Republicans debate way forward

In Saturday January 9 a meeting was organised in Edinburgh sponsored by the Campaign for a Federal Republic and the Red Republicans. These organisations were formerly in the Scottish Socialist Alliance and have now joined the new Scottish Socialist Party. In what might be seen as an example of rapprochement in Scotland, there were supporters from Socialist Outlook, the Revolutionary Democratic Group, the Communist Tendency, and the Scottish Republican Socialist Party, as well as a number of independent socialists and communists participating in the debates.

The Campaign for a Federal Republic has recently gained new supporters and has decided, after opposing the formation of the SSP, that it was necessary to join and openly oppose its nationalist politics. The Campaign has also been forced by these events to redefine itself. Originally it was set up as a single-issue campaign within the Scottish Socialist Alliance. But with the current move to set up a left nationalist party, the Campaign was now basing itself on the politics of ‘republican communism’.

Republican communists are those who take seriously the question of republicanism, and see it as an immediate political struggle on the road to communism. Campaign supporters explained that they wanted other republican communists to join with them in fighting for a federal republic. This, they believed, would open the way to workers’ power, international socialism and world communism.

The main business of the meeting focused on two questions. First, after discussion, it was agreed to form a republican united front between the Red Republicans and the Campaign for a Federal Republic. The purpose of this was to unite all republicans in the SSP, regardless of whether they were communists, to campaign for militant republicanism and strengthening democracy within the new party. The meeting discussed and agreed a series of amendments to the SSP constitution, to put before the founding conference in February. The aim of these is to extend the rights of platforms and tendencies within the party.

The second main discussion concerned a proposal from the CFR that the meeting considered the possibility of forming an ideological bloc. Such a bloc would not be confined either to Scotland or membership of the SSP. The aim of such a bloc would be to promote agreed slogans and hold educationals to discuss and debate the ideas behind the agreed slogans. We might agree for example to make propaganda for “world communism”, whilst having open debate over what constitutes world communism.

The CFR proposed five slogans - democratic republic, revolutionary democracy, workers’ power, international socialism and world communism. Agreement was soon apparent over the slogans of workers’ power and world communism. The idea of a democratic republic was not acceptable to some comrades and a proposal to substitute ‘republicanism’ gained broad approval. The slogan of revolutionary democracy was also accepted by those present with the exception of Socialist Outlook.

However, the biggest stumbling block proved to be the slogan of ‘international socialism’. This was opposed by comrades from the Communist Tendency. Allan Armstrong protested that he had been misrepresented in the Weekly Worker as being opposed to both international socialism and world communism. The debate therefore helped us to clarify that Allan accepted the idea of world communism and was only opposed to the slogan ‘international socialism’. The discussion ended without agreement. Nevertheless it was agreed that a positive start had been made and that we would have to go back for further clarification and debate. A further meeting is being planned for February.

Dave Craig
Revolutionary Democratic Group