New Communist Party of Britain
THE twelfth Congress of the New Communist Party of Britain meets at a time of deepening capitalist crisis and imperialist war. The developments since 1997 emphasise the terminal character of the world capitalist system. The crises which unfolded in Asia and Latin America are a continuation of the struggle between the US, Japan and the European Union (EU) over who will dominate the world. This imperialist rivalry has gone on for over a century and resulted in war and oppression at the expense of the working class of the developed countries and the peoples of the of the developing countries.
The effects of the world crisis are uneven and the responses of the ruling classes and their representative bodies to protect their own wealth and power have led to a degree of temporary recovery, as measured by their own economic criteria and has seen the US increasingly taking on the role of the "economy of last resort".
The chief symptoms of the changes that have marked the period from July 1997 have been in South East Asia, Russia and Latin America, particularly in Brazil. The causes of the crisis in all these economies can all be traced to the basic contradictions in the capitalist system. The consequences have affected the more developed economies to the extent that not only has forecast world economic growth been significantly slowed and trade growth reduced by half from eight to four per cent but serious flaws have been found in the financial and banking system, as witnessed by the collapse of Japanese banks and the bail-out of the highly leverage hedge fund Long Term Credit Management.
Unstable currencies, affecting even the US dollar and very high interest rates in the crisis economies have been a factor in preventing quick recovery in the countries worst hit. In their quest to increase their capital during the boom phase of the cycle, the capitalists, unable to invest capital profitably in more productive capacity, pour funds into the stock markets and into real estate, bidding prices up to unsustainable levels or if they still can't find profitable outlets at home send their capital abroad. Thus capital prowls the world, looking for the next big thing. A few years ago it was Latin America, especially Mexico, then Mexico crashed and it became Asia's turn, Asia then collapsed with the distinct possibility of a total collapse in Brazil and Russia.
This flight of capital began a process of steep devaluations in the countries immediately concerned and competitive devaluations in numerous other countries in a frantic effort to retain export levels and increase trade with a view to offsetting the fall in demand in the home economies. In contrast to the shortage of capital in many developing countries, there is a glut of capital in the major imperialist countries whose owners are seeking profitable outlets to invest in. This is a major reason for the previous government's privatisation of former nationalised industries, the refusal of the present Labour government to renationalise them and the continuing efforts to privatise services such as the prison service, some police operations and to make further encroachments on the Royal Mint, Post Office, and the health and education sectors. This desperate search for profitable outlets is also a factor in the rise of housing prices and the purchase of housing to rent out.
Extending back further in time and concurrently with this, the leaders of the developed countries, through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in alliance with the most powerful transnational corporations (TNCs) , have striven through Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) to tighten their grip on the economies of all countries, in particular those of the developing countries.
The terms of MAI, now in abeyance but not abandoned, were meant to ensure investment rights for foreign capital that would have overridden the basic laws of all countries. It shows that the monopoly capitalist organisations are now seeking to divest themselves of any restriction by capitalist states. The ambitious character of the proposed agreement eventually ensured that it became unacceptable to many countries. It is, nonetheless, a warning to the world's working class of the future agenda of the world monopoly capitalism. It is driven by its quest for ever greater profits in pursuit of monopoly capitalism's basic raison d'etre the accumulation of capital as an end to maintain its competitiveness.
The battleground for foisting the provisions of the draft MAI has now moved to the World Trade Organisations (WTO). Imperialism will now attempt to ensure that the terms of the MAI will be realised through the WTO.
The ever increasing accumulation of capital from the exploitation of the working class throughout the world has not resulted and will not result in benefits for working people. The disparity between the aggregate values of the products produced and the aggregate purchasing power in the market to buy them is constantly widening as the rate of exploitation increases.
The more specific localised crises in the capitalist world economy have occurred at its weakest points and although the effects on the strongest economies of the developed countries can easily be discerned, their huge reserve resources, both in terms of organisation, administration and in economic values and capital, enable them to stave off, at least for the time being, a full-scale world recession. This underlines the fact that it is imperative for the world capitalist system that economic growth is sustained at its current average level in the coming period if a world-wide slump is to be avoided.
The strategic centre of the world economy is without question the United States. Its vast stock of accumulated capital and its huge market for consumer goods and services, together with the role it plays as a recipient of foreign investment, makes it the engine of the economy of the whole world. The common fallacy among the apologists of capitalism is that the boom-bust behaviour of the system has been tamed. They claim this is shown by the seven year crisis-free, uninterrupted low-inflation growth of the US economy. The British social-democrats project this theory when they claim they are establishing sound economic fundamentals in the British economy.
In this situation sound economic practice for the monopoly capitalist means maintaining low growth, low inflation GDP by the close monitoring of fiscal policy. Interest rates are adjusted up and down depending on the speed of growth of the economy. High interest rates inhibit economic growth by retarding investment in the wealth-creating economy which increases unemployment and bumps down wage levels by discouraging wage demand.
High interest rates result in reduced economic growth and high unemployment which leads to a low rate of inflation. For the working class everywhere this means continuing insecurity through fear of, or actual unemployment, minimum or reduced real wages for the individual worker, and a low-level of aggregate wages, thus the variable element of capital (wages)is greatly reduced whilst the constant element of capital (instruments of labour and technological processes) increases significantly through the increased investment in new technology which then leads to a further increase in the ratio of constant capital to variable capital (organic composition of capital) and a reduction in the rate of profit and an increase in the rate of exploitation and rate of capital accumulation. Ever-increasing rates of exploitation are synonymous with the increased rate of capital accumulation.
The increased rate of exploitation exacerbates the effects of the basic contradiction of capitalism and guarantees in the long term, its deepening, though uneven, development of its general crisis.
There are some apparent contradictions in the economies of the developed countries, including the United States and Britain. Unemployment levels have been reduced from their previous higher levels by the so-called de-regulation of the labour market. This, however, has been done by substituting the better paid jobs which had generally better working conditions by low waged insecure jobs. The cost of labour or aggregate wage bills have therefore been kept at a low level without recourse to negative economic growth.
Low public spending involving a low social wage and low public service wages is part of their strategy. There is a systematic long term plan aimed at reducing the state's involvement in the provision of the social wage while transferring the responsibility to the individual.
An example is the promotion of private pension schemes, which put added investment capital into private hands and are a significant source of profit, creating ever greater accumulation of capital in the hands of the capitalists with which to bolster the system. This is part of the drive towards the total privatisation of the economy.
Promoting private pension schemes is an essential part of the theory that market forces must be given maximum free rein. In essence it means that economic values previously devoted to the working class are now being transferred to capital and to the increased capital accumulation needed by the monopoly capitalist to compete in the increasingly fierce struggle for the relatively shrinking markets.
The boom and bust cycles have a tendency to be smoothed down based on the relative strength of the labour movement. Workers are, by and large, able to resist wage cuts and can continue to obtain wage increases despite business slow downs. The automatic stabilisers, notably social insurance payments and progressive income tax which go towards funding state welfare, tend to dampen down cyclical fluctuations. None of these were yielded out of the wisdom of the capitalists, but rather as reluctant concessions to the increased organised strength and struggles of workers and other anti-monopoly forces. As has already been demonstrated, the capitalists are always seeking ways to whittle down or do away with these concessions and put the main burden of income tax payments on wage and salary workers.
All this comprises a mortal crisis of world capitalism which cannot be resolved except with the demise of the system. Attempts to suppress one aspect of this general crisis, when successful, lead only to more severe eruption of another aspect.
As rate of profit has reduced in the production of manufactured goods, an ever greater proportion of the values traded are now in the financial sphere - derivatives. While asset inflation has increased in the equity markets that funded the real wealth-creating economy in the recent period, it has increased much more in the financial economy. The financial derivatives market only significantly started to develop in 1972, its aggregate size in 1986 was $1.1 trillion, $10.2 trillion in 1990 $55.7 trillion in 1995 and was estimated to be $100 trillion in 1997. It should be pointed out that the replacement value of derivatives - the measure of the commitment of financial capital to a derivatives position - is between 2.5 per cent and four per cent of the aggregate size, for example in 1997 the commitment of finance capital on the estimated $100 trillion worth of derivatives would at four per cent have been $4 trillion, is still more than the total capitalisation of the top 30 banks and security houses. Many organisations in entering the derivatives market will use leveraged capital, the use of borrowed funds, to gain a proportionately greater interest in some financial asset.
Trading in financial derivatives can be undertaken using many different strategies such as short selling or holding long positions. Organisations when short selling will commit to supply at a future date, securities which are not currently owned. In a market where prices are declining, short selling will enable the securities to be purchased at a lower price than the agreed selling price, thus yielding a profit. Long positions are where organisations have an abnormally large holding or exposure in particular securities or currencies.
Large funds of capital are deployed in the process of accumulating finance capital and in that of manipulating debt. Huge hedge funds are functioning to provide highly leveraged investment funds taking long or short positions and often exit positions abruptly, sometimes affecting price trends and market sentiments. Even debt is a financial derivative where credit instruments such as loans and bonds are traded in credit markets. Nor is this on the periphery of the system but involves banks, TNCs, national governments and local governments..
Since 1993 there have been at least 10 separate failures due to trading in derivatives that have involved losses of more than a billion US dollars each, of these 10 failures which include local governments, national governments, manufacturers and banks. In the early 1990s Procter and Gamble the soap manufacturers managed to lose $157 billion on a deal involving $200 billion based on the tracking on US government bonds. During the present crisis a special consortium was organised involving billions of dollars in a rescue operation to save one of the hedge funds based in the US and to help stabilise the stock market. This consortium involved 14 banks and shows the difficulties now faced by which many financial institutions are large enough, should they fail, to corrupt the whole financial system and need the combined weight of a number of others to bail them out.
Financial derivatives are a necessary feature in a world economy that is substantially run on debt. In all countries debt-financing of many kinds is the norm taking the form of budget deficits, national debt, trade imbalance, current accumulated deficit, personal sector debt and corporate debt. High levels of interest are charged on this debt increasing constantly the stock of finance capital in the system and it is highly profitable for the investors in these funds.
Since 1945 monopoly capitalism has encouraged the development of a vast network of agencies designed to impose co-operation between capitalist states, particularly those of the leading industrialised states. There is now a great disquiet within ruling class circles, at the efficiency of these agencies the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), OECD, the Group of seven conferences and many others, because the sophisticated strategies adopted by governments have failed to stave off the ultimate deep crisis of the system. Large packets of economic aid have been deployed into the crisis countries of south-east Asia and Latin America. There are increased western efforts to reduce -- rather than cancel across the board -- the developing countries' debt. This reflects a part of the concern to prevent social and political turmoil which acts against, or makes untenable, the "free market" pillaging of those countries' resources and wealth. Large sums of aid are being held in readiness to assist Russia when a plausible plan for reviving its economy can be devised. None of this has so far been successful in bringing lasting economic stability to these countries.
Re-organisation of the IMF, but also of the financial system in its entirety, is now suggested as a means of bringing discipline and greater co-ordination among the financial monopolies, to control the export of capital throughout the world. None of these will avail to bring in order and collective responsibility into a system that is based essentially on individual self-interest.
One of the most notable signs of the potential for chaos and disorder can be seen in the challenge that for some time has existed to capitalist state power by the big international monopolies. This is an example of the contradiction in two of the main aspects of monopoly capitalism, the state and the big economic monopolies each are essential to the other yet challenge each other. The harnessing of these monopolies to a new system of discipline is now a chief pre-occupation of capitalist states. Where, previously, and today still, the state has been the instrument for the continuous development of these monopolies' using the principle of the utmost freedom of the market forces and ultimately of coercion of all opposing factors, while not desirous of eliminating them, they now seek to limit the powers of the state. At this stage in the evolution of capitalism it can be seen that this is an insoluble contradiction.
The countries of the former Soviet Union and the ex-socialist countries of eastern Europe are now considered emerging markets by capitalism. They are in the process of restoring capitalism, and while some of these countries have resumed a measure of economic growth, the living standards of the working people in all these former socialist states have plummeted as recorded by chronic unemployment, low wages and disintegrating social services.
The new leaderships in eastern Europe want European Union membership all want membership of Nato, and that too has been granted to some of them. This is part of the grand design of European monopoly capitalism to create one European state, excluding Russia, and the other republics which once formed the Soviet Union.
Some eastern European states are now satisfying the criteria required to be considered sound economies in capitalist terms. This means resumed economic growth, low inflation and healthier government finance, reasonably low external debt and current account balances.
Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are candidates for the inclusion in an expanding European Union and have become markets and spheres of investment and influence for the developed capitalist countries, particularly those of Western Europe, though none of them have regained the economic strength they enjoyed when the socialist system existed.
Russia and the former Soviet republics are in a very much more critical situation than most of Eastern Europe. Russia is in such deep crisis that the government is powerless to find a solution to its default on its external debt commitment. The rouble lost 25 per cent of its value against the dollar in 1998. High inflation, large budget deficit, grossly inadequate consumer spending power are some of the elements of the economic crisis. Economic strength is vastly diminished compared to that of the old Soviet Union. Russia is now reduced to begging for hand-outs from the IMF and the US.
Working class and peasant living standards are vastly reduced. Arrears in the payment of wages and pensions have persisted over a long period whilst high prices put many essential products out their reach. The high standards of social service enjoyed in Soviet times are sadly decimated. An estimated third of the entire population lives in extreme poverty.
Since 1998 the decline in incomes has sharply out-paced the rate of economic recession. In January 1998 wages were down 40 per cent in real terms compared with the same period in the previous year. Production dropped by 4.5 per cent.
Though the official unemployment figure is 1.9 million the real number out of work is nearer nine million. Crime has soared and Russia has one of the highest murder rates in the world, three times greater than that of the United States, five times more than France and seven times more than Germany. Only a handful of countries, such as Colombia, have a higher figure.
In the countries of east and south east Asia the effects of the crisis are shown by rising unemployment, falling real wage values and cuts in already low levels of public expenditure. Riots and strikes, as the working people react in defence of their living standards, are common in these countries, and in many of them, these have led to political instability and changes of government.
Japan, once the economic miracle of the capitalist world almost throughout the 1990s has been in deep and continuing economic crisis. Japan is an extreme example of the contradiction in all capitalist countries of vast wealth concentrated in the hands of the capitalist class on the one hand, and on the other, chronic shortage of resources in the control of the state to run the national economy. Vast capital investments are held abroad by the monopoly capitalists and in private hands at home, while the domestic economy plunges into crisis.
At the present, the enormous sum of 207 billion pounds of public money has been injected into the Japanese economy with another £60 billion estimated to be announced in a supplementary budget in the autumn of 1999. The two injections combined amount to about 40% of Britains GDP. This means that the government seeks to solve the crisis by using tax-payers' money substantially derived from the working class. Incomes are falling, unemployment is at record levels and the Japanese workers are increasingly worried about their pension schemes. An article in the Financial Times on 11/06/98 said: "Japan will probably further raise the retirement age and reduce benefits........ A retirement package even from a blue-chip employer now amounts to no more than a teenager earns in a fast-food outlet."
Japanese banks have lent $271.4 billion to the Asian emerging markets whilst the EU has lent $353.3 billion. To gauge the level of exposure these figures can be expressed as a percentage of the respective countries' total available bank capacity. For the EU it is 48.5% and for Japan it is a huge 109.5%. The US comes a poor third with only $43.3 billion of bank capital lent to the emerging markets in Asia.
Bourgeois economists have grave doubts as to whether even this huge injection will lift the economy out of recession. Most bourgeois economists forecast negative economic growth in 1999 whilst even the most optimistic forecast only just 0.7 per cent maximum.
Beneath the media gloss and talk of upbeat market, the global capitalist system presides over a festering morass of exploitation (of workers and the environment), racial and communal strife, rapid growth in crime, and drug trafficking, and violence and conflict from local to international levels. The potential for major military conflicts is now greater than at any time since the 1930s.
The capitalist world is in grave crisis. Imperialism, led by the United States and Britain, is resorting over and over again to war and threat of war to dominate much of the Americas, Africa and Asia. But wherever there is oppression there is resistance. The Iraqi people have defied the might of imperialism for nearly a decade. The Yugoslavs withstood the might of world imperialism for 11 weeks. The Palestinians demand the restoration of their national rights.
Socialism remains the system upheld and developed in Asia as well as in Cuba. People's China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba continue to advance along the revolutionary path charted by their communist parties which are applying the principles of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions that exist in their countries.
People's China is booming with GDP growth rates at 6.2% in the 1970s, 9.3% in the 1980s and until 1997 - 10.8% in the 1990s and the standard of living of its peoples is steadily increasing. The fact that China can feed, cloth and educate its people, who comprise 21 per cent of the world's population, with only seven per cent of the world's arable land is a tribute to socialist planning. In 1949, when the people's republic was established, Chinese living standards were the lowest in the world. Now the people enjoy a way of life undreamt of in the old days, one of increasing prosperity, scientific advance and progress.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has been repeatedly hit by devastating floods in recent years. But the people, led by Kim Jong Il and the Workers' Party of Korea, have mobilised in national relief and reconstruction work which has staved off the threat of famine and put the country back on the road to recovery.
Vietnam and Laos are developing their own socialist roads, strengthening friendship and co-operation with China and the other socialist countries, determined to develop their socialist system. And Cuba remains steadfast, its people united around the Communist Party, in defiance of American imperialism's blockade, and just as determined to preserve and extend the revolutionary gains. In Cuba and Socialist Asia the communists are serving the people, in the imperialist camp the communists are working to bring down the cruel exploitation of capitalism.
In Britain our Party recognises that peace is the central issue. British imperialism, served by Tony Blair and the other willing tools in the Labour leadership, played a shameful role in the onslaught against Yugoslavia.
The right-wing Labour leaders claimed, when they were elected in 1997, that they would follow an "ethical" foreign policy in future. Their hypocritical claim that Nato's aggression against Yugoslavia was justified by the need to help the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo-Metohija was echoed by Tory and Liberal Democrat leaders. The capitalist media danced to their tune, ignoring the fact that Anglo-American imperialism had said nothing about the slaughter of a million Rwandans which only a few years before had been carried out by a regime backed by France and Belgium; the deaths of over a million Iraqis from famine and disease caused by the cruel imperialist blockade which has been in place since 1990, or the fact that the longest post-war refugee problem, that of the Palestinians, remains unresolved entirely due to world imperialism's support of Israel. During 1999 there has been a growth in direct western intervention in the Asia-Pacific region which is most clearly evident in their changing strategy towards Indonesia when, after decades of supplying military equipment to that country, which was used to slaughter the East Timorese, they have now intervened directly.
The purpose of the war had nothing to do with the fate of the Kosovans and everything to do with imperialism's European agenda to incorporate all of eastern Europe and the Balkans into the Nato war-machine, and exploit the people and the resources of all these countries for European and American imperialism. Yugoslavia, already largely broken up into pro-Western puppet regimes by imperialist intrigue, remained an obstacle to their plans.
The imperialists say nothing about Angola where the continued offensive of UNITA, backed by western arms, has resulted in 10,000 deaths, three million refugees and hunger on a massive scale. Little is said about Turkey, whose genocidal policies have destroyed at least a thousand villages since 1990, killing and displacing tens and thousands of the Kurdish.
The Yugoslav government refused to submit to imperialism's economic, military and strategic demands. Yugoslavia refused to crawl to Nato and the European Union. Yugoslavia refused to provide an open door to the transnationals. Yugoslavia chose to fight to defend its independence and its social system.
For eleven weeks it held the might of Nato at bay, finally accepting terms which were an improvement from the Rambouillet ultimatum which Nato used to launch its undeclared war.
Within the Labour Party attempts to stifle dissent were not entirely successful. Some Labour MPs took the principled stand against the war, joined by members of other parties including the Scottish and Welsh nationalists. Even a handful of Tories opposed the conflict. Though the right-wing leadership of the TUC and that of the majority of unions followed the imperialist line, rank-and-file opposition to the war grew as the conflict went on.
The peace campaign, led by the Committee for Peace in the Balkans, and supported by many other organisations including the New Communist Party, reflected the genuine wishes of millions of working people who had neither been consulted nor wanted the criminal slaughter being done in their name.
The Party's all-round support for peace and solidarity with liberation movements all round the world must continue, particularly focusing on the role of British imperialism. We must counter Labour's "ethical" foreign policy, which is identical to that of the Conservatives, with progressive demands for:
An immediate and unconditional end to the bombing of Iraq together with an end to the cruel blockade of that defiant Arab country.
Support for the restoration of all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to an independent sovereign state in Palestine and the right of the refugees to return to their homes.
An immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all British and Nato troops from the Balkans.
We welcomed the defeat of the Conservatives in 1997. We called for the biggest possible majority for Labour and argued that a Labour government, under pressure from the most militant sections of the working class, could introduce important reforms for the class and the people as a whole.
The Blair leadership won the election on the barest list of reforms to ensure that people's expectations were not raised. They have kept some of their promises and we have welcomed some of their moves.
The new Government responded realistically to the demands of Sinn Fein for serious talks on the problem of the north of Ireland and the cease-fire which the Irish Republican Army still holds. The establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh National Assembly goes some way to meeting the Scottish and Welsh people's demands for greater democracy in their own countries. The recognition of the conditional right to union recognition is a modest gain for the trade union movement.
But the Government refuses to repeal the anti-union legislation passed since 1979 when Labour was last in office; it refuses to restore state welfare to the levels enjoyed prior to 1979, it has no intention of restoring the public sector privatised during the last period of Conservative government; it has continued the process of "creeping fascism" and it refuses to contemplate restoring progressive tax levels to the rates operative in 1979.
Millions upon millions of pounds can be found for wars against the people of Iraq and Yugoslavia, while benefits continue to be cut in real terms and millions are condemned to short-time or unemployment by the capitalist system that the Blair government claims is working and maintains is the only viable economic system in the world.
If the success of capitalism was measured by low inflation and low interest rates then indeed capitalism has worked in Britain. If it's measured by casualisation, unemployment and poverty then it fails time and time again. The capitalist system exists solely to guarantee a life of ease and pleasure for the exploiters, based on wealth produced entirely by working people in Britain and throughout the world.
The wages struggle is central to every worker. Though complete social justice can never be possible under capitalism, the working class must always strive for improvement, whilst at the same time working to bring about a more fundamental change.
This means direct political struggle to improve social services and benefits and the industrial struggle for better wages and working conditions.
There are a number of principles we believe apply to the wages struggle: o Claims for increases should be on an industrial basis negotiated by the trade unions nationally. The maximum number of workers can be mobilised in this way in support of the claim. Local bargaining also has its place subordinated to national bargaining, in improving on what has been achieved nationally and in catering for specifically local conditions.
Claims should be for a straight monetary increase. This upholds the principle of stable wage differentials to reward workers for their skills. Percentage increases widen differentials, militate against the lower paid and create divisions among the workers.
Trade unions have also struggled to establish the rate for the job and it is vital to stick to that principle because during the last 20 years employers, aided by political propaganda and the deregulation of labour, have gone a long way towards destabilising wage structures throughout the economy. The introduction of the minimum wage has weakened the fight for better wages and has swelled the ranks of the lower-paid. Where new job patterns have been introduced, rates for them should be agreed by comparing existing jobs with similar skills.
Whilst in principle we are opposed to the introduction and operation of bonus and pieceworking schemes, where they do already exist, workers, via their trade union stewards, should be involved in negotiating the way they operate. At all times, however, we should be seeking to get the bonus element scrapped and the payment consolidated into the basic hourly rate.
The Blair government claims it is a "people's" government. The leaders of "new" Labour claim that "the class war is over" and that socialism is irrelevant. They talk about tackling "social exclusion" rather than ending poverty. They talk about "stake-holders" and other self-help schemes. The right-wing TUC leaders talk about "partnership" which it counterpoises against industrial struggle for better wages and hours.
The gross inequality that exists today will not be changed by getting a so-called stake in the capitalist economy. The "stakeholder" share will be nothing more than a crumb from the big business table. Society can only be changed by class struggle, and a key element in that is the wages struggle.
The fight for higher wages is linked to the demand to restore workers' rights and living standards to the level in real terms enjoyed during the period of the last Labour government, which ended in 1979. We must campaign for an end to the decline in the health service, in education in social services and public transport, not by putting ever increasing pressure on workers in these industries, and by phoney performance target setting, but by ensuring adequate levels of resourcing.
Our party's immediate campaigning demands must centre on mobilising the class in defence of its living standards, for higher wages and the restoration of state welfare to at least the levels existing in 1979. We must continue to demand the repeal of all anti-union legislation, fight for flat-rate across-the-board wages and a reduction in weekly hours with no loss of pay. We must expose the limitations of working-time legislation and campaign for the closing of opt-out clauses.
The fight for a reduction in working hours is as important as the fight for higher wages. We should aim to unite the labour movement around a demand for a maximum working week of 35 hours.
These demands can easily be met by making the rich pay for them by disgorging a fraction of the wealth they extort from the masses every year. The rich have plenty. They must pay. Introducing a progressive tax system heavily weighted against the rich, a wealth tax, scrapping Value Added Tax (VAT) and other indirect taxation and scrapping Trident would pay for all of these immediate demands.
The Chancellor has recently introduced the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC). We recognise this as a mechanism to redistribute wealth within the working class, leaving the capitalist class untouched.
We should draw attention to the scandal that the WFTC system allows bosses to pay wages below subsistence level and they are the ultimate beneficiaries of the system.
The need for benefit paid to full-time workers can only be eliminated through rising wages.
The WFTC also undermines trade unions by deepening the poverty trap where workers are reluctant to fight for small wage rises because this leads to cuts in benefits.
These demands can be won only if there is mass pressure from the labour movement itself. The fight for a working class united trade union movement is paramount. We need to defeat social-democracy in the labour movement and replace the time-servers, careerists and collaborators with working class leadership committed to the struggle for the advancement of the class.
We need militant working-class leadership in the union movement to lead the class in defiance of the labour laws, to restore collective bargaining and defend workers' rights. We need a militant workers' movement to expose, isolate and defeat those who claim to lead it.
Demands for progressive legislation, a fighting trade union movement and a class conscious labour movement go hand in hand with the fight to build the revolutionary party and its influence within the working class. We must encourage class consciousness and the socialist concept of human rights to counter the bourgeois concept, which only applies to themselves.
The key is reaching out to the people, the millions the in the factories, offices and housing estates up and down the country. We have to go beyond those union "activists" who are normally active for causes not of our own and make the case for communism. Stepping beyond the "activists" outside our ranks to reach the workers, the toilers, the strivers, who in the end make the revolution when the time comes, has to be our task.
Reaching out to the workers in the factories, offices and the working class housing estates will ensure that we have a class approach to recruitment and draw in countless thousands who have not been subjected to reformist ideas.
The need is pressing for a massive reconstruction of society. Within that agenda will be programmed eradication of slums, poverty, racism, discrimination and bigotry. Culture, sport, art, entertainment and recreation will be made accessible for all. People's democracy will work to ensure that co-operation, collective work and inclusiveness replace the existing culture of selfishness, cut-throat competition and individualism, where worker is pitted against worker.
Menial and boring jobs may always exist. Only socialism, however, can put such work into a social context that alleviates the adverse effects through education and cultural pursuits. Working hours can be reduced, without loss of pay, to compensate for arduous, boring and menial work.
Only socialism can unleash the full potential and creative power of all working people; we deserve nothing less.
The Labour Party was founded at the beginning of this century to represent the trade union movement in Parliament. Its establishment was a major defeat for the ruling class and the class collaborators then in the Liberal Party. It was an act of profound political significance which the ruling class has worked for decades to reverse.
The Blair leadership is moving to cut all Labour's political links with organised labour, a drive which began with the bans and proscriptions against communists and the establishment of individual membership in the 1920s. The latest attempts to construct a cross party alliance with regard to joining the European Single Currency, is but the latest manifestation of this trend. But the fact remains that the trade union movement still has considerable weight within the Labour Party. It is this link, through financial support and organisation representation, that enabled the movement to push forward progressive demands.
The 1945 Attlee government developed state welfare and created a public sector which went beyond the bourgeois consensus on post-war reconstruction. The Wilson governments from 1964 to 1970 and the Wilson-Callaghan governments of 1974 to 1979 also had to take union demands into account over wages and state welfare because of mass pressure from below, despite the resistance of the right-wing of social-democracy which consistently opposed all progressive trade unionism and working class action.
The possibility of defeating the right-wing continues to exist as long as the unions retain their overwhelming influence within the Labour Party. If it were not so, the Blair leadership and the ruling class would not be so determined to push for a final break now when the left of the movement is weak and rudderless.
Trotskyites and other ultra-leftists would have the class believe that the Labour Party itself is a barrier to communist advance, and that its very existence is a block on the road towards revolution. If that were so, then the ruling class and the class-collaborators would be fighting to defend the Labour Party's existing organisational links with the union movement which guarantees its survival instead of demanding a complete Labour break with the working class.
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 the class to advance in this country. A democratic Labour Party which genuinely reflected the wishes of the millions of affiliated members would not be led by the craven class collaborators of today. A Labour Party whose policies reflected those of a democratic trade union movement would become a powerful institution for progressive reforms which would strengthen the unions and benefit the working class. To this end the rightwing leadership of some of our trade unions must be challenged. The attempts of the Blair government to greatly reduce the influence of trade unions within the labour movement is being facilitated by the actions of some trade union leaders.
Communists must act at local branch level to ensure that our union leaders more closely represent the interests of the working class
Revolutionary advance requires a strong communist movement rooted in Marxism-Leninism as well as a militant labour movement.
Communists must fight for both. The party must campaign for a democratic Labour Party controlled by its affiliates. The party must fight to build the communist movement around the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism.
The New Communist Party was founded in 1977 precisely for that purpose. Since then we have fought for the maximum working class unity against the ruling class while campaigning to build the revolutionary party.
Unlike the revisionists and ultra-leftists we spurn the "parliamentary road" and electoral politics. The old Communist Party of Great Britain abandoned the revolutionary road when it adopted the British Road to Socialism, a revisionist programme of reformist and social-democratic ideas which led to its political isolation within the class and its inevitable liquidation.
But revisionist, reformist and social democratic ideas continue amongst its successors in the Communist Party of Britain, the Communist Party of Scotland and the Socialist Labour Party. The derisory votes gained by these parties when they contest elections reflects the futility of their programmes which argue that the only way to defeat social-democracy is in fact to imitate it. It calls for social-democratic reforms while campaigning against the only mass force for social-democratic reform, the Labour Party. It inevitably ends up in targeting the Labour Party itself rather than the ruling class as the main enemy of the working class. This is why these parties, together with the Trotskyites, remain isolated amongst the workers and people they claim to lead.
The Labour Party remains an instrument for working class reform and as long as it retains its organisational links with the union movement it will continue to be the only practical instrument for reform in Britain. Working people, often wiser than those sectarians and ultra-leftists who claim to represent them, recognise this and this accounts for the mass support for social-democracy in Britain. This mass support is however, vulnerable at certain times of particular dissatisfaction with Labour leaderships and governments, which was clearly evidenced in the 1999 European elections. An eight per cent turnout for Labour displayed much more than indifference to the European Union.
The demands for reform, for the restoration of state welfare, the public sector, the National Health Service, progressive taxation and trade union immunities, are progressive calls which would benefit working people. The NCP supports these demands and will continue to support Labour in national and local elections precisely because it is the only instrument to achieve them. Our strategy for revolution calls for the building of a revolutionary party while our electoral policy is based on the historical development and organisational form of the labour movement as a whole.
The call for a democratic Labour Party has to be made throughout the movement along with support for left Labour Party activists with mass support when they come into conflict with the Blair leadership. It has to be stressed that without mass pressure from the working class and the organised labour movement, significant reforms will not be achieved and progressive conference decisions will not be complied with.
Working people have never achieved state power through elections. Social-democracy has never led to socialism and revisionism has only led to the destruction of communist parties, and in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, counter-revolution and the destruction of socialist states. The NCP's opposition to social-democracy and revisionism is not a dogmatic creed but the living application of Marxist-Leninist science. We must continue to combat these ideas along with those pie-in-the-sky ideas of the utopian socialists, the idealist and individualist views of the anarchists and syndicalists and the anti-Communist theories of the Trotskyites.
In combating ideas which are fundamentally wrong we must uphold the communist alternative and strive to win people away from these erroneous, counter-revolutionary and ultimately futile theories.
The two years since our last Congress have been marked by many significant events in the fields of anti-racism and anti-fascism in Britain and internationally.
Perhaps the most significant of these is the lengthy public inquiry into the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in Eltham, south-east London in 1993, conducted by Sir William Mcpherson. The report highlighted institutional racism which is present not only in the police but in local authorities.
This also brought into the public eye the depth of police racism and corruption that probably did not surprise many of our members but stunned most of the general public.
The inquiry report produced a long list of recommendations, most of which were totally sound. Two recommendations were doubtful: that the law should be changed to allow someone to be tried more than once for the same crime if new evidence emerged, which could be open to abuse by the police; and the outlawing of racist language even in private, which would be practically unenforceable and could even inhibit discussion of the causes and remedies for racism among anti-racists.
These two points are unlikely to be implemented in any case but the other recommendations were all sound and we should campaign for their full implementation, and especially that the police should not remain immune from the Race Relations Act.
Our Party recognises there is a grave danger that the advances made in awareness after the Mcpherson report could slip away without the recommendations being realised and enacted in law. We could be back to square one all too easily.
We also recognise there has been a considerable backlash to the report among some racist sections of the population. We have never argued that all police are racist but the greatest harm comes from the majority of police closing ranks to defend those who are culpable. Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, should have been forced to resign following the Mcpherson report's findings.
The eventual acceptance by the police that the deaths of Michael Menson and Ricky Reel were racist murders only came about as a result of campaigning by the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement and unremitting family pressure; the families need all our support.
The nail-bombings in Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho are part of a racist backlash. Police and the media have tried to portray the suspect arrested for the bombings as acting in isolation. In fact there is photographic evidence of him standing very close to the leader of a neo-nazi organisation and other evidence that he has been a member of it. In addition, a number of extremist right-wing terror organisations claimed responsibility for the bombings. This is evidence that even if they did not carry out the crimes, they approved of them. We call for such organisations to be outlawed.
We also call on our government to work towards an international ban on the use of the Internet for the purposes of furthering racist and fascist hate and violence.
The NCP recognises that, within this bourgeois society, black and other ethnic minority people under violent attack are forced to rely on the police for their immediate protection. When this protection is not forthcoming, communists and all working class progressives have a responsibility to protest and demand full protection from the police and all relevant government and local government agencies.
Nevertheless we recognise that the bourgeois state welcomes a working class divided along racist lines and thereby weakened. So the fight against institutionalised racism in all state bodies will be an uphill struggle.
The long-term solution remains the eradication of racism at its roots through the struggle against racist ideas that pour from the bourgeois media and from racist political organisations.
We recognise that some areas that have suffered economic degradation and high levels of unemployment and poverty from de-industrialisation are susceptible to racist ideas. We must renew our efforts to attack racist myths about crime, lack of housing and unemployment and bring home to everyone that it is the capitalist system that is the root of these problems.
The alliance against racism and fascism should be as broad as possible but the working class should lead this struggle through its organisations, the trade unions, trades councils, tenants' associations, community organisations and even neighbourhood watch schemes, campaigning both within their own ranks and outwardly among the general public. And communists should work within these bodies in the fight against racism and fascism.
We will continue to work in a non-sectarian way with all genuine anti-racist and anti-fascist groups and try to promote unity in action among them. And we maintain that it is the responsibility of the whole working class, not just the members of the minorities within it, to engage actively in the fight against racism and fascism.
We maintain our position of no platform for racists and fascists that no NCP members should engage in public debate with any members of racist and fascist organisations. This position is held by most progressive and working class organisations in this country.
We congratulate the Communication Workers' Union for taking a principled stand to support all postal workers who refused to deliver the election mail of racist parties in the June 1999 European elections.
We also recognise that organised racism and fascism, though at a low level in this country, presents a threat to the working class internationally and we should do all we can to promote international links among anti-racists and anti-fascists. We recognise that the Internet has become a useful tool in this.
We also recognise that the Labour government's Asylum and Immigration Bill is racist and fundamentally unjust and is a further step along the road paved by Tory Asylum and Immigration Acts towards the Fortress Europe concept. We should do all we can to campaign for its defeat or repeal if the bill is passed.
Electoral gains of fascist organisations in Europe, in worsening conditions of racist and fascist attacks particularly in parts of the east, are the result of hardening priorities of restructuring in, and imperialist consolidation of, the European Union.
Britain's concurrent political and economic realignment - largely by stealth - is tied to both United States and European global economic designs. Those priorities are laying the foundations for a profound and undeclared authoritarian streamlining of the British state.
Recurrent economic crises, the uprooting and re-forming of the post-1945 political and administrative infrastructure of Britain, have combined with social break-up and cultural decline. The potential unravelling of the two party system, to give the ruling class a freer hand, and to freely legalise and use physical force options for containing militant opposition is now dangerously in view.
The conditions of prolonged imperialist existence, of a growing Western internal crackdown, enable the more effective internationalisation of fascist organisations. That is encouraged by the prospect of serious financing, and for these, crucially, also to connect as an overt instrument of the state against the working class.
The realignment of capitalist political control, to prevent expected resistance of working people to deteriorating standards and livelihoods, is bringing that prospect ever closer.
Our party links that understanding with the real development that has already begun in Britain: that the exposure of institutionalised police racism is a factor of state repression, and that the burgeoning civil rights demands reflect the objective danger of where that is leading for the whole working class.
Today in Russia the breakdown of society has led to an upsurge of narrow nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. Some opportunists who call themselves communists and socialists have either embraced or tolerated these evils in order to gain votes.
Narrow nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism are the enemies of working class unity and strength and we abhor and dissociate ourselves from such organisations and individuals.
The fight for women's equality continues and is being fought on many fronts. The continuation of Tory policy in this area by the Labour Government underlines that fact. Attacks on single women who have children and retreats on divorce reform are only part of it. Women who have children, whatever their age, whether partnered or not should not be penalised, but given help if needed. Divorce should be on demand and all children assured of state protection.
As we have often said before, the full emancipation of women and men can only be achieved under socialism, but the struggle for women's equality is an important part of that fight. But its a fight that must be fought now on the issues that particularly affect women in our society. These issues include: equal pay; equality in education and pension rights; child care provision; freedom from harassment and an end to violence at home, at work and on the streets.
The fight is not just for women but for men too. Men cannot be free if women are still in chains. It is a fight for our class and our labour movement, and often in them too, because the roots of women's oppression today lie in the contradictions and exploitation of capitalist society.
Since our last congress, not only has progress towards equal pay remained slow but in recent months has actually reversed, with average women's earnings now being slightly less a proportion of men's than they were in 1997. This is a reflection of the fact that women workers are largely employed in the public sector, where pay settlements have been lower than in manufacturing.
The Labour Government has continued the Tory policy of scapegoating single parents, particularly young mothers, for all society's problems. The disgraceful suggestion by Jack Straw that teenage single mothers should be persuaded either to live in hostels or to give their babies up for adoption would, if put into practice, turn the clock back for women's emancipation over 40 years.
The TUC has now recognised that the issue of health and safety for women workers has not been given enough priority in the past. ( Most health and safety legislation has been designed to deal with predominately male occupations, women's work having been assumed to be safe.). It was therefore very timely that they should reproduce the document "A Woman's Work is Never Safe" for launch around Worker's Memorial Day in April 1999.
Many Women continue to be victims of violence both at home and at work. The year 1999 was dedicated as European Year of Action Against Violence Against Women in recognition of this fact. Campaigns like UNISON's "raise the roof", which highlights domestic abuse as a workplace issue, should be given publicity and support. Women are more at risk of violence at work than men because again they predominate in public services or in small shops were they are at risk of attack by thieves or frustrated services users.
Access to childcare continues to be a major problem for working class women and all campaigns demanding nurseries and after-school care should be supported as should campaigns for the right to paid domestic leave for workers caring for sick children or relatives and increases in paid maternity leave.
A positive development since last congress is the growth in trade union membership amongst women. In 1998 female trade union membership increased by 60,000 notably amongst part-time workers and black women. This is a potential area for further growth.
The struggle for women's emancipation is intrinsically linked to the fight to defend our public services and the general campaign for higher pay. It is an integral part of the class struggle and should involve men and women alike.
In the recent period there have been some progressive moves to equalise the age of consent and get rid of Clause 28 which restricts the teaching of children about homosexuality. These moves are, of course, to be welcomed. But they should not blind us to the prejudice and discrimination against lesbians and gay men which still exists and was underlined by the dreadful nail-bombing of a Soho gay pub in London in April 1999.
Laws are needed against crimes of hate and prejudice and to ensure rights in the areas of work, ownership, housing and services. The bombings in Soho, Brick Lane and Brixton graphically show the links between fascism, racism and homophobia. The fight for gay rights is part of a much wider struggle. The fight for equality must continue.
Our party welcomed the government's initiative in setting up Royal Commissions on pensions and long-term care of the elderly as they provided a sounding board for the growing demands for the restoration of pensions and state welfare provision for pensioners to at least the level they were in 1979 when Labour was last in office. The Government's response has been a slap in the face for pensioners and others who expected a substantial increase in the basic pension, and the restoration of the link with average male earnings. The pension levels for present day pensioners continue to fall in real terms, and the Government continues to float variations on the self-help private pension schemes the Conservatives favoured.
This is a disgusting betrayal of a generation whose labour contributed to the immense wealth of the ruling class. These are people who have contributed in many and varied ways to the present prosperity of this country. They should not be left to end their days in poverty and distress.
If state pensions were anywhere near adequate, and brought up to the level they would have been if linked with earnings, the problem of funding long-term care for the elderly would be far less of a problem than it currently is. An adequate diet and sufficient heating, appropriate housing, a National Health Service geared to cater for their needs, the opportunity to travel and take part in recreational and educational activities would help to keep people alert and more capable of caring for themselves.
Those who, due to illness, accident or disability, need more support from the community should be able to draw on that support as a right, not a means-tested benefit, variable in quantity and quality depending on where they live and what funds the local authority has available. Means testing is degrading and often discourages people from applying for benefits to which they are entitled. Income tax, increasing with wealth, is a better and more equitable way to recover money paid to those who do not need it.
The needs of the elderly are basically the same as the rest of the population. They need adequate housing, transport, hospitals, libraries and local amenities.
Most people would prefer to go on living in their own homes, but often need extra assistance such as access ramps, lifts/stair lifts, rails and handles for ease of getting into baths, telephones and/or call systems. These aids should all be available from the local authority, free of charge and well-publicised. There may also be the need for further assistance in the way of home helps, district nurses, or help with the shopping, gardening or getting about. Such help should be granted according to need, and the money to fund it supplied by central government. Day centres, that give frail or housebound people the chance to get out of the house and meet others, see a doctor or other health specialist are essential.
For some, sheltered accommodation, with a resident warden, provides the support and security they and their families need. The warden is able to keep a discreet eye on residents and alert relatives and support services when necessary. Ideally this should be council housing so that residents are not charged exorbitant prices for the services they need, and do not have to worry about maintenance or repairs.
There is a minority who would prefer to give up the hassle of cooking and cleaning for themselves, and for them good quality residential homes are ideal. This should however be a matter of individual choice, not dependent on the decision of a local authority assessor whose judgement may be influenced by financial constraints. These homes should be controlled and owned by local authorities, and not making profits for entrepreneurs. There should be strictly enforced regulations for the running of such homes, and regular inspections to ensure that the quality of life of the residents is of a high standard.
For those who need nursing care, local hospitals or state-run nursing homes, as part of the NHS, staffed by fully-qualified doctors, nurses and carers, should provide the skilled services they need. Long-term beds in hospitals are an essential part of this service.
The large variation of travel concessions for the elderly is beyond belief, but however good they may be they do not normally extend beyond the boundaries of a borough or county council, so that for someone going on holiday or to visit friends in another part of the country the cost of fares can be prohibitive.
The need for a nationwide state-funded concessionary scheme is paramount. A better, fully integrated transport system designed to cater for the needs of all travellers, is essential, but it is apparent, that in some cases, staff need training in how to deal with elderly passengers. Seats reserved for elderly people are useless unless passengers are encouraged to relinquish them at need. Local authority, community buses with facilities for wheelchairs and the services of a carer to assist in boarding or leaving the vehicle are another essential in helping frail and disabled people to be mobile and able to visit shops, libraries, day centres, hospitals and lead a normal life.
As people get older their calls on the health service are likely to change and attitudes need to change as well. To be told "its your age" when visiting the doctor or hospital discourages people, when they often can be successfully treated. Long waiting lists for treatment or operations can often mean rapid deterioration in health, as can long waits in hospital out-patients and casualty departments. There need to be plenty of hospital beds, and staff, available at times of need. For those who have to spend a long time in hospital there is a need for stimulating activities and physiotherapy, and careful monitoring and assistance when they return home. Health visitors and district nurses, as well as the social services can play a vital part in ensuring that an elderly and vulnerable person is getting all the help they need while in their own home.
Access to leisure and educational activities are vital to keep people alert and healthy. Again the low level of the state pension means that the majority of pensioners are debarred from visiting theatres, concerts, cinemas, museums and often from even going on holiday. Concessionary entrance fees and fares should conform to a national standard, and be low enough to allow the poorest member of the community to benefit from them.
All these provisions cost money, and even raising the state pension to a decent level will not be sufficient. The state pension should not depend on private insurance schemes to ensure a decent standard of living for people when they are no longer able to follow their normal employment. The Government should establish a properly funded state scheme. Part of the cost, in the long run, could be raised by increased National Insurance contributions, from both employers and workers. There should be no "ceiling" on contributions, and those on high incomes should pay more. Introducing a progressive tax system heavily weighted against the rich and a wealth tax would provide another source of funding, scrapping VAT and other indirect taxation would also directly benefit pensioners financially. In this way the whole population would be contributing.
The other way to generate substantial funds for elderly provision would be to slash arms expenditure. Defence expenditure is now £22 billion per year and rising. Aircraft carriers cost £2 billion each. The Trident programme costs us £1 billion a year. Defence spending is currently 3.1 per cent of the gross domestic product, while the Nato average is 2.3 per cent, a gap of nearly one per cent equalling £7 billion per year. Previous Conservative governments have cut defence spending by over two per cent and a regular reduction of defence spending over five years to two per cent could save £20 billion.
Not all of this saving would be needed for fund care for the elderly but much of it could be used to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable members of the community, and provide them with the care and assistance they need.
The important thing is that the quality of care should be set at national standards, be free at the time of use, and be available as needed without loss of dignity by those in receipt of it, or their families.
Education has suffered setbacks under the Labour Government, which has continued the policy of the Tory Government of undermining comprehensive schools and Local Education Authority (LEA) control of education at every level. Schools are increasingly expected to manage their own budgets without the required funding even to maintain the status quo. The additional financial burden of education in computer technology and the demands for more and more testing, coupled with the insistence that literacy and numeracy are paramount in the needs of the country, means that an all round education has become another casualty of this Government.
Nurseries and schools are in danger of being turned into knowledge factories as child-centred education and creativity are abandoned in this controlling and utilitarian trend, while teachers of all age groups are experiencing unprecedented stress due to the ever increasing workload.
"The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can only be attained by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have the world to win. Working men of all countries, unite!" is the concluding call of the Communist Manifesto. And the communist movement has been international since the beginning when Marx and Engels made their stirring demand in 1848.
The 1917 October Revolution, which established the first socialist state, and the revolutionary upsurge which swept Europe and led to the end of the First World War in 1918, created the conditions for the establishment of the Communist International (Comintern) in 1919. Communist parties, parties of a new type, inspired by the experience of the Bolshevik revolution, sprang up from the working class movement.
The Comintern was an international proletarian organisation of a new type, comprising of communist and workers' parties across the globe. The Comintern held seven congresses, the first in 1919 and the last in 1935 and was dissolved in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1947 the Communist Information Bureau was founded whose initial members were the communist and workers' parties of the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, France and Italy. Its centre was Belgrade, and when the Yugoslav communists were expelled in 1948 it moved to Romania. It was dissolved in 1956.
Following the 20th Congress of the CPSU and Krushchov's bitter denunciation of Stalin, revisionist forces gradually increased their influence in the leadership of the Soviet party.
This became apparent with its reluctance to wage a committed and trenchant ideological attack on the revisionist trend that became known as "Eurocommunism".
After that date the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), under a succession of revisionist leaders, sponsored a number of communist conferences. The divisive nature of these meetings, which precluded the participation of many communists, has led to problems in trying to build a new communist international today.
As the right revisionist trend was increasingly accommodated in the CPSU leadership, the way was paved for liquidationist and counter-revolutionary forces to gain control.
Over this period policies that alienated decisive sections of the working class were pursued. These included policies that undermined the economic development of the Soviet Union.
In 1990 the counter revolution was unleashed, with the capitulation to imperialism, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the annexation of the German Democratic Republic, the partitioning of Czechoslovakia and the recent absorption of a number of former socialist states into the aggressive military alliance of Nato.
All this has been accompanied by a catastrophic fall in the living standards and democratic rights of the working people and their families in those countries.
The counter-revolutionary set-back of 1990 was followed by a world-wide rallying of communist and workers' parties. The Workers' Party of Korea, under the leadership of Kim Il Sung, sponsored a conference in Pyongyang which adopted a resolution "Let us defend and advance the socialist cause" in 1992. Our party took part in this meeting and signed the resolution known as the Pyongyang Declaration, which has now been endorsed by over 240 parties and progressive movements around the world including the Communist Party of Britain and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML).
The NCP has also supported other initiatives sponsored by communist parties including the Belgian Workers' Party international May Day Conferences and the international meetings called by the Greek Communist Party (KKE). We will continue to support all forums that help to strengthen world-wide contacts between communist parties. We believe that exchanges of views and experiences can only strengthen the world movement.
Since 1990 there have been moves to launch a new communist international. They have all failed because they have been sponsored by small sectarian groups and because the move is clearly premature.
The NCP believes that the first priority is to build bilateral relations with communist parties around the world. The party has warm relations with virtually all the communist and workers' parties in the world built on exchanges of publications and messages, meetings of delegations and common support of international and regional communist meetings.
Our view on a new international is based on key principles, the first that it must include and have the support of the ruling parties of China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. It must 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 or presidium which reflects the views of the member 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 today, the differences between them are a matter for those parties alone to settle.
The party will continue to strengthen its ties with communist and workers parties all round the world. At home we must strive to make the classic works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin along with those of Kim Il Sung, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh, available to all.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) alliance and EU states have greatly extended their capacity and plans for future military interventions in Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Following the incorporation of Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into Nato, Nato forces have held. exercises in Central Asia and the Caucasus, and plans are well advanced for possible intervention in these oil-rich regions. The EU is also moving gradually towards establishing its own military organisation. In the absence of the former Warsaw Treaty states, US and European imperialism are returning to their pre-1939 practice of imposing war and destruction whenever their interests dictate, while turning a blind eye to oppression and genocide if they pose no threat to their interests. With the removal of the alleged "threat" from the Warsaw Treaty states, the true character of Nato as an aggressive military alliance, designed to enforce the imperialist interests, poses an ever growing threat of unleashing wars on the peoples of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
British and United States imperialism pose the greatest danger to world peace. Under a United Nations (UN) mandate steamrollered through the Security Council, they have waged war against Iraq and Yugoslavia with the support of most of their other allies in the Atlantic Alliance. In the continuing aggression and cruel blockade against Iraq they claim sanction from the United Nations Security Council. Against Yugoslavia, they resurrect the old imperialist claim of the "right" to intervene in the internal affairs of weaker states when it suits them, regardless of the United Nations or what they have hitherto accepted as international law.
The Blair government, following the path of previous Conservative governments, continues to modernise and expand its nuclear strike force based around the Trident system, whose 384 warheads each possess eight times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb. Britain's nuclear strike force is second only to the immense nuclear power of the United States and it is clear that the British ruling class seek to raise their standing within the imperialist bloc through demonstrations of military might, though always, as in the case of Yugoslavia, against much weaker adversaries.
No-one now talks about the "peace dividend" which supposedly followed the end of the "Cold War" in 1990. The only "peace dividend" which has accrued was the one payable to the ruling class, which benefited from the collapse of the mass peace campaign in the wake of the counter-revolutions which brought down the Soviet Union and the socialist states of eastern Europe.
But a very real "war dividend" has been paid to the war-mongers, the most aggressive elements of British and world imperialism, and the arms manufacturers, who are now trying to impose control on those parts of the world that still remain beyond their domination.
This encouraged the most reactionary elements within the Indian ruling class to resuming testing of their own atomic weapons in 1998, triggering an inevitable Pakistani response, and raised fears that continuing conflict between the two over Kashmir could go nuclear in the future, with devastating consequences for the people of the sub-continent. While the Balkan War raged in May, Boeing shares hit an all-time high and British Aerospace shares shot up 45 per cent: profits for the arms merchants, plunder for the imperialists and death and destruction for their victims.
Though the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has been unable to act as a focus in itself for the anti-war campaign this year, many of its activists have played key roles in building the Committee for Peace in the Balkans and supporting the other anti-war initiatives throughout Britain.
The New Communist Party fully supported the efforts of the broadly-based anti-war campaign to stop the bombing of Yugoslavia and continues its long-standing support for unilateral British nuclear disarmament and the efforts of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
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 nuclear power on paper but it is doubtful whether its systems are now operational. India and Pakistan tested nuclear devices in 1998 and have the potential to deploy them, though they have refrained from doing so, so far.
The fifth permanent member of Security Council, and the only socialist state with nuclear weapons, is People's China. China's nuclear arsenal is by far the smallest of the Big Five and it has carried out the least number of tests, the last in July 1996. China is the only nuclear power to uphold the demand for universal nuclear disarmament. China, backed by many other countries, has challenged the West to implement the entire Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was initiated in 1968 to halt nuclear proliferation but also committed the signatories to work towards universal nuclear disarmament.
People's China calls on all states with nuclear weapons deployed outside their frontiers 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. In the meantime it has urged all the other 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 peace movement. We must build mass support for the campaign to scrap Trident. This is a winnable campaigning demand which would put the ruling class and its apologists in office on the defensive. The only argument in favour of the Trident weapon system, which is purchased from the United States, was the bogus one of "deterrence" against the alleged threat from the old Soviet Union. The Soviet nuclear threat, in fact, never existed, and now that the Soviet Union no longer exists, the case for "deterrence" has gone.
There is no plausible argument to justify the spending of billions of pounds on Trident while state welfare is slashed and millions of working people remain out of work, destitute and on the poverty line. The despicable claim that the arms industry creates jobs and wealth is based on the fact that Britain is a major arms producer. It has to be countered by the demand for conversion and diversification. The establishment of an arms conversion plan would create industrial, manufacturing and service jobs to which workers on so-called defence projects could be redeployed. Their advanced skills could then be applied for socially useful purposes.
Party campaigning once again must focus on demands that can win mass support from the labour and peace movement. Scrapping Trident, conversion and diversification are all realistic demands. The call for an end to the Nato pact is a realistic demand in some European countries like Greece and the party must strive to develop the anti-imperialist perspective within the broader peace movement and expose the real nature of the Atlantic alliance.
Because only the ruling class can ever benefit from war, and even within the exploiters ranks only the most reactionary and aggressive elements at that, it is possible to unite the broadest possible number from all strata of society around the demands for peace and disarmament. At the same time, we must continue to work for working class leadership within the peace campaign to strengthen its determination and enable it to appeal to the masses in the struggles to come. We must continue to fight to mobilise the working class behind the demand for British unilateral nuclear disarmament, together with the withdrawal of all British troops from Yugoslavia, Cyprus and the occupied north of Ireland.
Constitutional change plays a major part in the very small package of reforms in the Blair agenda. The establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh National Assembly were presented as a genuine response to a mass demand from the trade union movement and within the Labour Party itself in Scotland and Wales. The real purpose of this and the other reforms proposed by the Labour government is to streamline the British state so that it will conform to the requirements of the European Union.
Restructuring of the state apparatus has taken place in all of the members of the European Union. In Italy, sweeping changes have taken place to prepare the country for European integration, including the destruction of all the old parties, right and left and including the revisionist former Communist Party of Italy. In others, changes have been more modest, because their systems already conform to the new Europe the exploiters are creating. The European super-state, which has no democratic federal structures at all, seeks to replace national bourgeois democracy with regional assemblies with limited powers which they believe will become the focus of political life. This system already exists in the German Federal Republic.
The new Scottish and Welsh elected bodies conform to the plan for a "Europe of the regions". But the ruling class, and the Labour Party leaders that do their bidding, are not prepared to extend this to the most populous part of Britain, England, because they know that they cannot guarantee continual control of the labour movement in the great working class cities of the country.
The Government has ignored demands from the labour movement in England for the restoration of the Greater London Council and democratic regional authorities for the big cities in the rest of the country.
The proposed Greater London Assembly with an executive mayor is largely a cosmetic exercise designed to head off demands for genuine local democracy with real power and authority. The new London assembly and its mayor will have few, if any powers to improve the lives of Londoners. In so far as it can provide a centre of debate for the labour movement, the Assembly is welcome, but it should be seen as only providing a forum for the campaign to restore all the old powers of the old GLC, and not an end in itself. It is also serving as a model for the re-organisation of local government all over the country, although many councils are not informing their electorate of the proposed changes. Every effort should be made to bring these proposals into the public domain [such as articles in the New Worker] and encourage people to take part in the discussions on them.
The Government's proposed reform of the House of Lords, long overdue, likewise does little to meet popular demands for its abolition. The proposed abolition of the right of hereditary peers to sit in the Lords has already been tempered by calls to allow a number of hereditary "working peers" to remain in the House for their life-times. The reformed Lords will then be left as a purely appointed body of peers, bishops and other religious leaders, serving no democratic purpose whatsoever. A second chamber serves no purpose in bourgeois democracy except as a source of patronage for the ruling class and a constitutional block on an elected parliament.
The New Communist Party calls for the abolition of all peerages, hereditary or "life", together with the House of Lords, the Crown and all titles of nobility. Our intervention must be to expose the anti-popular nature of these reforms which are presented as democratic advances and campaign for a democratic federal republic of England, Scotland and Wales.
All forms of balloting in bourgeois states are designed so that the smallest number of people, the ruling class and their political tools, can manipulate the largest amount of votes. The basic two-party system which evolved following the emancipation of working men served their purpose well for over a century.
Now the ruling class favours proportional representation. It is the chosen method of the European ruling class for disarming and splitting working class parties into small factions while encouraging opportunism and patronage at every level to create the bogus consensus which masks their class dictatorship.
Proportional representation purports to be more representative of the votes cast in elections, but in bourgeois states the purpose is the same as under the existing first-past-the-post system; to ensure the perpetuation of a bourgeois parliament run by bourgeois parties to maintain bourgeois dictatorship. Its elevation now is designed to further weaken the Labour Party and create the conditions for continuous right-wing led coalitions of smaller parties. We are seeing this already in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
The question of electoral reform 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 and the bourgeois state that lies behind it.
Working people have nothing to gain from proportional representation. Its introduction will 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 encourages the false hope amongst the revisionists and Trotskyites of the creation of a parliamentary "left" alternative to Labour. It will certainly increase the likelihood of the entry into Parliament of racist and fascist parties effectively excluded by the current system.
The New Communist Party has from its very beginning in 1977 opposed the Treaty of Rome and the drive to build a capitalist European super-state. The European Union is nothing more than a capitalist market designed solely to serve the needs of Europe's capitalists, industrialists and land-owners. It has no democratic structures nor is there any intention to introduce any in the future.
The appointed EU commission makes recommendations to the Council of Ministers, themselves nominees of the member states, which will adopt them. They will then report to an elected European Parliament which has no powers to change EU policy, raise taxes, initiate legislation, form an European government or control the armed forces and the European Central Bank. The parliament serves only to promote the illusion of democracy and participation within the European Union.
The Social Chapter and the Social Partnership are elevated by the Labour government and the rest of European social-democracy as examples of the benefits that European integration brings for working people. These minor reforms, largely related to work councils, union recognition and access to company information, are overshadowed by the immense price paid by working people through continued membership of the EU.
The dominant trend within the British ruling class is committed to building the European super-state. Though their chosen political instrument remains the Conservative Party, Labour's landslide victory in 1997 changed the balance within what was left of the Conservative Party in Parliament.
The Conservative "Euro-sceptic" wing gained ascendancy under Hague's leadership. At the same time it lost the confidence of a large section of the ruling class, who are pushing for Britain's entry into the European Monetary Union. This accounts for the unprecedented bourgeois media "honeymoon" with the Blair government, the only government which can deliver EMU membership in the shortest possible time. But British EMU entry will only lead to further attacks on working class living standards.
The EU member states, having established an effective trading bloc are now seeking to develop, through the Euro, a global convertible currency to compete with the dollar. This involves centralising control of all the Euro member economies, through interest rates and government spending levels, in one European central bank.
The Labour government has proposed to put the issue to a referendum after the next election, which they expect to win comfortably. There can be no doubt that such a referendum will be used simply to win popular endorsement of a decision already taken by the ruling class. If a referendum is called, the party must mobilise for a massive "No" vote while exposing the whole fraudulent process of referendums at the same time.
The European bourgeoisie, including the leading circles with the British ruling class, want to build a European Union to serve capitalism and imperialism, a super-state which is neither genuinely federal or democratic in form or content.
The EU Institutions, the European Parliament and Commission, have become a byword for undemocratic practices, corruption, nepotism, and waste and fraud on a massive scale.
European social-democracy, and this includes the revisionist communists of Western Europe, have long accepted European integration. They claim it will actually benefit working people though they cannot show a single benefit which could not have been won through working class struggle. They argue that the EU can be reformed to make it better reflect the wishes of working people.
In Britain anti-EU campaigns have sometimes tried to make common cause with the most reactionary elements of British society, whose opposition to the European Union is based on chauvinistic and racist ideas. These people can never serve working class interests and the class does not need them in the campaign against the EU.
Our aim must be to win the argument amongst the working class itself. We must make it clear that the European Union cannot be reformed. The only way it can be changed is by tearing up the Treaty of Rome which established the Common Market in the first place.
We must focus opposition to indirect taxation (VAT) a major prop of the EU's finances, and demand the restoration of the public sector and state welfare. We must demand the return to public control of Britain's national resources, essential services and public utilities. We must oppose the racist "Fortress Europe" immigration controls and the drive to build a European army.
A key campaigning priority in line with this arises from the fact that Britain, the second greatest imperialist power in the world, is the weak link in the European Union.
The working class realises that membership of the EU has a direct and damaging effect on prices and jobs. There is indifference and often outright hostility to the undemocratic institutions of the European Union. This was shown by the conscious decision of the vast majority of the electorate to boycott the 1999 European Parliament elections. Little more than a fifth of the electorate bothered to vote despite the blandishments of the media, the appeal of proportional representation to minority parties and the cajoling of the bourgeois parties. In many working class areas the turnout was even lower.
The immediate effect has been to force the Government to tread warily in its drive for membership of the EMU and rethink its policy on proportional representation.
To carry this positive action forward we must develop the anti-EU campaign in line with the fight for higher wages, against unemployment and the cuts. We must call for the boycott of all future EU elections. This is the key way in which he British working class can move onto the offensive.
The struggle to end British colonial rule in the Six Counties of the north of Ireland is a struggle for Irish national independence and self-determination. The modern demand for independence began at the close of 18th century by the Irish people who lived in appalling conditions entirely due to the brutal exploitation of the colonial power. As the struggle intensified in the 19th century, the response of British imperialism was to stir up religious hatred and ferment sectarian strife using the venal leaders of the Protestant community in the north of the island as their willing tools.
The Easter Rising in 1916 sparked off the armed struggle which led to the declaration of the Republic of Ireland in 1919 and all-out war against the might of British imperialism. Divisions in the nationalist ranks led to the acceptance of a British imposed settlement which partitioned the country in 1920.
The current struggle to end the British occupation of the north of Ireland, led by Sinn Fein, began in 1969. Thousands of lives have been lost since then, entirely due to British imperialism's determination to retain its hold on the Six Counties through military might, political manipulation, repressive laws and economic domination. Through these methods, British imperialism, since 1921, has also been able to extend its influence over the Irish governments in the south.
Since our last Congress some progress has been made. The renewed IRA cease-fire, rapidly followed by Labour's victory in the 1997 general election, raised hopes that the new British government would respond realistically to the demands of the Irish people for an end to partition.
We have long recognised 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 it criminally divided in 1921.
We welcomed the all-party talks which led to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which provides for a government of the north of Ireland which includes Sinn Fein and the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, seeks to end the discrimination and institutionalised sectarianism against the Catholic community, provides for cross-border authorities and the limited participation of the Irish government, on the basis that it was acceptable to Sinn Fein.
The Good Friday Agreement was given a democratic mandate by the all-Ireland referendum - the first all-Ireland election since l9l8 in which it was endorsed by 85 per cent of voters. The continued failure by the British government to ensure implementation of the agreement reflects the true attitude of the British ruling class towards the wishes of the people of Ireland as a whole, while its continued presence in the occupied six counties is justified on the basis of the Unionist "majority" artificially manufactured in 1921.
Sinn Fein's acceptance was on the basis that the Good Friday Agreement provided a way forward for achieving re-unification through dialogue, discussion and negotiation. The IRA ceasefire continues and Sinn Fein has made substantial concessions to further the cause of peace. Sinn Fein has agreed to take part in the Six County Assembly and the constitutional changes demanded from the Irish government as part of the process.
Now the agreement is in danger of collapse due to the intransigence of the Unionist parties in the north of Ireland, backed by the British ruling class which seeks to claw back what it had conceded when the Good Friday deal was struck.
The demand that the IRA hand over its weapons is entirely unrealistic as it plainly only applies to them. The British government makes no serious attempt to disarm the Unionist militias and death-squads which serve as auxiliaries for the British Army. Indeed, the presentation of de-commissioning by both the Unionists and the British government is completely at odds with the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. This clearly stated that all parties to the agreement would work with the De Chastelain Commission, using their best endeavours to facilitate the start of all round de-commissioning by May 2000. The Government has still to move on the question of reforming the para-military Royal Ulster Constabulary let alone move to withdraw its garrisons.
Despite the maintenance of the IRA's second military cessation for over two years, attacks on the Catholic/nationalist community by the RUC and loyalist paramilitaries have continued unabated. Among the 16 people killed by loyalist paramilitaries during this period have been Robert Hamill and human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson. The reactionary Orange Order continues to insist on the right to display its bigotry and supremacy over Catholics, and has maintained its siege of the Garvaghy Road community in Portadown for 14 months. The Orange Order's displays of bigotry, backed up by a militarised RUC, would not be tolerated anywhere in Britain.
The British labour and peace movements have a crucial role to play in using their influence to put pressure on the Labour government to stop stalling and trying to renege on the Good Friday Agreement. British working people must demand a genuine decommissioning of weapons from all parties including the British Army and the RUC, and the removal of the Unionists' veto in the British union and political arena.
The demand raised by Sinn Fein for the demilitarisation of the six counties and for the removal of all guns from Irish politics is a principled position which deserves the support of the British labour movement. Unionist opposition is but the latest manifestation of their assumed right to a veto over all political developments within the six counties and with regard to relations between Britain and Ireland. This is simply not acceptable.
The New Communist Party will continue to build solidarity with the Irish people and their struggle to end British colonial rule over part of their country and continue to work with the Irish solidarity and prisoners' campaigns in Britain.
The simple truth is that a continued British presence is incompatible with democracy in Ireland. The NCP demands a united sovereign Ireland free from all outside interference, and an end to racism and discrimination against people of Irish descent living in Britain. The NCP acknowledges the role of Sinn Fein as the vanguard force in the struggle for national liberation. and pays tribute to the revolutionary commitment and sacrifices of its members over the years and decades. The NCP will continue to work with the Wolfe Tone Society and the Connolly Association in support of the peace process and complete British disengagement from Ireland.
The New Communist Party welcomed the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly by the Labour government. The party has long recognised the rights of the Scottish and Welsh nations to full national self-determination. The creation of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly reflected the demands of Scottish and Welsh workers for greater democratic control of their own lives and their own distinct national cultures.
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 land or in their territorial waters.
We also support the demand for genuine self-governing powers for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, which at the moment are intended to be little more than regional authorities. And the powers of both Houses are clearly limited by the Act which established them which makes it clear that sovereignty remains with the Westminster Parliament.
Though the Scottish Parliament does have the right to vary income tax by up to three per cent, constitutional questions, social security, general economic development, defence and foreign policy remain in the hands of the Westminster Parliament. The Welsh Assembly has no fiscal powers at all and will simply administer the responsibilities formerly held solely by the Secretary of State for Wales and decide on the spending of the Welsh budget allocated by Westminster.
The New Communist Party supports the demand for the encouragement of the Welsh language, which should be raised, in practice as well as in theory, to equal standing with English, throughout Wales. We support demands for the encouragement of Scottish Gaelic in those areas of Scotland where it is spoken.
Though a degree of local autonomy has been won by the Scots and Welsh it, in itself, is no guarantee that the national traditions and culture of the Scottish and Welsh people will be developed, nor will it automatically lead to the strengthening of working class power.
The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, both British dependencies, have always retained local governments with powers far greater than any granted to the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly, though ultimately they too are answerable to the Westminster Parliament and the Crown. These island governments comprised of local exploiters have presided over the virtual demise of their entire heritage and culture while creating tax-havens for themselves and wealthy mainlanders. These governments did nothing over the past hundred years to preserve the Manx Gaelic language or the Channel Islanders' French dialect from terminal decline. Their labour laws and practices are even worse than those in Britain. 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 islands for democratic and progressive change and genuine cultural revival.
The struggle for genuine national independence for 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 Plaid Cymru - Party of Wales, reflect the bourgeois class basis of both these nationalist parties and deny the economic unity which capitalist development has brought to all three countries.
No independent class of big capitalists exists in Scotland or Wales. Therefore as long as Wales and Scotland remain capitalist they cannot be independent from England and as long 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, together with 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.
The New Communist Party was founded in 1977 to make a clean break with the revisionist and social-democratic trends within the old Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). That party no longer exists. Its successor, the Democratic Left, is an irrelevant right social-democratic debating society. But the left social democratic and revisionist ideas of the CPGB's British Road to Socialism live on in its direct heirs, the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Communist Party of Scotland (CPS).
At the same time we have always recognised that there is the possibility of co-operation on certain issues such as peace, anti-racism, or the wages struggle with these parties and others which have sprung from the British communist movement. There is certainly the need to exchange views with all of them on a regular basis. This was recognised back in 1995 by the CPB leaders themselves who convened a round-table conference of communist parties which the NCP attended.
We felt this was a positive initiative and often called for further meetings on the same basis. It was never followed-up by the CPB leadership.
Our own proposals for a communist round-table are:
For a communist liaison committee which would allow for the regular exchanges of information and views between the various communist parties in Britain at a leadership level. It would be a non-voting, non-executive body and the only offices, that of chairperson and convenor, would rotate between the participating parties.
We believe the round-table should consist of the New Communist Party, Communist Party of Britain, Communist Party of Scotland, Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML) and the Communist Party of Britain (ML) should the latter wish to take part. Participation by other movements after the establishment of the round-table would then be on the basis of unanimous agreement of the existing members of the committee.
The meetings should be held in a labour movement building, preferably Marx House. If that was not possible then the venues could rotate amongst the participating members of the committee.
The party delegations should consist of at least two representatives though there should be no upward limit.
Each delegation will take turns in chairing the meetings and each delegation would take turns in convening the next meeting.
Minutes of the discussions will be the responsibility of each delegation and they will be assumed to be open and for the record unless there is prior agreement at the meeting for an off-the-record or confidential discussion.
The round-table should meet quarterly and any expenses incurred by the committee, such as hire of rooms, would be met by the participating delegations.
The formal name for this committee and its terms of reference would have to be agreed at the first working session.
These proposals were put to the CPB in July, 1998 and were rejected. Nevertheless we believe the provide the only basis for regular exchanges of information and views. They therefore remain on the table.
The New Worker remains the sole weekly communist voice in Britain. It presents the policies and perspectives of our party to the working class and the broad mass of the people. It raises issues of national and international importance that directly bear on the working class and the world revolutionary movement. It is a tool for conveying a Marxist-Leninist analysis to the problems of the day while pointing the way to the socialist future.
The New Worker is read by thousands in Britain and thousands more overseas. Articles are translated and reprinted by progressive and communist journals all over the world. The editorial, selected articles and main news items appear weekly on our Internet pages enabling us to reach out to British and overseas students and their institutions. The NCP web-site on the Internet, now four years old, has greatly assisted in winning new contacts from movements and individuals involved in struggle across the continents. During the Balkan War it allowed us to remain in daily contact with the Yugoslav people under Nato attack. It has proved a valuable asset in the struggle to extend the readership and sales of the paper.
The New Worker has a crucial role in the struggle to overcome the weaknesses and divisions within the labour, trade union, peace, co-operative and left movements in Britain. This can only come about through increased sales and activities around our communist weekly. New Worker rounds and pitches account for the overwhelming majority of sales every week. Subscriptions and sales in independent bookshops and shops, while equally important, can never substitute for direct sales and face-to-face contact with the people.
The fight to win more readers and supporters of the paper is closely linked with the struggle to raise funds to ensure the New Worker's survival. Our paper represents the voice of struggle in all its forms, giving a clear communist line to the issues of the day, and a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the problems facing the working class. The bigger the readership, the greater the influence of the party will be. This is our paramount task.
The New Worker is the key component of the party's means of communication. The paper must be kept at the forefront of organisational and ideological work. The resources and expertise of the party membership must constantly be harnessed to improve the content and development of our paper.
The New Worker is not in competition with the Morning Star. Our paper is a communist weekly and the Morning Star is a daily paper of the left. Though the political line of the Morning Star is ultimately led by the revisionist Communist Party of Britain it seeks to be the broad daily paper of the left as a whole. We support that aim despite the many differences with its direction and stance. But differences between communist analysis and that of the broad left, or a section of the broad left, are inevitable during the process of working class struggle.
The NCP has consistently helped to defend the Morning Star whose daily coverage of industrial news is an asset to the union movement. All members and supporters are urged to read it and take part in the activities of the People's Press Printing Society.
The Marx Memorial Library in London, now in its 66th year, is another important asset of the working class and the British communist movement. The Library has recently re-opened after extensive refurbishment partly supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The improvements should give more visitors and members better access to the Library's priceless collection of working-class and communist literature and archives. The New Worker is an affiliate and comrades actively participate in the Library's work. All comrades are urged to campaign for trade union affiliation to the Library as well as joining on an individual basis.
The New Communist Party must be at the forefront of every-day struggle fighting for the maximum unity amongst the class to achieve winnable economic gains and political objectives while all the time presenting the case for communism and revolutionary change to end the whole system of exploitation once and for all.
Only a revolutionary party can lead the class to overthrow the bourgeoisie. It can't be done through elections because when the ruling class is threatened it abandons the trappings of democracy which are after all only democracy for itself and go into open dictatorship. It can't be done through general strikes because they in themselves can so easily be defeated or diverted by our rulers, though a general strike is part of the arsenal of revolutionary advance.
A socialist revolution means the transfer of political power from the capitalist class to the working class. It can only succeed with the mobilisation of the masses. It can only succeed when the ruling class is unable to rule in the old way and the working class is no longer prepared to be ruled in the old way. There must be a leading Marxist-Leninist party around which the working class can close ranks.
Throughout the world the communist movement has been built on sacrifice and hardship. Our party is no exception. Every comrade must work to build the party and take part in the daily struggles of the people at work and in the locality. Class consciousness is at its sharpest at the point of production and we must focus on industry. We must build groups and branches in every factory and office, in every industry, trade and housing estate.
We want a fighting party based on the tried and tested principles of democratic centralism, iron discipline, regular self-sacrificing work and an unyielding hatred of the capitalist system. We want a party with deep roots amongst working people because it is not parties that make revolutions it is working people, the overwhelming majority of the population of this country who once they realise their strength are unstoppable.
Bourgeois democracy is democracy for the exploiters and dictatorship in all but a formal sense for the exploited. Bourgeois elections, when they are held, are used so that the maximum number of votes can be manipulated by the smallest number of people. Parliament no more makes the real decisions for the country than the councils do in the localities.
Socialism ensures that the will of the masses, the overwhelming majority of the people, is carried out. There will be no more exploitation. Everyone will have decent housing, a job, good education, a free national health service and decent pension when the time comes to retire.
There will be no more slums, poverty, racism, discrimination and bigotry. There will be culture, sports, arts and entertainment for all, by the masses for the masses. The old culture of selfishness, individuality and competition which pits worker against worker will go. Every worker in their plant, office or collective will have an important role to play. The destruction of the environment by capitalism, including the destruction of the rainforests, would be replaced by a system of planned, sustained production for use not profit.
There will be no more artificial white-collar and blue-collar divisions no more dead-end jobs because every job will have a value for society. And hours will be less and workers will have more recreational time: time to appreciate life, to discover and debate, to play or travel, time to ponder, time to create.
Socialism will unleash the great potential of working people to build a new and better society, for themselves and for the generations yet to come.