New Communist Party of Britain
On 8/10 October 2004, 64 communist and workers’ parties met in Athens at an international meeting on Resistance to Imperialist Aggression - Fronts of Struggle and Alternatives. Several parties who were unable to participate because of the situation in their countries sent greetings and written contributions.
In the three-day meeting, there was a creative exchange of viewpoints on the international situation. Significant experiences were shared on the development of the peoples’ movement, of the mass movement and the movements of the communist and workers’ parties.
Many speakers referred to the situation that has developed following the military interventions of the United States and its allies against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq and the occupation of those countries. The participants categorically condemned the dangerous heightening of imperialist aggression and the complete violation of the principles and regulations of international law that has led to further crisis in the United Nations and its role in safeguarding peace and promoting peaceful settlement of disputes between states.
Below we print the contribution made by ANDY BROOKS, the general secretary of the New Communist Party of Britain:
WE HAVE MET many times before to exchange views, co-ordinate our campaigns and strengthen our solidarity with peoples in struggle across the globe. We have seen good times and bad times but this time we meet in an atmosphere of optimism and hope.
The remaining 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.
The Venezuelan people have closed ranks to defend the democratic Bolivarian Revolution against United States imperialism, the African countries are developing their own independent institutions and the masses in Africa, Asia and Latin America are demanding change. The flames of resistance burn bright in Palestine and Iraq. And in the developed capitalist world, the imperialist heartlands of North America and Western Europe, a massive anti-war movement has arisen to challenge the neo-colonialist conspiracies of the ruling circles in Britain and the United States.
The primary contradiction in the world today is between United States imperialism and the rest of the world it seeks to dominate. George W Bush’s administration represents the most reactionary and aggressive sections of the American ruling class.
The last Republican administration, headed by his father, presided over the counter-revolutions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, encouraged the revisionists and traitors who destroyed socialist society in Europe and openly declared its ambition - world domination, which they called the “new world order”.
The new Bush administration came to office in 2000 determined to continue along the same path under the banner of “globalisation” and “human rights”. Countries that refused to surrender their independence together with the remaining revolutionary strongholds were demonised as the “axis of evil” and targeted for destruction.
Afghanistan and Iraq have been invaded. The economic blockades against Cuba and Democratic Korea have been tightened and new sanctions have been imposed on Syria. Zionist Israel has been armed and encouraged to crush the Palestinian uprising and separatist movements in the Russian Federation are being covertly supported to undermine the efforts of the Putin government to restore its economy and break up the Russian federation.
But wherever there is oppression there is resistance - and no more so than on the streets of the towns and villages of Iraq. The heroic resistance, drawn from all sections of Iraqi society including the patriotic communist movement, has taken up the gun to drive the Anglo-American garrison out. The puppet regime is on its knees and the US-led army of occupation has its back against the wall.
The hideous crimes of the invaders, their concentration camps and slaughter of innocent civilians have fired the anger of the peoples in Europe and the United States who have built a consistent anti-war campaign that led to the defeat of the reactionary Spanish government and the withdrawal of all their troops and movements that are challenging the leadership of Tony Blair and George W Bush in Britain and the United States.
The primary contradiction today is between United States imperialism and the peoples of the world. This includes the growing rift between the most aggressive sections of the US ruling class and those sections of the bourgeoisie in the rest of the world who are not prepared to accept the permanent second class status implicit in Bush’s “new world”.
The Putin regime in Russia is strengthening its relations with the socialist countries, India, France and Germany to try and preserve its independence. French and German imperialists combined with some of their allies within the European Union to oppose US imperialism’s attempt to control the entire Middle East and through that the global oil market when they opposed the drive to war against Iraq at the United Nations.
They detached Turkey from the Anglo-American camp and their stand has helped exacerbate the crisis over Iraq within the British ruling class that has divided them in a way not seen since the great divisions over Free Trade and the Corn Laws in the 19th century.
After the Second World War British imperialism realised it could no longer maintain its vast maritime Empire alone and sought to preserve its global interests through alliance with the vastly more powerful United States. But this was an unequal relationship and, while British imperialism generally did the bidding of its more powerful partner, it soon realised that US imperialism’s interests were not identical to those of Britain. The Americans encouraged the break-up of the old European colonial systems to open them up for exploitation by US corporations and the United States stood aside when Britain, France and Israel invaded Egypt in 1956 to stop the nationalisation of the Suez Canal.
A section of the British ruling class increasingly saw the merits of partnership in Europe in the 1950s and 60s but few were prepared to wholeheartedly endorse the European project because they realised British imperialism would never be more than an equal partner to Germany and France.
The US alliance, called the “special relationship” was maintained to defend British imperialism’s remaining global interests and the international standing of sterling while Britain acted as a “bridge” across the Atlantic into Europe. By these means: having a foot in two camps, and possessing a nuclear arsenal second only to that of the United States, British imperialism believed it could continue to maintain its Great Power status and play off one against the other.
During the Cold War this policy appeared to work. British imperialists like Tory premier Harold Macmillan flattered themselves at playing the “Athens” to America’s “Rome”. Labour premier Harold Wilson tried to solve Britain’s balance of payments problems through IMF and World Bank loans but was still able to resist US pressure to send troops to Vietnam. Margaret Thatcher won US support during the war with Argentina over the Malvinas islands but still defied Washington when it came to selling Rolls Royce engines for the Soviet oil pipelines.
The Iraq crisis destroyed all these assumptions. Tony Blair’s Labour government, like all previous Labour governments ultimately served the interests of the ruling class. But the Blair government has aligned itself to the most venal and craven elements of the British ruling class - those who believe that British imperialism cannot survive without the United States and those who think that the Americans will give them a share of the spoils if they act as America’s chief running dog throughout the world.
Consequently the Blair government has backtracked on its pledge to join the European single currency. It has reneged on its promises to Sinn Féin and the Irish people in the Good Friday Agreement and it actively sabotaged the moves towards the EU constitution favoured by France and Germany.
Other sections of the ruling class - those representing manufacturing industries, banking and commerce committed to European integration - have been horrified at the breach with Paris and Berlin. Needing mass support for their efforts they have supported the anti-war campaign and are working to harness it to their own class interests. The issue of the “weapons of mass destruction” and the “dodgy dossier” that Blair used to justify his lies about the Saddam Hussein government will not go away.
Public outrage at the war has even extended to those Neanderthal elements within the ruling class who object to the use of British troops as sepoys to do America’s dirty work in Iraq but are as opposed to the European Union as they are to the US alliance.
The bourgeois press is divided almost equally between the two camps. The Liberal Democrats, the smaller bourgeois party that has long embraced Euro-federalism, has used its opposition to the war to great effect in recent local and parliamentary elections. Labour is deeply divided with a significant minority of backbench MPs opposed to Blair. The Conservatives are also divided, though to a much lesser degree.
This has created favourable conditions for a sustained anti-war campaign millions-strong that has committees throughout the country that can mobilise hundreds of thousands for mass demonstrations in London.
It has engaged vast sections of the working class and the new generation of young people in a campaign that has a distinctly anti-imperialist nature. This was reflected in this year’s TUC and Labour Party conferences, that had until recently been dominated by Blair’s followers. Though the Blair leadership remained dominant, it was forced on the defensive for the first time.
Of course no section of the ruling class can ever represent the interests of working people. Those opposed to Blair are not opposed to all war - only this one in Iraq. Like Chirac and Schröder they all supported the bombing of Serbia and the destruction of the Yugoslav federation. The Liberal Democrats want workers’ votes but they can never act of their behalf. Their attitude to the unions and public ownership differs little from that of the Conservatives.
Liberals like to call Lord Beveridge the “father of the welfare state”, and indeed this Liberal academic did draw up the blueprint for the “Welfare State” for Churchill’s wartime coalition government in 1942. But only a Labour government could have implemented it - and it did after Labour’s landslide victory in 1945.
The fringe left social-democratic platforms, like Respect and those that have gone before them like the Socialist Alliance and the revisionist communist parties in Britain, garner a small protest vote but they are not an alternative to Labour and their influence in the labour movement as a whole is marginal.
Our Party believes that working people can never achieve power by parliamentary means. People’s democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat can only be won through revolutionary struggle. But we also believe in the importance of winning working class reforms in the day-to-day struggle between capital and labour.
Reformist policies are best left to reformist parties and that’s what the Labour Party always was. But the major reforms that Labour pushed through under the Attlee government and the later Wilson/Callaghan administrations in the 1970s were due to mass rank-and-file pressure from the unions and the Labour Party itself. It’s no co-incidence that, according to current social studies, British working people enjoyed their highest standard of living during the 1970s and the restoration of everything working people had won from 1945 to 1979 must be the minimum demand of the British union movement.
We believe that within the labour movement the first step must be the defeat of the Blair leadership and its replacement by those ready to end the war and heed the demands of organised labour.
We believe that communists must always maintain an independent communist campaign within the broad ranks of the anti-war movement based on the principles of proletarian internationalism.
We believe that communists in Britain and all round the world must rally in support of the socialist states, the revolutionary movements and the peoples of the world fighting Anglo-American imperialism and their lackeys in Afghanistan, Palestine and above all, Iraq.
The issue is clear. The Iraq war was an illegal and unjust war. British troops should never have been sent to Iraq 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 Iraqi people have taken up the gun in a new fight for independence. Their resistance must be supported.
Parties taking part included:
Messages and written contributions were sent by: