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

 

__________

also see:-

JULIAN ASSANGE – TRIAL OF THE CENTURY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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.

___________

  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”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Feb 19 2019

BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS IN IRELAND

The E&L blog  has been reporting the situation in Ireland since we started up. However, during  current Brexit negotiations , the  ‘backstop’ has pushed the issue of Northern Ireland to the fore. We are publishing two articles which share a lot in common in their analysis of Ireland, but which offer differing perspectives on the role of the EU. The first is written by David Jamieson and first appeared on the Commonspace blog. The second is written by Allan Armstrong and forms the seventh chapter of his new pamphlet From Blatcherism to Maybynism.

 

_____________

  1. ANALYSIS – MICRO-POLITICS ISN’T ENOUGH – WE MUST ADDRESS

THE  PARTITION OF IRELAND

 

Debates around the UK border in Ireland and the so called ‘backstop’ bring the crisis elements of the British state into sharper focus. Continue reading “BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS IN IRELAND”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Aug 09 2018

NO VOTE WASTED – FOR PURE PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

Murdo Ritchie argues that Socialists should support the purest form of proportional representation.

NO VOTE WASTED – FOR PURE PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION

 

 

The outcomes of all elections are the resultants produced by misshapen class struggles. The consciousness of the participants and the audience are formed in the policies. But the institutions as well as the consciousness of the participants distort the process too. This is especially true for the United Kingdom political system. During elections the class base and regional biases of the contenders become increasingly clear. This does not make the rules and procedures under which they are fought “neutral,” fair and balanced. Indeed, participation reveals the biases even more clearly. Unfortunately, the political parties that usually take part have a vested interest in failing to make this clear to a wider public. Over UK history, the institutions that supposedly reflect or refract democratic aspirations have evolved to favour of the aspirations of the dominant classes and groups albeit this has grown less visible and seemingly more neutral. Continue reading “NO VOTE WASTED – FOR PURE PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Aug 01 2018

THE BREXIT RATIFICATION REFERENDUM

This blog has been covering the case for holding a Brexit Ratification referendum. This was brought up at the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) conference held in Edinburgh in March. The motion below was passed at the RIC AGM held on June 30th. This is followed by a letter by Allan Armstrong which was printed in The National, and another by Steve Freeman, which was printed in Weekly Worker.

 

The following motion was passed at the RIC AGM on June 30th.

1. This meeting recognises that a majority of the Scottish people voted to remain in the European Union.

2. We condemn the Tories imposing a hard anti-working class ‘all British Exit’ on Scotland.

3. We call on the Scottish government to hold a ratification referendum on the Tory deal.

4. We note that if a majority of the Scottish people vote against the Tory deal this would be a justification to trigger a second Independence referendum. Continue reading “THE BREXIT RATIFICATION REFERENDUM”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Nov 03 2017

ALL HAIL THE CATALAN REPUBLIC

Below is the text of a leaflet by the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party. It will be distributed at the  ‘Building Bridges  to Independence’ event on Saturday November 4th. It was written before the Spanish government jailed the Catalan government leadership.

 

ALL HAIL THE CATALAN REPUBLIC

‘Building bridges to independence’ must make bridges to Catalonia central to our campaigning, not only for reasons of solidarity, but because of many parallels and lessons for the Scottish national democratic movement. Continue reading “ALL HAIL THE CATALAN REPUBLIC”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Oct 23 2017

NORTHERN IRELAND UPDATE – THE CONTINUING IMPACT OF REACTIONARY UNIONISM

Northern Ireland is one part of the UK state where the reactionary unionism which has come to dominate politics since the Brexit referendum has a much longer history. The coalescence of the reactionary unionism which underpins the Tory Party and that of the DUP has now taken the shape of a governmental alliance, headed by Teresa May and Arlene Forster,

The implications of this are shown in the two articles below, both form the latest Socialst Democracy (Ireland) bulletin The first shows how the DUP are complicit in helping the Loyalists further their longstanding policy of ethnic cleansing. The recent election of Emma Little-Pengelly as DUP MP at Westminster has been followed by a campaign to remove Catholic residents from a previously shared housing scheme  in her South Belfast constituency (until recently held by the moderate nationalist SDLP).

The second article highlights the inevitable trajectory towards a hard border in Ireland under Brexit. The DUP which supports Brexit (a minority position in Northern Ireland) claims it doe not want a hard border. If pushed, it would probably say it didn’t want ethnic cleansing in Belfast either ( if Catholics would just accept a second class status).  But maintaining support for Unionist supremacy, which means retaining the support of Loyalism, means that the reality on the ground is very different from DUP public statements made for the benefit of a wider media. 

 

1. THE ZOMBIE PEACE CALLS TO SAVE STORMONT

South Belfast Loyalists from ‘Village Team On Tour’.

For most of 2017 the Irish peace process has been in crisis and the northern assembly collapsed. There are frantic calls for restoration and both Sinn Fein and the DUP proclaim that their one desire is to agree a new executive. Continue reading “NORTHERN IRELAND UPDATE – THE CONTINUING IMPACT OF REACTIONARY UNIONISM”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Jul 07 2017

DEMOCRACY BURNS DOWN

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy we are posting two articles by contributors to the Republican Socialist Alliance blog. The first is by Steve Freeman (LUP and RISE). The second is by Phil Vellender (Labour Party and contributor to Chartist

 

1. DEMOCRACY BURNS DOWN

The terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower is a crime against working class people committed by the Tories with their anti working class policies on deregulation and austerity. It revealed the deep class prejudices which inform the behaviour of the Tory council. More than this, it is an accusation against the whole system of government from top to bottom.

The UK is not a democracy and this crime was not a failure of democracy but a measure of its absence. In our ‘elected dictatorship’ government behaves irresponsibly because they can. Concealing the truth and covering up their actions is normal. They rarely get caught out. Unaccountable government made unaccountable decisions with fatal consequences.

Of course behind this crime is motive, more profit for landlords by reducing costs and cutting corners. Landlords are a powerful interest, many of whom are Tories with seats in Westminster. But it is the concentration of political power in the hands of the Crown which has made this possible. Ministers of the Crown are taking more powers through the use of statutory instruments to change secondary regulations such as health and safety rules behind the back of parliament. Continue reading “DEMOCRACY BURNS DOWN”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Jun 08 2017

LEFT UNITY AND THE GENERAL ELECTION  

We are posting this position paper from Steve Freeman (Republican Socialist Alliance and Campaign for a European Socialist Republican Party) first posted on the Left Unity blog. 

SCOTLAND AND THE TORY BREXIT ELECTION

The general election is an opportunity for the working class in Scotland to build a stronger and more militant opposition to Tory Brexit and all anti-working class austerity policies whether from Tory or SNP governments. It is an opportunity to organise a stronger democratic movement against the Union, including preparing for a referendum on self determination, seeking closer unity with the anti-Unionist workers in England and more broadly with the European working class.

Left Unity will not stand candidates in the 2017 general election in Scotland. We will support any RISE or Scottish Socialist Party candidates whose policies are close to our own. Left Unity is clear in its commitment to socialism and will use the election to advance the following policies aimed to strengthen the working class internationally – opposition to austerity, imperialist wars, Trident, NATO, TTIP; anti-Unionism and support for the right to self determination, republican democracy, migrant rights and Pan European socialist organisation. Continue reading “LEFT UNITY AND THE GENERAL ELECTION  “

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Next Page »