Jun 21 2008
At our AGM on 29th May 2016 on Glasgow there was unanimous acknowledgement that the RCN is no longer an interventionist political organisation, but should continue as a forum to encourage political debate amongst the Left. This means we will no longer affiliate to political organisations as the RCN, but individual members may continue to do so. We will still give donations to other organisations, which themselves encourage debate, e.g. the Republican Socialist Alliance, and those that are involved in important campaigns. Such donations would be agreed at RCN-called meetings. This status may change in future if a majority of RCN members agree that we should again intervene as RCN in a political situation.
In particular, we seek to organise discussion forums to develop a socialist republican ‘internationalism from below’ approach. We seek to further develop an understanding of capitalism as a system based on exploitation, oppression and alienation to be countered by the promotion of emancipation, liberation and self-determination. We also seek discussion with those who want a greater understanding of what is meant by communism. We have already produced an agreed ‘What We Stand For’ document (see below) where these ideas have been outlined. However, this no longer has the status of being a condition of RCN membership, but remains as a contribution to future debate.
One consequence of our new approach is that we will encourage others to come to our discussion meetings, and will welcome jointly hosted meetings around agreed topics. We will also continue our weekend away discussions, inviting others to participate.
Our Emancipation & Liberation blog has always operated in an open manner, seeking non-member contributions and will continue to do so. All articles are the viewpoints of their individual author(s). There will no longer be articles representing an agreed RCN interventionist political stance.
RCN membership will now be based on a broad acceptance of the need for republicanism and communism; the payment of a monthly subscription of £10/£5 for waged and £2 unwaged; and a willingness to abide by the Comradely Conduct Policy.
COMRADELY CONDUCT POLICY
The RCN has adopted and developed certain protocols for meetings, exchanges involving the electronic media and social gatherings. This is a working document and should be under regular review.
Our goals are to:-
• foster an atmosphere in which all members can participate to their fullest without feeling inhibited, intimidated, embarrassed or belittled.
• foster confidence, self respect and feelings of being valued.
• further develop a model of debate where differences of opinion are expressed through comradely discussions that lead us all to a higher level of understanding.
Underpinning all of these is an understanding that:-
• The way we treat each other now is the model for the communistic society we want to see grow in the future.
• No one has a monopoly on the having ‘the right answer’.
• The ‘right answer’ today may not be the best for tomorrow.
To that end we do not tolerate behaviours that are counter to these goals. Rather than exhaustively list all possible types of ‘proscribed’ behaviours (although illustrative examples are appended), we would, in the first instance, put the responsibility on to each individual to consider the effect of their behaviour, or intended behaviour, with respect to the stated goals.
Secondly, in the event that any member feels negatively (hurt, embarrassed, insulted, etc) they do have a responsibility to speak either directly to the member causing that feeling, or to another member, as they see fit. A sincere apology and an assurance that the offending behaviour will not be repeated should be forthcoming, or where there is no agreement that offence was given the issue could be brought to the wider membership.
It goes almost without saying that aggression, whether physical, sexual or verbally threatening, will lead to suspension or termination of membership, and the victim in these cases would not be expected to have to address the perpetrator. When such serious accusations are made, the accused is suspended from membership until the next possible aggregate, but would only have their membership further suspended or terminated after being given the right to defend themselves and the accusation upheld.
Insults, personal comments, turns of phrase, use of tone of voice and facial and bodily gestures designed to undermine or intimidate are unacceptable. It is firstly the job of the chair to ensure that such behaviour is challenged; secondly it is the job of those attending, although any individual who feels they have been subject to such behaviour also has the right to appeal to the chair or to the meeting.
Deliberate misrepresentation of another’s points, whether at meetings or electronically, is uncomradely. In the case of meetings it is firstly the job of the chair to ensure that such behaviour is challenged, secondly the job of those attending. In the case of electronic communication if a person is offended they should raise this at the earliest opportunity with the chair or the membership secretary or it could be raised by the wider membership and dealt with at the next meeting as appropriate.
Frequent and/or lengthy contributions to debates or ignoring the agenda item under discussion are frustrating to others and are inconsiderate. It is the job of the chair to ensure that members’ contributions are kept to appropriate time limits, and that no person enters into discussion again before another who has not spoken.
WHAT WE STAND FOR (no longer a condition for membership)
1) Another world is possible – a joyful, creative, new world communism which emancipates us all from oppression and frees us all from exploitation, and which forms 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) Capitalism is a global system based on wage slavery, but still resorts to other forms of exploitative labour to maximize profits. The capitalist state, whatever form it takes, is organised to maintain our exploitation. 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.
4) Capitalism is a system that can only renew itself through ever more destructive crises. It will either take all of us down with it or the working class and oppressed of the world will build a new society. Furthermore, fundamental change does not occur solely by electing socialists to a parliament. Only a revolutionary transformation can provide the basis for a radical change.
5) 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.” Communism is the society based on these principals.
6) When the working class has succeeded in bringing an end to the capitalist system, there will be, of necessity, an extended period of time before a communist society can be constructed. Socialism is the transition period between capitalism and communism, and will require a society premised on cooperation and equality. The working-class will control the state in the form of a democratic republic. All of the means of production will be socially owned and operate under worker and community control. A democratic plan determined at the appropriate level – global, regional and local – will set guidelines for the economy. Over time socialist society will consciously move toward the goal of communism.
7) 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. 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.
8) We engage in economic and social struggles against exploitation and democratic struggles against oppression. It is through these experiences that we can build independent, democratic, grassroots class organisations, which gain the confidence to create a revolutionary transformation of society. In addition, cultural struggles against alienation can contribute to the development of ‘communities of resistance’.
9) We champion ‘being’ over ‘having’ in our struggle for social and individual self-determination. The ruling classes attempt control over us by stifling both individuality and cooperation through the creation and marketing of false needs. A 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.
10) We view the integration of feminist, humanist, and socialist principles and programme as a basic component of the revolutionary process. We recognize that all forms of slavery – wage, domestic, sex, chattel (one person owning another), and debt – still exist and are linked under patriarchy and capitalism. We need to break patriarchy as we act to break the rule of the capitalist class. It is through popular struggles and liberation movements that the scourge of bigotry and violence based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, or physical ability can be eradicated.
11) We stand for a secular society in which no one gains an advantage or suffers a disadvantage from being a believer in a specific religion or none at all. We will join with others in promoting a secular society here as we work in solidarity with those in other countries who oppose states, or other organisations, which oppress people on the basis of their religion or non-religion.
12) We are revolutionary democrats. A new society can only be built by a profound and militant extension of democracy. The fight for wider democracy and complete equality is the key to building support for a total transformation of society through continuous mass participation. Top down revolutionary changes have led to new ruling elites and new repressive regimes. The economy, when planned, must not just be for the people, but it must be by the people.
13) We are republicans. 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 necessarily takes the form of militant republicanism. Only a popular republican movement to confront the UK state and its powers, and its complicity with US imperialism, can prepare the ground for socialism.
14) We will continue to work towards an independent Scotland that is republican, secular and democratic, and that does not rely on a currency controlled by either the Bank of England or the European Central Bank. We are not interested in promoting a nominally ‘independent’ Scotland in which little or nothing has changed but merely exchanges the union jack for the saltire.
15) We are principled internationalists and aim to bring a global, systemic, analysis to the major issues of the day. We view the existing world order, dominated by corporate capital, the IMF, WTO, the World Bank and G8, and policed by US imperialism and its allies through NATO, as being responsible for the current economic crisis, continuous wars, mounting environmental degradation and the destruction of democratic and civil rights. We oppose attempts by other ruling classes and states to advance themselves up this imperial hierarchy.
16) We promote an ‘internationalism from below’ strategy for England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland in order to counter the bureaucratic ‘internationalism’ of left unionism and the separatism of left nationalism. We oppose the top-down bureaucratic control sought by British unionists and the ‘go it alone’ separatism of the nationalists. We advocate close working relations between revolutionary socialist parties and organizations throughout these islands.
17) We advocate a Scottish workers’ republic, as a contribution to a new global order. Socialism must be international and working class solidarity is of the utmost importance. We seek an international federation of socialist republics to help us create a stateless global commune.
18) We fight for working class independence from the state and employers and for democratic control of all organisations formed to advance working class interests. Only rank and file control and real democracy can do that. Nor can corporate funded and controlled political parties, such as the Labour Party or the Scottish National Party, provide an electoral alternative to meet the needs of working class people. Independent organisations and independent political action are required in order for us to achieve these goals. Today, trade unions have no vision beyond making deals with the bosses and the state. Under conditions of capitalist crisis, they are no longer fit for purpose. They need to be reclaimed by the membership or, where this is no longer possible, new organisations built.
19) We seek the creation of one Scottish political organisation comprised of all communists, socialists, socialist feminists, and socialist republicans who are in general agreement with our basic principles. While we recognise that moves in this direction are extremely difficult in the current political climate, we believe that it is a goal which is achievable by the Scottish working class.
20) We value both individuality and collectivity. We come from various political backgrounds and have distinct personalities and styles of communication. Through acceptance of these differences we have found our commonalities. In both our internal and external work, we encourage comradely, respectful, debate as the norm for our organisations and the broader republican-socialist-communist movement. This means being committed to sharing information, skills, and leadership roles; and being prepared to engage with and listen to different points of view. We oppose all attempts to promote sectarian organisational advantage above socialist and working class unity. Organisations and coalitions that are democratic, transparent, and accountable are ones that can learn and grow.
21) We practice and encourage increased international cooperation and coordinated action between communists, socialists, socialist feminists, and socialist republicans from across the UK, the rest of Europe, and around the world who share our principles and practices. Toward this goal, we advocate democratic discussion and debate, affirmation of secularism, genuine comradeship, and shared social and cultural enjoyment across borders.