report on the second ‘global commune’

by Allan Armstrong

The second Global Commune day school, jointly organised by the Republican Communist Network (RCN) and The Commune, was held in the Out of the Blue Centre in Edinburgh on May 22nd.  People attended from Aberdeen, Bristol, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Midlothian.

a sign at the Middlesex University occupation points to the way forward

The first workshop session, ‘After the Election, What Next?‘ was introduced by Alberto Durango and Mark Ellingsen from The Commune. Alberto emphasised the necessity for communists to be open and honest about their communism.  Workers needed political confidence to attack the labour bureaucracy. Mark pointed out that current economic crisis was far from solved. We need to clearly argue for a revolutionary alternative to capitalism and not be afraid to call for the abolition of wage labour. The question is how do we relate this abstract demand to concrete practice.

The ensuing discussions highlighted that the capitalist class’s apparent success in pulling capitalism back from the brink. This stemmed from the political weakness of the working class, and its inability to offer an alternative. The ‘return to Labour’ in the recent election, and the left’s apparent decision to follow, demonstrates this weakness. A successful fightback against the horrendous cuts can not be separated from the need to provide a communist vision.

The second workshop, ‘Internationalism from Below – A Communist Perspective’ was introduced by Allan Armstrong of the RCN and David Broder of the commune. Allan summarised The Communist Case for Internationalism from Below which he had already circulated. He contrasted ‘internationalism from below’ with two other approaches to the national question found on the left – the confederalist and the cosmopolitan. He pointed out the relevance of an ‘internationalism from below’ approach in the current world of corporate imperialism, and how it linked with our struggles to create a new global commune. David based his talk on The Earth is not Flat, his critique of the Anarchist Federation’s Against Nationalism.

Two follow-up discussion groups dealt with different aspects of the issue.  Members of The Commune asked how it was possible for the RCN to argue for an independent Scotland without getting tangled up in nationalism, and indeed how relevant is the issue when the majority of workers don’t support independence. RCN members highlighted their break up of the UK political strategy with its opposition to the US/British imperial alliance, which currently enforces corporate capitalist rule over the globe. They also pointed to the undeclared nationalism of the British Left. The other workshop emphasised the necessity to update our analysis of imperialism and the continued use of chauvinism and racism in creating a two-tier workforce with super-exploited migrant labour. The issue of federation was also discussed in relation to states and to communist organisation.

The third workshop, ‘How Communists Should Organise’ was introduced by Chris Ford of The Commune, with Ellenor from Liberty and Solidarity giving her apologies for being unable to attend and speak. Chris had already circulated a paper, Communists Must Organise As Communists. He drew on historical evidence to show that The Commune should be moving to a more advanced form of organisation, in effect, a new league of communists.

In the discussion groups there was agreement about the need for a federal form of organisation, and an acknowledgement that communist recomposition is a constant process not a single organisational act. Some possible organisational forms, which could be adopted by the commune, were discussed. The need to acknowledge tendencies or platforms was recognised. Furthermore, after many comrades experience of the left, the need for more freedom in a communist organisation than in capitalist society was emphasised!

Two comrades, who were members of neither the RCN nor The Commune, actively participated over the day and declared their wish to join up. Due to conflicting events, the RCN will only be able to send one representative to The Commune’s June 19th day school in London, but hope to send a larger group in September. Once again, participants felt it had been a very worthwhile day, both politically and socially.

9 thoughts on “report on the second ‘global commune’

  1. “Mark pointed out that current economic crisis was far from solved. We need to clearly argue for a revolutionary alternative to capitalism and not be afraid to call for the abolition of wage labour. The question is how do we relate this abstract demand to concrete practice”

    Spot on. So many on the left, if they even talk about the abolition of wage labour, seem embararassed to do so for fear of appearing “utopian”. This lack of historical imagination, this supine acceptance of capitalist reality as inevitable is one of the things that keeps the system going. Good to see some have the courage of their convictions. Keep up the good work

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  2. Hi Robin, not sure if you have commented on this site before but may I say that I am glad to see a member of WiC reading our stuff.

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  3. I see from the comments on ‘The right not to work’ posts by Steve Ryan you advocate a list of reforms that by their very nature question your commitment to abolish waged labour. The history of reformist is to be ensnared on the magic roundabout of capitalism with revolution inevitably being put on the back burner.

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  4. “I see from the comments on ‘The right not to work’ posts by Steve Ryan you advocate a list of reforms that by their very nature question your commitment to abolish waged labour.”

    Steve’s article is not an official group position paper.

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  5. dunno that we have one. personally, I am certainly in favour of joining militant working class movements for reforms – e.g. anti-poll tax movement, Chartism, local anti-cuts campaigns – but would be wary of raising reform demands which could seem abstract and have no social base. what do you think?

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  6. Suprised to hear that Commune have no policy on reforms. Having been involved with reformism what I found was you were on the capitalist magic roundabout where revolution was put on the back burner. Although some reforms deserve support they have to be judged on their merits. Like Robin I find it heartening you are challenging the concept of wage labour.

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  7. I’m with the SPGB and I think some of our members have attended some of your meetings a gave a favourable report back. Perhaps we can arrange a public forum?

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