Nov 26 2020

DEFEND OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO KNOW – FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW

Steve Freeman gave a talk on  Julian Assange Case  at an RCN Zoom meeting on 8.11.20. He has now written this up and we have posted it below.

 

DEFEND OUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO KNOW – FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW

 

Julian Assange being seized by the police

I will start with three questions;

  1. Will the defeat of Donald Trump and election of Joe Biden make any difference to the cruel and unjust treatment of Julian Assange
  2. Why or how does the treatment of Julian Assange make the case for a Scottish Republic?
  3. What can be done in Scotland to raise this case?

The Republican Socialist e-list provided some reading materials and through our zoom meetings we have our Youtube talk given by Deepa Driver, a UCU National Executive Member, chair of Camden Momentum and active supporter of Julian Assange. I listened to it today and would strongly recommend you watch this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCuSX8A0I78&t=26s). I am not going to give a blow-by-blow timeline. Instead, I want to concentrate on how we approach and understand this. Deepa identified four important points to be taken away.

  • The need to combat the smear campaign against Assange.
  • Reminding people he is the world’s most important political prisoner
  • Exposing Tories’ attack on civil liberties and changing law making torture legal
  • The importance of the role of the United States in the world as highlighted in this case.

Economism

I want to begin with the ideology, which dominates the left in England – Economism – which assumes or asserts that the class struggle is the economic or trade union struggle in the workplace. Other issues are not basically class struggle issues. They are outside the primary sphere of class struggle – as liberal or even civil rights issues. They may be important but are not primarily about the working class. Julian Assange is a middle class journalist and not identified with the working class movement.

Once we accept the economist thesis then we are going down the liberal, libertarian or individualist rabbit hole and away from class politics. Then we start to focus on Assange as an individual  – Is he a good guy or a bad guy? Is he the enemy of Donald Trump or an ally of Putin? Is he a rapist or falsely accused? This is the road to moral confusion where we try to weigh the scales of justice with some things on one side or the other. None of us are in a position to know much about his personal behaviour or put it on a scale of 1-10.

We know the state and media use personal attacks, smears and character assassination to divert people from the democratic issues and democratic rights we all have to fight for. Both Jeremy Corbyn and Julian Assange are being abused and slandered because one represents the socialist working class and the other the democratic right of a sovereign people to know what the state is doing. They are not the only people to represent this but the ones currently in the firing line today.

Democratic politics

Lenin attacked ‘Economism’ as a theory, which weakens democratic consciousness of the working class, undermines democratic struggles and denies the role of the working class as leader of the democratic movement. This is what distinguishes social democracy from trade union politics. Social democracy is the democratic politics of the working class. He says, “A most characteristic feature of Economism is its failure to understand this connection, more, this identity of the most pressing needs of the proletariat with the needs of the general democratic movement.” (What is to be done? Lenin Selected Works 1 p161)

Many of today’s socialists jettison the term ‘social democracy’ because they think democracy is not relevant to the working class since we are already living in a democratic society. Left Reformism, Stalinism and Trotskyism feel indifferent to democracy seen as the property of the bourgeoisie. Lenin opposed this theory arguing the party of social democrats must be the ‘Tribune of the People’ – a republican concept rather than limiting politics to the narrower concerns of a trade union branch secretary. This is not a ‘put down’ of trade unions but of the need for workers to become militant (or revolutionary) democrats.

 The ‘Tribune of the People’ he says “is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it applies, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all the manifestation and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and democratic demands in order to clarify for all and everyone the world historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat” (What is to be done? Lenin Selected Works 1 p154)  

Social democrats react to the unjust and oppressive treatment of Julian Assange. We oppose it and use it to show the real nature of Crown power. The working class is the only class that has an interest in defending the democratic rights and freedoms of all, regardless of what class the victim comes from. Defending the individual is inseparable from educating the working class in its historic role as leader of the struggle for democracy against bureaucratic Crown power. The pretence of liberal democracy is exposed by the victimisation of this political prisoner.

Wikileaks is about the democratic right of all citizens to know the truth about the crimes and corrupt practices being carried out against the people by the state. It is about our democratic interests and not the alleged personality flaws or smears against the leader of the organisation, which exposed war crimes of US imperialism. The more widely the facts are known the more people recognise the state serves the special interests of the ruling class and not the people. Extradition to America has nothing to do with the interests of working people and everything to do with protecting the profits guaranteed by the ‘special relationship’ with US imperialism.

This is a social democratic (i.e. political) class question not a trade union (i.e. economic) matter. By taking this case to the trade union movement the connection can be made between the struggle in the workplace, the right to know what employers are concealing, the smearing and victimisation of those who fight back and the pressing social need for democratic rights. The victimisation of Julian Assange is well understood by trade union activists who defend an individual worker as the embodiment of the collective rights of all workers to be treated fairly and with justice.

Free Julian Assange – the Scottish dimension

The Scottish (SNP) government should have recognised Assange as a political prisoner of the British Crown. They should have made statements in his defence and offered him political asylum in an independent Scotland. The fact they have not done so is a sign of the weakness of the national democratic movement. Comments made by SNP representatives show they supported his arrest, jailing and extradition (see Steve James, World Socialist website 20 July 2019). James says, “So hostile is the SNP to Assange that on the day he was illegally seized from the Ecuadorian Embassy – in defiance of the right to asylum and after years of incarceration – SNP chief whip in Westminster, Patrick Grady was praised by the Conservative government Home Secretary, Sajid Javid for his helpful comments.” He explained, “It is right that nobody is above the law” instead of saying the Crown should not abuse its power to violate human rights or to deny Scotland a right to self-determination.

The SNP congratulating Tories denying democratic rights and civil liberties are applauding their own hangman. If “Free Julian Assange” embarrasses Scottish liberals and constitutional nationalists, it is a call to arms for all Scotland’s democrats and republicans. The Crown wants to bury Assange forever in one of the US state’s most oppressive prisons to intimidate any leaking of state secrets. The Scottish democratic movement must demand his immediate release, recognise his position as a political prisoner, and offer to match the actions of the Ecuadorian government, which gave him political asylum.

The democratic right for the sovereign people of Scotland to know about the war crimes, corruption and misinformation being committed by the Crown is part of the case for Scottish independence. It is a warning of the danger to our liberties posed by an SNP government with a monopoly of power in an independent country. “Free Julian Assange” should be a slogan promoted by any national democratic movement, which is independent of SNP control and ready to fight for democratic rights beyond Scotland’s borders. It is essential to show the connection between defending this US political prisoner and the fight to leave NATO and end Scotland as a base for US controlled nuclear weapons.

The struggle for democracy is not about abstract principles but concrete living cases of state oppression and injustice. The difference between liberalism and social democracy is that the latter sees the education and mobilisation of the working class as the only means of preventing such abuses of power. This case should be taken up jointly and separately by the working class through the trade union movement and by the national democratic movement. The working class wing of the Scottish independence movement should be in the forefront of raising this matter and linking it to our democratic-republican right to know in opposition to the oppressive nature of Crown power, the servant of US imperialism.

Summing up

The detailed story of the unjust treatment of Assange is not recounted here. We need to look at the evidence Deepa Driver provided us in her talk and in the articles she circulated. This is not about a minor or secondary liberal issue about one individual where we struggle with our liberal conscience, trying to weigh up whether he is good or bad. It is a general democratic question about our rights as citizens to a fair trial, against political prisoners, for free speech, freedom of information and our right to know about the crimes of the state. Whistle blowing should be the highest honour bestowed on citizens like Assange in a democracy, as it is a serious crime against the state in any aspiring dictatorship.

  • Crown power is state power not the personal power of the Queen – the power used and abused at the behest of the ruling class. This case shows the Crown will deny our rights, mistreat and psychological torture people as serves their interests.
  • This is a victimisation case – people are rarely tortured to extract information – they are tortured to frighten or indeed terrorise the democratic opposition. Assange is being treated exceptionally cruelly within the ‘limits’ of liberal democracy to punish him and teach all of us that the system is so corrupt it cannot bear the truth. We should remind ourselves of the cruel treatment of John MacLean.
  • This case shows the subordinate role of the British Crown (UK) to US imperialism. The UK is in effect the 51st state of the US without any of democratic advantages and with all the disadvantages.
  • A democratic republican Scotland would show their democratic credentials by demanding Assange is freed immediately and offering him political asylum in an independent country.

When Boris Johnson asks why Scotland wants to leave the ‘great’ democratic civilised Union state, the Scottish Indy movement should cite this as an example of the kind of oppressive state action that a democratic Scotland intends to leave behind.

 

25.11.20

 

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also see:-

JULIAN ASSANGE – TRIAL OF THE CENTURY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nov 07 2020

THE BRITISH LEFT AND THE UK STATE

 

The British Left and the UK State, written by Allan Armstrong  can be found at:-

https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/british-left-uk-state-long-1-2.pdf

Below is an outline of the Contents and the concluding chapter addressing the need for a socialist republican ‘internationalism from below’ strategy to address the current challenges the Left faces

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THE BRITISH LEFT AND THE UK STATE

From the British Left’s ‘national exceptionalism’ during the ‘IndyRef1’campaign to acting as Left outriders for the UK state during the Brexit campaign

 

 

Contents

1. Introduction – the relationship between the UK state and the British Left
2. The challenge to British Left unionism represented by IndyRef1
3. From IndyRef1 in 2014 to the Euro-referendum in 2016 – the British Left begins to dig a hole for itself.
4. The Left Brexiteers, the 2015 Westminster general election, the 2016 Euro-referendum and on to the 2017 Westminster general election – giving succour to the Right Populist and Hard Right Brexit offensive
5. The CPB, SP(E&W) and SWP provide cover for McCluskey’s anti-democratic, ‘British jobs for British workers’, racist and Right accommodating Brexit
6. Two forces for possible future Socialist advances –Ian Allinson’s Grassroots Left election campaign for the UNITE general secretary and the appearance of Left Remain forces in the new Labour intake.
7. The growing ascendancy of the Hard Right and the final demise of Left Brexit in the December 12th general election
8. The Left Brexiteers export their Brexit illusions to Ireland
9. Conclusion – challenge the UK and partitioned Irish states, their ‘internationalism from above’ allies and the disunited Left’s ‘national ‘exceptionalism’ with a socialist republican ‘internationalism from below’ strategy

  Continue reading “THE BRITISH LEFT AND THE UK STATE”

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Oct 08 2020

CONSTITUTIONAL ACTION IN UNCONSTITUTIONAL TIMES: INDEPENDENCE AND THE LEGALISM TRAP

E&L is posting this article  by Seamus McGuigan of the Republican Socialist Platform (https://republicansocialists.scot/2020/09/constitutional-action-in-unconstitutional-times-independence-and-the-legalism-trap/ ) highlighting the flaws in Chris McEleny and Angus McNeils’ Plan B legalistic route to Scottish independence.

 

CONSTITUTIONAL ACTION IN UNCONSTITUTIONAL TIMES: INDEPENDENCE AND THE LEGALISM TRAP

 

Catalan president ousted for displaying emblem of solidarity with Catalan political prisoners

 

The latest existential drama to engulf the SNP saw a new development this week as the so called ‘Plan B’ motion received approval from the National Secretary to be debated at next month’s virtual party conference. The motion reflects the demand from an increasingly vocal wing of the party that the Scottish Government pursue a legal route to assert its right to hold a binding independence referendum should they not obtain the approval necessary for a Section 30 transfer of powers. Should such a challenge fail in the courts, the motion proposes that a pro-independence majority in the 2021 Holyrood elections should be sufficient grounds to commence the (presumably now unilateral) dissolution of the union. Continue reading “CONSTITUTIONAL ACTION IN UNCONSTITUTIONAL TIMES: INDEPENDENCE AND THE LEGALISM TRAP”

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Oct 02 2020

JULIAN ASSANGE – TRIAL OF THE CENTURY

We are posting this appeal on behalf of Julian Assange, which was first sent out by Diem25.

(https://diem25.org/julian-assanges-trial-part-increasing-encroachment-democracy/)

JULIAN ASSANGE – TRIAL OF THE CENTURY

 

 

“A murderous system is being created before our very eyes” – Nils Melzer, UN Special Reporter on Torture

The trial of Julian Assange taking place right now at the Old Bailey cannot and must not be seen in isolation to the criminal actions of the US government and military globally, no less to the political instrumentalisation of judicial process within its client-states and the incremental incursions upon press freedom and democratic expression. If we lose Assange, the very right to resist such a paradigm can only wither – we stand to lose the best part of ourselves. Continue reading “JULIAN ASSANGE – TRIAL OF THE CENTURY”

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Sep 26 2020

GLASGOW STUDENTS CALL FOR A RENT STRIKE

 

Paul Inglis of the Republican Socialist Platform has written the following article on the proposed Glasgow University Students’ Rent Strike (also see  https://twitter.com/UofGRentStrike)

 

GLASGOW UNIVERSITY STUDENTS CALL FOR A RENT STRIKE

 

 

The big news of the last few days has concerned the outbreaks of COVID-19 in student halls at Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. With an explosion of positive cases, especially at Glasgow University, hundreds of students in halls have been placed into quarantine[1], and every single student in Scotland has now been banned from going to pubs and cafes for the weekend beginning the 25th September[2]. But beyond the predictable impulse to blame this all on wild student flat parties over Freshers’ Week, there are important questions that must be asked about the decision on the part of university managements across the country to open up halls again for the new academic year. How could it be a good idea, amid a pandemic, to encourage students to move into halls of residence, where multiple people share the same kitchen and bathroom spaces, when all courses are online? The result has been a public health disaster, and it has certainly contributed to the ongoing, country-wide collapse into a second lockdown. Furthermore, from the interviews with students being run by BBC News, it appears that students were often unaware that all their classes would be online prior to moving in. Continue reading “GLASGOW STUDENTS CALL FOR A RENT STRIKE”

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Sep 22 2020

THE WEIMARISATION OF US POLITICS

Daniel Lazare makes a comparison between pre-Hitler Germany and politics in the USA today.

 

THE WEIMARISATION OF US POLITICS

 

 

Is the US nearing its Weimar moment?

At first glance, any such analogy seems over the top. The Weimar Republic was born amid imperial defeat, revolution and civil war – a period that began when sailors mutinied in the Baltic port of Kiel in November 1918 and did not end until the suppression of the Munich Soviet Republic the following May. After that, Weimar lurched from crisis to crisis, as the economy weakened and left and rightwing militias fought pitched battles in beer halls and the streets. It finally gave up the ghost when Hitler took power in January 1933 and inaugurated the Third Reich. Continue reading “THE WEIMARISATION OF US POLITICS”

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Aug 11 2020

ON ‘ANTISEMITISM’

Roland Rance of Socialist Resistance explains the political significance of the term ‘antisemitism’. 

ON ‘ANTISEMITISM’

 

One specious argument that those of us active in Palestine solidarity hear time after time is the hoary line that “Jews are not really Semites, so why say that they are the victims of antisemitism”, or its many variants, such as “Palestinians are Semites too”.

The argument is specious because it is generally used not in a spirit of genuine inquiry, but in order to obscure and even justify incidents of anti-Jewish bigotry. But it is also specious because it uses pseudo-scientific arguments and half-understood etymological claims to make a reactionary political case. Continue reading “ON ‘ANTISEMITISM’”

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Jun 16 2020

THE GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND

These two articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) look at the response in Ireland (south and north) to the killing of George Floyd and then the response of the  PSNI and the Garda to these demonstrations. The first article argues for the power of solidarity in the face of shared exploitation and oppression rather the  ‘allyship’ based on intersectional identity. Both  highlight the role of the Garda and PSNI in attempting to suppress the demonstrations. The first article also points  to the role of  Garda in suppressing the Debenham workers in Dublin (1).  The second article highlights the response of the Stormont government, falling back on the PSNI’s RUC past to enforce the harshest state response in the UK to these demonstrations.

 

1. GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND

 

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Belfast

 

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations across Ireland have shown a massive upwelling of support for the protestors in the US. They show the immense power of spontaneous human solidarity. This is not “allyship” based on modern identity ideologies, but a concrete solidarity that sees racism and oppression in the Irish State and the British colonial enclave and is not afraid to say so. Initial demonstrations took place spontaneously across the island, with the main demonstrations in Dublin and Belfast. They were followed by more structured demonstrations on Saturday 6th June in Dublin, Galway, Belfast, Derry and many other centres. Although all were pressured by the police, with a number being cancelled and a Newry demonstration dispersed, turnout was in the thousands at the main demonstrations with black protestors joined by large numbers of white, mostly young, activists. Continue reading “THE GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND”

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Jun 07 2020

JOE BIDEN – RACIST AND SEXIST

We are posting these two articles which challenge those following Bernie Sanders in giving their support to Joe Biden as the Democratic presidential candidate. The first article, by Daniel Lazare, takes up Biden’s appalling record of racism; the second by Tatiana Cozazarelli, his record of sexism.

1. THE BIDEN DISASTER – Daniel Lazare (https://daniellazare.com/about/)

2. JOE BIDEN AND THE FARCE OF LIBERAL FEMINISM – Tatiana Cozzarelli (Left Voice)

 

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Pointing to a racist and sexist Joe Biden

 

1. THE BIDEN DISASTER

Another week, another disaster. As Joe Biden’s “You ain’t black” comment goes racing across the internet (see below), there has been a tendency to write it off as yet another verbal gaffe by a politician famous for letting his mouth rip before his brain is fully engaged. But it is not. In reality, the remark is a Freudian slip that pulls back the covers on the dismal relationship between the Democratic Party and the black Americans they supposedly champion. Continue reading “JOE BIDEN – RACIST AND SEXIST”

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Jun 06 2020

THE DEFEAT OF THE SANDERS CAMPAIGN

 

This article explaining the politics and consequences of the defeat of Bernie Sanders’ bid to become the Democratic Party US presidential candidate was posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland).

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THE DEFEAT OF THE SANDERS CAMPAIGN

 

Joe’s my man now!

The claim about history repeating itself is often thrown around loosely but in the case of Bernie Sanders’ second bid to to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate it is very appropriate. Just as in 2016, his campaign galvanised hundreds of thousands of supporters (particularly amongst the young), raised millions of dollars in fund-raising, and scored a string of early victories. However, in the face of opposition from the Democratic leadership and blatant manipulation of the voting process, his campaign fizzled out and went down to defeat as he meekly folded and endorsed the establishment favourite Joe Biden. In many ways the 2020 campaign was more disappointing than that of 2016 when Bernie Sanders came from behind to win forty per cent of the delegates and push Hilary Clinton into the later rounds of the primary cycle. Continue reading “THE DEFEAT OF THE SANDERS CAMPAIGN”

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