Monday, October 23, 2006

Wikipedia on Republicanism

I have added a link to the Wikipedia entry on Republicanism in the sidebar.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Links Added

I have added a link to the "apolitical" UK republican organisation, Republic, and to another British Republican website, "Throne Out" in the links sidebar.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Draft Founding Statement and Aims of the Lilburne Association

In the 1640s and 1650s the bloody conflict of the English Civil War between an absolutist monarchy and the rising middle class gave an opportunity for the most radical expressions of democratic ideals that had yet been recorded in England’s long and turbulent history. The Levellers were one of the most advanced political movements yet seen and amongst their key figures was John Lilburne, one of the greatest English progressives. The green ribbons of liberty worn by the Levellers stand as a challenge to the ruling class of every age since their day.

It is clear to us that even what now seem to current radicals modest aims of the Levellers have not yet been achieved or realised. With this in mind we put Lilburne’s name on our banner and raise once again the green ribbons of freedom and justice. We still live in a society deformed by monarchy, aristocracy, privilege and subservience. A society with grossly unequal distribution of both wealth and power. We are still subjects, not citizens; whatever the government’s citizenship ceremonies and education programmes may say to the contrary.

Whilst there have been vast improvements in standards of living and education (achieved by both the hard won struggles of ordinary working people and the onward march of science and technology trail-blazed by rebels and heretics like Joseph Priestley) it is arguable that power is perhaps even farther removed from the ordinary subject of the British Crown than it was during the English Revolution. Decisions affecting our whole lives are taken in remote boardrooms in the far flung corners of the world, by political elites in Europe and America, by hand picked British flunkeys of capital and as a result of the amoral fluctuations of markets. These markets are governed only by the need to maximise profits for the global elite and only restricted by the concessions squeezed from our rulers through years of struggle.

We are sold the lie that we have power as consumers, as voters, or even as protesters, when in reality a gradual process has led towards every product, every party and most “acceptable” protest being shaped and adapted by the mass media, education and marketing arms of the ruling class. Needless to say they are shaped to either boost or be neutral to the power of the status quo – a process described by some French radicals of 1968 as “recuperation”. The sense of powerlessness and vulnerability that this state of affairs encourages feeds the political disengagement and social and psychological decay we see all around us. It prepares the ground for the decay of elected oligarchy into demagoguery and dictatorship – a process we can currently see most clearly in Italy and Russia.

In England we are denied even the limited and shackled devolved parliaments of Scotland and Wales. We face the final humiliation of dismemberment into arbitrary regions, designed for little other purpose than to serve the interests of transnational capital and the tame, centralised, European bureaucracy that it has as a slave. Resentment grows, but the feelings of the vast majority are of no interest to the elite, liberal or otherwise. For our rulers the views of the majority are merely a minor obstacle in the way of the great “project”, an inconvenience to be manipulated, tricked or overridden.

We, as radical republicans, reject this fate and take up once again the examples of our ancestors in struggle – the Levellers, the Diggers, the Chartists and Suffragists, co-operativists and socialists. Rejecting false divisions of race, religion or political faction we raise once again the ideal of the English Commonwealth – the people in control, unshackled by monarch, established church, landed aristocracy, corporate power, foreign imperialism or international capital. In the spirit of the Parisian Communards of the 1870s and Irish rebels of 1916 we demand freedom and justice.

The Lilburne Association aims to be an association of individuals and affiliated organisations dedicated to the achievement of an independent, democratic and socially just English Commonwealth. The Lilburne Association is not a party and does not contest elections or see itself as some kind of aspiring government. However, the association believes that the current democratic space can be used to push forward at least some of the objectives it pursues and may endorse independent or party affiliated candidates to this end. However, given the forces that are ranged against democracy and progress we understand that elections (particularly under the current fatally flawed system) are just one way forward amongst many. We support organised struggle towards our objectives on all the available fronts – political, economic, community, social and cultural.

Whilst not a pacifist organisation we are committed to use non-violent methods to achieve our goals wherever possible. The strength of the people is not in arms but in numbers. However, we are not naïve enough to think that the current powers that be will slip gently away without resisting progress. Such has not been the pattern of the retreat of the British Empire – and the ruling class of that Empire now face their last battle, against the population of their imperial citadel. The tradition of those whose backs are now against the wall has been an empire based on exploitation, oppression, racism, warfare and drug running.

In the last act of liberation from the late unlamented British Empire the English people will light such a beacon of hope for democratic human progress that it will be remembered for centuries to come as a turning point in the struggle for a general reformation of global politics. With the culmination of centuries of struggle in one of the most technologically advanced countries the new era of democracy and co-operation will dawn as a shining example to the oppressed of the Earth. It is our great honour to pick up the torch from previous generations and do our small part to light the way.

Out of the guilt, subservience, superstition and escapism of ages past into the next stage of human progress!
Let us once again take up the great work of ages and complete the English Revolution!

Left Republican

The primary aim of the Lilburne Association of England is to win over the majority of the population to the establishment of a democratic English Commonwealth within a United Republic of Britain. At the same time we wish to see the achievement of as many of our strategic objectives as possible.

The English Commonwealth shall be a society where democracy is found in every sphere – economic, political and social. It will be a an independent democratic entity founded on the principle of subsidiarity, every decision being taken at the most immediate and relevant level of the democratic structure, with full rights of appeal for minority viewpoints.
It will be a society founded on a positive and progressive outlook, one that sees the highest ideals and actions as those intended or likely to advance the interests of the vast majority of the population locally, nationally and internationally.

The Commonwealth will be a society that practices free association and co-operation, where individual talents and contributions are valued and honoured. A society that believes that human progress and exploration are essential to the survival of the species and need not be incompatible with ecological balance and social equality.

The English Commonwealth will be internationalist and seek to promote real democracy, human dignity, economic and environmental sustainability and progress throughout the world. We seek unity with our free brothers and sisters in the free nations of Scotland and Wales to build a United Republic, and unity with our brothers and sisters across the continent of Europe to build a confederation of free republics where the ordinary people are in control. The English Commonwealth will strive towards the creation of a new world free from the domination of capitalists and militarists.

Lilburne Association Draft Objectives and Rationale

Lilburne Association of England
Draft Objectives and Rationale

The following should be seen as objectives we are working towards, not necessarily a revolutionary programme that we envisage being achieved all at once.

1. Abolition of the monarchy
i. The monarchy to be abolished.
Monarchy is the supreme example of privilege and the hereditary principle; it is power with a superstitious and mythical base. We must bring it to an end as the upholder of primitive subservience, passivity and illegitimate authority. Sovereign authority should lie with the people, not an individual on the basis of heredity.
ii. Expropriation and socialisation of crown properties excepting a personal residence for each family unit within any of the immediate “Windsor” family who wish to remain in England as citizens of the republic.
Justice and mercy in the spirit of Lilburne and the Levellers. Whatever they call themselves, the ex-monarch will have no state role within the English Republic other than that accorded to ordinary citizens.
The vast wealth of the British Crown is in large part the product of super-exploitation, violent expropriation and criminal bribery and should belong to the peoples of the former subject nations of the Empire.

2. No executive head of state
If the need is felt for a “head of state” the Lilburne Association believes this person should be elected to a purely ceremonial position – a “Regent of The People” until such a time as a purer form of democracy disposes of such anachronisms.
The people of England have had bad experiences at the hands of executive heads of state and their executive ministers – the absolutist monarchs, Cromwell and the long line of autocratic Prime Ministers right down to the unmissed Margaret Thatcher and her imitator Tony Blair.

3. An English Parliament
A parliament based on the election of a proportion of candidates on an annual basis. A revising chamber or Senate elected by a different method.
Meeting the last unmet demand of the Chartists for annual elections. The two party see-saw is another pillar of the anti-democratic system which encourages an immature confrontational parliament of puppets - puppets of the stock market, currency manipulators, media barons and agents of foreign powers. Democracy and debate should be continuous to help remove the ridiculous four or five yearly exchange of one bunch of servants of capital, hierarchy and privilege for another.

4. The evolution of mandated delegate democracy
Devolution of power to assemblies at local, county and regional level under principles of subsidiarity.
Institutional and workplace democracy.
We need to begin to remove the separation of politics from ordinary life. Mandating and delegation should play a larger and larger part in the political processes of England.

5. A written constitution and bill of rights
Proper frameworks and commonly agreed principles for defence of the Commonwealth and citizens of England.
An unwritten constitution is defended in the same mystical organic nonsense terms as monarchy, heredity and the glories of the unrestrained free market. If a written constitution has been good enough for many modern countries it is good enough for England. However, the corruption of the American system should remind us that pieces of paper are worth nothing without the involvement and vigilance of the population.

6. A United Republic of Britain
The replacement of the centralist United Kingdom with a democratic confederation. A standing conference or forum of representatives of the nations of the former United Kingdom to debate issues of mutual interest, to agree on united action and to resolve disputes.
The free citizens of England will at last become brothers and sisters of the free citizens of Scotland and Wales rather than subjects of the oppressor nation. Freed of the anachronism of monarchy the whole of Ireland will be free to choose its’ own destiny.

7. Disestablishment of the Church of England
The church to be given independence from the state. No clerical personnel to have any state roles or privileges other than those enjoyed by other citizens. Redundant church estate to revert to the republic. The independent Church of England to be self-financing.
The established church is the living expression of Bronze Age superstition, medieval social relations and Hanoverian social control. The existence of an established church discriminates against those who do not share its’ beliefs. The social, political or religious views of the current Archbishop and Synod are irrelevant to this argument. The monarchical leadership of the church is based on nothing more than the selfish desires of one monarch to perpetuate his dynasty and expropriate religious property to fill his treasury and reward his courtiers. This was then used to cement the power of a particular rising faction of the ruling class.

8. Freedom of belief
Religious freedom to be guaranteed by the Republic so long as it does not infringe other basic rights. The corollary of this is the right of other citizens to criticise superstition, reaction and subservience however they are presented. No legal restrictions on legitimate non-violent expression of Capitalist, Royalist or Anglican sympathy within a framework of public order and civil defence considerations.
The Commonwealth will not replace institutionalised sectarian religion with any special favours to any or all other sects, cults and faiths.
In historical terms human progress has seemed greatest when religion was a personal and charitable matter rather than an excuse for division and conflict.

9. Citizens not subjects
A new oath of loyalty to the democratic will of the citizens of England and the progress and unity of humanity to be instituted for all citizens and candidate citizens of the English Commonwealth. All children born in England to be candidate citizens, eligible to take the oath at 16 in celebrations to be held at the premises of local assemblies. A similar celebration to be available to new arrivals. As citizenship should be a voluntary status all residents unwilling or unable to take the oath for personal, political or religious reasons to be granted the status of guests of the republic. All guests to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as citizens whilst resident in the Commonwealth and to be protected by anti-discriminatory laws. Celebratory secular “rites of passage” events to be available to all guests, candidate citizens and citizens at birth, marriage and death.
Full rights and responsibilities for all citizens at age 16.

10. Reform of national symbols
i. The relegation to the history books and museums of all royal and British “United Kingdom” symbols, titles, flags and imagery. The Union Flag to be adapted, adopted or preferably replaced (by the green, white and purple tricolour of British republicanism) as the flag of the United Republic of Britain. The St George’s Cross to be adopted or adapted as the flag of the Commonwealth of England in memory of the Diggers of St George’s Hill, with Green Ribbons added to remember the Levellers.
ii. A national competition to suggest or devise a new anthem for the English Commonwealth, replacing the religious, monarchist, anti-Scottish dirge of “God Save The King/Queen” . A new anthem also for the United Republic.
iii. Abolition of all religious and non-religious oaths of allegiance to the crown, to be replaced by affirmations of loyalty to the people and their democratic republic.
iv. Minting of new English Commonwealth or United Republic currency to replace the former British monarchical coins and notes.
v. Re-designation of all former British state organisations, and where agreed, charities, as Confederal, English, or Republican as appropriate, rather than Royal.

11. A non-absolutist state
The death penalty to be outlawed in the constitution.
No state, however democratic, should have the power of life and death over its’ citizens. However good and democratic the English Commonwealth is, it should not acquire the attributes of a God or absolutist Monarch – the power of life and death. Internal and external threats to the security of the Commonwealth and Republic to be dealt with in accordance with accepted international standards of human rights and official conduct.

12. An independent England
Removal of all foreign military bases and personnel from English soil with the exception of United Nations personnel, where democratically agreed upon. Re-negotiation of all former British commitments to the federalist European Union with preference for a confederalist Europe of independent nations and autonomous regions.
England should be an independent democracy with the people in control, not a vassal state, an airbase for imperial powers or a ragbag of regions governed by a corporatist elite. The Commonwealth and the Republic are likely to be seen as a threat (of an example if nothing else) by the international ruling class and will have to defend our interests. It will help if we are seen as internationalist and as an ally to the vast mass of ordinary working people. If this is the case it will be able to call for assistance over the heads of the international ruling class to their subject populations.

13. Breaking corporate and finance capitalist power
Freezing and immobilizing of all assets and property of enemies of the Commonwealth and of economic entities refusing democratisation or co-operativisation. Mobilisation of international solidarity of working people against attempts at corporate, financial, political or military sabotage and subversion. Nationalisation of main clearing banks and creation of Community Banks. Blocking of all attempts by corporate tyrants to remove capital or plant from England.

14. Human rights, but not corporate rights
Basic human rights as internationally agreed will apply to citizens and guests, not corporate entities, hostile foreign powers or non-residents owning forfeited assets in England.
The ruling class will always whine about their rights when the oppressed of the earth finally strike back. What rights did their workers enjoy to a fair share of their profits or even a fair say in the running of the business for which they toiled? What rights did workers have when their industries were closed and their jobs exported? What rights did small businesses and self- employed people enjoy when they were driven to the wall by unfair competition from corporate giants? What rights have all the millions of civilians and unwilling conscripts had other than to die in wars at the behest of the ruling class? What democratic rights were left to electors when even the mild reforms of mildly leftist governments that they elected were sabotaged by finance capitalists, when those governments were driven from office accompanied by lies, manipulation and blackmail from the elite and their media allies?

15. A democratic economy
All economic bodies to be democratically supervised by their workers in consultation with the assemblies of communities in which they operate. Maximum sizes of enterprises, maximum levels of private ownership and maximum numbers of employees in private enterprises to be democratically agreed. An economy of small enterprises, co-operatives and mutuals – with utilities, banking, essential services and vital transport networks publicly owned and funded. The Commonwealth to guarantee economic democracy and distribute forfeited and abandoned assets, but not to own or control productive economic apparatus. Local and regional economic councils of representatives of industry and commerce to maximise economic efficiency and mutual aid.
The basis of power in most modern societies has been control of the economy. Finance capitalists and corporations currently control the economy of Britain – it should be controlled by the people as a whole. Energy needs, transport, water and sanitation require democratic planning and oversight at a national level – they should not be jeopardised by the profit motive.

16 A democratic media
A popularly owned Commonwealth or Republican newspaper, television news and education channels, radio station and other electronic media to be bound by more rigorous standards of objectivity and reporting than those of the current BBC. All other media to be subject to the same democratic framework as other economic enterprises of the same size and to be subject to rights of reply, defence of privacy and libel laws (With rigid limits on time and financial expenditure in such cases) Freedom of speech guaranteed in law.
At the current time freedom of speech belongs only to those who own the media and those hand picked to serve their agenda or give an illusion of dissent. The domination of the media in England by reactionary servants of the establishment, often with tax exile millionaire bosses is another pillar of the unjust status quo. Democracy is the cure.

17. Transformation of crown institutions into public servants
The complete reform of all former crown organs and institutions – judiciary, armed forces, civil service, police, prisons, and security services. All officers of new public service organisations to be subject to election by relevant fellow workers. All to be overseen from local to national level by a system of Tribunes answerable to the people through assemblies and parliament.
i. A system of local community courts with rights of appeal to regional courts and a Court of Justice of the English Commonwealth.
ii. Armed forces to be democratised and linked to community, regional and national civil defence organisations on a model similar to that of 20th century Switzerland.
iii. Police to be democratically controlled by Tribunes acting on the mandate of local assemblies. Police to be subject to Commonwealth’s laws and work in full co-operation with Citizen’s Defence organisations, local councils and community assemblies.
iv. Publicly accountable Citizens Defence Intelligence organisations to replace MI5 and MI6.
v. A humane Commonwealth Detention Service to replace “Her Majesty’s Prison Service”, based on principles of public safety, rehabilitation and mental health care/reform for those who endanger community safety or harm others.
The fact that the current equivalents of all the above public services are widely seen as servants of the establishment, partisan politicians and profit led lawyers means they do not serve the public in the sense democrats would like them to. Public services must be just that, public services, which serve and defend the people not just those with the money and power. All positions of authority tend towards corruption, even where opportunities for private gain are minimized, therefore eternal vigilance and scrutiny of all these public servants is required.

18. Equality & Law
Maintenance of strict non-discrimination on the basis of race, gender, disability, gender preference or national origin. Tolerance of religious difference where this does not lead to action in conflict with the basic principles of the Commonwealth.
The English Commonwealth should be based on civic unity, social solidarity and democratic ideals. It should not be based on race, a narrowly defined culture or a mythical version of ruling class history.
All legal officers to be independent professionals, working alone or in co-operative or mutual practices, publicly salaried through a publicly accountable English Solicitors and Barristers Bureau. Prosecution lawyers to be similarly organised through a Public Defenders’ Bureau.
Law as a profit making business and a commodity to be bought by those with the largest resources deforms the whole system. All should have the same access to justice.
Democratically set legal charges with means tested legal aid and set maximums on case expenditure for different categories of case.

19. A caring society
A humane society will have a guaranteed minimum income, free education for all and free healthcare guaranteed for all citizens, candidate citizens and guests of the Commonwealth. Abolition of private health and education.
All must have the same essential public services to ensure they are valued, funded and developed by the whole community.
The English Welfare Service, English Education Service and English Health Service to run as confederations of worker owned co-operatives with local autonomy under democratic scrutiny. Funded on the basis of a nationally collected compulsory insurance scheme and taxation and democratically agreed minimum standards of local service.
Services must be delivered on the basis of locally assessed need and by locally appropriate methods, not on the basis of the whims of national politicians, lobbying of media or the “bright ideas” of bureaucrats without the slightest idea of conditions for frontline staff. Services must be on the basis of an agreement between producers and consumers, not the interests of third parties.

20. Free expression & Defence of the Commonwealth and the United Republic
The Commonwealth will defend freedom of speech, organisation and assembly in line with international standards and the laws of England. Free expression does not of course include the right to sabotage, public violence or defamatory lying – the customary tactics of deposed ruling classes and the politico-military-intelligence arms of the international ruling classes. The English Commonwealth will have no “Prisoners of Conscience”.
Lilburne and the Levellers, despite, (or because of) their radical views were strong advocates of mercy and tolerance to the defeated enemy, including the ex-monarchy, religionists and blatant agents of foreign powers. They saw that the road to consolidation of any radical change must be to gain acceptance through right conduct. The history books are full of idealistic revolts turned sour; we are in no hurry to add to them. It is better that if the worst occurs we fail, with principles intact to inspire future generations, than add to the long list of excuses for cynicism and apathy.