|Volume 47 Number 1, January 21, 2017||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
Women's march, London, January 21, 2017
RCPB(ML) organised socials in various parts of Britain to look forward with optimism to the struggles that lie ahead for the people's forces in 2017 and beyond. They took place in the spirit of accepting the challenges that come with resisting the Old, working for a change in the direction of society, and giving shape to the New.
At the social in the London Region, friends, comrades and supporters were happy to welcome the Political Counsellor from the Cuban Embassy, Jorge Luis Garcia. Also present were comrades from the New Communist Party, including its leader Andy Brooks.
We reprint here the remarks of RCPB(ML) General Secretary Michael Chant, and the remarks of Jorge L Garcia.
This is a toast to the success of our work, and its further development in 2017.
What we said a year ago was that 2016 would be an exciting year, as we live in times when there is a necessity to build a torrent to turn the tide of history. It certainly was exciting [laughter]! But the objective situation has got more irrational and dangerous during 2016. There have been the events of the US Presidential Election, plus the Referendum to Remain in or Leave the EU. And towards the end of the year, there was the very sad death of Comrade Fidel.
So I would just like to say that we are so pleased to have Comrade Jorge Luis Garcia with us tonight to join with us in our events.
Just to look at Brexit, not to go into great detail, but it is one of the issues that has caused quite an uproar, quite an upset, quite a defining event in 2016. We, in common with many progressive forces, actually campaigned for a Leave result in the EU referendum from the point of view that the European Union, as it is constituted, is the EU of the monopolies, and that it violates the sovereignty of its member countries, it is an institution of imperialist globalisation. The fact that the result was that the majority went with Brexit, we welcomed from that point of view. However, we have no illusions, and the issue of "taking back control" is a moot point. We have no truck with the idea that there are such things as "British values" which are progressive, that taking back control after the EU referendum means that the working people are in power or have any form of control.
We put forward the issue of the alternative, the working class alternative to the European Union, which is based on the idea of a sovereign national economy, the idea of trade for mutual benefit, the opposition to the destruction of the manufacturing base, the opposition to supranational institutions which dictate to national governments. But fundamentally there is the question of the contention between the European Union powers, and the issue of "control" in our view simply means that the powers-that-be have gone wild promoting racism, promoting British chauvinism on the grounds that Britain will now be "independent". Well, we have no truck with this idea of Britain's being "independent". Britain has been and is an imperialist nation, a colonialist nation, has fostered racism, is committed to aggression throughout the world.
So the issue for the working class is really to fight for this control, to set its sights on constituting itself the nation. What does this mean? It does not mean, as some people say, that there is a British nation and Britain is an oppressed country by the EU. The aims of the monopolies and oligarchies in Britain are consistent with the concentration of power in the EU. It means that the British working class should stand for the sovereignty of Scotland, Wales, a United Ireland, and as far as England is concerned they should fight for an independent socialist country, and a free and equal union between the countries of England, Scotland and Wales and a United Ireland, should they wish to join together. This independence means that the working class goes for its historic mission. Only in this sense would one support "Making Britain Great Again". In fact, that programme in the content of the ruling elite is nothing but a vain hope to re-institute British hegemony, and on this basis promote chauvinism and racism.
That is one or two things about Brexit. I think it is important because the ruling elite is on the one hand trying to create so many divisions on the basis of Remain or Leave. Of course, we still stand against the EU of the monopolies. We stand against imperialist globalisation, and for what one could call working class globalisation. In other words, as the working class builds its economy for the benefit of the people then it trades for mutual benefit throughout the world. But as we stressed in our issue of promoting the alternative, it means that the working class has got to go for power, it has to deprive those of power who at present stand against the working class and people obtaining power.
So I think this is important for the perspective of 2017, our stand on Brexit and the European Union.
Of course in 2017, we are now in the year of the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. This was a milestone in the history of the whole world. It opened the path for the progress of all humanity, and is an obligatory path for the working class to take throughout the world. What is very necessary in this anniversary in 2017 is that one does not just look at it as an historical event. One looks at it as of the here and now, as of the present, and learns from it what is the way to the birth of the new in 2017. This we think is going to characterise the work of the communists, the progressive forces, in 2017 in working up to the centenary of the October Revolution. One has to study it from the point of view of the path that is opened up, what does it mean then, what does it mean now, what is the relevance for the working class and people in 2017. That revolutionary content is our reference point. As we said in our message in November 2016: "In our view, this revolutionary content is one which opens up the prospect and vision of a new kind of society, a society of the ascendancy of socialised humanity. In the here and now, there is nothing more pressing than to give shape to the profile of the new human being through the actions of a united communist movement, guided by the revolutionary theory of modern communism, and the lofty ideals of the best that humanity has given and is giving rise to."
The October Revolution represented the working class taking power, coming to power itself. But it took place obviously in the throes of the First World War, the imperialist World War for the redivision of the world. One can say that it has important ramifications from the point of view of how to achieve peace. One of the aims of the working class and people's movement is to define the aims of the anti-war movement as bringing into being an anti-war government. That is one of the guidelines of the October Revolution, that it withdrew a massive section of the combatants from the First World War. Obviously the imperialist powers were not reconciled, and they launched attacks on the new government in Russia and the Bolsheviks. But out of that the Soviet Union emerged triumphant.
One of the things we mean when we talk about an anti-war government today is that it is not a change of, say, one party for another in Westminster. It actually means, the conscious participation of people in the anti-war movement in taking steps to deal with the warmongers in Britain itself, and building these foundations. In general, what we stand for in 2017 is this idea of the Birth of the New, the struggle of the New against the Old. Our publication is called The Line of March, which refers to the line of march of the proletarian movement towards a new society. It was Marx and Engels themselves in the Communist Manifesto, if I am not mistaken, who talked about the communists not being detached from the movement, that they have no aims apart from the working class movement itself, but they have the advantage of the science of knowing the line of march, the development of history. Of course, there are giants who have arisen during the 20th century like Lenin, like Comrade Fidel. Ourselves, we pay tribute to the founder of the Internationalists and our authority in terms of the line of march, the theoretical overview, the spirit and conceptions of our Party, which is Comrade Hardial Bains and the movement he gave rise to. In 2017, we also commemorate his sad passing 20 years ago.
And the other anniversary in 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Necessity for Change Conference which was held in London in August 1967, led by Comrade Bains. This is a very important analysis, very important document, a very important conference. Again, the issue is not to praise in 2017 what happened as such, but to develop this work today, to apply what we think is our overriding motto, which is that understanding requires an act of conscious participation by the individual, an act of finding out. It is this conscious participation which we try and encourage in all our work. So that is another important anniversary in 2017.
One thing I would also like to raise is the issue of "fake news" as the buzzword of the moment has it. That everyone is manufacturing "fake news" for their own ends. When I say "everyone", I mean all those who are opposed to progress. That emphasises the importance to us of the working movement and the communists having their own media, their own agenda, to put information, to develop guidelines, to clarify things for the working class movement and people. In 2016, as our Party, we have taken steps to strengthen our journalism, to develop our groups of writers and disseminators. This is a very conscious step. One of the issues of 2017 is the strengthening of our independent press, and like many things this is an issue for the whole communist movement, it has to be a mobiliser, a clarifier, and above all representing the independent thinking and programme and agenda of the working class in their line of march towards a new society. In this context also, the programme of holding Political Forums on the Future of Society is a fundamental aspect of the Party's work in 2017, giving a profile to the Party's work, and giving an impetus to the development of the workers' movement and to the movements to change the direction of society and defend the rights of all.
So those were just some of the things we wanted to raise at the beginning of 2017. The objective situation is not really an optimistic one. I know there are some forces that suggest we are moving out of a retrogressive objective situation into a more optimistic one. Our optimism comes from our own work, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the spirit of resistance and struggle of the people themselves, whether it be in social programmes - in health, in education - on the front of culture, or as we have said in the development of the anti-war movement, and so on. These things reinforce each other. Our own work, our work for the New, the work to build the institutions of the new society, of socialism, in the here and now, while supporting, participating in, doing everything to build the resistance of the people to the onslaught which, for instance with the election of Trump has increased this euphoria similar to 25 years ago when the Soviet Union fell that the bourgeoisie have it all their own way. They can run rampant with their racism, with their anti-communism, and with their anti-worker agenda. But our work says the opposite, that there is a future, which is hard work. There are no easy victories. We are inspired by all the peoples throughout the world that have this burning desire for a new society, for a socialist society, for a human-centred society, whether it be in the DPRK, whether it be in Cuba, throughout the world where the people are fighting against oppression, this is the source of joy for us.
We think that it is really crucial in this coming year that the Party should pay attention to what it means, this question of the Birth of the New in the centenary year of the October Revolution, in the 50th anniversary year of Necessity for Change analysis. We encourage everyone to redouble their efforts to participate with us in these high ideals which we set ourselves, to review our work particularly since 1994 as well as re-affirming the red spine of RCPB(ML) which has been there since the beginning.
So the toast is for success of all our work, the success of the resistance movement, the success of the New in 2017!
London Region Social, January 7, 2017
I would like to thank all of you. I have met some of you before, but this is my first time at the John Buckle Centre.
First of all, I would like to thank all of you who signed the Book of Condolences of our Commander-in-Chief, Fidel Castro. The messages from the RCPB(ML) and from the New Communist Party too were much appreciated at the Embassy.
Beyond that, I wish 2017 to be a very happy year for all of you, and for us too. Which means 2017 should be a progressive year for us. This will be the first year without our Commander-in-Chief. But we have to keep alive our revolution. We have to keep fighting and move forward. This will be 58 years of the revolution. It will be a challenge for us. But the Cuban people are confident, and we have hope, and we will be on guard. We have to keep fighting for the defeat of the blockade and for the restitution of the territory of Guantánamo Bay.
We want to keep sharing our solidarity all over the world. At the same time, we ask for solidarity from comrades like you in order to support our revolution to achieve our goal.
Thank you for inviting me.