Mar 23 2015

THE SCOTTISH LEFT PROJECT

Allan Armstrong (RCN and RIC activist) provides the following initial assessment of the proposed Scottish Left Project. This is the final part of three articles, the first of which examines the role of the UK state and SNP in attempting to derail Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’ (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/02/24/british-unionists-and-scottish-nationalists-attempt-to-derail-scotlands-democratic-revolution/) and the second which looks at the inadequate response of the Left across these islands (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/03/16/the-left-in-the-uk-the-2015-general-election-campaign-and-the-wider-impact-of-scotlands-democratic-revolution/).

 

The Scottish Left Project (SLP) has been mooted in the context of the impact of Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’, and the success of RIC as a movement within this. There is now a concerted effort by the unionist and nationalist parties to roll back this ‘democratic revolution’ [1]. Therefore, the success of the SLP will depend upon whether it takes up the baton bequeathed by these momentous events, or lets itself become a bit-player in others’ political projects.

 

a) the role of the International Socialist Group (ISG)

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As with RIC, the ISG has been the SLP’s prime mover. It is therefore useful to examine the way the ISG operated within RIC, to come to some better understanding of how it could see its role in the SLP.

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Jun 02 2013

Allan Armstrong (RCN) replies to David Jamieson (ISG) – part 2

Since I wrote the first part of my reply (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2013/03/26/allan-armstrong-rcn-replies-to-david-jamieson-isg/) I have met David for the first time. Face-to-face discussions are a better way of trying to understand the thinking and positions that others hold. They can also help to overcome some preconceived notions. In the pub, after the joint ISG, ISN, RCN and September 15th group meeting on May 11th in Edinburgh, David raised some important questions, and pointed to some of the characteristics of contemporary society, which Socialists do need to address, if we are to move forward.

The RCN has been involved in organised discussions and debate with other Socialists, first in the hope these can lift our mutual understanding to a higher level and then lead to more effective wider political activity.

However, not all debates can be resolved in this way.  Real differences often still remain. These may even prove productive over the course of time, when the practical relevance of previously minority thinking becomes more apparent. Socialist organisations and campaigning coalitions, e.g. the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), need to give scope for such discussions, because they may have considerable impact as the struggle progresses. Such discussions and debates also need to be real  – a contesting of positions actually held, not attacks on ‘straw men’, which have been so common on the Left.  I think that David would agree with such an approach.

We have often seen people on the Left attempting to avoid such debates. Instead, they emphasise the need for action now around immediate demands. This means that the development of the strategy and tactics necessary for any campaign are left to the ‘thinkers’ (usually a self-appointed celebrity leader and his immediate advisors, or some Central Committee). The rest of us remain mere ‘doers’, implementing the decisions of others or, where we do try to raise important issues of principle, we get dismissed as ‘moaners’ or ‘splitters’.

Even, when top-down led struggles appear to have been successful, they usually lead to new forms of domination or worse still, oppression, either under populist leaders or the Party-state. Such an approach is fundamentally anti-socialist. “The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself”. Our emancipation can come only about through a combination of both thought and action. We all need to be involved in both these activities if we wish to create a new society, which we can collectively control.

After these preliminary comments, I take up some of the other points which David has raised. First this reply provides clarification of possible remaining misunderstandings. Then it addresses the remaining differences, not covered in part 1 of my response to David.

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Mar 26 2013

Allan Armstrong (RCN) replies to David Jamieson (ISG) – part 1

David Jamieson of the International Socialist Group has replied to two contributions made by Allan Armstrong of the Republican Communist Network (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2013/01/23/david-jamieson-of-the-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.

Continue reading “Allan Armstrong (RCN) replies to David Jamieson (ISG) – part 1”

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