Nov 26 2020

DEFEND OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO KNOW – FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW

Steve Freeman gave a talk on  Julian Assange Case  at an RCN Zoom meeting on 8.11.20. He has now written this up and we have posted it below.

 

DEFEND OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO KNOW – FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW

 

Julian Assange being seized by the police

I will start with three questions;

  1. Will the defeat of Donald Trump and election of Joe Biden make any difference to the cruel and unjust treatment of Julian Assange
  2. Why or how does the treatment of Julian Assange make the case for a Scottish Republic?
  3. What can be done in Scotland to raise this case?

The Republican Socialist e-list provided some reading materials and through our zoom meetings we have our Youtube talk given by Deepa Driver, a UCU National Executive Member, chair of Camden Momentum and active supporter of Julian Assange. I listened to it today and would strongly recommend you watch this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCuSX8A0I78&t=26s). I am not going to give a blow-by-blow timeline. Instead, I want to concentrate on how we approach and understand this. Deepa identified four important points to be taken away.

  • The need to combat the smear campaign against Assange.
  • Reminding people he is the world’s most important political prisoner
  • Exposing Tories’ attack on civil liberties and changing law making torture legal
  • The importance of the role of the United States in the world as highlighted in this case.

Economism

I want to begin with the ideology, which dominates the left in England – Economism – which assumes or asserts that the class struggle is the economic or trade union struggle in the workplace. Other issues are not basically class struggle issues. They are outside the primary sphere of class struggle – as liberal or even civil rights issues. They may be important but are not primarily about the working class. Julian Assange is a middle class journalist and not identified with the working class movement.

Once we accept the economist thesis then we are going down the liberal, libertarian or individualist rabbit hole and away from class politics. Then we start to focus on Assange as an individual  – Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Is he the enemy of Donald Trump or an ally of Putin? Is he a rapist or falsely accused? This is the road to moral confusion where we try to weigh the scales of justice with some things on one side or the other. None of us are in a position to know much about his personal behaviour or put it on a scale of 1-10.

We know the state and media use personal attacks, smears and character assassination to divert people from the democratic issues and democratic rights we all have to fight for. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Julian Assange are being abused and slandered because one represents the socialist working class and the other the democratic right of a sovereign people to know what the state is doing. They are not the only people to represent this but the ones currently in the firing line today.

Democratic politics

Lenin attacked ‘Economism’ as a theory, which weakens democratic consciousness of the working class, undermines democratic struggles and denies the role of the working class as leader of the democratic movement. This is what distinguishes social democracy from trade union politics. Social democracy is the democratic politics of the working class. He says, “A most characteristic feature of Economism is its failure to understand this connection, more, this identity of the most pressing needs of the proletariat with the needs of the general democratic movement.” (What is to be done? Lenin Selected Works 1 p161)

Many of today’s socialists jettison the term ‘social democracy’ because they think democracy is not relevant to the working class since we are already living in a democratic society. Left Reformism, Stalinism and Trotskyism feel indifferent to democracy seen as the property of the bourgeoisie. Lenin opposed this theory arguing the party of social democrats must be the ‘Tribune of the People’ – a republican concept rather than limiting politics to the narrower concerns of a trade union branch secretary. This is not a ‘put down’ of trade unions but of the need for workers to become militant (or revolutionary) democrats.

 The ‘Tribune of the People’ he says “is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it applies, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all the manifestation and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and democratic demands in order to clarify for all and everyone the world historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat” (What is to be done? Lenin Selected Works 1 p154)  

Social democrats react to the unjust and oppressive treatment of Julian Assange. We oppose it and use it to show the real nature of Crown power. The working class is the only class that has an interest in defending the democratic rights and freedoms of all, regardless of what class the victim comes from. Defending the individual is inseparable from educating the working class in its historic role as leader of the struggle for democracy against bureaucratic Crown power. The pretence of liberal democracy is exposed by the victimisation of this political prisoner.

Wikileaks is about the democratic right of all citizens to know the truth about the crimes and corrupt practices being carried out against the people by the state. It is about our democratic interests and not the alleged personality flaws or smears against the leader of the organisation, which exposed war crimes of US imperialism. The more widely the facts are known the more people recognise the state serves the special interests of the ruling class and not the people. Extradition to America has nothing to do with the interests of working people and everything to do with protecting the profits guaranteed by the ‘special relationship’ with US imperialism.

This is a social democratic (i.e. political) class question not a trade union (i.e. economic) matter. By taking this case to the trade union movement the connection can be made between the struggle in the workplace, the right to know what employers are concealing, the smearing and victimisation of those who fight back and the pressing social need for democratic rights. The victimisation of Julian Assange is well understood by trade union activists who defend an individual worker as the embodiment of the collective rights of all workers to be treated fairly and with justice.

Free Julian Assange – the Scottish dimension

The Scottish (SNP) government should have recognised Assange as a political prisoner of the British Crown. They should have made statements in his defence and offered him political asylum in an independent Scotland. The fact they have not done so is a sign of the weakness of the national democratic movement. Comments made by SNP representatives show they supported his arrest, jailing and extradition (see Steve James, World Socialist website 20 July 2019). James says, “So hostile is the SNP to Assange that on the day he was illegally seized from the Ecuadorian Embassy – in defiance of the right to asylum and after years of incarceration – SNP chief whip in Westminster, Patrick Grady was praised by the Conservative government Home Secretary, Sajid Javid for his helpful comments.” He explained, “It is right that nobody is above the law” instead of saying the Crown should not abuse its power to violate human rights or to deny Scotland a right to self-determination.

The SNP congratulating Tories denying democratic rights and civil liberties are applauding their own hangman. If “Free Julian Assange” embarrasses Scottish liberals and constitutional nationalists, it is a call to arms for all Scotland’s democrats and republicans. The Crown wants to bury Assange forever in one of the US state’s most oppressive prisons to intimidate any leaking of state secrets. The Scottish democratic movement must demand his immediate release, recognise his position as a political prisoner, and offer to match the actions of the Ecuadorian government, which gave him political asylum.

The democratic right for the sovereign people of Scotland to know about the war crimes, corruption and misinformation being committed by the Crown is part of the case for Scottish independence. It is a warning of the danger to our liberties posed by an SNP government with a monopoly of power in an independent country. “Free Julian Assange” should be a slogan promoted by any national democratic movement, which is independent of SNP control and ready to fight for democratic rights beyond Scotland’s borders. It is essential to show the connection between defending this US political prisoner and the fight to leave NATO and end Scotland as a base for US controlled nuclear weapons.

The struggle for democracy is not about abstract principles but concrete living cases of state oppression and injustice. The difference between liberalism and social democracy is that the latter sees the education and mobilisation of the working class as the only means of preventing such abuses of power. This case should be taken up jointly and separately by the working class through the trade union movement and by the national democratic movement. The working class wing of the Scottish independence movement should be in the forefront of raising this matter and linking it to our democratic-republican right to know in opposition to the oppressive nature of Crown power, the servant of US imperialism.

Summing up

The detailed story of the unjust treatment of Assange is not recounted here. We need to look at the evidence Deepa Driver provided us in her talk and in the articles she circulated. This is not about a minor or secondary liberal issue about one individual where we struggle with our liberal conscience, trying to weigh up whether he is good or bad. It is a general democratic question about our rights as citizens to a fair trial, against political prisoners, for free speech, freedom of information and our right to know about the crimes of the state. Whistle blowing should be the highest honour bestowed on citizens like Assange in a democracy, as it is a serious crime against the state in any aspiring dictatorship.

  • Crown power is state power not the personal power of the Queen – the power used and abused at the behest of the ruling class. This case shows the Crown will deny our rights, mistreat and psychological torture people as serves their interests.
  • This is a victimisation case – people are rarely tortured to extract information – they are tortured to frighten or indeed terrorise the democratic opposition. Assange is being treated exceptionally cruelly within the ‘limits’ of liberal democracy to punish him and teach all of us that the system is so corrupt it cannot bear the truth. We should remind ourselves of the cruel treatment of John MacLean.
  • This case shows the subordinate role of the British Crown (UK) to US imperialism. The UK is in effect the 51st state of the US without any of democratic advantages and with all the disadvantages.
  • A democratic republican Scotland would show their democratic credentials by demanding Assange is freed immediately and offering him political asylum in an independent country.

When Boris Johnson asks why Scotland wants to leave the ‘great’ democratic civilised Union state, the Scottish Indy movement should cite this as an example of the kind of oppressive state action that a democratic Scotland intends to leave behind.

 

25.11.20

 

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also see:-

JULIAN ASSANGE – TRIAL OF THE CENTURY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nov 18 2020

RULING CLASS CORRUPTION AND CAPITALIST CRISIS

The following article by John Tummon looks at the recent exposures of corruption in the Tory government highlighted by the cronyism  for Covid-19 contracts

 

RULING CLASS CORRUPTION AND CAPITALIST CRISIS

 

 

Government Covid cronyism extends both to the appointment to key positions in its decision-making framework and to its’ award of contracts for carrying out services and providing equipment. This has now become so overt that the mainstream media have started documenting it in prime-time TV News Bulletins and TV documentaries, as well as in the press. Even Sir Steer Calmer has berated the government for the flagrant lack of accountability and transparency. Continue reading “RULING CLASS CORRUPTION AND CAPITALIST CRISIS”

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Nov 18 2020

BIDEN: A TRANSITION TO NEO-TRUMPIST POPULISM?

E&L is posting the following two articles on the situation in the USA after Biden’s presidential electoral victory. Far from heralding a new “progressive” era, or even a return to “normality”, Biden is already preparing the grounds for  a neo-Trumpist populist backlash. The first article by . M. K. Kumar  in the USA looks at the nature of Biden’s transition team. The second article by Paul Demarty examines the pyrrhic nature of Biden’s “victory”.

BIDEN’S TRANSITION TEAM – NOTHING “PROGRESSIVE” ABOUT MILLIONAIRES AND CEOs

 

Cindy McCain, Republican and Chair of Hensley & Co

Joe Biden’s transition team is full of every kind of capitalist — CEOs, tech execs, even Republican lawmakers. Where are the Squad members or other progressives who were supposed to be moving his administration “to the left”?

Since Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election, there has been much speculation around the kind of president he will be. While some believe, he might be persuaded by the progressive wings of his party who are rallying for the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, there is no doubt that he will choose to remain a centrist Democrat, who prioritizes profit over people at every turn and sees capitalists as his only constituents in an America where “nothing will fundamentally change.” To understand his future Presidency, one need not look further than his transition team, composed of over 400 Obama-era staffers, academics, Congressional representatives — and more than a few tech moguls. The Biden-Harris campaign has touted this list as especially inclusive and diverse: more than half of the personnel will be women, and at least 40 percent are people of color or people who identify as LGBTQ+. A more diverse transition team however does not ensure the end of oppression and identity politics is no path to liberation. Continue reading “BIDEN: A TRANSITION TO NEO-TRUMPIST POPULISM?”

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Nov 18 2020

FURTHER POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN IRELAND: NORTH AND SOUTH

We are posting the following two articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) in the current situation in Ireland, North and South.

 

1. STORMONT EXECUTIVE TAKES A RECKLESS TURN ON PANDEMIC

 

 

Arlene Foster and Edwin Poots, DUP

 

For a long time Stormont has stood as a byword for sectarianism, corruption and incompetence. Under the pressure of the coronavirus crisis these features of the political institutions have been elevated to new levels. The past six months has seen political leaders breach Covid regulations; parties retain support grants that were mistakenly paid into their bank accounts; advice from health officials rejected; the representatives of medical professionals subjected to personalised attacks; and a minister claim that one community was primarily responsible for the spread of the virus. However the goings on within the Stormont Executive last week, over whether to extend or relax Covid regulations, have manged to top all of that. If the situation wasn’t so serious it would be comical. Yet the decisions made by government do have consequences and what has been agreed upon this week is likely to have very severe consequences for public health. Continue reading “FURTHER POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN IRELAND: NORTH AND SOUTH”

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Nov 09 2020

WE FOUGHT TRUMP, TIME TO FIGHT BIDEN TOO

This article from Left Voice (https://www.leftvoice.org/we-fought-trump-time-to-fight-biden-too) in the USA criticises those  illusions in Joe Biden, similar to those in Sir Keir Starmer, who believes he can be pressured from the Left. Biden was bankrolled  by major sections of Wall Street finance and Silicon Valley and these are the interests he will serve.

 

WE FOUGHT TRUMP, TIME TO FIGHT BIDEN TOO

 

 

At long last, it has been announced that Joe Biden has defeated Donald Trump for the presidency. While none of us will be sad to see Trump go, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are no friends to the working class and the oppressed.

After five days of Election Day, five days of counting votes, five days of CNN electoral maps, and five days of learning about every single county in Pennsylvania and Georgia, the United States has it’s newest imperialist in chief: Joe Biden. Continue reading “WE FOUGHT TRUMP, TIME TO FIGHT BIDEN TOO”

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Nov 09 2020

POPPY PUSHERS “FUND BRITISH TERRORISTS”

With UK tied up with so many imperialist wars, November 11th, ‘Remembrance Day’ is pushed with ever greater official stridency.  Jon Snow has called this this  “poppy fascism”. We are posting this article  from the Irish-based Anti-Imperialist Action (https://twitter.com/AIAIreland) which looks at the use of the poppy from ther point of view of those who have been oppressed by British state forces.

 

POPPY PUSHERS “FUND BRITISH TERRORISTS”

 

 

“No matter what anybody says to the contrary, while we have fists, hands, and boots to use and guns if necessary, there shall be no free speech for traitors” – Frank Ryan speaking at an eve of Poppy Day rally Continue reading “POPPY PUSHERS “FUND BRITISH TERRORISTS””

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Nov 08 2020

EMANCIPATION & LIBERATION – WELSH COVERAGE 2002-20

Following the posting of our Irish coverage(http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/10/15/emancipation-liberation-irish-coverage-2002-20/), E&L is posting our  Welsh and republican related coverage from 2002 to 2020 to promote a wider socialist republican ‘internationalism from below’ alliance

EMANCIPATION & LIBERATION – WELSH COVERAGE 2002-20

 

 

2020

 

The British Left and the UK State – Allan Armstrong, RCN, Republican Socialist Platform

THE BRITISH LEFT AND THE UK STATE

From grey to red granite – Allan Armstrong, RCN, Republican Socialist Platform   Continue reading “EMANCIPATION & LIBERATION – WELSH COVERAGE 2002-20”

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Nov 07 2020

THE BRITISH LEFT AND THE UK STATE

 

The British Left and the UK State, written by Allan Armstrong  can be found at:-

https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/british-left-uk-state-long-1-2.pdf

Below is an outline of the Contents and the concluding chapter addressing the need for a socialist republican ‘internationalism from below’ strategy to address the current challenges the Left faces

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THE BRITISH LEFT AND THE UK STATE

From the British Left’s ‘national exceptionalism’ during the ‘IndyRef1’campaign to acting as Left outriders for the UK state during the Brexit campaign

 

 

Contents

1. Introduction – the relationship between the UK state and the British Left
2. The challenge to British Left unionism represented by IndyRef1
3. From IndyRef1 in 2014 to the Euro-referendum in 2016 – the British Left begins to dig a hole for itself.
4. The Left Brexiteers, the 2015 Westminster general election, the 2016 Euro-referendum and on to the 2017 Westminster general election – giving succour to the Right Populist and Hard Right Brexit offensive
5. The CPB, SP(E&W) and SWP provide cover for McCluskey’s anti-democratic, ‘British jobs for British workers’, racist and Right accommodating Brexit
6. Two forces for possible future Socialist advances –Ian Allinson’s Grassroots Left election campaign for the UNITE general secretary and the appearance of Left Remain forces in the new Labour intake.
7. The growing ascendancy of the Hard Right and the final demise of Left Brexit in the December 12th general election
8. The Left Brexiteers export their Brexit illusions to Ireland
9. Conclusion – challenge the UK and partitioned Irish states, their ‘internationalism from above’ allies and the disunited Left’s ‘national ‘exceptionalism’ with a socialist republican ‘internationalism from below’ strategy

  Continue reading “THE BRITISH LEFT AND THE UK STATE”

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Oct 26 2020

THE GREEN NEW DEAL – A solution to environmental destruction?

This posting, originally from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) takes a critical look at the Green New Deals, which have been by adopted by various social democratic parties (most recently in Corbyn-led Labour’s 2019 general election manifesto). The article questions the economic viability of Keynesian inspired national New Deals, especially in a situation of an underlying capitalist crisis of profitability and global environmental degradation.  In the drive for profits, disregard for environmental consequences is endemic to capitalism. Overcoming ongoing global environmental degradation requires a global solution. which can only be provided by the complete uprooting of capitalism.

 

THE GREEN NEW DEAL – A solution to environmental destruction?

 

Many Left groups now put forward at the centre of their programme a Green New Deal. What is the Green New Deal? Continue reading “THE GREEN NEW DEAL – A solution to environmental destruction?”

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Oct 21 2020

END THE HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT – DEFEND ASYLUM SEEKERS AND REFUGEES

We are posting this article by Fred Laplat and Mile Picken, first posted by Socialist Resistance (https://socialistresistance.org/end-the-hostile-environment-defend-asylum-seekers-and-refugees/20861), about the Tories post-Brexit attacks on asylum seekers and refugees, harbingers of stepped up attacks on all migrant workers

 

END THE HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT – DEFEND ASYLUM SEEKERS AND REFUGEES

 

The recently revealed Tory plans to disperse asylum seekers thousands of miles away are another example of the racism of the UK governments’ brand of neoliberalism.  Meanwhile, existing asylum seekers within the UK are facing inhumane treatment by private contractors, incarcerated and facing Covid outbreaks, deportation and frequent movement that also risk spreading the virus among the asylum community. Continue reading “END THE HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT – DEFEND ASYLUM SEEKERS AND REFUGEES”

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