New Communist Party of Britain
DISTRICT AND CELL RESOLUTIONS
THE FIFTEENTH CONGRESS of the New Communist Party of Britain (NCP) meets at a time when British workers are increasingly being asked to make sacrifices in their standard of living to support an ailing capitalist economy. These come in many forms such as the loss of relatively high-wage jobs in manufacturing and their substitution with low-wage jobs in the service sector, increases in the working week, the collapse of occupational pension schemes and the threat of increase in the retirement age to 67-plus. Household incomes have fallen but the costs of housing and energy have increased, substantially forcing many workers to take on huge debts just to provide a warm home for themselves and families.
Whilst the working class is being forced increasingly into debt, the rich have been profit taking, their incomes increasing by 18 per cent in 2005. But even they know that the debts will have to be repaid and this can only happen if workers cut back on spending and as workers form the majority of the population any cut back in spending could provoke a severe and prolonged downturn in the economy which may even lead to recession.
Our last Congress anticipated that the downturn would first become evident in the motor car industry where the ruling class would resort to mass sackings of workers and invoke other anti-working class measures such as cuts in pay, benefits and pensions. Since then hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs, the bulk in manufacturing and engineering, which is the wealth-creating sector. In trying to “manage” the economy, whether it be in Britain, the US or in the euro zone, governments and employers are forcing workers to work longer hours, often without overtime pay, reducing pensions and other benefits, raising retirement ages and generally increasing the tax burden on workers through increases in indirect taxation.
In attempting to justify reductions in workers’ wages and benefits, the ruling class has a whole armoury of excuses that they use to explain the crisis. In the 1980s it was Japanese productivity rates, in the 1990s it was European productivity rates, in 2001 it was the destruction of the World Trade Centre, in 2002 and 2003 the high-profile corruption scandals in the US and in 2005 the high price of oil or the low wages paid to Indian and Chinese workers. Always they blame the workers, claiming that their wages and pensions are too high, their retirements are too early, their productivity too low, their jobs too secure and their working hours too short. What they never do is blame the capitalist system itself – it is always the workers’ fault, some exceptional event or corrupt practice.
Wages, the working day, pensions, retirement age and job security are all elements of the social wage that have been won over decades by workers engaged in class struggle against the ruling class and their representatives. If the ruling class succeed in their new attacks on the working class, the erosion of this social wage, or the threat of it, could force workers to cut back on consumption leading to more job losses, less consumption and so on. It is the capitalists’ solution to the crisis that will in effect lead to its coming; it is this contradiction that is the heart of the crisis facing capitalism and it is this contradiction that must be exposed during the fight to defend wages, pensions, work-life balance and jobs. But in the long term the only way to ensure that these are maintained and improved – and will not have to be defended again every time there is a crisis – is by fighting for working class state power, the dictatorship of the proletariat: for socialism to replace capitalism.
It is the capitalists’ ceaseless, unremitting aim to make profit and ever more profit. The driving force behind this is not satisfaction of personal needs but a necessary condition of the capitalist system itself, namely competition and the declining rate of profit. Failure to seize an opportunity of making more capital and, therefore more profit, is to reduce that capitalist’s competitive strength in relation to other capitalists, resulting in their eventual elimination from the race and their capital being absorbed, or destroyed, by their rivals.
This rivalry between capitalists spills over into their respective base countries and is a cause of capitalism's uneven development. Of course the responses of their respective ruling classes, acting in their own self-interest, can lead to temporary recoveries but only measured by their own economic criteria and definitely not to the benefit of the working class.
Their past efforts have always proved fruitless as the history of capitalism is a history of crises, collapses in stock markets, major uncontrollable swings in currency exchange rates accompanied by the continuing relative reduction in profits, In the last decade they have failed to avert recessions in Japan, Germany, the US, Argentina, Turkey and south-east Asia.
Capitalists only look for solutions that protect their own self-interest and ignore the long-term solutions that could counteract recession and deflation, such as substantially increasing wages thereby allowing workers to buy back the goods that have been produced. These long-term solutions can only be forced on the ruling class by a strong trade union movement, which recognises the unity that can be achieved by demanding flat-rate monetary increases. The struggle to increase wages will be intense as the fight could be over a relative declining “pot”, but it is a necessary fight as otherwise it could mean the destitution of the working class. Nevertheless this Keynesian approach can only produce short-term solutions. There are no long-term solutions to the contradictions of capitalism except its overthrow and workers capturing state control.
Since the mid-1990s the capitalists have found themselves unable to invest capital profitably in expanding production. In the 12 years to the end of 2004 the use of productive capacity in the US, the powerhouse of capitalist economies, was less than 80 per cent; in the fourth quarter of 2004 it was only 70 per cent! In 2004 the measure was 86 per cent in Japan and 82 per cent in the European Union (EU). To increase overall capacity or use that spare capacity would further exacerbate the fundamental contradiction within the system whereby increased capacity would reduce the capitalists’ rate of return on capital invested and potentially increase inflation. So instead they have sought new ways of making profits by buying other companies either at home or abroad, buying state-owned industries or services (privatisation), borrowing money (leveraging) on their balance sheets and using various other accounting methods in order to maintain what they regard as a satisfactory rate of profit, or an illusion of the same. They repurchase shares so that profits are shared out between fewer shareholders, which increases the returns on directors’ shares, stock option plans and other “earned” income, thus concentrating the profits of control.
The last five years has been a history of booms and slumps for capitalism. During 2001-2003, the stock markets collapsed to 40-60 per cent below their "dotcom" 2000 peak, resulting in the wholesale liquidation of capital as various "dotcom" enterprises failed. Since 2003 the stock markets have recovered with the FTSE 100 index gaining 16 per cent in 2005, following rises of 7.5 per cent in 2004 and 13.6 per cent in 2003. This third consecutive year of gains means the market has recouped much of the losses sustained in the slump period between 2000 and 2002. The recovery to 2005 has come in the aerospace, defence, banking and oil sectors. The value of shares in Rolls Royce and BAE Systems have risen by 77 and 64 per cent respectively. Smaller companies as represented in the FTSE 250 have seen a rise of more than 26 per cent, in their share capital, during 2005.
Capitalism is portrayed to be all about risk taking and whoever takes the risk should be rewarded appropriately. But who takes the risk? Not the directors with their large salaries, share option schemes and other perks. The risks have been transferred away from the boardrooms to the small shareholders, pension scheme members and above all workers. On the basis of this “success” directors awarded themselves on average 18 per cent pay rises during 2005 with more than 150 raking in more than £1 million during the year and eight receiving pay packages worth more than £5 million. Chief Executives' total remuneration in the Britain's biggest companies has risen by 208 per cent since 1998. During the same period incomes of workers have increased by only 33 per cent and it is the workers who are being told that they shouldn't expect pay rises that exceed the rate of inflation and that they have to save more towards their retirement, retire later and even then take a reduced pension. It is not that directors’ “earned” income that is too high, it is that workers’ wages are too low.
British non-financial companies made a 13.7 per cent rate of return on capital employed in the second quarter of 2005. In the financial sector British banks made a whopping £34 billion in profits during 2005, in the energy sector Shell reported profits of £12.9 billion, up 30 per cent on 2004 and BP reported £11.04 billion. But British Gas owner Centrica only managed a £1.5 billion profit for 2005 so promptly raised gas prices by 22 per cent so that it's “poor” shareholders would not suffer in 2006!
In the US corporate profits have risen by 78 per cent since 2001. With profits strong, capitalists were able to buy out smaller shareholders and embark on a spending spree of mergers and acquisitions concentrating capital in even fewer hands.
Why do capitalists find the US and the Britain attractive destinations for capital? Generally speaking it is because their ruling classes have been more effective in ensuring that any crisis is borne by the working class in that:
Public spending is low, 41 per cent in 2004 as compared to 44-48 per cent during much of the 1980s
Laws and regulations are weighted in favour of capitalism to the detriment of the working class;
Weak trade unions;
Relatively unregulated labour markets;
The expansion of outsourcing and temporary work;
Privatised social provision and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI);
The ease with which capital can be relocated abroad.
In 2005 Britain became the world's largest foreign direct investment (FDI) recipient, having increased from $20 billion in 2003, $78 billion in 2004 to $219 billion in 2005. This money is used to buy British companies so that foreign capitalists now have financial claims on Britain, amounting to $771 billion (36 per cent of the British GDP). In 2005 eleven British companies were bought for $2 billion or more, these included Shell ($100 billion) by Royal Dutch Petroleum, Allied Domecq ($17.8 billion) by Pernod Ricard and on July 22nd 2005, the Chinese Nanjing Automobile Group purchased the British MG Rover Group for less than $100 million. The US attracted $106 billion and China, the third largest, attracted $60 billion, a third of which came from Hong Kong; France the fourth largest attracted just under $50 billion. The British government may see this leap in FDI as capitalism's endorsement of their handling of the economy in most cases and especially in the case of the Shell acquisition but there has been no net addition to the Britain's capital stock or productive capacity. All that has happened is that some British capitalists have walked away with a massive golden handshake and a foreign capitalist has acquired the right to exploit workers in Britain.
Capitalism's current major concern is what will happen to the US economy. Its $500 billion trade deficit in 2002 rose to $790 billion in 2005 or somewhat over six per cent of its GDP. To finance that shortfall it must attract $2.2 billion of foreign capital every day. If investment opportunities are not enticing enough to attract these funds the dollar will fall. These opportunities can only be made enticing by general attacks on the working class whereby workers are forced, through threat of unemployment, to work harder and faster and for lower wages. In 2004 35 million US citizens lived under the poverty line, a rise of 1.1 million on the previous year; 45 million do not have health insurance and 36 million are hungry or at risk of hunger. Household income declined by $1,700 between 2000 and 2004 whereas the top five per cent saw their income increase.
Cutting workers’ wages and jobs is a “double-edged” sword as it is only workers with wages to spend who can buy the goods being produced. Eventually this contradiction will rupture when the “highly productive” factories have produced too many goods for the market to absorb, workers get sacked and cut back on consumption, exacerbating the problem further. If this combines with a declining appetite by foreigners to buy US assets and the high price of oil the burgeoning trade deficit will become unsustainable.
The British economy grew by just 1.7 per cent in 2005 the slowest rate in 12 years. British manufacturing declined by 0.8 per cent and is in its fourth recession since 1997.
Recessions are now occurring more frequently than in the past when manufacturers reacted in the first instance by reducing inventories and cutting overtime and only sacking workers as a last resort. Now with just-in-time methods keeping manufacturing inventories small and the service industry, with little in the way of inventories, becoming a more dominant sector in the economy, any cut back in production almost immediately causes job losses. This loss of jobs brings about a cut-back in consumption and with household consumption accounting for 83 per cent of the cumulative demand in the economy, the tendency of just-in-time and a service-oriented economy is to increase the volatility and frequency of repeating crises. In the last few years a credit-driven consumer boom was engineered to offset the weakness in investment and exports in an attempt to prevent a service sector recession compounding the almost continuous recession in manufacturing.
In this period of low relative growth and manufacturing recession, capitalism is placing the burden of recovery onto workers by increasing the intensity of work, the hours worked, reducing wages and closing the least profitable sectors of their organisations in the hope of reversing the decline in their net rate of return on capital. The motor industry in Britain has been hard hit with the 6,000-plus job losses at Rover and the losses as a result of Ford's and General Motors worldwide reduction in jobs of 60,000. Employment in car manufacturing, in Britain, declined from 525,000 in 1970 to less that 190,000 in 2005. Manufacturing, Britain's wealth-creating industry, lost 109,000 jobs during 2005 and the total number of jobless rose by 111,000 to 1.53 million during the three months to the end of November 2005 – the biggest increase since February 1993.
The last month of 2005 and the first few days of 2006 saw the collapse of household names such as Golden Wonder crisps, Canterbury Foods, Kookai and Firkins, Unwins, LDV, Past Times and Tiles R Us. All of this contributed to an 11 per cent rise in corporate failures compared with 2004. With the increase in corporate debt, notably at businesses that have undergone management buy-outs, it takes only a small rise in interest rates for lending arrangements with the banks to be broken. Rising energy and raw material prices, or even a flu pandemic, could turn this recent increase in business collapses into a total meltdown of the British corporate sector.
Manufacturing in Britain still employs nearly four million and accounts for possibly 15 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 still contribute twice as much to GDP as does the export of services but because of the lack of investment in manufacturing, Britain imports more goods than it exports, resulting in a negative trade balance with the rest of the world. This rose to a record £58 billion in 2004 up from £34 billion in 2002 and is running at its highest levels, as a percentage of GDP, since the end of the 1980s. Having once been the workshop of the world, Britain exports less than the other seven leading world economies France, China, Japan, the US and Germany and just slightly more than the Netherlands or Canada.
With the capitalists’ ceaseless quest for more profits, capital is increasingly gravitating out of manufacturing, looking for 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 privatisation, especially in the health and education sectors.
Up till recently the ruling class's preferred mechanism of privatisation has been PFI and the private sector delivery of public services, which has resulted increased burden on local government and NHS resources when capitalists take their substantial profits. The consortium that built the £229 million Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, under PFI, refinanced their debt to make a £117 million profit. Its internal rate of return tripled to 60 per cent. Even though the hospital managed to recoup some monies from the refinancing it was still paying more for the building than if it had been built by the local authority, these higher costs produced a £30 million overspend by the Norfolk NHS trust. Carillon, a leading PFI, contractor has seen the value of its £29 million investment in projects such as the GCHQ communications centre in Cheltenham and the M6 toll road increase to £84 million. Balfour Beatty has seen the value of its £188 million original investment increase to more than £600 million with its share price increasing by 60 per cent in the two years to the end of 2005.
PFI and private sector delivery have proved quite lucrative for the capitalist class but they have of late become more brazen in their demands for privatisation. This is shown by the sale of Qinetiq, the former Defence Research Agency (DRA), in February 2006 and the proposed sale of British Energy announced in March 2006. British Energy had been privatised in 1996 and saved from bankruptcy in 2002 by a £5 billion government rescue package.
The NCP demands that those companies privatised since 1979 and those services that have been subject to PFI and private sector delivery should be restored to the public sector.
For all the hype, from Labour and Tory leaders, home-ownership is proving to be a chain around the necks of the working class. The ruling class would like working people to believe that “they’ve never had it so good” in that the value of their homes increases year on year. What is not pointed out is that when house prices increase, no extra resources are created, no extra services are provided and the overall wealth of society doesn’t increase by a single pound. The ruling class has encouraged mortgage equity withdrawal, debt, used to buy back the goods that working people have produced but could not afford to buy – debt that ultimately lines the pockets of the ruling class in more profits through extra interest payments and other charges. This is one of the reasons why the financial service sector is becoming predominant in the British economy, at the expense of manufacturing, by encouraging and by the servicing of debt repayments. The servicing of debt repayments does not increase the overall wealth of Britain as no tangible product is produced in the process.
Finance capitalism encourages workers to borrow to their limit and this debt burden is a big factor in the Britain's long-hours culture, as workers seek more opportunities to work longer to repay debts. In the past the rationale to work longer hours was the extra pay. Now it is about keeping a job as some 4.76 million workers are forced to work an average of 7.4 hours unpaid overtime every week, saving employers £23 billion a year, just to keep their job. Fear of defaulting, especially on mortgages where there is a risk of becoming homeless, discourages workers from taking industrial action. Good strong trade union leadership is required to counter this effect as where such leadership is lacking; heavy debt can make a workforce compliant and lead to more abuses.
By the end of 2005 personal debt was over £1,100 billion jumping from 117 per cent of disposable income in 2001 to 155 per cent by the end of 2005, the highest in the group of seven leading countries. Unsecured debt, credit cards, rose nine per cent in the year to the end of September 2005, more than three times as fast as wages. Unsecured debt owed by individuals amounted to £190 billion at the end of July 2005 equivalent to £7,600 per household or £3,200 for every person in Britain, including children. By the end of 2005 debts per student averaged about £9,620 with one in five having debts of more than £15,000. This level of debt is becoming difficult to sustain, as seen by the 17,562 personal insolvencies in England and Wales in the three months to September 2005 – a 46 per cent rise compared with the same quarter in 2004. The number of homes repossessed, by banks and building societies, rose 50 per cent in the 12 months to June 2005.
Rising unemployment combined with the anxiety caused by these high debt levels is already making workers cut back on consumption. In January 2006 the year-on-year growth rate in retail sales fell from 4.3 per cent to just 1.2 per cent, on this news the currency gamblers reacted by forcing down the value of the pound which only exacerbates the problems as the Bank of England may put up interest rates to cover the increased trade deficit, which in turn increases debt levels, reduces consumption and so on.
Any further rise in unemployment or rise in interest rates could have a catastrophic effect, not only on those who have those debts but also for the banks, as household debt accounts for 40 per cent of all bank loans. Even with a default of only eight per cent the banks, even with their mega profits, would be in serious trouble. At the end of February 2006 Barclays reported that charges for bad loans had jumped 44 per cent to more than £1.5 billion in 2005, equivalent to about 25 per cent of its annual profits. Default rates among credit card borrowers have grown from 4.5 per cent to six per cent in the two years to the end of 2005; for the credit card issuer Capital One the default rate is 7.5 per cent.
The trend over the last few decades has been to further tie workers to capitalism, and to extract as much profit as possible, by linking their pensions (deferred wages) and housing costs (endowment mortgages) to stock exchanges. In 2003 the FTSE-100 had lost half its value as compared to its "dotcom" peak of 2000 resulted in workers, depending on those equities to fund their retirement or pay their mortgages, being cheated of almost half their savings. As pointed out at our last Congress, a worker on the then average wage of £24,000 paying the maximum 15 per cent into a company money purchase scheme over the three years prior to 2003 would have “invested” almost £10,800 of earned income. The fund after those three years would have been worth only about £7,200 – a loss of about a third. Those on endowment mortgages could have paid £800 in payments during 2002 and seen no increase at all in their “investment”. This money did not disappear – it was real money that could have been spent on food, clothing or other retail goods at some retail outlet. The money had been stolen to maintain the lifestyles of the mega-rich – the ruling class.
However, the story doesn't end there. In 2003, with the FTSE-100 at a low point, those companies with defined benefit pension funds, who hadn't already closed them, started to transfer the pension funds from equities to bonds.
As companies attempted to clear pension deficits, they shifted away from equities to “safer” bonds, driving up bond prices, which because of their nature lowered the derived income. This in turn increased the deficits. These companies then tried to recover their positions by buying yet more bonds, thus reducing the income still further – a vicious circle. It will be current and future pensioners who will eventually pay for this folly. Britain's pension deficits have risen from zero in 2001 to about £100 billion by 2005. In an attempt to clear these deficits, company contributions to pension schemes increased from £30 billion in 2001 to £48 billion in 2004. This is money that would have normally been invested in increasing production – buying new or replacing worn-out equipment. Instead it is being transferred to the pockets of bankers and financiers.
Subsequently equities, as represented in the FTSE-100, have recovered to their "dotcom" peak but pension funds, to a greater or lesser extent, have withdrawn from equities. So workers who lost out in the collapse of share values during 2000-2003 and are now loosing out in the bond markets will not recoup their losses from these equity gains, because those equities were sold at rock bottom prices. This is theft on a grand scale. The money has been used to fill the pockets of the ruling class. This whole sorry saga is another proof that capitalism does not work, or if it does work it works for the capitalists, not for the workers.
So important have international capital flows become that they are now a principal determinant of exchange rates. When one compares the global annual turnover in financial markets of $693,500 billion with world exports of approximately $9,100 billion a year, or with Britain’s Treasury’s net reserves of $18 billion, one can appreciate the great difficulty facing governments in trying to defend exchange rates. The international investment flows between the US, the EU and Britain, have caused instability in currencies, as witnessed by the dramatic movements up and down of the dollar and the euro. Countries exporting capital see the value of their own currency fall, whereas the countries where the capital is imported 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 enabled the US, so far, to stave off the impact on their economy of their huge accumulated trade deficit. If these investment flows to the US stopped or reduced significantly it would bring about severe pressure on the US dollar.
Interest rates were increased with the aim of slowing growth in the wealth-creating sector by making the use of borrowed money expensive relative to the rate of return on capital during the “dotcom” boom years, in an attempt to limit the severity of the impending slowdown. But in the long-term this aggravated it. Slowing growth resulted in increased unemployment and made conditions more difficult to fight for increased wages. In effect it passed the burden of averting a slowdown onto the working class.
As the slowdown developed, at the beginning of 2001 the US, Britain and the euro zone changed tack and started to substantially reduce interest rates, then again reversed the trend in the autumn of 2003 so that US interest rates have risen from one per cent to five per cent in April 2006.
Prior to 2006 Japan’s interest rates were already near to zero and could not have been reduced any further but there are now signs that interest rates are starting to rise. From September 2003 the Bank of England base rate has risen from 3.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent in June 2006.
The ever-inventive ruling class has found new ways to exploit the volatility of these exchange and interest rates between countries. This gave rise to a huge demand for products, known as derivatives; by 2005 the market for derivatives was $500,000 billion.
Derivatives are contracts, entered into by various parties, known as swaps, futures or options. They are not new having 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 its 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 derivatives is that they are used in the financial markets to gamble on whether an interest rate, a currency, a share or a bond will go up or down.
One of the riskier uses is to promise to sell, at a set price on a future date, shares one does not 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 will rise and borrow large amounts of money in an attempt to maximise their profits.
The “inventiveness” of the capitalists and the increased complexity has now completely outstripped the ability of central banks to supervise or to assess the total financial exposure within the system. They can now only act as a safety net or a siren call. At the end of 2005 the Bank of England warned that the continued “search for yield” could be leading some investors to underestimate risk, and that they might harbour overly optimistic views about the capability of policy makers to offset shocks to the macro-economy. Generally the scale of the problem only gets discovered when a company goes into administration as in the case of Delphi, the US car parts maker that filed for bankruptcy in October 2005. It transpired that the volume of derivatives being traded covered more than 10 times the number of its bonds that had ever been issued. The banks had to step in and sort out the mess.
In December 2005 Mizuho Securities, the Japanese brokerage, lost $345 million after selling 620,000 shares in J-Com, a recruitment company, at ¥1 a share instead of one share at ¥620,000 this is no one-off event. Amid accusations and allegations of immoral behaviour some who profited from the mistake repaid the monies. But there is still $170 million that has not been repaid, indicating that a large number of primarily Japanese brokerages, institutions and individual investors have not been swayed and prefer to abide by the dog-eat-dog capitalist ethics.
In May 2001 a trader selling shares in a company missed out the decimal point. So instead of trying to sell $5.64 million worth of shares, $564 million worth was put up for sale. The effect of this one transaction was to wipe $40 billion from the value of shares on the FTSE 100.
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 monopoly capitalists. This is another example of the contradictions in 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 a chief preoccupation of capitalist states whilst the monopolies seek to limit the powers of the state.
The most powerful monopoly capitalists, 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 world.
The view of the developed nations is that the raison d'être of the WTO is to remove any restrictions imposed by host countries, to ensure that member countries deregulate their markets in trade and services, drop any restrictions on incoming international capital and remove export subsidies and import tariffs that protect home grown industries and agriculture. In other words it exists to give maximum freedom to the monopoly capitalists.
The EU proposed in December 2005, at the Doha trade talks, that developing countries should agree to open their manufacturing and service sectors if the EU reduces its agricultural tariffs. The EU strategy is about domination of the developing world. Most of the developing countries would be in no position to bargain or compete with the imperialists. The strategy is based on the assumption that poor countries should satisfy themselves with being agricultural suppliers to rich nations and should forgo attempts to promote their own manufacturing and service sector industries.
In the Doha trade talks the WTO is becoming the focus of the struggle by the developing against the developed nations, for more equitable rules and practices in world trade that are seen as being weighted very heavily in favour of the monopoly capitalists.
We should support the G4 bloc, consisting of China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, within the World Trade Organisation, which is opposing the monopoly capitalist agenda. We should also support the efforts of the regional and world Social Forums, which, while far from taking a communist perspective, have done much good work in organising opposition to monopoly capitalism.
Globalisation, the internationalism of the division of labour, has continued apace since the turn of the millennium. It is a product of science, technology and the development of the productive forces and should be at the service of humankind with the right of every human being to develop and practice their talent, skills and knowledge. But globalisation is currently used at the behest of the capitalists, so much so that the global capitalist system presides over a festering morass of exploitation (of workers and the environment), racial and communal strife, and rapid growth in crime, drug trafficking, violence and conflict from local to international levels – not to mention HIV/Aids and Malaria. The potential for major military conflicts is now greater than at any time since the 1930s.
Imperialism, led by the US and Britain, is resorting to war and the threat of war, in it’s quest to dominate the Middle East, 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 over a decade and continue to do so even though the US and British imperialism occupies their country. The Palestinians demand the restoration of their national rights and continue to resist the US proxy – Israel – and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Cuba continue to defend their right to peaceful development.
Since the crises of 1997 in south-east Asia and Russia, the capitalist world has suffered many “after shocks” which continue to plague the most vulnerable capitalist countries. The most powerful economies have managed to weather the storm by using their huge reserves, both in terms of organisation, administration and capital. In 1999 the New Communist Party of Britain warned that the only way to avoid a global capitalist recession was to sustain economic growth at its then current average rate. Until late 2001 the average economic growth was sustained, but now growth has plummeted for the most vulnerable to little above zero. Turkey is in severe crisis and many countries like France, Germany and Italy are extremely vulnerable to the worsening conditions and are hamstrung by their membership of the EU. All through this period the larger capitalist economies have placed excessive reliance on the US as their main growth engine. If that growth engine unravels through high oil prices or the collapse of the dollar, brought about by the withdrawal of foreign monies invested in the US, the future for the US, Britain, the euro zone and Japan might be less than ideal.
Socialism remains the system upheld and developed in People’s China, Democratic Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba, they continue to advance along the revolutionary path charted by their communist parties in applying the principles of Marxism-Leninism to the concrete conditions that exist in their countries.
All have developed closer economic ties and are seeing levels of growth above that of the world average.
In developing their economies through equitable trade many countries in Latin America and Africa are finding that they can also maintain above average growth levels by trading with the socialist countries. Examples of this include Brazil, which is selling iron ore to China, Chile and Peru selling copper, and farmers in general across Latin America selling soy beans. In exchange, throughout Latin America and Africa, Chinese experts are building roads, renovating mines, refineries and sharing agricultural skills and technology.
The European Union (EU) is one of many regional markets, operating with a unified set of rules and regulations, with the purpose of allowing capital to be used more efficiently within its member states and with minimum regulatory interference. The purpose is to enable capitalists to move capital to other states within the regional bloc, maximising their rate of profit unfettered by specific state control.
The EU has strengthened European monopoly capitalism by creating a global convertible currency, the euro, on a par with the dollar by centralising the control of its member economies in the European central bank, which determines interest rates and government spending levels, and takes away the right of member states to impose any restrictions on the movement of capital.
Practice has shown that the merging of the 11 individual currencies into one has transformed the euro zone’s capital markets. The elimination of currency risk and trade barriers has increased the efficiency of capital and reduced its cost. This initially led to a series of mergers and acquisitions within the national boundaries of member states but this has now extended across the euro zone and beyond. This must be seen as evidence of the tendency, inherent in monopoly capitalism, to concentrate capital into ever-fewer hands with $173 billion of deals announced in the first two months of 2006, the highest reported level for the same period in six years. None of this capitalist feeding frenzy increases production. In fact the opposite happens factories are closed and wealth-creating jobs are lost whilst the ruling class and their representatives pay themselves fat cheques for a job well done.
Even though the profitability of the top German and French companies has more than doubled during the two years to the end of 2005, there were, in December 2005, 12.2 million unemployed in the euro zone and 18.6 million in the EU as a whole. Germany has entered its fifth year of stagnation accompanied by unemployment above five million, a rate of 11.3 per cent of the working population. French growth is a little better with unemployment at 9.5 per cent in December 2005. The former socialist countries of Poland and Slovakia have the highest unemployment rates in the EU at 17.2 per cent and 16.1 per cent respectively. In all these countries, unemployment is not just a problem for the unskilled or semi-skilled, it has seriously impacted their middle classes.
EU states are powerless to find solutions to this high unemployment; national governments have reduced benefits and passed legislation to force workers into low-paid jobs. The issue that these governments cannot address is that even the low-paid jobs are not there. All the governments are struggling with the one-size-fits-all monetary policy that inflicts an excessive real interest rate on their stagnant economies and forces them to cut budgets at a time when government expenditure should have increased to alleviate the suffering caused by the slowdown in their economies.
Even with all this unemployment and below average growth, the European Central Bank is pursuing a monetary policy of chasing US interest rates, as such euro zone interest rates have by the end of 2005 increased to 2.25 per cent. The impact may well be to retain some capital in the euro zone but at the expense of employment. Signs of this are all too apparent, in Germany alone, where a quarter of Europe's cars are built; more than 45,000 jobs are being cut, including 20,000 at Volkswagen where management is also trying to impose an extra hour on the working day for no extra pay. On the news of the 20,000 job cuts. Volkswagen's shares rose 15 per cent with analysts predicting that profits will increase to $6 billion in 2006. It is sickening that the ruling class “cheers” and profits when workers and their families are driven into unemployment and potential destitution.
With weak home demand, caused by the unemployment, exports have sustained their economies since the formation of the euro zone with exports to regions outside of the euro zone comprising more than 10 per cent of total GDP. It is these exports that are at risk if currency gambling causes a significant change in the exchange rate vis à vis other currencies. Exports could decline and growth with them; unemployment would increase further, making a deeper recession more likely with a heightened risk of deflation as monopolies attempt to offload any surplus stock.
A constant demand made by British capitalism on the EU is that the EU's rules and regulations should be so designed to make European capitalism as “competitive” as that of the US. In this context that means that the European working class should, during the “bad” times, bear the brunt of any economic crisis and during the “good” times share in as few benefits as possible.
These demands have been espoused by Thatcher, Major and now Blair -- so much so that Gordon Brown added what was effectively a sixth test for British entry to the euro zone. This test seeks to determine whether the euro zone has embarked on labour market reform, in other words, has it made it easier for monopoly capitalism to sack workers, to reduce or waive workers rights and reduce pay and conditions. Britain is leading the way; it was an earlier adopter in respect of the mobility of labour from those countries recently joining the EU such as Poland and is a strong advocate of the European Services Directive.
Another reason why Blair and Brown are a bit cold towards euro zone is that provisional estimates show that for the financial year 2004/05 Britain recorded a government deficit of £36.7 billion. This was equivalent to 3.1 per cent of GDP, exceeding the reference value in the Maastricht Treaty's Excessive Deficit Procedure, which sets deficit and debt targets of three per cent and 60 per cent respectively for all EU countries.
In Germany, where the government has failed to keep its budget deficit within the three per cent of GDP rule, it has sought to rectify the problem by bringing in a whole range of spending cuts in social welfare, looser job protection rules and cuts in sickness benefits. This has forced 600,000 unemployed workers into low-paid jobs (£290 per month). They have also endorsed a plan to shift from direct to indirect taxation by increasing VAT whilst reducing payroll taxes – a move which will only benefit the rich – and probably bring to a halt any chance of a future consumer led recovery. To compound these attacks on the German working class, regional governments early in 2006 attempted to raise the working week for local government employees, from 38.5 hours to 40 hours.
In France pension rights and retirement age of public employees are under attack and the French government in March 2006 gave every indication that it would proceed with new legislation allowing employers to sack young workers without reason. During 2004 and 2005 a range of employers forced workers to abandon the 35-hour working week and work extra hours for no extra pay. The French government is supporting the employers by introducing legislation to make it easier for them to force workers to work the longer hours.
The 35-hour week was introduced in France to create jobs. The idea was that by limiting the number of hours worked, companies would be forced to hire more employees and workers would be less exhausted and work more productively. French workers are now the most productive, per hour worked, but because they work fewer hours they produce less annually than workers in the US or Britain who work more hours. We say that workers in Britain and the US should work fewer hours for the same pay and not that workers in other countries should work more hours.
Clearly there is a lesson here for British trade unionists who still argue that one of the benefits of euro membership is increased trade union rights. Trade union rights are only rights if the trade unions are strong and defend and advance the interests of the working class. This can be done in or outside of the euro zone as any rules or regulations in a capitalist state only reflect the balance of forces between workers and capital.
British entry to the euro zone will strengthen European monopoly capitalism as the experience of the British ruling class will be used to invoke more sophisticated attacks on the European working class as capitalism tries to alleviate the current Europe-wide crisis at the expense of workers. It is only by cutting pay, social welfare, trade union rights and increasing hours and job insecurity, that monopoly capitalism can build a zone to serve capitalism, imperialism and globalisation. This must not be allowed to happen.
Capitalism now considers the countries of the former Soviet Union as emerging capitalist markets and a source of raw materials and petroleum products.
Russia has made some economic growth since its deep crisis in 1998, mainly buoyed by high oil prices. Growth was more than six per cent in the 12 months to the end of 2004 but real GDP is still less than it was during the last years of the USSR. Again this high growth level is misleading as it is calculated from the very low economic base following the country’s 1998 financial collapse and has been helped by the favourable exchange rate following devaluation.
But more than anything else this march to capitalism has been achieved on the basis of significantly reducing the living standards of the working people, significantly increased unemployment, low wages and disintegrating social services. After 15 years of capitalism 7.6 per cent are unemployed, 17.8 per cent of the population live below the poverty line and many can barely feed themselves or their families. The results are broken homes, abandoned children and reduced life expectancy. For men life expectancy at birth has dropped to 60 years, in Britain it is 75. The divide between rich and poor has increased so much that Moscow, with only seven per cent of the national population, accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country's retail sales.
In addition inflation, in 2005, was 12.9 per cent which is one of Russia'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 workers’ memories.
The fight back continues even under the difficult circumstances in which workers find themselves. The peoples of the former USSR dream of the stability and prosperity they enjoyed under socialism, they miss the sense of security and social welfare.
For the moment, amongst the economies of the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the US is the star performer. Its growth for 2004 and 2005 was 3.5 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively. Corporate profits have risen by 78 per cent since 2001, while the share of profits in the US GDP has grown from a “lowly” seven per cent to 10.6 per cent. Productivity grew in 2005 by 4.7 per cent without sparking inflation. But even with these growth rates 30 per cent of the US industrial base sits idle.
With these huge increases in profit the ruling class is concentrating its power by buying shares back from small shareholders and increasing dividends to those who remain. The most striking example was the 2004 $32 billion special dividend paid out by Microsoft, the US software group and in 2006 General Motors intends to pay a dividend to shareholders of $1 a share, totalling $565 million, even though it made a net loss of $8.6 billion in 2005 and is sacking 30,000 workers.
So what remains of the US industrial base, the wealth-creating sector, is being worked harder as productivity has surged to its highest rate in over 30 years, requiring fewer workers to produce the same quantity of goods and services. How long will this “miracle” last? Not long. Initially the increase in productivity has helped companies expand profits but now, whilst a sizeable proportion of US industry lies idle, whilst millions of US workers have lost their jobs, the productivity “miracle” could become a poisoned chalice as it is these workers, displaced by productivity, who are supposed to buy the goods and services that are being produced so efficiently!
In 1996 Americans surpassed the Japanese, working 1,858 hours a year to Japan's 1,821. Only the South Koreans work longer at about 2,400 hours per year. It is the hire-and-fire regime in US workplaces and consumer culture that forces the average US employee (including part-time workers) to work 36 hours a week with two weeks holiday a year. The average German works 31 hours a week and gets six weeks holiday a year whereas in Britain it is 37 hours per week with five weeks holiday a year.
With the unemployment rate at 5.1 per cent, hourly wages rose by just 3.1 per cent during 2005 – a rate that failed to keep pace with inflation. The median household income in the US was $44,400 in 2004, a decline of $1,700 since 2000. Only the top five per cent, who tend to be less dependent on wages, have seen their income improve. No wonder the ruling class is exuberant about how well the economy is doing!
In 2005 only 25.2 per cent of US workers had jobs that paid more than $16 (£9) an hour, provided health insurance and a company pension. Thirty seven million US citizens, 12.7 per cent of the population, live under the poverty line, a rise of 1.1 million since 2003.
With limited state involvement in welfare and weak trade unions, US workers are vulnerable to the whim of the capitalists. US employers, IBM, the IT company, and Verizon, the second-largest US telephone company, are freezing their workers’ defined-benefit pension schemes, encouraging them to move to money purchase schemes, where the employee takes all the risk. The number of Americans covered by job-based health insurance fell from 60.4 per cent to 59.8 per cent, yet costs continue to rocket and since 2000, the number of Americans without health coverage has increased to 45.8 million. Individual states are already providing a safety net for the poor to a certain extent, with states such as New York spending $45 billion on Medicaid, equivalent to a third of the entire British health budget.
For this reason, pressure is growing for legislation to force large employers to spend at least eight per cent of their payroll on health insurance or pay the rest toward a state-run scheme. Business groups fear that could be the thin end of the wedge in allowing states to dictate how they offer benefits.
The accumulated US trade deficit in the four years to the end of 2005 was $2,247 billion, amounting to 18 per cent of current US GDP and 70 per cent of the total deficit positions in the global economy. This is equivalent to the combined current account surpluses of 10 other countries including Germany, Japan and China. It is paying more to service its debts than it gets in foreign income and is having to borrow just to pay the interest – a position more commonly associated with a developing economy.
With its trade deficit and fiscal deficit of $423 billion, currency movements have become an extremely important factor in their management. As most of the US's creditors are holding their loans in dollars, the world's main reserve currency, any increase in the exchange rate of the dollar increases the debt. With the dollar making gains against the euro and yen, caused in part by rising US interest rates, the rise in indebtedness could increase by about $1,200 billion to $3,700 billion in the next few years. The fate of the dollar rests in the hands of a handful of foreign central bankers who hold large dollar reserves. By buying or selling dollars these central banks can seal the fate of the world's indebted superpower. Even the rumour of selling or any indication that foreign central banks may be losing their hunger for dollars could begin a rout for the US dollar and collapse of its economy.
It would be very surprising if these central bankers were not thinking very carefully about what they should be doing. As any movement of the dollar, caused by the actions of any one of the other central banks, could result in big capital gains or losses for all those holding large dollar reserves.
There are already signs of movement against the US dollar in that Japan is beginning to absorb its large quantity of domestic savings to rebuild its own economy. China is also significantly encouraging domestic demand and if Germany follows suit and they reduce the amount of dollars they buy or even sell dollars, the noose will tighten on US. This raises the distinct possibility that these pressures could result in global recession centred on the US, Japan and Europe as their financial positions unravel.
Even though the US has been extremely fortunate in being able to attract this foreign capital, much of it has been used to fuel speculation in property, rather than in efforts to expand the country's productive capacity. Compounding this is a record low in savings of 1.5 per cent of GDP, which could drop to zero at some point during the next few years. It is apparent that the US is not even saving enough to cover the replacement of its worn-out capital stock.
The US motor industry is in deep crisis General Motors (GM) is sacking 30,000 workers, Ford 25,000 and Delphi, a parts manufacturer, is in administration and hoping to escape bankruptcy by reducing the wages of its 35,000 workers to $12.50 per hour.
In 2005 even though it made a loss of $8.6 billion, GM still paid annual dividends to shareholders totalling $3.64 billion and wound up its workers’ defined benefits pension scheme. It plans to cut its healthcare budget for pensioners by $15 billion and demands that current workers make a bigger contribution to prescription charges. It has announced plans to pay a dividend to shareholders in 2006. The bosses are still not satisfied and are demanding that workers' pay should be cut by 10 per cent. One could ask oneself why GM is paying a dividend at all.
In 2005 the unions at Delphi rejected the bosses demand of wage cuts, a reduction in benefitsthat would have reduced pay and benefits from $65 to $21 an hour, the introduction of more flexible working practices and to sack 7,000 jobs out of 35,000. So Delphi in 2006 filed for bankruptcy so that it could annul its workers' contracts and impose the cuts unilaterally. At the same time it announced it was giving managers a $38.4 million bonus!
As reported at our last Congress Argentina’s ruling class had adopted a solution to the economic crisis designed to impose the costs of the crisis onto the working class. Their solution was to devalue the peso by 70 per cent, resulting in workers losing their life savings, their pensions and causing a huge increase in poverty. In the process the banking system failed and Argentina received and defaulted on several loans from the IMF. Eventually the European members of the G8 and the US backed a deal to bail out Argentina, not out of any desire to help Argentine workers but out of fear for the health of the global economy if Argentina defaulted again.
As a consequence of, on the one hand the devaluations and on the other the high price that Argentine's agricultural products can now command on the international market, recovery started in 2004 and the economy grew by nine per cent in the following two years. Even so, inflation was 12.3 per cent in 2005 and is increasing and there is still a large social deficit left over from the 2001 economic crisis with 11.1 per cent unemployment and 38.5 per cent of the population remaining in poverty.
Argentina and the other countries in Latin and Central America have estimated that their only chance of escaping the quagmire imposed by US imperialism is to build commercial links with China, producing a $3.3 billion trade surplus. There is also the prospect of large quantities of direct Chinese investment in building the communications infrastructure and manufacturing plant required to process their plentiful raw materials and agricultural products.
The election of Evo Morales as President of Bolivia reinforces the political shift to the left that has taken place recently in Latin America The Bolivians were encouraged by the progress made in Brazil and Venezuela to distance themselves from the US and Imperialism. Brazil's export boom is now deeper and wider, unlike that of Mexico, which depends heavily on the US market. Brazil's export destinations are more diverse including China, South Africa, Malaysia and Thailand and it has moved from a predominantly agricultural exporting country to one where 55 per cent of its exports are manufactured goods, compared with 10 per cent in the 1960s.
The NCP supports the struggle against the Free Trade Zone of the Americas, currently being forced on Latin America by the US government.
Such “free trade zones” enable US agriculture and industry to swamp the markets of the Central and South American nations, effectively destroying local production and converting them into mere outstations of the US economy.
After more than a decade of negative growth, Japan managed to grow its economy by 1.9 per cent in the year to the end of April 2005.This reverses the trend during the previous ten years when prices were dropping at an annual rate of one to two per cent.
The recovery is not driven by exports but by growing domestic consumption, leading to increased demand for workers, which has reduced unemployment from 5.5 per cent in January 2003 to 4.4 per cent by December 2005. As demand for workers increases, confidence builds and workers demand higher wages. The increased employment and higher wages further push up consumption and confidence and workers start to spend their savings that built up during the deflationary years. Like most developed countries there will be more workers than usual retiring in the near future. During retirement they will draw on their considerable savings, which total nearly three times Japanese GDP resulting in less capital being available to fund America's ever-deepening trade deficit. The impact of a reduction in capital being exported to the US could bring about a decline in the US dollar, forcing up US interest rates, potentially triggering a shock to the global capitalist system which in turn could halt Japan's recovery. Who said capitalism works!
The other trend in Japan is that the foreign companies that took on some of Japan's bad debt mountain are now looking for other asset classes to buy, one of which is property where prices in a few city centres have begun to rise for the first time in 15 years. It was the unsustainable rise in property prices in the late 1980s and 1990s that brought about Japan's debt mountain in the first place.
For the last 40 years foreign aid has flowed into Africa at an annual rate of about $10 billion-a-year. It is mainly directed at sectors such as health and education, considered in donor countries as the worthiest targets. Even then the ulterior motive may be a constant supply of quality teachers and health professionals to the donor countries. It may give a “warm feel” to concentrate on the social aspects of poverty but it would be better to provide aid to sectors that could increase wealth such as infrastructure, cheap export finance, technological assistance and venture capital.
Aid has a distorting effect on economic management in that spending money on capital projects, like building hospitals and schools, also requires a revenue stream to maintain them. Many aid projects have run aground – a modern clinic that cannot be properly staffed or an irrigation scheme that falls into disuse because there is no money to pay for the electricity or maintenance.
With Africa facing some of the worst threats to health, Malaria and HIV/Aids, it needs another one million medical staff to meet basic health skills. But it has been estimated that 23,000 of the best trained medical staff leave Africa each year for the developed world. Given that the cost of training a specialist doctor in Africa is estimated by the United Nations to be about $100,000, the exodus represents a $2.3 billion annual subsidy from Africa to wealthy nations. As a result life-expectancy at birth in South Africa is 43 years, Mozambique 40 years, Sierra Leone 39, Zambia 39, Zimbabwe 39, Liberia 38, Angola 38, Lesotho 34, Botswana 34 and Swaziland 33 years.
Foreign investment in Africa amounts to less than three per cent of the world total and even then it goes only to a few countries, mainly to develop oil and gas production.
In 1980 Africa's share of world exports was about four per cent in 1980 but by 2003 this had declined to one per cent of world total. This decline, on the whole, can be traced back to the subsidies given to farmers in the US and the EU. The US subsidises its cotton farmers to the tune of nearly $4 billion a year, encouraging overproduction and dumping on the world market. With the US controlling 40 per cent of world cotton exports it depresses world cotton prices by at least 25 per cent. Its farmers are guaranteed a minimum price of $1.1 per kg regardless of what happens to world prices.
Even though the end result of agricultural subsidies is the same as export subsidies, which are supposedly illegal under WTO rules, they are a tool that the imperialists use to exploit the developing world. Governments in Africa can, if at all, subsidise only to a limited extent: in Ivory Coast cotton farmers get a subsidy of $0.07 per kg, in Zimbabwe they get no subsidy.
To get debt relief, promised by the IMF and the imperialists, these African countries have been forced to comply with the WTO free trade agenda an end import controls of subsidised agricultural produce from the imperialist countries. Unlike the US and EU, few African countries can afford the long drawn out exercise of taking their case to the WTO trade disputes court, with the huge expense of hiring lawyers and consultants needed to work through the complex technical detail that the imperialists typically presents in trade disputes.
Even China is challenged by the US dumping cotton. Cotton is the second most important cash crop in China. It is also its most labour-intensive agricultural product, employing about 46.2 million people. But since China joined the WTO in 2001, the volume of imported cotton from the US has surged 21 times in four years, crowding out local production. This shared challenge is one of the reasons that Africa and China are developing a close affinity.
In the much lauded “debt relief” programme announced at the G8 conference in the summer of 2005, one option examined was that the indebted countries would only have the interest waived, and then be checked periodically to see if they still meet certain standards of governance. If not, their obligations to pay back the debt would resume.
Frustrated by the imperialist manoeuvrings, African countries are turning to China as the model of fast development and successful eradication of the legacies of imperialism. China has overtaken Britain and become Africa's top trading partner behind the US and France.
Trade between China and Africa has almost quadrupled since 2001 and increased 36 per cent in 2005 to $39.7 billion. The imperialists were never prepared to transfer technology to Africa but about half of China's exports are machinery, electronic and high-technology products and there have been many Chinese-funded companies established, including manufacturing operations to produce quality consumer products.
Chinese expertise is being used to build dams, railways, roads and bridges more quickly and cheaply than before. In Angola, China has offered a $2 billion loan as an alternative to an IMF one with onerous conditions. In Zimbabwe, prior to land reform, white farmers traditionally maintained close links with the neo-colonial powers and worked with the monopoly capitalists to maximise the exploitation of Zimbabwean workers. The break with imperialism cut off access to funds such that the new farmers, who were allocated land during the land reform, had little capital to spend to grow crops such as soy bean, sugar, cotton and beef. China has now stepped in, giving money so that local farmers can buy tractors 60 per cent cheaper than if they were bought from Britain or the US. China is about to build a tractor assembly plant in Zimbabwe and there are plans to build a glass factory, a ferrochrome smelting plant and a telephone assembly facility.
Perhaps these are the reasons why Blair has taken such a recent interest in Africa and exercised such criticism of Zimbabwe. The British ruling class now realises that their former colonies are slipping away from their orbit and could potentially choose a road other than the one determined by imperialism.
China is the fastest growing economy in the world at more than nine per cent a year over the last two decades. In achieving this it strives to represent the “advanced productive forces, the advanced culture and the interests of the broad masses – the three represents and build an harmonious society”. The main planks of its economic strategy are now to stimulate strong domestic demand fed by low prices, a stress on quality and ensuring the generated manufacturing wealth permeates down to the rural areas.
The fact that China 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 socialism. In 1949, when the People’s Republic was established, Chinese living standards were the lowest in the world. Now its GDP per capita is $6,200 (2005) on a Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) compared with Brazil $8,500, Venezuela $6,400 and India $3,400. Now the people enjoy a way of life undreamed of in those days, one of increasing prosperity, scientific advance and progress. By 2004 China has reduced the number of its people living in poverty from 490 million in 1981 to 130 million – 10 per cent of the population; in India it is 25 per cent, in the US 12 per cent and in Britain 17 per cent. There is food inflation but this tends to redistribute wealth from urban to rural areas. The rural population has also followed shifts in diet and shopping. As incomes have risen over the past two decades, the diet has shifted from a reliance on rice and noodles towards eating more meat, eggs, bread, fruit and dairy products.
China’s sheer size, coupled with its rapid growth, makes it the world's third largest economy with 13 per cent of the world's GDP on a PPP basis. In 1990 its share of world exports was 1.9 percent; that grew to four per cent in 2000 and 8.3 per cent by 2005. China’s share of world imports grew from 1.5 percent in 1990 to 3.6 per cent in 2000 and 5.4 per cent by 2005.
In building a “harmonious society” much is being done to open up the rural areas, enabling them to take advantage of China's growing prosperity. This is bringing results with rural per capita income increasing by 12 per cent in 2004 which is being used for the purchases of home produced durable goods such as refrigerators, television sets, air-conditioners and motorcycles. The infrastructure is also being developed to link the rural and urban areas: 35,000 kms of roads were built in 2005 and 19,584 kms of railway lines laid in the decade to the end of 2004. Especially significant in 2005 was the opening of the 1,080-km railway link that connects Lhasa, in Tibet province, with the rest of China. When fully operational it will more than halve the cost of shipping goods to and from Tibet.
Besides all this, China is far from a developed country. GDP per capita in 2005 was $6,200 on a PPP basis, in comparison Japan was $30,400, Singapore $29,700 and Taiwan was $26,700. This illustrates that China is still poorer than many of its neighbours and dramatically poorer than Britain at $30,900. It is an economy with much catching up to do. In this respect the Chinese Communist Party recognises that continued growth is essential if poverty rates are to be reduced further. The challenge is to ensure that growth rates are sustainable over a long period.
China accounted for one third of the world's GDP in 1820 and in the 13th century was ahead of Europe in per capita income terms. It was a global economic power during 18 of the past 20 centuries and is only regaining the ground it lost because of the interference of imperialism during the 100 years from the mid 19th century. To “catch” the high-income more developed nations will take until 2050, assuming the economy continues to grow at an annual rate of nine per cent.
In 2004 the primary industries, which include quarrying, mining, farming, forestry and fisheries accounted for 15 per cent of GDP, down from 50 per cent in 1952. The proportion of urban population in the population has doubled in the 25 years to 2004, and is now at 41.8 per cent of the population with 169 million working in the manufacturing sector of the economy.
In laying the ground rules for the establishment of a socialist market economic system, the Chinese government stipulated that the public sector, state, collective or local government-owned enterprises, should be in the dominant position and that the distribution of income should be according to work done.
With economic growth, and the increase in the size and economic strength of the working class, China is no longer seen as a low-cost centre for labour-intensive industries, with some industries shifting production to other countries. Having built a sustainable home base, Chinese home-grown companies are on the threshold of exerting their own influences on the world economy. Examples of China's rapid ascent up the technology ladder are everywhere. Chinese companies can put satellites into space, make cars that are cheaper and built to a higher quality than foreign manufacturers, manufacture 600MW-power generators, produce advanced sheet steel and engineer a high-speed train.
Many Chinese see the past two centuries of underdevelopment and colonial occupation as an embarrassing aberration that must be redressed. Home to the world's oldest and one of its richest civilisations, China is now regaining its rightful place in the sun.
In 2005, according to the government's Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), the median weekly pay, excluding overtime, for all full-time workers in Britain it was £406. This is an increase of 3.3 per cent on the year; for female workers the median was £363.1, an increase of 4.7 per cent, while for male workers the median was £437.6, an increase of three per cent on the year. The pay gap widened with the top decile (tenth) of the earnings distribution earning more than £824 per week, an increase of 3.9 per cent, while the bottom decile earned less than £228, an increase of less than 3.2 per cent on the year.
In addition to wages the other important element of the working class’s income is pensions (deferred wages). Workers are paying a high price for the private provision of pensions, irrespective of whether it is through an occupational scheme with their employer or in a private scheme with a financial institute. Workers who have recently retired, having saved money in a money purchase pension fund, have received pensions (wages) substantially less than what they would have expected if they had retired only a few years ago with the same sized fund. It has been estimated that with falling interest rates and lower investment rates that a pension drawn in 2005 is 78 per cent less in real terms than if it had been drawn in 1995.
Many companies are closing occupational defined benefit schemes and some workers have lost their entire pensions when the companies they worked for have gone bankrupt. In response the government has halved the maximum level of inflation-proofing that retired pension scheme members can enjoy from five per cent to 2.5 per cent. This has led to millions of workers facing hardship in retirement and must be a contributory factor in the 17 per cent poverty rate in Britain.
The intention to increase the public sector pension age to 65, or for public sector workers to receive actuarially reduced pensions if they retire before age 65, was vigorously opposed by the trade unions. They have achieved a temporary victory but the government is attempting to regroup behind a more general onslaught against pension provision, which not only seeks to reduce pensions but increase the retirement age to 67-plus.
The Turner commission on pensions produced a report in late 2005, which proposed a new national pension savings scheme under which employees would contribute four per cent of post-tax pay, the exchequer one per cent and employers three per cent. This level of contribution would be sufficient, suggests the commission, to generate income equal to 15 per cent of median earnings or about £63 per week. But additional savings would be permitted, up to a limit of 16 per cent of earnings or about £126 per week.
The NCP says that the state pension should be raised to two thirds of the median weekly wage excluding overtime. This could easily be funded by making the tax system more progressive and abolishing the £21 billion pension tax relief costs – over half of which goes to top-rate taxpayers. By increasing the pension, the £3 billion pension winter fuel allowances, free television licences and other universal pensioner give aways could be ended. With state pension the £8 billion National Insurance (NI) contracting-out rebate for final salary schemes could be ended, making the NI regime more progressive.
Wage growth is being suppressed through a variety of mechanisms such as forcing the most vulnerable, single parents, into low-wage jobs and once there ensuring that they stay there, through the shift from out-of-work to in-work benefits such as the working family tax credit and the child tax credit. This shift is a mechanism to allow capitalists to pay workers wages which are so low that the net effect is that they are excluded and marginalised from participating in activities that should be considered the norm for all workers in society, such as visits to friends and family, the cinema, theatre and other cultural, social and political activities. This deepening of the poverty trap and social exclusion brings about a reluctance amongst workers to fight for wage rises because it 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 by the relative strength of the labour movement. Organised workers have the potential to resist wage cuts during slumps and demand higher wages during the booms. The automatic stabilisers, notably social insurance payments and progressive income tax that go towards funding state welfare, also 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 in trade unions and other anti-monopoly forces.
The wages struggle is central to the improvement of living standards and ensuring that workers have the money to buy back the goods and services that they produce and provide. Engaging in the wages struggle brings about the knowledge that gains under capitalism are only temporary and can be taken back in a variety of different ways either by stealth, such as increases in the cost of living, or by brute force as in increasing the retirement age. 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 capitalist 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.
This requires political struggle to improve social services and benefits and industrial struggle for better wages and working conditions.
The New Communist Party's proposals are that wage claims should be
On an industrial basis negotiated by the trade unions nationally. In this way the maximum number of workers can be mobilised in support of the claim. Local bargaining has a secondary role to national bargaining, to improve on what has been achieved nationally and in catering for specific local conditions.
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.
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 New Communist Party is opposed to
The introduction and operation of bonus or piece-working schemes. Where they do exist, workers, using their trade union organisations, 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.
All forms of Performance Related Pay (PRP) which seeks to perpetuate low pay. PRP schemes are discriminatory towards the most vulnerable sections of society, whether they are disabled, part-time or ethnic-minority workers. Trade unions must seek to minimise the extreme differentials within PRP, but continue to campaign for its complete abolition.
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 andthe 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 extra money made available to the health service and education has in part been used to “feather the nest” of the private sector and this, with the decline in 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 shift from out-of-work to in-work benefits should be reversed.
Means testing for all benefits should be abolished.
In 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 crucial factor determining the fate of the world economy in the near term is what happens to the US economy. Any deterioration, such as a severe reduction in the exchange rate of the dollar, could trigger a worldwide crisis, which would be exported to other capitalist economies further aggravating the crisis and potentially compounding itself into a slump.
The advanced capitalist countries have made new and great progress in the productive forces, military, science and technology and other fields. But it has only done this at the expense and suppression of the vast majority of the population of the planet. 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 at some stage in the future the capitalists will find it very difficult to resolve the contradictions within the capitalist system.
For these reasons capitalism will not, and in any case can never meet the needs of the working class and of humanity as a whole – only socialism can do that. Capitalism will not collapse of its own volition – it must be pushed by the efforts of the working class operating in the specific conditions of their own countries. The exact scenario as to how exactly this will happen cannot be predicted. But it is certain that communist parties are essential to the process of preparing workers to carry out fundamental social change and to ensure the advance to socialism.
For over 20 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 underfunded. We must mobilise the class in its own defence to fight for the restoration of state welfare to at least the levels existing in 1979.
This demand can easily be met by making the rich pay for them by disgorging a fraction of the wealth they extort from the working class every year.
Taxation is the way essential services are funded. Of the £473 billion of government revenue, income tax generates 28 per cent, national insurance 17 per cent, value added tax 16 per cent, other excise duties and levies 22 per cent, corporation tax nine per cent, business rates four per cent and council tax four per cent. For years both Tory and Labour governments have clamoured for lower income tax. But the only people who have benefited from these tax cuts have been the rich, while the least well off have become poorer. The upper earnings cap makes National Insurance (NI) very regressive. NI contributions take 9.2 per cent of salary from someone earning £30,000 a year, 3.7 per cent from someone earning £100,000 and only 1.3 per cent from someone earning £1 million a year. Anyone earning £1 million from property or investments pays nothing.
The NCP maintains that the burden of taxation should be shifted away from workers and onto the wealthy. The Party is opposed to all indirect and regressive taxes. This is because, in proportion to peoples’ income, these bear more heavily on the working class. For workers in the lowest 20 percentile of earners, their effective tax burden is 36 per cent, leaving little room for anything beyond essential day-to-day spending. For most, saving for retirement is an impossibility and for young people who wish to pursue a university education the first lesson that they learn is how to get into debt.
Our immediate demands are for:
Pay as You Earn (PAYE) personal allowances to be increased substantially. This would exempt a greater number of lower-paid from paying any income tax.
The employees' upper earnings limit for National Insurance (NI) should be abolished. Employers' NI should be raised from 12.8 per cent to 20 per cent. The contracting out of NI should be abolished.
New PAYE Tax bands, starting at £50,000 and in £10,000 increments to be introduced at 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90 per cent and for those with incomes over £100,000 a 98 per cent tax rate. If allowances were doubled someone with an income of £110,000 would still get, after tax and NI, at least £47,000 whereas someone with an income of £30,000 would see their take-home pay increase by more than £1,600.
The removal of all tax relief on pension fund contributions.
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 should be reduced to its 2001, level pending its further reduction at a later date. In compensation the central government grant to local authorities should be substantially increased.
The Main Rate of Corporation Tax should be increased from 30 per cent to 60 per cent.
The Corporation Tax allowance for the main rate to be reduced to £1 million, currently £1.5 million. This will bring more companies into this tax band.
New Corporation Tax bands, of £500,000 increments from the proposed main rate tax band of 60 per cent, to be introduced at 70, 80, 90 and 98 per cent.
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.
For all his protestations Tony Blair would have liked to press ahead with the ruling class’s plans to take Britain into the euro zone. But two hurdles had to be overcome. The first, but to a certain extent the least important, was the political issue in that the British electorate would vote against euro entry in a referendum, even if the Government recommended it. Past experience had shown that this opposition to European Monetary Union (EMU) could have been overcome, if the weight of the bourgeois media was used in the run up to a referendum to support membership, just as in the referendum on the Britain's membership of the EU, in the early 1970s. But France's and the Netherlands' rejection of the EU constitution in 2005 threw Blair's plans even further into doubt.
The second and most important hurdle was to ensure that the British ruling class wasn’t disadvantaged, in relation to those monopolies based in the zone. Thus the Government set five economic tests, announced by Gordon Brown in October 1997, which had to be met before Britain would join. The five tests can effectively be summed up as whether joining EMU will promote higher growth for British capital. With a stable home market and with the accommodating use of state controlled statistics, the tests could easily have been proved, given time. Thus far these tests have not been met satisfactorily, primarily as a result of the slowdown in Europe, the growth in the US and recovery in Japan and the ensuing currency fluctuations. The failure to get a positive result with these tests has led to the British ruling class temporarily delaying the referendum and consequential entry to EMU.
When either the referendum on entry to the euro zone, or on a revamped constitution, 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 tasks are to –
Project the fact that the European Union is neither genuinely federal nor democratic;
Point out that every stage of European integration has been financed by working people through higher indirect taxes, lost jobs and lost benefits;
Elevate our campaign to boycott the European elections – a bogus public relations exercise for a body that possesses no meaningful executive powers at all;
Expose the real exploitative nature of the European Union;
Show that the European Union cannot be reformed and that it must be dissolved and the Treaty of Rome, which established the Common Market in the first place, and all addenda repealed;
Focus opposition to indirect taxation (VAT) and demand the restoration of the public sector and state welfare;
Oppose the racist "Fortress Europe" immigration controls and the drive for a European Army;
Return to public control Britain’s national resources, essential services and public utilities;
Oppose the European Services Directive.
The European Union cannot be reformed; it must be dissolved and the Treaty of Rome, which established the Common Market in the first place, and all its addendum's must be repealed.
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. All bourgeois elections are the manipulation of the largest number of votes by the smallest number of people.
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. The Socialist Labour Party, Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) and Respect all express essentially the same theory.
The paltry gains of all these parties – including the one Respect MP are largely due to the standing of George Galloway within the anti-war movement or the SSP whose seats in the Scottish parliament. These gains were more than matched by the non-socialist Greens; this shows the futility of programmes that argue the only way to defeat social democracy is in fact to imitate it.
They call for social-democratic reforms while campaigning against the only mass force capable of implementing reform, the Labour Party itself. They foster the illusion that there is a left electoral alternative to Labour when the reality is that the only alternative, in the current situation, to a Labour government is a Tory or a Liberal Democrat government.
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.
The NCP’s electoral policy is to vote Labour in all elections apart from the bogus European parliamentary polls, which we boycott. This is not because we support the venal right-wing policies of “New Labour”, Blair and Brown, or because we think a Labour government can solve the problems of working people. That is not possible in a capitalist “democracy”. It is simply the best possible outcome in the current circumstances.
A Labour government, with the yet unbroken links with the Labour Party, the trade unions and the co-operative movement, offers the best option for the working class in the era of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. Our strategy is for working class unity and our campaigns are focused on defeating the right-wing within the movement and strengthening the left and progressive forces within the Labour Party and the unions.
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 rich 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 defied the Labour leadership and with rank-and-file Labour Party and union support won the London Mayoralty and returned to Labour Party membership with their position vindicated.
Our Party supports left social-democratic Labour activists who have 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 that fund it. The defeat of right wing union blocs in most of the major unions over the past two years demonstrates this possibility.
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 reflect 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 and to campaign for the removal of all anti-trade union legislation.
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.
We welcomed the creation of the new Labour Representation Committee (LRC) that was restored by a number of left Labour MPs and trade unions in 2004 to secure political representation for the labour movement and promote a series of progressive policies for a future Labour government.
In February 2005 the Party affiliated to the Labour Representation Committee which was only possible under the LRC’s rules because the NCP does not run candidates against Labour in the elections. Now Marxist-Leninists, for the first time since the 1920s, can make the case for communism within a part of the Labour Party itself.
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.
The two main keys to women’s liberation remain equal pay and opportunity and affordable, state-provided childcare, and have yet to be realised. Women are no nearer achieving an equal footing with men than they were at our last Congress, as revealed a report by the Government's Women and Work Commission, published in February 2006. It revealed that the pay gap between women and men is 13 per cent for full-time workers and 32 per cent for part-timers. However, according to the Government’s own Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), the gap is even wider. The main conclusion of the report was that the pay gap is caused by girls being steered towards stereotypical subjects in school and jobs leading to less well-paid careers. This conclusion seeks to blame teachers, careers advisors and women themselves for the pay gap. It avoided putting blame on the discrimination made by employers, discrimination that has been proved time and time again by high-profile cases being won at industrial tribunals. To win pay justice, these women have had to go through lengthy and expensive legal processes where they have to prove that employers are discriminatory. For these reasons the NCP supports the trade union campaign for compulsory pay audits as a means to force employers to prove that they are not discriminatory on pay.
It has been revealed that both men and woman are working beyond their contractual weekly hours, “voluntarily” for no extra pay. The unofficial extension of the working day is achieved by employees working to finish a set job, which may or may not have a deadline, employees feeling intimidated by employers that it is expected of them to gain promotion, or that they must keep up with their colleagues who are doing likewise. Thus, a culture of unpaid overtime has set in and become the “norm”.
The Government has made no move on universal state-provided childcare , but rather an acceleration of privately run nurseries, which are very expensive. The Government has given some financial help to mothers towards childcare, but it is yet again subsidising the private sector.
The Government has sanctioned paternity leave but this is unpaid and not compulsory on employers.
Single mothers have been targeted for not ensuring that their children attend school, and court fines have been introduced and are in operation. In some cases custodial sentences are meted out to the mothers, who are also named and shamed in the local and national press, which print ‘shock’ stories for increased sales.
Mothers should not be subjected to such treatment. There are many reasons for children not attending school, or truanting: bullying, depression, drug-taking, drinking, poor home environment, poverty, social ignorance, disruption in the classroom – no continuity of teaching staff and bad behaviour by pupils – boredom in the classroom and so on. Even if a mother accompanies a child to the school gates, she cannot guarantee that the child will not abscond, either before the start of school, or during the lunch break, when secondary school children are allowed off the premises. Also, accompanying an older child to the school could in itself attract bullying.
Women are increasingly starting families later in life. Some choose to but many are forced into this situation due to financial reasons, including expensive or inadequate accommodation, or fear that their careers could be jeopardised due to management discrimination. Late pregnancies come with added health risks to both mother and child and a shortage of midwives has increased that risk. The press is eager to play up the “older mother” image as an attractive option for women, but those older mothers are usually celebrities who have no financial or childcare worries and can afford private care (though this has been shown to be hazardous in some cases). In addition, fertility treatment is very limited on the NHS, but readily available in the private sector at considerable cost to women where money is no object, or for those poorer couples who are desperate and “find” the money.
All women should have the choice of when they start a family, have good nursing care and readily available fertility treatment on the NHS.
The seriously damaging culture of binge drinking now affects large numbers of young women. This poses a very serious health risk and social problem, and women are made more vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse either by being targeted by rapists using date-rape drugs, or become inebriated to the point of passing out. The drinks industry must be made to take its share of responsibility for this problem and help address it.
The Government has given its backing to paternity leave, but this is unpaid and not compulsory on the employer. It only benefits those in a strong financial situation and who have a cooperative employer. Maternity and paid paternity leave must be extended and available to all, on a non-means tested basis. 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 to either parent when a child is sick.
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. Where violence has occurred, society must extend full necessary protection to its victims.
The real, economic freedom to leave a bad family situation before it deteriorates into violence is vital and divorce must be available on demand.
Many of the issues affecting women also impact on men and the fight for equality for women is part of the class struggle.
The New Communist Party for 30 years has warned of the dangers of creeping fascism but recent events mean we must now talk of advancing fascism.
Fascism is the direct rule of the most reactionary and ruthless section of the ruling class. It opposes all forms of democracy and eschews all human rights and denigrates bourgeois liberal ideas. It is afraid of communism, socialism and the organised working class and seeks to suppress all working class organisations.
Since 1688 Britain has been ruled by a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie through an elected Parliament. This regime has been an alliance of landowners and capitalists who have found this form of state the best to allow British capitalism to flourish at home and abroad.
In 1688 the state consisted largely of the standing armed forces under the control of the crown, the judiciary also under the crown and Parliament, the legislative part of the state. The crown was subservient to the will of Parliament; the higher echelons of the armed forces were and still are dominated by landowning families and the right to vote was conditional on landownership.
Since then, in the 19th and 20th centuries there have been added to the state machine a massive civil service, elected local authorities, state-controlled education and health services and other state welfare bodies and a civilian police force.
Frederick Engels also noted that in the later part of the 19th century Britain acquired a large military-industrial complex, which would make impossible a parliamentary road to socialism here, since Parliament has ceased to be – if it ever was – master of the state. In 1916 Lenin pointed out – after the Curragh mutiny in Ireland where senior army officers refused to carry out Government orders to stop the Carson rising of Ulster Loyalists against the Home Rule Act – that the elected Parliament had no control over the landowner-dominated army.
Since the mid 1970s there has been a creeping change towards fascism, beginning with internment without trial in the occupied north of Ireland, followed by the Diplock Courts and the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
In the 1980s Prime Minister Thatcher began a process of gathering more and more power to the office of the Prime Minister at the expense of parliamentary democracy. This process has continued under the Major and Blair governments.
There has been a procession of Police and Crime Acts, Immigration and Asylum Acts and anti-terror legislation. And since the 11th September 2001 attacks on the United States, there has been an avalanche of very repressive anti-terror measures, including detaining suspects indefinitely without charge or trial, the introduction of control orders – amounting to house arrest – and Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (Asbos).
These orders are imposed in respect of behaviour which is not necessarily criminal and require a low standard of proof. Breaching them can result in imprisonment without further recourse to courts, leading to people, often young or vulnerable, being liable to imprisonment without proper legal process. Such orders have been imposed on people suffering from autism and other mental disorders who could find themselves in prison simply because of their illness.
Existing anti-terror legislation has already been used against people who are plainly not terrorists – usually peace protesters. They include Walter Wolfgang, a peace activist in his 80s, who was barred under anti-terror legislation after he was forcibly removed from the 2005 Labour Party conference for heckling the Foreign Secretary.
Further draconian measures are planned, including the outlawing of the “glorification of terrorism”, which could be interpreted very widely; the compiling of a massive database of personal information, including biometrics, on every resident in Britain, to support a national identity card scheme. The scheme is intended to become compulsory in a few years. The Blair government also wishes to extend to 90 days the period in which a suspect can be held without charge or trial. This compares to the South African apartheid regime’s notorious 90-day law, under which opponents of the regime were often held for 90 days, released for half an hour and then re-arrested. It was primarily a weapon of political repression.
The proposed Parliamentary Reform Act will undermine the authority of Parliament further by allowing the government of the day to amend, abolish or even introduce new legislation without recourse to proper parliamentary procedure.
In the streets now CCTV monitoring schemes can recognise individual faces and track car number plates, while various public transport travel passes leave an electronic trail wherever the user goes.
Much of these new aspects of state control and monitoring of individuals is made possible by advancing technology and much of the administration of this is done by private enterprise.
Giant privately-run computers now administer the Passport Service, the Immigration Service, the Inland Revenue, the National Insurance database, our education and health services, our agriculture and food control and many other Government departments.
The involvement of the private sector in the administration of the state is such that we are heading towards the monetarist ideal state – in which the elected legislative at national and local levels, meets once a year to hand out contracts – or rather to rubber-stamp recommendations prepared by private firms of consultants.
In this way the giant capitalist monopolies are, effectively, more and more administering the bourgeois state directly without recourse to democratic procedures. They are able not only to monitor the population closely but also seek to micromanage our behaviour. They want to control us both politically and economically – to guide our behaviour in order to exploit us to the maximum. The national identity database is the ultimate dream of every marketing manager.
The accelerating advance towards fascism is not a response to any current threat from the organised working class, though it may to some extent be in anticipation that such a threat might arise in the future.
It is happening against a background of advancing fascism internationally as the most reactionary, brutal and greedy elements of the global ruling class – the American neo-cons – seek to gain hegemony over the whole world, especially its fuel resources.
It also happens in response to rivalries between the giant global economic blocs – the United States, the European Union and Japan – and the demands of global economic powers and forums such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the G8.
We must resist this advancing fascism and prevent it becoming more established. The organised working class is our chief defence. The fascist state with its giant database and close monitoring and control of the population will be complex to administer and require an army of civil servants – who may be employed by the Government or by private agencies.
Currently trade union membership is highest within the public sector. Non-compliance by those members of the working class expected to administer the system – and by the population in general – will make it difficult if not impossible for the ruling elite to establish the level of control they seek.
But there will almost certainly be a huge struggle. We must be ready for this and not discouraged or panicked by a class enemy that is ruthless. We must remember that it is also desperate. The ruling class generally prefers to rule through a bourgeois democracy. Resorting to fascism is in itself evidence of desperation.
Many sections of the bourgeoisie will also be oppressed by this system and there will be scope for class alliances to oppose fascism, though we must remember in this context that the working class is strongest, most reliable and should lead the alliance.
Working class parties, trade unions and progressive organisations throughout the world are fighting the struggle against neo-con fascism on a global scale. We are part of that struggle and modern technology strengthens this fight and our ties with our international allies.
The American neo-cons aimed to establish world hegemony within 20 years of the fall of the Soviet Union. They have already failed due to opposition from the heroic Iraqi resistance, opposition from rival capitalist blocs like the EU and Japan and from the rise of China as a major world power, economically and politically. Furthermore, Russia is no longer the docile puppet it was under the Yeltsin regime and its considerable fuel resources remain outside neo-con control. Even within the United States, rival capitalists oppose the neo-cons and the US working class, which includes millions of Black, Latino and Native American people, is becoming more active and conscious of itself as a class.
A succession of South American states have turned to left and progressive governments and the neo-cons can do nothing. The DPRK continues to defy the neo-cons with courage and impunity. The neo cons bluster but fear to attack.
The fascists are doomed to defeat in Britain and throughout the world.
The ruling class is not inherently racist but has always used racism to divide and weaken the working class. When any worker suffers abuse or discrimination because of their race, religion, gender or for any other reason, the class as a whole is weakened and it is the responsibility of the whole class to combat racism and all other divisions of the class.
This is why the New Communist Party does not support separate organisation for workers of different colour, religion or gender. The class must stand united on the basis that an injury to one is an injury to all.
Currently the organised working class, the trade unions, are taking a lead in combating racism at work and in the community.
Broad anti-fascist and anti-racist organisations like Searchlight and Unite Against Fascism have demonstrated repeatedly that the most effective campaigning against neo-Nazi organisations like the British National Party is done at a local level, door-to-door. The BNP, in its election campaigns, tries to exploit issues that concern the local working class and to sow division by falsely claiming that black and immigrant communities receive favourable treatment from the state. Experience has shown that these tactics must be combated by anti-fascists and anti-racists taking up these lies and countering them with the truth at a local level.
All the major trade unions have become involved in this and have provided hundreds if not thousands of volunteers to do this door-to-door work.
This fills the gap left by the Labour Party, which in many areas has given up door-to-door canvassing.
New Communist Party members and cells should become involved in active local anti-fascist and anti-racist campaigning wherever they can and should support their trade unions in this.
The New Communist Party recognises the need for any sovereign state to set an immigration policy in accordance with its resources. But we firmly oppose any immigration policy that discriminates, either directly or indirectly, on the basis of race, creed, colour or gender.
Exactly the same labour laws that cover indigenous workers must protect immigrants into Britain and the Government must enforce these laws pro-actively to ensure that immigrants are not exploited or used as cheap labour. It must never be more profitable for a boss to employ one worker rather than another on the basis of where they were born
We recognise that some trade unions are making efforts to recruit and inform immigrant workers of their rights and we support this work and call for it to be extended.
The use by some employers of bogus self-employed status to circumvent labour laws must be outlawed.
We call for the repeal of the Immigration and Asylum Acts of the 1990s, passed by both Tory and Labour governments, which make it very difficult for many genuine asylum seekers to establish their claims.
Asylum seekers must be treated humanely and their claims dealt with swiftly. While this process takes place they must be given decent accommodation and welfare benefits to survive. No asylum seekers should be locked up unless there is good reason, with evidence, to believe they are criminals. No child asylum seeker should ever be locked up.
The main issue for the elderly is that of the pensions. It is time that the state pension should be at a level that does away with any form of means testing, and an immediate increase to £114.05 payable to both men and women as proposed by the National Pensioners’ Convention.
Once this target is achieved the trade union movement should be mobilised to campaign for a state pension of two thirds of the median weekly wage excluding overtime. This level of pension is affordable if taxation is raised for those who can afford it and tax-breaks for the rich are abolished.
The age of retirement, the pensionable age, must not be increased. To be able to retire from a life of work contributing to the wealth of the country and to the profits of those who benefit most from their labour, the capitalist class, is a right that must not be denied. We are not opposed to the right to continue to work after retirement. But it must not be one of necessity, and should not affect the pension.
Wherever possible, elderly people should be assisted to remain in their homes, with modifications provided by social services such as entrance ramps, handrails, telephones, and emergency alarms. But if this is not practical for reasons of health, then adequate accommodation in Care Homes should be provided. On no account should it be suggested that couples be separated by this arrangement.
This raises the question of the availability of the health services. The "district nurse" is invaluable in assisting primary care trust doctors in this respect. The reliance on untrained carers is not the answer. Hospitals must always have bed provision available for emergency elderly cases.
One of the most important services needed by the elderly is that of the chiropodist. This is not generally available, and when it is just for cutting toenails it can cost over £1 per toe. This must be an NHS service.
The maintenance of mental health is as important as physical health. It is important that the elderly have access to education and entertainment facilities. The day centres for the elderly, where meals are served are important in this and must be maintained.
Whilst the long awaited free bus pass for all elderly people is an advance, it does not completely answer the need. It is necessary to introduce a free universal travel pass covering bus, underground, and the railway. This should be financed by national government. There is also a need to consider the inadequate travel arrangements for the elderly in rural areas. A fully integrated publicly owned service is essential to achieve these demands.
Progress has continued in this area. Following on from the equalisation of the age of consent in 2000, Labour has made it illegal to discriminate against lesbians and gay men at work and in the provision of goods and services – from NHS care to insurance, hotels and restaurants – after pressure from the gay lobby.
Civil Partnerships offer benefits for gay couples similar to those enjoyed by heterosexual married couples in terms of tax, immigration, next of kin and other legal rights. All this is to be applauded.
But while it is possible in Britain today for transgender people to obtain a passport or driving licence in their new identity it is not possible to change a birth certificate. British law still defines a person’s sex by biological factors at birth.
There is a logical contradiction here that needs rectifying. A person should be fully recognised as being a particular gender – not with some documents saying one thing and some documents another. The present situation has legal implications; for example it means that a female-to-male transsexual cannot marry a woman.
Things have improved considerably, and the Labour Government must be given credit where it is due, but there are still things to fight for. Homophobic attitudes are still common and attacks on gay people regularly occur. The law still needs strengthening against such hate attacks and more resources put into education to change attitudes.
Since our last Congress in 2003, our NHS has sustained further attack from the Blair government in the form of more privatisation. This includes our NHS dental care, which, with new contracts being signed means that from 1st April 2006 the majority of NHS practices will transfer to the private sector. A few will struggle to continue with NHS work, some only on a trial basis.
The latest attacks on our NHS take the form of further breaking up of the cohesion of the provision of NHS healthcare by further major involvement of the private sector, not only in the continuation of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) in rebuilding old NHS hospitals, but in the formation of private Foundation Hospitals, which are taking profitable work from the NHS, in other words hip replacementsand so on. These Foundation Hospitals make contracts with the Government to perform set numbers of operations. Once sealed, the agreed money goes to the Foundation Hospital. They get paid more for each operation than NHS hospitals and still get the money even if the number of operations is not completed. In some cases, doctors are flown in from other countries, not all up to NHS standards, as they are not NHS vetted. This has resulted in many bad operations, causing pain and stress, having to be performed again.
Taking these types of operations, for example hip replacements, cataracts and so on, away from NHS hospitals means that NHS doctors are losing out as well on experience and training in these areas.
Most, if not all, NHS Hospital Trusts and Primary Care Trusts are in financial crisis, bankrupt. But the Government has pledged not to bail them out, saying they have thrown millions of pounds at the NHS and that bad management has caused the crisis. The outcome has been ward closures, cancelled operations and thousands of job losses. These include including specialist nurses and consultants -- unheard of in the NHS – affecting recruitment of junior doctors and eventually the number of doctors being trained.
This comes at a time when recent publicity has highlighted, yet again, the shortage of doctors and nurses in our NHS. We were recruiting from overseas! These cuts will not only demoralise the staff, but will cause hardship and worry to the patients, current and future, and their families. This will make conditions worse for the elderly infirm who are already treated as third-class citizens.
Secretary of State for Health Patricia Hewitt has recently announced plans to treat patients with heart and asthma problems in the community by nurses, in spite of a shortage of district nurses. Also patients have been told they will have a choice of hospital to go to.
Britain continues to have the highest level of MRSA superbug in our hospitals, and the number is rising.
A shortage of midwives has meant a failing service to expectant mothers, and some fatalities have occurred.
The post code lottery continues with regard to receiving certain drugs, and patients have brought several cases to the courts to try to overturn the decisions made by their Primary Care Trusts.
The New Communist Party supports the full integration of dental care services into the NHS as part of a holistic approach to deliver public health free at the point of use. The destruction of local dental services must be reversed.
The New Communist Party supports a fully-funded, well managed, National Health Service, there for everyone at the time of need, and continues to support all workers in the NHS.
As a short-term goal, the NCP seeks to re-establish the availability and breadth of NHS services provided before the Conservative government of 1979 started the long process of decline.
The NCP rejects the commodification of health services, and believes that the quality of medical care provided by the NHS should remove the market for private health provision. The standard of medical care must be the same for all.
The NCP notes with alarm the increasing privatisation of dentistry, ophthalmic services, and chiropody, and the unavailability of such care in many parts of the country.
We believe that health care is better provided at local hospitals and clinics where families and individuals can receive all necessary care in familiar surroundings. Maternity and nutrition clinics, district nurses, and regular health screenings at school and places of work are not nostalgic dreams of the past, but real options for the future in making health care available to people wherever they need it.
The New Communist Party opposes all privatisation of the service including foundation hospitals -- a back door method to privatisation. We are concerned that foundation hospitals are part of a process of marketisation in the NHS, involved in the reintroduction of competition and an increased role of private sector.
We believe that it will undermine the public service leaning to a poorer, unequal service and an extension of charging. Foundation hospitals will be able to raise income by charging for the treatment of private patients and many services will be subcontracted out.
Congress calls on all its members in the trade unions and community to oppose and campaign against the establishment of foundation hospitals and all other privatisation. This has become parasitic, leading to the destruction of the NHS, which was fought for over many generations. And Congress calls for an NHS that is free at the point of need. The service and the morale of its workers must be reinstated to the full, to guarantee the sick, young and elderly, receive the treatment and service needed, including dental, fully supported by our tax system and at no extra cost to the patients and their families. It is the workers who create the wealth by their toil and provide the funding in the form of taxes, not the bourgeoisie, who have off-shore accounts and sit on the shoulders of the workers. We will continue to our fight to save our services.
The purpose of the education system of this country has never been for the benefit of the working class. It has been developed to provide a workforce sufficiently educated, but no more than necessary, to work the tools and machinery of the day so that the ruling class could extract the maximum amount of profit. The ruling class has never relinquished control of the education system mainly in order to ensure that education provided no less and more than was required.
Now, under this Government’s economic policy with its consequent reduced manufacturing and industrial base, they are trying to alter the education system to suit basic service industry needs.
We want to see a return to comprehensive schools, as originally envisaged, and the development of a policy to solve the skills deficit that is facing our country.
We also call for education at all levels to be free and any education after the age of 16 to be supported by grants.
There is an urgent need to look at the syllabuses of all levels of education from teaching training to primary school; from science teachers to youth workers.
Education funding needs to be increased substantially and to be controlled by the appropriate local council, enabling them to direct resources as needs dictate. Sponsorship of schools by “charity” organisations or companies should cease; if they have spare money to spend on education they can afford to be taxed more heavily so that democratically elected councillors have more money to promote all round education.
Since the 1980s the facilities available to young people to participate in physical and cultural activities have either been closed or reduced significantly. Youth clubs have been closed, playing fields sold for high-priced housing, swimming pools sold and converted into up-market “fitness” clubs with exorbitant membership fees.
We would make it mandatory for local authorities to make facilities available for the youth in their areas to participate in both physical and cultural activities that are fully funded by taxation.
We would remove religion from the curriculum of any school. If religion is to be taught it should be in the local religious gathering place or at home. Religion is the parents’ responsibility not a state-funded responsibility.
The NCP opposes the existence of separate schools on the basis of wealth, social class, or religious faith. All such schools must be integrated into a single educational structure that meets the needs of all children, and seeks to promote social equality and the highest standards of academic, practical and ethical formation for everyone.
Britain, along with most of the developed world, is having to pay higher prices for oil and other petroleum products as demand exceeds supply on finite resources.
The United States invaded Iraq firstly to secure Iraq’s oil supplies for the use of American imperialism, secondly to maintain the policy whereby oil is priced in American dollars and thirdly to establish a permanent military presence in the area with the objective of controlling all the oil reserves in the Middle East. They have only had limited success in that Iraqi oil is only being extracted in limited quantities and Iran has stood firm against American and British “sabre rattling”.
The extraction of Britain’s carbon energy reserves has reduced to such an extent that it is now dependent on imported oil, gas and coal and can no longer offset the price of the North Sea oil against the price of importing carbon energy from abroad.
Coal-fired power stations currently generate 34 per cent of Britain’s energy needs but most of this coal is imported, in line with European Union policy.
The Blair government is currently considering building a new generation of nuclear power stations to resolve the problem. Britain’s current ageing nuclear power stations provide around 20 per cent of the country’s energy needs but that will decline to nothing over the next decade as old power stations are decommissioned, unless a new generation is built.
The New Communist Party has for two decades opposed the development of nuclear power and we remain opposed for several reasons:
The toxic plutonium waste generated presents a serious hazard for thousands of years to come and there is no safe way to dispose of it;
The plutonium produced can be used in nuclear weapons and it is probable that the Government favours nuclear power as a resource for a new generation of nuclear weapons;
When waste disposal is included in the costs of nuclear power, it becomes the most expensive form of energy available;
The dangers of nuclear accidents are enormous, for the local population and the environment;
Existing nuclear power stations have led to a dangerous rise in radioactive pollution in their vicinity – with pigeons and seabirds near Sellafield being so affected that their droppings are considered to be dangerous radioactive waste and practically the whole of the Irish Sea suffering from increased radioactivity.
The New Communist Party supports an integrated energy policy, using a variety of energy sources including “green” sources such as solar power, wind, hydro, wave and geothermal energy. We call for an increase in the research and development of these sources combined with increased emphasis on energy efficiency.
We also call for the development of the clean uses of coal to generate power without polluting emissions.
Britain’s coalfields were closed down following a long political battle between the Government and the National Union of Mineworkers over several generations and in line with EU energy policies.
We call for a reversal of this policy and investment to redevelop Britain’s extensive coalfields and end Britain’s dependence on imported energy sources.
Britain has a housing crisis with 100,000 households in bed-and-breakfast accommodation and 1.5 million on council waiting lists. This is because the ruling class now regards housing as a source of profit.. They have banned councils from taking out loans to build new houses, stopped meaningful action to return more than 700,000 empty homes to occupation and starved councils of cash to maintain the existing council housing stock. This manipulation of housing has pushed up rents and house prices, resulting in councils having to place people in unsuitable temporary accommodation. It also introduces fear of defaulting, especially on mortgages, where there is a risk of becoming homeless, thus discouraging workers from taking industrial action. In effect the ruling class is using housing as a weapon in the class struggle.
Homeless people are not the only people who need council houses. There are plenty of young people still with their parents because they cannot afford their own home.
Councils should be allowed to build council houses to satisfy this need. But the opposite is happening. The Government is forcing councils to spend a fortune to convince their council tenants to vote to sell the roofs over their heads to housing associations and private landlords. This is nothing but the privatisation of social housing.
Privatisation means higher rents and service charges, less security and unaccountable landlords. Council workers lose their jobs or are transferred to the private sector, consultants get fat bonuses, and banks make big profits from the supply of funds to finance the transfer of houses from the council to the new private owners.
The three million council tenants and their families, the millions more living in temporary or overcrowded accommodation, and all those priced out of the private sector, would benefit from increased investment to improve existing and build new council housing.
The NCP calls for the:
End of the privatisation of council housing whether it be the sale of houses to private landlords or housing associations;
Councils to be allowed to build decent affordable, secure and accountable council housing backed, by government borrowing;
Councils to be given more rights to manage empty houses;
Councils to be allowed to use the surplus in their housing revenue accounts to enhance the management and maintenance of council housing.
Housing Association stock should be brought under council ownership.
Opposition to the marketisation of all housing rents.
The New Communist Party calls for an end to the use of land in order to exploit the working class through rent. No human being created the land and all should have access to it to live and to work. Rent is a form of tax on every economic activity that happens on land: working, living, farming, leisure, trading and so on imposed by landowners, who acquired the land as private property through the enclosure movements from the 14th century onwards.
Communists oppose the private ownership of land in principle, as the extraction of rent is purely a method of exploiting those who live or work on the land. A Communist government will nationalise all land, granting leaseholds to those who legitimately live or work on it, dispossessing all landowners and ensuring that the working class alone benefits from capital gains.
We meet again at a time of sharpening contradictions – and the primary contradiction in the world today is between United States imperialism and the rest of the world it seeks to dominate. The Bush administration represents the most reactionary and aggressive sections of the American ruling class bent on world domination, which they call “globalisation” and the “New World order”. Supported by the most venal and craven sections of the British ruling class, they have invaded and occupied part of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq and their rockets and guns threaten Democratic Korea, Cuba, Syria, Iran, Venezuela and anyone else who dares to stand in their way.
Bush and the most aggressive circles within the American ruling class want to carve-up the Middle East as part of their plan to rule the world. Iraq is just the first step. All its oil is going to be handed over to the big oil corporations. All its territory will be used as a strategic base to threaten the other countries in the region that stand in imperialism’s way.
They call it “globalisation” or the “New World order”. They call their colonial wars “the fight against terrorism”. Ireland, Korea, Cyprus and Kashmir remain partitioned. The Palestinian Arabs remain under Zionist occupation and imperialist forces straddle the world with their arsenals and fleets. What it means is simply world domination. The next target could be Cuba, Syria, Iran or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Bush branded all, like Iraq, as part of the “axis of evil”.
In the past the imperialists justified their colonial wars by using the racist and imperialist theories of the “white man’s burden”, “the master race” or “manifest destiny”. The horrors of the two world wars of the last century killed most of that reactionary nonsense. So now they fly the false flag of “democracy” and “liberation” to justify their crimes.
We have seen their “liberation” in practice in Iraq; worthless puppets and crooks imported into the country to act as stooges; civilians bullied and gunned down by trigger-happy US Marines while their cities burn. Basic civil rights are denied while the country is flooded with drugs and criminal gangs roam under the eyes of the occupation forces.
But those in favour of imperialist aggression are the most aggressive and greedy sections of the capitalist and landowning class. They are the sort of people who robbed and looted Africa and Asia in the 19th century to build an Empire on which “the sun never set”, killing and enslaving millions on their way. They are the kind who lived the life of Roman Emperors in their grand houses while British workers slaved in their factories for pennies and died broken and destitute in the slums of our great cities. They are the people who sent millions to their deaths in the First World War to preserve and increase their fortunes.
They pull the strings. Now they show what a farce our so-called parliamentary democracy really is. Now they reveal the contempt they have for the people beneath them. Millions elected the Labour government. Millions are opposed to the war. Their voice is ignored and dismissed and the only demand that Blair & Co listen to is that of the ruling class.
This has led to a crisis in the Labour Party that has now spread to the Government. There is anger at the spectacle of a British Prime Minister reduced to the role of an apologist for George W Bush. There is disgust at the sight of the British army in the Gulf reduced to the role of hired hands of American imperialism, like the sepoys of the old East India Company. Even sections of the bourgeoisie and the ruling class are opposed to the war and this is reflected in the position of the Liberal Democrats and the small but growing band of Tory MPs. But Blair & Co have determined to serve one section of the ruling class: the most reactionary and imperialist exploiters who believe that British imperialism’s world-wide interests can only be protected by the might of the American armed forces.
But wherever there is oppression there is always resistance. The dreams of Anglo-American imperialism are turning into dust on the streets of Iraq as the heroic Iraqi partisans move from resistance to attack. The Venezuelan peoples have mobilised to defend their freedom. The Nepalese people have ended the autocracy of a hated monarch and throughout Latin America democratic forces have come to power with mass support.
The bastions of socialism, People’s China, Democratic Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and Laos stand firm politically and economically while the capitalist world sinks into decadence and economic stagnation. And in the developed capitalist world -- the imperialist heartlands of North America and Western Europe – millions of working people are now demanding change. Oppressed sections from France’s ethnic minorities have taken to the streets in open rebellion.
Peace remains the central issue. The labour and peace movement must maintain the fight to bring about the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq. At the same time it must mobilise to stop Blair or whoever takes his place from spending more billions on the needless and useless replacement of the Trident nuclear weapons system.
Since 2003 an anti-war movement of unprecedented scale has swept the world, not least in the United States and Britain. Mass demonstrations reflect the mass opposition to the imperialists, war inside the labour movement and amongst the people as a whole, challenging the neo-colonialist conspiracies of the ruling circles in Britain and the United States.
The NCP fully supports the Stop the War Campaign and all the other campaigns fighting for the withdrawal of British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The tragedy of the Palestinian Arabs began when British imperialism first occupied their land in 1918 and encouraged Zionist immigration through the Balfour doctrine. British imperialism sought to create a community of Zionist settlers who would prolong their occupation of Palestine indefinitely. They helped British colonialism crush the Palestine Revolt in 1936. But in the immediate post-World War 11 situation the Zionists seized the opportunity to push for a separate state of their own. In 1948 the British colonial mandate ended and the State of Israel was proclaimed. On that day the first Arab-Israeli war began. It has never ended.
The first war led to the expulsion of a million Palestinian Arabs from their homes by the Zionist regime. Those refugees and their descendants have never given up their right to return to their land. And this is the heart of the crisis in the Middle East that has led to five full-scale wars and continuing simmering conflicts.
Israel is economically and politically entirely dependent on American imperialism and successive Israeli governments have existed to serve the needs of American imperialism in the region. And those needs are to weaken and divide the Arabs to ensure that the big oil corporations can continue their exploitation and plunder of Arab oil until it eventually runs out.
Anglo-American imperialism is currently promoting an Israeli “unilateral” withdrawal from parts of the occupied West Bank, which would leave Arab Jerusalem and large swathes of occupied Palestinian land under Israeli occupation. Israel’s “unilateral” withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 was designed to make its broader annexationist ambitions more credible. The Zionists claim they are still committed to the so-called Road Map to Peace in the Middle East, which is little more than a watered-down version of the deal tabled at the American sponsored Camp David talks in 2000. The Palestinians rejected this. Now the Zionists falsely argue that they cannot negotiate with the new Hamas-led Palestinian leadership until it recognises the State of Israel.
Israel’s new plan is, in fact, a revival of a proposal drawn up in the 1970s that essentially seeks to keep the spoils of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war while granting the Palestinians “autonomy” in uneconomic, isolated enclaves surrounded by Israeli troops. It neither conforms to the demands of the United Nations for a complete withdrawal from all the occupied territories seized in 1967 nor does it address the heart of the matter – the Palestinian refugees’ right to return.
The Israeli plan calls on the Palestinians to end their armed struggle and calls on all the other Arabs to cease supporting the Palestinian resistance and to normalise their relations with the Zionist entity. In return the Palestinians are offered a “state” with no defined borders but which is clearly little more than the “autonomous” zones they administered under the previous Oslo agreements and a vague hope that Israel might, in the fullness of time, evacuate other parts of the West Bank to make this “state” economically and politically viable. The issue of the refugees is ignored.
Israel still clings to the dream of dominating the Middle East and colonising Palestine. But its petty ambitions and dreams are not the driving force of Anglo-American imperialism.
The tail does not wag the dog and Israel and the American “Zionist lobby” do not dictate American foreign policy. They serve it. They provide Anglo-American imperialism with a convenient alibi to play the role of “honest broker” in the Middle East. They enable the feudal Arab oil princes, whose thrones are propped up by imperialist bayonets, to claim that the Arabs’ enemy is not imperialism as such but Israel and this supposedly all-powerful “Zionist lobby” which pulls the strings in the United States.
In a slightly more sophisticated way, Israel’s ruling circles play the same game, claiming to serve a mythical Zionist ideal as a bulwark against persecution. In reality they simply provide imperialism with cannon fodder for the strategic aims of Anglo-American imperialism. Far from being a Zionist paradise, Israel today is one of the worst places for Jews to live, racked by continuing conflict with Palestinians and economic hardship due to its isolation and total dependency on the United States.
Past UN resolutions have provided the basis for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. First of all Israel must totally withdraw from all the occupied territories seized in 1967, including Arab East Jerusalem and Syria’s Golan Heights. The Palestinians must be allowed to establish a state of their own on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinian refugees whose homes are now in Israel must be allowed to return or, if they so wish, be paid appropriate compensation in exchange. All states in the region, including Israel, should have internationally agreed and recognised frontiers guaranteed by all the Great Powers.
Anglo-American imperialism believes it can call all the shots in the Middle East today. The imperialists believe that all resistance can be crushed by brute force and they hope to find willing Arab tools to do their bidding, hoist up the white flag and sign a surrender peace.
In the Middle East imperialist violence always leads to an equally violent resistance. Imperialism’s refusal to recognise this has led to the spiral of violence and terror that began in 1948 as a regional war, to a conflict that now spans the whole world.
A lasting solution must be based on the right of return of refugees and an independent Palestinian state with Israel giving up all territories seized since 1967.
Iraq was invaded and occupied in 2003. By establishing direct control of the Iraqi oil fields, Anglo-American imperialism hopes to control the price and production of the global oil industry. This was what the war was all about. The issue is clear. This was an illegal an unjust war. British troops should never have been sent there in the first place. They must be brought home immediately. The Iraqi people’s legitimate rights to independence and the control of their resources must be upheld. The Iraqis have taken up the gun in a new fight for independence. Their resistance must be supported.
In the beginning Bush and Blair told the world that this war was over the weapons of mass destruction that Iraq allegedly still possessed. It was not the view of the UN weapons inspectors. The majority of the members of the United Nations opposed it. The other Great Powers including People’s China, France, Germany and Russia opposed it. And it has been exposed as a crude lie by recent events.
Though the war was allegedly fought to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, Iraq used none nor have the occupying forces found any. Though it was claimed that the war would bring “democracy”, popular leaders are being sidelined in favour of worthless and corrupt placemen, groomed for their role during their long years of exile in Britain and the United States.
The warmongers claimed the invasion was for the benefit of the Iraqi Kurdish minority. But the imperialists, who only seek to use them as auxiliaries in their campaign to take over the whole of Iraq, have categorically ruled out their hopes for full autonomy or independence.
We are now told that the war is about bringing “democracy” to the Iraqi people. But this is the last thing on the imperialists’ minds at the moment. What they hope to establish is a series of weak puppet statelets based on ethnic and religious differences within Iraq – much like the French colonial plan for Syria in the 1920s - whose leaders will endorse the continuing occupation.
Very detailed plans to carve up the Iraqi oil fields and its nationalised oil industry were prepared long before the war. The immense task of reconstruction needed to get Iraqi oil pumping again for the benefit of imperialism has already been earmarked for chosen American corporations.
By establishing direct control of the Iraqi oil fields, Anglo-American imperialism hopes to control the price and production of the global oil industry. This was what the war was about and this is why France, Germany and Russia are so concerned.
The central issue is the right of the Iraqi people to independence, to choose their own government and social system and control their own resources. They certainly will not be able to do this under imperialist occupation.
The Iraqis could easily establish a new independent government within weeks if freely allowed to do so. That, however, is not on George W Bush’s agenda.
We whole-heartedly support the Iraqi resistance in its struggle for freedom. We call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq.
Afghanistan was invaded and occupied by American-led forces in 2001. British troops are now stationed in Afghanistan to prop up a puppet regime installed at the behest of US imperialism. During the invasion hundreds of Afghans and Muslim fighters from other countries were taken prisoner and transported to a concentration camp on the US Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba. International pressure has led to the release of a handful but the majority remain held in inhuman, brutal isolation in these camps in breach of international law and the Geneva Convention. They are denied prisoner of war status; nor are they treated as common criminals with the right to trial and defence.
We call for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay camp and the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Afghanistan.
Anglo-American imperialism stands totally isolated in the world, even amongst the international institutions it once relied on to do its bidding and give it some international authority for its actions.
The United Nations has been marginalised. US imperialism only pays lip service to UN institutions when it suits its purposes. The Americans support the world organisation only when they can use it to rubber-stamp their plans. When it is no longer of any further use to them, like now, it is ignored and discarded.
In the past British and American imperialism upheld the principle of the veto on the UN Security Council – a right the United States has exercised 73 times, mainly to protect Israel. But it was ignored when it appeared that France, Russia or People’s China were prepared to use it to block the Iraq invasion.
The Bush administration is indifferent to the UN and indeed the more cautious views of its junior partners. The Bush administration represents the most reactionary and aggressive sections of the American ruling class: people ready to take the world to the brink of destruction in pursuit of world domination.
They call it “the New World Order”. It was coined when Bush’s father was in the White House, soon after the Soviet Union fell following the counter-revolution. It more than echoes Adolf Hitler’s “new order for the world”. Like the Nazis, American imperialism demonises anyone who dares to stand up to it as savage and insane fanatics. Like the Nazis this is used to justify the torture of Afghan tribesmen at the Bagram air base or the American concentration camp in Guantánamo Bay. Like the Nazis, Bush makes one demand after another on those whom American imperialism seeks to destroy.
When the first demand is met another soon follows until eventually, like the Fuhrer, Bush’s “patience” is exhausted and war is threatened. Like the Nazis, Bush has elevated the theory of “pre-emptive war” to justify American aggression and the surprise attack against anyone considered weaker than themselves. Like the Nazis, the American imperialists think they can rule the world but the Thousand-Year Reich lasted little more than 12. It ended in world war, the deaths of millions upon millions and destruction on a global scale. The eventual defeat of Nazi-Germany was in no small part due to the political and military organisation of the Soviet Union and saw the establishment of the United Nations, the organisation that Bush and Blair chose to ignore in their elevation of “pre-emptive” war.
We call for democratic reform of the UN Security Council to ensure that it is representative of the vast majority of member states of the world forum.
France and Germany rejected Blair’s appeal to the rest of the European Union to back British imperialism’s partnership with American imperialism. While the French and German imperialists want to preserve and increase their own influence in the Middle East, they know they will not get much out of the “New World Order”. Nor are they simply going to accept an American carve-up of Iraq and the Middle East and the global oil market lying down.
Any move that blocks the establishment of an Anglo-American hegemony over the world is welcome. But not if it substitutes one imperialist system with another, albeit controlled by a consortium of European powers under the flag of the European Union.
The European Union is divided and so is our own ruling class and the war has brought their divisions to a head. The most reactionary, aggressive and venal sections, those the Blair leadership are serving, are in the war camp.
Those in favour of greater European integration oppose them. These include the elements of the ruling class who will profit from partnership inside the EU rather than with US imperialism. And they have turned to the peace movement for popular support in their struggle.
The war party, that section of the ruling class in favour of imperialist aggression and who believe that British imperialism’s global interests can only be preserved by American might, are dominant at the moment. Blair still struggles to maintain the old British ruling class policy of straddling the Atlantic to play off Europe against America. But he burnt his bridges in more than one sense in this war.
The Government has scrapped the referendum on the single European currency following the rejection of the proposed EU constitution in the Dutch and French referendums. This is not out of any concern for working people who would suffer from EMU. It simply reflects the demands of the war party, which includes virtually all the Euro-sceptic Tories.
The Blair leadership has aligned itself with the most reactionary and venal sections of the British ruling class – those who profit from British imperialism’s neo-colonial exploitation, those who know it can only be propped up by the guns of the American war machine. This war party, which includes most but not all of the Tory leaders, has the backing of the North American-owned press in Britain. But it does not represent the views of that section of the ruling class that wants closer integration with the European Union. Nor does it represent the views of the mass of the Labour Party nor the mass of the working class.
The struggle within the Labour Party is clearly going to intensify – a positive development as the only way the war party as a whole can be defeated is by defeating Blair & Co inside the party they claim to lead. But the agenda must not be simply reduced to divisions within the ruling class itself over Europe and the United States. Nor must the movement be used simply as a weapon by one section of the ruling class over another. We must campaign for an independent working class policy at home and overseas.
British and United States imperialism poses the greatest danger to world peace. The National Missile Defence (NMD) system has triggered off another global arms race. The tearing up of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty has undermined every other international agreement on nuclear weapons. Even so the imperialists are trying to use part of the non-proliferation agreement as an instrument to bully and threaten any country attempting to develop an independent nuclear industry. But given the fact that the non-proliferation treaty has still to be implemented by the imperialist camp, every sovereign state has the legitimate right to develop its nuclear industry.
The Big Five permanent members of the UN Security Council all possess nuclear weapons, along with India and Pakistan. The United States has an immense arsenal, as does Britain. France also possesses substantial stocks of 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.
People’s China is the fifth permanent member of the Security Council, and the only socialist state with nuclear weapons and 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. At present the United States is in violation of the Non-proliferation Treaty by its commitment to its Star Wars strategy and its efforts to develop tactical battlefield nuclear weapons.
China calls on all nuclear powers to pledge not to be the first to use nuclear weapons at any time or under any circumstance, to commit themselves unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states or nuclear-weapons free zones, and to 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 to their home territory. All nuclear powers should pledge their support for 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 see this as a contribution in the global fight for nuclear disarmament. We must campaign against any British participation in NMD and for Britain’s 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 are a national disgrace. This money could be used to refund the National Health Service and other state welfare projects but it is being squandered every year on Trident – a system developed to “deter” the Soviet Union, which now no longer exists.
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 reunification of Hong Kong and Macao provides a model for the return of Taiwan to the Chinese homeland.
Democratic Korea has won stunning political and economic victories in 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 continue to strengthen their economic, bilateral and party-to-party ties. 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; elsewhere the communists are working to end the cruel exploitation of capitalism and communists everywhere are working together to reign in the military ambitions of the imperialist powers
Since our last Congress the Party has strengthened its bilateral relations with communist and workers’ parties all over the world. The Party has developed its friendship and solidarity with the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Communist Party of China and the Communist Party of Cuba. 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 support the consistent efforts of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which has played a key role in organising an annual international forum of communist and workers’ parties, as well as an Information Bulletin to develop communist ideas in the new situation and to foster international solidarity.
The Party plays an active part in 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 a co-ordinated communist response across the world is needed to rally working people against the imperialists and oppressors. But calls for the re-establishment of a formal 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 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 are matters for those parties alone to settle.
Ireland has suffered the consequences of English and British colonisation since feudal times, with periodic uprisings and rebellions by its people. In the last century this conflict intensified. The partition imposed by Britain in 1921 resulted in civil war, a Protestant-dominated state in the occupied six counties and armed conflict between the IRA and Britain from 1969 to 1997.
The United Irish rebellion in 1798, the Emmett Rising in 1803, the Young Irelanders in 1848, the Fenian movement, the Land League and the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the 1916 Easter Rising, the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-21, the 1950s Border Campaign and the IRA campaigns of 1969-1997 form a continuous thread of struggle for Ireland's national liberation.
The New Communist Party believes it is the right of Irish people to determine the nature of that struggle. For centuries, British colonial domination and oppression has rendered normal political conduct impossible. Only today are the conditions being created to redress the injustices of British rule, anti-Catholic discrimination and partition.
The violent suppression of the Civil Rights Association and pogroms against Catholics in 1968-69 sparked the latest phase of the conflict in Ireland. The British state protected and maintained a Unionist regime in the north that brutally oppressed the Catholic and nationalist population.
In the 1990s the Adams-Hume peace process resulted in two IRA ceasefires, and following Labour's election victory in 1997 the parties in the north and the British and Irish governments negotiated the historic Good Friday Agreement in 1998. This was overwhelmingly endorsed by the people of northern and southern Ireland in the 1999 referendum.
The New Communist Party believes that these advances were made possible by Labour's election victory in 1997, along with the efforts of Sinn Féin and other parties to build a peace process.
After eight years the agreement has not been fully implemented, due to the interference of rejectionist elements in the British state and their surrogates in the north of Ireland, and the vetoes on progress by both the main Unionist parties.
Nevertheless the benefits of the peace process have transformed the situation throughout Ireland. In the north, the nationalist population no longer suffers from constant harassment, and the violence caused by the Orange Order marches and the loyalist paramilitaries has diminished.
However the number of racist attacks have increased in the north, and the potential for loyalist violence remains as long as the Good Friday Agreement remains unimplemented. In the republican community the “dissident” groups have effectively been marginalised.
Republicans are engaged in dialogue with Unionist churches and the business community in the north, but the key to cementing the peace process and ending all sectarian violence is for nationalist, republican and Unionist politicians to work together.
The Good Friday Agreement is a major step towards the end of partition in Ireland. Its full implementation will transform relations between north and south, and bring about a new era in policing and justice in the north.
The New Communist Party regards Sinn Féin as the vanguard in the struggle for Irish national liberation and the driving force behind the peace process in Ireland. The NCP supports the full implementation of the 1998 agreement, the withdrawal of all British troops and complete demilitarisation of the north of Ireland, the reunification of Ireland, and an end all British involvement in Irish affairs.
The New Communist Party will continue to work with the Wolfe Tone Society, the Connolly Association and the Troops Out Movement, and will work within the trade union and labour movement in Britain in support of a united and truly independent Ireland.
Capitalism is in deep crisis. It cannot solve the problems of the millions of working people whose labour it exploits but it always seeks to divert the masses to perpetuate its rule. Throughout Europe we are witnessing the “creeping fascism” of the bourgeoisie who couple their attacks on working class rights and living standards with tactics that seek to scapegoat asylum-seekers, religious and ethnic minorities and immigrants to divide and weaken the working class. Civil liberties and rights that had been taken for granted for decades are being stripped away, as the forces of repression are granted more and more powers of arrest and detention. At the same time they encourage the bogus theories of personal freedom, bourgeois democracy and the illusions of social democracy as an alternative to scientific socialism. In the 1970s it was called Euro-communism. In the 1990s it was the “Third Way”. Now it is the “European Left Party”.
The “European Left Party” is a bloc of revisionists, left social-democrats and Trotskyists who specifically reject Marxism-Leninism, which it calls “Stalinism”, while claiming to be the heirs of the European communist movement. What they are the heirs to are the revisionist ideas that destroyed the mass parties of Italy and France and provided the ideological cover for the traitors who brought down the Soviet Union and the European socialist camp. They elevate parliamentarianism and bourgeois democracy. But 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 smallest number of people can manipulate the maximum number of votes.
The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly are now 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 provides 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 under pressure from the labour movement 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.
The NCP was founded in 1977 on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and the rejection of revisionist and social democratic trends within the defunct Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). The NCP continues to combat revisionist and social democratic thinking as part of its campaign to build the NCP 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 NCP 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 that have sprung from the British communist movement.
In recent years the NCP has developed friendly relations with the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). This includes regular bilateral exchanges of views, joint activities and work for peace and proletarian internationalism. This work can only strengthen the British communist movement in the effort to build communist unity in theory and practice.
The NCP supported a CPB initiative for a round-table conference of communist parties in Britain that took place in 1995. The NCP 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.
The NCP supports the Morning Star, which is an asset of the working class built up over generations. It is a newspaper of the broad left and the trade union movement while the New Worker is the Marxist-Leninist paper of the NCP.
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 email edition goes all round the world and reports and features are permanently preserved on the Internet by our national, London and central websites. 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 supporters’ 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 NCP 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 on 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 cannot 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 smallest number of people can manipulate the maximum number of votes. Parliament no more makes the real decisions for the country than do the councils in the localities.
All the major 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 and 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 concretely to 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 born from the epic struggles of the last two centuries.
Communists proceed from the principles of proletarian internationalism, peace and friendship among the peoples. The Communist Parties of Europe and Asia were the centre of the resistance to fascism during the Second World War and the Soviet Union led by Stalin played the decisive role in the defeat of Hitler and Hirohito. The international communist movement led by Lenin and Stalin lit the flames of revolution in Africa, Asia and Latin America and inspired the independence movements that broke the chains of colonial slavery.
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. That is 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. It is a world in which those who produce the entire wealth of the globe get the fruits of their labour.
We believe that while calls for the re-establishment of a formal Communist International are premature, a co ordinated international communist response is needed to rally working people against the imperialists and oppressors. We must work to restore the momentum for revolutionary change; strengthen co-operation and united action with communist and workers’ parties around the world; build solidarity with the global anti-war movement and forces for liberation in the Third World to unite the class and march towards a new tomorrow – the world Marx and Engels predicted and a world that will surely come to pass.
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. It is a new and better world – the world Marx and Engels predicted and a world that 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.
Congress instructs the incoming Central Committee to compile a list of the Party's most important immediate demands to be the leading edge in our propaganda work.
The NCP recognises the significant victory of Hezbollah in its contribution to peace in the Middle East and opposition to American domination of the region.
The New Communist Party congratulates the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on its recent nuclear test. We support North Korea in its attempts to defend itself against American imperialism including its nuclear deterrent. We recognise that the Korean people have endured the US-imposed division of their country and the occupation of south Korea for over 50 years and endless military provocations, sanctions and so on. The DPRK has a right and a duty to protect its people from imperialist aggression.
The US imperialists have described the DPRK as part of the "axis of evil" because it is a workers' state and have threatened it with invasion. The lesson of the war against Iraq is that those countries that comply with imperialist pressure to disarm invite invasion but imperialists hesitate to attack a well-armed and united people.
Congress condemns the attack on democratic rights and institutions and the wave of arrests that began on 12th September 2006 under the “anti-terror” laws.
Congress condemns these attacks on free speech and freedom of assembly aimed at stifling the trades unions, socialist movements and Kurdish institutions.
We condemn all Turkish state attacks on democratic institutions and civil rights.
We demand the immediate end to all the unlawful attacks of the Turkish state and the immediate release of all those arrested.
This Congress calls upon the incoming Central Committee to initiate a discussion on the probable consequences of climate change.
We recognise that this is a process arising from the very operation of capitalism as a system of exploitation. Far from there being any prospect of big business co-operating with the working class to solve this problem, the contradictions will sharpen as monopoly capitalism pursues its quest for profit, resulting in changes in the global climate that may threaten the very existence of the human race.
We call upon the incoming Central Committee to treat this issue as a priority and issue policy statements and campaigning proposals.
The whole of the NHS has suffered massive cuts in patient care. Mental health services have suffered to cut costs and slash budgets. Increased privatisation, poor financial management, constant re-organisation and so-called “service development” have been severely damaging for service users and mental health service provision.
Illnesses such as depression and anxiety are increasing to epidemic proportions in Britain today. They are often brought on by the working and living conditions of advanced and declining capitalism. Long working hours, constant pressure, permanent debt, the promotion of individualism and compulsive consumerism, along with the decline in social cohesion and working class consciousness, are the causes of growing mental ill health.
Government policy with an emphasis on quality and improvement has failed with a poor national standard of care being reported. Investment and modernisation of mental heath care should be a national priority rather than empty rhetoric.
Staff morale is poor and in some areas there is a high turnover of staff. These are both related and characteristics of serious organisational problem. There are significant problems in recruitment and retention, which emphasise weakness in workforce development.
Psychological treatments provide an alternative and complementary treatment to medication. High rates of treatment resistance, unpleasant side effects, no compliance and persistent symptoms despite treatment emphasise the importance of establishing alternatives to medicine.
Mental health policy needs to reduce rates of suicide, emotional distress, deliberate self-harm, self-neglect and violence. Services need to be improved and high quality services developed with the objective of improving individual and care outcomes.
The NCP opposes the massive cutbacks in provision of care to the mentally ill and their replacement by outsourcing to private agencies for profit. We oppose the closure of day centres and cuts in the provision of local care.
The NCP calls for well-funded, professional in-house care, with proper follow-up and co-ordination with other social provision for all people with mental health problems.