Apr 01 2014

INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW IN ACTION AT THE LEFT UNITY CONFERENCE AND THE RADICAL INDEPENDENCE CAMPAIGN NATIONAL FORUM

Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance in England writes the following report of the Left Unity Conference held in Manchester on March 29th. This was held on the same day as the National Forum of the Radical Independence Campaign in Perth.

There was a remarkably good showing for the RSA motion, in the face of the combined opposition of the current LUP leadership and an amalgam of the British Left organisations present on the day. The RSA has attracted a lot of new support and it is fairly clear that when it further develops its organisation, the LU’s ‘Neither for/Nor against’ position could be overturned. In the meantime several LU branches are proceeding with organising solidarity events anyhow. 

Meanwhile, the RIC National Forum in Perth unanimously passed its motion in support of an ‘internationalism from below’ approach to the campaign for Scottish independence.

 

Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance speaking at Left Unity conference

Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance speaking at Left Unity conference

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Jan 17 2014

REPUBLICAN SOCIALISM AND LEFT UNITY

Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance in England spoke, along with Bernadette McAliskey and Mary MacGregor (RCN) at the ‘break-up of the UK’ session at the Radical Independence Conference on 23rd November in Glasgow. The following week on November 30th in London Steve spoke at the Left Unity Party founding conference putting the case for a socialist republican strategy which recognised the significance of the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum. In this article Steve analyses the various political forces to be found at this conference.

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Oct 29 2013

SOCIALIST UNITY – THE RCN ASKS 12 QUESTIONS

The RCN has been involved in preliminary discussions with Frontline, the International Socialist Group (Scotland), individual members of the International Socialist Network and Defense of Our Party faction in the SWP, as well as other individuals mainly from an SSP background. Frontline  published the views a number of socialist organisations, which we reposted at http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2013/06/10/socialist-unity/. Stemming from these initial discussions, the RCN has framed 12 questions, which it has sent out to those organisations participating in socialist unity discussions. We will post each response as receive it. We would like to thank Alister Black of Frontline (http://www.redflag.org.uk) and James Foley of the International Socialist Group for the first responses to our questions.

 

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 1. ALISTER BLACK OF FRONTLINE  REPLIES TO THE RCN’S 12 QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PROSPECTS FOR SOCIALIST UNITY

 

1.     After the demise or major setbacks for Left unity and Socialist unity projects in these islands (SSP, Socialist Alliance, Respect, Forward Wales, United Left Alliance-Ireland), there have been a number of new initiatives recently – the Peoples Assemblies, the proposed Left Unity Party (LUP) and the Socialist Unity Platform (SUP) and International Socialist Network/Socialist Resistance/Anti-Capitalist Initiative (ISN/SR/ACI) unity proposals. However, these have mainly been confined to England and Wales. Why do you think things are less advanced in Scotland at the moment?

The Scottish political environment is now very different to that in the rest of the UK state. The left has faced the problems of its own fractures but also of the ascendance of the Scottish National Party. The left lacks credibility but also has been slow to recover from the self-inflicted wounds of the last few years. At the same time the SNP has presented themselves as social-democrats through reforms such as free prescription charges and abolition of tuition fees (whilst being very friendly to union-busting big business outfits like Amazon).

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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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