New Communist Party of Britain
THE THIRTEETH Congress of the New Communist Party of Britain meets at a time of deepening capitalist crisis. The developments since 1997 when the current crises unfolded in Asia and Latin America have now impacted the world capitalist system and emphasise the terminal character of its general crisis.
On the economic front the signs of major recession were clearly defined before the September 11 events. These events have aggravated the economic crisis; they did not create it. As is usual in capitalism the ruling class lays the blame on the workers. Mass sackings are likely to be followed by anti-working class measures affecting taxation and cuts in benefit. The fight back must develop the struggle for working class state power and socialism.
The crisis affected capitalist countries to different degrees and the responses of their respective ruling classes, acting in their own self interest, led to a temporary recovery as measured by their own economic criteria. However, their efforts proved fruitless in averting the collapse in profits, a slowdown in stock markets, the decline in the euro or averting recessions in Japan, Argentina and Turkey.
It is the capitalists' ceaseless, unremitting aim to make profit and ever more profit. As capitalism develops, so the true type of capitalist develops, the capitalist who, with complete single mindedness, seeks to pile up more and more wealth. The driving force behind this purpose is not satisfaction of personal needs but a necessary condition of the economic system itself, namely competition. Failure to seize an opportunity of making more capital and, therefore more profit is to reduce it's competitive strength with other capitalists and result in that capitalist's elimination.
Profits in the leading capitalist countries peaked in 1997, so to compensate the capitalist corporations borrowed money on (leveraging) their balance sheets in order to maintain what they regarded as a satisfactory rate of profit. They also repurchased shares so that profits were shared out between fewer shareholders and which helped support the returns on directors' stock option plans.
What is significant during this present phase of the general crisis is that capitalists are finding themselves unable to invest capital profitably in expanding productive capacity. In the eight years to the end of the year 2000 the utilisation of productive capacity in the United States, the powerhouse of capitalist economies, was less than 80 per cent. To increase overall capacity or utilise that 20 per cent capacity that is not currently used would further exacerbate the fundamental contradiction within the system whereby increased capacity would reduce the capitalists' rate of return on capital invested. So instead they have sought out new ways of making profits by gambling on the stock market, buying other companies either at home or abroad, buying state owned industries or services (privatisation) or putting vast sums of capital into what appears to be the next "dead-cert" like e-business and telecommunications.
Following the crisis of 1997 the capitalists, having burnt their fingers in south east Asia and Russia, sought safe havens for their capital and increasingly turned to the US, the economy of last resort, and to a lesser extent Britain as destinations for their capital.
Why should capitalists find Britain and above all the US attractive destinations for capital? Generally speaking it is because their ruling class have ensured that any crisis is borne by the working class in that -
public spending is low, 30 per cent of GDP in the US, 38 per cent in Britain against a European Union average of 45 per cent;
laws and regulations are weighted in favour of capitalism to the detriment of the working class to a greater extent than in most countries;
weak trade unions;
relatively unregulated labour markets;
the expansion of outsourcing and temporary work;
privatised social provision and PFI;
the ease with which capital can be relocated abroad since the abolition of exchange controls above all has helped put a lid on wage claims, this has especially been exacerbated with the creation of the euro-zone and the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA).
By the end of 2000 the US had pulled in more international capital than that of all the emerging market economies at the height of the south east Asia euphoria in 1996. Much of this was capital outflows from Europe, $180bn in the year to the end of June 2000, with the bulk entering e-business and telecommunications. So much capital was sucked into the US that foreign capitalists now have financial claims, on the US, amounting to $6,500bn equivalent to sixty per cent of it's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The bubble burst in the year 2000 in the e-business and telecommunications sectors. This can be traced to the basic contradictions in the capitalist system, which is one of too much production for the market to sell.
In the closing years of a long bull market (a market in which prices are rising) the suppliers of capital - much richer on paper than a decade before and compelled to take more risk - poured money into venture capital funds, e-business shares, through initial public offerings (IPOs), mergers and acquisitions, shares in these organisations then increased in value significantly. Even though most of these companies had never made a profit and indeed some of them had no products to sell! This brought in more venture money and more successful IPOs rewarding investment bankers, lawyers, brokers and other facilitators handsomely in the process.
During 1999 and 2000, capital spending by the world's telecommunications companies rose at an annual rate of more than thirty per cent to reach $241bn of which $141bn was spent in Europe to purchase third generation mobile phones licences much of which was financed from the loan market. British Telecommunications (BT), with assets of $37bn, in the year 2000 amassed debts of more than $42bn, in little more than a year, by taking out bridging loans, to acquire other companies and buy these licences with the assumption that repayment could be made from the sale of other surplus assets at the same inflated stock market prices. In respect of third generation mobile phone licences telecommunication companies had taken a massive gamble, because the technology to provide these services doesn't exist and for which it is anticipated that it will cost a further $141bn to develop.
The telecommunications companies, having over estimated the market in e-business, found it difficult to live up to expectations and to generate a return on their investments, especially on the non-existent technology! From predicting huge and profitable demand for capacity on their networks, concern grew, at the beginning of 2000, that they would be unable to lure the customers needed to generate adequate cash flows, this in turn brought about a collapse in their shares and made it difficult for them to raise more money which put the brakes on new equipment expenditure.
As a result of this classic race to increase capital the result has been the opposite of what was intended with $3,500bn wiped off the value of US companies during the year 2000 which is equivalent to 35 per cent of US GDP. Weaker capital has been eliminated from the system and potentially there could be the elimination of one or more of the major companies, such as BT, from this race. The consequence of this elimination of capital is that there will be a one per cent decline in global spending on telecommunications equipment during 2001, followed by a further five per cent decline in 2002 and eighteen per cent in the US alone.
The slowdown in the US economy has spread to the rest of the world and threatens to become a full-scale slump in the world economy - so much so that the forecast made in October 2001 for future OECD economic growth has been reduced to one per cent. The degree of reductions varies according to an economy's dependence on the US. Growth for the US was forecast at about one per cent for 2001, down from 3.2 per cent, for the euro-zone about 1.7 per cent, down from 3.1 per cent. Japan's is predicted to have negative growth (recession) of 0.7 per cent.
On the back of the growth in the international telecommunications and electronics industries, the British ruling class's resistance to adopting EU labour laws and with subsidies on offer thousands of jobs were created in Britain. However, as a result of the worldwide slowdown these industries now have to deal with the decline in their net rate of return on capital. In an attempt to reverse or even limit the decline these industries have resorted to plant closures resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
Manufacturing, in Britain, employs nearly 4m people and accounts for possibly eighteen per cent of GDP and if outsourced activities such as transport, distribution, marketing, advertising, computing, catering and security services are included, manufacturing's share of GDP would be considerably more. Exports of manufactured goods make up 61 per cent of Britain's total exports and 37 per cent of the country's total income from overseas. Britain imports more than it exports and this results in a negative trade balance in goods with the rest of the world which rose to a record $11bn in the first quarter of 2001 and is running at its highest levels since the end of the 1980s. Faced with this economic situation the ruling class is in a quandary as to how to tackle the issue of whether Britain will join the euro-zone. The quandary is to join do they depress the pound and trigger an increase in inflation but which however improves exports and thus reduces the trade deficit or do they decide that convergence with the euro-zone is too risky and allow the pound to maintain its high exchange rate with the consequent loss of manufacturing jobs. Either way the impact of on the working class will be a further relative deterioration in living standards.
The recession, that threatens, will differ from previous ones in that there are now more service businesses and fewer manufacturing companies operating in the British economy. Manufacturers reacted to earlier slowdowns by, in the first instance, reducing inventories and cutting overtime and as a last resort making workers redundant, whereas in the service industry the process leads directly to job cuts as by their nature they cannot accumulate inventories. This tends to accelerate the economic crisis.
Of all the European countries Britain is probably the most exposed, as over the past five years all the meagre growth in manufacturing has come from the electronics and telecommunications sector, which has risen thirty-seven per cent since 1995. Output in the rest of manufacturing has fallen by one per cent. Where the one per cent decline in this sector, in 2001 will probably, according to the Employer's Engineering Federation, result in 150,000 job losses the impact of a further five per cent decline in global spending would destroy much of manufacturing in Britain.
Even though BT and other telecommunication companies have massive debts there is still a glut of capital in the major imperialist countries which must be put to use in creating suitable returns for it's owners. With the return on capital in UK manufacturing at it's lowest rate since 1993 in the services and financial services sectors it is still relatively high. With the capitalists' ceaseless quest for more profits, capital is increasingly gravitating out of manufacturing to the more profitable sectors. This is one of the reasons why the present Labour government is encouraged, by the ruling class, to continue with the previous Tory policies of privatising prisons, police civilian operations, aircraft control, the Post Office and some elements of the health and education sectors. It is also a reason for the demutualisations amongst insurance companies and building societies and a factor in the rise of housing prices due to the favourable tax incentives introduced to allow the rich to buy "housing to rent". This drive towards total privatisation of the economy, is also 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 capitalists to compete in the increasingly fierce struggle for relatively shrinking markets.
So important have international capital flows become they are now a principal determinant of exchange rates. When one compares the global daily turnover in financial markets of $1550bn, with the UK Treasury's gross foreign exchange reserves of $42bn one can appreciate the great difficulty facing governments in trying to defend exchange rates. The international investment flows to the US, principally from the EU and Britain, cause instability in currencies, countries exporting capital see the value of their own currency fall whereas the countries where the capital is imported to see their currencies rise. For example, a euro-zone company buying a US competitor would sell euros and buy dollars to pay for the deal. Thus making the dollar strong and the euro weak. This has been of immense advantage to the US in that it has enabled them to reduce the impact on their economy of their huge accumulated trade deficit.
To limit the severity of the impending slowdown but, in the long term, aggravating it, interest rates, up to the end of year 2000, were increased with the aim of slowing growth in the wealth-creating sector making the use of borrowed money expensive relative to the rate of return on capital in the wealth creating sectors. Slowing growth in these sectors, such as car making, increases unemployment, reduces demand and discourages wage demands, thus reducing wage levels overall and passing the cost of the future recession onto the working class. As a result of these increasing interest rates UK car production fell almost 30 per cent in March 2001 and economic growth as a whole is reduced!
As the slowdown developed significantly at the beginning of 2001 the US, Britain and to a lesser extent the euro-zone changed tack and started to reduce interest rates. Japan's interest rates were already near to zero and could not be reduced any further.
One result of the creation of floating exchange rates after the repeal of Bretton Woods in 1973 was the potential, for capitalists, to exploit the volatility of exchange and interest rates between countries. This opportunity gave rise to a huge demand for products, known as derivatives. These instruments are effectively contracts entered into by various parties known as swaps, futures and options, effectively though they are all based on the principle of forward contracts and futures and are indicative of the huge increase in existing financial capital. In fact, this is a distinguishing feature of the present stage of monopoly capitalist development.
These instruments have been used since the early days of market economies to manage cash flow. A forward contract is an agreement to buy or sell a given quantity of a particular commodity, at a specified future date at a pre-agreed price. So for example a farmer planting barley, will have no idea what the price of barley will be following it's harvest. By entering a forward contract with a merchant at a pre-agreed price, the farmer can guarantee today the minimum price that the barley will ultimately be sold for.
What is new, in these instruments, is that an ever greater number of these forward contracts and other such derivatives are used in the financial markets, so much so that banks are moving away from the conventional tasks, such as raising capital and matching the needs of savers and borrowers, towards trading these instruments, which is nothing other than gambling on whether an interest rate or a currency will go up or down.
One of the more riskier uses of futures is to promise to sell at, a set price on a future date, shares one doesn't own, but has simply borrowed, in the hope of buying them on the stock market at a lower price to return to the lender and thus pocketing the profit. Some funds hedge these bets by buying shares that they hope to rise and borrow large amounts of money in an attempt to maximise their profits. The growth in hedge funds is also a feature of present day capitalism and is a symptom of the instability of the system as well as of the need for increasing amounts of capital to find new spheres of investment.
A measure of the scale of the market value of derivatives can be ascertained by the value of just one type of these instruments namely over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives. At the start of 2000, outstanding OTC derivatives amounted to $2,820bn equivalent to about one and a half times the GDP of Britain.
Another reason why the use of these instruments have increased is due to regulations brought in during the 1980s and 1990s which required financial institutions to increase the proportion of share capital that they were required to hold as distinct to assets. However, by using derivatives, financial institutions found they were able to hide their total financial exposure by moving assets and liabilities off their balance sheets. This increased complexity has now completely outstripped the ability of central banks' to supervise or to assess the total financial exposure within the system. This has introduced global financial instability. So much so that central banks can now only act as a safety net, as shown by the bailing out of Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) in the late 1990s.
The instability that this has brought to stock markets was brought home when one day in May 2001 a trader selling shares in a company missed out the decimal point. So instead of trying to sell $5.6m worth of shares $564m worth was put up for sale. The effect of this one transaction was to wipe $40bn from the value of shares on the FTSE 100.
Over the past 10 years, up to the end of September 2001, the total market value of companies registered on the FTSE has risen by 330 per cent, a far greater increase than the 60 per cent rise in the nominal value of the GDP of the UK. By the end of September 2001 the FTSE 100 index had regained all the ground it lost since the attacks on September 11. In the US, between August 1994 and August 2000 the value of their equity markets rose by 450 per cent ($11,420bn) whereas during that same period GDP rose by only 50 per cent. These are "bubble" stock prices and it is admitted that a corrective is well overdue. However, this development is accompanied by fears of a real decline in share values leading to severe recession. This is the question now hanging over the US and world economy.
One of the most notable signs of the potential for chaos and disorder can be seen in the challenge that exists to capitalist state power by the transnational corporations (TNCs). This is an example of the contradiction in two of the main aspects of monopoly capitalism, the state and the big economic monopolies are essential to each other yet also 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 still to a certain extent today, the state has been the instrument for the continuous development of these monopolies, the monopolies now seek to limit the powers of the state.
The most powerful TNCs, represented by the leaders of the developed countries, have striven through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to tighten their grip on the economies of all countries, in particular those of the developing countries.
The struggle in the WTO is about removing any restrictions imposed by host countries by ensuring that member countries de-regulate their markets in trade and services, drop any restrictions on incoming international capital and remove subsidies and tariffs that protect home grown industries and agriculture, thus giving maximum freedom to monopoly capitalist organisations.
The WTO is the focus of the struggle of the developing against the developed nations for more equitable rules and practices in world trade which at present are weighted very heavily in favour of the western based TNCs. The world's working class must be warned of and mobilised against this future agenda of world monopoly capitalism in it's drive for ever greater profits in pursuit of monopoly capitalism's basic raison d'etre the accumulation of capital.
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.
Imperialism, led by the United States and Britain, is resorting over and over again to war and threat of war to dominate much of eastern Europe, 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 Palestinians demand the restoration of their national rights.
The crises of 1997 in south east Asia and Russia occurred at the most vulnerable points of the global economy and although there was an impact on the economies of the strongest developed countries, their huge reserves, both in terms of organisation, administration and in economic values and capital, enabled them to stave off, at least for the time being, a full-scale world recession. In 1999 the New Communist Party of Britain warned that the only way to avoid a recession was to sustain economic growth at its then current average rate. Until recently, taking the period as a whole, average economic growth was sustained, but now there are clear signs of a potential world recession. The Japanese economy has been in crisis since 1991 and is now threatened with recession. The problem in South East Asia and Russia although temporarily resolved after the 1997 crisis are now re-emerging. Turkey and Argentina are in severe crisis and many countries are extremely vulnerable to worsening conditions. A deterioration in the economy of the US, in particular, and of the EU could set the scene for a full-scale world recession to which the weaknesses in those smaller economies would significantly contribute.
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.
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.
At previous congresses the NCP pointed out -
that the European Union has strengthened monopoly capitalism within Europe to the detriment of the working class;
that Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) would further strengthen the hand of imperialism through creating a global convertible currency to compete with the dollar. by centralising control of all the Euro member economies, through interest rates and government spending levels, in one European central bank.
Practice has shown that the merging of the eleven individual currencies into one transformed the euro-zone's capital markets. The elimination of currency risk and trade barriers within the zone allowed investment to take place anywhere within the zone, this has led to increased efficiency in the markets for the monopoly capitalist and a reduction for them in the cost of capital.
Within the euro-zone the increased competition initially led to a series of mergers and acquisitions within the national boundaries of member countries and as this competition intensified cross border mergers and acquisitions took place. This must be seen as evidence of the tendency, inherent in monopoly capitalism, to concentrate capital into ever-fewer hands. Eventually this tendency has now outgrown the confines of the euro-zone as seen by the huge outflows from the euro-zone to the US and Britain.
The Conservative Party, under Hague's leadership, campaigning in the June 2001 General Election under the slogan "save the pound", lost the confidence of the most influential section of the ruling class, who are pushing for Britain's entry into the European Monetary Union. This among other factors accounted for the unprecedented bourgeois media support for a second term for the Labour government which, the ruling class considered, could deliver EMU membership in the shortest possible time.
With the landslide victory Tony Blair would like to press ahead with the ruling class's plans to take Britain into the euro-zone.
Politically, they have an uphill task as opinion polls suggest that seventy per cent of the British electorate oppose entry to the euro-zone. However, this opposition to EMU could be overcome, if the weight of the bourgeois media can be used in the run up to a referendum to support membership, as the same opinion polls also suggest that seventy per cent of the electorate see joining as inevitable.
Economically the tasks facing the Labour government are far more difficult than the political ones. The government set five economic tests, announced by Gordon Brown in October 1997, which had to be met before Britain would join the euro-zone. The five tests can effectively be summed up as whether joining EMU will promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs.
For member countries membership of the euro-zone has not brought about increased economic growth. The weakness of the euro as compared to the dollar, at the outset of EMU, has led to massive export of capital from the euro-zone. This export capital has brought about a further weakening of the euro and increased instability, inflation and reduced employment.
In the long term British EMU entry will strengthen European monopoly capitalism leading to further attacks on the working class in an attempt to alleviate the current instability within the euro-zone enabling them to build an economic zone to serve capitalism and imperialism, a super-state which is neither genuinely federal or democratic in form or content. The central aim is to make European capitalism more competitive with the US, in particular.
Turkey is in deep economic and political crisis it's currency has been devalued by almost 50 per cent, the economy has contracted by 8 per cent in the first nine months of 2001, it suffers high interest rates and double digit inflation. Public sector debt has doubled in the last decade and widespread job losses have resulted in a violent fight back by the working class.
For the ninth time in the last six years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank have intervened in an attempt to stop the crisis spreading and endangering the global economy. They have tasked the Turkish government with implementing austerity plans including wage cuts, increased taxation for working people, public sector spending cuts and privatisation of the public sector including Turk Telekom and Turkish Airlines.
Recent opinion polls suggest that were an election to be called tomorrow, no party would achieve the 10 per cent threshold needed to enter parliament. In any event the Prime Minister has argued he must stay on because the country cannot afford to hold elections. Some elements of the ruling class have called for the installation of a government of technocrats backed by the armed forces.
The NCP supports the struggle of the Kurds in Turkey for their ethnic recognition and civil rights. We also support the campaign of the hunger strikers against changes to the prison system in Turkey, to single cells in which prisoners are more vulnerable to abuse and attack. And we oppose the construction of dams like the llesu that would destroy thousands of Kurdish homes and historic sites while at the same time reducing water supplies to neighbouring countries. We call on the British government not to underwrite the involvement of British firms in such ventures.
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 the more economically advanced of these countries Slovenia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Estonia have resumed a measure of economic growth, the living standards of the working people in all of them have plummeted, as recorded by chronic unemployment, low wages and disintegrating social services.
In Lithuania the unemployment rate has risen steadily since 1998 to around 13 per cent, in Poland the unemployment rate of 15.8 per cent, in February 2001, is expected to rise to 20 per cent by the end of 2001 and Latvia's economic growth rate has reduced to zero. In an attempt to resolve these economic problems these governments have adopted US and British monopoly capitalist style solutions by lifting the restrictions on hiring and firing of workers and to privatise much of the economy thus passing the social and economic burden of paying for the crisis onto their working classes. All of them 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 some of the other republics that once formed the Soviet Union.
Russia has made some economic growth since it's default in 1998, in the year 2000 growth was 7.7 per cent of GDP, a record since 1990, but output is still some 40 per cent below Soviet-era levels. This high growth level is misleading as it is calculated from the very low economic base following the country's 1998 financial collapse, it has also been helped by the favourable exchange rate following devaluation and the high price of oil, it's major export. Even so it has debts of $39bn and has a major problem with the flight of capital from the country, estimated at $20bn a year. It's problems will get worse in 2003 when it is expected to pay $25bn in debt repayments, with growth reduced to 3.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2001 and with signs that the relatively favourable economic conditions have disappeared it is unlikely to be able to meet this repayment. In addition to these problems the Russian economy has a 25 per cent inflation rate which is one it's most feared economic demons as memories of personal savings wiped out by uncontrolled price increases in the 1990s are still very much alive in most workers memories.
If the world economic crisis doesn't deteriorate Russia may just be able to service its debt from the sale of oil, assuming the price of oil stays high, privatisations and further domestic and foreign borrowing. For privatisations the jewel in the crown for the Russian super-rich oligarchs and western investors is land, a new law passed by the Duma in September 2001, will result in the sale of land putting at risk the plots of millions of people who use them to grow much needed fruit and vegetables.
This is the background against which discussions between Bush and Putin must be seen, i.e. concessions on NMD, NATO expansion in return for economic aid.
Argentina is by far the largest risk in international debt markets as it accounts for about 25 per cent ($127bn) of all the emerging countries total debt, this compares to 15 per cent for Russia and 2 per cent for Turkey. If Argentina was to default, given its economic importance within the region, it would certainly bring down its larger neighbour Brazil and also Chile with the possible consequences spreading even further afield.
In June 2001 Argentina managed to gain some breathing space by swapping $30bn of debt due for payment before 2006 with debt due for payment in 2008 and 2031. In doing so it compounded it's problems by entering into a huge gamble that the global economy will recover in the next few years thus enabling it to restart it's economy. It is the working class that will pay for this debt by the pilfering of their pension funds, privatisation of the public sector and high interest rates and low wages.
Japan's economy has entered recession. Japan's four mega-banking groups - which rank as some of the biggest banks in the world in terms of assets have outstanding, non-performing (not expected to be paid back) loans of $120bn and doubtful loans of $60bn.
The nature of the Japanese economy during the 1980s was for banks to buy shares in favoured companies and for those companies to buy shares in those same banks. The 1980s were a time of inflated prices when the Tokyo stock exchange was valued at three times its 2001 value. The Nikkei has fallen 25% in the last six months which has seen the banks capital badly eroded at a time when they are also using this capital to write-off bad loans.
Since the 1980s, due to the outflow of capital, the average Japanese company now requires 70 per cent more capital to produce the same value as an American one, which has made them woefully uncompetitive in the global market. The recent shocks to the global capitalist system combined with this uncompetitiveness has resulted in an ever increasing number of them going bankrupt with debts to banks, that will never be paid, of between $8bn to $17bn a month. In absorbing these debts the banks are now so severely impacted that they no longer have the capacity to lend to industry. This is a very basic economic weakness preventing recovery.
With low or sometimes negative growth and increasing bad debts, Japan's financial crisis contributes substantially to the difficulties of the global banking system and failure to solve it could have far-reaching repercussions throughout the world economy.
The debts are not limited to Japanese companies, the government has a public sector debt of over $8460bn, five times the size of Britain's annual GDP. The solutions available to Japanese monopoly capitalism to raise its return on capital to the global norm are limited. Some sections of their ruling class are advocating lowering aggregate wages by around 30 per cent which will massively raise unemployment whereas other elements of the ruling class are arguing for writing down of the capital stock by 30-40 per. Either solution would run the risk, from their point of view, of increasing the fight back from the working class and/or a collapse of the Japanese economic system.
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.
The speed of the slowdown in south east Asia is dramatic. The economic data, for the first quarter of 2001, has shown a sudden contraction. The slowdown in nominal GDP across the region to mid-2001 has been on average minus 7.4 per cent which is substantially larger than the minus 5 per cent swing in mid-1997. This slowdown coincides with a period of weak domestic demand in Asia because the region's banks remain saddled with bad loans, 14.5 per cent of GDP, and are unable to lend to local companies.
Many companies in Thailand and Indonesia are heavily in debt. In south Korea capitalist companies have to repay, in 2001, $45bn of debt, 12 per cent of GDP, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to repay and with banks already suffering there is little chance that the debt will be rescheduled. These economies already have unemployment of 4.9 per cent, underfunded pensions and a weak social security system and will, if these loans are not repaid, suffer further dislocation in its economy and the associated massively increased unemployment.
There is little doubt that China's ability to maintain the exchange rate of it's currency contributed in no small measure to the temporary recovery by the nations of south, east and south east Asia from the 1997 crisis. People's China is booming with its foreign trade and economic sector withstanding the severe test of the Asian 1998 financial crisis. It has maintained the momentum of constant growth during the last five years (1996-2000) averaging an annual growth of 11 percent. The fact that China ranks economically 9th in the world and can feed, clothe 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 those days, one of increasing prosperity, scientific advance and progress.
It is recognised that any co-operation with capitalism may contain potential dangers. The growth of capitalist interests, both domestic and foreign, within China can have both positive and negative effects. The living standards of the Chinese people are rising, but there also exists a small minority of very rich. The Communist Party of China is actively organising itself by extending its membership amongst working people, and opposing all forms of corruption.
Although the growth of China's foreign trade is planned to slow to an annual growth rate of 7 per cent for the next five years this will surpass the anticipated growth obtained by the rest of the world. This plan expects to strike a general balance between imports and exports with over 70 per cent of the trade being in electrical and electronic machinery and other hi-tech products. China's growth has contributed to a small reduction in global inequality due to it being the most populous country in the world and where the distribution of the wealth of the country is relatively equal.
China is making major progress in negotiating accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Whether these negotiations succeed depends on the political will of the major developed countries. There are still several issues unsolved, such as the implementation of agreements on the limitation of subsidies on agriculture and industrial products and restrictions on applying tariffs to foreign goods. The difficulties in resolving these problems have mainly come from the intransigence of the US in demanding the removal of all these subsidies and tariffs. These demands from the US are being resisted by China on the basis that as a developing country it needs to protect these relatively undeveloped sectors. In general the aim of the US and EU is to achieve, through the medium of the WTO, unrestricted freedom for their capital in China. This struggle will continue.
In the year 2000 the top 10 per cent of manufacturing plants in the UK added gross value of more than £45,000 per employee, the bottom 10 per cent had a gross value added of up to £8,100 per employee.
The average wage in the UK was £411 in April 2000 which comprised the basic wage and extra payments which included bonuses, merit pay, overtime and shift premiums. In the current slowdown the bosses have already started to cut back on these extras by cutting overtime. The New Communist Party of Britain has no objection to the cutting of overtime but calls upon the working class to ensure that these payments are consolidated first. To put it in perspective a chief executive officer in a FTSE 100 company is paid £14,500 a week with 470 of them paid more than £100,000 a week! The combined weekly wage of those 470 is equivalent to the average wage being paid to114,355 workers or equivalent to the weekly wage of 338,738 workers on the minimum wage. How many televisions do 470 chief executives need, or want, as compared to 114,355 workers on the average weekly wage?
De-regulation of the labour market and the introduction of the minimum wage have substituted better paid jobs, which had generally better working conditions, by low waged insecure jobs. A study of the job vacancies in the Lancashire area, conducted by the Manchester Low Pay Unit, shows that nearly half of the jobs advertised in Jobcentres were part time and 20 per cent temporary. The survey also found that 40 per cent of the jobs were offering pay below tax thresholds, 60 per cent below income support levels and over 90 per cent below working families tax credit rates. One third were at minimum pay rates.
The cost of labour or aggregate wage bills are being forced down to a low level. The Labour government have continued with the dual objective adopted by the Tories, although to a lesser extent, of forcing the most vulnerable into low-wage jobs and once there ensuring that they stay there through the shift from out-of-work to in-work benefits. This shift is a mechanism to redistribute wage levels within the working class, leaving the exorbitantly high incomes of the capitalist class untouched, also it allows bosses to pay wages below subsistence level which deepens the poverty trap and brings about a reluctance amongst workers to fight for wage rises because this leads to cuts in benefits.
The boom and bust cycles, brought about by the incessant competition of capitals, had in the past to a certain extent been smoothed down due to the relative strength of the labour movement. Organised 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 that 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 organised strength and struggles of workers and other anti-monopoly forces.
The wages struggle is central in this situation Complete social justice can never be possible under capitalism not even 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. The working class must always strive for improvement, whilst at the same time working to bring about a more fundamental change by promoting a socialist solution.
The attacks of September 11th whilst traumatic and financially damaging, equivalent to the Kobe earthquake, is not the cause of the current financial downturn.
In respect of the US economy 421 American companies had already issued profit warnings prior to the 11th September.
The airline industry was already in serious trouble with, historically, an average rate of return of only three per cent. Prior to the attacks it was already forecast that losses for 2001 would be $10bn, outstanding debts of $22bn, deregulation resulting in too many airlines chasing too few passengers. These are the factors, which led directly to the headline failures announced during late September. Continental Airlines was struggling to meet debt repayments of $70m and Midway Airlines was already under bankruptcy protection. So it is not surprising that the airlines should use the opportunity of the closure of US airspace to demand compensation. The compensation demanded by US airlines was $24bn more than enough to wipe out all the debts accrued during the last few years, in the end they secured from the US government $5bn in cash and $10bn in loan guarantees. The value of the compensation exceeds the combined market value of the six largest US airlines.
In Europe, faced by increased pressure of deregulation and cheap fare carriers some airlines such as Swissair and BA have found themselves to be overextended financially.
The crucial factor determining the fate of the world economy in the near term is what happens to the US economy. Any deterioration there such as a severe reduction in the exchange rate of the dollar could trigger a worldwide recession, through loss of a major avenue for trade and investment. This would reverberate throughout the world affecting, particularly seriously, those most vulnerable economies already mentioned whose problems could, in turn, aggravate the crisis in the world economy.
In the longer term, whilst it is impossible, at this stage, to foresee how long capitalism's general crisis will take to mature, it is certain that the contradictions within the system will ensure that this will happen. Capitalism will not, and will not be seen to meet the needs of the working class and of humanity as a whole. It has the potential, however, to last for much longer than originally thought. The exact scenario as to how exactly this will happen, cannot be constructed. What is certain is that communist parties are essential to the process of preparing the masses for fundamental social changes in all countries, ensuring advance to socialism with minimum conflict, anarchy and suffering.
The new century began in an atmosphere of war, threat of war and an economic crisis on a global scale.
American imperialism is now headed by George W Bush and an administration drawn from the most reactionary and aggressive elements of the US ruling class. They seek to consolidate US power across the globe and extract the maximum advantage from US imperialism's present strength and dominant position over the entire non-socialist world.
The US government has rejected the Kyoto agreement on the environment so as to protect the interests of US oil and coal transnationals. The US government has revived the old "Star Wars" project - the National Missile Defence system (NMD) - whose introduction will be in direct contravention of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In squaring this circle the US is unilaterally proposing that this treaty be rescinded. This year the United States embarked on more provocations in the Balkans and the Middle East while the clash between one of their spy-planes and the Chinese air-force over the South China sea showed that Washington is returning to the brinkmanship of the worst days of the Cold War.
We call for the withdrawal of all United States troops to their own mainland. Likewise we call for the withdrawal of all British troops to the British mainland.
Imperialist intervention in the Balkans is increasing. Though Nato forced Yugoslavia to accept the occupation of Kosovo after a brutal eleven-week air blitz in 1999, the imperialists failed to remove the defiant Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevich.
American imperialism with the full support of Britain and its other European allies organised a coup in Yugoslavia in 2000 to replace the Milosevich government with a pro-Western regime. This year, the craven government in Belgrade agreed to hand Milosevich over to the so-called International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague in return for over a billion dollars in "aid".
Now the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia is under attack for trying to preserve a modicum of independence. Reactionary ethnic-Albanian hirelings with strong links to the puppet Kosovan administration in Nato-occupied Yugoslavia have infiltrated the Albanian minority and are attempting to destroy Macedonia.
The New Communist Party condemns the arrest of Slobodan Milosevich and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. The Party calls for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the Balkans to allow all the states in the region to resolve their problems without interference. The Party upholds the right of all refugees to return to their homes including the tens of thousands of Serbs driven out of Croatia and Bosnia.
The Palestinian people are resisting the Israeli occupiers in an unequal contest that threatens to plunge the whole region into full-scale war. Though the United States posed as honest broker during the Clinton administration the proposals from the Americans and the former Labour government in Israel failed to meet the minimum demands of the Palestinian Arabs.
The Bush administration now has abandoned all pretence of even handedness backing the new reactionary Sharon government in Israel to the hilt in its efforts to drown the Palestinian uprising in blood and destroy the autonomous Palestinian Authority set up under the Oslo Agreement.
The central issue is the Palestinian problem. Peace can never be achieved in the Middle East until the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arabs are restored. The Palestinians are entitled to establish their own independent state on Palestinian soil. The Palestinian refugees must be allowed to return to their homes in Israel or, if they so wish, be paid appropriate agreed compensation for the loss of their land and property. Israel must withdraw from all the territories it seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war including the parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip it still controls, Arab East Jerusalem and Syria's Golan Heights.
Anglo-American imperialism continues to wage war against Iraq with almost daily raids in the so-called northern and southern "no-fly" zones of that defiant Arab country. The brutal blockade, which has cost the lives of over a million and a half Iraqi civilians since it was imposed in 1990, continues solely at the insistence of British and US imperialism.
The NCP calls for the immediate and unconditional end to the sanctions regime against Iraq and supports the efforts of the Iraqi government to preserve its independence and restore its national sovereignty over its entire territory.
And in Cyprus, the former British colony in the Eastern Mediterranean, nothing has been done to end the Turkish occupation of the north of the island. Britain and the United States have played a central role in perpetuating the 27-year-old Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus to strengthen NATO's military presence on the island.
Britain is, along with Turkey and Greece, a supposed "guarantor" of Cypriot independence, a role it has never played despite the fact that Britain still maintains two sovereign bases in southern Cyprus. The United States is the major economic and military prop of the Turkish government but Washington has no desire to change the status quo in case it reflects badly on the reactionary Turkish cliques it relies on to do America's bidding.
The Party calls for the withdrawal of all Nato troops - Turkish, Greek and British - from Cyprus, an end to partition and we support the right of all refugees, Greek and Turkish, to return to their homes.
British and United States imperialism pose the greatest danger to world peace. The proposed National Missile Defence system would trigger off another global arms race. The tearing up of the ABM treaty would undermine every other international agreement on nuclear weapons.
The Big Five permanent members of the UN Security Council all possess nuclear weapons along with India and Pakistan. India's deplorable decision to resume testing in 1998 - taken by its reactionary BJP government - provoked Pakistan into speedily developing and testing its own atomic bombs. Though neither country has attempted to deploy atomic weapons their development raises fears that the continuing conflict between the two over Kashmir could go nuclear in the future.
But the major threat to peace comes from the imperialists. The United States has an immense arsenal and so does Britain. France also possesses substantial nuclear weapons and so does Russia, which inherited the systems of the former Soviet Union.
Britain is a major arms supplier and its troops are deployed in a growing number of war zones and areas made unstable as a result of imperialist intervention and aggression.
The fifth permanent member of the Security Council, and the only socialist state with nuclear weapons, People's China, is the only one actively supporting proposals for multilateral nuclear disarmament. China is the only nuclear power to uphold the demand for universal nuclear disarmament. China stands for the complete prohibition and total destruction of all nuclear weapons. China, backed by many other countries, has challenged the West to implement the entire Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was signed in 1968 to halt nuclear proliferation but also committed the signatories to work towards universal nuclear disarmament.
In the meantime People's China calls on all the major nuclear-weapon states to abandon their policy of nuclear deterrence. States with huge nuclear arsenals should continue to reduce their nuclear stockpiles.
China calls on all nuclear powers to pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstance, commit themselves unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states or nuclear-weapons free zones, and conclude at an early date, international legal agreements to such effect.
China calls on all states with nuclear weapons deployed outside their frontiers to withdraw these weapons home. All nuclear powers should pledge their support to the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, respect their status as such and undertake corresponding obligations.
China calls for the banning of the development and deployment of space weapons systems or missile defence systems and calls for an international convention on the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons concluded through negotiations with the participation of all countries.
These long-standing demands must be projected throughout the peace movement in Britain. The NCP supports the efforts of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and other peace movements for unilateral British nuclear disarmament. We must campaign against any British participation in NMD and for Britain's continued adherence to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
The immediate focus must be the demand to scrap the Trident missile system. The billions spent on Trident is a national disgrace. Money that could be used to refund the National Health Service and other state welfare projects is being squandered every year on Trident - a system developed to "deter" the Soviet Union, which now no longer exists.
The NCP calls for the abolition of biological, chemical and radioactive (such as depleted uranium) weapons.
Socialism operates in over a quarter of the world. In Asia socialism is upheld and developed in People's China, Democratic Korea, People's Laos and Socialist Vietnam and socialism is defended in Cuba, the revolutionary island in the Caribbean.
People's China is making giant strides into the 21st century with rapid industrialisation and development. China is a mighty force for peace in Asia and a friend to all the developing countries. The peaceful re-unification of Hong Kong and Macau provides a model for the return of Taiwan to the Chinese homeland.
Democratic Korea has won stunning political and economic victories in the past two years. The people, led by the Workers Party of Korea, are overcoming five years of floods and other natural disasters. The government, under the leadership of Kim Jong Il, and a policy of steadfastness and determination, has smashed the diplomatic blockade, and the DPRK is now recognised by almost every country, including Britain.
Socialist Vietnam and People's Laos are developing their economies bringing new prosperity to the towns and rural areas and Cuba continues to defy the might of American imperialism to build a new life for the Cuban people.
All the socialist countries have strengthened their economic, bilateral and party-to-party ties in the past two years. All work for peace in the international arena and support the national liberation movements that are challenging the imperialist "new world order" and globalisation.
In the socialist countries the communists work to serve the people, in the imperialist countries the communists are working to end the cruel exploitation of capitalism.
Complete social justice can never be possible under capitalism but the struggle to defend working class living standards is central to the labour movement while at the same time providing the basis for more fundamental change.
This requires political struggle to improve social services and benefits and industrial struggle for better wages and working conditions. Means testing for all benefits should be abolished and the call needs to be made for a fully integrated, publicly owned transport system to meet people's needs.
The New Communist Party calls for the restoration of free collective bargaining and trade union immunities and the repeal of all the anti-trade union legislation passed since 1979.
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 has a role after national bargaining, to improve on what has been achieved nationally and in catering for specific local conditions.
Claims should be for a flat-rate monetary increase. This upholds the principle of stable wage differentials to reward workers for their skills. Percentage increases widen differentials at the expense of the lower-paid and divide the work force.
Claims should be based on the national rate for the job assessed by the unions and not on the "minimum wage" or regional rates set by the employers. Where new job patterns are established rates should be agreed by comparing existing jobs with similar skills.
The Party is opposed to the introduction and operation of bonus or piece-working schemes. Where they do exist, workers, via their trade union stewards, must be involved in negotiating the way they operate. But at all times we must campaign to get the bonus element scrapped and the payment incorporated into the basic hourly rate.
The fight for higher wages should be linked to -
the minimum demand to restore workers' rights by rescinding all legislation, enacted since 1979, that works against the interests of the working class and the trade union movement. This is a requisite to ensure that organised labour can compete with monopoly capitalism without legal constraint. We must expose the limitations of working-time legislation and campaign for the closing of opt-out clauses.
Increasing the social wage. The decline in the health service, education, social services and public transport has brought about an erosion of overall living standards. This must be reversed, not by putting ever increasing pressure on workers in these industries, or by phoney performance target setting, but by ensuring adequate levels of resourcing and pay.
the fight for a reduction in weekly hours. We should aim to unite the labour movement around a demand for a maximum working week of 35 hours with no loss of pay.
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 last Labour government, which ended in 1979.
For over twenty years under the Conservatives and now under Labour, public spending has been cut. Vital services like the National Health Service, public transport, education and local amenities have all become seriously under-funded. We must mobilise the class in its own defence to fight for higher wages and the restoration of state welfare to at least the levels existing in 1979. We must fight for flat-rate across-the-board wages increases. We should aim to unite the labour movement around a demand for a maximum working week of 35 hours with no loss of pay.
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.
Taxation is the way essential services are funded. For years both Tory and Labour governments have clamoured for lower income tax. But the only people that have benefited from these tax cuts have been the rich while the least well off have got poorer.
The New Communist Party maintains that the burden of taxation should be shifted away from workers and onto the wealthy. While 3 million tax-payers earn more than £1,000 a week, of which 25 per cent gets deducted in tax, there are 7.5 million tax-payers earning less than £200 a week who still get 11 per cent deducted in tax. Whilst a tax deduction of 11 per cent makes massive inroads into a small income, a 25 per cent tax on high incomes still leaves a very substantial and excessive net income for the rich.
The Party is opposed to all indirect taxes such as VAT. This is because, in proportion to people's income, these bear more heavily on the working class. The richest 20 per cent of the population pay only 15 per cent of disposable income on indirect taxation, whereas everybody else pays over 20 per cent.
Our immediate demands are for:
the personal allowance for the 10 and 22 per cent bands to be substantially increased. This would exempt a greater number of lower-paid from paying any income tax.
new tax bands at 50,60, 70, 80, 90 and 98 per cent to be introduced for taxable incomes in excess of £40,000 and then in multiples of £10,000.
the married couple's allowance should be restored at the basic rate of tax.
mortgage interest relief (MIRAS) should be re-introduced at the basic rate of tax.
the removal of all tax on domestic fuel
the abolition of VAT on all goods and services
taxes on insurance to be withdrawn
council tax to be frozen at its current level pending its reduction at a later date. In compensation the central government grant to local authorities should be substantially increased
a steep increase in the main tax rate on profits from the present 30 per cent to 60 per cent - rising in steps to 90 per cent as profits increase.
There should be a tax exemption threshold of £500 per annum of interest from savings received from bank, building society, share dividends and credit. The tax exemption limit for capital gains tax should be abolished.
The rich have plenty. They must pay.
The health service was a result of the struggle of our class, over many generations.
At the moment this is step by step, being dismantled, firstly by the Tory government, and now by the Blair government, through privatisation.
The result has been the closure of hospitals and residential nursing homes, shortage of staff, cancellation of operations etc. and also decreasing quality of care for people with mental health problems.
To build a new hospital through PFI, costs twice a much in capital costs.
We support the trade union led campaigns against privatisation and will work to broaden these campaigns into local communities.
The NCP opposes Government attempts to impose an elected mayor-with-cabinet system on local authorities. This is a further attack on local democracy and a stepping stone to the privatisation of public services. It also concentrates far too much power in the hands of the individual mayor thus increasing the danger of corruption. The NCP calls for broad-based campaigning opposition to such moves.
Labour won another stunning victory in 2001. Their second term triumph left them with a majority almost as big as their first.
The Party called on the class to vote Labour and that indeed is what the mass of the people did. The turnout, less than 60 per cent of the electorate was down ten per cent from 1997. This is not surprising. Labour's victory owes much to the mass distrust of the Tories across the class and the people as a whole rather than to any real enthusiasm for the New Labour platform.
Labour's victory, based on the mass support of the working class, confirmed the correctness of the Party's policy and call to vote Labour. It confirmed that the Party's policies conformed and reflected the wish of the masses.
The New Communist Party was founded in 1977 to build the communist movement around the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism. Since then we have campaigned for the maximum working class unity against the ruling class while campaigning to build the revolutionary party.
Working people can never achieve state power through bourgeois elections. Bourgeois elections are democratic only for the ruling class and their instruments, a tool to mask their real dictatorship.
We reject 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. Its successors in the Communist Party of Britain and the Communist Party of Scotland continue this essentially social-democratic and revisionist policy today. Essentially the same theory is expressed by the Socialist Labour Party, the Scottish Socialist Party and the Trotskyite Socialist Alliance.
The paltry votes gained by these parties shows the futility of 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 capable of implementing reform, the Labour Party itself. All of them end up attacking the Labour Party rather than the ruling class as the main enemy of the working class. Objectively they end up in the camp of the class enemy.
But the masses are often much wiser than those who claim to lead them and this is why these parties remain isolated amongst the working class despite all their pretensions. The Labour Party is not the enemy of the working class nor is it a barrier to communist advance.
Day to day demands for reform, progressive taxation, state welfare and a public sector dedicated to meet the people's needs are winnable under capitalism, particularly in a powerful imperialist country like Britain today.
We support these demands. support the modest progressive reforms Labour has introduced, and back the demands of those within the Labour Party and the trade union movement who are campaigning for greater social justice.
We support those in the Labour Party fighting for left social-democratic policies. We back those, like Ken Livingstone, who defy the Labour leadership, with rank-and-file Labour Party and union support. Livingstone made his stand on the defence of public transport in London. It represented a central demand of all working Londoners. We, together with the mass of the Labour Party in London and the mass of Londoners themselves, backed his independent campaign for Mayor.
Once again his sweeping victory proved the correctness of our position. We support his demand for the end of his suspension from Labour Party membership and continue to support him as Mayor of London as long as he retains the support of the Labour and union rank-and-file.
Our Party supports left social-democratic Labour activists with mass support, even when they come into electoral conflict with the Labour leadership. It is part of our struggle for a democratic Labour Party.
Though the Labour Party is dominated by the class-collaborating right wing in the parliamentary party and the trade union movement, the possibility of their defeat exists as long as Labour retains its organisational links with the trade unions which fund it.
We support the affiliation of unions to the Labour Party. We must fight for affiliation in those unions that are not affiliates and we must demand that the Labour Party reflects the wishes of the millions of its affiliated union members expressed through the unions' democratic procedures.
The fight for a democratic Labour Party is linked to the fight for a democratic trade union movement. In the unions we must struggle to elect genuine working class leaderships, who are prepared to represent and fight for the membership against the employers and against the right wing within the movement.
The Party must campaign for a democratic Labour Party controlled by its affiliates. A Labour Party whose policies reflected those of a democratic union movement would become a powerful instrument for progressive reforms that would strengthen organised labour and benefit the working class.
At the same time we must build the revolutionary party and campaign for revolutionary change. Social democracy remains social democracy whatever trend is dominant within it. It has never led to socialism. Revisionism, which poses as communism, has only led to the destruction of the Soviet Union and the people's governments of Eastern Europe and the destruction of some mass communist parties millions strong.
Our Party's strategy is the only way to fight for the communist alternative within the working class of England, Scotland and Wales. We want day-to-day reforms and they can only be achieved by the main reformist, social-democratic party in Britain, the Labour Party. We want revolution and that can only be achieved through the leadership of the communist party.
In our class-divided bourgeois society, racism is encouraged and fostered as a means of keeping the working class divided and weakened.
The mass media, and in particular some newspapers, foster the myth that black, Asian and other immigrant communities are benefiting from state and local authority hand-outs and subsidies and that equal opportunities programmes promote the welfare of ethnic minorities at the expense of white workers.
This is grossly untrue but it is a powerful myth that we have to combat.
The neo-Nazi parties and groups such as the British National Party and National Front have used this myth to win some support and to foment racial conflict.
This has been particularly noticeable in the northern towns of Oldham, Burnley, Bradford and in Glasgow.
Both the BNP and NF are very small parties but their tactics and tacit media support mean they have an effect beyond their numbers, including stirring up racist violence after the September 11 attacks.
The NF has been operating a programme of frequent, provocative marches in sensitive areas. Police forces around the country have been defending the right of the NF to march while denying the same right to anti-fascists.
Some newspapers and local authorities have portrayed the anti-fascists as troublemakers and banned their activities.
The BNP has for the time being given up street marches and is trying to present itself as a respectable political party. It has been courting the farmers' lobby, fuel price protesters and is entering the anti-European Union arena using the United Kingdom Independence Party as a Trojan Horse.
The tactics of the BNP and NF are complementary to each other. Where the NF street thugs have provoked a race riot, the BNP benefits at the ballot box.
They are targeting the areas of the north of England and Scotland where deprivation of the whole working class is most extreme.
The extreme deprivation in these areas for both black and white communities - housing, health, education, affordable leisure facilities and so on - must be addressed.
We must also promote integration and oppose segregation in all spheres, especially housing and education. We must respect and celebrate different cultures while at the same time promoting full working class unity.
Black and white should take courage and inspiration from our own and each other's cultural heritage in order to build a strong, tolerant and flexible culture for our children, growing up together and facing the same class struggle.
The fight against racism is the responsibility of the whole working class movement, undivided it should not be left to its victims or led solely by members of ethnic communities. In particular the work of Searchlight is to be commended.
We oppose sectarianism in this struggle, supporting whatever anti-racist and anti-fascist groups are waging an effective struggle locally and nationally and promote co-ordination and unity in action among such groups.
The McPherson report, following the inquiry into the police handling of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, has been in place for over two years now. But the implementation of its recommendations has been patchy.
The NCP supports campaigns that call for the full implementation of the recommendations in the report.
The bourgeois media have used the issue of asylum seekers to stir racism, leading to hostility against asylum seekers and even violence.
Britain is a rich country and can afford to give shelter to asylum seekers if the provision of their care is funded nationally. The current system of forcing the burden of costs on to local authorities is unfair on those localities and increases hostility.
There should be -
a return to asylum seekers being entitled to claim basic social security benefits while their claims are judged so the burden of their keep does not fall on local authorities;
an immediate end to the hated voucher system which humiliates asylum seekers and exposes them to more hostility;
an end to the imprisonment of asylum seekers who have not been charged with any criminal activity;
an end to the dispersal system so that asylum seekers can remain near to specialised support services and to each other;
the repeal of the Immigration and Asylum Acts passed by the last Labour government and by the Tories during the 90s that make it exceedingly difficult for asylum seekers to prove their case.
On the question of fascism, as the economic crisis of capitalism deepens, the ruling class is forced to try to solve is problems at the expense of the working class. This means that even in Europe and America, the facade of bourgeois democracy is becoming harder to maintain.
Capitalist governments are resorting to more and more draconian measures that are blatantly unpopular and clearly not in the public interest. The fundamental rights to assembly and protest are being undermined.
The New Communist Party long ago identified the process of creeping fascism and the way in which it is undermining the meagre ration of democracy we have under capitalism.
We continue to raise awareness of this danger and encourage working class-led organisation as the best protection against its evils.
Mass working class solidarity, organised to a high level, is our best protection.
In Britain today racism is being encouraged in an attempt to divide the working class and off- set the growing critique of capitalism. The ruling capitalist class determines the extent to which racism is to be encouraged and whether fascist organisations should be given a higher profile in the mass media.
In the present circumstances of economic recession looming and with the Tory party split and in decline the ruling class has decided to promote racism to a greater extent and to give it a higher profile.
We should continue to monitor and oppose them.
The two major keys to women's liberation are equal pay and affordable, state-provided childcare. Yet in spite of advances in other directions, these two objectives appear as far from realisation as they were three or more decades ago.
It is a situation that affects women, especially mothers, directly but also undermines wages and working conditions for men by forcing women into the role of cheap, compliant labour.
The New Communist Party will focus clearly on these two demands while calling other reforms that will improve the condition of women within bourgeois society.
Only socialism can bring real liberation for working class women and men and an end to the culture of antagonism between the sexes that is part of the bourgeois divide and rule strategy.
Britain has the highest level of teenage pregnancies and one of the lowest standards of sex education in western Europe. There needs to be improved access to contraception, education of young people and information generally, and abortion should be available on demand.
Maternity and paid paternity leave must be extended and maternity benefit should remain non means-tested.
All parents should have reasonable time to spend with their children and this means curtailing working hours without reduction of income. Parental leave should be available for either parent when a child is sick.
Good quality state provision for the care of the elderly and disabled is also essential so that the burden of care does not fall on female relatives.
The supply of affordable housing is another in deciding whether to marry, divorce, live together or have children. These decisions should not have to be influenced by fear of the economic consequences. Therefore we must continue to call for the retention and extension of council housing so as to reverse the recent fall in overall house building. It is estimated that the number of houses being built, each year, is 40,000 less than needed to replace existing stock and to serve new households. In 2000, only 166,000 new houses were built in Britain and it is primarily this constriction in supply while demand is growing that has caused house prices to rise so dramatically. Full consideration should be given to the utilisation of "brown sites" for future council house development.
We demand the abolition of the Child Support Agency which exists to cut costs for the state whilst invariably not improving the financial well being of children and does untold damage to the relationships between separated parents and their children.
Domestic violence, in all its forms, results from the isolated, unnatural nature of the bourgeois nuclear family and the economic and social tensions and alienation exerted on that structure by bourgeois society. The real, economic freedom to leave a bad family situation before it deteriorates into violence is vital.
Divorce must be on demand.
Where violence has occurred, society must extend full necessary protection to its victims.
Trade unions should naturally play the leading role in fighting for equal pay and opportunities as well as fighting for better state-provided childcare, available to all that need it.
The New Communist Party members give maximum support to this struggle and endeavours to give leadership on these two main issues where it is lacking, pointing out that the whole working class inevitably suffers if one section is oppressed.
Currently this country is facing the effects of a full global economic recession that will lead to thousands of job cuts. Under these circumstances, defending the existing employment rights of all workers and specially women will be all the harder and we should promote maximum unity and solidarity on this issue.
The treatment of the elderly is a disgrace. Britain is the fourth richest country in the world but it pays one of the lowest pensions among the developed countries.
Britain could easily afford the costs necessary to enable all pensioners to have a comfortable and enjoyable retirement. The restoration of an income tax system that really puts the burden of expenditure where it belongs, on the rich, would help raise funds. Billions of pounds could be made available by drastically cutting our arms expenditure. The Trident nuclear missile programme costs approximately £1 billion per year.
Every pensioner is entitled to a state pension that is equal to a third of average male earnings - uprated yearly. Every pensioner should enjoy affordable housing that is insulated, adapted to needs, and if necessary sheltered, with a qualified warden always on duty.
Every pensioner should enjoy free health and personal care that includes hospital treatment when needed and after-care by trained personnel, along with care-in-the-community, nursing or residential homes free of charge as in Scotland.
Every pensioner should have free public transport across the country and not just in localities. Public transport should be readily available, well co-ordinated and easily accessible, particularly for wheelchair users, to meet the needs of the elderly.
Pensioners should also have free educational services. Education should be free throughout life provided by government or local authorities.
Since our last Congress the age of consent for gay and heterosexual men has been equalised. This was a great step forward for gay rights and followed long years of campaigning by the gay and lesbian community and their supporters.
There is however much more to be done. Section 28 still remains law and restricts the objective education of young people about their sexuality. The law in other areas, in spite of progress, remains unequal. Just as importantly prejudice and homophobia remain deeply rooted in this capitalist society and the fight against them must continue.
The lessons of the counter-revolutions in the USSR and Eastern Europe are being more widely understood. The role of revisionism as well as outright treachery in the Soviet Union is now seen by most communists, including our Party, as the root cause of the economic stagnation and the counter-revolutionary wave in 1989.
Over the past two years the NCP has strengthened its ties with the Workers Party of Korea, the Communist Party of China and the Communist Party of Cuba and developed closer links with the Communist Party of Vietnam and the People's Revolutionary Party of Laos.
The Party has also strengthened its bilateral relations with communist and workers parties all over the world. The NCP has warm relations with virtually all the communist and workers parties in the world built on exchanges of information, meetings and delegations, and common support for regional and international communist conferences.
We welcome the initiative of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) who have played a key role in organising an international forum which includes producing the Information Bulletin magazine to develop communist ideas in the new situation and to foster international solidarity.
The Party plays an active part in the regular communist conferences hosted by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the forums organised by the Belgian Workers' Party. The Party supports moves for greater global exchanges of views on a bilateral and international basis. We were one of the initial signatories to the Pyongyang Declaration Let us defend and advance the socialist cause in 1992, now endorsed by over 240 parties and progressive movements around the world.
We believe that calls for the re-establishment of the Communist International are premature. The conditions that led to the establishment of the Comintern in 1919 do not exist today. The experience of world communist conferences sponsored by the revisionist leaderships in the CPSU after the death of Stalin has to be taken into account.
Our view, based on our own experience and that of the world movement as a whole, is that a new international must be based on these principles:
It must include and be supported by the ruling parties of China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba.
It must be based on the principle of equality between big and small parties and the independence of all parties.
It must recognise the principle of a collective secretariat or presidium that reflects the views of the member parties and not that of one big party.
It must recognise that in countries where there is more than one communist party, the case in most countries today, the differences between them is a matter for those parties alone to settle.
The Party will continue to strengthen its ties with the communist and workers parties of the world while at home strive to make the classic works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin available to the people along with those of Kim Il Sung, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Kim Jong Il.
The ruling class as a whole is committed to Britain joining the European Monetary Union though they are divided over the timing. The Treasury and the Bank of England have publicly expressed their concern at the high level of the pound and they are effectively calling for a substantial devaluation of sterling prior to joining EMU. Other City of London and business interests are pressing for early EMU entry.
The Labour government has said that EMU entry will have to be endorsed by a referendum in advance.
There can be no doubt that such a ballot will only take place when the ruling class has reached a consensus, and then only to win popular endorsement of a decision already taken by the bourgeoisie.
When the referendum is called the Party must mobilise for a massive "No" vote while at the same time exposing the whole fraudulent nature of referendums. The Party must also use the opportunity of the public debate that will no doubt take place prior to the vote to make the principled stand against the European Union and the Treaty of Rome altogether. Though we will campaign with broad organisations opposed to EMU and the EU the Party rejects any attempt to make common cause with reactionary, chauvinist, racist or fascist groups who are also campaigning against EMU.
These reactionary elements can never serve the interests of the working class nor does the class need them in the campaign against EMU.
The Party's main task is to project the fact that the European Union is neither genuinely federal nor democratic, and it is unreformable. The revisionist parties of Europe and all the social democrats argue that the institutions of the European Union can be reformed to serve the interests of workers, and some maintain that this has already occurred in some fields.
We must point out that every stage of European integration has been paid for by working people in higher indirect taxes, lost jobs and lost benefits. We must elevate our campaign to boycott the European elections - a bogus public relations exercise for a body that possesses no meaningful executive powers at all. We must campaign to expose the real exploitative nature of the European Union.
The European Union cannot be reformed except by tearing up the Treaty of Rome, which established the Common Market in the first place.
Our campaign must strive to focus opposition to indirect taxation (VAT) and demand the restoration of the public sector and state welfare. We must oppose the racist "Fortress Europe" immigration controls and the drive for a European Army. We must demand the return to public control of Britain's national resources, essential services and public utilities.
Cuba plays a special role in Britain in the defence of Socialism. The Cuba Solidarity Campaign has won almost every major trade union, representing 6 million affiliated members, to the support of Cuba's independence and opposition to the U.S. blockade. The strong and friendly relations which have been built between the British Labour Movement and Cuban workers have given British workers first hand experience of socialism, and has the potential to inject socialist ideas into the movement. We support direct links between British and Cuban Trade Unionists, and initiatives such as 'Pastors for Peace' in breaking the U.S. blockade of Cuba. Developing commercial links between Britain and Cuba, including via the co-operative movement, can assist in the building of Cuba's economy in areas like goods and tourism.
A new worldwide anti-capitalist movement has sprung up in the past two years, consisting of mainly young people communicating by means of the Internet. The focus is on holding demonstrations whenever and, if possible, wherever the Big Powers such as G7, G8, WFO and IMF meet. The demonstrations at Seattle, Stockholm, Davos and Genoa spring to mind.
The list of groups involved is too long to enumerate - from the Zapatistas in Mexico with land claims to Bove in France, for local farming and against MacDonalds. Also included are the Greens and Environmentalists; the churches and charities, who demand that the Debt be dropped; whilst in Genoa one of the largest visible groups was the Italian Communists with their banners and pictures of Che Guevara.
Each state which has hosted a conference employs a massive police presence; they prevent people from attending, have used excessive force (attacking people at sleep at night in Genoa) and have infiltrated demonstrations with 'agents provocateurs' which were used against the demonstrators.
More and more people are acting on their awareness that capitalism is an unjust exploitative system and we as communists, have to be there making our views heard.
The conflict in Ireland is entirely due to the artificial partition of the country by British imperialism in 1920 and the continued occupation of the north of Ireland by British forces. The struggle to end British colonial rule in the Six Counties of the occupied north of Ireland is a struggle for Irish national independence and self-determination. The modern phase of that conflict began with the Easter Uprising in 1916 and the declaration of the Republic of Ireland in 1919. The British imposed settlement in 1920 left the country divided and made future conflict inevitable.
In the Six Counties British imperialism ruled for decades with the support of venal Loyalist politicians who use sectarianism and bigotry to retain their hold on much of the Protestant community.
The current phase of the struggle led by Sinn Fein and the Irish Republican Army began in 1969. Thousands of lives have been lost in a war entirely due to British imperialism's determination to hold on to the north of Ireland through military might, political manipulation, repressive laws and economic domination.
The second IRA cease-fire in 1997 followed by the election of the Labour government created the conditions for successful all-party talks that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. This agreement was subsequently overwhelmingly endorsed in an all-Ireland referendum.
The Irish republican movement has been the driving force behind the peace process which has provided hope for so many people for the future and this has been reflected in the electoral successes of Sinn Fein in the north and in the south of Ireland.
The 1998 Good Friday Agreement is not a settlement of the conflict in Ireland but a new phase in the struggle for a united and genuinely independent Ireland. But the agreement has established an Assembly and an administration that includes Sinn Fein and the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party, based on the principles of ending discrimination and institutionalised sectarianism against the Catholic community. It provided for cross-border authorities and the limited participation of the Irish government.
Now the agreement has still to be implemented in full due to the intransigence of the Unionist parties in the north of Ireland backed by the British ruling class which continually seeks to claw back what it had conceded when the Good Friday deal was struck.
The New Communist Party has long recognised the right of the Irish people to determine the nature of their struggle to end British colonial rule in the occupied north. The conflict can only 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.
The Good Friday Agreement provides the basis for achieving re-unification through dialogue, discussion and negotiation.
The New Communist Party calls for the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement recognising the responsibility of the British labour and peace movements in using their influence to put pressure on the Labour government to stop stalling and finally implement the agreement in full.
The Party has worked to build solidarity with the Irish people and their struggle to end British colonial rule over part of their country focusing on the work with the Irish solidarity and prisoners' campaigns together with the Wolfe Tone Society and the Connolly Association.
The NCP demands a united sovereign Ireland free from all outside interference and an end to racism and discrimination against people of Irish descent 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 sacrifice of its members over the decades.
The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly are already playing an important part in the development of regional government in Scotland and Wales. The Scottish Parliament has used some of its powers to pass modest reforms beneficial to the working class. Though the Welsh Assembly has limited powers, confined to administering the budget allocated to it by Westminster, it has provided a focus for democratic demands in Wales.
The degree of local autonomy won by the Scots and the Welsh is, in itself, 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. But the creation of national institutions in Scotland and Wales has already had some impact on the labour movement and the Labour Party. The Scottish and Welsh Labour parties, which lead both administrations, are developing policies which reflect more the demands of the working class for social justice.
The New Communist Party has long recognised the rights of the Scottish and Welsh nations to full national self-determination. We support Scottish and Welsh demands for the right to preserve and develop their culture and national identity. We support their right to posses and control all the physical and other resources present on their land or in their territorial waters. We support the demand for genuine self-governing powers for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.
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 likewise support demands for the encouragement of Scottish Gaelic in those areas of Scotland where it is spoken.
The NCP was founded in 1977 on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and the rejection of revisionist and social-democratic trends within the old Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). The Party continues to combat revisionist and social-democratic thinking as part of its campaign to build the Party and uphold the revolutionary path.
Though the CPGB has dissolved, 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).
Nevertheless the Party has long recognised that there is the possibility of working together 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.
The Party supported a CPB initiative for a round-table conference of communist parties in Britain that took place in 1995. The Party has since called for further meetings on the same basis along terms of reference endorsed at our 12th Congress.
Our proposals - for a communist liaison committee that would allow for the regular exchange of information and views between the various British communist parties at a leadership level -- were rejected by the CPB in 1998. They remain on the table.
In the meantime we have continued to develop friendly ties with the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) which includes regular bilateral exchanges of views. The RCPB(ML) has endorsed our round-table proposals and supports some of our initiatives.
We also continue to support the Morning Star. The Morning Star is a daily paper of the left and as such it remains an asset to the working class despite the fact that its political line is ultimately led by the revisionist CPB. The NCP has consistently helped to defend the Morning Star whose daily coverage of industrial news is an asset to the union movement.
The Marx Memorial Library is another important asset of the working class and the British communist movement. The New Worker is an affiliate and comrades actively participate in the Library's work. We call on all comrades to campaign for union affiliation to the Library as well as joining on an individual basis.
The New Worker is our weekly communist voice. It is read by thousands in Britain and thousands more overseas. An e-mail edition goes all round the world and reports and features are permanently preserved on the Internet by our national, London and central web-sites. Articles and features are translated and reprinted by progressive and communist journals in Britain and across the globe.
We must fight to win more readers and supporters of the paper to guarantee its future. We must campaign to develop and expand New Worker groups. Building the sales of the New Worker and raising money for the fighting fund to maintain and expand our communist press is one of the crucial tasks of the Party today. Our paper represents the voice of struggle in all its forms. It gives a clear communist line on the issues of the day, a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the problems facing the working class and it provides a window to the world communist movement and the national liberation movement. The bigger the readership, the greater our influence. This is our paramount task.
The communist party is the monolithic party of the proletariat and not a party of a bloc of elements of different classes. It is based on democratic centralism. Every member must observe unified discipline. The individual is subordinate to the organisation, the minority is subordinate to the majority, the lower level is subordinate to the higher level, and the entire Party is subordinate to the Central Committee. The highest leading body of the Party is the National Party Congress, and, when it is not in session, the Central Committee elected by it.
The Party must be a fighting party based in the tried and tested principles of democratic centralism, regular self-sacrificing work and an unyielding hatred of the capitalist system.
We must be in the forefront of every-day struggle fighting for the maximum unity amongst the class to achieve winnable economic gains and political objectives. We must always present the case for revolutionary change and communism to end the whole system of exploitation in Britain.
Only a revolutionary party can make a revolution. Without a revolutionary party there can be no revolutionary movement. Only a revolutionary party can lead the class to overthrow the bourgeoisie. It can't be done through elections or general strikes. Only mass revolutionary action by a militant working class led by a revolutionary communist party can bring about revolutionary change.
A revolutionary party can only be built through iron discipline, hardship and sacrifice. 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 the Party in every factory and office, in every industry, trade and housing estate.
Our Party is based upon the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism. Our purpose is to equip the working class so that it can establish working class state power and then build a socialist society. Our Party is made up of people who have come to the conclusion that the present political and economic system does not satisfy the needs of the majority of the population of this country, or for that matter of most countries in the world today.
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 do the councils in the localities.
All the main political parties in Britain seek to perpetuate capitalism. Our Party believes that socialism is essential to eliminate exploitation, unemployment, poverty, economic crisis and war.
Many come to this conclusion without any knowledge of revolutionary theory and little understanding of the type of organisation needed to lead the struggle for working class unity, revolution and socialism. They come to us voluntarily and expect help and guidance in how to play a part in the struggle to achieve socialism.
The history of humanity is a history of exploitation and class struggle. For century after century working people, the slaves, the peasants, the artisans, fought for justice and equality. Only in the modern era with the rise of the working class and the development of scientific socialism has it been possible not only to dream of a better world but also to concretely build it.
The Paris Communards fired the first shots and paved the way to progress. The Great October Revolution in 1917 lit the torch of revolution, which burns on in Asia and the Caribbean. The great revolutionary teachers of humanity, Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, were borne from the epic struggles of the last two centuries.
The great revolutionary leaders of the struggling masses, Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh, inspired generations to sacrifice and struggle for the bright red future. A world with no classes and no exploitation. A world in which the will of the masses, the workers, the toilers, the people who work in the factories and farms, is carried out. A world in which those who produce the entire wealth of the globe get the fruits of their labour.
This is the world we work for. A socialist society where there are no slums, poverty or racism. A society where there are no classes, no exploiters, no bigotry and no war. A new and better world - the world Marx and Engels predicted and a world which will surely come to pass. It is already being built in the socialist countries of today. It is being fought for in every continent and every country. We are part of that struggle. This is the century of socialism.