The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 23rd December 2016

2016, history is speeding up

THE YEAR 2016 has seen the general crisis of capitalism deepen and the class struggle has also intensified — at last the workers of Britain and other western “democracies” are fighting back and inflicting some telling blows on the superstructure of world capitalism.

For us in Britain the most significant of these has been the “No” vote in the referendum in June, which has forced our government to set about disengaging Britain from the European Union (EU).

The EU is one of the major imperialist structures — originally a mutually supportive trading group of governments working together to squeeze their own workforces to the maximum and to exploit the rest of the world. But it was steadily marching towards becoming a virtual federal state through the single market.

The Brexit vote has not killed the EU but it has significantly damaged it, and the populations of other EU countries are now also seeking escape.

Britain, through its historical imperialist role and the global financial power of the City of London, is still a powerful tool of imperialism. Separating that from the EU has weakened both — though of course that separation has yet to be accomplished and the imperialists are predictably dragging their heels in implementing it. We still have a struggle ahead to force this break.

But already Britain no longer has the power to act as the Trojan horse of the United States within the debating chambers of Brussels and the menace of the TTIP (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) trading agreement has virtually been killed.

We have seen Jeremy Corbyn re-affirmed as the leader of the Labour Party with more support than the previous year. But much of the structure of the party founded by the trade unions for the benefit of the workers is still in the hands of the pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist Blairites.

Wresting control of this and turning it into a fighting structure controlled by the working class is an ongoing battle that is being fought tooth and nail at every level.

The ruling class in this country is deeply divided and this showed up during the Tory party leadership contest — and, as a century ago, it still boils down to a battle between the free-traders and the protectionists.

The new Prime Minister and her Cabinet come across as being more pragmatic and less ideologically wedded to austerity and crushing the poor for the sake of it. But appearances are deceptive and the austerity juggernaut is crashing on, smashing lives and hopes. Nevertheless the opposition is growing, and getting more politically aware and organised.

Internationally we have also seen the huge rift in the global ruling class manifest itself in the United States presidential election and the triumph of Donald Trump — a man whose policies are being increasingly likened to those of Adolf Hitler.

Trump won because Hilary Clinton’s policies were little better and her increasing aggression on international policies was even more alarming than Trump’s. The true majority of US citizens did not want to vote for either of them. And so the illusion of western democracy is wearing thin. The United States is now headed for some massive internal struggles and upheavals.

Most alarming amongst the highest circles of the global capitalist elite — who know their system is on the verge of another great banking crisis, worse than that of 2008 — is the emergence of a lobby that is saying a new global war is necessary to create new markets through massive destruction — and also counter the emerging threats to US’s fast-waning hegemony from Russia, China and the other BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).

We are now perhaps closer to the danger of a nuclear war than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis. But even within their own class the warmongers are far from being a majority.

But it is not enough just to hope that these lunatics can be disarmed carefully. The call for peace must be a campaigning priority everywhere.

This has been a tough year but the years to follow are looking even more challenging. There have been big advances as well new dangers arising; capitalism is dying but is becoming unstable in the process. International working class solidarity and intelligent responses to the coming challenges have never been so vital.