Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 0171 627 0599
MAY DAY 1999
WORKING CLASS: TAKE CONTROL OF WHAT BELONGS TO YOU!
FORWARD INTO THE 21st CENTURY! FOR A SOCIALIST BRITAIN!
Call of RCPB(ML), May 1st, International Day of the Working Class, 1999ON THIS MAY DAY, the last before the new millennium, the working class throughout Britain, in common with working and oppressed people throughout the world, is affirming that it has rights and that these rights must be recognised and receive legal sanction. Our Party, RCPB(ML), warmly hails this militant and progressive stand of the working class and people. We stand on the brink of the 21st century in a situation where the intensity of the crisis is increasing and the anti-social offensive is being stepped up. At the same time, the world has already witnessed six weeks of the unrelenting bombing of a sovereign country by the aggressive NATO military alliance, with the Labour government playing a most forefront and heinous role. This is what is happening on the second anniversary of Tony Blairs New Labour coming to power. Life itself is exposing the neo-liberal agenda that New Labour has been implementing while in office. It cannot be covered over nor can the opposition of the people be kept at bay through exhortations that between capitalism and socialism there exists a Third Way. The facts show that the rich are neither interested nor capable of finding a way out of the crisis, and that Tony Blair is nothing but their champion. It follows that there must be some other force that will lead society out of the crisis and into the 21st century on a new and socialist basis. That force is the working class, and on this May Day, RCPB(ML) calls on it to take up this challenge.
It is the working class which holds the solution to the deep-rooted problems in society. On this May Day, we call on the working class to take up its leading role, to develop its independent programme to change society in a fundamental way, and to hold fast to its vision that indeed a socialist Britain is the Britain of the future. Does this mean that the workers should regard socialism as purely an aspiration, just a pipe dream? By no means. If political power were in their hands, they would be in a position to control what they produce for the benefit of the people. Facts have shown that political power cannot be wielded by proxy. The working class is not presently in a position where it can enforce the declaration that society must guarantee the rights of all by virtue of their being human, that the workers have a right to take hold of what belongs to them, that the claims of all individuals and collectives of the people must be met. It is a socialist society which has such characteristics. The working class needs to have political power in its hands and empower the people to take control of their lives. This is what it means to go for socialism and this is what the working class has set its sights on. The working class on this May Day must affirm that its cause is legitimate. The workers must develop their consciousness that to turn things around, end the situation where they are just fighting for immunities under the law which protects capitalist ownership and ensures that the whole society enriches the financiers, end the situation where a government can launch a destructive war which leads to tragedy for the peoples, they need to have political power in their hands and empower the people to take control over their own lives. And they must develop the appropriate organisations beginning with the workers themselves to bring this about. In fighting that the rights of all must be recognised, that investments be increased in social programmes, that Britains interventionist foreign policy must be ended, the working class must also hold fast to its vision of a socialist future where it controls what belongs to it and empowers the broad masses of the people. This independent programme to achieve the aims of the working class movement for its emancipation, and the vision of the new and modern society which can be created, must be inseparably forged together.
Working Class, You Have a Right to Control What Belongs to You! Stop Paying the Rich Increase Investments in Social Programmes! Forward into the 21st Century! For a Socialist Britain! Hail May Day! Workers of All Countries, Unite!
IN SPITE OF THE INCREASING CONCERN among the working class and people and thousands who have demonstrated against NATOs bombing of Serbia and Kosova, the Labour government is pressing ahead further involving Britain alongside the US, Germany and others NATO powers in NATOs criminal war of aggression against Yugoslavia. With its bombing of a sovereign country, NATO has demonstrated what has always been the case, that far from being defensive it is an aggressive military alliance prepared to act outside of the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter to further the interests of the US and the other powers. Using mass propaganda and misinformation the NATO powers are demonising the role of Milosevic and the Serbs and sanitising their own role. This propaganda is being used to ratchet up the bombing and the systematic destruction of Serbia and Kosova and justify NATOs regrets over civilian casualties. At the same time, it is being used to prepare public opinion for the NATO plan which they are already setting in motion to use ground troops and for NATO to permanently occupy Kosova which is their immediate aim. Tony Blair said on the eve of the bombing that unless NATO acted against Yugoslavia there was a probability of re-igniting unrest in Albania, of a destabilised Macedonia, of certain knock-on effects in Bosnia, and further tension between Greece and Turkey. Strategic interests for the whole of Europe are at stake. We cannot contemplate, on the doorstep of EU, a disintegration into chaos and disorder. These strategic interests are those of the US, Germany, Britain and other powers who have brought Albania, Bosnia, Croatia under their tutelage and for which they are contending and they have been going after Yugoslavia with a vengeance. Clintons talk about the implementation of a new Marshall Plan for south eastern Europe has the aim to subjugate these countries to the economic, political control of the US and their plan to establish themselves at the head of a unipolar world and use their dictate over Europe as a base against Asia, Africa and the rest of the world. The unrest and destabilisation that Tony Blair fears is none other than the people of the Balkans turning their guns on the imperialists and driving them out of the Balkan countries so that the people of the Balkans can solve their problems themselves without outside interference. The people will deal themselves with reactionary forces such as great-Serb chauvinism and once the prop of imperialism is removed from all the Balkan countries all reactionary forces will not find an internal or external basis for their activities. It is NATOs interference in the Balkan region in Bosnia, in Croatia, in Albania and now their criminal aggression against Yugoslavia that is de-stabilising the Balkans. Their imperialist ambitions are being served by hurling the peoples of the region against each other, causing death and mayhem and inciting human catastrophes not seen in Europe since the Second World War. What is becoming clear is that the NATO aggression in the Balkans presents the gravest threat to European security and world peace. At the 50th anniversary celebrations of NATO in Washington which was more accurately described as a War Summit the NATO powers adopted a new strategic concept where under the dictate of the US the allies discussed the ground war they are setting in motion against Yugoslavia. According to this new strategic concept which was imposed there, human security takes precedence over the rights of nation-states. Such a concept that NATO is trying to impose is one which seeks to legalise the violation of the principle that all nations, big or small, are equal and have the right of self-determination. In the condition of the drive of the monopolies and mega-monopolies for world domination, NATO has declared that it wants to impose a new legality where the right of nations to self-determination is thrown overboard and all their actions are justified in the name of fighting terrorism, opposing ethnic cleansing and human security. The so-called Rambouillet peace agreement with its attempt to impose 30,000 NATO troops in Kosova is a solution of this type which violates the sovereignty of Yugoslavia. It is aimed at inciting Serbs against Kosovans. This was used as the pretext for the bombing of Kosova which was followed by the mass exodus of Kosovans and Serbs which the imperialists were fully aware would occur. Having created this situation, the US, Britain and other imperialist powers are using human security and putting a stop to ethnic cleansing as the pretext in continuing the most systematic destruction of Serbia and Kosova. They are preparing for an invasion so that the imperialists can impose their interests there, can move in their monopolies and can reap huge profits in reconstruction for which the people will be made to pay. It is vitally important that the working class and people act now in analysing the situation, discussing it widely and step up their protests on this basis. With this war in Europe for the conquest of the Balkans the contradictions between the imperialist powers are sharpening and it reveals that the contention for redivision on the world has started in earnest. At the same time, it is not an expression of the strength of the US, Britain and other imperialist powers when they resort to such violence against the peoples of Iraq, Yugoslavia and other countries of the world because the situation is sharpening the contradictions between imperialism and the peoples. It is sharpening the contradictions in the imperialist heartlands. As they go to war they increase the reaction at home. In Britain, the most reactionary anti-social measures are being taken against the people and every kind of diversion is and will be perpetrated to place the blame on the people themselves or on some extremists. The peoples must respond by uniting in action against the danger of fascism and imperialist war. In Britain, the source of this danger is the monopoly capitalist system and its archaic political system. The working class and people must fight for a vision of society that recognises the rights of all, that ends Britains interference in the internal affairs of other countries, that withdraws from NATO and stands for democratisation of international relations and the equality and rights of all nations big and small.
May 6 Elections in Scotland and Wales:
|Elections for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly take place on May 6, running alongside the elections for local councils. There can be no doubt that the aim of the Blair government in setting up the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly has been to block the aspirations of the people of Scotland and Wales. Those aspirations are to affirm their national identity and sovereignty and to take control of all matters which affect their lives. The issue that the government is trying to confuse is that modern sovereign states is the future for all the peoples of Britain, including the working class and people of England, and that the peoples have a right to decide their own future. One way they are doing this is by raising independence as a spectre, whereas they are using, for example, the issue of the independence of Kosova as one pretext for their aggression against Yugoslavia. This shows that they are not interested in sorting out any problems on the basis of principle but to cause diversions and maintain the status quo. How can the historical problems caused by the British state be sorted out and democratic renewal be carried forward so as to meet the needs of society as it prepares to enter the 21st century? The government is covering up that the only guarantee of the national rights for the peoples of England, Scotland and Wales is if each people has their own parliament and exercise sovereignty in their own affairs. If a people can exercise their sovereignty, they can then decide whether to remain independent or whether to enter into a free and equal union in a new and modern state. One state and three governments with equal rights within the union would be one way to resolve the problems coming from the past. Of course, such a state would have to be agreed upon by the people of England, Scotland and Wales and not imposed on them. The Act setting up the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly makes absolutely clear that sovereignty remains with the Westminster parliament. Constitutional questions, macroeconomics and social security and decisions on national security and foreign policy are reserved powers of the Westminster government. At the same time it must be recognised that although the bringing into being of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly will not solve the constitutional crisis, neither will it destroy the movements to affirm national sovereignty and empower the people. On the contrary it will provide new opportunities and possibilities to further these movements. This is clearly seen, in the case of the Scottish Parliament, in that the legislation, while barring decisions on constitutional questions, yet will not prevent debate on these matters, and in the demand already on the table for a referendum on the relation with Westminster. The working class must also take the lead on the issue of the future of the peoples of Britain, taking a stand so that the interests of all the peoples are served. In this regard, it must fight for a new socialist Britain which opens up the path for all the people, not just the English, and must fight for a modern constitution which defines and enshrines national rights and empowers the people, a modern state based on free and equal union.|
| The 2nd Plenum of the CC of RCPB(ML) was recently held to discuss the
programme of the Party in the light of the decisions of the 3rd Congress of
March 19-21, 1999.
The 2nd Plenum expressed pride in the achievements of the Congress, and
assessed it as an historic victory for the Party. It had embodied and
represented the quality of the new, the quality of modern communism, and had
given birth to that quality in terms of the future life of the Party. With that
quality, which was manifested in the Congress as the highest decision-making
body of the Party rising to the occasion and taking its stand, it can be said
that the work of the Party will start afresh and transform that quality into
the quantity of its work, that is transform its line into results in the
objective world. Without that quality, whatever results the Party achieved
would not be on a par with the requirements of the times, would not contribute
to preparing the subjective conditions for revolution at this defining moment
in history. The whole conduct of the Congress itself expressed what is meant by
the Partys position that we are our own models. The actual
work of which the Congress was the culmination was the act, the deed, of
creating our own models, this new quality of modern communism. This is a
quality of sticking to its tasks under all conditions and circumstances.
The 2nd Plenum assessed that the way the Congress had summed up the work since the 2nd Congress in 1987, and set the seal on the phase of the Partys work since 1994, was most significant. It enables the Party to advance on the basis of this summation, and puts it in a strong position to advance with full confidence into the 21st century. The decisions of the 3rd Congress were taken on the basis of this summation, as well as of its analysis of the objective conditions and the tackling of the problems of the workers and communist movement based on that analysis. In its deliberations, the 2nd Plenum pointed out that it was very necessary to give serious consideration to how to translate into life the tasks that the 3rd Congress has set, as they are embodied in the Political Report and the Resolutions of the Congress. The question of implementation is decisive. What is necessary in this period immediately after the Congress is that the various collectives of the Party, at their level, put on the agenda and spend time elaborating what these tasks are and what is required for their implementation, so that the collective consciousness of the organisations is brought to bear on this question. At the same time, there can be no prevarication in pressing ahead with the constant work of the Party. Even on this front, it cannot be said that it is business as usual, since the new collective consciousness will be brought to bear here as well. Every aspect of the Partys work is inseparable from the new quality given rise to by the 3rd Congress. The deliberations of the 2nd Plenum ranged over all the aspects of the work of the Party that have to be developed in the light of the Congress. The Plenum took some key decisions on laying the foundations for the advance of this work, as well as emphasising that it is crucial that the constant work is re-established fully in a very disciplined way bringing the new collective consciousness into play. It emphasised the significance of the continued cutting edge work of Improving the Content, Extending the Readership of Workers Weekly. The 2nd Plenum of RCPB(ML) vigorously condemned the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. It held a detailed discussion on its significance, particularly in terms of geopolitics and in terms of the sharpening of the contradiction between imperialism and the people. The 2nd Plenum emphasised the necessity to carry out wide discussion on the aggression, and to meet the demand of the people for leadership on this question. The 2nd Plenum concluded its deliberations in a vigorous and enthusiastic atmosphere, with excitement in the prospects opened up by the 3rd Congress and confidence that life itself is vindicating the path the Party is charting and fighting for, as the world is poised on the brink of profound revolutionary changes.
Considerations on the Politics of May 1, 1999:
| THE ISSUE ON MAY 1 is that the working class should not just respond to
the attacks of the anti-social offensive but must be pro-active in putting
forward their vision of society. The present struggles against the anti-social
offensive point the direction of the demands and aspirations of the working
class and no system other than socialism is capable of meeting these demands.
The objective situation is that the intensity of the crisis is increasing and
the anti-social offensive is being stepped up. There is no indication that
things will get better under the present economic regime. On the contrary as
the ruling class, through the government, robs the public purse to pay
exorbitant sums in debt interest and finance its ventures to make it more
competitive in the global market, the proportion of public money which funds
the social programme is diminishing. The financing of unjust wars against
sovereign countries like Yugoslavia and Iraq to gain strategic spheres of
influence is also borne by the people while the military and arms manufacturers
make huge profits from their sales.
Opposition to the anti-social offensive is both natural and necessary but the
struggles are limited to appealing to the good sense of government
to meet the peoples demands. At best the struggle may lead to some
partial gains to soften the blow but not to elimination of the anti-social
offensive altogether. The sort of decisions that are permitted are
those such as how great the financial cutback is to be or how many people will
lose their jobs. No thinking is permitted on the elimination of the crisis
altogether because we are told this is impossible, beyond our control, the
fault of the international money market and something that we just have to live
It is very difficult to find anyone who does not oppose the effects of the
anti-social offensive; everyone agrees that a free health service delivered at
the highest standard that society can give, should be available to all without
discrimination. Healthcare and its administration affects the whole of the
polity, its provision is a right to be given to all, and it is a political
matter of concern to all as to how society meets the demands of its citizens on
that society. But the economy has to be successful and the cutbacks
are all justified in the pursuit of this successful economy. This
is the logic of a government which says that it cannot afford housing,
hospitals, full employment, care for the elderly, and other social welfare but
happily affords to pay tens of billions over to the financial oligarchy and
their institutions in debt interest payments. Why are these interests put above
those of the people? There are many clear examples on how society is geared to
paying the rich. The government puts the rich first and whatever crumbs are
left get shared out to finance the social programme.
This economic system is presented as is it cannot change, so
they say, so the rich remain the main recipients of the fruits of the economy.
Moreover it is becoming the order of the day that the assets of society, for
example housing and hospitals and hospital services, should be handed over to
the rich as a further source of wealth and profit for them.
But this system is something that we can do something about. It is governed and
run by people. It is not beyond controlling as the government would have us
believe, it is about planning, organising and making choices. The question is
who plans? Who organises? And who makes the choices? People happily make
demands of the system but generally do not demand that the system change in a
fundamental way. The system is run by the politicians and financial
experts on our behalf and we are sideliners not involved in the
decision-making process, merely required to cast a vote every five years or so
to elect the government of the day. It does not matter which government is
elected they all run the economy for the rich, and changes are only made if the
crisis causes the people to turn on the government (as they did with the
Thatcher government). The Labour government was brought to power to carry on
Thatcherism in a new way The Third Way which conciliates the
struggle against the social offensive without challenge to the old system.
Should not the issue be raised among the working class that choices should be made about how the system is run which allow people some chance of addressing the crisis and opening the path for progress? Such a demand is encompassed in Stop Paying the Rich Increase Investments in Social Programmes! This provides a first step for meeting the demands of a pro-social programme and develops the debate and discussion centred on what sort of economy, how it operates in favour of the rich and the need to turn the economy around. It also raises the issue of empowerment and democratic renewal of society. Raising this demand cuts across the response of the ruling circles which is to evoke the arrangement they have with the main political parties whereby people are merely used as voting cattle to bring these parties to power so that they can carry on operating the system in a manner amenable to the rich.
Youth & Students
Letter to Workers Weekly from the Workers Weekly Youth Group (WWYG)Dear Workers Weekly After the invigorating discussion and constructive resolutions of the Third Congress, several youth held a meeting on Saturday, March 27. We discussed how to proceed as a first step to organising the youth and students, and how we could improve the content and extend the readership of the Workers Weekly newspaper. As youth we feel it is vital to organise youth to become aware and active in dealing with, discussing, and finding solutions to problems faced by us and by the working class in the society we live in. We resolved we should write to Workers Weekly to say how successful we thought the Congress was, and that we should begin our organisation by taking charge of a minimum of one page in the paper every month, the Youth and Students Page. We will write this page as a group with people contributing and discussing the articles. This will be our contribution to making the work of the Party a success. As our organisation and collective ideas develop so will the Workers Weekly Youth Group (WWYG), and our future aim is to have our own newspaper specifically for the youth.
Our organisation is already developing and we will soon have our page in action. We find this very exciting. We hope the readers and new (youth) readers will also feel the importance of this step forward in organisation and enlightenment of members of our society. We are making a start this week with the interventions of the youth who spoke at the Congress [the resolution of the Congress on the youth, No.7, is printed along with the other resolutions in the special supplement. Ed.].
From Workers Weekly Youth Group (WWYG)
Interventions by Youth at the 3rd CongressIntervention One: I am speaking on behalf of the youth. Firstly, by standing up here and speaking at this Congress, by expressing political views that do not conform to the states line which is drilled into us in our schools and our cultures, I am defying what is expected of me as a youth in this society. The bourgeoisie has attempted to suppress the youths natural instincts to question by creating diversions in order to give the notion that there is no need to think outside of the national curriculum. Not only do these mental pressures prevent political awareness, but it is actual time-consuming activities, such as intense periods in the run up to exams or sorting out your career, that leave you no time for political discussion. Youth are taught that, because of widespread unemployment, the individual must succeed in order to fight off competition, on an individual basis, instead of facilitating discussion on relevant issues and solving them for the collective. The problems we have talked about amongst our youth is how to motivate our peers and show that there is an alternative way forward and to undo the indoctrination performed by the state. We discussed our experiences as youth, and I found that in school we are taught tightly to the curriculum, not as the fault of the teachers, but avoiding any real political awareness and discussion. The different political parties ideologies are defined in short dictionary-like passages, very much in the scale of extreme left to extreme right, giving the impression that as extreme right is bad, extreme left is also bad, so that morals and human rights no longer come into the argument of politics. Another observation I made is that among my fellow peers I am classified and marginalised as political, excusing any discussion as political ramble. All of these factors are ways that the great powers in our society are trying to suppress our political awareness and ending up in an apolitical youth, allowing our futures to be determined by big business powers. The thing is this is not the case, and however hard they try they cant stop the youth from questioning. An example is, I asked my friend what she thought of politics and she said, oh, its all rubbish and I dont understand any of it. And yet when we actually got into a discussion she started to show real views and show that she had an opinion, and yet she didnt understand that this in its own terms was being political. The question that we now face is how to channel this energy that is still in the youth but is obviously being suppressed and bring the youth to the forefront of the struggle and show that they still have a role in politics too. Intervention Two: I would just like to talk about the problems that the youth and students have in organising. It follows on from what has just been said, because it relates to the pressure not to think. Because when we talk about thinking and discussing, we are not just referring to talking about ideas ideas about being youth and students we are referring to thinking and discussing what to do in order to change the situation. So organising for us means getting together to discuss views with the aim of bringing about change for the better. This is why there are so many pressures to stop us thinking. At university, for instance, year-long courses are crammed into single semesters. At the same time there is a lack of contact between students and tutors. Similarly in schools there is immense academic pressure on school and college students during the GCSE and A level years. There is a lack of teachers and resources. It is also drummed into us that we must sort out our career paths early and find vacation placement and work experience, with the implication being that it is our fault if we fail to do things in this way. And the underpaid, overworked and stressed teachers either leave or take time off or vent their frustrations on the students. There are two effects of this. Firstly, you get an atmosphere of antagonism and competition in schools, colleges and universities. And secondly, the youth and students are left with very little time to think for themselves, let alone with groups or in a collective way. So this how the anti-social offensive is operating in the course of student life, where time becomes a luxury, and students become very individualistic and competitive. The lack of money adds to this when students are forced to take up part-time work. From my own experiences in trying to organise against tuition fees at university, this lack of time has manifested itself in the kind of mutual pressure to just take action, rather than thinking about things. It has prevented us from taking things further, like discussing and organising around how to change the situation. We are forced into action without analysis. It is also difficult to organise practically around the country being a youth or a student, because transport is expensive and relying on lifts puts big restrictions on doing various things. To conclude: it is important that we address the problem of thinking and organising as youth and students in these conditions, and these problems must be considered together. Thank you.
|OVER 10,000 people joined a rally at Trafalgar Square after marching through London against the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. The demonstration organised by the Committee for Peace in the Balkans called for an immediate end to NATOs bombing of Yugoslavia, condemned atrocities committed by whatever force and called for a lasting and just peace in the area by direct negotiations and resolution of the conflicts, not military intervention. It also called for humanitarian assistance to the people suffering from the actions. People from many walks of life and a wide range of organisations were on the march. Anti-war groups from many towns and regions in Britain, CND, Communist organisations, trade unions, and the Yugoslav community here, to name but a few, were represented. People expressed anger and disbelief at the massive military action against Yugoslavia, cynicism about the motives of NATO in their involvement in the Balkans, concern for the peoples of the area and their tragedy and suffering, and grave concern about the dangers of this conflict expanding into a world war. Speakers addressing the Rally in Trafalgar Square included peace activists, journalists, and MPs from the Labour, Conservative and Scottish Nationalist parties. The Conservative MP said many MPs were deeply unhappy. Parliament was only allowed to debate it after the bombing started. To speak out is to step over the frontier of political correctness. The governments eagerness to do Clintons bidding has unleashed a tidal wave of suffering. Real peace cannot be achieved through the barrel of a gun or bombardment of a country. The bombing must stop and the talking start. An actress quoted from a statement by an organisation of democratic Serbs saying, After the bombing has started all citizens are now hostages to Clinton and Blair. A Scottish Nationalist MP read from a letter from Alex Salmond saying, I stand by my criticism of the bombing campaign. The chair of CND talked of the increased nuclear threat as a result of the NATO bombing and that NATO is an expansionist force. The threat to re-target nuclear weapons on the West has been denied but it may come back, and is symbolically very significant. The British government appears to want to ride pillion with Clinton wherever this may take them. He warned of the danger of a NATO bloc and called resources to be put into conflict prevention, aid and the UN. John Pilger, the journalist, condemned the one-dimensional reporting of the very complex situation in the Balkans. He believed the NATO plans are to reduce and degrade Serbia like they have Iraq. He talked of informing and marshalling public opinion against the war. Felicity Arbuthnot informed the rally of the new weapon of mass destruction used against Iraq and now being used in Yugoslavia warheads coated with depleted uranium, a highly radioactive waste product of the nuclear industry. She has visited Iraq and seen horrendous consequences in particular for children: babies born without brains and other severe deformities, rare forms of cancer never seen before and the very high rates of childhood cancer and leukaemia. The soil in Iraq has 84 times the level of radioactivity it should. In two years time, doctors in Yugoslavia will be seeing the same conditions if we do not stop the bombing now. Bruce Kent told the rally, I am not speaking for this flag or that but for people who are suffering. NATO only has authority to act if a NATO state is attacked. This has not happened and its actions are illegal. He concluded, We need social justice in this country and to build a different kind of Europe, a Europe of peace. Tony Benn, Labour MP, quoted the 1945 Preamble to the UN Charter: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which twice in this century has caused suffering He said the NATO that killed a million people in Vietnam is not the standard bearer of humanitarianism. He called on people to have confidence we can succeed and remembered the many campaigns that have succeeded. The flame of anger against injustice and the flame of hope cannot be quenched. The organiser of the demonstration welcomed the massive turnout and said this is the first of many actions till NATO stops bombing Yugoslavia. She called on people to attend the demonstration the following week against the bombing of Iraq, the local and regional actions against the war in the Balkans on April 24, and called on people to ensure a large anti-war contingent on the May Day march on May 1. The next big national demonstration is to be on May 8.|
| As part of its programme to campaign for an end to the NATO bombing of
Yugoslavia, the Birmingham Committee for Peace in the Balkans organised a
picket outside the BBC Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham.
The picket started at 5.00pm and, despite the continuous rain, 50 people were
taking part by the end of the picket at 6.30pm. Placards were carried calling
for a stop to the NATO bombing and denouncing the media block on any news to do
with opposition to the war. Pickets pointed out that at present 30% of people
were opposed to the war but the BBC and other media outlets were not giving any
coverage to this. The BBC was denounced as a mouthpiece of NATO.
Quite a few drivers of the passing traffic sounded their horns in support and
they and their passengers were giving the thumbs up to the picket.
Members of the Birmingham Branch of RCPB(ML) supported the picket and
distributed the Party statement issued on April 17 denouncing NATOs
criminal aggression against Yugoslavia. The committee is planning more events
to oppose the war in the coming weeks.
The Birmingham Committee for Peace in the Balkans can be contacted on (0121)
Anti-War Picket in Birmimgham
Dear Workers Weekly,
On Friday, April 23, between 5pm and 6.30pm outside BBC Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham, a picket of 70 plus people took place in pouring rain. The RCPB(ML) statement was given out. Many banners and placards were held up denouncing NATOs aggressive military action. Slogans denouncing the war and the media complicity in it were shouted. Support was gained from motorists who sounded their horns as they passed and gave thumbs up. A contingent of RCPB(ML) was present on the picket. A contingent from the picket was received inside the television studios but the reply was, It is not the policy of the BBC to film or report on this picket
There has been a petitioning campaign at Chamberlain Square in Birmingham every Thursday evening at 5pm. A public meeting is to be organised at Dr Johnson House, with Tony Benn and other speakers.
Reader in Birmingham
|ON Thursday, April 15, 300 people attended a meeting held at Lambeth Town Hall, in Brixton in South London, with the express purpose of opposing the war being conducted by NATO and its forces against Yugoslavia. The meeting was organised by the South London Stop the War Committee and five speakers were invited to address the meeting including a speaker from CND, trade unionists and the author, John Pilger. Afterwards an open letter was read out which was to be sent to local MPs and a petition was handed around which was to be sent to Tony Blair. The meeting was both determined and militant in its conviction that the bombing campaign of NATO is a travesty of justice both in terms of violations of international law and in terms of the human tragedy that has been created as a direct result. After the meeting further events were planned including a local rally held the following day outside the Brixton Tate Library.|
|ON MAY 6, 1999, elections will take place in Wales for representatives to the new Welsh Assembly. A total of 60 representatives will be chosen with a mixed voting system of the traditional first past the post combined with proportional representation. Each voter will have two votes, the first will decide 40 representatives to be elected on a constituency basis, as in the General Election, the second vote will decide a further 20 representatives from a party list drawn up on a regional basis using a proportional representation system. May 6 is also the day for elections to the Scottish Parliament. These elections fulfil part of New Labours election pledge for constitutional reform. In his introduction to the government White Paper, setting out proposals for the Welsh Assembly, Prime Minister Tony Blair states, This government is pledged to clean up and modernise British politics. We believe it is right to decentralise power, to open up government, to reform parliament and to increase individual rights. The people of Wales and Scotland were promised more control over their own affairs and referendums were held on devolution which voted in favour of a Welsh Assembly and a Scottish Parliament. Devolution is the government response to the demands of the Welsh people for national recognition and that the problems of social and economic deprivation suffered under successive Westminster governments be addressed. The government freely admits that the Welsh economy has suffered neglect at the hands of Westminster. In its White Paper on an Assembly for Wales it points out that too many people in Wales do not work as a result of poor health, that there are areas of high unemployment, poor housing and social deprivation and economic prosperity is not spread evenly across Wales. The gross domestic product per head remains at 84% of the UK average. These facts are not at all surprising in the light of the devastation of the economy following wholesale closure of the coal and steel industry. The government refers to this economic devastation as a remarkable shift from an economy base on heavy industry, to one based on a more diverse, modern manufacturing industry. In reality it constitutes a vicious anti-social offensive by the British government and the state against the people of Wales. New Labour presents the issue of the Welsh economy and the national question as one that can be solved within the present economic system; it is just a matter of transferring power from the Welsh Office and the Secretary of State for Wales to the Welsh Assembly. It is a matter of democratising the system, giving the people a greater say, of encouraging inward investment to the new modern economy and providing the skills and training that this economy needs. The national question has been reduced to a question of language and making the Welsh language equal to the English language in status. In reality the Welsh assembly will represent the Westminster style of democracy imposed on a new political institution which resides in Wales. It is, in effect, a new layer of government, a new arrangement brought about by the British state in order to keep the struggle of the Welsh people within the bounds of social democracy. No matter how much the government trumpets a new political and economic future for Wales the fact remains that all the levers of power still remain with Westminster. The government White Paper categorically states that Wales will remain part of the UK, and the Westminster parliament will decide all political, economic, social and foreign policy for the UK, as well as constitutional matters. The National Assembly will take over the responsibilities now discharged by the Secretary of State for Wales and decide where and how the £7billion budget allocated by Westminster will be used. Sovereignty for the people of Wales to realise their national, political and social rights is clearly not on the agenda of the Welsh Assembly.|
ON SATURDAY, April 17, thousands of demonstrators demanded an end to the Blair governments war and sanctions policies against Iraq. Assembling in Hyde Park, London, they marched to a rally in Trafalgar Square, passing the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square to denounce US imperialism. Speakers at the rally included Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant General Secretary, who was in charge of the oil-for-food programme until he resigned last year in protest at the sanctions policy, as well as Tony Benn, playwright Harold Pinter, the MP George Galloway, and other speakers. Demonstration organiser Hugh Stephens, Secretary of the Institute for Independence Studies, addressed the demonstrators at the conclusion of the rally. He said: In 1990-1, there was a massive anti-war movement, yet it melted away immediately the Gulf War ended, leaving only a few small networks to try to keep up campaigning against the sanctions in the eight long years that have followed when the Iraqi people needed it most. We hope the message of this demonstration will be that we urgently need a peace movement that maintains continuity, not just a fair-weather movement which arises at times of international crisis a peace movement that stays in place, and can truly explain why these crises and wars occur and what we need to do to defend world peace and justice.
|Peace Movement Policy Forum
Thursday May 6 1999, 7.00 p.m.
Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1.
Speaker: Hugh Stephens
Organiser of the April 17 demonstration against sanctions and war on Iraq, and Secretary of the Institute for Independence Studies
Public rally: Truth is the first casualty of war
Wednesday 5 May 7.30pm, Westminster Central Hall, London SW1
Campaign For Media Accuracy and Free Speech on the War
Speakers include John Foster, Gen. Sec. NUJ, John Pilger, Alice Mahon MP
National demonstration: Stop NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia
Saturday 8 May, Assemble 12 noon Embankment.
Committee for Peace in the Balkans
|The April/May 1999 issue of the Korea Friendship Bulletin, which is the Bulletin of the Korea Friendship & Solidarity Campaign, has been published recently. The following article is taken from the Bulletin. Thirty five people attended a meeting in central London on Saturday, April 10, 1999, called by the Korea Friendship and Solidarity Campaign (KFSC) to celebrate the 87th birthday of the late President Kim Il Sung, great leader of the Korean people, and to express solidarity with the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) in its confrontation of the threat of US aggression. Guest of honour was HE Mr Pak Jong Il, Permanent Representative of the DPRK to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) of the United Nations in London. Opening the meeting, KFSC Chair Keith Bennett explained the aims of the KFSC and gave a brief outline of the revolutionary life and achievements of President Kim Il Sung. Professor Mohammed Arif, General Secretary of the British Afro-Asian Solidarity Organisation, gave a detailed presentation on Koreas experience of national democratic revolution and its relevance to other Third World countries. He was followed by Eric Trevett, Honorary President of the KFSC and President of the New Communist Party of Britain, who condemned imperialist aggression against Yugoslavia and explained the need for all progressives to defend the DPRK as never before. Michael Chant, Representative of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), presented greetings from his party and said that its just held Third Congress had passed a resolution calling for increased solidarity with the DPRK. A speaker from the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party (A-APRP) stressed the importance of the Korean revolution, and specifically the Juche Idea, for the African revolution, and for their party in particular. The representative of the recently formed United Kurdish Committee drew parallels between the struggles of the Kurdish and Korean peoples and said that the great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung and the Korean revolution were an example and an inspiration for us when we started our revolution. The books of Comrade Kim Il Sung are popular with our fighters. Jong Son Won, Deputy Permanent Representative of the DPRK to the IMO, read a paper outlining Comrade Kim Il Sungs theoretical and practical accomplishments. Besides the speeches, the meting heard messages of greetings from Alex Salmond MP, Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), six Labour MPs, Labour members of the House of Lords and European Parliament, Labour local government councillors, trade union leaders and other labour movement figures, the Communist League, veteran communists, other peace and solidarity organisations, and figures from academic, cultural and business circles, as well as from some overseas friends. The meeting expressed support for the demonstration called in London by the Committee for Peace in the Balkans the next day and other forthcoming anti-imperialist activities. A letter was adopted to Comrade Kim Jong Il, the leader of the Korean people. The meeting was followed by a reception as well as a book exhibition and sale and a photographic display.|
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Tony Blairs Moral ImperativeAccording to Tony Blair, Britain has a moral imperative to establish peace and stability in the former Yugoslavia. From where does this moral imperative come? How does this imperative demand that the UK armed forces participate with US forces in the NATO bombing campaign against the Serb state? Is Tony Blair motivated by exclusively humanitarian objectives, as he claims? First of all, Slobodan Milosevic has been the principal partner of British and American policy in the Balkans for the past decade. The succession of British and American senior politicians who have made careers for themselves as negotiators in Yugoslavia starting with Lord Carrington and continuing through Cyrus Vance, David Owen, Douglas Hurd and Richard Holbrooke have made it quite clear that Milosevic was the only leader who could deliver a solution to each successive crisis and without whom no solution to the crisis could be a permanent one. With the break up of the former Yugoslavia, the Serbian state has committed a series of internal aggressions against Slovenia, against Croatia, against Bosnia-Herzegovina and now against Kosova. The introduction of NATO troops into Croatia, and the US arming of the Croatians and Bosnians, all stabilised the results of earlier Serbian aggression without resolving the problems and enabled Milosevic at each turn of events to withdraw and reassign Serbian forces. British and US diplomacy has ensured the complete survival of Serbian military forces in these conflicts, enabling Milosevic on each occasion to start a new aggression against peoples of the former Yugoslav federation and providing some positive results for the Serbs for example the existence of the Serb mini-republic within Bosnia-Herzegovina. In particular, during the period from November 1997 to January 1998 there were anti-Milosevic demonstrations in Belgrade of up to 500,000 people and it appeared that Milosevic and his wife would meet the same fate as the Ceausescus in Romania. Rather than face the crisis resulting from the subsequent leadership vacuum, Britain and the US provided support at this crucial period. So if Britain and the US have made a mistake in allowing Milosevic to continue with his crimes against the Yugoslav peoples, they have made the same mistake at least three times before over the past 10 years, which is a little hard to credit. David Owen, in particular, during his tenure as intermediary was quite candid in his support for the Serbs and in his view of the necessity of maintaining Slobodan Milosevic as the man who could reconcile Anglo-American interests and Yugoslav social democracy (as Tito had done).
What took place at the Rambouillet conference was that the US and the European countries put forward their terms to Milosevic for continuing this partnership, which were the handing over of Kosova to foreign occupation in return for continued Western support to stay in power in Serbia. As we know, this was a bargain Milosevic refused to accept, on the basis that such a deal would be the end of him in Serbia. Instead he has been able to bring his opponents within Serbia (such as Vuk Draskovic, who was a Deputy Prime Minister until his sacking) into a coalition and consolidate his position as the national Serbian leader. He has also appealed to his major arms supplier - the Yeltsin regime in Moscow - for increased diplomatic and military support, and signed an agreement with Ibrahim Rugova, the Kosovar who provided invaluable support in previous years by calling on Albanians to boycott elections rather than organising an electoral alternative to pro-Milosevic groups. The facile assumption is being put forward by Tony Blair and Robin Cook that collaboration with Milosevic is now at an end and that the objective is to stop him in his tracks. This is of course not the case: the aim is to force the Serbs to withdraw from Kosova, which would then come under NATO domination, and if Milosevic agrees to this he will be allowed to continue in his partnership with the Western alliance. The moral imperative of Tony Blair and his government is in fact a territorial imperative and we are being asked to support an imperialist internecine war, an unjust war for economic and territorial domination in the Balkans. The human misery that is the result of that war is also being used as a propaganda weapon to bring public opinion behind this territorial aggression. A Reader in London
CONDEMN NATO AGGRESSION AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA! BRITISH FORCES MUST BE WITHDRAWN IMMEDIATELY! BRITAIN OUT OF NATO! DEMAND THAT NATO BE DISMANTLED!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) April 11, 1999Our Party, RCPB(ML), condemns the continuing criminal aggression launched against Yugoslavia by the aggressive NATO military alliance under Operation Allied Force. RCPB(ML) particularly condemns Tony Blair's government for its front-line role in involving Britain in NATO's military intervention and in the so-called Contact Group. Britain's forces should be immediately withdrawn and involvement of Britain in the "Contact Group" ended, Britain should get out of NATO and NATO should be dismantled. The leaders of the big powers, from Bill Clinton to Tony Blair, claim that they are acting in defence of humanity and human rights. It is crucial that the working class and people see this as the Hitlerite lie that it is. The assertion that military intervention in the region is justified to "avert a human catastrophe" and "defend human rights" is nothing but a pretext to launch an all out war and justify the unjustifiable. These same big powers have been arming, financing and inciting the various forces one against another to further their interests of controlling this strategic region of Europe. It is a tragedy that once more the peoples of the Balkans are being hurled against one another and that they are further being made to suffer by being forced to flee and be bombed by NATO. It was such a struggle by the big powers for control over the Balkans that led to the outbreak of the first world war. Now it is the US which is seeking to establish its hegemony over all of Europe in contention with Britain, Germany and other European powers. It is a very dangerous situation which is once again seriously endangering world peace, besides being itself a crime against humanity. It is unprecedented that with this criminal aggression under NATO's auspices a sovereign country is under military attack from this aggressive military alliance. The US, as well as Britain, are demonstrating that for such powers the principles of international law are only there to be flouted. Even the UN Charter and the UN Security Council for them are only obstacles to be trampled over. This is a further dangerous development for the world's people. Any catastrophe and slaughter of the people according to the likes of Clinton and Blair is now to be justified because they have a so-called "moral imperative" to intervene wheresoever they decree under the banner of high ideals. This "moral imperative" rests on a big lie. It is that the peoples of the world are incapable of controlling their own affairs, that their leaders who do not toe the imperialist line should be taught a lesson, that peoples left to sort out their own problems will resort to internecine conflict. The exact opposite is the case. It is the interference and dictate of the big powers which is behind the suffering of the peoples of the Balkans, just as they are behind conflicts and slaughter throughout the globe. A precondition for peace in the Balkans is that the big powers stop all intervention and withdraw from the region. It is the people of the Balkans, like the people everywhere, who are decisive in establishing peace and they must be allowed to solve their problems themselves without outside interference. Peace will only come to the Balkans when all imperialist forces are thrown out. The working and progressive people of Britain must not remain passive in this situation and must demonstrate their opposition to NATO aggression in the Balkans. They must condemn the Labour government's role in this aggression and demand that Britain ends its policy of intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, that it withdraws from NATO and adopts a policy of democratisation of international affairs based on the principle of equality of all sovereign states and the norms of international relations.
NO TO NATO'S CRIMINAL AGGRESSION! Britain out of NATO - NATO must be dismantled! Condemn the Escalation of the War against Yugoslavia! British Forces Must Be Withdrawn from the Balkans Immediately!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), April 17, 1999RCPB(ML) stands shoulder to shoulder with all democratic peace loving people throughout the world and totally condemns NATO's continuing criminal military aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. RCPB(ML) condemns the escalation of the bombing which is leading to wholesale destruction and countless deaths throughout Yugoslavia. The British government must be condemned for its subservience to US imperialism, and for the leading role it is playing in NATO's military aggression, which is being carried out without any mandate and for which there can be no justification. Britain must get out of NATO and NATO should be dismantled. All Britain's forces must be immediately withdrawn from the Balkans. The warmongering NATO alliance has escalated its bombing campaign without any regard for the lives of the civilian population of Kosova or other regions of Yugoslavia. This alone exposes that all along the strident claim of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton that the aggression has been undertaken for "humanitarian" purposes has been a big lie. Hundreds have been killed or injured and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee from their homes and seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Now the big powers are claiming that even more bombing is required to "finish the job" and the US government has pledged that 300 more aircraft will be available to join the NATO campaign. At the same time NATO is also amassing thousands of troops and occupying the territory of countries throughout the Balkan region. The British government, for example, has recently sent a further 2,000 troops to Macedonia where over 4,500 British troops are currently encamped. Despite claims to the contrary, it is clear that NATO is preparing the conditions to send ground troops into Yugoslavia in the future, all under the pretext that it is necessary to create an "international protectorate", which it is claimed has to be established in order to encourage the Kosovars to return. In this way the big powers manipulate the disaster they have caused for their own purposes. But such an invasion of Yugoslavia would pose an even greater threat to world peace. Already the Russian government has voiced its opposition and stated that the use of ground troops could lead to a European or even a world war. The aggression against a sovereign country by the British government, along with the other big powers, is a crime against humanity to be set alongside its genocidal programme directed against Iraq. Here also the Labour government is acting as the closest ally of US imperialism, claiming to be acting with the best of intentions. However, under the illegal programme of sanctions, five or six thousand people are dying every month. Tony Blair and the British government have sought to justify their criminal actions and their subservience to US imperialism by all means at their disposal. In this regard the media has launched a massive campaign to persuade people to line up in support of the government, to accept that the war is justified for humanitarian reasons, in order to halt "ethnic cleansing" and even to allegedly oppose fascism. But nothing can justify the unjustifiable and opposition to the war and the government's role is growing throughout the country. The so-called "civilising mission" of the big powers, as with Britain's claim to a "moral imperative" and a foreign policy with an "ethical dimension", is exposed as the worst kind of big power chauvinism and the promotion of national hatreds. Under these high-flown signboards, the most barbaric, lawless and vicious aggression is being carried out. The disinformation campaign in the media about events in Kosova which the Labour government is demanding must be "on message" is being capped by its brazen claim that the "humanitarian catastrophe" provides an "exceptional measure" which gives a legal basis for the military action. Not only was this "humanitarian catastrophe" caused by the big powers in the first place, but the hangman is the one that is also acting as judge and jury. The war in the Balkans is being carried out as the imperialist powers' contention for outright control of Europe is being stepped up, as a component of preparing the ground for hegemony over Asia and other continents of the globe. This has created an extremely dangerous situation not only for the peoples of the Balkans and of Europe, but for people throughout the world, as increasingly the imperialist powers implement the medievalist policy that Might Makes Right. The working class and all democratic and peace loving people must step up their opposition to NATO aggression in the Balkans and act to prevent any escalation of the conflict. The Labour government must be totally condemned for its role in this criminal aggression and for its subservience to US imperialism. It must end its policy of intervention in the internal affairs of other countries and withdraw from NATO. British forces must be immediately withdrawn from the Balkans. Peace in the Balkans can only come about if all foreign powers are forced to get out of Yugoslavia, Albania and throughout the region.
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