We have just published a new pamphlet titled Republicanism, socialism and democracy
It is available for £1 including postage from the usual address.
A short extract follows.
For socialists republicanism in the United Kingdom describes the movement from below for a radical and militant democracy. Republicanism addresses those immediate democratic issues faced by the working class in the here and now. It seeks to develop a programme for expanding democracy under capitalism as far as it will go. It concerns itself with progressive and in some senses transitional demands. To the extent that we achieve these democratic demands, it will strengthen our class and will weaken the ruling class and its allies. It is a necessary and unavoidable part of the struggle for socialism.
This democratic struggle is called republicanism in the UK. It highlights the fact that we live in an undemocratic, constitutional monarchy. The ruling class has a whole host of Crown Powers at its disposal to thwart any real democratic progress, and hence hinder further economic and social advances for our class. The term republicanism also connects us to our own radical and revolutionary history.
Republican struggles in these islands provide a red thread going back to the Levellers in the English revolution in the late 1640’s, the Cameronians (radical Covenanters) here in Scotland in the 1680’s and ‘90s, the struggle of the United Irishmen, the United Scotsmen and the London Corresponding Society in the 1790’s, the Chartists in the 1830’s and 40’s, and the prospects of Workers Republics raised by James Connolly and John Maclean at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The rise of capitalism, and the struggle of the emerging bourgeoisie against the feudal state and church, led to a false association between capitalism and the spreading of democracy. In reality, wherever they have achieved power, the bourgeoisie have sought to narrow, limit and impoverish democracy, for the majority of the population. Consciously or unconsciously, they have recognised their future gravediggers in the proletariat. Hence they have sought to block any democratic path to a genuine republic because, in a truly democratic republic, the bourgeoisie and their system, capitalism, could not flourish.
Socialists see republicanism today as directly linked to the struggle for the socialist republic tomorrow. Just as socialists view industrial struggles for improved wages and conditions as a ‘school of struggle’, in which we strive to end our class’s continued exploitation as wage slaves, so we see the democratic struggle for a republic as a ‘school of struggle’, in which we strive to end our continued oppression.
Republicanism is not a sentimental attachment to yesterday’s struggles. It helps us develop a strategy and tactics to directly oppose today’s exploiters and oppressors. To declare for the democratic republic is to declare war against the existing bourgeois state.