‘internationalism from below’ at the global commune

On 22nd May The Commune and the Republican Communist Network (Scotland) co-hosted a Global Commune day school in Edinburgh. The day had sessions on politics after the election, internationalism and communist organisation. Full reports on each to follow.

Allan Armstrong and David Broder led off the discussion, then we broke down into two groups for open discussion. Click here for Allan’s introduction; workshop reports below.

Group 1 Report, by Nick Clarke

Present: Chris, David (The Commune) Nick, Alan B, Allan A, Ewan (RCN), Alberto (LAWA), Brendan

Discussion themes:

Imperialism – the analysis of imperialism needs to be brought up-to-date, taking into account the reorganisation and restructuring of imperialism and the division of labour across the world.

The left in the imperialist countries views the national question as a distraction from the ‘main’ issues, even though it may have grown out of living struggles. Imperialism is an issue for the workplace because of the 2-tier workforce that has developed between migrant and non-migrant labour. Chauvinism is not a new phenomenon of imperialism.

Communists need to be at the heart of the struggle, not just in the workplace, but in a global sense.

Federation – There were two aspects to this: federation of how we organise and the federation of states etc. There was agreement that we should not be against it in principle, it depended on what you are federating with (politically). Need to judge it in the concrete.

Organisation – Break up and co-operate. Discussion on our forms of organisation matching the existing state. Example of Fortress Europe, where organisation could reflect the structures of the state and endorse exclusion. Do not need to mirror capitalist state, need to look at what works best and be autonomous from the state.

Making links – Discussed the need for making links with communist movements around the world. Sometimes it is difficult for us to identify the progressive/communist elements, particularly in areas where imperialism is at war (Iraq, Afghanistan).

Immigration – To be truly internationalist we have to be against immigration controls. We have to cut against the idea of immigrants taking jobs and services and that Britain is `full up’, that British people have a right to better living conditions while depriving others of that right.

Group 2 Report, by Iain Robertson

Present: Mark, Tom, Matthew (The Commune), Alan G, Angela, Bob, Iain, Mary (RCN)

The discussion focussed on the break-up of the UK issues. 

Commune comrades expressed a number of concerns. 

Would support for an independent Scotland not mean support for nationalism; how could communists outwith Scotland legitimately argue for Scottish independence if there was not already a clear majority [in polls] for independence; would support for independence not create an English nationalist backlash?

RCN comrades made a number of points. 

The overriding aim is the break up of the UK state in order to clear the way for a new unification of the common people of these islands. 

In Scotland there exists a Nationalist government riding on the back of a legitimate sense of grievance and leading it in a nationalist bourgeois direction. For precisely that reason, communists need to intervene to expose the nature of the grievance as an essentially anti-capitalist one and hence put the case for a Scottish socialist republic under workers control in contrast to the bourgeois controlled pro-capitalist SNP version. Simultaneously, communists outwith Scotland need to be arguing, within their own areas, for 

(i) support for the Scottish workers republic and 
(ii) agitating for the demand for workers republics in their own areas with the view to cooperation between republics under workers control. This can be the only counter to UK wide nationalists. It was suggested that nationalism already exist in parts of Ireland, Wales and, particularly, England. The Break-up strategy provides an alternative and a challenge.