Year 2001 No. 85, May 21, 2001
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
The Need to Establish Unity on the New Historical Basis
A Labour Manifesto to Claim a Mandate for Dismantling Society
Socialist Labour Party Election Broadcast
President Bush Tells US People to Help their Poor
International Fact-finding Team Visits DPRK to Investigate US Korean War Massacres
Daily On Line Newspaper of the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
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At the 6th National Consultative Conference of RCPB(ML), held in Birmingham on March 31 April 1, a paper was given by a representative of the Central Committee taking up the theme of the need to establish unity on the new historical basis. The nature of the paper was that of systematising RCPB(ML)s established positions on this question. As the Conference established, the issue of what type or form of political party is needed by society at this historical juncture is very necessary to address. In intervening in the political life of the country and combating the all-round retrogression represented by the "Third Way", the need to establish unity on the new historical basis is a key question. The paper addressing this issue is reproduced herewith. The other articles relating to the Partys 6th National Consultative Conference are to be found in WDIE No.61, April 9, 2001, No.65, April 13, 2001, and No.70, April 23, 2001.
In the context of initiating the programme: The Work to Intervene in the Political Life of the Country there is a need to appreciate what characterises the new historical basis.
The transition period to the new historical basis began in 1984. Internationally, there was the beginning of the Reaganite-Thatcherite counter-revolution and the initiation of the neo-liberal anti-social offensive. The all-sided crisis in the Soviet Union, with economic crisis at the base, had become extremely acute.
When the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989-1991, world reaction declared that communism, as a historical, economic and political system, was finished and that no one should look towards communism. A period of retrogression and retreat of revolution was ushered in, accompanied by a very vicious offensive, a very difficult period which saw many parties which called themselves communist, some of them having long turned themselves into social-democratic parties, openly abandon communism, change their names, and some were simply swept away virtually without trace.
In these circumstances, all communist parties were called upon to find their bearings in the new situation, to elaborate a line, a programme and tasks for the Party and the class, in the particular circumstances of their own country. In other words, as never before, each Party had to stand on its own feet. No force could act in the old way.
Our Party stuck to the task of finding its bearings in the new circumstances. It did so by refusing to accept the passivity and liquidationist pressure that the bourgeoisie wanted to impose on the whole communist movement as the period of the retreat of revolution came into being, and beginning from the principle that if the communist party does not use its own head it is nothing. The Party reached the conclusion that the guideline to start afresh, for the Party to revolutionise itself anew during this period of retreat of revolution was one which it was essential to follow, and it put its words into deeds.
One of the key things about the work to build the technical base and to build the movement for enlightenment, was precisely to transform the Party from a force that was facing the limitations of small-scale actions and small-group mentality that the bourgeois-revisionist pressure had been attempting to impose on it. The work of the Party, the course it set for itself, in January 1994, were based on modern definitions, recognising the need for the Party to act in the new way in this period of retreat of revolution. The Partys 3rd Congress was the greatest milestone in this line of march. The thesis of this Congress is that the work of the Party and its Central Committee which had brought us thus far enables us to stand on our own feet. In order to rise to the occasion in the period which lies ahead into the 21st century and carry out the new tasks, its plan of practical politics, required to lift society out of the crisis and open the door to a socialist Britain, what is necessary is that RCPB(ML) must be consolidated on the new historical basis. Now is the time for this consolidation, the issue being the consolidation of the Party as the most important subjective force in the preparation for the coming revolutionary storms.
This issue of preparation is fundamental. The consolidation of RCPB(ML) as the most decisive conscious force, the building of the unity of the Marxist-Leninists on the new historical basis, ensures that the work to take Britain forward into the 21st century on a new basis can be accomplished and takes place in the course of the elaboration and implementation of this work. This consolidation is what characterises this whole period at the beginning of the new millennium up to the next Congress. It is the foremost aim of the Party in this period. The 21st century is a time which the working class must claim as its own. As the vanguard of the working class, the communist party must fight to place the working class as the leader of society, take hold of what belongs to it, and place itself in the positions of political power as well as placing the resources of society in its own hands. The Marxist-Leninist party is both in theoretical and in practical terms the most decisive subjective factor in bringing about this revolutionary transformation of society in Britain to socialism, as well as contributing to this same cause internationally. Furthermore, when Britain leads the world in backwardness, and the contention about what is progressive and what is reactionary is particularly being fought out in this country, this strategic objective assumes unparalleled importance. It is a trial of strength as to whether the door to progress and a socialist society is opened up or kept shut.
The earlier historical basis was along the general line elaborated internationally on the struggle against modern revisionism, especially against right opportunism in the international communist movement. In Britain, as world-wide, it was necessary to break with the betrayal that modern revisionism represented and there was no possibility of working within this betrayal. The struggle against all forms of revisionism and opportunism had created the ideological basis for the founding of RCPB(ML) and all other revolutionary work. The International Marxist-Leninist Communist Movement, of which RCPB(ML) is a contingent, arose on this historical basis.
It was in order to carry forward this struggle that the Party analysed the current conditions of the retreat of revolution and elaborated the new historical basis consistent with the conditions of this period. Speaking in London in May 1996 on the significance of the eleventh general elections for the Lok Sabha in India, Hardial Bains, national leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), stated: "The new historical basis presupposes the work necessary for the development of contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought and the revolutionary practice guided by it."
Comrade Bains explained that the historical basis of the sixties contained the criticism and repudiation of all brands of revisionism and opportunism, without which the Party of a new type, the Marxist-Leninist Party, could not have come into being. At the same time the socialist system during that period was taken as a given. There was China and there was Albania and there were other countries as well, and while today there are still countries that are building socialism, the key thing about the historical basis of that period is that socialism was taken as a given.
Nevertheless, in that period, there was immense pressure on the movement of the working class in terms of people not developing their own thinking. This overall situation and the bi-polar division of the world had its reflection in the movement with people simply taking this or that side, and the thinking and argument by each side were simply taken as the "gospel truth". There was enormous pressure that nothing substantive could be discussed and getting to the heart of the matter of any problem was obstructed by facile answers and ready-made formulas. Both revolutionary theory and revolutionary practice suffered during this period despite all the hard work and sacrifices made by the communists and revolutionary forces.
The period of work from the beginning of 1994 has shown how crucial and necessary it is for each Party to formulate its general line in this period when the world is going through an historic shift, to set its work both according to the concrete conditions in the country and also the experience of the communist and workers movement taken as a whole nationally and internationally. As fraternal parties have done, we also take up the principle that "we are our own models".
While the historical basis of the sixties contained the criticism and repudiation of all brands of revisionism and opportunism, and the socialist system was taken as a given and all of its antecedents were accepted as such, the new historical basis contains a challenge in concrete form of the very political forces organising the anti-social offensive and those forces that continue to spread harmful illusions that social democracy can be relied upon to fight for progress and change. Far from socialism being a "given", the new historical basis is marked by a critical re-examining of the comprehensive experience of socialism of all countries and brings the theory of scientific socialism to the present requirement of lifting the society out of the crisis and forging a path for progress.
The key thing in modern communism is the sharpening of the struggle between the new and old. It is the struggle between the working class and the bourgeoisie, between the epoch of the working class, socialism and communism, which is coming into being, and the epoch of the bourgeoisie which is passing away.
On the basis of its theory and the concrete analysis of the concrete conditions, the Party has stated its opinion that the struggle going on in society can be characterised as between the Old and the New. This is also reflected in a contention between the various social forces as to what the objective and subjective conditions in society are pointing towards.
In this battle of the New overcoming the Old, it is the communist party which is the decisive factor by providing that coherence which enables the people to strike out on that path which will sort out the problems that the Old is causing, to create a new socialist society with relations of production that are consistent with the requirements of the times.
Modern Communism is the highest development of society possible within this era. A new society will be born out of the struggle against the anti-social offensive, leading to a socialist society which will end all exploitation of persons by persons. Without this concrete development, without the creation of the condition for the complete emancipation of the working class and all humanity, the condition of Modern Communism, the New will be a mere phrase devoid of any real content or future for the society.
One of the problems facing the society is that the level of politics has been brought down to the lowest level ever by the bourgeoisie and its political and social props. Discussion on Modern Communism which is commensurate with the current and future historical needs of the working class and which contributes to bringing about a radical rupture with the status quo, has to oppose the deadly notions related to what it means to be political.
What comprises the political side of life, and life itself, has been rendered in an extremely dogmatic manner. Politics are not rendered in their profundity, as being comprised of everything that pertains to the body politic. Since how the body politic is governed and the kind of state it is endowed with and the fundamental law which constitute it affect all members society, it concerns them, like it or not. In other words, it is not a matter of individual likes or dislikes, of personal choice, of whether to be political or not. All members of society, being born to society, are members of a body politic and their lives are determined by how that society is governed. Whether a person considers themselves to be political or not or is "politically active" or not, as members of the body politic, their whole lives are profoundly affected by how the body politic is organised, how it is governed, and the agenda of government institutions at all levels. If one keeps this point of view in mind, then it necessarily follows that "everything is politics", everything has its political dimension. Because the political domain affects everyone, it necessarily follows that to affirm themselves as human beings, people play an objective role which determines how life unfolds within the political domain that affects their lives. The issue facing the working class and people is that this role is currently negative. It is to give the bourgeoisie a free hand to perpetuate the status quo and this goes against their interests. The role of pushing the study and discussion of Modern Communism is to once again render the political struggle in society meaningful, so that people can be effective. It is to enable the struggle of the new society to gain ground over the struggle of the old society to remain in place.
One of the most salient features of the new historical basis is that all the arrangements which the old world gave rise to are anachronistic to the extreme, simply incapable of meeting the needs of the present. This, coupled with the fact that the new arrangements are lagging behind, buried under the weight of the old, is causing an extremely dangerous situation throughout the world. This means that the time is not for discussions up in the air, in the sense of discussing whether communism or capitalism, whether dogmatic in their rendering or not, is correct or incorrect. This is the time for action, and the study and discussion of modern communism is one kind of action which is crucial at this time. It is a form of intervention in the situation, to lift the weight of the old society on life and open a path for new one to take is place.
Further, on the issue of what it means to discuss Modern Communism, it can be pointed out that the weight of the old society cannot be lifted by discussions of a nature that is spontaneously engendered by bourgeois notions. Such discussions would be typified by participants having the aim of "progressive discussion" to "raise awareness" and to "become enlightened". It would consist of expressing agreement or disagreement on the basis of some list of conclusions which are presented as "modern communism". Such an approach would be totally sterile and accomplish nothing. It would be based on the medieval conception which the bourgeoisie is pushing which refuses to recognise any field of knowledge as a body of science and presents the acquisition of knowledge as being devoid of any partisan aim.
In the context of the stand that taking general positions and lines is not enough, the Party must fulfil its role of politicising the working class.
From the formality of agreement with the general line as one of the conditions of joining the Communist Party, actual involvement in carrying out discussion on a permanent basis is the crucial feature that a Communist Party must acquire.
It must politicise its own ranks so that all its militants participate in elaborating and implementing the line, putting it into practice as organs of class struggle, so that everyone acts as a leader within the Party which is the vanguard of the class.
This is to do with establishing the content of the line and struggle, not of taking sides, but of the cadres becoming leaders in uniting the working class and people in fighting for their interests.
In considering the question of the theory and practice of a modern communist party, one of the key issues is the consciousness with which the work is carried out. Rather than the issue being simply just to agree or disagree with the line that is put, the issue is that a modern communist party comprises people, cadres and activists, who are thinking through and working through the problems themselves. The people who actually carry out the work are the ones who also have to do the work of analysing what is that experience.
It must be addressed that in building a modern communist party, it is the most crucial factor in bringing about revolution. Why is it then that modern communist parties have not been built and revolution taken place? In this connection, the agenda of the Partys 3rd Congress raised that scores must be settled with the old philosophic conscience. Building socialism here in Britain is not building socialism with old so-called British colours, with a "British Road to Socialism" which says that there is at root something to be cherished about this British democratic system, something which makes Britain an exception to the laws governing all social revolutions.
It is therefore the order of the day that a modern communist party has to settle scores with the old philosophic conscience. RCPB(ML) is stepping up the work to build the Party on such a new historical basis and to further strengthen it on the basis of the principles of democratic centralism.
It is the order of the day that the communists elevate themselves to the position of politicians, respected by the working class and the broad masses of the people. A Communist Party cannot be an "electoral machine" or a "propaganda sect" or both. It has to be transformed into a vibrant political force for the raising of the ideological and political level of the people and for their empowerment. It has to lead the profound, radical transformation of the society which is so required for any progress to be made by humanity. Membership in mass organisations has to have political quality as the key requirement. The mass organisations have to be potent political forces for the realisation of the aims they set for themselves.
In a nutshell, it is crucial that the Communist Party and all its organisations and the entire membership must be engaged in on-going discussions of all ideological and political questions, including tactics. At the same time, they must act in an extremely organised, conscious way and at an advanced level.
It is now more than ever crucial that the working class and people of Britain unite in a consistent programme against Tony Blairs "Third Way". At the same time, all serious groups and individuals should work to strengthen and consolidate the communist and workers movement in Britain. Marxist-Leninists must also develop their unity on the basis that in this present historical period, it is no longer acceptable to merely seek agreements on the basis of general line or to form coalitions on the basis of the "left". This new historical basis must include challenging in concrete form the very political forces which are organising the anti-social offensive and those forces that spread harmful illusions that social democracy can be relied upon to fight for progress and change. As a matter of course, communist parties have to carry out discussions with each other on questions of concern. All questions of revolutionary theory and practice must be discussed in the course of the work to create the subjective conditions for revolution.
A most important issue facing the working class is that of organising to occupy the space for change. It is for the working class to organise for the economic and political changes favourable to itself and society. Occupying the space for change at this time is necessary for the working class to advance its independent programme for the entire society. The working class movement must reject the programme of New Labour and put forward its own alternative programme, Stop Paying the Rich Increase Investments in Social Programmes! What is particularly important to raise at this time is that what is on the agenda is the work to actually organise the workers to occupy the space for change and demand that the rights of all be recognised. It is a most crucial step that its independent programme itself not be left simply as a policy objective but find its reality in contests with the bourgeoisie on specific fronts in the space which is objectively available for the workers to carry out such battles.
Communists must arrive at their destination not by leaving people behind, but at the head of them and along with them. All tactics must be worked out by taking the people along, for no victory is possible without them. Neither the society can be lifted out of the crisis nor the door to progress opened without the people. The task of the Communist Party is to make the working class conscious of its historical role of building socialism, while it is the working class itself which will accomplish this task.
The Labour Party manifesto launched last Wednesday in Birmingham is an attempt to claim a mandate from the people for the next Labour government in its programme to further dismantle the welfare state, press ahead with its neo-liberal agenda and further attack the conception of a modern society which cares for the people. This is the content of Labours "Ambitions for Britain".
Tony Blair claimed that the election is about two central things: a strong economy and how to use that strength to invest in the future and in particular the public services of education, the NHS, law and order and transport.
As everyone knows, the "strong economy" that New Labour claims to have put in place during its first term of office is an economy defined as one where monopolies are successful in competing globally, not one where the peoples material well-being is the central concern. In this, the Labour governments programme has been entirely consistent with the direction of the economy that was present before it came to office. For Tony Blair to declare that this foundation is what the next Labour government will build on is very ominous.
When he says that he is asking "the British people to let us get on with the job of real and radical change", that real and radical change means pressing ahead with the broad attack on society and to strengthen the role of a government which is apart from and against the people and their concerns, but represents arrangements which ensure that the extremely narrow concern of ensuring the rich their maximum profits are consolidated. "One nation pulling together" means nothing but the entire people lining up behind this narrow concern. Once this is grasped then peoples entire experience makes sense. Otherwise the experience of enduring the effects of the anti-social offensive can hardly be made to square with Tony Blairs declaration that Labours second manifesto focuses on "our driving ambition to renew our public services". This is not to be understood simply as the opposite of the truth. It is to be understood in the sense that the public services are to be completely given over to enabling the private sector to enjoy the private appropriation of the fruits of their "investment".
But this is not all. As Tony Blair points out, "money alone is not enough" in the fundamental reform of key public services. "There should be no barriers, no dogma, no vested interests " This is the key content, and the fact that he then goes on to say, " that stand in the way of delivering the best services for our people," should not obscure that the "dogma" he is referring to is that government has the responsibility to invest and fund these social programmes.
Tony Blair then goes on to list "ten big public services reforms for a second term".
In education, there should be reform of the comprehensive system. That is, education should fit the needs for a meritocracy.
For the NHS, there should be decentralisation of power. That is, the emphasis is on funding to "local communities" rather than a National Health Service.
For pensioners, savings are to be rewarded. That is, to provide security for those who have worked all their lives is no longer to be the responsibility of the state.
And so it goes on. The thread is to dismantle the role of society in caring for the needs of the people, make governments role one of competently managing the economy (on behalf of the monopolies), and ensure government puts its focus on "helping those who help themselves". So rather than being born to society, and having rights by virtue simply of being human, people must themselves attempt to provide for themselves, rise through the ranks of the meritocracy, buckle down to a society which has paying the rich as its main concern. Then, if "people rise to the highest level their talents take them, whatever their background, class, race or position," the government will pat them on the back, because they have fulfilled their "chance in life" which the government has provided for them.
"That," says Tony Blair, "is the New Labour vision and it is one worth fighting for." He concludes, "With this manifesto our route map, we now ask the British people for a mandate to get on with the job." This is the confidence trick. But the alternative is taking shape. The alternative is for the people themselves to come to power, themselves to formulate their own manifesto, to refuse to hand over their fate to others who will then "get on with the job".
The election broadcast of the Socialist Labour Party is due to take place today, Monday, May 21. The broadcast schedule is as follows:
BBC 1 18.58
BBC 2 23.20
ITV NETWORK 23.30
In Welsh 19.30
In English 23.10
CHANNEL 4 22.55
CHANNEL 5 23.00
Radio 4 13.40
Radio 2 17.58
Is also to be transmitted on talkSPORT, Classic FM & Virgin.
In his first commencement address as president, George W Bush on Sunday exhorted the US nation to join him in wielding "the weapons of spirit" to help the poor. "We cannot sit and watch, leaving them to their own struggles and their own fate," Bush said in remarks prepared for the University of Notre Dame graduation ceremony.
More than 12 million children live in poverty, Bush told the 2,500 graduates, their teachers and families. He proposed to lead the country into what he called the third stage of combating poverty after President Johnsons "war on poverty" and the 1996 welfare overhaul by marshalling forces of compassion.
Bush argued for his proposal to give church-based groups government money for providing social services. And he pressed businesses to open their coffers to such groups as well.
Six of the 10 largest corporate givers currently restrict philanthropic gifts to religious groups, Bush said. "The federal government will not discriminate against faith-based organisations and neither should corporate America."
He announced that he would convene a White House summit in the autumn, bringing corporate and philanthropic leaders together to discuss ways of assisting both secular and religious community groups.
In his speech he promised to include in his budget next year an increase in funds from $25 million already proposed for 2002, to $75 million for 2003 for low-income home ownership programmes such as Habitat for Humanity.
Civil liberties groups and conservative Christian ministers alike have decried Bushs plan to open government grants to church-run social service programmes. The US Presidents "communitarianism" is akin to the "volunteerism" being promoted by the Labour Party in this country where government funding is only to go to help those who "help themselves".
The international fact-finding group of the Korea Truth Commission on US Military Massacres of Civilians, led by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, arrived in Pyongyang in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on May 14. The team is inspecting scenes of massacres committed by the US during the 1950-53 Korean War and consulting with the DPRK side about the International War Crimes Tribunal to be held on June 23 in New York. As well, the team participated in a roundtable discussion with victims and witnesses of US war crimes. Their testimony will be presented with the team's findings at the Tribunal.
The group visited the Sinchon Museum in South Hwanghae Province of the DPRK on May 16. Displayed in the museum are materials proving that troops of the US imperialist aggression brutally killed more than 35,000 civilians of Sinchon county, or a quarter of its total population, during their 50-odd day occupation of the county during the Korean War. The atrocities committed there by GIs evoke the crimes the Hitler fascists committed at concentration camps such as Auschwitz.
The members of the group probed the truth behind mass killings, visiting a bomb shelter of the then Sinchon county party organisation, a powder store in Wonam-ri, tombs of 5,605 patriots, 400 women and 102 children. They heard testimonies made by those people who suffered untold misfortune and sufferings at the hands of the GIs.
Testifying to the fact that their parents, brothers and sisters were massacred in cold blood and that they narrowly escaped death, victims asked the group to indict and denounce the US imperialists for their crimes.
The head of the group said that as an American citizen he felt deeply about the GIs' atrocities during the Korean War. He noted that the testimonies made by victims are of great importance as they exposed part of the US history of aggression against Korea. He stressed that materials and testimonies gathered would be widely used to let many people know about the suffering the GIs brought to the Koreans. He also noted that the US government, afraid of the unimaginable GI atrocities becoming known to the world, is trying to cover up the truth. The south Koreans cannot enjoy genuine freedom so long as the US troops remain in south Korea, he said. He underscored the urgent need to let the world know about the GIs' atrocities not only for the sake of the victims but also for the prevention of such crimes in the future.
In related news, another site of mass killings by the US or south Korean military has been discovered, in Pusan, south Korea. A fact-finding survey, carried out by an organisation representing families of civilian victims of the Korean War, found evidence of a massacre behind the Kuphyong Primary School in Kuphyong-dong, Saha District, Pusan. At least 150 civilians are believed to have been killed there.
The Pusan Alliance for Democracy and National Reunification released a report last June saying that at least 100,000 civilians were jailed in Pusan prison. Evidence suggests that most may have been killed and secretly buried by troops and police between July and September 1950.
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