The 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) was held over two days, 8-9 November in London. The Congress marked the occasion of the 97th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution with a public celebration in the evening which was addressed by the Ambassador of the DPR Korea, comrade Hyon Hak Bong, and comrade Jorge Luis Garcia from the Cuban Embassy. Joti Brar from the Proletarian editorial board spoke first and the evening finished with a rousing speech from comrade Harpal Brar.
The 7th Congress received the reports of the various party committee’s and discussed a number of significant issue’s such as rising nationalism, deepening crisis and the class composition of British society in the 21st century. Congress also endorsed a number of documents which will be made public in due course, and announced the publication of a new book on the history of the first imperialist World War. Congress noted the continuing growth and development of our party nationally, pledged to continue to support and promote our youth and cadres in their ongoing ideological development, and recognised the leading role young communists play in the leadership of our Party.
The 7th Congress was attended by many working class red youth’s, all of whom are active members of the party and youth section and many of which lead our party branches and organisations in their various cities and regions. All the comrades demonstrated their commitment to the Party, their class and the ideology of Marxism Leninism.
Here’s some photo’s for those comrades who were unable to attend (we missed you greatly) taken during the speeches, contributions and discussion and a couple from the evening celebration. Red Youth has pledged to continue the work in the regions, to build up the party branches and ensure we are able to hold even more Marxist Leninist educational classes, discussion groups, public meetings and events in all corners of Britain in 2015!
This warm, sunny Sunday in late September saw an event that usually unites various left elements in the country: the demonstration at the Tory party conference. Only that this year it was not planned as a protest but as a ‘festival’! Are we celebrating the British state’s attack on the working class and the non-existent resistance now?! Even though it might not have been that much more impressive on the day, at least two years ago, when it was also held in Birmingham, it was still billed as a ‘march and rally for the alternative’
Even as a street festival, the event organised by the TUC this Sunday can only be described as an underwhelming experience, lasting hardly any longer than 4 hours, including a short 20 minute stroll through the city centre of Birmingham. The festival was set up on Victoria Square in front of the Council House, which would have been a decent enough location, had the conference not been held half a mile away, out of sight and hearing range. The march through the centre merely moved further away and made full use of empty backstreets, so as not to disturb the shopping public.
At least the CPGB-ML and Red Youth put on a good display under the circumstances, with one of the nicer stalls, shining in full crimson and displaying not only party literature but also a selection of Marxist classics that put others to shame.
In the process we chatted to many interested members of the public, some disillusioned with other left groups and also one self-proclaimed ‘anarcho-capitalist’, who somehow found his way from the internet into the real world. The latter provided us with the invaluable information that the European Union is in fact a communist institution, as it supposedly redistributes wealth to the poorer countries at the expense of the successful ones. Comrades, we can pack up, we have already achieved power across Europe!
In all seriousness, individuals like this, providing they are not purely interested in having an argument, should look into who really benefits from the European single market – big banks, industrialists and financiers. Even more importantly is understanding the definition of communism and socialism and not equating it with a ‘big state that hates the market’.
In any case, we made a number of new contacts, including a number of young comrades from China who showed interest in working with us, reinforcing the image that many the more serious revolutionaries in this country tend to be from an international background, like the author of this blog piece!
It has been a busy few months for CPGB-ML comrades in South Wales as they continue to step up activity in the region. Comrades have attended Bedroom Tax and NHS events and there has been activity in both Merthyr Tydfil and Abergavenny. The latest Gaza leaflets were distributed in Cardiff City Centre and there was a high level of interest in them. The CPGB-ML were also once again present at the 1911 Railway Strike commemoration in Llanelli as they have been since its centenary in 2011.
The Party has long been instrumental in highlighting and raising awareness about Nato’s murderous warmongering and this was reflected in a good contingent at the ‘No to Nato’ protest in Newport where comrades from Newport, Merthyr Tydfil and Swansea were joined by party members from Runcorn, Hereford, Bristol and London. The demo was large and lively and we were able to set up a gazebo both at the start of the march and the town centre rally afterwards. Comrades marched proudly with the CPGB-ML banner and flags as well as the Palestinian flag, and over 700 of our Nato leaflets were distributed. There was a lot of interest in our latest Ukraine leaflets too and it was refreshing to note that people are not buying in to the Russia as warmonger mythology.
Comrade Giles was able to take our message to a wider audience in an interview for Bangladeshi TV and footage of the CPGB-ML featured on the RT coverage of the event. Despite the usual lack of accurate reporting from the BBC which aimed to make the week of protest look smaller than it actually was in a vain attempt to diminish its impact, the Activists were out in full force. All this despite the intimidation of a heavy police and military presence, the kettling of protesters and access to both Newport and Cardiff having been made as difficult as physically possible.
With the streets of Newport being tarted up for the visit of the ‘World Leaders’ the public showed what they really thought and surrounded Cardiff Castle as the leaders were treated to a slap up feast! While the eyes of the world are riveted to footage of atrocity after atrocity in Syria and Iraq and bombs rain down on Palestinian schoolchildren Obama took time out to visit a local school. The irony of this was lost on him…
As the US and its Imperialist chums turn their attentions back to Syria there is an air of disbelief emanating from the masses, an anger building. A gentleman who was reading our leaflets talked about the convenience of the BBC coverage concerning ISIS and Iraq to divert attention away from Gaza and the outpouring of solidarity across the world with the Palestinian people.Indeed, it is getting harder and harder to keep up lately. Who is on the target list today: DPRK? Syria? Iraq? Iran? Venezuela?
The people of South Wales have always been immensely proud of their heritage and justifiably so. Although the scarred hillsides serve as a constant reminder of the loss of industry in the area it is the actions of the Chartists, the Miners and the working people that remains in our hearts and our minds and serves as an example to us. South Wales has a staunch and admirable Socialist past and the region and indeed Wales as a whole must continue to stand with the workers of Britain and continue to fight for the cause of Internationalism in the same spirit as the Welsh volunteers of the International Brigades. In 1831 during the Merthyr Uprising the red flag of revolution was raised for the very first time and the CPGB-ML are proud to march beneath this international symbol of the working classes – join us!
“Remember the procession of the old-young men
From dole queue to corner and back again,
From the pinched, packed streets to the peak of slag
In the bite of the winters with shovel and bag,
With a drooping fag and a turned up collar,
Stamping for the cold at the ill lit corner
Dragging through the squalor with their hearts like lead
Staring at the hunger and the shut pit-head
Nothing in their pockets, nothing home to eat.
Lagging from the slag heap to the pinched, packed street.
Remember the procession of the old-young men,
It shall never happen again.”
CPGB-ML comrades attended the lobby of the Labour Party Conference in Manchester on Sunday, 21st September 2014. Protesters pushed to the brink by continuing war and austerity gathered to express their anger outside the conference centre while Labour bigwigs soaked up the luxury and opulence of the Midland Hotel opposite. The lobby was attended by various campaign groups such as KONP (Keep Our NHS Public) and there was a vocal and spirited stand against G4S and its human rights abuses in Palestine.
The lobby also coincided with one of the national climate marches where anti-fracking protesters were out in force. CPGB-ML comrades showed solidarity against ALL capitalist cuts and our message was simple but clear: Socialism is the ONLY alternative to the corruption and oppression of all working people under the current system.
Our contingent had a visible presence with banner and flags, and were able to secure a good spot at the conference entrance to set up a stall where copies of Proletarian and Lalkar were purchased along with a number of party publications (‘Nato’s Predatory War against Yugoslavia’ proved to be popular!).
CPGB-ML members also handed out leaflets on issues ranging from Palestine and Nato to the NHS and Austerity with a good response from the public, protesters and even one or two conference delegates! Our stall was popular with a number of Trade Unionists coming from the conference to speak to us about their disillusionment with the Labour Party. And despite an intimidating police presence (also armed forces and helicopters) which almost outnumbered the protesters, a few members of the police force chatted to us about how they don’t receive over time for events such as these as they are salaried workers. Of course refusal to attend would result in their being disciplined!
Despite the enthusiasm of protesters it was a noticeably small gathering. Many protesters shouted slogans such as ‘Don’t be a Tory all your life!’ and urging Labour not to sell off our NHS, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Labour have been instrumental in its creeping privatisation. Labour brought us PFI, and Labour brought us Atos and its heinous fit for work assessments. Labour have also refused to ban fracking and have now put forward the earth shattering proposal of raising the minimum wage to £8 per hour… in 2020!
We all have to stand together and realise that Labour are every bit as dangerous as the Tories. They do not represent working people. Capitalism Must Go! Labour, Tory? Same Old Story! Join the CPGB-ML.
Support for the activists occupying the Israeli arms factory, UAV Engines in Shenstone, grew throughout the day yesterday. People continued to arrive from across the country, joining protesters who had stayed through the night, to express their outrage and grief at the continued support of humanitarian crimes against the Palestinian people. Their message was clear: stop exporting arms to aid in genocide, stop supporting an apartheid state, stand up against oppression and injustice in their most barbaric forms.
Protesters outside the police cordon (a crime scene, making it an arrestable offence to enter for anyone, except of course locals and anyone driving a nice car) kept up the spirits of the occupiers from London Palestine Action on the roof. Chants, drumming, and slogans were heard by the people on the roof, although the police would not let the protest move within sight of the factory.
The police invoked draconian laws recently passed that make being a ‘nuisance’ an arrestable offence, delaying any decision to move the cordon closer to the factory, and maintaining a strong presence throughout the day. Strangely, when the cameras arrived, the police decided to move all of their force out of sight, perhaps to give the impression that a peaceful protest wasn’t being met with over 30 officers armed with pepper spray, batons, and stun guns.
The protesters grew frustrated by the police’s attempts to delay and diffuse the movement, and decided to hold a silent march through the village which was met with support from the local pub and church. Many in the village were previously unaware that military hardware was being manufactured in the factory.
The police deliberately delayed the decision of whether to let the protesters move ahead, which had been demanded early on, in order to proceed onto the roof and arrest the occupiers at approximately 7-8pm. The police did this under the cover of allowing them to use phones to conduct interviews with the BBC and PressTV. Despite being removed from the roof they got the message out to people across the world, and have educated and inspired many not only about what is really happening in the world, but shown them that they are empowered to take action and stand for what is right.
Taking action, from informing the public and staging demonstrations to occupying means of production and denying trade and transport for imperialist wars is not only justified, but our imperative. Our ruling classes wage war in their own interest, oppress workers of all countries, and profit from our suffering. We must take control of our own labour, deny the capitalists the means of oppression, and smash the tools of imperialism.
“Either place yourself at the mercy of capital, eke out a wretched existence as of old and sink lower and lower, or adopt a new weapon-this is the alternative imperialism puts before the vast masses of the proletariat. Imperialism brings the working class to revolution.” – J.V. Stalin, Foundations of Leninism
The CPGB-ML and Red Youth are hosting a public meeting to discuss the bourgeois media lies about what is happening in Gaza and what can be done about it this Friday 8th August at 274 Moseley Road, Balsall Heath, Birmingham, B12 0BS at 6:30pm.
You should also join us at the Palestine Solidarity Committe demonstration in London on Saturday 9th August, taking place at 12 noon in front of BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA. Take action! Make a difference!
Comrades from the CPGB-ML joined others from Bristol PSC and Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine to protest against the despicable and biased media coverage of the Israeli assault on Gaza by the BBC. In this short video comrades explain the importance of such demonstrations and Giles Shorter of Bristol CPGB-ML explains the reasons why we must condemn imperialism’s meddling in the Ukraine and Palestine:
Around the country firemen and teachers will be joined by hundreds of thousands of other workers in a coordinated day of strike action. Red Youth urges comrades, friends and supporters to join the demonstrations and rallies (listed below) taking place in cities and towns on Thursday.
Suicide rates among the unemployed are climbing, councils are starting to implement the much-reviled bedroom tax, disabled people are dying as a result of losing benefits, and debt, poverty and homelessness are about to spiral massively.
Every single member of the working class can expect to be affected by this all-out attack, which will blight our lives from the cradle to the grave!
Child benefit, educational grants, family credits, pensions, and social facilities are under attack. Libraries, youth centres and even fire stations are closing down.
Education is being hammered, and private contractors have been given free rein to loot our health service, raking in massive profits at the expense of patient care.
Moreover, as social services disappear, the cost of living is going up and wages are stagnating or going down.
Unemployment and underemployment are endemic. Over 10 percent of workers, and 25 percent of young people, are unemployed, and many more can’t find work that pays enough to live on. Under crisis-ridden capitalism, our future is bleak.
Who is to blame?
At a time of crisis, when working people are angry at being forced into undeserved hardship, it is vitally important that we are able to ignore the divisive propaganda that offers us convenient scapegoats and look at the situation from a class perspective.
What we have today is a crisis of capitalist overproduction. Such crises are built into the system of production for profit – they are as inevitable as exploitation and war while capitalism stalks the earth.
The problem is not one of ‘limited resources’, however. Britain is home to the oldest and most cynical capitalist class, who have truly earned their global-pirate status. Our country is swimming in ill-gotten riches that have been stolen at gunpoint from Asia, Africa and Latin America, in addition to the profits sweated from British workers.
Moreover, as all wealth is the product of our work, every new worker is capable of augmenting our collective wealth and wellbeing. It is unemployment that turns potential workers into a burden; unemployment that has arisen because the capitalists have so impoverished the world’s people that it is now impossible for them to make profits by selling all the stockpiled goods back to the masses who made them.
Since the 2008 crash, ‘reckless bankers’ and their ‘excessive’ bonuses have become the targets of much anger. It is certainly easy to hate those who made so much money out of gambling with our economy, but we must be careful not to mistake a symptom for a cause.
The systemic failure of capitalism did not come about because of the greed of a few ‘rogue traders’, no matter how cynical, amoral, and sociopathic they might be. In the last analysis, they are merely the ‘personification of capital’, doing what the system requires and rewards.
Regulation could not have prevented the crash. ‘Sensible, regulated banking practices’ inevitably lead to fevered speculation as production outstrips consumption and markets contract. There is no such thing as sane, sensible capitalism; no such thing as capitalism without crisis and collapse!
What is to be done?
Our rulers have made it clear what their plan is: they hope to pass the burden of their latest crisis onto the backs of working people through austerity and war, saving their fortunes and their system at our expense. They do not care what catastrophic effects their self-preservation strategies have on the planet or the masses of humanity.
It is time for Britain’s workers to make an alternative plan. The career politicians of the big parties have proven to be servants of the rich. Asking a Tory, LibDem or Labour MP to take care of the workers is about as sensible as asking a crocodile to look after a zebra.
If we want to stop this assault, we must stop expecting the minions of the capitalist state to deliver justice and get organised to claim what is rightfully ours.
We are many and they are few
Step one is defence. Our streets and estates should be no-go zones for bailiffs! We should oppose repossessions and evictions by physically protecting each other’s homes.
And communities need to join with put-upon care workers and teachers to do whatever it takes to kick PFI and privateers out of our schools and hospitals. Decent education and health care are incompatible with private enterprise! We must demand the abolition of fees and the reintroduction of grants for students of all ages.
Similarly, if a library or fire station is closing down, we should join with staff and do whatever it takes to keep facilities open – running them ourselves if necessary.
Workers’ organisations should be repossessing Britain’s one million empty houses and distributing them to the homeless. We need to appropriate surplus food stocks and distribute them to the hungry, and we need to switch on the energy for those who are facing another winter without heating.
Workers have the creative energy to make the attacks of the capitalists totally unworkable. We urgently need an organisation that will inspire and coordinate a truly mass popular resistance against cuts and austerity.
What we don’t need is yet another talking shop run by the same Labour-affiliated careerists who have been diverting and demoralising British workers for decades – not stopping the war, not stopping redundancies, not stopping privatisation and not defending the NHS.
After decades of calling for mindless, tame and fruitless ‘activity’ – dead-end lobbying of MPs, futile court cases, tokenistic demonstrations and endless petition-writing – the placemen who pretend to ‘lead’ our movement need to be given the boot!
Step two is offence. Defending ourselves against austerity won’t change the fact that the country is spiralling into crisis at home and conflict abroad.
If we want to give our children a future free from debt, homelessness, poverty, unemployment, hunger, disease and war, we need to get rid of the parasites who are bleeding us all dry and take the whole British economy into our own hands.
Socialist planning is the only alternative to capitalist anarchy – and the only way to ensure a decent future for all working people. It is time we forged a movement, organisation and leadership bold enough to put the concrete demands of workers back on the agenda.
Join us in this struggle to build a better future – for Britain and for the world!
The Communist Party of Britain (Morning Star) this month reaffirmed its position of continued backing for the imperialist Labour Party at the 2015 general election. It does so in a draft domestic resolution circulated in advance of its upcoming Congress this autumn. This resolution was forwarded to redyouth.org and is reproduced in full below.
Aiming low, the CPB’s revolutionary vision is limited to bringing down the Tory-LibDem coalition. In their draft domestic resolution they further state that a Labour government is “the only practical and viable alternative”. The reality, however, is that the Labour Party offers no alternative, let alone a viable one for the working class. As its interests align with those of the ruling class, Labour is in fact no different from the other major parties.
The CPB were not so shortsighted however as to leave their tracks completely uncovered and attempted to salvage what little credibility may remain. In continuation with the ‘demand’ to ‘reclaim’ the Labour Party, they set out that “the period up to and immediately following the June 2015 general election will demonstrate conclusively whether or not Labour can be reclaimed as the mass electoral party of the labour movement. Labour’s election manifesto will reveal whether trade union influence has produced a left or progressive programme.”
Rather than continually threatening to reconsider their relationship with the Labour Party the CPB should learn the lessons of history. The betrayals of the Labour Party as far back as the first government it formed 1924 are well documented. Firstly, it u-turned its opposition to the reparations regime; a program designed to further fragment the defeated countries of the Great War through guilt payments to the imperialists. Secondly, it immediately set about the persecution of leading members of the emerging Communist Party of India who were valiantly fighting against the British colonial rule. Even in its final week of its founding term, the Labour Party authorised the promulgation of the Bengal Special Ordinances, giving powers of indefinite imprisonment by executive order without specific accusation, trial or judicial sentence.
Clearly, the intentions of the Labour Party were never rooted in the common interests of the working class to begin with, and from there on, Labour’s love-in with imperialism has flourished…
The Attlee government, which has been called by much of Britain’s ‘left’ an example of what the Labour Party can do for the masses, is no less an example of how imperialism had branched across all fronts of society. Whilst nationalization, full employment and the National Health Service met many of the necessities of the British working class, these were only temporary concessions. At the same time the horrifying standards for overseas workers who remained under British colonial rule intensified. Tens of thousands subsequently died across the globe in revolts against the administration of British imperialism, carried out loyally by the ‘socialist’ Attlee administration.
The position of the Labour Party during the coal strike should have yet again clearly exposed its loyalty to imperialism once and for all, as labour and the TUC buckled to the Thatcher administration, the media, the police and the intelligence services. In helping to undermine the resistance of the NUM, the vanguard of the British working class was lost. Having come to power with the biggest landslide majority in history, the Blair ministry ensured the continuation of monopoly capitalism’s policy of dismantling the public sector, plummeting thousands of workers into a state of despair.
Any future Labour government would be no differently than any other, and the CPB would do well to remember that. Having already vowed to axe JSA for under-21s and to continue the ‘freeze’ policy on energy bills rather than nationalising the energy sector, it is clear that this Labour government, alike all before, are servants of monopoly capitalism.
Lenin & Britain
In early 1920, Lenin advised British Communists to support and attempt to affiliate themselves with the Labour Party in order to truly expose its character and nature to the masses. Owing to the fact that the public at the time had no experience of a Labour government, Lenin insisted on a formation of a bloc with them on the condition that the communist’s retain their liberty to expose any treacheries committed by the Labour Party.
Having followed this guidance, the former Communist Party of Great Britain was refused in its applications for affiliation in consecutive years from 1920 until 1924. In doing so, the Labour Party proved that it would prefer close relations with the capitalists to the unity of all workers.
Nothing has changed since. The Labour Party always has, is, and forever will be a representative of imperialism and the impending doom of the international working class masses, the continued global exploitation of our international brothers and the impending doom of poverty, famine and war.
Only by breaking from the Labour Party once and for all can the working class hope to build a better future. Only under the guidance of Marxism-Leninisms can we hope to rebuild the fragmented society and form a single, mass movement that puts the masses first.
Marxism will break our chains!
Draft EC Domestic Resolution
For a United, Militant and Political Labour Movement to Defeat the Ruling Class Offensive
1. The priorities for Communist Party work over the coming period will be to:
Build the People’s Assembly movement, the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, the trades councils and community-based campaigns to draw many more people into the struggle against austerity and privatisation.
Strengthen the National Assembly of Women, highlight the feminisation of poverty and project the alternative policies outlined in the Charter for Women.
Expose and combat the agenda to privatise public sector schools and the NHS, including through support for trade union action to defend the quality of our state education and health services, highlighting the need to abolish public schools and private health care.
Project a left-wing programme of alternative policies as in the People’s Charter, particularly the case for a Wealth Tax and public ownership of energy, public transport and the financial sector.
Win the labour movement across Scotland, Wales and England for progressive federalism to resolve the national question in the interests of a united working class movement against British state-monopoly capitalism.
Expose the right-wing character of UKIP and build a left and progressive mass movement against EU membership rooted in the trade unions.
Work to ensure that the Morning Star position as the daily paper of the left, progressive and labour movements is reflected more substantially in sales and financial support.
Explain the need for the trade unions to take the necessary steps to ensure that labour movement has its own mass party, capable of winning general elections and enacting policies in the interests of workers and their families.
Strengthen the Communist Party through deeper involvement in local campaigning work including on the electoral front, a more systematic approach to political education and cadre development and a bolder policy of recruitment especially in the trade union movement.
2. The Communist Party warned before the end of 2008 that the financial crash and economic crisis would be utilised by the ruling class to launch an offensive against the working class and peoples of Britain. The chief forces of monopoly capital would strive to rescue their system, restore its profit base and ensure that the British state and government enforce the interests of big business at whatever cost to the mass of workers and their families.
3. Economically, the dominant section of the capitalist class, organised in the big financial institutions of the City of London, has been served by policies designed to protect its most basic interests. Thus the banks and financial markets have continued to be bailed out with public money and other supportive measures, as liabilities remain nationalised while profits are privatised. Reform and regulation of the financial services sector has been minimal where not postponed altogether.
4. The monopoly capitalists in every sector have benefited from further reductions in taxes on profits, capital gains and high incomes while nothing substantial is done to stamp out their prolific use of tax havens and other tax evasion devices. Unprecedented cuts in state expenditure have reduced tax pressures on the rich and big business, while also helping to depress wage levels generally as prices let rip across the economy. Whole sections of the public sector have either been privatised – most notably the Royal Mail – or prepared for privatisation in the case of education and the NHS.
5. The minimal economic upturn which began in 2014 was delayed by the government’s policies to redistribute even more wealth and purchasing power from the working class and the poorest in our society to big business and the rich. The recovery is flimsy and based on house price inflation, financial mis-selling compensation and consumption by the wealthy, rather than on investment in productive industry to meet growing mass demand at home and abroad. Moreover, it takes place in an unreformed British economy which retains all its most fundamental weaknesses and distortions: overdependence on financial services and armaments (where public money subsidises most of the R&D, production and export sales); underinvestment in civilian manufacturing, engineering, science and technology; absence of effective strategic planning in vital sectors such as energy and transport; and ceding of ownership of key areas of the economy to overseas monopolies so that the British capitalist class can continue to export capital and speculate in finance and property without destroying British state power’s domestic economic base. This ruthless drive to maximise monopoly profit is generating an enormous overaccumulation of capital, much of which will never be realised at its full nominal value. It is preparing the ground for future financial scandals and crashes.
6. Socially, the offensive has intensified overwork by underskilled workers who are increasingly impoverished and insecure. Mass unemployment persists as superexploited migrant labour is imported to maintain a large “reserve army” which can be drawn into employment and then expelled with ease. This has proceeded alongside the imposition of an employment model in key sectors of the economy, such as retail and finance, where zero hours contracts and other forms of precarious work have become the norm for millions of workers in Britain.Thus trade union bargaining power is undermined and wage levels depressed. This wide-ranging attack on real wages, pensions and welfare benefits has rapidly deepened poverty and inequality. In addition, the consequent reduction in working class purchasing power limits the scope for real economic recovery, thereby aggravating the problems of capital overaccumulation and helping to precipitate the next cyclical downturn in the British economy.
7. Culturally, capitalist ownership and its market anarchy favour mass production of anything that can be turned to a profit. Extreme concentrations of wealth together with neoliberal hostility to regulation have enabled many more of Britain’s cultural institutions to fall into the hands of financial speculators, business crooks and pornographers who have no interest in promoting informative, progressive, challenging, liberating or genuinely participative aspects of culture. Instead, much of capitalism’s output reflects the system’s drive for maximum profit regardless of other considerations.
8. Ideologically, the ruling class offensive has unleashed a new propaganda drive against socialist, collectivist and progressive ideas and values. Particular targets include the public services, trade unionism, social solidarity, wealth redistribution, public ownership and anything relating to socialism and communism. Mass media outlets confine news and current affairs coverage to a narrow consensus in which even Keynesian and social democratic views struggle to gain a platform, while socialism and communism are excluded altogether.
9. Politically, big business and the mass media exert enormous pressure, reinforced by the ‘first past the post’ electoral system, to maintain consensus between the major political parties. Straying from the austerity and privatisation agenda or opposing British imperialism’s world view is punished by ferociously hostile media coverage and the loss of financial support. ‘Normalisation’ of fascist parties and representatives in Britain and other parts of Europe as a legitimate part of the political spectrum, while communists are ignored or pilloried, is a particularly disturbing development. At a time when the ruling class has shown itself so unfit to rule – when the scale of corruption in business, parliamentary, media and police circles is too big to be covered up adequately – the mass media allows a platform mainly to ‘anti-Establishment’ views from the far right rather than from the left.
10. In anticipation of this all-round assault, the Communist Party proposed that a mass movement be built around a People’s Charter for Change, putting forward alternative policies to those of austerity and privatisation. Led by the RMT but backed also by the FBU, PCS, other unions and socialists, including left Labour MPs, such an initiative gathered pace in the course of 2009 as the People’s Charter was endorsed by the British TUC annual conference. But there was resistance to wholehearted campaigning in favour of the charter in advance of the 2010 general election. The initiative began to lose impetus, especially after the incoming Tory-LibDem regime more than doubled the public spending cuts proposed by the outgoing Labour government and mounted a vicious attack on pay and pension rights in the public sector.
11. Confronted with an open declaration of class war, unions in that sector understandably prioritised the defence of their members’ terms and conditions. Millions of workers responded magnificently to the call for industrial action in defence of their occupational pensions. In the private sector too, trade unionists in the construction, electrical, railway and other industries demonstrated their willingness to defend jobs, pay and trade union rights against employers backed by a government willing to drive through the biggest decline in working class living standards for 80 years. Yet the trade union movement was unable to build sufficient unity to halt or even slow the austerity offensive. Union sectarianism within the public sector and an inability to secure wider understanding of the common interests of public and private sector workers rendered the general strike call at the 2012 TUC conference inoperable.
12. Throughout this period, the Communist Party advocated trade union and working class unity, pointing out that the necessary defence of public sector pensions was too narrow a basis for the scale of resistance needed. We exposed the link between pension liabilities and covert plans for extensive privatisation. Britain’s communists insisted that winning the case in the labour movement and among the wider public for generalised strike action was far more important than immediately “naming the day.” Even more significantly, we argued that industrial militancy was a necessary but insufficient condition for defeating the Tory-led austerity and privatisation agenda. Coordinated and generalised strike action had to be planned within a political context, one which rejected the legitimacy of the Tory-LibDem regime in favour of a political alternative around which a wide coalition of forces could be mobilised.
13. In the terms pioneered by the CP’s programme Britain’s Road to Socialism, we proposed that a popular, democratic anti-monopoly alliance be built in which the organised working class movement would play the leading role, drawing together all those who could be won to oppose exploitation and oppression. This would mean promoting not only industrial militancy but community campaigning, making connections between the two, engaging in the battle of ideas, stepping up the struggle to reclaim the Labour Party for the labour movement and recognising the necessity for the movement to have its own mass party. It would involve challenging the myths used to divide the working class, such as falsely identifying public sector pay and pensions, benefit claimants or migrant workers as the cause of Britain’s economic and financial crisis. It would also mean dropping any illusions that the Labour Party leadership or the European Union intends to block the ruling class offensive. Furthermore, we proposed that such a movement should develop what Britain’s Road to Socialism calls a ‘left-wing programme’, many of policies of which are reflected in the People’s Charter. The reality must be faced that such an approach was not adopted by the trade union movement as a whole, despite the efforts of communists and socialists in the course of 2012 and 2013.
14. Nevertheless, substantial elements of it have been embraced by significant forces in the labour and progressive movements since the general election. In particular:
There has been growing recognition of the need for trade unions to play a more active role where possible in community organisations and campaigns, not least through reinvigorated local trades union councils, community-based union branches and support for local anti-Bedroom Tax campaigns.
The launch of the People’s Assembly movement in 2013 and its subsequent adoption of the People’s Charter and other left and progressive policies represents an embryonic mass alliance against state-monopoly capitalism, bringing together several trade unions with community campaigns and sections of the Labour Party and wider left including the Communist Party.
Recognising the role of a daily paper and its website in the battle of ideas, the active engagement of trades unions with the Morning Star continues to grow, with nine unions (Unite, GMB, CWU, RMT, FBU, POA, UCATT, Community and the NUM) now represented on the management committee of the paper’s cooperative society.
15. It should also be recognised that the trade union movement has not been laid low by the ruling class and its government and state apparatus, despite setbacks and defeats as well as some victories. Already in 2014 we have seen civil and public servants, railway workers, teachers and lecturers, carers, electricians, journalists, firefighters, prison officers and others taking industrial action.
16. What now needs to happen is that the labour movement and the left, including the Communist Party, assess realistically the objective conditions and trends in Britain today, take the necessary steps to overcome their own weaknesses and take full advantage of the contradictions within British state-monopoly capitalism.
17. Trade unions need to seek greater unity in the fight against austerity and privatisation to protect public services, jobs, wages and pension rights. They should also appreciate the extent to which ruling class strategy is political and ideological, aimed at weakening trade unions financially and organisationally. The escalating attack on union rights and facilities in the public sector confirms this reality. It must be resisted by the whole labour movement because it prefigures a wider offensive against trade unionism in the private and voluntary sectors as well. The Campaign for Trade Union Freedom can play a valuable role in promoting a united, militant and political response. This must include closer co-operation between unions and through trades union councils to organise unemployed, part-time, temporary, casual and migrant workers. The welcome revival of trades councils would be strengthened if more unions ensured that their local branches affiliated and played an active part in them. With more than three million workers unemployed or underemployed, the TUC, its affiliates and their sectoral organisations should consider how to go on the offensive for a shorter working week and working life with no loss of pay or pension, thereby countering proposals to postpone the retirement age still further to 70 and beyond. Nothing would do more to create jobs, boost purchasing power and improve the quality of life for millions of workers and their families.
18. The People’s Assembly must be strengthened organisationally, financially and politically as a militant movement that unites the unions, trades councils, anti-cuts groups, community campaigns and the non-sectarian left in action against austerity and privatisation, in support of an alternative left-wing programme based on the People’s Charter. A powerful movement of this kind is needed to combat the Tory-LibDem coalition and to prepare for whichever government takes office in 2015 and attempts to continue the ruling class offensive. More broad-based local groups should be established locally and coordinated regionally, with active trade union participation at every level and in every nation and region of Britain.
19. Women have been hit disproportionately hard by the ruling class austerity offensive as low-paid workers, users of public and voluntary services, single parents, carers and partners most at risk of domestic violence. Dedicated facilities for women, including victims of rape, have been cut. Yet women have also come to the fore in many local campaigns, whether to defend library and hospital services or to oppose the Bedroom Tax. This makes it still more urgent that trade unions, the People’s Assembly and other campaigning movements do everything possible to support, involve and promote women, including through the provision of dedicated structures and resources where appropriate. In particular, the fight for equal pay for work of equal value has still to be won, highlighting the need for action in favour of compulsory equal pay audits in all sectors of the economy and associated demands. The National Assembly of Women and the Charter for Women can play an invaluable role in linking local and individual campaigns to develop a women’s movement across Britain, promoting political understanding and unity in action against austerity, privatisation, militarism and war.
20. The peoples of Britain can be proud of the extent to which they are building a multiracial society in the teeth of all attempts to divide them against each other. It must remain a top priority to defend multiculturalism and secularism against all attempts to promote religious, ethnic, linguistic or national prejudice and discrimination while building a diverse but integrated working class culture based on class pride, collectivism, unity, equality and solidarity. Mobilising masses of people to deny a platform to racists and fascists wherever possible remains central to this objective. However, this must be accompanied by an explanation of why it is in the interests of workers and people generally to unite against exploitation and oppression. Allowing discrimination against any particular section of the workforce or population eventually undercuts the position of all except the exploiters. That is why the Communist Party rejects on principle the superexploitation of migrant workers, opposes all racist immigration and nationality laws and calls for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. We will continue to work for unity across the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement, based on a recognition that different approaches and priorities need not be a barrier to co-operation, coordination and unity in action wherever they can be achieved.
21. All forces of the labour and progressive movements need to be drawn together in the construction of a mass movement that can turn a defensive struggle against austerity, privatisation and imperialist war into an offensive one for social advance and socialism. The prospects for doing so will be enhanced by the degree to which clarity and unity can be won around a left-wing programme of policies that make inroads into the wealth and power of the capitalist class and its state. Substantial agreement already exists in favour of policies such as democratic public ownership of key industries and services, economic planning, sustainable energy and transport policies that severely reduce carbon emissions, a more progressive taxation system, extensive action to eliminate tax evasion, measures to boost wages, benefits and pensions, imposition of selective price controls, a big construction programme for more council housing, investment in public services and a halt to all forms of privatisation, imposition of capital controls, a major switch from military R&D and production towards civilian and socially useful goods and services. Britain’s repressive anti-trade union laws must be repealed and employment rights expanded. New emphasis needs to be put on promoting policies that guarantee fulfilling employment, training and education opportunities for young people together with equal pay and rights at work for all workers, including women, youth and migrants.
22. At the same time, communists and socialists must step up our efforts to explain how and why so many of the left and progressive policies outlined above fundamentally contradict the neoliberal approach to economic and social questions entrenched in the fundamental treaties and institutions of the European Union. There is a peculiarly British view among progressive-minded people, trade unionists and even socialists that the EU somehow represents an exercise in social progress, solidarity and peaceful co-operation. Most workers across large parts of western and southern Europe have shed such illusions in the course of bitter battles against the brutal austerity and privatisation being enforced by the troika of the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Building a mass left and progressive movement with trade union support against British membership of the EU, especially in the run-up to a possible referendum, will therefore be an internationalist as well as a domestic and democratic necessity.
23. Development of a broad, militant mass movement across Britain against state-monopoly capitalism and for a left-wing alternative is the best context in which to resolve the national question in a progressive, constructive way. Instead of dividing the political class struggle against a united British capitalist class into separate Scottish, Welsh and English compartments, the Communist Party and its allies argue for maintaining working class and labour movement unity in a federal Britain. To secure such federalism on a progressive basis the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly of Wales must be granted powers to challenge monopoly capital in the interests of the workers and peoples of those two countries: powers to stop closures, to intervene industrially and to own and control productive resources. In England, a chamber of the Westminster Parliament could function as an English legislature, with the House of Lords abolished and democratic regional assemblies established by popular demand. Powers and resources should be restored to local government, while directly elected mayors and cabinet-style governance which diminish collective local democracy are scrapped. At the same time, the federal government should retain powers over currency, banking and a sufficient share of tax revenue to be able to redistribute income geographically in terms of social need and to provide a fulcrum for the assertion of democratic power against that of big business. In this way labour, left and progressive movements across Britain would retain their united potential to overthrow the wealth and power of monopoly capital and redistribute it among the workers and peoples of all three countries.
24. The Communist Party is clear that the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition must be defeated in the forthcoming general election, which means supporting the election of the, at present, only practical and viable alternative – a Labour government. This need not require support for every Labour candidate, especially where communists and other candidates may be standing on a broad left platform against the worst Labour champions of neoliberalism and imperialism. Nevertheless, only a defeat of the Tories and LibDems in the election overall will raise people’s morale and determination to fight for left and progressive policies.
25. In the meantime, to help secure such a result, maximum pressure must be exerted on the Labour leadership to propose a winning programme. At the forefront of Labour’s manifesto should be a commitment to end the austerity and privatisation offensive. Real increases in incomes, including the introduction of a statutory living wage, would boost living standards, production, investment and employment. Selective controls on rents, fares and energy and food prices would bring relief to the many millions of people on low incomes. A massive council-house building programme would give hope to many families and young people desperate for a home of their own, as well as creating up to a million new jobs. Rolling back the privatisation of the NHS, notably in England, and putting an end to PFI profiteering would be a vote-winner, likewise a Labour pledge to take the gas, electricity, water, postal and railway industries back into public ownership. Such a left programme could be be financed by abolishing Britain’s nuclear weapons and reducing military spending to the average European level; taxing the rich, financial speculation and big business profits more equitably; and ending the tax haven status of overseas territories under British jurisdiction.
26. Nor should the connections between domestic and international matters be neglected, which is why the labour movement needs to develop its own independent foreign and defence policy in opposition to EU and NATO and in favour of fair trade, social justice, popular sovereignty, international co-operation and peace.
27. While it is unlikely that many of these policies will be accepted by the Labour leadership, arguing for them can raise the level of political understanding in the labour movement, better equipping it for vital strategic tasks ahead.
28. Since the early 20th century, the Labour Party has been the mass electoral party of the labour movement in Britain. Its class base and broad popular appeal have enabled it to win elections, form governments and introduce reforms in the interests of workers and the people generally. Labour’s federal structure, with its affiliated trade unions and working class composition, has helped to ensure the existence of a significant socialist trend within the party, as well as the stronger social-democratic one. Generations of working people have seen Labour as the main repository of their aspirations for a better life and a fairer, more humane society. But while Labour governments have sometimes improved economic, social and political conditions, they have never challenged the foundations of capitalism and imperialism and indeed have waged wars to defend colonial power against national liberation movements. The social-democratic trend in the party has always refused to pursue a strategy for taking state power and using it to replace capitalism with socialism.
29. After its first term in office, the new Labour trend led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown openly pursued a neoliberal agenda on behalf of British state-monopoly capitalism, which included dismantling the trade union and class basis of the Labour Party to make it completely safe for big business. Since then, the Miliband-Balls leadership has failed to break with neoliberalism. On March 1 2014, the Labour Party embarked on what might well be the final stage of its mutation into a non-labour party. Delegates including those from all but one of the affiliated trade unions voted to weaken, perhaps fatally, the collective basis of trade union involvement in the party.
30. The period up to and immediately following the June 2015 general election will demonstrate conclusively whether or not Labour can be reclaimed as the mass electoral party of the labour movement. Labour’s election manifesto will reveal whether trade union influence has produced a left or progressive programme. If the party moves away from austerity, privatisation and the renewal of nuclear weapons and commits a Labour government to measures in favour of public ownership, progressive taxation, public sector housing, price controls and additional rights for workers and trade unions, this will indicate that the battle to reclaim the party can possibly be won. In the ongoing drive to do so, the whole of the left and the labour movement would have a duty to support the Labour left and affiliated unions in their efforts, reinforced by an upsurge in determination and enthusiasm to implement Labour’s manifesto policies in the face of ferocious ruling class opposition.
31. Should the manifesto fail to propose a clear alternative to neoliberalism, Labour will let down its supporters and either lose the election or subsequently govern with the same feeble and reactionary policies that threw away the largest parliamentary majority in history achieved in 1997. Under these conditions, the labour movement and the left will have no option but to take the necessary steps to re-establish a mass party of labour. Staying with a party that no longer pretends to represent working class interests – and where the prospects of it doing so have all but vanished – is a recipe for permanent defeat and despair. While the initial moves towards re-establishing a labour party will have to come from a minority of unions, some of them small or non-affiliated, it will be vital to win at least one or two of the big battalions of the labour movement to this objective.
32. The proposal that unions form their own distinct party, rooted in the labour movement and affiliated to Labour like the Co-operative Party merits serious consideration. It would need to have its own policy-making conference, elected leadership and financial autonomy. Such an initiative could give unions a clearer, stronger and collective political voice both inside and beyond the Labour Party – all the more so if it does not operate bans and proscriptions. Were unions to decide later that they need to re-establish their own mass party outside the Labour Party, much of the initial preparatory work would already have been done.
33. This battle of ideas will be central to the debate that needs to be taken forward urgently about reclaiming or re-establishing the labour movement’s mass party. In particular, ways have to be found to engage the trade unions more extensively in this discussion, however difficult this may be in the run-up to the general election and during any post-victory honeymoon period. Trade union bodies at every level, up to and including the Trades Union Congress, should organise discussions, meetings and conferences to consider the crisis in the political representation of the working class, the future of the Labour Party and how more workers can be drawn into political activity and representation. As the left’s only daily paper, with six Labour-affiliated and three non-affiliated unions represented on its management committee, the Morning Star would be especially well placed to stimulate the debates and initiatives necessary to help resolve the crisis of working class political representation, whether through reclaiming or re-establishing the labour movement’s mass party.
34. However, it must be recognised that the biggest problem on the left in Britain is not so much a shortage of socialist parties as of socialists. The long decline and collapse of social democracy, the previous divisions which severely weakened the Communist Party and the adventurism and sectarianism of the far left have all contributed to a failure to defeat the New Right’s ideological onslaught since the 1970s. The left must now take on the full and urgent responsibility to reclaim the labour movement for socialism, which is a precondition for reclaiming or re-establishing a mass party which can advance beyond social democracy. This will only happen if the left and the trade unions prioritise the work of raising the political consciousness of workers in large numbers, explaining and projecting the ideas and values of socialism.
35. Strengthening the Communist Party and its influence would contribute directly to resolving the crisis of working class political representation in Britain. This is because the CP is rooted in the labour movement, organises to build mass campaigning and seeks to apply its Marxist outlook to vital strategic questions in a non-dogmatic, non-sectarian way. A bigger and more influential Communist Party, active on every front of the political class struggle, unifying in its approach, unwavering in its commitment to socialism, imbued with internationalism, would help transform the political situation in Britain.
36. Building the Communist Party would strengthen not only the party itself but every aspect of resistance to the capitalist onslaught. Attention should be given to identifying working class activists as potential recruits to the party. The unique role of the CP in developing such original analysis and a guide to action as the Charter for Women should lay the basis for attracting a new generation of campaigning women. The party must support the Young Communist League politically and with resources to help the YCL extend its work among youth and students.
37. Central to developing the role of the Communist Party must be the activity of Communists in workplaces, most of which are today unorganised or very weakly organised. The strength of the resistance to ruling class attacks in the 1970s was firmly based on hundreds of CP branches in industry. Effective and politically mature workplace organisation, especially in key sectors of the economy, is essential for redeveloping a strong, confident working class movement that can give leadership in communities and wider struggles. Placing Communists at the centre of such work must be a priority if the ruling class offensive is to be defeated.
38. Communists must raise our effectiveness as a result of improving our political education and cadre development and thus the united and disciplined approach of all comrades to our political work.
39. We need to raise our public imageand have a bolder approach to electoral struggle. Communist policies must be highlighted and tested in electoral contests, reflecting experiences in grassroots struggles. All party organisations have the capacity to be involved in elections and should put forward candidates under the party banner in local council polls. This approach can also provide an effective basis for communist participation in parliamentary and assembly election campaigns in selective constituencies. The party should also keep under consideration the construction of longer-term electoral formations in alliance with trade unions, domiciled communists, socialists, environmentalists and other progressives.
40. Key to the ideological struggle and the battle to increase Communist Party is increased sales of the Morning Star, the only paper that offers a daily outlet for communist and socialist ideas and reportage of working class issues. A more influential and financially secure Morning Star is essential to social advance. Every party member can play a role in buying and selling the Morning Star, raising donations to the paper’s Fighting Fund and winning labour movement shareholdings in the PPPS co-operative that owns it. Working with the Star editor and Management Committee we must carefully develop a strategy to ensure that the Morning Star is rightfully seen as the paper of the People’s Assembly, the unions and the broader movement.
41. Ongoing capitalist crisis expresses itself in a worsening standard of life for working people while the pampered elite enriches itself still further. Our party’s revolutionary proposals offer a decisive but achievable alternative to the austerity agenda favoured by Establishment parties. Communists should play a leading role in combining everyday struggles with the longer-term goal of opening the way to a socialist future.
Our comrade Irina Malenko has now made volume 1 of her book about life in the Soviet Union available online for download. Red Youth recommends all our comrades and readers to study the book and learn more about what life was really like in the USSR. Many of our comrades are working hard with other organisations like the Stalin Society to speak the truth about what Soviet life was like and to remember and understand the great sacrifices and achievements Soviet people made and won in the 20th century. So, necxt time the teacher suggests reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm to understand what socialism or the USSR was all about – tell them to read Irina Malenko’s book – a first hand account from someone who isn’t in the pay of mi5 like good old George!
Writing about her book Irina says,
“I tried to portray the daily life in the USSR in the 1970s-1980s as it was, with all its strengths, but also weaknesses and mistakes we’ve made.
It deals with “perestroika” and “post-perestroika” issues too, as well as portraying life of a post-Soviet migrant worker in Europe.
My book is a challenge to all the wide-spread lies about “oppressive” or “dull” nature of our socialist society.
This is only part 1 of the trilogy (I have translations of other 2 parts as well), and now I also hope to write a new book – continuation of this one.
Its (slightly sarcastic) title will be “Soviética Extremista” 🙂 Because in the West, if you tell the truth about socialism, they immediately brand you as “an extremist”!”
And don’t forget to watch comrade Julia’s presentation on her life in the USSR!
A meeting organised by the Communist Party in Birmingham, West Midlands was addressed by Harpal Brar this Sunday. The meeting was held in the party building near the city centre and began with two short film showings demonstrating the brutality of the Kiev fascists who have murdered innocent people in Odessa, Slavyansk, Mariupol and various other towns these last few weeks and the disgusting assertion by one pro-Kiev coup government Mayor that Hitler was a liberator from Stalin and the USSR.
The meeting is one of a series of meetings which in general are addressing the theme imperialism and war and it follows on from similar successful events in Liverpool and London. Other regions are preparing to host Harpal and other members of the central committee of the CPGB-ML and the next will be held in Glasgow on Saturday May 31 – further details to be announced. If you would like to have the talk in your own town, get in touch via email@example.com.
The Birmingham meeting was well attended by local party comrades and friends and heard an expert summary of the Marxist teachings on imperialism and war. Comrade Harpal spoke about the reasons for war, the class contradictions which give rise to war, the different types of war and the attitude of communists towards war. He talked about the role of opportunism and social chauvinism in the anti-war movement, and importantly the meeting went on to address questions of vital significance for us here in Britain today. The comrades assembled in Birmingham expressed their opinion that in the event of US or British imperialist aggression against Russia or China, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist – Leninist) would work for the defeat of our own government and support the defense of Russia and socialist China. It was the view of the majority that war against Russia or China would be reactionary, would strengthen the forces of imperialism and would therefore need to be opposed by revolutionaries. Comrades rejected the notion peddled in some quarters that because Russia is not a socialist country we would adopt a “plague on both your houses” attitude, and that rather than take such a backward step we should declare ourselves firmly on the side of the victim of imperialist aggression.