We reprint from the back cover of the first edition of Scottish Left Review (September/October 2000), the founding statement of intent of those that set up the magazine.
The Scottish Left Review will be a bi-monthly website magazine that will seek to provide a focal point of thought and discussion for the Scottish Left. It will be non-party but will aim to provide a forum for those on the Left of all parties and none. Such a forum is urgently required at a time when the untrammelled play of market forces is not only tolerated but actively promoted as the only agency that can ensure economic prosperity. This is in sharp contrast to the first 75 years of the 20th century when capitalism was widely believed to have ignominiously failed and was viewed by many as the harbinger of the two most destructive wars in human history, and slumps that paralysed economic activity; creating widespread misery in the midst of human capacity to create an abundance.
When you look at the world today you might well ask: What has changed? Mass poverty and hunger stalks the planet in the midst of actual abundance. Even in the prosperous and developed parts of the planet a seriously underprivileged class exists, cheek by jowl with rampant consumerism. Alienation is rife. The greed, which is supposed to be the dynamic of the free market system, menaces the ecology, placing in jeopardy the very existence of our species. The promoted culture is nihilist. Drug addiction is rife. There were more wars in the last quarter of the last century than in the previous 75 years. The collapse of the Soviet Union and its geographically linked satellites was used to signal the end of socialism, though many socialists had denied that the Soviet model was in any fundamental sense socialist.
In Britain the Labour Party as New Labour, abandoned socialism, even as an aspiration for the long term, but also forsook social democracy, as a guide to formulating policies in the short term. New Labour has embraced free market capitalism with all the enthusiasm of the convert. The years of Thatcherism seem to have engendered different patterns of political thought in the Scottish nation as compared to England. From the very start Scotland rejected Thatcherism.
The Scottish Left has always been diverse, cross-party, and non-party. There is a strong left tradition in the SNP, and the Scottish Socialist Party is emerging as a credible electoral force.
The establishment of the Scottish Parliament is bound to render Scottish politics even more Scottish. It is inconceivable that the present constitutional arrangements are fixed forever. Events and the moving hand of the political development will overhaul them. The SLR must take the view that the Scottish people has an inalienable right of self determination and this will find expression through elections and referenda. There will be different views as to how we proceed from here, but all that envisage change through the democratic process should be considered legitimate.
The SLR wants to stimulate debate. Each issue will have six or more essays dealing with a wide range of subjects, viewed from a Left Scottish perspective. We hope that this will stimulate discussions and forums in the various regions. For those who aren’t on the Internet we will try to make some hard copies available. The range of support for this venture can be seen from those who sit on the editorial board. I believe and hope that this initiative will bear fruit in the regeneration of the Left in Scotland.