The Republican Communist Network (Scotland) can be considered a ‘work on progress’. The principles upon which we stand can be summed up in our ‘What We Stand For’. However, these are not fixed but are changed through new knowledge gained in the struggles we are engaged in. The last change was made in May 2012 (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/06/11/rcn-what-we-stand-for/) Since then we have been involved in the movement for Scottish self-determination, as well attempting to go deeper into the roots of women’s oppression after the inability of socialists to properly address the occurrence of sexual assaults within our movement.
This has led the RCN to discuss the importance of the third, and often unappreciated prop for class societies, including capitalism, and that is alienation. And just as the other two props of class society, exploitation and oppression are opposed by struggles for emancipation and liberation, so alienation is countered by struggles for self determination understood in its widest sense. The beginnings of this discussion took place on October 27th, 2013. Allan Armstrong had already circulated the paper Exploitation, Oppression and Alienation: Emancipation, Liberation and Self-Determination. This was later posted on this blog at:-http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/05/07/exploitation-oppression-and-alienation-emancipation-liberation-and-self-determination/. Pauline Bradley also highlighted the use of alienation, in the second wave of feminism in the 1960’s and 70’s, to analyse the position of women.
A new point 5 reflects some preliminary discussions in the RCN about the impact of capitalism upon our natural environment. It also provides the reasoning for the concluding statement in point 1 about a “sustainable relationship between humanity and the environment”.
Allan has circulated the following proposals for an amended ‘What We Stand For’ for discussion at a our next AGM. The proposed additions and deletions only effect points 1 and 2 of the existing ‘What We Stand For’. The previous points 3-11 would remain the same, other than being renumbered 7-15. These are only proposals and will be subject of further discussion and amendment.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO RCN’S ‘WHAT WE STAND FOR’
1) Another world is possible – a joyful, creative, new world communism which emancipates us all from exploitation, and liberates us all from exploitation, and brings about our social and individual self-determination, which forms in a new sustainable relationship between humanity and the environment.
2)“The history of all hitherto existing class society is the history of class struggles.” The enforcement of patriarchy over women marked the beginning of a whole series of class societies, culminating in the current global capitalist order. We are subject, in varying degrees, to exploitation by the dominant class, to state oppression designed to maintain ruling class control, and to alienation resulting from the lack of control over key aspects of our lives.
3) Class struggle is our best means of mounting a successful response. Against exploitation we raise the banner of emancipation. Against oppression we raise the banner of liberation. Against alienation we raise the banner of self-determination. The end of class society comes through revolutionary change with the abolition of wage and domestic slavery, in a society based on the principle, “from each according to their ability; to each according their needs”. The state gives way to communal self-administration, where “the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things and the direction of the processes of production”. Our social and individual self-determination is based on the principle that “the freedom of each is the condition of the freedom of all.”
4) We engage in economic and social struggles against exploitation and democratic struggles against oppression. It is through these experiences that we can build independent class organisations, which gain the confidence to transform society. In addition, cultural struggles against alienation can contribute to the development of ‘communities of resistance’,
5) Capitalism has massively contributed to environmental degradation. This now threatens many vital life-giving natural circuits, e.g. air, water and nitrogen (in the soil), as well as biodiversity and unique natural habitats. Reversing this situation necessitates a global-scale response.
6) Socialism is not the ultimate aim. It can either be a phase on the way to communism or a temporary high point reached before a descent back into capitalism. The new society will have no resemblance to the statist autocracy of the Soviet Union, and will go well beyond the “welfare state” of social democracy.
Neither social democracy nor official ‘communism’ have created a successful socialist transition towards a higher form of society. Social democracy went no further than welfare state provision, whilst official ‘communism’ led to a state autocracy. Both have collapsed back into forms of neo-liberal capitalism.
2) renumbered 7) In our struggle for social and individual self-determination we champion ‘being’ over ‘having’. The ruling classes attempt to maintain control over us by stifling both individuality and cooperation through the creation and marketing of false needs. This culture of consumerism represses our collective attempts to assert ourselves and gain control of our lives. Nevertheless, alternatives to this are constantly being explored, for example in the sphere of the creative arts. As a source of pleasure and power, they are a vital part of our struggle to help build a new society.
Allan Armstrong (RCN), 9th August 2014
For other recent developments in the organisation of the Republican Communist Network (Scotland) see:-