Year 2000 No. 9, January 20, 2000

Stepping Up the Tempo of the Work of the Party

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

Stepping Up the Tempo of the Work of the Party

Glaxo Wellcome and Smithkline Beecham Announce Mega Merger

9th Anniversary of Gulf War: Thousands March in Iraq

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Stepping Up the Tempo of the Work of the Party

RCPB(ML) has moved into the 21st century mindful of the need to step up the tempo of its work. It is not just that the Party is conscious that its work must advance, that it must never go to sleep, that it must always be pro-active in its work, as it always is. The issue is really that the Party must respond to the needs of the moment, as well as the historical period, as well as to how to accomplish its future strategic aim of a socialist Britain, as part of the victory of socialist revolution world-wide. In other words, it can never rest content with phrases, but is serious about giving the positions and tasks of the Party a content, of carrying out a programme on the basis of its analysis and actually achieving results with this programme.

This is the issue with launching the Workers’ Daily Internet Edition as part of the Party’s Millennium Project. The same also goes for the printed broadsheet of Workers’ Weekly which will recommence publication this coming Saturday, January 22. The recommencement of the publication of Workers’ Weekly at the beginning of the Party’s Millennium Project is an important step in building the mass party press, of making the newspaper a force in the workers’ and communist movement, an instrument with which both to build the Party in the heart of the working class and to organise the broad section of the working class around the advanced section and to fight for its interests.

What is happening in society is that the various sections of the people are stepping up their fight against the anti-social offensive, and that the workers too are being drawn into this struggle. It is a pressing necessity that the working class must come to the head of these struggles so that it can rally the people around the programme to Stop Paying the Rich – Increase Investments in Social Programmes! The Party’s cutting edge work to Improve the Content, Extend the Readership of the newspaper is key in these circumstances. In particular, the task is to carry out this work in the closest connection with the development of the revolutionary movement of the working class and people. The task has to be taken up in connection with building the Party in the class, building groups of workers who write for and disseminate the paper, who fight for their collective interests and the interests of the society as a whole in opposition to the reactionary direction in which the government is taking society. To carry out this programme is to begin the consolidation of RCPB(ML) as a modern communist party.

Stepping up the tempo of the Party’s work is also important as Tony Blair’s government is stepping up its programme of taking Britain into the 21st century on the basis of a fight against the "forces of conservatism", and attempting to make Britain number one in the global marketplace. Tony Blair understands that this programme cannot succeed if the broad masses of the people are opposing it in Britain. On the one hand, he is developing the ideology of the "Third Way" to create confusion, disinformation and illusions about the anti-social offensive and divert the opposition. On the other hand, his government is enacting legislation and developing policies which will criminalise the people’s political struggles in favour of their rights and interests. A similar picture is found world-wide, with the added factor that the imperialist powers are dangerously sharpening their rivalries. In these circumstances, to develop the tempo of the Party’s work is a necessary condition to be ready for any eventuality, to be ready not only to combat the offensive of the rich against the people as they strive to maintain the maximum rate of profit, but to take advantage of a situation where it is possible for the working class and people to go on the offensive themselves.

WDIE therefore calls on the activists of the Party and all its readers to make sure that the widest number of people read and study WDIE on a daily basis, contribute to it by writing on the basis of their experience, or asking questions which can be answered in its pages. In particular, there should be a drive to encourage people to take out subscriptions so that the Internet Edition is e-mailed to them every day. What is also necessary is that Workers’ Weekly is also widely distributed, but most importantly that it is built, strengthened and made use of so that it genuinely becomes a collective organiser of the working class, so that the subjective conditions for revolution are prepared in the midst of the movement itself to Stop Paying the Rich – Increase Investments in Social Programmes!

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Glaxo Wellcome and Smithkline Beecham Announce Mega Merger

It was announced on Monday this week that two of the largest monopolies in Britain, pharmaceutical companies Glaxo Wellcome and Smithkline Beecham, are planning a £120bn merger, which will create the world’s biggest pharmaceutical monopoly, Glaxo Smithkline, and overtake BP Amoco as the biggest British monopoly. This is the second time in two years that the companies have announced merger plans. In March 1998, a proposed merger, which at that time was heralded as "the biggest deal in corporate history", collapsed when the monopolies failed to reach agreement on merger terms.

Glaxo Wellcome, which employs nearly 59,000 people throughout the world and 13,000 in Britain, is already manufacturer of some of the world’s best selling drugs, including the asthma treatment Ventolin. The monopoly was itself only created in 1995 as a result of Glaxo’s £9bn takeover of Wellcome, at that time the biggest in Britain’s history. Smithkline Beecham, which employs over 56,000 people throughout the world and 8,300 in Britain, is the manufacturer of such products as Panadol, Lucozade and Horlicks. The combined yearly sales of the new monopoly are estimated at £17bn and it will control some 7.4% of world pharmaceutical markets.

The proposed merger reflects the increasing monopolisation that exists not only in the pharmaceutical industry, but also in all areas of the economy. Britain’s other main drug company Zeneca merged with Sweden’s Astra in 1998, while in the US Pfizer is proposing a merger with Warner Lambert that would make it the second largest pharmaceutical monopoly after Glaxo Smithkline. Further mergers of pharmaceutical companies are expected this year. It is the great monopolies that dominate economic life and consequently the political life of Britain and other countries. Smithkline Beecham, for example, operates in 160 countries throughout the world.

The new company will have an annual research and development budget of £2.4bn, the largest in the world. But such mergers are not designed with the interests of the people of Britain or of other countries at heart. The pharmaceutical monopolies are not concerned to improve the health of the people. Their only concern is domination of the global market and the making of maximum capitalist profit. The livelihoods of tens of thousands of workers and their families are subject to this pursuit of maximum profits, which requires pushing wages and living standards to the lowest level and if need be the loss of thousands of jobs. Already the new monopoly is expected to make total annual savings of £1.1bn and has said that job losses are inevitable. Trade unions are already predicting that 15,000 jobs will be lost worldwide, over 15% of the combined workforce.

These "Mega Mergers" are becoming every more frequent and reflect the fact that cutthroat competition and the drive to make maximum profits remain the main characteristics of the monopolies at al times. Through such mergers the monopolies aim to rationalise and cut their costs in an increasingly competitive market, and to attempt to solve their problem of how to increase the accumulation of capital. The mergers and takeovers also bring about a massive concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the financial oligarchy and bring no benefits but great dangers to the masses of the people. The monopolisation of the economy and the life of the country is increasing. For example, besides the Glaxo SmithKline merger, the takeover bid of Vodafone AirTouch for the German company Mannesmann is still rumbling on. If completed, this would form a telecoms group that would dwarf even Glaxo SmithKline. This process of massive monopolisation which objectively is accelerating underlines the need for the working class and people to take control of what belongs to them, to take control of the economy so that production can be planned in the interest of the majority and not for the profits of the few.

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9th Anniversary of Gulf War:

Thousands March in Iraq

Thousands of energetic and militant protesters marched in Baghdad on January 17 to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the beginning of the US war on Iraq.

The protesters, many of whom have experienced the devastation of the Gulf War, the sanctions and the continued bombing of Iraq first-hand, chanted "Down, down, USA," burned US flags, and carried a coffin draped in US, British and Israeli flags. Protesters also chanted, "Clinton Bush Albright, you can’t hide; sanctions equal genocide."

The demonstration included many students from around the Middle East and Africa including Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan and Somalia, who are able to study at no cost in Iraq. The students report widespread public opposition throughout the Arab nations to US policy towards Iraq. The Iraq Sanctions Challenge (ISC) participated in the demonstration, as did a Spanish delegation of 120 members from the Campaign to Lift the Embargo on Iraq.

Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the head of the ISC, said, "The sanctions are genocide, they weaken and permanently debilitate the strongest of a society and kill the weakest and most vulnerable." Infant and child mortality, along with other standard indicators of poor public health, have risen sharply in Iraq since 1990. And in a communiqué from Iraq, ISC delegate Sarah Sloan pointed out that "the anti-imperialist sentiment at this demonstration shows why the US is intent on continuing the war against Iraq through sanctions, bombing and covert action". It might also be added that the British government too is participating in the continued bombing of Iraq, and is one of the most ardent champions of sanctions. The ISC delegation includes a participant from this country.

The delegation of the ISC is spending five days in Iraq. Before the demonstration, they visited the Amariyah shelter, a bunker destroyed by US bombs during the Gulf War, killing over a thousand Iraqi civilians who had sought shelter inside. On Tuesday, the delegation met with Sa’dun Hammadi, the Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly, Tariq Aziz, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the minister of History and Archaeology. Delegates are also visiting hospitals, schools and universities, a water treatment plant, and the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.

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