On page one we have printed our Slogans and Aims, but where do they come from and how are they to be put into practice? As a network we regularly review our tactics and strategy against developments as they unfold. The seven points that follow summarise where we now stand today. In this issue of Emancipation & Liberation we provide some of the background to the thinking that led us to the seven points.
1) We believe
another world is possible – a genuine new world communism which emancipates us from all oppression and liberates us from all exploitation and forms a new sustainable relationship between humanity and the environment. We seek a society based on the principle of
from each according to their ability; to each according to their needs, where
the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.
Socialism is not the ultimate aim. It can either be a phase on the way to a genuine communism or a temporary high point reached before a descent back into capitalism. The state ‘communism’ of the 20th century proved to be no answer either, but a barrier to achieving human emancipation and liberation. There are no socialist ‘gods’ – we treat al contributions critically and place most emphasis on popular struggles against exploitation and oppression.
2) We advocate the abolition of all forms of slavery – wage, domestic, chattel and debt. Such a society will be judged by its ability to revolutionise all political, economic, social, sexual and personal relationships.
The task before us involves the complete uprooting of al forms of exploitation and oppression. Some parties, tendencies or groups merely focus their attentions on one aspect of the problem – emphasising economic solutions (winning better wages or more control over the means of production), attaining political power, getting the theory right or combating male domination. All forms of slavery are linked under capitalism. Therefore, the resistance arising against each needs to be linked in a common challenge.
3) We are revolutionary democrats. A new society can only be built by a revolutionary extension of democracy. The fight for wider democracy is the key to building support for a total transformation of society through mass participation.
Top down revolutionary changes have led to new ruling elites and new repressive regimes. The least harmful have effected some economic and social improvements but have not transformed all social relationships, leaving real political power confined to a minority. The economy, when planned, must not just be for the people, but it must be by the people.
4) We are principled internationalists. We view the continued existence of the UK with its unionist, imperialist and monarchist state and its anti-democratic Crown Powers and enforced partition of Ireland as the biggest obstacle to immediate democratic advance in these islands. Therefore the struggle for democracy today within Britain and Ireland necessarily takes the form of a militant republicanism. We are part of the international socialist republican opposition in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England.
The history of the United Kingdom is a story of cooperation between an increasingly united British ruling class at the expense of the exploited and oppressed classes of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The UK imperial state with its Crown Powers gives this ruling class its continued strength. These Crown Powers give full sanction to the ‘hidden state’ with its armoury of repressive powers. Any serious challenge will soon come up against these powers as the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland found out. Only a popular republican struggle to confront the UK state and its powers can prepare the ground for a wider socialist challenge.
5) We fight for working class independence from the state and employers and for democratic control of all organisations formed to advance working class interests.
Elected-for-life trade union full-timers enjoy many privileges and have many more ties with the employers and state than their own members. They can not seriously advance working class interests, even if they started off wanting to. There is no chance of a few full-timers ‘doing it’ for our class. We need rank and file control and real democracy to ‘do it’ for ourselves. Neither can state controlled agencies, e.g. for women or ethnic minorities, seriously combat oppression. Independent organisations are needed for this.
6) We seek the unity of all genuine communists, socialists and socialist republicans in Scotland within the Scottish Socialist Party. We oppose all attempts to promote sectarian organisational advantage above socialist and working class unity. Within our party, the SSP, we advocate democratic discussion and debate; genuine comradeship and shared social and cultural enjoyment.
The members of the Republican Communist Platform have come together from varied political backgrounds. We have al had to learn to work together. We have all had to learn that we can sometimes be wrong; that our ideas can be revised without loss of face. We have gained enormously from each other. We have been involved in the SSA and SSP from an early stage; some as founding members. We have tried to encourage genuine debate and common work as the best way of bringing about real unity in the SSP. In debate this means being prepared to listen to uncomfortable contributions, rather than seeking the easy comfort of ridicule or pre-arranged voting down. We oppose the methods of petty sectarian point-scoring and bureaucratic manoeuvring. An organisation that can recognise when it is wrong is one that can learn, grow in strength and command respect. From the early days of the SSA the SSP has developed these methods of working but we will still be tested from time to time.
7) We promote an ‘internationalism from below’ strategy to counter the bureaucratic ‘internationalism’ of left Unionism and the separatism of left nationalism. In the current political situation we advocate a federation of socialist parties and organisations from Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland.
The SSP has mainly drawn together socialists from organisations from either a left unionist or left nationalist tradition. Much of the underlying divisions and tensions in the party reflect this. We oppose the top-down bureaucratic control sought by British unionists and the ‘go-it-alone’ separatism of the nationalists. We need a new strategy of ‘internationalism from below’. This seeks the widest level of cooperation between socialists and the wider working class of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, as well as other socialists in Europe and across the world. Socialism is international.