This is the first issue of what we hope will be a quarterly periodical of news and analysis concerning past and present world events from a revolutionary republican socialist perspective. That raises the question, what is republican socialism? The International Republican Socialist Network believes that it is a distinct tendency of revolutionary Marxism, which arose historically in response to the specific contradictions found when capitalist development has created a working class majority of the populace and a material base capable of supporting the development of a revolutionary class consciousness within that class, but where national liberation remains an unachieved aspect of capitalist development as well.
The phrase republican socialist (or socialist republican) has been used to describe this tendency for at least a century. Pioneered by two, Scottish-born giants of the international socialist movement, James Connolly and John MacLean; republican socialism has been a well-established tradition in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales and contemporary republican socialist political groups continue to exist in all three. Elsewhere, however, such as in Catalonia, Euzkadi, Brittany and Puerto Rico, there are active revolutionary organizations for national liberation, which have socialist currents within them; but distinctly republican socialist organizations have not yet arise in these nations.
The founders of the International Republican Socialist Network came from the ranks of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, where some had been activists for more than two decades. One of the IRSN’s founders served as the International Secretary of the Irish Republican Socialist Party for over five years and wrote many public statements and articles in the IRSP’s newspaper. So, it should be no surprise when we acknowledge that the analysis which informs the IRSN derives from the revolutionary tradition embodied in the IRSP and INLA during the first quarter century of its existence, including the contributions made by leading members Seamus Costello, Ta Power, Gino Gallagher, and Kevin McQuillen. In fact, the impetus to found the IRSN arose directly from the departure of its founding members from the IRSM, in a protest over what they believed to be a retreat from the IRSM’s unbending revolutionary traditions.
The founders of the IRSN also draw upon decades of involvement in support of republican socialist groups in Scotland and Wales and contributed to their development through articles in Scottish Workers’ Republic and Y Faner Goch, as well as bonds of solidarity and friendship maintained with leading activists of the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement, the John Maclean Society, the Welsh Socialist Republican Movement, and Cymru Goch. One IRSN founder has even been elected honorary Vice President of the SRSP. Thus the analysis of the IRSN, and thereby of The Workers’ Republic, draws upon these revolutionary traditions as well.
The IRSN was founded to ensure that the revolutionary expression of the republican socialist tendency continues to find representation within the broad international socialist movement and to aid in facilitating greater awareness of both the history of republican socialism and its present manifestation in various nations of the world. The IRSN is also intended to provide a means to encourage the crystallization of clearly defined and independently organized republican socialist bodies in all nations where its analysis is best suited to the current tasks confronting the revolutionary movements there. It is also hoped that the IRSN can help republican socialist organizations and activists to engage in dialogue with their counterparts in other nations, to further the development of a revolutionary republican socialist analysis and promote ongoing and meaningful solidarity amongst the various national tendencies, especially in circumstances where they confront a shared enemy in the course of their struggles.
Towards these objectives, The Workers’ Republic will focus on building awareness of and support for contemporary republican socialist struggles being waged; providing a forum for preserving the revolutionary traditions of republican socialism and encouraging the continued development of a specific republican socialist analysis; and critiquing contemporary movements struggling under the banner of republican socialism. For our first issue, we have solicited articles on the struggles where a republican socialist analysis provides the most effective basis for struggle: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, the BasqueLands, Catalonia, and Puerto Rico, exploring the state of the republican socialist tendency within these nations. Most of the articles were contributed by republican socialist activists in the revolutionary struggle of their respective nations. They range from a light-hearted remembrance of the Manx Republican Socialist Party to a somewhat dark critique of the contemporary republican left in Wales; from a spirited, debate on Scottish republican socialism to a scholarly exploration of the Puerto Rican struggle for national liberation and socialism; from a look at an emerging republican socialist entity in Euzkadi to an analysis of where republican socialism has faltered in Ireland.
We hope you will find Workers’ Republic informative and a source of greater understanding of the republican socialist tendency within the international revolutionary movement and a growing appreciation of the unique and profound contribution that has been made to international socialism by the leading theorists and activist comrades of our tendency.