David Jamieson of the International Socialist Group has replied to two contributions made by Allan Armstrong of the Republican Communist Network (see David Jamieson of the ISG replies to Allan Armstrong). These took a critical look at ISG member, James Foley’s pamphlet, Britain Must Break, and examined the prospects for the Radical Independence Campaign, and the role of the ISG within it, following from the successful conference held last November 24th in Glasgow. The RCN very much welcomes the ISG‘s preparedness to enter into such debates in a considered and fraternal manner.

There are a number of elements to David’s reply, which will be dealt with separately. However, the most immediate difference arises over how the RIC should organise. Once some of David’s misunderstandings about what the RCN proposes are cleared up, then it may be possible to agree on the democratic form of organisation we all require. This could help the ISG, RCN and other participants move the RIC forwards to a higher political synthesis, using people’s varied contributions and experiences. In doing so, the RIC would break with the sectarianism and opportunism which has characterised so much of the Left’s practice up until now. The current crisis in the SWP highlights the necessity for this.



“To insist upon a communist identity for this movement and for these initiatives (Communists Against War, Communists for Independence, anyone?) would be an act of gross sectarian vandalism and would shrivel rather than expand the influence of communist ideas. In no way does engaging in broader movements mean the liquidation of a distinct Marxist position.”

David Jamieson

David has obviously had some of the bad experiences we have all been through on the Left. So, it is probably with these in mind, that David’s reply suggests that the RCN wants to form an exclusive Communist front. However, anybody who has worked with RCN members, either in the SSP in the past, or in various campaigns past and present, knows that this is not how the RCN operates.

The RCN is known for championing open democratic methods and for advocating principled politics. We have tried to create an environment where others’ views are listened to, and where we can explain the contemporary relevance of Socialist Republicanism and Communism. We outline the worth of these approaches in the conduct of current struggles, in the development of independent class organisations, and by providing a vision for the future which can be developed from real social forces in existing society.

However, David can be reassured that we do not want to impose our thinking on others by setting up Communist front organisations. Furthermore, we also believe that we have things to learn by engaging with others. Together we can arrive at a new higher level of understanding and practice.

This is why the RCN engaged with the Radical Independence Conference, by building support, providing a workshop speaker, and a producing a special Emancipation & Liberation issue, freely distributed to participants. We welcomed this successful RIC event and acknowledged the constructive role the International Socialist Group played.

We also raised some questions, wondering if the ISG might settle for a form of front organisation. However, we have invited ISG members to other events, and have worked with ISG members in the new RIC branches. We now know that the ISG has been having its own internal debates, and is looking to new and better ways to organise wider campaigns. This bodes well.

The RCN puts a lot of emphasis upon ensuring that the RIC develops democratic structures. Active branches have now been formed. These could be the basis for a national democratic structure for the RIC. Other campaigning organisations could affiliate too, whilst the RIC could affiliate to other campaigns, provided they are themselves democratically organised. There are indications that this is now the organisational direction that the RIC may take.

One thing we are not short of on the Left, though, is examples of how not to organise wider groups of activists. The SWP, in particular, has provided one organisational model not to emulate – the Party-front. The most recent examples are Unite Against Fascism, and Unite the Resistance (formed after the Right to Work Campaign was dropped). Party-fronts are seen primarily as an arena for recruitment. Hopefully, the increased level of questioning within the SWP, as a result of the crisis overtaking it, will make its more critical members reconsider that Party-frontist approach. This has done so much to alienate the rest of the Left, and many other workers too.

Other Socialists can easily spot the characteristics of an SWP front. They have no democratic and accountable structures. The SWP’s Central Committee (CC) determines their national activities. The role of SWP members in these fronts is not to think for themselves, nor to engage meaningfully with others. The role of SWP members is to act as a transmission belt for decisions already made by the CC, and passed down through its appointed local organisers.

Other people, usually trade unionists, have been invited to join SWP fronts, in a similar way that the SNP leadership has invited non-SNP members on to its official ‘Yes’ campaign’s National Advisory Board. Broad Left union leaders are particularly welcome in SWP circles. They can ‘talk Left’, even whilst they ‘walk Right’. They like the opportunity the SWP gives them to brush up their Leftist credentials in public gatherings. They are less keen to mobilise their members in other than token actions. They do not like to be politically challenged.

There is an urgent need to provide an alternative to these sectarian and opportunist methods (the two often go together). The SWP is not alone in this; it just provides a particularly blatant example. In contrast to such Party-fronts, Socialists need to begin with a shared commitment to democratic methods. These benefit everyone except for the hard-wired sectarians. So, instead of that triumphalist clapping accompanied by jeering at others, which we have so often witnessed at Left organised events, when one political group manages to impose its will on the others by dubious methods, Socialists should welcome the opportunity that challenging debates present to us to stimulate our own thinking. A challenging debate is not one dominated by one person after another parroting the latest handed-down line, nor by hearing one report after another lauding “brilliant” activities; but one where participants are made to think outside their usual comfort zones.

Debates are needed to decide upon the immediate policies and tactics to be used in campaigning. Key decision-making should be taken, not behind the scenes, nor left to office bearers, but at plenary events. Therefore, an open democratic space, where different viewpoints can be aired, needs to be developed. We need to appreciate the value of debates, which can lead to a new synthesis at a higher level of agreement. This would also help develop a tradition of genuine friendship, solidarity and comradeship. How often have Socialists been addressed by some sectarian as “comrade” with a sneer and a curled lip!

I agree entirely with David, when he writes that any calls for the RIC to adopt any particular organisation’s version of a Communist, or Socialist programme for that matter, would be divisive. Organisations adopting this approach have mainly been concerned with maintaining their own political control and lecturing others about where they are going wrong! The Socialist Party (CWI) has sometimes insisted that an organisation adopts a Socialist label or programme before it will participate. This is why it refused to become involved in the successful Declaration of Calton Hill, and now the RIC, despite these organisations having immediate aims not maximum programmes.

The Socialist Party has also demonstrated the opportunistic flip side of this sectarianism, when it became involved in the British chauvinist No2EU electoral front (the ‘Brit Left’s answer to UKIP), because it was led by a prominent Broad Left union General Secretary – Bob Crow. ‘Socialist principles’ can be put on the back burner, when it comes to wooing union bureaucrats. Just what the Socialist Party’s ‘Socialism’ consists of, is also never made that clear. More state control seems to figure large, to which is sometimes added – ‘Oh, and it would be nice to have some workers’ control too’ – if not immediately, maybe later! How do we get to this Socialism? Join their Party!

Opportunism can also be found amongst those who claim to oppose sectarianism. Some say, “Look, we agree over 90%, so let’s just ignore the 10% where we disagree”. Almost inevitably, it is by ignoring that 10%, that unforeseen situations arise, which overwhelm an organisation – the SSP being a classic recent example (See Beyond The SSP And Solidarity – ‘Forgive And Forget’ or ‘Listen, Learn And Then Move On’?)

So, what is the alternative to sectarianism on the one hand, and the opportunist hiding of political differences on the other? The best practice would be to extend the purpose of that open democratic space used for debating policies and campaign tactics, to the creation of forums where political strategies – e.g. Anarchist, Communist, Feminist, Left Green/Environmentalist, Left Nationalist, Radical Democrat, Socialist or Socialist Republican – can be aired and discussed. Clearly, as has already been pointed out, those advocating these different views should not demand that their particular approach form the explicit political basis for campaigning. The relevance, or otherwise, of such political approaches, will be demonstrated through their ability to provide some useful guidance over the immediate demands and activities of the campaign.

Furthermore, attractive day schools can be organised with political forums to debate the contested approaches. Publications can be produced that highlight different political approaches so that informed debate continues. Modern information technology could also sustain such discussions in a number of ways, both before and after such events.

So what ideas would Socialist Republicans and Communists wish to have aired within such open forums? An understanding that capitalism is currently facing a multifaceted crisis informs RCN thinking. At present the exploited and oppressed are witnessing a worldwide retrogression in living conditions, understood in their widest sense. Employment is now often in ever more precarious forms of work. Our social wage is being attacked. Throughout the world there are new ‘enclosures’ and ‘clearances’ (of which one of the intentions behind the ‘Bedroom Tax’ provides an example). We face continued dilution of our civil rights alongside ever increasing state surveillance. We suffer from growing environmental degradation and never-ending wars.

The RCN would argue that there has never been a better, nor a more necessary time, to outline what a Socialist Republican and Communist alternative could look like. This is why we see an important link between meaningful Scottish self-determination and a Socialist Republican and Communist transformation of society. We argue that it is necessary to make this case publicly now, so we can challenge the alienation, exploitation and oppression we are currently experiencing, and which the capitalist system threatens to make even worse.

However, there is no intention to impose such beliefs on organisations such as the RIC, which campaigns for immediate demands. We would like to hear stimulating ideas from others, and will take heart from being part of wide-ranging discussions. These can help us to create the preconditions for a real challenge to the current capitalist crisis-ridden order. It would set an excellent precedent if the RIC became such an arena, and therefore formed a step on the way to create that network of independent class organisations we all so desperately need.

Allan Armstrong, RCN, 25th March 2013


“It is certainly not true today that Scottish independence (even of the most thoroughgoing kind) is an integral part of a socialist strategy. It is a profound weapon of progressive advance for a great many reasons; centrally that it undermines British imperialism – but it is not a recognisable part of the road to worker’s power.”

Here David disconnects the struggle for genuine Scottish self-determination (or “Scottish independence…of the most thoroughgoing kind”) from any “integral part of a socialist strategy or “recognizable part of the road to workers’ power”

This begs the questions – “Then, whose strategy is Scottish independence?” and “Which class would it benefit?” In my original review of James Foley’s pamphlet, I explained that the SNP government’s 2014 ‘Independence-Lite’ proposals represent the interests of a Scottish wannabe ruling class (‘Britain Must Break’ To Defend ‘Real Labour’ or ‘The Break-Up Of The UK’ To Advance Republican Socialism?).

I have also explained the nature of the official SNP ‘Yes’ campaign (The ‘Independence-Lite’ Referendum And A Tale Of Two Campaigns). David’s support for a non-socialist strategy, with no connection to the struggle for workers’ power, can only lead the Scottish Left in one political direction. That is subordination to the official SNP ‘Yes’ campaign. James has quite rightly warned us of the consequences of such an approach – “If you don’t have a strategy you are part of someone else’s strategy”.

The clearest example of this, so far, has been the decision taken by the SSP leadership to have its co-spokesperson, Colin Fox, as a representative on the National Advisory Board of the SNP’s ‘Yes’ Scotland campaign. Furthermore, you can be sure that Solidarity’s Tommy Sheridan would have been every bit as keen to sign up, if it wasn’t that the SNP leadership saw him as such a divisive and self-promoting figure. Despite Hugh Kerr’s behind-the-scenes prompting, they ruled this possibility out.

However, ending up in the SNP’s pro-unionist, pro-imperialist and pro-corporate capitalist ‘Yes’ camp is just the end point of a series of retreats that the majority of the Scottish Left has made since the abandonment of the socialist republican course, first adopted in the Declaration of Calton Hill in 2004.

Following ‘Tommygate’, the Scottish Left has successively tail-ended, first the fringe Scottish Right-Left populist nationalism of Independence First, then the social democracy of the more mainstream SNP, courted in the Scottish Independence Convention.

Therefore, the ISG’s decision to initiate the Radical Independence Conference (now Campaign) – RIC – has been most welcome. However, the setting up of RIC has not, in itself, overcome the danger that the Scottish Left ends up tail-ending Scottish nationalists, and in particular, the SNP’s Rightist social democratic ‘Independence-Lite’ proposals.

Far from representing any “profound weapon of progressive advance” the SNP government’s ‘Independence-Lite’ accepts the Union, the Crown Powers, Scotland’s economic domination by the City of London, and the continued US/British imperial alliance.

The RIC has, however, created an arena in which the debate on the best way forward for the Left in Scotland can be conducted, in the context of the struggle for genuine Scottish self-determination.

There is an undoubted tension between those who see the RIC as a pressure group acting upon the official ‘Yes’ campaign, and those who see it as a possible framework for the recreation of a socialist republican Left, which is prepared to challenge the SNP leadership in the struggle for genuine Scottish self-determination on a consistent anti-imperialist, anti-unionist, anti-corporate capitalist and anti-austerity basis.

Provided, the RIC maintains open democratic structures, then the debates arising from these tensions can be fruitful. It is inevitable, given the current weakness of the Left that the political weight of the SNP will make its influence felt in working class circles. This influence needs to be challenged, and that is best achieved over particular issues as they arise – the SNP government’s anti-NATO climb-down, its continued support for imperialist wars, its courting of corporate capitalism through tax concessions, its passing on of austerity measures either through Holyrood or local councils, etc..

Therefore, in contrast to David, I do see such a struggle for genuine Scottish self-determination on an anti-imperialist, anti-unionist, anti-corporate capitalist and anti-austerity basis, as forming “an integral part of a socialist strategy” and I also see it as “recognizable part of the road to worker’s power” – albeit at the still very early phase of creating the new independent class organisations, which would later permit such a revolutionary transition to take place.

I am sure that David would accept the importance, if not of ‘anti-corporate capitalism’, then of ‘anti neo-liberalism’ (possibly leaving the way open for neo-Keynesian reforms); and if not of anti-unionism (which would necessitate taking an attitude towards the Crown Powers and Ireland) then of opposing Westminster control over Scotland.

But in adopting such stances and his proposed “anti-imperialism” (more on this later) David is quite honest in accepting that they do not constitute a socialist strategy. David sees no possibility of raising the issue of Socialism now, since workers have suffered so many defeats and setbacks after several decades of a concerted Capitalist Offensive. This offensive has removed many of the gains of the post Second World War social democratic order, and lowered the political sights of the majority of workers.

It appears that David, along with so many other socialists, e.g. in the SWP, Socialist Party, SSP and Solidarity, think that the answer to New Labour’s abandonment of social democracy, and workers’ current lack of self-confidence, is that Socialists should step into Labour’s shoes, and take up the social democratic baton they have dropped.

The problem with this approach is that social democracy was not abandoned by Labour, and every other mainstream social democratic party in the world, because they were led by ‘bad’ people (although, there were enough of these around!) but because the costs of post-war social democracy increasingly threatened capitalist profitability from the mid-1970’s. This is what led to the corporate capitalist neo-liberal counter-offensive.

The Bennist challenge for the leadership of the Labour Party of the early 1980s was unsuccessful, so we do not have direct experience of how a Left social democratic Labour government would have performed in the face of the new economic challenges. However, across The Channel in France, a Mitterrand-led Socialist/Communist Left social democratic coalition did take office. It soon moved into retreat and then to defeat. This has been the pattern for all Left social democratic parties in office, whether Socialist or official Communist.

Now, that capitalism has entered an even deeper crisis than it faced in the 1970s, there is even less chance of any economic recovery, which can benefit the working class, on a social democratic basis; although social democratic neo-Keynesian measures could partially resuscitate a flagging capitalism. But for our class, this is as good as it gets under capitalism. It is time for Socialists to say so openly, and begin to openly argue for an alternative as we join with workers and oppressed in all the struggles which do develop.

Therefore we need to argue for a socialist strategy within existing united front campaigns (not insist that they include socialism/communism in their aims – see part 1 of my reply to David). We are in no position at present to implement socialist measures. It is to David’s credit that he realises that the immediate measures he advocates are not socialist, unlike others who like to dress up immediate reforms in socialist colouring, or as ‘transitional demands’ on an almost inevitable road to socialism.

Where I agree with David is that Socialists should indeed support and fight for immediate reforms which can benefit our class. However, there are two things that Socialist should ensure when advocating such reforms.

The first is that they meet the working class’s immediate requirements. ‘Independence-Lite’ as we have seen does not, whereas a democratic, secular and social Scottish republic could. Similarly, leaving any ‘independence’ negotiations to a team constituted from the SNP government, and Labour, Lib-Dem and Tory MSPs, would provide a recipe for a stepped up attack upon the working class after such ‘independence’ negotiations, whilst the call for a Constituent Assembly could enable us to mount some independent political pressure.

But the second thing required is the development and maintenance of independent class organisations. The ruling class can eventually recoup any reform if its implementation does not coincide with the development and increased strength of such organisations. The formation a genuinely democratic party, fully committed to bringing about a socialist/communist transition, is one of key independent class organisations required.

It was Chris Bambery of the ISG who, at the Glasgow Radisson-Blu Conference on November 24th last year, tentatively raised the prospect of the RIC becoming the arena in which the Scottish Left begins to reconstitute itself. This obviously raises the prospect of the RIC becoming something other than a pressure group that only exists up to the September 18th 2014 referendum.

Here the precedent of the Scottish Socialist Alliance and the SSP springs to mind. The SSP ultimately failed, but it has left behind both a positive and negative legacy, which needs to be properly assessed. However, the fact that the RIC has emerged highlights the continued necessity on the Scottish Left for such an organisation.

The SSP’s political failures have to be accounted for, and any new political organisation will need to be formed on a higher basis of political understanding and agreement if it is to have any chance of success (The RCN’s political assessment of the SSP experience can be found at:- Beyond The SSP And Solidarity – ‘Forgive And Forget’ or ‘Listen, Learn And Then Move On’?).

This is a debate that I’m sure that the RCN would very much like to have with the ISG, and also with those most recent SWP dissidents, who now constitute the International Socialist Network.

9th April 2013


“Socialists must not underestimate the importance of anti-imperialism to their strategy, nor the differing nature of anti-imperialism in different quadrants of the world economy. James Connolly’s struggle was one for Irish independence and against British imperialism. Our struggle is one against British imperialism and therefore against Scotland’s place within Britain. We should make no mistake here – Scotland is an integral unit of British imperialism. So our parochial orientation on the national question is almost the opposite to that of Irish republicanism.”

We have already seen that David is able to disconnect the struggle for genuine Scottish self-determination from the struggle for socialism and working class power by invoking support for a Scottish independence as a “profound weapon of progressive advance… {and} centrally that it undermines British imperialism.”

In the quote heading this section David argues that, “Socialists must not underestimate the importance of anti-imperialism to their strategy… We should make no mistake here – Scotland is an integral unit of British imperialism… Our struggle is one against British imperialism and therefore against Scotland’s place within Britain.”

Here David appears to support a possible future progressive non-imperialist, but also non-socialist Scotland. Yet, how Scotland can escape the clutches of imperialism in a struggle divorced from a socialist strategy is not explained.

What this suggests, though, is that David holds to a national populist notion of imperialism. Therefore, the current Imperialism we confront is not seen as the latest phase of global capitalism, which has its representatives and advocates in every state in the world, but merely the ‘bad’ policies promoted by a certain limited number of states. (Lenin did provide an opening for such a national populist understanding of imperialism by making a distinction between “oppressor and oppressed nations”, as opposed to oppressor states and oppressed peoples. However, Lenin also clearly held to a socialist understanding of imperialism as a stage of global capitalist development)

It is certainly true that the US is the dominant imperial power in the world, and that the US ruling class is to the forefront of maintaining the current global corporate order. It is also true that the British ruling class is the US’s no. 1 ally in this endeavour.

However, the numbers of states that challenge imperialism are very few. China is the one state that currently appears to have the ability in the medium to long term to challenge the US, but this is not on an anti-imperialist basis. The Chinese ruling class hopes to replace the US as the principal imperialist power in the world.

Other states or aspiring states, such as the Russian Federation and the EU, seek a more advantageous position within the global imperial order. This also goes for those states, such as Ahmadinajad’s Iran, which invoke anti-imperialist and sometimes militaristic rhetoric against the US, yet bow weakly before the economic demands of the IMF by privatising state assets and attacking workers’ pay, conditions and organisations. So far, all the new governments, which have emerged from ‘The Arab Spring’, have been quite content to make a new deal with US imperialism.

Furthermore, when you adopt a socialist understanding of imperialism, which considers its global economic impact too, the SNP government’s pro-imperialist (corporate globalist) credentials could not be clearer. They want to offer Scotland as a low corporate tax haven. They have already made no-tax deals with such anti-trade union employers as Amazon, and have flirted with both Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch.

The SNP is eager for ‘Scotland’ (i.e. Scottish bankers) to maintain their presence the City of London, and hence they support the City’s ultimate control over the Scottish economy. The City is a major centre for corporate imperial influence in the world – including the imposition of worldwide austerity measures (first imposed on the ‘Third World’ as Structural Adjustment Programmes), clearances, resource seizures and environmental degradation (The Scottish-registered RBoS has already cooperated with the Burmese junta in oil and gas exploitation, both at the cost of the Burmese peasants, workers and the environment).

It is also David’s apparent national populist view of imperialism, which enables him to equate “Our struggle… against British imperialism” with challenging “Scotland’s place within Britain.” This seems to suggest that once Scotland has withdrawn from ‘Britain’, Scotland it will no longer be imperialist.

However, even if you adopt David’s more limited understanding of imperialism, then the SNP government’s ‘Independence-Lite’ proposals make no real challenge to the US/British imperialism. They want Scotland to remain part of NATO, to maintain British military forces on Scottish soil, and to have Scottish military forces participating in continued imperial wars.

The SNP government only wants to renegotiate Scotland’s place within the US/British imperial alliance (and UK state). In accepting NATO, they have much less chance than Germany, a considerably more powerful state, in getting rid of Trident from their ‘independent’ Scotland – which is to say none whatsoever. The SNP Right has already got its post-‘independence’ fallback position ready. They would accept a NATO rent for the continuation of a ‘Guantanamac’ base at Faslane – probably arguing that this would prevent some other unwelcome cuts.

But there is a further problem when David asks us to campaign “against Scotland’s place within Britain.” Despite my earlier questioning of James Foley’s failure to distinguish between (Great) Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) – a geographical entity; and the UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) – the state we actually confront, David still goes along with this misleading use of the term ‘Britain’.

However, David does provide an explanation for the ISG’s unwillingness to confront the UK state, as opposed to ‘Britain’. This is because “our parochial orientation on the national question is almost the opposite to that of Irish republicanism.” I have to admit this is the first time I have seen the word “parochial” invoked in a positive sense by anyone on the Left. It is fairly clear, though, that if you are committed to a “parochial orientation”, then you can ditch any internationalist approach, and look instead perhaps to purely Scottish nationalist ‘solutions’.

Thus, without apparently realising it, David has also already moved away from “the importance of anti-imperialism to {his} strategy.” If you ignore the existence of the UK state, and opt instead to oppose only ‘Britain’, then you can very conveniently drop the issue of the Scottish ruling class’s longest standing imperial venture – from the Stuart dynasty’s Scottish colonisation of Ulster, through to the continued presence today of Scottish regiments of the British army in Northern Ireland. Furthermore, in line with the current SNP government’s support for Scottish regiments stationed in Afghanistan and elsewhere, it has no intentions of removing Scottish regiments from Northern Ireland – even after ‘independence’.

Nor is this continuing support for British imperialism an issue that can be neatly quarantined within Northern Ireland. The SNP government is currently creating a centralised ‘Scottish Met’. The Scottish police have been given draconian powers to deal with so-called ‘sectarianism’ under the Offensive Behaviour Act. Sectarianism is the misleading label they and others use to cover up the knock-on political and social effects in Scotland, of the UK state’s constitutionally underwritten social partition of Northern Ireland, and the continuing anti-Irish racism found over here.

David’s strategy expressly prioritises the central importance of anti-imperialist struggle. Yet, when it comes to both the existing Scottish-British section of the UK ruling class and the wannabe Scottish ruling class’s continued support for Scottish imperial presence in Ireland, David ignores this. This despite the poisonous legacy of Orangeism, Loyalism and wider anti-Irish racism found in Scotland. Furthermore, these people have a very definite attitude to Scottish independence, and are not averse to taking the types of action they think are necessary, either independently or, if necessary, with the behind-the-scenes support of the UK security services.

James’ pamphlet omitted to mention any concern for the dangers represented to a campaign for Scottish self-determination by the UK state’s Crown Powers. David, despite his prioritisation of an anti-imperialist strategy, omits the dangers still presented by Scotland’s legacy of Orangeism, Loyalism and anti-Irish racism. I would argue that both of these omissions could leave the Scottish Left dangerously exposed, when things start to hot up.

9th April 2013


“Allan invites a consideration of the contributions of James Connolly and John McLean, positing the former as the antecedent of the latter, and suggesting a significant contemporary relevance. To my mind, despite rhetorical similarities between the two men, there is little practical relationship between a prospective republican socialism in Scotland and republican socialism in Ireland. James Connolly’s republicanism was of proximate strategic concern to Irish revolutionary socialists – breaking Ireland from Britain would both foster and entail a revolutionary situation. This was arguably true of a break of Scotland from Britain during the highpoint of the revolutionary wave following the October revolution – since the British state may have sought to maintain homogeneity under almost any circumstances and given the degree of radicalisation amongst large numbers of workers.”

David is very keen to keep the issue of Ireland/Northern Ireland firmly separated both from “parochial Scotland”, and from contemporary “Britain”. I do not know if David is one of those members from the SWP who went on to form the ISG, or whether he is a new recruit. Whatever the case, David has inherited much of the SWP’s thinking in this regard. (I have addressed this aspect of the SWP’s politics in my review of Keir Mckechnie’s pamphlet, Riding Two Horses At Once – the SWP and Scottish Independence (see RIDING TWO HORSES AT ONCE – The SWP and Scottish independence)

In the context of the independence referendum debates, David shares Keir’s concern to confine his opposition to the existence of ‘Britain’ (very much a Scottish nationalist focus) and ignores the existence of the wider UK state. However, David goes further. He attempts to provide some historical grounding for his contrast between Ireland and Scotland.

We have already seen that David argues that, “Connolly’s struggle was one for Irish independence and against British imperialism. Our struggle is one against British imperialism and therefore against Scotland’s place within Britain.”

This is very confusing. When Connolly was alive, Ireland, like Scotland, was part of the UK. Thus Connolly’s struggle for “Irish independence and against British imperialism” was also a struggle against Ireland’s “place within the UK”, just as any struggle for genuine Scottish self-determination is “against British imperialism” and a struggle against “Scotland’s place within the UK”.

Nor, can it be argued that Ireland, in Connolly’s day, was not part of British imperialism. It was not only the Irish Unionists who gave wholehearted support to British imperialism during the First World War. John Redmond’s constitutional Irish Nationalist Party – INP (the Irish equivalent of today’s SNP), supported in 1914 by the majority of the Irish electorate, campaigned vigorously for Irish participation in the war. The INP leaders ensued that the majority of Irish Volunteers constituted themselves as the 10th and 16th divisions of the British Army.

Thus, when Connolly participated in the 1916 Easter Rising, his socialist-led Irish Citizens Army was very much an Irish minority fighting alongside another Irish minority – those Irish Volunteers under the control the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

It would take a few more years before it could be claimed that a majority of the Irish had become anti-British imperialist. Yes, in 1920, the Connaught Rangers (overwhelmingly Catholic and probably mainly recent INP supporters) did mutiny in India. But this only occurred after the growing political impact of the Irish Republican struggle. You can be sure that when the UK state sent the Connaught Rangers to India, they were thought to be as reliable upholders of British imperialism as the many Irish regiments that had preceded them throughout the Empire.

Irish Republicans (including the small socialist republican contingent) did have the advantage that they began their struggle to win the majority of Irish over to an anti-British imperialist stance at the beginning of the 1916-21 International Revolutionary Wave. By 1921, they had imposed a substantial setback to British imperial designs.

John Maclean, who only fully appreciated the importance of Connolly’s strategy in Ireland for Scotland between 1919 and 1921, suffered from the disadvantage that his new political clarity coincided with the decline and end of that International Revolutionary Wave.

Therefore, the political conditions for the realisation of Maclean’s advocacy of ‘the break-up of the UK state and British imperialism’ strategy, through his support for a Scottish Workers’ Republic, rapidly abated. It was in this period of political retreat that the various forms of a ‘British road to socialism’, advocated by the infant CPGB, the ILP and British Labour Party came to completely dominate the Scottish Left (although the precedent for this had been set by Hyndman’s Social Democratic Federation and later British Socialist Party, which both Connolly and Maclean had been members of, but broke away from).

This period also coincided with the abandonment of the international revolutionary offensive by the CPSU, the clampdown on remaining internal party democracy, and the inward turn to the pro-capitalist New Economic Policy. This was also the period when the UK state was able to reassert itself, through the imposition of partition in Ireland, and the break-up of Ireland’s revolutionary republican institutions by arming the ‘Irish Free State’ forces.

Although the position of Scotland within the UK and British Empire was not the same as that of Ireland, there were definitely quite a number of shared features. Furthermore, the British ruing class has always appreciated the link.

The British ruling class (including its hybrid-British components) organised to break-up the ‘internationalism from below’ alliance of the United Irishmen and United Scotsmen (and others) in the first phase of the 1789-1815 International Revolutionary Wave. They also organised to break up the Land Leagues’ challenge, initiated in Ireland in 1879 and spread to the Highlands of Scotland in the early 1880’s (and also to Wales). Michael Davitt and his allies also organised their land and labour challenge on an ‘internationalism from below’ basis. The virulence of the Scottish establishment anti-Irish offensive of the 1920’s and 1930’s (supplemented by the activities of the Orange Order, Protestant Action and Kormack’s Kaledonian Klan) was a direct counter to the Irish republican challenge between 1916-21 within Scotland itself, which Maclean very much supported.

Maclean had arrived at an ‘internationalism from below’ strategy between 1919-21. The continuing relevance of a Scottish Workers’ Republican, or Scottish Socialist Republican tradition does not stem from some starry eyed romanticism about John Maclean. It stems from the long-standing necessity to oppose the UK as a unionist and imperialist state. This is why ‘internationalism from below’ challenges have reappeared throughout the history of the UK.

10th April 2013


“Surely absent from the modern field of battle is the material basis for a sort of ‘Celtic Communism’ imagined (and I do mean imagined) by both Connolly and McLean – that of a nascent communist sensibility in rural tradition.”

In the light of much recent historical research, which was not available to either Connolly or Maclean, I can agree with David here about the need to be watchful about any misty-eyed romanticism concerning much of Irish and Scottish history. Connolly and Maclean were wrong in believing that ‘Celtic Communism’ survived as the overall organising principle of society in either Ireland or Scotland in the early historical period. Only remnants of such organisation continued to exist as subordinate elements in an increasingly stratified society based on tributary (or what others sometimes call feudal) social relations.

However, the extent to which both Connolly and Maclean based their actual view of a future socialist/communist society on beliefs in an updated version of ‘Celtic Communism’ is debatable.

Connolly’s own views about a future socialist society were far more influenced by the direct workplace industrial organisation advocated by the IWW, whilst Maclean went on to draw direct inspiration from the early Soviet Union in his specific post-1920 recommendations for a Scottish Workers Republic.

In invoking elements of ‘Celtic Communism’ it appears to me that Connolly and Maclean were more acting in the tradition of Engels and the early Second International in using the existence of one-time pre-class societies to show that private property and class exploitation and oppression were not some inborn characteristic of the human race.

I still think that upholding such arguments is important. Socialist anthropologists, such as Chris Knight, Camilla Power and the SWP’s Lionel Sims, appear to me to be making an important contribution to the debate on pre-class societies.

It is also very likely that Connolly and Macleans’ interest in pre-capitalist society contributed to their concern for agricultural labour (whether Irish small tenant farmers or Highland crofters). This meant that they were able to extend their vision of those who could be drawn into a wider struggle, beyond the industrial workers, exclusively championed by so many socialists (e.g. especially in the Socialist Labour Party). Connolly gave his support to those Gaelic speaking small tenants in west of Ireland, threatened by the reappearance of famine in the 1890s, whilst Maclean supported the Gaelic speaking land raiders on Lewis in 1920.

The first real challenge to the current global corporate order came from the Zapatistas in Mexico on January 1st 1994, in opposition to the US‘s implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. I’m fairly sure that Connolly and Maclean would have appreciated the significance of this.

11th April 2013


“The Scottish national question in recent times represents a frustration with traditional British reformism and its central institutions, which have declined against this backdrop, as well as the mostly successful state repression necessary to reform British capitalism. If we try and assert some eternal quest for ‘the Scottish Socialist Republic’ then we will misunderstand the conjunctural crisis of the British regime and the opportunities of this period.

This is the context wherein the Scottish national question has increasingly become the tactical locus of the struggle against neo-liberalism and austerity, and the struggle to rebuild a militant labour movement after decades of defeat and demoralisation.”

Here David expresses a common opinion held by those who have recently emerged from a British Left unionist tradition. The ISG has come from this tradition via its members’ sojourn within the SWP. Thus David takes up a similar stance to the SWP’s Keir McKechnie, when he identifies the Scottish national question with “the tactical locus of the struggle against neo-liberalism and austerity, and the struggle to rebuild a militant labour movement after decades of defeat and demoralisation”. Keir sees the central issue underlying Scottish independence as, “Its austerity stupid”.

The SWP, until recently, had always opposed Scottish independence. So, its leadership needed to identify some radically new feature of Scottish politics, to justify their recent change of line. Austerity provides them with this. David gives this a more sophisticated form by linking “neo-liberalism and austerity” with “the conjunctural crisis of the British regime and the opportunities of this period.” David invokes this crisis to justify the ISG’s current support for Scottish independence.

Now, it is very important that Socialists should understand the current conjuncture we face, and furthermore, appreciate the significance of the capitalist austerity drive within this. However, the multi-facetted capitalist crisis we presently face has more aspects than the economic ones of “neo-liberalism and austerity”.

In particular, there is a crisis over the legitimacy of the UK’s inherited state institutions and the deep-seated corruption found in the political parties associated with these. This democratic deficit, particularly within Westminster and the local councils, has contributed contributed to the emergence of ‘Scottish independence’ as a political issue.

So even, if like David, you want to confine your attention to the “current conjunctural crisis”, it is important that we understand this in all its aspects. Both the political representatives of the British ruling class, united under the ‘No’ campaign, and the political representatives of a wannabe Scottish ruling class, represented by the SNP’s ‘Yes’ campaign, appreciate this. This is why they put forward their own political ‘solutions’. Socialists need to know what these people are really up to, if we are not end up as part of somebody else’s campaign.

Elsewhere, in his contribution, David wants to ensure that Socialists do not end up pursuing economistic politics. Yet, in his attempt to equate the essentially economic drive behind “neo-liberalism and austerity” with the political issue of the “Scottish national question”, or with the SNP’s ‘Independence-Lite’ proposals, David is in danger of going down this very road.

This is why SNP government’s ‘Independence-Lite’ proposals have to be considered in their political aspect. This involves coming to some understanding of the nature of the UK state. The UK is a constitutional monarchy with profoundly anti-democratic Crown Powers. The UK was formed as, and remains, an imperialist state (albeit one that has now in an alliance with US imperialism to maintain its continued imperial role). The UK is a unionist state, which privileges its English-British, Scottish-British, Welsh-British and ‘Ulster’-British ruling class components over the other classes in its constituent nations and part nation (Northern Ireland).

Now, whilst David does see the significance of ‘Britain’s imperial role (though, even here, as we have seen, he should be emphasising the role of the UK state, rather than of a geographical ‘Britain’) he, along with James and Keir, show little appreciation of the UK as a specifically unionist state.

Yet, the SNP’s ‘Independence-Lite’ constitutional proposals are a political response to this particular feature of the UK state. The SNP leadership has no intention of abolishing the UK but, as Mike Russell has claimed, it seeks Scottish ‘Independence within the Union’; or as SNP-supporting Jim McColl of Clyde Blowers points out, these proposals represent a junior managerial buyout, before resuming business as usual with the larger parent body.

David claims that those who look beyond the current “conjunctural crisis of the British regime” are trapped in “the eternal quest for a Scottish Republic.” Here David still displays an incomprehension of republican politics inherited from the British unionist Left. The RCN also found this to be the case with former CWI members in the earlier stages of the SSA and SSP. However, their attitudes did shift from a strong anti-republicanism to an acceptance of its necessity when confronting a monarchist state like the UK.

Because David is unwilling to go further back in history than the current post-2008 “conjunctural crisis”, he is unable to break fully from the SWP’s British Left unionist legacy. Thus, rather than providing evidence to support his claim of some Socialists being trapped in “the eternal quest for a Scottish Republic”, he merely asserts this. He makes no reference to the actual politics of any organisation in Scotland. In my own study of Scottish politics since the 1789-1815 International Revolutionary Wave, I have not come across one political organisation, which pursues this “eternal quest”.

The RCN has certainly taken an interest in the ‘National Question’ in Scotland over a long historical period. We also have members with experience, dating from the first phase of the re-emergence of the “Scottish national question” in the 1960s that culminated in Labour’s failed Devolution proposals of 1979. We have other members, who were involved in the second phase, from the late 1980’s that culminated in New Labour’s successful Devolution proposals of 1997. (Yes, I can appreciate that for David and the overwhelmingly youthful ISG membership, having members able to go so far back in time, can sometimes appear a tad sad!)

So, what is the political principle, which Socialists should apply when assessing the “Scottish national question”? That principle is national self-determination. Republicanism and anti-imperialism are indeed completely valid democratic responses to the monarchist and imperialist UK state. However, it is the unionist form of the UK state, and hence the ‘National Question’, which makes the adoption of national self-determination the best principle to address this particular issue.

The RCN has provided a lengthy analysis of the emergence of the ‘National Question’ within the UK (see The Making And The Breaking Of The UK State). However, because the politics behind this are not at all familiar to those who have recently emerged from a British Left unionist background, I will devote some space to addressing this issue.

It was during the 1789-1815 International Revolutionary Wave, that the issue of a Scottish Republic was first raised. This occurred in the context of the French Jacobin-led revolutionary democratic challenge to the reactionary old European order and the conservative UK state. The last flicker of the United Scotsmen’s ‘internationalism from below’ legacy can be seen in the 1820 Rising and the general strike in the west Central Belt of Scotland.

However, for a period between the defeat of this Rising and the final defeat of Chartism in 1849, the growth of Radical Liberal politics could have led to the issue of national self-determination being resolved in a quite different way. The UK could have moved away from being a unionist state incorporating England, Scotland and Ireland, to becoming a unitary British nation-state, where Scotland became ‘North Britain” and Ireland ‘West Britain’.

In order for this to have happened, there would need to have been a declaration of a British Republic, the abolition of the House of Lords and the established and state-supported churches, and an extensive electoral franchise – i.e. the adoption of the French Jacobin model. Indeed, during this period, support for continued Scottish institutions came primarily from such Tory reactionaries as Sir Walter Scott. However, there were Radical Liberals in the UK who supported all or some of those advanced political measures. They were also able to draw upon wider ‘lower orders’ support, especially in Scotland. This is one reason why Radical Liberal ‘moral force’ Chartism emerged more strongly here than independent working class ‘physical force’ Chartism. Just as the rising bourgeoisie in Europe recoiled from completing the 1847-9 Revolutions on the continent, so the Radical Liberals in the UK, also in fear of the ‘lower orders’ came to accept the existing state – unionist and monarchist -with its Crown Powers and with established or state-backed religions. The development, first of British ‘Free Trade Imperialism’, then the later ‘New Imperialism’, further cemented bourgeois support for the UK.

However, the next time the “Scottish national question” came to the fore was within the context of the land reform struggles triggered off by the Irish Land League (ILL) in 1879. The Highland Land League (HLL) took up this struggle from the early 1880’s. The ILL and HLL also very much influenced the early Scottish labour movement, particular the miners. In was in this political context that the demand for Home Rule for Ireland, Scotland and Wales first emerged.

A political struggle developed over the exercise of national self-determination between those essentially middle class Liberal advocates of Home Rule within the UK and British Empire, and the social republican supporters of Michael Davitt. Nationally-based Liberals wanted Home Rule to give them protected career options within their own particular constituent nation of the UK, whilst still maintaining the possibility of career advance within the wider UK state and British Empire. In contrast, social republicans were hoping to develop a new land and labour ‘internationalism from below’ alliance, which would contest both the UK state and British Empire.

Social republicans also had to develop the tactics needed when the immediate political choice lay, not between a social republic and the existing constitutional order, but between the Home Rule proposals of the Liberals and the reactionary constitutional status quo of the Conservatives and their Liberal Unionist allies.

The next time the issue of Scottish self-determination became prominent it was in an overtly communist and socialist republican revolutionary form. This involved John Maclean’s support for a Scottish Workers Republic within a worldwide communist federation. During the International Revolutionary Wave from 1916-21, Maclean’s strategy developed under the combined influence of the ‘Russian’ Revolution and the national democratic Irish Republican struggle – and in this respect Maclean was following in the footsteps of James Connolly’s support for an Irish Workers Republic.

However, once this International Revolutionary Wave had ebbed, following the defeat of the Kronstadt Rising in Russia in 1921, and the UK state had reasserted its hegemony over Ireland through Partition and by arming the counter-revolutionary Irish Free Staters, any possibility that Maclean’s Scottish Workers Republic could be realised, disappeared. Instead, various versions of a ‘British road to socialism’ came to dominate the thinking of the organised Scottish working class, either through the influence of the CPGB, ILP or Labour Party. This British Left unionist approach was later passed on to British Trotskyism and the SWP.

In the 1930’s, the “Scottish national question” re-emerged. Only this time it was not taken up by the ‘lower orders’ nor, more specifically, by the Scottish working class; but by members of the Scottish intelligentsia, who were trying to articulate the class interests of Scottish small business.

For the first time, these people began to realise that the British Empire, which had brought them considerable material rewards in the past, was in decline. The Scottish sector of the UK’s imperially-orientated economy was declining even more rapidly. This led to an increased feeling of economic, social and political marginalisation in Scotland. A number of Left/Right populist organisations emerged, which addressed such concerns. These included the Leftist National Party of Scotland and the Rightist Scottish Party. In 1934, they combined to form the politically amorphous SNP.

The versions of national self-determination to emerge from these organisations included support for Stormont-type Home Rule for Scotland (!), Dominion status within the Empire, the resurrection of the old Liberal-initiated and ILP-supported Scottish Home Rule proposals, and support for an ethnically-based ‘nation’-state (something that was enjoying growing support amongst nationalists in the Europe at the time).

During the 1930’s, when the CPGB entered its Popular Frontist phase, it looked neither to the earlier Scottish social nor socialist republican traditions, but to those Scottish Nationalists who supported extensive Scottish Home Rule within the UK.

However, the post-Second World War triumph of a British social (democratic) monarchist state, underpinned by the shared Labour-Conservative politics of ‘Butskellism’, marginalised this new Scottish nationalist challenge. Indeed, on those relatively few occasions when the “Scottish national question” was aired in public, the British Labour Party in Scotland, like the first Scottish-British members of the ruling class, and those nineteenth century Liberals who had made their peace with the UK state, could claim that they were exercising Scotland’s right of self-determination, albeit within the existing constitutional set-up.

Mainstream Labour accepted the monarchy and senior Labour politicians and their families were invited to royal social events. The House of Lords provided access for time-serving Labour politicians and trade union bureaucrats. Labour also supported the established Church of England and state backing for other religions. Most importantly they continued to support the British Empire and most British imperial wars (Suez in 1956 was the only notable exception).

Since the Tories’ 1979 election victory, however, this social monarchist state has been dismantled and replaced by the neo-liberal monarchist state. This is now underpinned by the shared New Labour-Conservative politics of ‘Blatcherism’. In the process, Blair’s New Labour government helped to repackage the dated Windsor dynasty as a ‘people’s monarchy’ more suited to the age of public celebrity (Danny Boyle took this a step further in his 2012 Olympic Games extravaganza). Blair ‘reformed’ the House of Lords to increase access for his New Labour-supporting cronies. He gave credence to religious interference in the state, by publicly emphasising his own religious convictions. And, of course, he threw British armed forces into more conflicts than any recent PN.

David has usefully pointed out that this post-1979 phase led to “the mostly successful state repression necessary to reform British capitalism” (for which the decade long state repression in Northern Ireland provided a testing ground for a number of measures, particularly the handling of the Miners’ challenge between 1984-5).

Nevertheless, despite all the Tory rhetoric about “saving the Great British nation”, the UK’s relative economic position in the world continued to decline. Huge swathes of the remaining industries, particularly in Scotland, were devastated. This pushed increasing numbers of people, particularly amongst the Scottish working class, into reconsidering just how much ‘national self-determination’ they were ‘enjoying’ under the UK’s increasingly dysfunctional constitutional order.

The most advanced form of the demand for national self-determination emerged from within the Anti-Poll Tax Movement. Thatcher had attempted to use the UK state’s powers to impose the poll tax first in Scotland, despite a complete lack of any democratic mandate to do this. Social and socialist republican politics re-emerged in Scotland for the first time since the days of John Maclean. A Daily Record readers’ poll recorded 56% support for a Scottish Republic in the aftermath of the defeat of the Poll Tax, and Labour’s failure to oust the Tories in 1992.

The national leadership of the Anti-Poll Tax Movement had been provided by Militant (CWI). As long as Militant remained committed to the British Labour Party, the setting up of the Scottish Socialist Alliance (later the SSP) was delayed. However, once Scottish Militant had decided to finally break with Labour and to seriously address the “Scottish national question”, social and socialist republican politics was able to permeate the wider Scottish Left, through the SSP. Both strategic and tactical questions about how to best win over those who looked to the SNP to provide the leadership of the campaign for greater self-determination were and have continued to be eagerly debated. The Declaration of Calton Hill, on October 9th 2004, though, was the most advanced statement of Scottish self-determination to emerge from this engagement.

This form of Scottish self-determination clashed with two other versions. The SNP still retained a formal commitment to a somewhat hazy form of Scottish independence. However, the SNP had thrown its political weight behind Labour’s Devolution proposals – first in 1979, and again in 1997. Initially, after New Labour’s success in setting up a devolved Holyrood parliament, support for the SNP ebbed away.

New Labour was reassured in its calculation that the setting up of a devolved Holyrood parliament would contain any SNP advance. Yet, by 2003, New Labour was less pleased when the new SSP, committed to a more advanced albeit still confused social and socialist republican form of Scottish self-determination, was able to advance at the expense of both the SNP and Labour, and go on to win 6 MSPs.

However, ‘Tommygate’ removed the SSP as potential challenger for the leadership of the movement for greater Scottish self-determination. In most people’s minds this remained associated with the SNP. Furthermore, a new reinvigorated SNP leadership, led by Alex Salmond, was able to politically reorientate the SNP in a similar way to that Tony Blair had managed with the Labour Party.

Those former Left social democrats in the SNP abandoned their earlier radicalism and gave their support to a strategy, which now focused the real concerns of the party upon meeting the needs of corporate business interests, and helping to form a Scottish wannabe ruling class. Any remaining social democratic promises were meant to be financed by a vibrant corporate capitalist economy, with key Scottish-registered banks (RBoS and HBoS) playing a key role.

New Labour’s earlier ‘Prawn Cocktail Offensive’ had been designed to win business leaders (including Rupert Murdoch) away from the Tories. Salmond’s ‘New SNP’ was designed to win Scottish and overseas business interests away from support for the existing UK state and its overblown imperialist pretensions, to supporting a reformed UK (‘Independence in the Union’) with a downsized British imperial presence following the abolition of the UK’s nuclear ‘deterrent’.

In the longer term, this change in the political nature of the SNP necessitated redefining the meaning of national self-determination to the point where the ‘self’ coincided with the self-interest of a wannabe Scottish ruling class. The SNP’s ‘Independence-Lite’ proposals are the result of this process.

Meanwhile the ‘self’, being invoked in Scottish Labour’s version of Scottish self-determination, extends no further than those New Labour careerists who constitute the outer defences in the running of the British ruling class’s UK state. This version of ‘self-determination’ excludes the vast majority from the most minimal political participation – other than choosing every five years from three British neo-liberal and pro-austerity parties to run Westminster. And, of course, even this apparently all-powerful Westminster acts as a front for the real machinery of the UK state, its workings clothed in secrecy and protected by the Crown Powers.

If the promotion of ‘Independence-Lite’ represents the politics advocated by the SNP leadership on behalf of a wannabe Scottish ruling class, then the British ruling class is united behind the ‘New Unionist’ strategy, first developed by the Tories. This was in response to the national democratic challenge they continued to face after the 1981 Irish Hunger Strikes. It was further developed by New Labour after the renewed national democratic challenges coming from Scotland and Wales from the late 1980’s.

New Labour was able to come up with what has become the British ruling class’s accepted ‘New Unionist’ strategy for maintaining its control over these islands – the promotion of the ‘Peace (pacification) Process’ throughout Ireland, and ‘Devolution-all-round’ within the UK.

This strategy was first developed more than a decade before David’s post-2008 “conjunctural crisis”, or the British unionist parties’ shared commitment to the austerity drive. Perhaps this is why it receives no consideration from David, the ISG or the SWP. This despite the fact that upholding ‘New Unionism’ constitutes the British ruling class’s current strategy for dealing with any national challenge it faces, including the SNP’s most recent ‘Independence-Lite’ proposals.

This British ruling class-supported strategy enjoys the support of New Labour, the Lib-Dems and the Tories, of successive Irish governments (Fianna Fail and Green, and Fine Gael and Labour coalitions), of trade union leaders throughout these islands locked in social-partnerships with the bosses and the state, of the US government, and of the EU leadership.

Any Socialist strategy to counter this British unionist bureaucratic alliance from above must, of necessity, involve the mobilisation of an ‘internationalism from below’ alliance to counter this. Despite the “neo-liberal and austerity” offensive being shared characteristics of all the political parties involved in the running of Westminster, the Dail in Dublin, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont, David does not make either the international (all-islands) connections, nor identify the shared political strategy used by the the British and Irish ruling class to achieve their economic aims.

The reason for this stems from David’s self-declared “parochial orientation” and his largely economistic interpretation of the current “conjunctural crisis of the British regime”. This neglect of the political aspects of the crisis is further reinforced by David’s unwillingness to go further back in history and analyse the longstanding combined monarchist, imperialist and unionist nature of the UK state. Furthermore, we can only know if we have arrived at a particular conjuncture by historically comparing the situation with what has preceded it.

19th April 2013

(Part 2 of Allan Armstrong’s reply to David Jamieson can now be found at:- Allan Armstrong (RCN) replies to David Jamieson (ISG) – part 2)