that is unaccompanied by any serious analysis of what in the Soviet case were termed “the costs of revolution”. If there are no powerful socialist allies with which favourable conditions for trade and investment can be established, what alternative methods are proposed for the generation of vital consumption and investment goods? What sources of international credits are envisaged to finance major new economic projects? If the mechanisms governing the functioning of contemporary capitalism are to be nullified with the implementation of socialist measures of nationalisation and income redistribution, what alternative mechanisms are to govern the “transition” from capitalism to socialism in Scotland? Or is it simply envisaged that Scotland’s existing sources of demand and supply for goods and services will continue to operate notwithstanding any assaults that may be made on national and foreign capitalist enterprises operating within the country?
These are hard questions and neglecting to consider the economic consequences of converting a capitalist into a socialist economy implies a failure to consider the deep crises that can attend an inconsequential project to destroy one socio-economic system in order to replace it by another.
Do we have any discussants? Or is a programme calling for “a socialist Scotland” to be regarded as no more than a rhetorical slogan?