New Communist Party of Britain
CONGRESS meets in a world environment of developing economic crisis accompanied by political instability, social insecurity, deteriorating living and social standards and extreme poverty for millions the population.
The present phase of monopoly capitalism's last stage confirms Lenin's analysis of an era of general crisis and socialist revolution, but is characterised by new features that have developed since 1945, and gained momentum after 1970.
The post-war boom was partially sustained by militant trade union action over wages which substantially increased the purchasing power of the working class. The boom was further helped by the initial expansion of market demand by the newly liberated countries emerging from colonial control. But those factors could not off-set the growing problems leading to recurring capitalist crisis.
By 1970 conditions of relative ease on the world market had given way to a climate of intensifying competition more normal to the system.\t Markets that until then had been relatively easily accessible to goods and services to rebuild economies shattered by the Second World War, were now glutted.
In consequence, the periodic cyclical crises, typical of the system, had now become more frequent and less corrective. Economic recovery in the upturn of the cycle was not complete as the downturn succeeds it in a shorter space of time. The positive effects of the upturn are thus minimised setting in motion a process of gradual regression in living standards and social conditions. A situation of continuous crisis can be discerned from the early 1970s to the present day, and analysis of economic prospects indicates that this will continue to deepen.
The formation of the first trade bloc in Western Europe as early as 1958 was based on recognition of the need to devise more effective regional organisation to meet this situation on the world market. The European Common Market was the result of the decision of the six leading countries of continental Western Europe, led by Germany and France, to implement the principle that competition could be met more effectively on a collective multinational, than on a national, basis.
Through rationalisation of industry -- that entailed even greater concentration of capital in fewer hands and progressively fewer workers producing more goods and services per head -- prices became more competitive. Still further improvement was achieved by the removal of trade barriers between European Union member states improving inner Union trade, and by more competitive export prices in the outside market through the employment of devices such as export subsidies and the manipulation of exchange rates.
Although the capitalists have derived great benefit from these measures, the mass of the people have been adversely affected by them in that they pay higher taxes to finance subsidies. Moreover, industrialists often compensate themselves by adopting pricing policies that compensate them for competitive export prices by charging higher prices on the domestic market.
The world can now be divided into categories consisting of the developed countries, the developing countries, the ex-socialist countries, the newly industrialised countries of East and South East Asia (NIC), and the socialist countries of People's China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. All those countries desperately need trade and all of them except the wealthier developed countries and the NIC's need large imports of foreign capital.
World trade is dominated by the powerful economies of the United States, the EU and Japan. The US has further strengthened its potential in trade by forming, jointly with Canada and Mexico, the North Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA), while Japan has close trading ties with the countries of East and South East Asia, but has, as yet, not entered into any formal trade bloc.
A looser trade association exists in the Pacific, namely the Asia Pacific Organisation for Economic Co-operation (APEC). This involved many countries including China, the US and Japan. The US has the ambition to create a trade bloc that will cover all the Americas and which, inevitably, it will dominate. Its involvement in APEC demonstrates that it also means to strengthen its trading position in the Pacific. Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have also formed a trade bloc, while Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia comprise the Andean trade association.
These three power centres, the United States, the European Union and Japan are engaged in an ever-intensifying struggle to sell goods and services in the developing countries to attract them into trade blocs, or bilateral trade agreements, and to use them as outlets for capital investment. There is also fierce competition among them to increase trade with each other. A relatively more recent development has been that they now export far more capital to each other than was previously the case.
In the developing world largely the old methods of military force and direct political control have been replaced. Economic blackmail is today the chief means of imperialist pressure exerted on countries, rendered desperate by poverty and a poor level of economic development, to accept unfavourable terms in trade and assistance in the form of foreign investment and markets for their exports.
Along with these more direct methods the imperialists use their control of the international agencies, that dispense conditional economic aid throughout the world, to exert pressure. Organisations such as the World Bank aid the International Monetary Fund (IMF) derive most of their funding from the imperialist powers.
GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) successor, to some degree are able to bring a semblance of order into the jungle of world trade. But they nonetheless suffer from the excessive influence of the far more powerful capitalist powers. Practices damaging to the interests of the developing countries are often permitted, unless, like China, they are powerful enough to insist on justice.
Generally speaking the economies of the developing world have, for many years, had forced upon them a regime of excessively export-led development.
A large proportion of the proceeds of this have been dissipated in servicing their debt to the outside world, as well as in huge profit going to foreign suppliers of direct investment ---- especially transnational corporations (TNC's).
Developing economies thus lack domestically generated capital to alleviate poverty, finance their social services, their infrastructure or the expansion of their industrial base. New technology, to modernise their old means of production, is expensive; and they have to rely on labour-intensive production. Labour intensive production, in which wages levels are necessarily low because of the low standard of development, is popularly and wrongly assumed to mean an unfair advantage in trade. But this is only to state half the case, which is that labour intensive production is far less advantageous than prices based on the low unit costs of developed economies based on advanced technology. To this advantage in unit costs must be added the reduction in prices accruing from the numerous protective practices used by the developed countries.
The newly industrialised economies of south Korea, Hong Kong (now part of China)", Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia and the illegally constituted Taiwan, have reached a level of economic development above the general level of the developing countries. They have done so by virtue of large injections of capital from the developed countries, injected for strategic reasons and super exploitation of the working class. Capital accumulation has also been greatly augmented by depressing consumption on the social wage, as the low ratio of public expenditure in those countries shows. Those countries are now exporting capital, and it should be noted that a considerable "flight of capital" is a normal feature in the developing countries. This is consistent with the attitude of disregard for the interests of the working class under capitalism, and, of course, it is an obstacle to development.
Some of the countries of Latin America such as Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil are now entering the category of newly industrialised economies.
The G7 most highly developed countries have endeavoured, from 1945 until the present time, to control the world economy with two main objectives in mind. The first is to increase their own share of the world market, albeit in fierce competition with each other; the second is to adjust economic growth, to manipulate interest rates and to regulate investment growth in a way that would ease the severity of cyclical crises. Of necessity they have been forced to abandon the hope of staving off cyclical crises altogether. Their leaders recognise the existence of the trade cycle, but do not admit that it arises from the contradictions inherent in the system.
To the extent that they have succeeded in limiting the effects of the cycle, it has been simply to postpone them, to spread the effects over a longer period. The result is, that although slumps of the severity of that of the late 1920s and 1930s have not occurred since the Second World War, the years from 1970 to the present time have seen three very deep recessions from which recovery has not been strong enough to cure their economic and social effects. Put another way, the system is now in a state of continuous crisis, of general crisis.
Mass unemployment is a "normal" feature of life in all the developed countries except Japan. Such improvements in the jobless figures as have occurred have been achieved by manipulating the statistics and by the creation of schemes to force unemployed workers into work with low wages and poor conditions. The deregulation of the labour market, although more advanced in its effects in the US and in Britain, is being used in all the developed countries. To the capitalists, it is a means of bringing down the cost of labour by creating sub-standard, casual and insecure jobs.
In the US, where the official jobless figures are 5.5 per cent of the workforce, the proportion of the unemployed covered by unemployment insurance is only 35 per cent. This suggests that the 5.5 per cent unemployment figure is a gross underestimation.
Important as it is, unemployment is not the only indicator that is relevant in judging living and social standards. Wages in the US in the last sixteen years have suffered a significant reduction in real terms. Millions of workers are onthe national minimum wage. that, in terms of its real value, is only 88 per cent of its 1980 level. Millions of people are not covered by health insurance and pensions entitlements. Cuts are being made in benefits of all kinds. Taxation, since 1970, has been re-vamped to favour the rich at the expense of the working class. This is the real situation in the wealthiest country in the world.
In all the 30 member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) of developed countries, unemployment is officially acknowledged to be 20 million. Economic growth is being artificially held back in all these countries by fiscal means that curb investment and consumer demand. In the last 30 years average economic growth in the OECD countries has been only 2.25 - 2.5 per cent per year.
This rate of growth is not enough to bring down unemployment. Even bourgeois economists estimate that sustained growth of 4.5 - 5 per cent is necessary to make substantial inroads into the figures. This level of growth is unsustainable in a capitalist economy where fiscal means are used to stop the economy "over-heating".
Today, the manifestations of the basic contradiction of capitalism are best expressed using the phraseology of the capitalist economists themselves: It is the disparity between the aggregate value of goods and services produced on the one hand and consumer spending on the other. There is a contradiction, insoluble under capitalism, in limiting consumption while allowing unlimited accumulation of capital to proceed. There is yet another insoluble contradiction underlying the practice of holding back production on the grounds that it creates too much consumer demand and thereby leads to inflation.
In all the developed economies a significant element is the degree to which consumer borrowing is used to bolster demand because incomes from all sources are not enough otherwise to maintain demand. The fact that this device is itself inflationary only serves to demonstrate yet another contradiction: Higher interest rates also cause inflation.
All these are methods of manipulating the economy for the reason previously stated, but they provide no solution to the contradictions and their effects. The compulsion in the system to be competitive or go under, means that ever greater aggregates of constant capital have to be invested in new improved technology in order to make production more efficient to produce goods and services at lower unit costs. This proceeds at a progressive rate as more information technology is employed. Implied in this development is the inevitable growth of unemployment because new technology displaces labour, and by limiting the total payroll, it reduces total purchasing power. Purchasing power relative to aggregate production is also reduced is also reduced because the wages content of each single product is decreased.
Another side of this process is that, in the developed economies, production increases without economic expansion. This means that while more constant capital goes into a leaner economy, large sums of capital are still available to seek outlets. Although some of them find their way into the economies of the developing countries, an increasing proportion of it goes into the derivatives market.
Trading in currencies is simply gambling which does not benefit national economies. And while raw materials bought in the futures market are ultimately used in industry, the cheap prices at which they were bought is not passed on, because they are sold at monopoly prices. In the process of passing through many hands, large profit margins are made by dealers in futures, which are not ploughed back into the real economy.
Many other forms of derivative trading, such as forecasting of the level of the futures market index on a given date, is pure high-risk gambling. Very little labour is needed for this activity and it diverts much needed capital away from the real economy world-wide. It is a wasteful dissipation of capital generated originally from the exploitation of labour. Speculation in currencies amounted to $1.2 trillion in 1996.
In this present phase more and more capital is exported among the developed economies in search of more profitable outlets. Profitability is enhanced in this way by investing in "green field" sites, in areas where there is only weak or no trade union organisation. Another advantage deriving from this policy is that it is a means of by-passing trade restrictions by producing goods and services directly on the market site.
Debts --- government or national, corporate or personal and debt to the outside world --- have reached enormous proportions during this phase of the crisis. These debts are funded by the financial institutions such as the banks, but also by wealthy individuals who derive large incomes from the interest on them.
For example, budget deficits and the national debt are financed by the sale of government bonds to companies and wealthy individuals. While being a huge drain on government resources, it becomes a big source of profit to the capitalist class.
This privileged class in many ways draws away valuable resources that rightly belong to society as a whole. Society has no control over these vast sums accruing from direct exploitation of labour, interest income, and capital gains made from sales of assets. Low levels of taxation on them ensures that the proportion that finds its way to benefit society as a whole is far from adequate.
An example of this is the British national debt which has now reached a figure of £400bn or 57 per cent of GDP and on which there is an annual interest of 7 per cent of public spending. The US national debt and the interest on it has reached an astronomical figure as it has in most of the countries in the EU. This is an indication of the price paid by society for the policies that are essential to the propping up of a system that is inherently faulty and supporting a privileged class.
Taxation policy is designed to supplement the ruling class strategy of accumulating capital at the expense of consumption. This is constrained only by political expediency.
Taxation is based on the principle of extracting a disproportionate amount of revenue from the working class and as little as possible from the ruling class. Consumer taxes are preferred to progressive direct taxes in this scheme of things. Taxes on profits and capital gains are low while Value Added Tax (VAT) 11 per cent of which goes to the European Union and income taxes on the working class are a heavy drain on wages and benefits while taxes on the high salaries of the rich are relatively low.
The claim that it is in the public interest that business and the rich should retain a high ratio of their profits and incomes because they plough their profits and incomes back into the economy is not borne out by the facts.
The New Communist Party has a taxation policy of progressive direct taxation and the gradual phasing out of consumption taxes. Taxes on profits and capital gains would increase steeply, but income tax would rise more steeply as incomes rise, while people on low wages and on benefits would pay less tax or none at all.
We campaign for a fair, equitable, tax system along with a campaign for higher wages the shorter working week with no loss of earnings and better working conditions, improved social service and an increased social wage. This is the material basis of the class struggle. It is also sound economics because by achieving a balance between consumption and accumulation it will ensure better living and social standards as well as a level of consumer spending adequate to maintain sustained economic growth at a level that is consistent with protection of the environment. The capitalists are opposed to these measures, because to apply them would be the means of putting an end to their privileges. But the struggle for them must begin now and must be seen as part of the struggle for socialism.
Privatisation of public assets, since it began in Britain in the early 1980s, has become a common feature of policy throughout the capitalist world. The Tory government, in it's sell-off programme of publicly owned industries and services, not only offered them at knock-down prices, but gave huge on-going subsidies to the profiteers guaranteeing big profits for the company directors and shareholders. In Britain this will not be halted or reversed by the Labour Government without mass pressure. A particularly insidious form of privatisation initiated by the Tory government and favoured by the present Labour government, is Private Finance Initiative, (PFI). There will be escalating and recurring costs and the public sector, i.e. hospitals, schools, roads, etc. will become the property of the financiers, to be leased back. We must expose and oppose PFI wherever it is introduced and campaign for adequate levels of funding for the whole of the public sector, from the government. In addition to its obvious benefits in supplementing the capital base already directly controlled by big business at low market prices, privatisation is significant in other ways.
It enables the monopolists to use erstwhile public assets to make higher profits, gives them freedom to diversify the sphere of operation of the industries concerned, to export part of the capital and to sell part of the assets to foreign capital. It has boosted the incomes of their shareholders and of the executives who control them immensely. Privatisation of profitable public enterprises has also resulted in a reduction of income to government funds thus fuelling cutbacks in public expenditure. Privatised capital has contributed to the flood of capital seeking spheres of investment throughout the world.
The developed countries are exerting pressure inside the WTO for greater freedom of access to open up industries previously protected from foreign investment in all countries. This is the logical outcome of the process begun in the early 1980s when many countries removed exchange controls.
Export of capital, identified by Lenin as one of the features of imperialism, has now assumed even greater significance in this present phase, as the transnationals strive for a higher level of concentration of capital. This is, in order to achieve a more complete control of the world economy, thereby counteracting the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, by increasing the mass of profit through more efficient exploitation of labour on a world scale.
Against this background of the gradual deepening of the world crisis, Britain must now be seen in the context of its relationship with the EU, as well as in its place in the world economy.
The British ruling class has never been at ease with the European Union or its predecessor, the European Common Market. Initially, British imperialism sought to counter the European Common Market through an alternative economic alliance -- the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) with weaker European countries. But that proved unsustainable. After its collapse, the British ruling class felt obliged to seek membership of the European Common Market.
The European Common Market's original function of establishing freer trade between the six leading nations of western Europe, and to put them collectively in a better position to trade with the rest of the world, has now been superseded. Since then the leaders of those countries have come to see the need for closer economic and political integration. The passage of the Single European Act and of the Maastricht Treaty was the prelude to the drive to make this ambition a reality.
The rationale behind this desire for closer union was that they saw that a system of protectionist measures in trade was not enough to ensure the competitiveness of their goods and services against those of their rivals. Rationalisation of industry and a greater concentration of capital on a EU basis was also essential to bring down unit costs on which to base their export prices.
Parallel to those developments the establishment of the EMU or a single currency was considered to be essential. The economic advantages of EMU the ruling class is unquestionable as it would:
Mean further removal of barriers between member states.
Do away with manipulation of exchange rates in order to gain advantage of trade between member states.
Do away with speculation in European currencies which drains away valuable foreign currency assets.
Stabilise interest rates of member states.
Reduce transaction costs.
Lead to the free flow of labour and capital.
Lead to the standardisation of all economic life.
This tight political union required by the Maastricht Treaty. and economic union implied by the EMU, has caused deep divisions in the British ruling class and in its political arm the Tory Party. This division, in the case of most Tories, does not yet mean disagreement with membership of the EU, although, in due course, that could gain momentum. The New Communist Party should help mobilise all Labour movement and anti-EU forces for a campaign to leave the EU, provided there is sufficient common ground among them.
Opposition. in the Labour movement and in the Labour Party (LP) is not at present so open as it is among Tories, but it exists. Strict discipline was imposed on all Labour candidates in the general election to prevent any adverse reference to the EU or the single currency in their election manifestos. Recent uncertainty among the Labour leaders on EMU reflects the division in the Labour movement and in the ruling class on the question.
The New Communist Party has always opposed the European Union through all its stages. The total far-reaching implications of the EU's planned development vindicates the Party's position.
The New Communist Party's opposition is founded on the principle that it is a strategy designed to further strengthen monopoly capitalism in Europe on a supra-national basis. The drive to rationalise the economy so as to make products more competitive will involve greater exploitation, higher unemployment and a reduction in the social wage. The struggle for socialism, always conducted with difficulty because of the obstacles put in the way by the British ruling class, would be more difficult still in the circumstance of a supra-national European state and of monopolies strengthened by the process of rationalisation.
The economic criteria demanded by the Maastricht Treaty, as a condition of membership of the EMU, are onerous in the extreme. They imply drastic cuts in public spending in all member states. This will be the inevitable consequence of reducing budget deficits to 3 per cent of GDP and ultimately to bring budgets into balance. The process of reducing gross national debt to below 60 per cent of GDP in the countries where that is to be done, will compound the already dire effects of reducing annual deficits.
In Britain the national debt is already below 60 per cent, and the way in which that was achieved is all too clear for millions of workers in this country.
In other countries repayment of the national debt can only be managed by a further squeeze on public spending, a steep rise in revenue and cuts in social services and benefits. This will set the scene for sharpening class struggle with the capitalist class insisting on cuts in taxation and in spending on services and benefits; the working class will demand higher taxes on the rich and increases in spending on social services and benefits.
There are signs in all member states of heightened class struggle, even in economies such as Germany and France which are regarded as the strongest in Europe.
The dilemma of the ruling class is that it must harmonise the economies of all participants in the EMU. A properly functioning single currency cannot be created except on that condition. The urgency is the result of their desperation to improve their situation on the world market. It is a painful process because it requires drastic change in the past practice of deficit budgeting, of running economies on excessive credit.
The extreme measures needed in this economic correction are themselves testimony to their deep chronic crisis, and can only be made by further attacks on the living standards of the working class throughout the European Union.
The New Communist Party has a vital role to play in explaining to the Labour movement, the working class and to the public at large what the consequences of these ruling class ambitions will be if they reach fruition, and to help mobilise action against them. This struggle against a single currency, again that political and economic union and ultimately against EU membership itself, can only be seen as part of the struggle for socialism in co-operation with the working class of Western Europe.
Britain has been a member of the EU for 26 years and its politics and economy is heavily influenced by the Union. But Britain's problems are not attributable only to membership of the EU, in fact it is essentially to the contradictions inherent in capitalism itself. As previously stated, these are inter-related.
The Tory Government made much of the fact that its economy is in a better state than its European rivals. This intentionally misleads because the current more favourable position of the British economy is simply due to the timing of the cycle. The British went into recession before the other economies did and therefore the upturn is more advanced in Britain than in the countries of continental Europe.
Nonetheless, from a ruling class standpoint it is true to say that the economy has been strengthened in the last 18 years. The re-imposition of more traditional policies (so-called monetarism) was the reason for this improvement. It was achieved by means of a whole series of measures which had the total effect of re-dividing income and wealth between the classes in favour of the ruling class. It has meant higher taxes for the working class, reduced spending on the social wage, chronic mass unemployment and downward pressure on wages, privatisation of virtually the whole economy, greater direct control of capital, increased profits and increased personal wealth to the rich. Anti-trade union laws and mass unemployment have severely restricted the organised working class's ability to resist and to reverse the effects of these changes.
The centre-piece of current ruling class economic strategy is its determination to reduce, even further, the role of the state in the economy. Its slogan is "completely free rein to market forces". This is dictated by British capitalism's need to accumulate capital over the long term, by systematically cutting the ratio of working class consumption to GDP.
The share of the ruling class in total income and wealth has gone up steeply since this process began. There is evidence of this in the figure for the return on capital, in dividend increases, the distribution of bonus shares and in the huge profits made out of the sale of assets or capital gains. And there have been unprecedented increases in total personal remuneration to executives and directors in industry and services. Augmenting salaries with large pension contributions, allowances for expenses and bonus shares and options, amount to massive increased payments to the wealthy. Severance payments often run into five or six figures. In the city of London, salaries of £1m and more a year are now being paid.
These grossly excessive incomes are not only being paid in the privatised utilities, but are general throughout the economy. Payments of this magnitude were defended by the Tory government on the grounds that they become the basis of a regular source of increased investment in the economy. This is not borne out by the facts, since the level of investments is very low in this country. For example, manufacturing investment declined by 8 per cent in 1996. Another reason given is that these high payments have to be made to attract the best people to run business, due to a high demand for them. This claim, of course, is patently untrue since the level of redundancy among executives is considerable.
The British capitalist class is reluctant to invest in production in this country. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, investing in production overseas and in the derivatives markets is far more profitable; secondly, as purchasing power under capitalism can never be sustained at a level sufficient to match productive potential, high investment is not justified.
The monthly meetings between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England were a significant feature of the present situation because they demonstrate how tight a rein the ruling class now keep on the level of economic growth. The Labour government immediately took the retrograde step of conceding control of interest rates to the Bank of England, demonstrating an even greater determination than the previous government to keep a tight rein on economic growth. The reason for this has already been explained by reference to developed capitalism in general. The aim here is to simply show how strictly the practice is applied in Britain.
Certainly, the immediate objective is to curb inflation. But the inevitable result of that is to slow economic growth by raising interest rates to a higher exchange rate for sterling -- and that is a brake on exports. Higher interest rates lead to decreased investment and consumer demand. Thus, economic growth has been kept at a low level of an average 2.25-2.5 per cent for the last 30 years. The economy is therefore functioning at a far lower level than its potential capacity in the course of the upturn. Bourgeois economists admit that a formula is being adhered to called non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU), which means that a strict balance is maintained between economic growth, inflation and unemployment.
Mass unemployment, basically arising from low economic growth, is one consequence of adherence to this formula: unemployment that is sustained at a high level in the upturn of the cycle. Jobless figures have continued at a high level since the early 1970s.
There is an increasing reliance on export-led production in an attempt to offset the effects of low consumer demand at home because it theoretically puts more purchasing power into the economy that is not matched by goods in the home market. But as this is a device used by all developed economies, imports tend to swallow up the additional spending power. Excessive demand for imports is also inflationary. British exports are at present under pressure on foreign markets because of the increased exchange rate of the pound. This higher rate is itself due in part to the fact that interest rates are higher in Britain than in some other countries. This all amounts to a mass of insoluble contradictions.
The most persistent propaganda is brought to bear in the capitalist media around the theme that, in the longer term, the state will no longer be able to afford payment of social security benefits of all kinds. In supporting this propaganda the Labour government is currently reviewing the welfare system which was aimed to deliver a comprehensive benefit service. This political propaganda is accompanied by the advertising of schemes designed to persuade people to make private provision for health insurance, private retirement pensions and care in old age. The advertising campaign follows the Tory programme of cutting public spending and reducing taxes.
There is a danger that many in the working class and the Labour movement are taking this claim about the inability of the state to fund benefits, at its face value. The right wing Labour Party leadership, in subscribing to and promoting this falsity, is pushing the party, in common with other European Social Democratic parties, into line with the requirement of capitalism to continue to systematically dismantle the previously universal system of state benefits. Their removal represents a backward leap to a stage of capitalism which regarded its workers, their dependants, retired, sick and disabled people as totally expendable.
It should be seen as a distinctive role of the New Communist Party to expose the falsity of this argument. The Party's rebuttal would demonstrate that it is because of the nature of capitalism itself that the state's finances are in such a parlous state. Capitalism cannot, in the present phase, provide satisfactory personal wage and salaries and an adequate social wage to the working class as a whole because of the compulsion inherent in the system to accumulate capital at the expense of consumption.
The former Soviet Union and the countries of eastern Europe, having reverted to capitalism are now again within the orbit of imperialism. It is part of European capitalism's grand plan to incorporate some of these countries into the European Union and the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Estonia and Slovenia may be admitted soon. The state of these countries' economies is very poor compared to those of Western Europe, and they have deteriorated markedly since their reversion to capitalism. Only Poland has a GDP level equal to that achieved under socialism.
But essential as GDP is, the real criterion for judging any society is the extent to which the national product is equitably distributed on the basis of an adequate allocation of total consumption funds which cannot be achieved under capitalism.
The level of per capita GDP in these countries puts them in the category of developing nations, but they all -- by virtue of their socialist past -- have a fairly developed industrial base. There is room for improvement in the infrastructure in some of them.
In the Russian Federation, in particular, there has been a decline in GDP variously estimated at about 50 per cent compared to the level attained under socialism. Inflation has been reduced but internal and external debts are high. The rouble has suffered a steep decline in its exchange value and exports and imports have fallen significantly. Even these indicators understate the extent of the regression in living and social standards in the past 7 years.
Arrears in wages (forecast to be 24 per cent of GDP in 1997), pensions and all kinds of benefits, are a normal feature of life in Russia. Life expectancy is now significantly lower, infant mortality higher and a high incidence of suicide are other signs of deterioration in Russia and eastern Europe. The dismantling of social services, the sale of state assets and the de-collectivisation of agriculture are well advanced.
The influx of foreign direct investment has not yet materialised to the degree expected. Official aid has also been of a low order. Both of these are often made on specific conditions of a commitment to more rapid reforms to complete privatisation.
Total cumulative foreign direct investments for the whole of eastern Europe and the Baltic states was only $30 billion, or 2.9 per cent of GDP, between 1989 and 1996. While in the former USSR, excluding the Baltic states, it was $11 billion or 0.7 per cent of GDP.
Foreign investment is limited by what is regarded as the slow pace of reform towards capitalism, the poor state of the infrastructure especially in Russia, political instability and unrest, and a fear of a return to socialism in some countries. For example, the Russian Duma still has a majority of ex-communists in it. The communist parties in Russia, inside and outside the Duma,despite their differences, are a potentially powerful force. For the imperialist powers and prospective investors, this is a serious threat.
There is no doubt that these economies represent a tremendous potential market for goods and services and for investment for the capitalist countries-- a potential new lease of life for the capitalist system. in the last 3 years alone, sales of state assets world-wide have realised $64 billion in 1994, $73 billion in 1995 and $88 billion in 1997.
Socialism is still the system under which a large proportion of the world's population lives: In People's China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. All the socialist countries have benefited, to some extent, from China's experience in developing a socialist market economy.
Following reforms instituted after 1978, China is now developing into one of the world's biggest economies, ranked llth in the world trading league. Developed countries are attracted to China as a market for goods and services, and as a sphere for investment. And its policy of opening up to the outside world means that it has turned the developed countries' need to export capital and to expand trade, into a factor for mutual benefit.
Foreign capital in China is now a considerable proportion of its total investment, but it is far from being dominant in its economy. State assets and assets in enterprises under collective ownership are still the overwhelmingly dominant form of ownership in China's economy.
Nonetheless, China has a bigger private sector, based on domestic private and foreign capital, than was previously the rule in socialist economies. This is initially due to its background of extremely low economic development before 1949. Subsequently, after two stages of socialist development during which insufficient inroads were made into poverty, the Communist Party of China and the government adopted the strategy of socialist reform known as the socialist market economy.
The opening up policy, which was one of the reforms, was based on the realisation that China could not rapidly eradicate poverty by generating its own capital accumulation alone.
Many on the left, and indeed some communists, see the existence of the private sector as evidence that China's strategy of development is toward capitalism. But the position of the New Communist Party is that China can claim to be on a course of socialist development by virtue of the preponderance of state and collective property in its economy, and the fact that political and economic power is in the hands of an alliance led by the working class and its communist party. And the Communist Party of China recognises the necessity of maintaining a high level of ideological work amongst the people.
Given this control by the socialist state the economic and political conditions essential for development towards monopoly capitalism, based on the concentration of capital in a few hands, should never have the opportunity to mature.
Foreign capital is admitted into China under conditions that are strictly controlled by the Bank of China. It is deployed and brings with it new technology crucial to develop a modern economy in China. Much of it is invested in infrastructure projects and in other vital industries where it is needed.
Since the reforms were initiated in 1978, China's economy has grown at an average rate of 9 to 10 percent a year and will have quadrupled by the year 2000. China's leaders nonetheless admit that it is a developing economy, and will continue to be until 2050 when the preliminary stage of socialism has been completed. By 2020, it is estimated that it will be the world's biggest economy. But its per capita GDP will still be far below the average of the Leading developed countries. And while per capita GDP will have risen steeply by 2050, it will still be less than that in the developed countries. Considering the high average economic growth that is planned to continue throughout the period to 2050, it is easier to imagine the immense task that the Communist Party of China and the government have undertaken.
As economic resources grow the social structure is being gradually developed. A progressive tax system has been introduced, while such services as a comprehensive national health system and national benefits system are being established.
Economic development in the early stages has been concentrated in the big cities, in the coastal regions, and along the big rivers. Now, a process of levelling up economic development has begun with a concentration on growth in outlying regions.
China is significant in the world today for two main reasons. Firstly, because of its big population and vast geography, China is central to world economic development. Secondly, it stands out as a bulwark of socialist development, and is an enduring refutation of the assertion that socialism is dead.
In its relations with the rest of the world, China observes an attitude of peaceful coexistence. In particular, it seeks to develop trade on a mutually advantageous basis. In its negotiations over admission to the WTO, it insists on being treated as a developing country, because this would be to its advantage. It has already lowered tariffs on a number of items in order to meet required conditions.
Its trade with the US and Japan is already at a high level, but the EU lags behind so it is seeking to improve its trading position with China. Trade relations with the US are thorny, as evidenced by constant US threats of sanctions against Chinese imports. Underlying this attitude of the US is the large deficit it has in trade with China, which the Chinese state believes to be exaggerated by the US method of calculation.
China does not allow short term political considerations to influence its positive attitude to trade. This can be seen from its response to the US support for Taiwan's continued claimed status as a separate nation. This, as has been seen, does not mean that it does not take steps to show its disapproval. Similarly, its response to Britain's obstructive actions in relation to Hong Kong was firm, but it did not affect its economic relations with Britain.
Vietnam is still struggling to make a full recovery from the appalling destruction of the war with the US, and to further develop its socialist economy. It has adopted some of the reforms first initiated by China, notably on the admission of foreign capital and the contract responsibility system. Its economy is now on a course of sustained growth at a high level.
Cuba, after the traumatic effects of the disruption of its economy following the collapse of the Soviet Union, is still struggling to offset the effects of the long-running US economic blockade which has been intensified by the Helms Burton law. Despite all these difficulties Cuba's economy has also started to grow. It, too, has admitted foreign capital and set up special economic zones.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), always a target of the reactionary puppet governments across the border with south Korea, and more directly the US via the same route, has recently been harassed and bullied by the US. Now, it too has a small amount of foreign capital, and special economic zones in its economy. Socialist advance is now on a course of recovery after having been the scene of two major floods in the last two years.
Millions are out of work in Britain, millions are on short-time, millions live on bread-line wages. In the rest of the European Union, the United States and Japan, working people are paying the price of the economic crisis in lost jobs, intensified exploitation and increased repression.
In the rest of the non-socialist world, millions upon millions of workers and peasants are super-exploited for the benefit of the transnational corporations. In the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe, capitalist restoration has brought nothing but drugs, corruption, crime and poverty for the overwhelming mass of the population.
But in the socialist quarter of the world it's a different picture. Working people have closed ranks behind the communist and workers' parties in People's China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. The economies of all the socialist countries are growing. The living standards of the masses are rising. They can look forward to the new century with confidence.
The counter-revolutions in the former Soviet Union and the socialist countries of eastern Europe led to the break-up of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. Imperialists claimed that this would usher in a "new world order" and a new era of global peace while, at the same time, they were plotting to take advantage of the now unchallenged power of the United States and the Nato alliance, to expand and extend imperialist control over the rest of the world.
The United Nations Security Council has, until recently, been manipulated to rubber-stamp acts of aggression against Iraq, Yugoslavia and the Somali people. The wishes of the majority of the UN membership, as expressed in the votes of the General Assemblies, are routinely ignored by the United States and Britain. United Nations machinery is totally ignored by United States imperialism in the pursuit of its unilateral trade blockade against Cuba. And the Nato powers are trying to intervene in Albania to head off the popular uprising against the pro-imperialist puppet regime in Tirana.
But wherever there is oppression, there is resistance. The imperialist world has failed to spread the counter-revolutionary process to Cuba or the socialist countries of Asia.
The intensified blockade of Cuba has failed to undermine the determination of the Cuban people to defend their revolution and preserve their independence. US attempts to blackmail Democratic Korea over the nuclear reactor issue failed in the face of the resolute stand of the DPRK government. International solidarity with Cuba and the DPRK must be increased and the campaign for material aid to both countries must be supported and strengthened.
Iraq remains defiant despite the cruel war and blockade which has led to the deaths of over a million children in the past seven years. The Yugoslav socialist federation was broken up, but Serb resistance prevented the total absorption of Bosnia into the Western camp. The Somali people's resistance drove the US army from their shores.
Today, communists are leading the fight-back in the former Soviet Union. A vast popular movement has taken up the gun in Albania. The long overdue overthrow of the parasitic puppet Mobutu regime in Zaire by the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of, and the birth of, the Democratic Republic of Congo, has greatly boosted the long-term prospects for political and economic progress in central and southern Africa, particularly in the wake of the ANC taking power in South Africa. For the first time in modern history, the peoples of former Zaire can now set about using their country's resources to develop education, health and the country's infrastructure.
The New Communist Party has consistently campaigned to build solidarity with the socialist countries and the forces for national liberation.
The Middle East is a major focus because of the important role played by British imperialism in the region. British imperialism played a major, albeit secondary, role in the Nato onslaught against Iraq. Britain and the United States have worked in tandem to keep the blockade against the Iraqi people going for the past seven years in the face of mounting opposition to it throughout the world.
We will continue to campaign for a total and unconditional end to the blockade of Iraq until it is ended.
We will continue to campaign for the end of similar sanctions against Libya and Iran.
The crisis in the Middle East revolves around the determination of US and British imperialism to control and exploit the massive oil reserves which lie beneath Arab sands. But it centres around the Palestine problem.
British imperialism played a central role in the creation of the Zionist state of Israel. From the very beginning Israel was seen as a useful and reliable tool for maintaining the imperialist order in the Middle East. In 1956 Israel was used by Britain and France as part of their conspiracy to reverse the nationalisation of the Suez Canal and overthrow the progressive Egyptian government of the day.
In 1967 Israel was encouraged to attack Egypt, Syria and Jordan to weaken the growing Arab national liberation movement. Armed to the teeth by the United States, and several wars later, Israel continues to be the willing tool of imperialism.
The basis for a comprehensive and just peace in the Middle East has long been charted by resolutions at the United Nations. Israel must withdraw from all occupied Arab territories including Arab east Jerusalem, Syria's Golan Heights and south Lebanon. The legitimate rights of the Palestinian people must be recognised, including the right to establish an independent sovereign state. And the Palestinian refugees must be given the right to return to their homes.
The defeat of the Tory government and its replacement by a Labour government is not an end in itself. And there can be no doubt that the current Labour leadership intend to pursue economic and social policies which differ little from those of the Conservatives.
We welcome the heavy defeat of the Tories in the General Election, with the discrediting of their policies, both domestic and foreign. We welcome the election of the Labour Government with its large majority, but we note that it is dominated by a right wing leadership which has no intention of confronting the capitalist class. The successful defence of policies such as the Health Service and the repeal of the anti-trade union legislation requires a massive mobilisation of the working class to force a change in the Labour leadership policy.
But the success of "New Labour" is a measure of the strength of bourgeois and social-democratic ideas at a time when the British economy, together with the entire capitalist world, is in deep crisis.
The Conservatives, the chosen instrument of ruling class control, claim that Britain is booming, despite the fact that millions are out of work or on short time and the fact that the living standards of millions of working people have declined dramatically since 1979. Unemployment remains high, the true figure estimated at over 4.2 million.
The Labour leaders, on the other hand, claim that the problem is simply bad management, and that all will be well with their hands at the rudder. They have dumped Clause 4, the Labour Party's constitutional commitment to public ownership, and their leaders have publicly embraced the economic theories and dictates of state monopoly capitalism.
Reality shows that they will fail. If the crisis was simply a case of mismanagement, the capitalists would find others to do their bidding in a better way. If capitalism worked, the ruling class and its politicians would be able to point to at least one capitalist country where it does solve the problems of the people. But they cannot.
They claim that socialism has failed, but what has capitalism brought the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe today? All that it has achieved is massunemployment, organised crime, disease, poverty and civil conflict. Spivs and profiteers make fortunes while working people starve.
The major thrust of the Blair leadership is to abandon public ownership and weaken trade unions further by undermining the link between the Labour Party and the trade unions, while retaining the anti-trade union legislation of the last 18 years.
Even though the labour movement has become weaker -- because of the identification of its leader with all these policies -- experience shows that among the rank and file there is a willingness to struggle against them.
The example of workers such as the Liverpool dockers, the Hillingdon Hospital strikers and the Magnet workers against not only their employers but also the anti-union laws, is one of the needs for working class solidarity.
It is a shame that the willingness of these workers to fight has not been replicated by their union leaderships. The failure to use these principled strikes to focus campaigns against casualisation and low pay has missed an opportunity to involve other workers, not only in solidarity with these strikers but also in opposition to the anti-union laws.
The lesson these recent industrial disputes is one of workers falling victim to anti-union laws and receiving only limited support from their leaderships. It is important that the fight for a working class united trade union leadership prepared to defend the class is maintained. The New Communist Party policy on industrial unionism is vital in support of this.
Along with the struggle to defend the social wage the key issue for the working class is the fight for increased wages. The campaign for higher wages must be the fulcrum of struggle around which the principle of the rate-for-the-job is restored in all industries, free collective bargaining on a national and local level is reinstated, wage differentials on a narrower monetary basis are put in place and, in general, order is brought back into the wages structure. We should also revive the demand for a 35-hour week.
The trade unions would be strengthened as a consequence of sustained activity on these issues, and better able to struggle against redundancy and deregulation of labour and its effects. The demand for permanent full-time jobs on good trade union, agreed conditions must be made and become part of the trade unions' campaign for improved wages and conditions. We must support the campaigns for trade union recruitment, for education about trade unions in schools and colleges and for national Trade Union leadership of the current struggles on wages and other issues. An important part of these campaigns must be the elevation of the fight to free the trade unions from the shackles imposed by the previous government's anti-trade union legislation.
Our task is to build the revolutionary party and its influence, because the problems faced by our class can only be solved with the end of capitalist society.
While we supported the demand for a Labour government - it is in fact the only alternative to continued Tory government - we must challenge social democracy and reformism throughout the labour movement.
There is a widespread belief amongst workers, encouraged by their social democratic leaders and the employers, that the existing system can be made to work more fairly. In recent memory, during the post-war boom, it appeared to be true. Unemployment was low, state welfare had the support of all the major parties, and there was a consensus in favour of the large public sector established by the Attlee government.
Today, the ruling class is in deep crisis. Gains made by the working class over decades have been reversed as the capitalists move to place the entire burden of the crisis on the backs of working people. There is, in fact, no basis for reformist ideas today as the ruling class is not prepared to make any concessions.
They believe that they cannot afford to do so in such straightened times without making substantial sacrifices themselves. In fact, the rich could easily shoulder much more of the burden. We oppose the National Lottery because it transfers monies from the poor to subsidise the pursuits of the rich and also is a form of substitute taxation.
Our immediate demands, for the restoration of state welfare, the public sector and trade union rights, could easily be paid for by restoring progressive taxation - taxing the rich at the levels that existed in 1979 and by introducing a wealth tax and scrapping of Trident.
The fight for working class leadership within the labour and trade union movement is a fight for left policies, which would champion the interests of the working class in its immediate struggles..
The wages struggle is paramount. We must fight to get a Labour government to repeal all the anti-trade union laws, restore all the immunities and allow free collective bargaining .
We must fight for the abolition of VAT and institute a taxation policy based on the ability to pay and campaign for the abolition of standing charges for public utilities, and an end to cutting off these services for those who have difficulty in paying.
All statutory benefits and pensions should remain universally available without means testing. Pensions should be restored to the equivalent of the pre-1980 level and indexed to wages or inflation, whichever is the higher. Workfare schemes and compulsory training schemes for the unemployed must be abolished. We oppose Labour's New Deal for the unemployed which is an extension of Workfare. In particular we should campaign against the threats of benefit sanctions and private sector involvement. Any programme to assist the unemployed should be one of job creation, not coercion. The Job Seekers' Allowance should be repealed and unemployment benefit must be restored to one year, as should the entitlement to benefit for all out of work 16 and 17-year-olds. All benefits to sick and disabled claimants should be restored.
Student loans and tuition fees must be abolished and student grants increased to the equivalent of the 1979 level, indexed to wages or inflation which ever is the higher. Their right to claim all relevant benefits during holidays should be restored.
The use of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) by the Blair government is the most serious threat yet to the publicly owned National Health Service. PFI allows private companies to break into the NHS by building hospitals and leasing them back to trusts, providing all services with the exception, it is claimed, of clinical services - though there is already a precedent even for this.
Local democracy must be restored and rate capping scrapped. Full power of planning and control should be returned to local education authorities. OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education) should be abolished and a system of local and national inspection and advisory services re-established. We also call for universal free education at all stages. Central government funding to local authorities must be increased. The Greater London Council (GLC) and other metropolitan councils, should be re-established with all powers they had previously.
All the privatised industries and services should be brought back into public ownership and made accountable to the people. The National Health Service must be revitalised with a massive injection of government funds. The hospital trusts must be abolished and the NHS run on the principles of a free and universal service.
PFI also threatens schools, roads and other public facilities. PFI is backdoor privatisation and should be abolished with the buildings and facilities returned to the appropriate democratically accountable body
The present chaos on roads and railways must be ended with the creation of a cheap, safe, efficient and fully integrated public transport system.
The government should fund a national council-house building programme to end the scandal of homelessness and provide adequate, low-rent housing for the people. Council house ownership must be returned to the local authorities, who should re-introduce Direct Labour Schemes. The government must allow local authorities to build municipal housing, using the funds accumulated from the sale of council houses.
These demands will only be won through consistent struggle amongst working people to build fighting trade unions and a class conscious labour movement. It goes hand-in-hand with the fight to build the revolutionary party and its influence within the working class.
We have fought for the return to office of a Labour government. Now that this has been achieved, we must now fight for the restoration of that party as the mass-based working class party of the trade union movement.
The foundation of the Labour Party at the beginning of this century by the trade union movement to represent them in Parliament was a major defeat for the ruling class and the class collaborators then in the Liberal Party. It was a political act of profound significance which the ruling class has worked for decades since to reverse.
Now, it is clear that some elements within the leadership of the Labour Party are set on making a final break with the trade union movement. And their intent for "New Labour" is a party on European social-democratic lines, devoid of any direct influence from organised labour. This trend can still be defeated. If it succeeds it will lead to a split in the Labour Party and the weakening of the movement as a whole.
Contrary to the received "wisdom" of the Trotskyites and the other ultra-left sects, the Labour Party in itself is not a barrier to communist advance. A militant trade union movement behind a strong Labour Party creates the best conditions for working class advance in this country. This is why the ruling class have striven to destroy both.
But a strong movement needs an equally strong communist party based on Marxism-Leninism.
The New Communist Party was founded in 1977 precisely for that purpose. The British communist movement is at present small, weak and divided. The same goes for left social-democracy and those who claim to be socialists.
The old Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) abandoned the revolutionary road when it adopted the British Road to Socialism - a revisionist programme of reformist and social-democratic ideas which contributed to its political isolation within the class and its eventual liquidation.
But these ideas did not disappear with the demise of the old CPGB. They continue in the ranks of its direct successors in the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Communist Party of Scotland (CPS). They exist within the Socialist Labour Party and to a certain degree within the ranks of the assorted Trotskyite groups inside and outside the Labour Party.
They also existed within the world communist movement. The counter-revolutions in the former Soviet Union and the socialist countries in eastern Europe were in some cases directed initially by the communist leaderships in those countries. In others, like Romania, Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic, attempts to stop the counter-revolutionary drive were thwarted through the direct or indirect intervention of the revisionist and treacherous leadership of the Gorbachev clique.
The basis of post-war revisionism was laid down at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). The vicious personal attack on Stalin by Nikita Khrushchov had two main effects within the world communist movement. In western Europe it opened the door to Trotskyite ideas which, until then, were confined to small groups drawn from the middle strata. In the socialist camp it encouraged the retreat from the socialist standards laid down by Lenin and Stalin. It reflected a lack of confidence in the masses and it rejected, in practice, the leading role of the working class. It created a climate of compromise and defeat and led to the conditions which counter-revolutionary traitors successfully exploited in the end.
The speech also had far-reaching damaging repercussions, due in part to the way in which it was presented by the capitalist media and the wrong impression of Soviet society that they gave.
In the socialist camp it encouraged a retreat from Leninist standards, and resulting in down playing the role of the working class in society. In the international communist movement, especially in Western Europe, it reinforced the tendency towards accepting the social-democratic strategies and attitudes. It was gaining more and more support at that time, by virtue of the illusions that existed in the working-class -- reflected in the communist parties -- that capitalism was, after all, now a better society.
We stand by our defence of the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin. Despite all the difficulties and errors working people built a new socialist state for themselves - a Soviet Union which inspired workers and peasants all over the world to cast off the shackles of exploitation, oppression, colonialism and slavery. We are proud to uphold the memory of Lenin and Stalin and the Soviet Union which played the major part, with immense sacrifice, in defeating Nazi Germany in the Second World War.
We can point to the continuing success of the revolutions in Socialist Asia and Cuba, and the popular governments in Nepal and Syria which enjoy communist support and participation.
Social democracy has never led to socialism, and revisionism has led to destruction of communist parties and, indeed, socialist states.
Our opposition to social-democracy and revisionism is not a dogmatic creed. It is a practical application of Marxism-Leninism. We must continue to combat these ideas, just as we continue to combat the pie-in-the-sky ideas of the utopian socialists or the anti-communist theories of the Trotskyite groups.
But in combating ideas we believe are fundamentally wrong, we must uphold the communist alternative and seek to win people away from these erroneous and ultimately futile theories.
The counter-revolutionary set-back of 1990 has been followed by a world-wide rallying of communist and workers' parties. Over 240 Parties and progressive forces have signed the Pyongyang Declaration including the New Communist Party and the Communist Party of Britain.
Many communist parties have taken part in forums held in various parts of the world since 1990. We have, supported many of these events. World-wide contacts between communist parties have grown and exchanges of views and experiences can only strengthen the world movement.
But other moves, aimed at building a new communist international, have foundered because they have been launched by small sectarian groups and because the move is premature.
A new international can only succeed, firstly, if it includes and has the agreement of the ruling communist parties of China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. It should be based on Marxism-Leninism and the principle of equality between big parties and small parties. It must recognise the principle of a collective secretariat which reflects the views of the co-operating parties and not that of one big party. And it must recognise that in countries where there is more than one communist party - the case in most countries these days - the differences between them are the matter for those parties alone to resolve.
We recognise that, currently, organised fringe fascist, racist and anti-semitic groups in Britain are weak and divided and that broad-based campaigning by trades unions, anti-racist and anti-fascist organisations has played an important role in bringing this about. Racism is used today to divide black and white people and to dominate both.
Since our last congress, the neo-Nazi British National Party (BNP) lost its national headquarters. Continual campaigning and mass demonstrations against racism and fascism in the locality persuaded people to elect a local authority that would take legal steps to remove the BNP HQ.
Since then the neo-Nazi groupings, such as Combat 18 and the BNP, have further splintered into factions that spend much of their energies in fighting each other.
Electoral support for the BNP in by-elections in the Tower Hamlets area of east London is still dangerously high, but has fallen from the days when a fascist won and held a council seat for a few months, to around two per cent now. This is the result of broad anti-fascist campaigning in the area and a resulting increase in awareness among the local population of the real nature of the BNP.
The commercial production and distribution of racist "oi" music by the popular music industry has been exposed and halted thanks to anti-fascist research and pressure, thus denying the neo-Nazis an important source of income.
But there is no case for complacency. The situation could change again and the New Communist Party will continue to campaign against these evils under all circumstances. And we will give active support at national and local levels to all broad-based campaigns against racism and fascism on a non-sectarian basis, and will continue to promote the widest possible unity in this struggle.
And we recognise that even divided and demoralised racists can still commit terrible racist violence and harassment, out of proportion to their numbers or level of support.
We recognise that many trade unions are doing excellent work in combating discrimination in employment and in fighting racism and harassment at work. We give full support to this and to promoting the pooling of experience and best practice among active trade unionists.
We also commend the TUC's "Respect" initiative and call for it to be considerably expanded and for its impact to reach throughout the country.
We recognise that racism and fascism both harm the whole working class and it is in the interest of the whole working class to organise against these evils which divide and weaken the class.
We also recognise that the active combating of racism and racist violence should figure high on the agendas of community organisations such as tenants' associations and neighbourhood watch schemes.
We note that in localities where the predominantly white neighbourhood watch schemes have taken on board the monitoring and combating of racist harassment and violence, they have been very successful in isolating and dealing with the racists and in promoting good relations between local residents of different ethnic backgrounds.
This has had the effect both of increasing the confidence and involvement of ethnic minority people in such neighbourhood watch schemes, and in raising awareness in the white community of the level of racist harassment and violence endured by their black neighbours.
This confirms that anti-racist campaigning is most effective when in focuses its efforts on where the problems arise.
Our party and our paper, the New Worker, will continue to campaign vigorously against racism, overt or veiled, in the bourgeois mass media.
And we renew our support for the active promotion of anti-racism through schools and colleges.
We support the calls for effective official monitoring of organised fascist and racist activity both nationally and internationally, but we would not wish to rely solely on official bodies. The working class, through its organisations, must remain continually vigilant in its own right. And the widest possible national and international co-operation and collaboration among anti-fascists and anti-racists must be promoted.
We must be aware that although organised racism and fascism are at a low ebb in Britain, this is not so elsewhere. The extreme right has well-developed international links. In particular, we are concerned at the rise of neo-Fascism in parts of Europe.
Meanwhile, the New Communist Party recognises that creeping fascism within the British state and the European Union is advancing alarmingly. Since our last congress, the Tory government has introduced many new laws on asylum and immigration, policing, and criminal trial procedures. We must organise to put pressure on the new government to repeal them.
In particular, we want to see the repeal of the 1994 Criminal justice Act and the 1996 immigration and Asylum Bill, and to promote opposition to the concept of "fortress Europe" where racist immigration laws make insecure, second class citizens of immigrant communities throughout Europe.
We note that racism within the police force continues at a high level and that there are many instances where people from ethnic minorities do not obtain even bourgeois justice.
Deaths in custody, especially of people of African, Caribbean and Irish origin, have in recent years become a commonplace occurrence. While many relatives' organisations have campaigned for justice to be carried out against those police officers responsible, for the most part mainstream politicians of all political parties have totally ignored the issues of deaths in custody and of endemic racism in the police force.
Currently, victims of police racism are forced to use the courts to seek criminal compensation. This is a lengthy and expensive procedure. The costs of the cases and the compensation awards come from the public purse and there is no penalty whatever for the police officers guilty of racist behaviour.
We believe the existing police complaints procedure is totally inadequate to deal with police racism, and we will call on the new government to create an independent monitoring body to look into allegations of police racism.
We also call on the new government to take a firm line with individual policeofficers found guilty of racist behaviour and to dismiss them from the force.
We oppose the introduction of identity cards in any form under a bourgeois society, where they can only be used as a mean of control of the population, against the interests of the working class. Identity cards also give the police and other parts of the state machinery an excuse for further racial harassment.
We are opposed to any kind of oppression or discrimination against women. We campaign for full social and economic emancipation of women. While we recognise the important role the women's movement has played historically, full emancipation of women and men can only be achieved under socialism, the struggle to end the inequalities which exist in today's class society must be consciously stepped up.
The issue is one of class. The roots of women's oppression today lie in the exploitative nature of capitalist society. The campaign is not for women alone -it is central to the class struggle and the fight for socialist revolution. The role of the organised labour movement is crucial to its success.
Working class women were particularly targeted by Conservative governments from 1979. Single mothers were singled out by a government-led campaign which accused them of deliberately having children in order to live on Income Support and Housing Benefit. The purpose of this campaign was simply to justify further reductions in benefit as part of the ruling class's strategy of cutting public spending. This approach has been continued by the Labour government and must be condemned outright and resisted.
The Tories' "back to basics" campaigns and the elevation of "family values" reflected a longer-term strategy to cut the level of unemployment by forcing women out of the jobs market and reducing them to dependency on their partners.
The incoming Labour government has, so far done little or nothing to improve the situation, and has exacerbated the plight of single mothers. Women at work are still, on average, paid less than men. The majority of Britain's poor are women. Poverty experienced by women continues into old age due to the inequalities in pension rights. We demand the reduction of the retirement age to 60 and for equalities in pension rights. Women are denied equality in education, political representation and job prospects.
Harassment of women in their workplaces and on the streets remains commonplace, and in many workplaces is still regarded as acceptable practice.
The immediate focus in the labour movement remains the fight for equal pay and rights for women at work, the fight for free abortion on demand and for comprehensive child care provision for all children and divorce on demand. In the longer term, we must continue to struggle to elevate the demands summarised in our Strategy for Revolution statement of 1992 and our 1995 Congress.
We are opposed to discrimination against homosexuals. Prejudice against gay men and lesbians is related to sexism and can be used to divide the working class. To restrict this we must fight for equality, including:-
an equal age of consent
repeal of Section 28 which bans teaching that gay relationships are equally valid.
equal treatment at work.
equal treatment for housing.
respect for homosexual relationships.
outlawing discrimination against homosexuals.
The Labour leadership and the Liberal Democrats have raised the question of constitutional change under the banner of democratic reforms. The question of the House of Lords is one which the Labour Party have long raised during their periods in opposition while doing little to reform the Upper House when in office.
The current discussion within British ruling circles clearly reflects the need to streamline the British state to conform to the requirements of the European Union and the Maastricht Treaty. The current talk about reforming the House of Lords and ending many of the Crown's prerogatives is part of a restructuring which is proceeding apace in other parts of Europe as well.
The New Communist Party calls for the abolition of hereditary peerages, together with the Crown, the House of Lords and all titles of nobility. The House of Lords, with its unelected peers and bishops, serves no democratic purpose whatsoever.
But the question of proportional representation must take into account tactical considerations. Communists have always believed in using bourgeois democracy to advance the working class and expose the hidden nature of the bourgeois dictatorship which lies behind it.
Proportional representation purports to be more representative of the votes cast in elections, but in bourgeois states the purpose is the same as under our existing first-past-the-post system: To ensure the perpetuation of a bourgeois parliament run by bourgeois parties. Its elevation now is designed to further weaken the Labour Party and create the conditions for continuous right-wing led coalitions of small parties.
Working people will not benefit from proportional representation. Its introduction would lead to greater Liberal Democrat representation - at the expense of the Labour Party - while reinforcing the idea amongst the masses of a "democratic" parliament. It would increase the likelihood of the entry into parliament of racist and fascist parties effectively excluded by the current system.
The counter-revolutions in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe were heralded by British imperialism and the rest of the pack as the end of the "Cold War". We were told that this would lead to general disarmament and a "peace dividend" for the people. Nothing of the kind has happened. The only "peace dividend" which has occurred has been one payable to the ruling class, which has benefited from the collapse of the mass peace campaign in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union.
The British ruling class is continuing with the Trident nuclear strike system. It is reported that the RAF Would like to purchase the United States "Stealth" bomber. Though there have been some cosmetic reductions in Britain's conventional arms the nuclear arsenal remains intact.
And Britain has actually increased its nuclear strike force with the Trident system, whose 384 warheads each possess eight times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb.
Britain and the United States justified their immense nuclear arsenals on the grounds that it "deterred" what they called Soviet expansionism. It was a false argument then and it's a false argument now.
The Soviet Union never posed a threat to world peace. Now it no longer exists. But the United States, Britain and France continue to maintain and upgrade their weapons of mass destruction.
The purpose now is to use these weapons to intimidate the Third World into submitting to imperialist domination. During the Gulf War the Anglo-American forces used every conventional weapon in the Nato arsenal to force Iraq to its knees, including Cruise missiles and Stealth bombers. Few doubt that 'tactical' nuclear weapons would have been used had the battle gone the other way in Kuwait.
During that conflict the peace movement was unable to make a decisive intervention to halt the war despite the mass anti-war protests which were called.
This was due to the historic failure of the left to develop an anti-imperialist perspective within the broad peace movement. In the past the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was weakened by the stand of many of its leaders who blamed both the Soviet Union and the United States for the Cold War. During the Gulf War some of them equated Iraq, the victim of imperialist aggression, with the United States, the main instigator of the criminal attack on the defiant Arab country.
Some CND leaders have preferred to campaign on ecological and general humanitarian issues at the expense of the campaign against Trident.
The demand for global nuclear disarmament must be elevated in conjunction with the existing CND peace campaign and those of the anti-Trident peace activists and the global 'Abolition 2000'. Our Party stands for the unilateral abolition of nuclear weapons.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was initiated in 1968 to stop the spread of nuclear weapons but it also committed the signatories to work towards universal nuclear disarmament.
The United States, Britain and France have been enthusiastic supporters of non-proliferation and a nuclear test ban, but they have refused to take any serious steps towards reducing the size of their nuclear arsenals.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council all possess nuclear arsenals. The United States has the largest, and Britain and France also possess substantial numbers of nuclear warheads. Russia remains a major nuclear power but some doubt whether its systems are now operational.
The fifth member, People's China, is the only socialist power with nuclear weapons. China's arsenal is by far the smallest and it has carried out the least number of tests. China conducted its last nuclear test in July 1996. China is the only nuclear power which has upheld the demand for universal nuclear disarmament. China, backed by many other countries, has challenged the West to implement the whole of the original NPT agreement whose Article VI commits the signatories "to work towards universal nuclear disarmament".
This commitment can only be implemented by those five powers which already have nuclear arms.
People's China calls on states with nuclear weapons deployed outside their borders to withdraw these weapons to home territory. China calls for the banning of the development and deployment of space weapons systems or missile defence systems.
China stands for the complete prohibition and total destruction of all nuclear weapons. And in the meantime it has urged the other four nuclear powers to conclude a treaty banning the first use of nuclear weapons against each other, and committing them not to use - or threaten to use - nuclear weapons against nuclear-free zones and countries without such weapons.
These demands must be projected throughout the British peace movement. We must elevate the campaign to scrap Trident which should be decommissioned.. This is an attainable campaigning demand that would put British imperialism on the defensive. The only argument for retaining the Trident nuclear weapon system, which is purchased from the United States, was the false one of "deterrence" - and that has clearly fallen together with the end of the "Cold War".
The imperialist military industrial complex has drained trillions of dollars from the social development of the developed and developing world, impoverishing, killing and maiming millions of the world's population. It was responsible for a major financial setback to the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries during the cold war, causing them to divert valuable resources from civilian to military production.
The campaign for conversion and diversification must be elevated throughout the labour movement. We call for the setting up by the government of a defence diversification agency and the implementation of an arms conversion plan which would create industrial, manufacturing and service jobs to which workers on so-called defence projects could be redeployed. Their advanced skills would therefore be applied for socially useful purposes. This serves the all-round interests of the international working class.
Finally, the partial victory of the campaign for the abolition of landmines must be welcome.
The New Communist Party remains opposed to the Treaty of Rome and the Maastricht Treaty. The European Union is nothing more than a capitalist market bereft of any genuine democratic structures. It is opposed to the interests of the working class and the majority of people.
The unelected EU Commission makes recommendations to the Council of Ministers who are appointed by the governments of the member states, which will adopt them. They will then report to the elected European Parliament which is powerless to change policy.
Any short-term benefits to the working class from the European Union are far out-weighed by the long-term disadvantages. The Social Chapter - elevated by the Labour Party leadership and the rest of European social-democracy - is just being used in Britain as part of the campaign to disarm and win organised labour around the demand for greater integration within the European Union. It ignores the fundamental right to strike or the right to association.
The European bourgeoisie, and this includes the dominant trend in Britain, is committed to building a new European super-state for the benefit of capitalism and imperialism, which is neither genuinely federal or democratic in form or content.
We must continue to oppose the drive to further integration, including opposition to European Monetary Union. The introduction of the single currency will lead to more savage attacks on the working class who are expected to pay for the cost of compliance.
The Labour Party is in favour of a referendum before a final decision is made on EMU. But a referendum is not the answer, and if it is called it will be used to produce the result the ruling class want in the first place. The Maastricht Treaty has the support of all the major political parties, the TUC and most of big business.
If the anti-Maastricht movement in Britain was strong enough to overcome them and win a referendum against EMU, this would be reflected in a change in the leadership of the Labour Party and the trade union movement. The situation would have changed to a point where a referendum would not be needed.
But if a referendum is called we must mobilise for a massive 'No' vote whatever the timing and circumstances. If the referendum is called and the 'No' campaign is lost - the result would be used to justify the building of the European super-state.
We must build links between the trade unions throughout the European Union and beyond. We must broaden the campaign to go beyond opposition to EMU and back to challenging the basic Treaty of Rome. We must focus opposition to indirect taxation (VAT) - a major prop of the EU's finances - and the destruction of the public sector. We must demand the return to public control of Britain's natural resources, essential services and public utilities, in some cases without compensation. These campaigns must be aimed at securing Britain's withdrawal from the European Union and establishing genuine popular democracy in Britain. We oppose the creation of a super-European army.
The struggle to end British colonial rule in the Six Counties of the north of Ireland is a struggle for national independence and self-determination. The current struggle in the occupied north of Ireland, led by Sinn Fein, began in 1969. The conflict, which has claimed the lives of thousands of Irish and British people alike, is entirely due to British imperialism's determination to retain its hold on the occupied north of Ireland through military might, political manipulation, repressive laws and by economic stranglehold and by so doing so, extends its influence over the Irish government in the south.
The New Communist Party welcomed the initiative by Sinn Fein and the north of Ireland Social-Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) which led to the cease-fire, courageously initiated by the IRA in August 1994. The blame for the end of the cease-fire and the resumption of the armed struggle by the IRA last year must be laid firmly on the manoeuvres and intrigues of the British government, whose refusal to enter into meaningful talks with Sinn Fein, was a cynical stalling exercise.
The demand for inclusive all-party talks was endorsed by Sinn Fein and the SDLP, and all the main political parties in the south of Ireland. It was endorsed by the United States government, under pressure from the influential Irish-American community, and for a brief moment in time, a framework for a peaceful solution to the problem appeared on the agenda.
It was sabotaged by the Tory government, and its allies amongst the sectarian Unionist parties of the occupied north of Ireland. And this was shamefully endorsed by the Parliamentary Labour Party leadership's bipartisan approach, which refuses to countenance any settlement contrary to the interests of British imperialism, by arguing for the maintenance of the Union on the basis of an internal northern Ireland settlement.
Sinn Fein's call for the complete demilitarisation of the north, which means the "removal of all guns - British, Unionist, Loyalist and Republican - from Irish politics", must be supported by the British labour and peace movement.
The war in the north of Ireland will end when British imperialism recognises that only the Irish people as a whole have the right to determine their own affairs. We recognise the right of the Irish people to determine the nature of their struggle to end British colonial rule in the occupied north.
We believe that the conflict will finally end when British imperialism recognises that it must withdraw from the north of Ireland, end partition and permit the re-unification of the country they criminally divided in 1921.
The British labour and peace movement has a crucial role to play in using its influence to bring pressure on the Labour Party to end the bipartisan approach of the Labour leadership demanding that the peace talks result in the decommissioning of weapons of all parties whilst at the same time, confronting the Unionists' veto . Our communist duty is clear - to build solidarity with the Irish people and the struggle to end British colonial rule in the north of Ireland amongst the working class throughout Britain.
The New Communist Party has long recognised the rights of the Scottish and Welsh nations to full national self-determination. We welcome the establishment of Scottish and Welsh national assemblies which have been endorsed by the labour movement in Scotland and Wales. We support the demand for genuine self-governing powers for these assemblies, which at the moment are envisaged simply as regional governments.
We support Scottish and Welsh demands for the right to preserve and develop their cultural heritage and national identity. We support their right to possess and control all the physical and other resources present on their soil or in their territorial waters.
Local autonomy in itself does nothing to preserve national traditions and culture or strengthen working class power. In the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, self-governing administrations comprised of local exploiters have presided over the virtual demise of all their heritage and culture while introducing labour laws and practices even worse than those implemented by the Tories in Britain since 1979. We fully support the struggles of the labour movement in the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands and the efforts by the citizens of these dependencies for democratic and progressive change.
We also support the demand for the encouragement of the Welsh language and those of the Gaelic-speaking minority in Scotland.
The achievement of genuine national independence by the Scottish and Welsh nations is an integral part of the struggle of the working class of England, Scotland, and Wales for socialist revolution.
The separatist Scottish National Party argument for independence within the European Union, and the platform of the Welsh Plaid Cymru, reflects the bourgeois class basis of both these nationalist parties and denies the economic unity which capitalist development has brought to all three countries.
There is no independent class of big capitalists remaining in Scotland or Wales. Therefore as long as Wales and Scotland remain capitalist, they cannot be independent from England and as long as England remains capitalist it would not tolerate a socialist Scotland or Wales. Nor is there a separate English, Welsh or Scottish working class. It is one, integrated working class.
The united struggle by the Scottish, Welsh and English working class, including all the ethnic minorities which also live in these three countries, is essential to the defence and advancement of national rights. It is an essential part of the organisational unity of the working class which already exists within the trade union movement. It is an essential part in the revolutionary process which will end the rule of the capitalist class and establish a republican federal socialist system based on equality for all the nations and peoples living in England, Scotland and Wales.
We uphold Marxism-Leninism, the ideology of scientific socialism, and in this we will never waver. Our strategy for revolution calls for the building of the revolutionary party while our electoral policy takes into account the historicaldevelopment and organisational form of the labour movement as a whole.
We called on working people to vote Labour everywhere, in national, local and European Union elections to defeat the Conservatives, the chosen party of the ruling class. We will support the progressive reforms Labour has pledged to carry out. We will support the campaign within the labour movement for further reform including the restoration of all that has been lost since 1979.
None of this will detract from our independent Party work which revolves around building the revolutionary party and increasing our independent influence within the movement.
We must not work in a sectarian manner, nor do we need to, when we make common cause with mainstream social-democracy or the left social-democratic trends in Britain on campaigns which conform to Party policy and the needs of the working class.
The New Communist Party, together with the Communist Party of Britain and many others signed the Pyongyang Declaration, Let Us Defend and Advance the Socialist Cause, on 20 April 1992. This broad re-affirmation of socialist principles has now been endorsed by over 240 parties and progressive movements throughout the world.
The Communist Party of Britain and the Communist Party of Scotland were born from movements within the old revisionist Communist Party of Great Britain which we parted company with in 1977. The other two communist parties were formed at later dates, one around the campaign to defend the Morning Star the other around the core of the old Scottish communist movement.
The CPB and the CPS uphold versions of the revisionist British Road to Socialism which we rejected in 1977 and continue to combat in all its different forms. Our friendly relations with these two parties, who share a common heritage with us, is based on the understanding that we fundamentally disagree with their electoral strategy and reformist platforms and we recognise their disagreements with our strategy.
At the same time we can clearly make common cause with them along with the rest of the left of the labour movement as a whole in the peace campaign, the fight against racism and fascism, the struggle for higher wages and trade union rights, the defence of State Welfare and the campaign against the European Union.
This also applies to the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) which did not emerge directly from the old Communist Party of Great Britain. We have developed friendly relations with their leadership, which has recently signed the Pyongyang Declaration.
We welcome regular exchanges of views with all these parties which can only lead to mutual understanding and the opening of areas of common work and campaigning. We would welcome the establishment of a communist liaison committee for regular exchanges of views with all these parties.
Our attitude to the Socialist Labour Party (SLP), a left social-democratic formation drawn from the ranks of the Labour Party, is similar. It has in its ranks some outstanding trade union militants. ) But it also includes tiny trotskyite groups and sectarians who have gained influence in the SLP.
The New Worker is the vital public voice of the Party, directly reflecting its policy and Central Committee leadership. It is both a means to raising issues of a national and international character that directly bear on working class and revolutionary movements, and a tool for conveying analysis from a Marxist-Leninist perspective of day-to-day and long-term concerns. In these respects, the New Worker seeks to expand its readership through pitch, conference, stall and other events, sales, subscriptions, and by direct contact on issues affecting workers. During the past year over 10,000 have, through the internet, viewed its editorial, selected articles and main news items. As the key component of the Party's means of communication, the paper is kept at the forefront of organisational and ideological work. It seeks, in particular, to harness the resources and expertise of the Party membership in the development of the paper. And on that basis, aims to reach out, notwithstanding technical, financial and production limitations, to the wider movement to create a sense that The New Worker represents the voice of struggle in its various forms. Its capacity for consistency and follow-through is a key element in this process, which becomes more significant as part of the battle to overcome division and fragmentation in the labour, trade union, peace, co-operative and left movement.
Our position towards the Morning Star is equally clear. The New Worker is not in competition with the Morning Star. The Morning Star is a broad daily newspaper of the left and the New Worker is a weekly communist newspaper.
We have many disagreements with the direction and stance of the Morning Star. Differences between the communist analysis and that of the broad left are inevitable during the process of working class struggle.
The New Communist Party has consistently helped the struggle to defend the Morning Star. It is a paper of the British left and an asset to the working class. We urge our members and supporters to read it and actively participate in the work of the People's Press Printing Society to ensure that the management of the Morning Star remains in the hands of those committed to the paper's survival.
The Marx Memorial Library is another important asset of the working classand the British communist movement. It preserves a priceless collection of socialist and communist literature and organises a regular season of talks on working-class topics. The New Worker affiliated to the Marx Memorial Library last year and we urge comrades to campaign for trade union affiliation to the Library as well as joining on an individual basis.
Capitalism will not collapse of its own accord, however deep the crisis: It must be overthrown. The objective conditions for building socialism have existed in Britain for over a century. But the strength of the ruling class and its ability to split and divide the working class movement by buying off some sections in the past with the crumbs from imperialist plunder has thwarted all past moves for change.
The ruling class has nurtured the class-collaborationist theories of social democracy and revisionism which still retain a strong grip on the labour movement.
But the way forward is clear. Working people need a strong communist party based on Marxism-Leninism. Only such a movement can lead the working class, objectively the majority of the people of Britain, and its allies in the struggle to win state power, the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the building of socialism.
The New Communist Party took up the challenge in 1977, decisively breaking with the revisionism and reformism of the British Road to Socialism by founding a Party of the new type.
Now in our twentieth year we must fight to win respect, influence and members from the ranks of militant workers in the labour movement.
Class consciousness is sharpest at the point of production and it is from here that we must look principally for new recruits to our cause. We need to build branches and groups in every factory and office; in every industry, trade and housing estate in the country. We must extend the sales of The New Worker and other Party publications to reach every section of the working class.
We must build the Party around the tried and tested principles of democratic centralism, iron discipline, regular self-sacrificing work in a Party organisation and unyielding hatred of the capitalist system.
Every comrade must work to build the Party and take part in the day-to-day struggles in the trade union movement, the community and the struggle for peace. We want militant trade unionism with genuine militant working class leadership to take on the bosses and fight for the communist alternative.
We must continue to build solidarity with the struggling peoples of the world fighting against neo-colonialism and imperialist aggression. We must continue to forge strong links with our comrades abroad - in the socialist countries of Asia and the Caribbean, in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe, in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas and in western Europe and the European Union.
Throughout the world the communist movement has been built on sacrifice and hardship. Our Party is no exception. Our Party has survived for two decades thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of our members. Future generations will think them for laying the foundations of the mighty movement which will bring the whole rotten edifice of capitalism to an end in Britain once and for all.
Workers will not unite and fight for things they believe to be impossible. They will fight for what they consider just, fair and reasonable and in doing so they will win victories in their day-to-day struggles and pave the way for the socialist revolution.
What does socialism mean? First of all it means that the ownership of the means of production - the factories, mines, the transport industry, the land and the machinery to till it - is taken from the hands of the capitalists into state and collective ownership on behalf of the working class. A dictatorship of the working class will be established that will suppress the class enemy economically and politically through the workers' government, trade unions and councils and in the sphere of ideology and culture generally. The energy, vitality and creative power of the working class will be unleashed, providing a freer and fuller life for everyone. The people will own the banks, insurance companies and finance houses. The age of classes and exploitation will be over. The greed, speculation and corruption of the bourgeoisie will end when the workers' government is established and a new era will dawn.
Eventually, under communism, the economic slumps which are part and parcel of capitalism will disappear. There will be no more unemployment and no more war. The energy, vitality and creative power of the working class will be unleashed providing a freer and fuller life for everyone.
Homelessness and the squalor of the slums will end. Housing will be good, free and available to all. The environment will be protected for the benefit of the countless generations to come. Everyone will enjoy free education and a free health service.
Everyone who is able will work - not like today for the boss and breadline wages - but for the collective in the plant, office or farm. And work will become a pleasure. Every job will have value and importance from the essential services to the highest scientific research and it will be all for the common benefit of the people.
People will have more leisure time. Time to think, time to grow and appreciate life. Time to participate and discuss. Time to play or travel. Time to reflect and create.
There will be no classes, sects or racial discrimination. Unemployment, poverty, racism, discrimination and bigotry will vanish. Women will finally be fully emancipated and play a full role in the society of the future.
Elderly people will be provided with a living income to enjoy the fruits of their past labour. And they will continue to play a role in a society which treasures their experience and knowledge.
Culture, sport, arts and entertainment will be made by the masses for the masses. The old culture of selfishness and competition, which pits worker against worker, will go. The old distinctions between skilled and unskilled, white-collar, and blue-collar workers will end, together with the dead-end jobs and the sterile intellectualism of today. People will live in dignity and hope, building communism in Britain and throughout the world.
Socialism is not a utopian dream. It is being built by over a quarter of the world's population. In People's China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba working people are building a new life for themselves today. We shall do that tomorrow.