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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Sep 03 2020

LABOUR’S HISTORIC DEFEAT IN SCOTLAND

We are posting this article by Steve Freeman first posted on the Republican Socialist Alliance outlining, mainly for the benefit of republican socialists in England, the Scottish dimension of ‘Labour’s historic defeat’.

 

LABOUR’S HISTORIC DEFEAT IN SCOTLAND

 

Stunned?
Resting?
Pining for the ‘Spirit of 45’?

You may remember the famous Monty Python sketch about a parrot returned by a dissatisfied customer, John Cleese, to the pet-shop run by Michael Palin. As Cleese enters the shop, Palin says, “We are closing for lunch”. Cleese says “Never mind that, my lad, I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.” Palin replies “oh yes, the, ur, the Norwegian Blue. What, uh, what is wrong with it”. “I tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad,” says Cleese, “E’s dead, that’s what is wrong with it”.“No, no e’s uh…. he’s resting” claims Palin. Continue reading “LABOUR’S HISTORIC DEFEAT IN SCOTLAND”

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Aug 15 2020

THE CASE FOR A  REPUBLICAN INTERNATIONALIST COALITION FOR  SCOTLAND’S INDEPENDENCE

THE CASE FOR A  REPUBLICAN INTERNATIONALIST COALITION FOR  SCOTLAND’S INDEPENDENCE

 

Banner made when Edinburgh RIC hosted the the national RIC contingent on the ‘All Under One Banner’ demonstration on 6.10.18

 

 

a. The Radical Independence Campaign

An examination of the wording of the initials and principles of the Radical Independence Campaign is instructive.

R = Radical, I = Independence, C = Campaign

Each one of these terms is ambiguous. Continue reading “THE CASE FOR A  REPUBLICAN INTERNATIONALIST COALITION FOR  SCOTLAND’S INDEPENDENCE”

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Jul 07 2020

GLASGOW AND READING KILLINGS RAISE MAJOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

E&L is posting an article on the attacks and killing in Glasgow and a letter about the killings in Reading. Both address the issues raised by the treatment of asylum seekers. The article written by  Mike Picken (Socialist Resistance, SSP and Renfrewshire RIC) addresses the  stabbing of six people and the police killing of the attacker, Badreddin Abadlla Adan,  originally from Sudan. The letter was written by Jim Cook of Reading, where Khairi Saadallahas, an asylum seeker from Libya, killed three people. It was first  published by Weekly Worker.

 

 

GLASGOW KILLING RAISES MAJOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

In a major event in Scotland, one person was killed by armed police in a Glasgow hotel used to accommodate asylum seekers. The call ‘not to politicise’ the incident from SNP and Labour politicians is completely misplaced.

As the dramatic events unfolded on the afternoon of Friday 26 June, the BBC first reported that three people had been killed in a knife stabbing incident. This turned out to be untrue: six people including a police officer were seriously injured and hospitalised, while the apparent perpetrator was shot in a rapid and large armed police response in Glasgow city centre. Continue reading “GLASGOW AND READING KILLINGS RAISE MAJOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS”

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Feb 27 2020

COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE

Allan Armstrong has added an addendum to his book From Pre-Brit to Ex-Brit   (https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/socialists-and-december-12th-election.pdffollowing the December 12th UK and February 8th Irish general elections.

 

COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE

 

 

 

 

Although Johnson gained an overall Right Populist electoral victory in the UK on December 12th, this disguises the fact that in Scotland the constitutional nationalist SNP emerged as the electoral victor, pushing the Tories and Scottish Labour into retreat. In Wales, the still largely liberal unionist, Welsh Labour and the constitutional nationalist, Plaid Cymru retained an overall majority, but the Tories made substantial gains. In Northern Ireland, the reactionary unionist DUP lost its overall majority, giving a tentative constitutional nationalist (Sinn Fein and SDLP) and liberal unionist (APNI) alliance a majority. Furthermore, there are wider national democratic movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland/Northern Ireland, which will be prepared to challenge Johnson’s reactionary unionist clampdown. This is a recipe for continued constitutional crisis, with Scotland in the front line at present. Continue reading “COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE”

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Feb 09 2020

TWO SCOTTISH RESPONSES TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

We are posting two responses to the results of the December 12th general election, the first from activists within the Scottish Labour Party and the second form Gavin Lundy, National Convenor of Young Scots for Independence.

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1. Open Letter: Scottish Labour for Radical Democracy

(this was first posted at:-  https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/12/15/open-letter-scottish-labour-for-radical-democracy)

We demand radical self-determination for Scotland. The Scottish people have, in successive elections to both Holyrood and Westminster, elected majorities in favour of a new referendum on independence. Setting aside the arguments for and against independence, we must not allow a hardline Tory government – which has no mandate here – to override Scotland’s democratic will.

Should all attempts to secure a second referendum by legal and constitutional means be obstructed by the UK government, we support an escalating strategy of non-cooperation and civil disobedience against that government, pursued at all possible levels: from the Scottish Government legislating on, or refusing to cooperate with, matters ‘reserved’ to Westminster, to grassroots non-violent direct action within and outwith Scotland. Continue reading “TWO SCOTTISH RESPONSES TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION”

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Jan 24 2020

THE IMPACT OF THE DECEMBER 12TH GENERAL ELECTION ACROSS THE CONSTITUENT PARTS OF THE UK

Allan Armstrong follows up his article, The Continued Rise of Right National Populism and Reactionary Unionism in the Run-up to the December 12th General Election (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2019/12/09/the-continued-rise-of-right-populism-and-reactionary-unionism/). He examines the impact of the general election results across the constituent parts of the UK and the prospects for the immediate future. 

 

THE IMPACT OF THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION ACROSS THE CONSTITUENT PARTS OF THE UK

 

 

a)    The three possible outcomes of the December 12th Westminster general election

b)    How Corbyn’s Left social democracy, its complicity in British chauvinism and racism and its support for the UK state helped to pave the way for Johnson

c)    Other factors undermining the Corbynista challenge to Johnson

d)    The election results in England

e)    The election results in Wales

f)     The election results in Scotland

g)    The election results in Northern Ireland

h)    Conclusion

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  Continue reading “THE IMPACT OF THE DECEMBER 12TH GENERAL ELECTION ACROSS THE CONSTITUENT PARTS OF THE UK”

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Jan 23 2020

THE CREATIVE ECONOMY? – TOWARDS A CULTURE OF POSSIBILITY

Emancipation & Liberation has viewed cultural creativity as a significant arena in which to challenge the alienation associated with the the exploitation and oppression found under capitalism. We are reposting an article by Mairi McFadyen, first posted on bella caledonia, which provides evidence from the rural areas of Scotland.

 

THE CREATIVE ECONOMY? – TOWARDS A CULTURE OF POSSIBILITY

Cultural engagement on the banks of the River Nith in Dumfries

 

This month I have been on a journey from Shetland to Dumfries reflecting on creativity, community and cultural commons. In the last of the summer sun I sailed north across the whale road to a conference organised by the Centre for Rural Creativity, University of the Highlands and Islands, in partnership with Shetland Arts at the Mareel. Invoking the old Norn dialect word for where the shore meets the sea, the event was called Shoormal – an invitation to explore issues of creative practice, collaboration and the ‘shifting sands in the creative economy’. Continue reading “THE CREATIVE ECONOMY? – TOWARDS A CULTURE OF POSSIBILITY”

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Dec 09 2019

THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN THE RUN UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

In the lead-up to the December 12th general election Allan Armstrong updates  his analysis of the drift to the Right populist and reactionary unionist politics in the UK and what this possibly means for the future of the Union.

This is followed by an article by  statement from  the Radical Independence Campaign in Scotland on the general election.

Finally we are posting an article by  Tony Greenstein, expelled Labour Party member from Brighton. He predicted the unexpected rise in support for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017, but thinks that Labour’s chances have declined in the run up to the December general election.

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  1. THE CONTINUED RISE OF RIGHT POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM 

IN THE LEAD-UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION

 

(A fuller explanation of what is meant by Right national populism can be found in the article:- https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/right-populism-2.pdf

Neither the UK nor Great Britain have ever been unitary states. All forms of unionism are based upon the unionist nature of the UK state, which has recognised England, Scotland, Ireland (later Northern Ireland)  and Wales as constituent units. This has led to the adoption of various forms of hybrid Britishness.

Three key terms used in this article  are:-

Conservative unionism – This acknowledges the unionist nature of the UK state through administrative devolution (or later acceptance of liberal unionist devolutionary measures  which it once opposed, but have become part of the status quo)

Liberal unionism – This also accepts the unionist nature of the UK state but promotes political devolution as a better method of holding the state together

Reactionary unionism – This upholds the UK state and openly celebrates  its most repressive aspects. e.g. the crown powers, the armed forces and judiciary. It is also prepared to mobilise extra-constitutional force to prevent national self-determination, greater measures of political devolution, and reverse political devolution and even some administrative devolutionary measures that have already been accepted.) Continue reading “THE RISE OF NATIONAL POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN THE RUN UP TO THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION”

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