People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 18

May 11, 2008



Greetings From The Communist Party Of Britain

DEAR Comrades, it is a great honour to bring solidarity greetings to you from the Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Britain.

The ties between our parties are longstanding and deep. Support for complete independence of India was among the earliest policy decisions of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and the role of leading Indian and British activists such as Shapurji Saklatvala, Rajani Palme Dutt, Phil Spratt, George Allison and Ben Bradley is well known to you.

In turn, the struggles of your people against British imperial rule assisted the British Party to maintain a clear anti-imperialist position, and to work for the adoption of that position within the British labour movement.

Today the links between our parties are continually strengthened through events such as this, through international conferences, through frequent bilateral meetings of leading cadres and through regular contacts between the CPB and the Association of Indian Communists in Britain and through the struggle to defend and apply the principles of Marxism-Leninism. Your comrades have contributed significantly to the annual Communist University of Britain, and to Unity for Peace and Socialism, the communist-led electoral alliance established between ourselves and several domiciled parties, which will be contesting the London Assembly Elections on May 1 this year.

Britain’s communists are currently debating the Executive Committee’s Draft Resolutions for the Party’s 50th National Congress on May 24-26. I am pleased to tell you that our two parties share a common perspective on every major international questions facing the communist movement. In Britain we are very conscious of the role of British imperialism in sustaining the United States’ military and political domination of the world. We see the struggle for an independent foreign policy, based on the principles of peace and respect for national sovereignty, as an essential part of the struggle against our own ruling class.

Our comrades work in unity with many others on the Left in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and in the Stop the War Coalition, the main organisers of mass demonstrations against the imperialist wars. We consider that the British labour movement has an important part to play in campaigning against the replacement of Trident, Britain’s so-called independent nuclear deterrent, in halting the European deployment of the US Missile Defence System, ending the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, opposing any attack on Iran, and in securing justice for the Palestinian people.

Imperialism’s threat to humanity comes not only from the US military posture, but also from imperialism’s profligate use of energy, which is complicating and worsening the long-term threat posed by climate change. While Britain only accounts for two percent of the world’s CO2 emissions, against 21 percent for the USA, the military and economic links between the two countries mean that the British government is unwilling to oppose the Bush administration’s approach. Indeed, the government’s approach to energy and the environment is private profit-driven and prompted by bourgeois concepts of ‘energy security’. The inability of state-monopoly capitalism to direct investment ensures that, under capitalism, there can be no collective solution to the question of global warming. We consider that forcing the British government to act is a fight which must be taken up by the labour movement.

Communists in Britain see the European Union as the collective agency of capitalist state power across Europe. Its primary function is to advance the interests of monopoly capital and to limit the scope for any challenge by neutralising the democratic institutions of member states. The transfer of economic and social powers from national parliaments to the EU Council of Ministers thereby strengthens the capitalist state within each of the most dominant powers of Europe. The new EU Reform Treaty is anti-democratic and anti-working class, extending the power of the Council of Ministers and the European Court of Justice to attack all forms of social provision, labour safeguards and collective bargaining. It is anti-socialist, incorporating a binding commitment to the free market. It is imperialist, providing a new legitimacy and structure to EU military interventions. Britain’s communists regard it as vital that the trade union movement is won to play a full part in campaigning against the Reform Treaty and demanding a referendum on it.

Since its election to office in 1997, the so-called New Labour government has enthusiastically embraced the neo-liberal orthodoxy practised by most capitalist governments in the world. It has presided over the loss of over one million manufacturing jobs, a widening gap between rich and poor, and a gender pay gap which is one of the highest in the EU countries. It has carried forward the former Conservative government’s attack on the welfare state, opening up large areas of public service to privatisation. It has maintained a system of anti-trade union laws which is among the most draconian in the capitalist world. In the so-called war on terrorism, New Labour has brought in restrictions on the right to protest, and detention without charge to an extent unknown in peace-time. Government ministers have joined the gutter press in deliberately blurring the distinction between terrorism, immigration and asylum, encouraging Islamophobia and racism, and providing a breeding ground for fascist organisations. Asian, African and Caribbean families in Britain are likely to be particularly hard hit by the government’s plan to make them pay up to £1000 for visits by relatives.

The response of Britain’s trade union movement has been mixed. On the one hand sharp resolutions have been passed at annual conferences of individual unions and the TUC itself, and indeed politically the leadership of a number of unions has swung sharply to the Left. Some industrial victories have been won, and the movement has responded magnificently to the issues raised by a large influx of migrant workers, concentrating on the need to stop super-exploitation. However, too often individual unions have had to fight alone; and the anti-union legislation has provided an excuse for not translating conference decisions into action. This shortcoming has been carried forward into a failure, on the part of those unions still affiliated to the Labour Party, to reclaim that Party for working class policies.

The Labour Party is unique among social-democratic parties in Europe in that it was founded a century ago by the trade unions and still retains a significant membership base in trade union affiliations. The battle between right and left within the Labour Party has always been an important part of the class struggle, and the labour movement still needs a mass party capable of winning elections. The Communist Party has therefore supported the objective of reclaiming the Labour Party but recognises that that is unlikely to be achieved simply through the internal democracy of the Labour Party. Rather, it becomes an issue of class struggle: the working class – whose morale is at a low level – has to be won for a political alternative to the New Labour clique and the action to achieve it, and the affiliated unions will have to use all their political, logistical and financial power to demand a change of course. In such a struggle, the question of reclaiming the Labour Party or re-establishing a mass party of labour will emerge and be resolved.

For success, such a struggle will need to have a clear sense of direction and unity around a coherent set of policies challenging the economic and social policies of monopoly capital and New Labour. Such a programme – the Left Wing Programme – has been projected by the Communist Party, and is being taken forward in the labour movement and also in the forthcoming local election campaigning by both the Communist Party and the Unity for Peace and Socialism alliance. The programme includes such key policies as an end to imperialist wars, price controls on basic foods, restrictions on the export of capital, ending all forms of privatisation, replacing the anti-trade union laws by a bill of trade union rights, and ending all racist, immigration, asylum and nationality laws. It would begin to shift the balance of wealth and power in favour of the working class, pointing the way forward to Britain’s road to socialism.

Achieving this objective is the major strategic aim of Britain’s communists. In campaigning for it we have an indispensable weapon at our disposal – the Morning Star newspaper, successor to the Daily Worker, the only socialist daily newspaper in the English language, whose continued publication is a testament to the dedicated work of its staff and to the paper’s ability, under communist leadership, to reach out to all sections of the Left and build a solid base in the trade union movement. The paper is an invaluable vehicle for knowledge, discussion and mobilisation across the labour and progressive movements, and we are working very hard to extend its readership.

The Communist Party of Britain is not large. Although we can operate freely – within the limit of our resources – and our members are not persecuted, our task is not easy. In modern monopoly capitalist society, what one calls class is not popularly easy to interpret. The mechanisms of rule have become abstract and opaque, and opposition between wage-labour and capital has become indirect and anonymous. An almost unbroken set of influences from the mass media – including the fostering of mass consumerism – erodes the class consciousness of the workers.

Yet the class struggle remains, and – as recent events show - capitalism as a system cannot escape its general crisis. Fundamentally, it is an economic crisis, but it extends to peace, democracy, the environment, living standards throughout the world, education, culture and the individual’s own sense of purpose in society. It can only be ended by what Hegel called the determinate negation – negation in a definite way - which in Marxist-Leninist terms means the passing over of private property in the means of production into social property – i.e. the transition to socialism. It is up to the communists of the world to bring that about. International solidarity is of great strength to us in our daily struggles and we are enormously inspired by the victories you have achieved and the strong cordial and fraternal links between our parties.

We salute your work and wish you every success for the future.

Martin Levy

March 31, 2008