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New Communist Party of Britain

Imperialism and the slump of 2009

Andy Brooks, NCP General Secretary, moves the Main Resolution at the Congress

Dear friends, comrades and honoured guests

We meet again at a time of intensifying struggle in Britain and across the globe. We meet while the British ruling class and the bourgeoisie throughout the capitalist world are struggling to recover from the greatest slump since 1929.

We have seen sweeping changes across the world over the past three years.

The Zimbabwean government refused to bow to imperialist demands to reverse the land reforms, held an election and formed a coalition government without imperialist interference.

The Nepalese people overthrew the hated monarchy in 2008. Russia defeated an imperialist attempt to build a Nato bridgehead in the Caucasus when it crushed the Georgian aggressors. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the second socialist country today to possess nuclear weapons, stood firm in the face of threats of the US imperialism and by so doing so forced the Americans to negotiate face to face to ease tension on the Korean peninsula.

The Iraqi and Afghan resistance forced the imperialists onto the defensive and have made the long-term occupation of their countries untenable.

Though the “new world order” and “globalisation” have been put on hold by the new Obama administration in the United States, the primary contradiction in the world today is still between American imperialism and the rest of the world it seeks to dominate.

Though the most reactionary and aggressive sections of the US ruling class suffered a setback in the 2008 presidential elections when their Republican candidate was defeated, the Obama administration has not abandoned US imperialism’s dream of world domination but has merely changed tack to take into account the changed economic climate and the growing resistance throughout the world to open US hegemony.

US imperialism, weakened by the slump that began with the near collapse of the banking system last year, is on the defensive but it is not in retreat.

US imperialism wants to hold on to what it’s got. US forces continue to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran is still under threat. Cuba still suffers from the US blockade and the Americans are working to prop up the remaining reactionary regimes in what they like to call their own “backyard” to halt the advance of popular democracy in Latin America. Israel continues to deny the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arabs and Korea, Cyprus and Ireland remain partitioned.

We have taken part in the biggest anti-war movement this country has ever seen — a movement that mobilised millions throughout the Western world and led to the defeat of the most reactionary circles of the ruling class in Britain and the United States. Bush has gone and so has Blair and along with them has gone the dream of the “New World Order”, the “Project for a New American Century” and the “New Middle East”.

The neo-conservative economic model has been dumped and the bourgeoisie is once again turning to Keynesianism to stave off economic melt-down and head off mass social unrest in the imperialist heartlands.

We meet as working people rally to defend their jobs and livelihoods in the Royal Mail, the civil and national health service and local government. We meet in the run up to a general election next year with a resurgent Tory Party promising to resume its all out offensive against trade union rights should it return to power, while the neo-nazi BNP attempts to stoke up anti-Muslim and anti-ethnic minority hatred in its bid to politically legitimise a racist and fascist bloc within the ranks of the bourgeoisie.

All of this is reflected in the analysis of the draft main resolution which is the product of the intense discussion that has taken place in the Party Cells, Districts and the Central Committee over the past 11 months. Now this document comes to the highest authority of the Party, the Congress, for debate and to chart our course for the next three years.

We have always maintained that peace is the central issue in all our campaigns. In Britain the labour and peace movement must step up the fight to bring about the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan and indeed from every other part of the world.

At the same time the labour and peace movement must mobilise to stop this Labour government or whatever takes its place next year from spending more billions on the needless and useless replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system and then develop the campaign to scrap all British nuclear weapons and close down all US bases on our soil.

In the past the ruling class has always closed ranks during times of economic crisis. But this slump has only sharpened the divisions between those who believe that the future for British capitalism lies in greater European integration, those who think British imperial interests are still best served through the alliance with the United States and those who believe that British imperialism can extract the maximum benefit by playing off one against the other by acting as a trans-Atlantic “bridge” between American imperialism and that of France and Germany. And the latter course was the traditional path of all Labour and Conservative governments from the late 1950s to 1997.

The Tories directly represent the ruling class while the right-wing leaders of social-democracy collaborate with whichever the section of the ruling class that they believe is the dominant one.

After the 1997 Labour victory Tony Blair put all his bets on the Americans siding with the most reactionary elements within the British ruling class in the belief that victory in Iraq would give British imperialism a significant slice of the spoils when the “new world order” was established. That dream died on the streets of Baghdad along with Blair’s hopes to see out a third term in office. His successor, Gordon Brown, would still like to straddle the Atlantic as the arbiter between US and Franco-German imperialism but that bridge was burnt in Iraq and this Labour Government is now increasingly looking towards the European Union for its salvation.

The bourgeoisie, as always, do not want the general election debate to go beyond the issues in which they themselves have differing opinions. Our task is to fight for working class based politics and argue the case for socialism. Everyone knows that Britain is an immensely wealthy country and that economic basis for socialism has existed here for over a 100 years. But we are no nearer to socialism than we were in the 1900s. The fact is that the class as a whole is still committed to social democratic reform. This is not because the class is collectively stupid but because they know, quite correctly, that the British ruling class could restore the entire public sector and the entire Welfare State and more by simply disgorging a fraction of the profits they make at home and abroad.

Our electoral policy is to vote Labour in all elections apart from the bogus European parliamentary polls which we boycott. This is not because we supported the venal reactionary policies of “New Labour” or have been taken in by Brown’s neo-Keynesian reforms.

It’s not because we think a Labour government can solve the problems of working people. We know that isn’t possible in a bourgeois “democracy”. Our policy, which has been discussed and elaborated from Congress to Congress since 1977, exists because it is based on the concrete conditions that exist in Britain today.

In our view a Labour government with the yet unbroken links with the Labour Party, the trade unions and the co-operative movement, offers the best option for the working class in the era of bourgeois parliamentary democracy.

Our strategy is for working class unity and our campaigns are focused on defeating the right-wing within the movement and strengthening the left and progressive forces within the Labour Party and the unions to create a democratic Labour Party that will carry out the demands of organised labour when in office.

Working people have made some gains since Labour returned to office in 1997, gains that would not have happened under the Tories, like the peace process in Ireland, devolution in Scotland and Wales and creation of the Greater London Authority.

Though the anti-union laws have not been repealed they are largely in abeyance and the Brown Government tacitly accepts the principle of consulting the unions, even if it rarely takes the advice it is given.

Let’s be clear about bourgeois democracy. We believe that the working class can never come to power through bourgeois elections but that doesn’t mean that we turn our back on working class demands for social justice and state welfare.

We believe that social democracy can never lead to people’s democracy but that doesn’t mean that we turn our back on social democratic movements that represent millions upon millions of working people in Britain in the unions and within the Labour Party.

We believe that the class collaborationist ideas of social democracy can and must be defeated within the working class. But it cannot be defeated by imitating it in the countless variations of the British Road to Socialism upheld by the revisionist, pseudo-communist and Trotskyist movements in Britain today.

The fact that these platforms do not work; that they are rejected time and time again by the same working class these programmes claim to advance, never deters these pseudo-revolutionaries who believe they can change the consciousness of the masses through rhetoric and wild promises.

Now we can all play that game and conjure up imaginary legions beyond the British working class to take us down the revolutionary road. We can all invent a class that is seething with anger and mobilised for revolutionary change that is just waiting for the correct party with the correct formula to lead them to victory. As communists we have to work with the working class that exists and not the phantom of romantic ultra-leftism.

Standing left candidates without mass support against Labour divides the movement and the class and ignores the obvious fact that the only realistic alternate governments are those of the Tories and the Liberal Democrats that have been and would be much worse than any Labour government.

Since the 1920s communists have been isolated from the mainstream of the labour movement largely due to hostility from the right- wing within the movement and partly due to the sectarian and revisionist policies of the old CPGB.

We have worked since our foundation in 1977 to end these artificial and anti-working class barriers and that is why we affiliated to the Labour Representation Committee in 2005 and focus much of our work in building that movement.

We will support social reform and our immediate programme outlined in this document charts our demands and details how it could be achieved by a left social-democratic government and how it all could be paid for through taxing the rich and scrapping Britain’s weapons of mass destruction.

But our major task is to build the revolutionary core within the class. The communist movement is based upon the revolutionary principles of Marxism- Leninism. Its purpose is to equip the working class so that it can establish working class state power and then build a socialist society.

Bourgeois democracy is a fraud. It is democracy for the exploiters and dictatorship in all but a formal sense for the exploited. Bourgeois elections, when they are held, are used so that the smallest number of people can manipulate the maximum number of votes.

We have continued to make political and organisational progress over the past three years. Our general position on the Labour Party, Ireland, peace and national liberation is known throughout the British labour movement and the international communist movement.

Our New Worker supporters’ groups continue to grow like the fund-raising which has sustained the New Worker and enabled us to go into colour production. Over the past three years we produced more pamphlets that in any over similar period since our establishment in 1977.

We stand for peace and socialism. Peace because only the oppressors and exploiters want war. Socialism because it is essential to eliminate exploitation, unemployment, poverty, economic crisis and war.

Socialism is the only solution to climate change, pollution and global warming. Let us work together to build the movement that will ensure that this century becomes the era of socialism.