The Republican Communist Network came together as one of the Platforms in the Scottish Socialist Alliance (SSA), then the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in 1997. Our Network originally consisted of two main groups, the Red Republicans and the Campaign for a Federal Republic, but also included a former member of Peoples Democracy and other comrades. Our members had political backgrounds in the CPGB, IMG, Labour Party, SNP, SWP and anarchism, whilst our younger members’ first political experience was in the SSA/SSP. The RCN remained a platform in the SSP until 22nd January 2012.
We were best known in the SSP and the wider Scottish Left for advancing the cause of republicanism. We contributed to the debates leading up to the October 9th, 2004 Calton Hill Declaration and Rally. After the split in the SSP (which led to the departure of both the most British unionist and most Scottish nationalist members to Sheridan’s new vanity ‘party’, Solidarity) the SSP began to promote ‘internationalism from below’. This led to two SSP sponsored Republican Socialist Conventions, the first in Edinburgh on 29th November 2008 and the second in London on 13th February 2010.
However the SSP had not been able to recover from the legacy of ‘Tommygate’. The majority of the non-Labour Left in Scotland now lay outside its ranks. The ‘IndyRef1’ campaign, launched in 2012, provided a new framework within which we could advance the cause of emancipation, liberation and self-determination. In early 2012, the RCN became a founding member of what became the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) in November. We were an openly affiliated political group (along with others). Once again, we became known for championing a republican ‘internationalism from below’ strategy for Scottish self-determination. bella caledonia flagged up this early debate. The RCN was also given the responsibility for organising the session at the second RIC conference entitled, After the UK: The Future of Four Nations, addressed by Bernadette McAliskey.
However, from 2015, the national RIC organisation began to decay, partly due to the political shortcomings of its self-proclaimed national leaders, who came from an SWP tradition. Individual RCN members attended all subsequent RIC AGMs, National Forums and Conferences. Individuals took a leading part in getting RIC to participate in the ‘All Under One Banner’ demonstrations from 2018. But with few local RIC groups remaining, the RCN took the decision on 28th August 2016 to become a Republican Communist discussion forum.
Today we are announcing a change of name which reflects the political reality that we are no longer a Network of different political tendencies within a wider national organisation (e.g. SSA/SSP or RIC) but a Forum. Therefore, we are renaming ourselves the Republican Communist Forum. It has been difficult to abandon our old name, the RCN, which we had become so attached to, and which we were still best known by many on the Left in Scotland.
Since 28th August 2016 we have continued with our regular forums and weekends away. We further developed the open principled ways to encourage a genuine democratic culture on the Left. Our ‘Comradely Code of Conduct’ has been admired and taken under different names into other organisations. We value our members whether they be a political organiser, speaker, writer, web developer, graphic designer, photographer, film maker, singer songwriter/guitarist or a piper, and we welcome the recognition they have often received from the wider Left in these roles.
But our greatest achievement since 2016 has been to promote real debate on what Socialists actually mean by Socialism/Communism. This has been something very much ignored on the Left, which tends to concentrate on the immediate with little regard for longer term strategy or programme. However, we had first engaged in an earlier fruitful attempt to do this, working with the commune (which existed between August 2008 and October 2013). We co-hosted three global commune events in Edinburgh between 2010-11, one, two and three.
These events were designed to go beyond abstract propagandism and to link immediate global national and local struggles against exploitation, oppression and alienation with the need to create independent class organisations, which can transform society opening up the way to a global commune. Since 2016 we have returned to this. Our forums and weekends away have produced Why Communism is Possible. We have since updated our ‘What We Stand For’.
However, a significant new development has been the formation of the Republican Socialist Platform (RSP), on 5th September 2020. The founding Principles of the RSP argue that
we need a Scottish Workers’ Republic. This can only be sustained by working with others internationally to develop a global commune which places humankind in a planned sustainable relationship with nature, which can end capitalist exploitation, oppression, alienation and environmental degradation. This would bring about full human emancipation, liberation and self-determination (in its widest sense). We very much welcome this new development and urge RCF members to join.
The RCF will not seek direct political affiliation to the RSP or to other political organisations. We have re-titled our website, Emancipation & Liberation to read Emancipation, Liberation & Self Determination. This reflects the advances in our own recent thinking and that of new young comrades in the RSP and beyond. We have all been drawn into the life and death struggles in a post-Covid world threatened by massive environmental degradation. Our magazine will both support and offer extended forums for the RSP, online and through other media. Our members will join RSP Working Groups. We will also help to organise wider events to supplement the already very busy agenda of the RSP.