New Communist Party of Britain
DURING a sharp escalation in imperialist aggression and deepening capitalist economic crisis, the 13th Congress of the New Communist Party of Britain met on 2-3 December.
Conflict and widespread recession concentrated delegates' attention on the Party's strategy, advancing its world outlook and providing, in the process, a strengthened sense of collective political agreement.
The main resolution up for discussion at Congress - a comprehensive analysis of the crisis and the response of socialism as the long-term solution - exposed the nature of international turmoil and deepening class divisions.
The central role of working peoples' unity and struggle for thoroughgoing change is a consistent principle running throughout it.
At a time when anti-working class repression is being unleashed - amid growing impoverishment, racist and fascist attacks, job losses, privatisation and social breakdown in Britain - it was necessary that Congress demonstrated a single-minded purpose.
That proved to be consistent and unswerving, both in respect of taking stock of the extent of anti-working class attacks and in regard to developing Party work following Congress.
The gathering of national and fraternal delegates represented the culmination of two years hard political activity to fashion an enhanced vision of what needs to be done.
Particularly, the determination was often sharply expressed that, as communists, the battles against imperialist war and engaging the class struggle, call for collective discipline. Adhering to, and carrying forward, the practical work of building the grassroots of the Party and expanding New Worker circulation, was therefore understood to be paramount.
The fight back against the mailed fist of ruling class interests, has always made it an absolute necessity that the Party exercises the maximum focus on the priorities of working class militancy.
Where there is action to prevent erosion of workers' pay and conditions, as was explained with the current civil service PCS screen strike, for instance, the Party has sided with workers defending their rights.
How workers judge and execute that counter-struggle against increasingly vicious and avaricious capitalists, is the uncompromising concern of the Party. Everything else is subordinate to this focus.
Workers ultimately decide, armed with the practical power of revolutionary ideology that Marxism-Leninism provides, when and how the state will be taken under working class control.
Delegates affirmed with special force, that building socialism is an urgent matter of campaigning and explaining socialism directly in relation to class struggle.
The cutting edge of working class political advance, that understanding and applying Marxism-Leninism more than ever today indicates, has always placed a special responsibility on the Party and its role in capitalist society.
Charting the way forward and arguing for socialism as the means to capitalism's destruction and transformation, is the essence of the Party's class analysis and action.
Consequently, nearly all delegates were at one in recognising that nothing must ever compromise the revolutionary essence of the Party's thinking and conduct. It was clear that, so long as the working class, particularly its core in production, remained the heart of the Party's priorities, there would always be a powerful potential for change even in the most difficult times of capitalist crisis. In fact, especially then.
This is given credence, as in the past, by the tributes and messages from fraternal delegates. The affirmation from the socialist countries - especially People's China, Democratic Korea and Vietnam - demonstrated that the Party's class basis is directly reflected in its Marxist-Leninist analysis and active internationalist solidarity.
But we also heard from Christodoulos Stylianou of the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus (AKEL) at a historic time for their party in Cyprus where they are now the chief power in the land. He told those gathered that a Party's beginning is always modest, but armed with the "noble objectives of the Party", he said, "I urge you all to work harder for an end to capitalism."
Above all, as far as the overwhelming majority of delegates were concerned, that meant strict adherence to democratic centralism, organisational development among working people, ideological strengthening and expanding the Party's weekly communist voice, the New Worker.
This is the vital public face of the Party and instrument of anti-imperialism, international working class solidarity and analysis from a Marxist-Leninist perspective.
These are essential weapons in the all-round political quest, led by the working class, to create effective pressure in the objective battle as the working class engages in seizing state power for itself.
The expulsion of the tiny rump of anti-working class, anti-Party and anti-leadership factionalists earlier in the year, was overwhelmingly endorsed by Congress.
In the process, Party unity, organisational steeling and ideological combat, became highly visible and vocal. It provided a sterner measure of commitment to our class.
The Party's confidence, sound strategy and assertiveness was marked. That was testimony, also, to delegates' appreciation of the increasingly vital founders of communism - Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin - in providing the underlying bedrock upon which socialism continues to flourish.
The character of the Communist Party was plainly spelt out in the main Congress political resolution: that it is "the monolithic party of the proletariat and not a party of a bloc of elements of different classes". That is what makes a revolutionary party without which "there can be no revolutionary movement."
The conclusion to the main political resolution explained that once the Paris Communards "fired the first shots and paved the way to progress" 130 years ago, the October 1917 Revolution in Russia then "lit the torch of revolution which burns on in Asia and the Caribbean."
And from those founders and teachers that created the unique science of Marxism-Leninism, to the "great revolutionary leaders of the struggling masses, Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh", so today "socialism is being fought for in every continent and every country." And Congress gave full expression to the conclusion: "We are part of that struggle. This is the century of socialism."
The refrain of fraternal delegates - long live Marxism-Leninism, proletarian internationalism, socialism and communism - were echoed in the Internationale that rounded off the successful weekend of political grafting and exchanges of experiences.
By the end, delegates left with the knowledge that the tasks ahead were not isolated ones, but very much part of the big picture of class struggle around the world.
AKEL ( Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus) - Christodoulos Stylianou
ALISC (Africa Liberation Support Committee) - Explo Nani Kofi (head of delegation)
Workers Party of Korea - Kye Chun Yong (head of delegation)
AWKPD (Workers League for the Restoration of the Communist Party of Germany) - Stefan Eggerdinger
KPD (Communist Party of Germany) - Werner Schleese, Angela Klein
NCPN (New Communist Party of the Netherlands) - Ron Verhoef
Russian Communist Workers Party - Viktor Bourenkov
RCPB-ML(Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain -Marxist Leninist) - Michael Chant
People's Republic of China - Peng Bin
Socialist Republic of Vietnam - Pham Vinh Quang
All Union Communist Party (Bolshevik),
Workers Party of Bangladesh,
Communist Party of Bohemia & Moravia (KSCM),
Communist Party of Denmark -ML (DKP-ML),
Communist Workers Party of Finland,
Revolutionary Democracy (Indian Marxist magazine),
Communist Party of Israel,
Israeli Communist Forum,
Workers Party of Korea (Central Committee),
National Democratic Front of South Korea,
Lao People's Revolutionary Party,
Mexican Communist Party,
Nepal Workers and Peasants Party,
Communist Party of Peru (Patria Rija),
New Left Movement (MNI) - Peru,
Communist Party of Poland (Proletariat),
Syrian Communist Party,
Freedom Road Socialist Organisation (USA),
Communist Party of Vietnam,
Korean Friendship Solidarity Committee.
SURELY it is an obscenity when the richest country in the world launches full-scale war against the poorest, wrecks its infrastructure and rains tons of bombs on the few cities it contains.
It kills and maims thousands of people in a population living in poverty-stricken conditions and facing winter and the very real threat of starvation. Of course, the Taliban regime is reactionary, but arguably the United States, in working for the destruction of the socialist Afghan Government in the 1980s, paved the way for the Taliban government to come to office.
Using its technical superiority, the US has sustained very few casualties in its reign of death and destruction, and until September 11, it considered itself to be safe from any serious retaliation.
In any case, who claims that the United States is so pure and democratic- Racism and violence are rife in that society and the majority of the population are alienated from the electoral process and play no part in the shenanigans that lead up to a millionaire taking presidential office to represent the interests of US imperialism.
And now, in the early days of the recession, soup kitchens are being set up to give the growing unemployed and their families some sustenance.
As for its foreign policy, since the Second World War, no country has more blood on its hands than the United States of America. I have only to mention the Korean War, which was instigated by the United States, and the war against Vietnam and Iraq to prove my point.
On Vietnam the Americans dropped a greater tonnage of bombs than was dropped on Europe during the whole of the Second World War. The weapons it used included napalm, Agent Orange and other poisonous defoliants, cluster bombs and a range of other weapons. The number of killed and maimed the United States is responsible for is not to be measured in thousands but literally, in millions.
Recently, there was a Save the Children Appeal. But how about saving some Iraqi children by lifting the sanctions which, along with the bombing of that country, still continues-
In Afghanistan, the aim is not to bring Osama bin Laden to trial. According to American sources the evidence against him would not stand up in a court of law. The aim of the United States in launching its war against Afghanistan is to advance its strategy of global domination by setting up a puppet government and, possibly, establishing a permanent military base in that region to threaten Russia and China.
Don't imagine that the strategy for global domination only affects developing countries. With the United States moving into recession, Japan in deep economic crisis and Europe following it, inter-imperialist rivalries are bound to sharpen. And the United States will demand more and more concessions in trade and commerce from its imperialist rivals.
The September 11 horrific events led to a predictable right-wing backlash that included sweeping a number of countries into an alliance purporting to be against terrorism. In fact, they have found themselves supporting the strategic aim of the United States for global domination.
It is a disgrace that Britain should have a Labour Prime Minister colluding with the United States in this aggression and, indeed, acting as a recruiting Sergeant as he flies around the world on his diplomatic missions to shore up a faltering alliance, and fawns on the United States by authorising a three-minute silence in respect for the people killed in the September 11 air strikes.
There was no three minute silence for the innocent victims of American imperialism in Vietnam; no call for special courts to be set up to punish successive American Presidents guilty of the atrocities against the Vietnamese.
The United States, which is so free with money for reactionary regimes such as Israel, has not paid a single cent in reparations to the Vietnamese for the carnage it unleashed. Since its inception the United States has helped Israel in its aggressive and expansionist policies and its denial of the rights of the Palestinian people. It has bombed Iraq and continues to do so. It has broken up Yugoslavia and now it is waging war against Afghanistan.
This is all part of the United States strategy to police the world for its domination. In the Middle East, Israel is not only an aggressive state seeking to expand at the expense of its neighbours, it is also the cat's paw for American imperialism. Israel does no favours for the Jewish people as a whole. Zionism is a racist creed and paves the way for anti-semitism.
In relation to the events of September 11, which appear to have emanated from the problems of the Middle East, this needs to be said: We don't condone the action taken; but we consider America brought it on itself.
Neither should we agree with the proposition that the United States and Britain have a legitimate right to unleash war on whomsoever they please. And should any retaliation on British and United States' soil be automatically condemned as unprovoked terrorism-
Desperate situations give rise to desperate people taking desperate measures, and the only way of eliminating this kind of event is to resolve the problems which give rise to them. That includes, in the Middle East, justice for the Palestinians, and the end to the bombing and sanctions against Iraq.
Incidentally, surely the attack on the Pentagon cannot be said to have been an attack on the innocent, It is, after all, at the heart of the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned of when he left office in the 1950s.
It is interesting, apart from the widespread panic resulting from the bombing of the twin towers and the Pentagon, that both the Bush regime and the Blair Government called for a homeland for the Palestinians.
The motives for this are to shore up the alliance and placate domestic demands at home, which increasingly see the problem as being resolved by real justice for the Palestinians. But no concrete propositions for such a justice have been put forward by the United States- or British administrations.
Pressure needs to be put on to make sure the Palestinians do have a homeland. The plight of the Palestinians, thousands of whom have lived in the squalor of refugee camps for decades, must be ended.
In the struggle against terrorism, the United States and Britain have by-passed the United Nations. They are trying to equate the armed struggle of the oppressed with 'terrorism', whilst ignoring - and even denying - the existence of state terrorism by the United States itself. If the widespread bombing of countries is not terrorising people, then I don't know what is!
Our position on terrorism is very clear. There seems to be three categories. First there is terrorism for personal gain that we denounce out of hand. Then there is state terrorism that we also denounce. And there are actions by subject peoples participating in the armed struggle against colonialist oppression at home, who see the need to carry the fight into those countries which are primarily responsible for their suffering.
The problem here is that such actions usually lead to a right-wing backlash. We understand the reasons why subject peoples carry out such actions and do not condemn them. We continue to give unstinting solidarity to the peoples' struggle against oppression.
Of course, not in all circumstances does such action as taking the struggle to the mother country have a negative effect. It is arguable that the campaign of the IRA made a contribution to the decision of the British government to agree to the peace initiative.
In part this arose because the ruling class felt that the IRA bombing campaign could have a damaging effect on the banks and institutions of the City of London.
In relation to the September 11 events, the immediate results have strengthened American imperialism, but the long-term consequences might well be quite different. As in Britain, the war against Afghanistan has brought into play a greater political role by the working class and the strengthening of the peace movement.
Our demands in this situation are for the recall of the British troops from Afghanistan, stop the bombing of Iraq and lift the sanctions, enact the United Nations resolutions that seek to give justice to the Palestinians, and work towards a comprehensive settlement of the problem, enabling Israelis and Palestinians to live together on the basis of equality.
We demand that Blair end his role as recruiting Sergeant for US and British imperialism.
Whilst the effects of September 11 has been to aggravate the capitalist economic crisis, it is not the source of the crisis. The pending recession was clearly developing before September 11. The crisis is basically one of the over-production of goods in relation to what the purchasing power of the market can absorb.
Our Congress document contains an ongoing analysis of these economic developments and they require careful study. In this situation the word 'slump' is beginning to be heard, and it is difficult to envisage how the recession can avoid being followed by a considerable period of economic depression.
It is interesting to note that capitalist policies that had helped prolong the period of economic stability, has now become a major factor contributing to the economic crisis. That is, policies encouraging people to borrow. This has led to massive debts: corporate debt, third world debt and personal debt. These debts are so large that they account for a substantial slice of future earnings. Not only that, but these debts have to be serviced by interest charges.
Small wonder that, as the crisis bites and redundancies increase, money becomes tighter and so-called consumer confidence declines. It is also politically significant to see how public opinion has moved from the acceptance of privatisation to a much more sympathetic attitude to public ownership. This change arises from the experience of the people who have learned that jobs, services and safety are subordinated to the quest for maximum profits and dividends.
The crisis of capitalism and the current deepening recession that cannot be avoided validates the Marxist-Leninist critique of the system and should enable us successfully to expand the sales of our paper the New Worker and build our party given effort and determination as we popularise the necessity for working class state power and socialism.
In our history we have had to deal with several factions whose actions constituted a betrayal of the interests of the party and the working class. In the expulsion of such people from our party we have strengthened our resolve and ability to serve the interests of the working class.
It is unfortunate that, in such struggles, to defend the political integrity and organisational cohesion of our Party, the varying factions have always managed to win away a few genuine comrades who have left the Party and usually faded away from activity.
In these struggles there are always casualties but struggle there has to be and the fight for democratic centralism has to be upheld. I would direct your attention to the section of the document on the party acting as one when advancing or forced to retreat.
Narrow individualism runs very deep in bourgeois societies like Britain and democratic centralism demands a very high level of political conviction and voluntary discipline. Without that our Party would degenerate into being just one more social-democratic organisation not equipped to play a vanguard role in the working class struggle to achieve state power and socialism.
On behalf of the retiring Central Committee I am calling for the endorsement of Congress for the disciplinary measure that have had to be taken in defence of the party and the working class.
When capitalism enters periods of sharp economic slowdown, it is accompanied by the growth of poverty, unemployment and further centralisation of capital. Trade wars also occur as the struggle for markets increases and these often give rise to physical wars. The last century contained two world wars.
The first was a war waged between imperialist powers, and the Second World War started out as an inter-imperialist conflict. Both wars started in the context of sharpening capitalist crisis and intensified struggle for markets.
Recently, the global balance of forces changed in favour of imperialism. Socialism in the former Soviet Union and the states of eastern Europe have temporarily been terminated. Therefore, the 21st century, like the earlier years of the 20th century, may well become a period of wars and revolutions as the capitalist economic crisis deepens.
The present spate of wars and interventions by imperialism over weak countries is bound to develop into fierce inter-imperialist rivalries. The only solution to this is for the working class to achieve state power and socialism. That is also the only way distribution of wealth is fairly arranged so that no one goes to bed hungry. Full employment is achieved and new technology used to raise living standards and the quality of life for all.
We face a situation that contains great dangers but also great opportunities. Our party is small, its influence modest, but the Bolshevik Party in Russia was also small and the Chinese Party originally started out being very small.
Changing circumstances and their ability to champion the struggle of the working class and working people and link that struggle to the fundamental struggle for state power and socialism, transformed the global situation. That is a lesson for us to take to heart.
We salute the revolutionary parties and peoples of China, Cuba, Democratic Korea, Vietnam and Laos. In taking the socialist course, these countries are transforming their nations and serving the interests of the working class throughout the world. We salute the revolutionary parties throughout the world that have rejected revisionism and opportunism and hold high the Red Banner of Revolution.
Our party came into being out of the struggle against revisionism with the intention that we strive to fulfil to serve the interests of the working class. We shall not be diverted from that.
IF ANYONE had any doubts about the strength of social-democracy amongst the British working class last year's election should have dispelled them.
The landslide return of the Blair government, on the most modest platform of reforms seen since 1945, proved the point our Party has made since its foundation about Labour and the futility of left social-democracy and revisionism to compete outside Labour's ranks in the bourgeois election game.
We welcomed Labour's victory just as we welcomed Ken Livingstone's victory in London the year before. And we want to see mass pressure to ensure that more reforms are won from this Labour government.
But we have no illusions about reformism or bourgeois democracy. All forms of balloting in bourgeois states are designed so that the smallest number of people can manipulate the largest number of votes.
If it were otherwise we would have - in Britain where the vast majority of people are workers - a parliament dominated by members of the working class. In fact you could probably count the number of MPs who are working class on your hands.
But faith in reform and social-democracy is not innate in working people - neither are they simpletons or fools - workers vote for reform because they first of all believe that lasting changes can be won from the bourgeois ballot box, and secondly because they are not convinced of the necessity for change.
As Marxists we know that change is both necessary and inevitable but revolutionary change, the change required to end the system of oppression and exploitation, requires a revolutionary party, and that revolutionary party must be based on the proven methods of the communist movement if it has any hope to succeed.
The struggle against revisionism is part of that process of building a party based on iron discipline, democratic centralism, confidence and sacrifice, a monolithic party that speaks as one to the class and the class enemy. One which can lead the working class and one that learns from the working class.
Some people believe that the communist ideal is simply a lifestyle, an expression of solidarity with other revolutions or the expression of one's individual views. Others see it simply as an economic programme.
They reject the experience of Lenin and Stalin, and the experience of the other great revolutions of the 20th Century in China, Korea, Indo-China and Cuba. Revisionists claim to have found a so-called better way - socialism with a "human face" was how one called it - but that way doesn't work, it's the road to sellout and counter-revolution.
Social-Democracy has never led to revolutionary change and revisionism has always led to counter-revolution and reaction. Their way is the way of all opportunists and individualists.
Well, we believe in Lenin and Stalin's way, in Mao Zedong and Kim Il Sung's way, in Ho Chi Minh and Castro's way. We believe in the superiority of the socialist system, the superiority of mass democracy - the true democracy of the people's republics - over the sham democracy of the ruling class.
We believe in the superiority of working class culture over the decadent culture of the bourgeoisie. We believe that only through collective work can the individual be truly free.
All the wealth of the country, all the wealth of the world, comes from people pushing levers in factories or sweating in fields to produce food. That is a simple fact.
Another is that working people, who the entire globe depends on, get only a miserable fraction back for their labours outside the socialist world, while the rest is stolen by the bourgeoisie to enable them to live lives of pleasure and ease and to allow the top exploiters to live lives of Roman Emperors.
Parties do not make revolutions - only people, and socialist revolutions can only be lead by working people, the toilers, the strivers, the workers, and these are the people we must reach out to, to win to our cause, and to learn from their ideas and experience.
We must reach out to the millions of workers in Britain in the factories, the estates and offices who ultimately are the only people who can actually build the revolutionary movement. There is no other point in our existence.
It calls for great sacrifice.
Those that have money must give it to the Party, those that have skills must use them to build the Party, every effort every day must go into building the Party and forging close bonds with the working class.
We have made some modest gains in the past two years. Internationally the communist movement is reforging itself through increasingly productive conferences and exchanges of views.
At home we are now strengthening our relationship with the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML). We have worked togather for some years now but this year our co-operation has grown -- reflected in our joint responce to the Afghan crisis with the production of a joint statement last month, which had a mass distrabution, and the first joint meeting called by our two parties in London a week ago.
Now we live in a new era of rapid change. Every other year there's an imperialist war - Afghanistan won't be the last - because the imperialists believe that they can put the clock back to their golden age, the days of the 19th century, the time of narrow bourgeois democracy, little or no independent working class rights, and a world run by exclusively the bankers, industrialists and big landowners.
That world went in 1917, and though counter-revolution has succeeded in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe the flames of the October Revolution still burn in much of Asia as well as Cuba. The 1917 Revolution and the experience of the Bolsheviks under Lenin and Stalin teaches us many lessons - we have to ensure that we continue to learn them.
The Bolsheviks under Lenin and Stalin made a clean break through bitter struggle with social-democracy and modern revisionism to build a monolithic communist party which led the Soviet people to victory over fascism and reconstruction after the war.
We must do the same.
For those in the camp of the class enemy who say that there will never be change we point to the lessons of history. For those in the camp of class collaboration who talk of parliamentary roads or new thinking, for those who talk of Trotskyism and all the other forms of left social-democracy, we say with confidence that those ways have never worked and never will achieve the emancipation of the working class.
We cannot predict when change will come. But change is certain. We cannot precisely tell what form the struggle will take but we can be certain that revolutionary change will only be successful through the mass, militant action of millions of working people. We enter the new century with confidence and hope.