May 22nd, 2010

The second Global Commune day school, jointly organised by the Republican Communist Network (RCN) and The Commune, was held in the Out of the Blue Centre in Edinburgh on May 22nd. People attended from Aberdeen, Bristol, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Midlothian.

The first workshop session, ‘After the Election, What Next?‘ was introduced by Alberto Durango and Mark Ellingsen from the commune. Alberto emphasised the necessity for communists to be open and honest about their communism. Workers needed political confidence to attack the labour bureaucracy. Mark pointed out that current economic crisis was far from solved. We need to clearly argue for a revolutionary alternative to capitalism and not be afraid to call for the abolition of wage labour. The question is how do we relate this abstract demand to concrete practice.

The ensuing discussions highlighted that the capitalist class’s apparent success in pulling capitalism back from the brink. This stemmed from the political weakness of the working class, and its inability to offer an alternative. The ‘return to Labour’ in the recent election, and the left’s apparent decision to follow, demonstrates this weakness. A successful fightback against the horrendous cuts can not be separated from the need to provide a communist vision.

The second workshop, ‘Internationalism from Below – A Communist Perspective’ was introduced by Allan Armstrong of the RCN and David Broder of the commune. Allan summarised The Communist Case for Internationalism from Below which he had already circulated. He contrasted ‘internationalism from below’ with two other approaches to the national question found on the left – the confederalist and the cosmopolitan. He pointed out the relevance of an ‘internationalism from below’ approach in the current world of corporate imperialism, and how it linked with our struggles to create a new global commune. David based his talk on The Earth is not Flat, his critique of the Anarchist Federation’s Against Nationalism.

Two follow-up discussion groups dealt with different aspects of the issue. Members of The Commune asked how it was possible for the RCN to argue for an independent Scotland without getting tangled up in nationalism, and indeed how relevant is the issue when the majority of workers don’t support independence. RCN members highlighted their break up of the UK political strategy with its opposition to the US/British imperial alliance, which currently enforces corporate capitalist rule over the globe. They also pointed to the undeclared nationalism of the British Left. The other workshop emphasised the necessity to update our analysis of imperialism and the continued use of chauvinism and racism in creating a two-tier workforce with super-exploited migrant labour. The issue of federation was also discussed in relation to states and to communist organisation.

The third workshop, ‘How Communists Should Organise’ was introduced by Chris Ford of The Commune, with Ellenor from Liberty and Solidarity giving her apologies for being unable to attend and speak. Chris had already circulated a paper, Communists Must Organise As Communists. He drew on historical evidence to show that The Commune should be moving to a more advanced form of organisation, in effect, a new league of communists.

In the discussion groups there was agreement about the need for a federal form of organisation, and an acknowledgement that communist re-composition is a constant process not a single organisational act. Some possible organisational forms, which could be adopted by the commune, were discussed. The need to acknowledge tendencies or platforms was recognised. Furthermore, after many comrades experience of the left, the need for more freedom in a communist organisation than in capitalist society was emphasised!
Once again, participants felt it had been a very worthwhile day, both politically and socially.

Allan Armstrong, 29 May 2010