As committed supporters of Scottish independence and firm opponents of austerity, capitalism and imperialism, we welcome the Radical Independence Campaign’s latest conference as a useful opportunity to open a debate on strategy with the wider pro-independence left.
Since the 2014 referendum, the political landscape, both in Britain and abroad, has changed immeasurably. The context of the independence debate has been transformed by events including the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015, the Brexit vote in 2016, and the SNP’s pivot to the centre. Meanwhile, the international rise of the far-right, the mass mobilisations of the climate movement, and the continuing displacement of millions of people by war and terrorism have illustrated how urgently we need radical change.
We believe the Radical Independence Campaign can play a crucial role in developing a strategy for the pro-independence left, one that places the dismantling of the British state at the centre of a wider project of transformational political and economic change that can reverberate far beyond Scotland. Instead of functioning again as the left flank of a revenant Yes campaign, RIC can become the thread tying together otherwise isolated working class organisations and movements, firmly locating their goals within a common understanding of how power is distributed in Britain and how its institutions can be overcome.
RIC’s ability to effectively play this role relies firstly on its cultivation of a genuinely democratic political culture, asserted from the outset and deeply embedded in its constitution. This is why we regret how this conference was organised: planned in secret by a small handful of people, without any public appeal for input or volunteers. This recalls the worst features of RIC’s heyday, in which local groups were afforded autonomy but national decisions were ultimately taken and implemented by an unaccountable clique.
We are exhausted by left organisations and movements in which democracy is strangled, either by rigid bureaucracy or by invisible alliances and friendships, or in which comrades are treated as little more than foot-soldiers, directed from above until discarded or burnt out. We are frustrated too with self-proclaimed radicals who, justifying themselves with a profane understanding of class politics, either turn a blind eye to misogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia within the independence movement or deliberately stoke it.
In spite of this, we draw encouragement from the unpredictability of our time, and inspiration from heroic examples of resistance across the world. This is why all of us still intend to put our shoulder to the wheel and re-establish the Radical Independence Campaign as a social force in working class communities across Scotland. Alongside this, we will organise openly around our shared ambition to reimagine RIC from the bottom up, as an organisation built on the principles of genuine democracy and solidarity. Join us.