A discussion by Steve Freeman about Republicanism, addressing the question “Given an ongoing ‘crisis of democracy’ is it time to embrace a different approach to democracy than the Labour Party?”
In 1649 England was one of the first countries in the modern era to become a republic after seven years of intense class struggle for democracy. Over a hundred years later Tom Paine, a champion and republicanism, had a major influence of the America and French republican revolutions. The influence of republicanism in England continued through Chartism to the republican movement which Marx supported in the 1870s.
Subsequently the strengthen of the British Empire and the extension of the suffrage finally removed republicanism from our political culture and replaced it with Labourism which in the 20th century became a support of the monarchy and defender of British imperialism. After 1945 Britain became a ‘social monarchy’ accepted by both major parties all until Thatcher began her neo-liberal revolution.
The left in England is generally anti-monarchist (critical of royalty) but not republican (except nominally). Republicanism is not merely a militant campaign for radical democracy but a culture and set of values about people power, active citizenship, liberty, equality and solidarity.