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Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis
The Commonwealth Remains a Means to Perpetuate Neo-Colonialism and is an Anachronism in the 21st Century
South Tyneside Unites Against Fascism:
Communities Oppose Racist EDL March through South Shields
The necessity to build the Party of modern communism:
38th Anniversary of RCPB(ML)
Statement of RCPB(ML), March 22, 2017
RCPB(ML) sends its condolences to the families and friends of those killed and injured today on and near Westminster Bridge. It pays tribute to the courage, professionalism and compassion of the emergency services, including those nurses and junior doctors who immediately left St Thomas' Hospital to rush to attend to the victims.
The latest reports are that a lone individual at around 2:40pm used a vehicle to mow down pedestrians on the bridge, before stabbing a police officer at the gates to New Palace Yard, who died shortly after of his wounds. Five people, including the police officer and the alleged attacker, have died at the time of writing, the latter being shot by armed police at Westminster, and as many as 40 people injured, some very seriously. The alleged attacker has not been named, though Scotland Yard says his identity is known. Downing Street said that Prime Minister Theresa May would chair a Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBRA) emergency meeting this evening.
The attack has occurred in a climate of anarchy and violence. The ruling elites in this country, the US and other big powers have been intent on demonising so-called enemies of democracy, particularly Muslims, and criminalising those that they label as enemies of their values. Thus news reports have been full of such quotes as that the terrorist has struck at the home of British democracy.
The climate of fear being imposed is an assault on the right to conscience. The imposition of "British values" is part of this assault. The people must demand that the colonialist past and imperialist present of the big European powers be repudiated and that the stated policy of governments in Britain, for illegal intervention and regime change in Iraq, Libya and Syria, which has only brought more insecurity, instability and violence, be ended.
Instead of calm, hysteria is being promoted. Far from a government based on the rights of the people and their sovereignty, the government is even standing in the way of self-determination of the peoples of Scotland as well as Wales, as well as rewriting the history of the crimes of Britain ruling the waves, its colonial heritage and present outlook, to re-establish a "Great" Britain and an Empire 2.0. This is the reality of "our way of life", "cherished democracy" and "British values".
The state is attempting to sway public opinion in a grossly self-serving way, against anything alleged to be "foreign" and particularly Muslim. Its own creation of divisions and hate is accompanied by grossly hypocritical words against "hate crime" and the need for "integration". In effect, this is being used to foster their warmongering project abroad, as well as to promote racism and chauvinism and to attack rights at home.
The context of the tragic incident is also one where the anti-war movement and the stand of the people against racism and Islamophobia are being vilified. Meanwhile the First World War is being glorified, with praise for "our glorious dead", while the actions of millions upon millions in the Second World War to defeat Nazism and fascism are being turned into one of a stand against "totalitarianism", while the right to resist oppression and the right to be are themselves labelled terrorism.
The people are being incited to define this tragic incident as "terrorist". This has happened even though the attacker was reported as acting alone and nothing is known as to his motives, save that attention is being drawn to the fact that today is the first anniversary of the attacks in Brussels. This incident is called "terrorism", while the killing of MP Jo Cox by a neo-Nazi is not. In reality, this incident underlines that the people must unite in action in defence of the rights of all, opposing anarchy and violence, racism and reaction, including Islamophobia.
The people must take a stand against this tragic action being used to negate the rights of the people. "Standing together" must mean taking a stand based on justice. It means unity in action in defence of the right to conscience, and to resist reaction and retrogression. This reaction and retrogression is real, but so is the people's spirit of resistance and the desire for empowerment.
No to the Imposition of Allegedly "British Values"!
Unite in Action in Defence of the Rights of All!
The government has recently made great efforts to strengthen the neo-colonial ties that exist in the so-called Commonwealth, the organisation of some fifty-two states around the world, most of which were former British colonies. Such plans, especially those involving African countries, are apparently such a significant aspect of the new post-Brexit "Global Britain" that some government officials began referring to them as "Empire 2.0", a phrase that subsequently appeared in the press, ahead of the inaugural summit of Commonwealth trade ministers held in London last week. At the same time, the government used the occasion of "Commonwealth Day" to promote the idea that the Commonwealth is more of a club of equals than a means for the rich and powerful to perpetuate their domination over millions of people throughout the world. Already preparations are being made for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, which will take place next April in London, as an occasion to further strengthen this domination.
The recent Commonwealth summit, attended by ministers and delegations from thirty-five countries, was organised by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), which describes itself as "the private sector's gateway to doing business in the Commonwealth". Its membership includes both governments and big monopolies, many with major interests in Africa, such as Gem Diamonds, Firestone Diamonds and Standard Chartered. According to reports CWEIC is, amongst other things, particularly interested in breaking into Commonwealth healthcare markets. Over sixty representatives from big business attended the summit. The involvement of the CWEIC exposes the entire purpose of the summit and contradicts the view, promoted by the government, that the Commonwealth is an organisation of equals, or that it is concerned with an equal claim on common wealth.
The Commonwealth is especially important because of the influence that Britain exerts over many of its members through so-called "aid" and other neo-colonial ties, including economic domination by the big monopolies and financial institutions. The Commonwealth constitutes an enormous market as its member states have a combined population of 2.4 billion people, nearly half of whom are under 25. Latest economic indicators show that intra-Commonwealth trade has grown faster than the global average over the recent period, and is projected to be worth $1 trillion per year by 2020. According to the IMF, some countries' imports are likely to grow even faster in the next five years, including those of several African countries such as Mozambique, Ghana and Sierra Leone, as well as countries such as India, Bangladesh and Brunei. However, although the wealth generated within the geographic boundaries of this organisation may be produced by the working people of many countries, they do not have first claim on it, nor is it even distributed amongst the member states. Rather, the Commonwealth is politically dominated by Britain, the former colonial power, although it also includes other economically powerful states and former "Dominions" such as Canada and Australia. It also includes two of the BRICS, South Africa and India, as well as some of the world's poorest countries.
It is evident that the government has plans to develop both an African free trade zone and a wider Commonwealth free trade zone, which will be of most benefit to the big monopolies and financial institutions. Such proposals were part of the agenda of the recent summit, which also attempted to unite all its participants around the notion that neo-liberal globalisation is the answer to all of the world's ills rather than a major contributing factor. Championing the benefits of "free trade" was also the main theme of the speech by Liam Fox, Minister for International Trade, who spoke of neo-liberal globalisation as "liberation from poverty" and warned of the dangers of any form of protectionism. Even so, some smaller countries pointed out that the pursuit of so-called free trade was mainly in the interests of Britain and the other more economically powerful states. They stressed that free trade often meant the freedom of the big powers to dominate smaller economies and the prevention of the smaller economies from access to overseas markets and required financial services, most notably through the practice of what is known as de-risking.
It is evident that the government is trying to bind the Commonwealth ever-more closely to its aims, to strengthen the economic and geopolitical objectives of the big monopolies and financial institutions. It wishes to tighten its neo-colonial grip on the members of the Commonwealth and demand allegiance to the same British values, the values of neo-liberal globalisation that best serve the needs of big business and finance. In short, it wishes to turn the clock back to the days of empire, in a vain attempt to make Britain "great" again. However, although the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, might be nostalgic about colonialism in Africa, the peoples of Africa and other parts of the world will not subject themselves to "Empire 2.0". Nor will other big and emerging powers, both those in the Commonwealth, as well as those outside it. What must be demanded is that the Commonwealth and other remnants of empire are completely dismantled and consigned to the rubbish bin of history.
South Tyneside Unites Against Fascism (STUAF) has been formed for a second time (the first in 2013) by local people, trade unionists and political groups and organisations opposed to the targeting of communities in the area with racism and Islamophobia. It remobilised to draw attention to the threat posed by a march in South Shields on March 18 by the EDL, whose sole intention was to try to intimidate and persecute the Muslim community in the town.
The EDL demonstration was a deliberately targeted attack against a local family using the excuse of a spitting incident involving a small child and a local man with mental health issues. As an attack of religious persecution, the march was also an attack on all. Given the specific personal and religious targeting of the march and its potential to lead to racially-aggravated violence, there were legal grounds to prevent it taking place. STUAF wrote to the police to demand that this march be stopped on this basis, but they refused to do so.
Having been routed right around the centre of South Shields, the march was a serious provocation to the peace-loving minority communities who have for decades lived there in harmony with their neighbours. Historians trace the Arab community in South Shields back to the 12th Century. Certainly, Muslims originating from the Middle East, Africa and Asia have settled here for more than a hundred years. Today, this community of working people, seamen, and small businesses is fully integrated into the make-up of the town. More broadly, South Tyneside has many health and public service workers who originate from minority communities and from other countries who serve the people of the borough. It is also an area in which Catherine Cookson wrote some of her most famous novels which reflect people's condemnation of racism and religious discrimination.
The march was therefore a deep affront and provocation to all people of the region. No organisation can be allowed to attack people's right to exist and the march was something that should not be permitted in a modern society.
A spokesperson for STUAF said: "This demonstration by the EDL goes against the whole democratic tradition and values of the people of South Tyneside and the North East, which uphold the rights of all people and their communities. South Tyneside Unite Against Fascism has organised a peaceful and orderly counter-demonstration to defend the rights of all against this attack on our communities - we are one race, the human race! Join us to show solidarity and send a clear message to the EDL that the people of South Tyneside and the North East will not accept the incitement of racial or religious hatred against our communities."
Nearly 100 people from South Tyneside and elsewhere, and from all communities, assembled at the Town Hall, far outweighing the twenty or so brought in from outside by the EDL. The EDL were allowed to march from the Scotia around into Anderson Street, Beech Road and back through Winchester via Anderson street to the Scotia for a rally. By the time of their return, the counter-demonstration had been allowed to march down Fowler Street for a rally near the Scotia.
The counter-protest expressed the unity of the community against the promotion of overt fascism and attempts to divide people on racist and religious grounds. It also expressed the principle that there can be no "democratic right" to target Muslims and even individuals as in this case, condemning the authorities that allow such forces to propagate their intimidation and hatred. Slogans such as "Whose streets? Our streets! Whose town? Our town!" represented the positive message that the rights of all people should be defended from whichever community they come, and rejected the scapegoating of Muslims or any other section of the people for the problems in society, which is being carried out at a time when all communities are under attack by the ruling elite.
The Muslim Community is Our Community! Defend the Rights of All!
Philip Hammond presented a Budget on March 8, which soon began to unravel revealing disunity on the government benches. In fact, this reflects that besides its character of being vindictive and suffused with pandering to class privilege, as an attempt at managing the economy it was illogical, incoherent and based on anachronistic conceptions which are incapable of dealing with an economy based on serving the needs of society.
Where was the input of concerned people or informed opinion on how to promote social progress and an economy with a thriving manufacturing base making use of social wealth to serve the people's needs? There is no pretence at science. There was just the anti-conscious promotion of "austerity" only months after Hammond had declared he would be moving away from an austerity programme.
The Budget flew in the face of the facts of economic life. There was talk of the deficit being down, but government debt being still too high. The rich thrive on government debt, but it is not leading to any reverse in the destruction of manufacturing, or of the creators of social wealth being excluded from decision-making. Cut-backs in investment in public services in the interests of privatisation and the claims of the monopolies are causing a desperate crisis in health and social care, education and public services as a whole. In short, it was a wilful ignoring of the economic and social crisis.
It is as if the government has given up on a functioning economy and can only see the economy as a means to enrich the privileged few, in which the Chancellor "does not have much room for manoeuvre". "Government Members know that we can achieve rising living standards and deliver investment in our vital public services only if we have a strong economy and sustainable public finances," said the Chancellor. It shows the government is a fierce enemy of the working people moving towards control of anything in Britain. There is no other logic to the Budget. It is an insult to anything that remotely relates to a science of economics, let alone to the recognition of the origin and development of social wealth. It is only dedicated to an anti-social direction to the economy.
If this were not the case, then there would be some recognition of an economic plan and programme. But there is no attempt at a plan. Budget day is like a game of Westminster charades, full of demagogy. The reality is a dictatorship of the rich and powerful, in which "balancing the books" is itself a fraud. It serves no useful purpose in managing the economy. The whole anachronistic taxation system, which puts the burden on working people and denies the role of workers as the creators of value, of social wealth, should be scrapped and the working class discuss how to start afresh. Philip Hammond's attempt at a Budget underlines that the working class must use its own independent thinking and programme to change the direction of the economy and bring science, planning and the human factor to bear.
On March 8, only four days after one of the largest national demonstrations opposing the government's whole direction for the NHS the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, concluded the last part of his spring budget speech on the NHS and elderly social care with the absurd claim: "Mr Deputy Speaker, we are the government of the NHS."
Before this, the Chancellor had outlined the government's values on the NHS when he said: "Just as the principle that every child should have the opportunity to fulfil his or her potential is central to the government's values, so is the principle that everyone has access to our NHS when they need it. And that everyone should enjoy security and dignity in old age." But while these words were aimed to try and comfort some MPs they were equally aimed to deceive. What was so striking about these opening comments on the government values towards the NHS and elderly social care was that the commitment that access health care "free at the point of use", so regularly mentioned in previous value statements of government Ministers, was completely omitted by the Chancellor. And such concerns were further justified when he announced that, although the government was to "commit additional grant funding" to councils for social care over three years, the long-term plan for social care was that "the government will set out its thinking on the options for the future financing of social care in a Green Paper later this year".
The Chancellor did outline some of the disastrous consequences of the present direction for the NHS and social care for the elderly, and he admitted that the "system is clearly under pressure", but of course he did not refer to the true scale of the crisis that has today brought the NHS and social care to the brink of disaster. He claimed to be dealing with the short to medium term problems by "committing additional grant funding of £2 billion to social care in England over the next 3 years, with £1 billion available in 2017-18". But as one listened to this, there was no sense of belief in these remarks that such funding would actually be delivered as real funding; in fact, the opposite was revealed to be the case. Nor was there any ongoing plan or commitment to the NHS and social care other than the continued cuts, privatisation and further passing of paying for health and social care onto the people. The tone of the whole budget was of further paying the rich in the name of "building a stronger, fairer, better Britain".
This theme continued when he spoke about the "NHS 5 Year Forward View" and the "Sustainability & Transformation Plans" (STPs). He said that "we recognise, too, that in addition to the funding already committed, some of those plans will require further capital investment. So the Treasury will work closely with the Department of Health over the course of the summer as the STPs are progressed and prioritised. And at the Autumn Budget I will announce a multi-year capital programme to support implementation of approved high quality STPs." He also indicated that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt expected that "a small number of the strongest STPs" may be ready ahead of the Autumn Budget. Hammond said he would therefore allocate an additional £325m to allow the first selected plans to proceed. However, what was striking was his refusal to acknowledge that this neither addressed the massive cuts in funding that these STPs represent if they go ahead, nor the disastrous direction that they are taking the NHS, closing further already overstretched acute services, A&Es and hospitals. For example, the average annual cut to funding of the 44 STP foot prints is in the region of £500 million for each STP and overall with almost a third of the NHS budget - over £22 billion. In other words, what Hammond was talking about was not additional funds for the STPs but funds that will be top-sliced from massive NHS budget cuts!
It is important that, in reviewing this budget, the people recognise that only a pro-social government that directly represents the right to health care can be "the government of the NHS". This requires reversing the whole anti-social direction in health and social care as well as mental health care. It requires the establishment of proper public authority over public services which are accountable to the people and those that work in the NHS. Such a government must recognise that access to health care is a right of everyone in a modern society, and that this right must be guaranteed for all regardless of their status but simply because they are human. It would be incumbent on such a government treasury and any Chancellor to make the necessary claims on the economy to meet the needs of the NHS and social care system in full. The people must demand that no budget can be regarded as legitimate unless it ensures that public right prevails and the duty of government to provide a comprehensive acute, community, physical and mental health and social care service across all communities is restored.
March 19 marked the 38th anniversary of the founding of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in 1979, as a continuation of its forerunner organisations. RCPB(ML) traces its history to the youth and student movement of the 1960s, and in particular to the historic 1967 Necessity for Change Conference, led by Hardial Bains, the 50th anniversary of which we are marking this August.
We are taking this opportunity to reprint remarks given at the seminar marking the 35th anniversary of the Party in 2014.
In assessing and celebrating the 35 years of the history of RCPB(ML) and its achievements and the work and sacrifices of all its comrades and its sympathisers, what is the reference point? It is based in the necessities of the present, not from controversies from the past. What we are arguing, our thesis of these 35th anniversary celebrations and discussions, is that it must be what the times are calling for today. We are arguing for the necessity of building the Party in the 21st century as decisive not just for the victory of some struggles of the working class and people, but specifically to break with all that is holding back the progress of society, to challenge the old culture and social forms based on property relations and the privileges based on the supremacy of the private ownership of the means of production, and the political processes and institutions that go with that economic organisation of society, which in the present times has become so criminal, parasitic, anti-human, incoherent and irresponsible.
The crux of the question that the seminar is addressing and inviting everyone to consider, discuss and elaborate, is what kind of Party is it that the times are calling to be built and strengthened in the 21st century, at this juncture of history. There is a revolutionary red spine and red thread running from the founding of the Party in 1979 and before, in its roots in the revolutionary and anti-imperialist movements of that time, to RCPB(ML) and its revolutionary activities and analysis today. It is essential, we hold, to look at the work that led to its founding and its revolutionary work of that period, from the perspective of the present. In particular we are calling for the study in an organised form of the example of John Buckle and the work of the Party which he led.
Why do we hold that this is necessary? It is not from nostalgia or to say that the Party was more revolutionary in those days. We do recognise the outstanding qualities of John Buckle, and that is why so much emphasis is being given to his example and inspiration. But it is also to recognise that these outstanding qualities were put in the service of the work of the Party, and to lead the struggles of the working class and people in the form which was necessary at that time. In fact, it can be said that the work of that time took place in the context of the inter-imperialist machinations of the Cold War, of the bipolar division of the world, of anti-communist rhetoric, slander and historical falsification. The task now is not to keep fighting those old battles which that period has settled. But the issue which presents itself is that the rich and powerful of the imperialist system of states today and the media which they control or which are their mouthpieces rehash and intensify Cold War propaganda against the revolutionaries, Marxist-Leninists, and generally against all the progressive movements of those times. The state attacked and denigrated them as violent and extremists then, and it is doing so now.
The task as it presents itself today in the context of the focus of our celebrations is to recognise this legacy objectively and to hold it high and carry it forward. In a few words, it is to ensure that the legacy lives on today in the work to renew all the arrangements at the base of society, provide society with a new economic direction that serves the public good and empowers the working class and people, and ensure that all the political and social institutions are human centred, not capital centred and serving the interests of the monopolies and the financial oligarchy as at present. The task in defending and carrying forward this legacy is also to show in theory and practice what is Marxism-Leninism, as the caricatures, distortions and disinformation, as well as its dogmatic rendering, serve only to, and have the intention of, disorientating those forces who are today seeking serious solutions to serious problems. Today, for instance, there is propaganda against and criminalisation of those engaged in political activity and fighting for rights and for social change. "Revolutionary communism" is linked with "Islamic fundamentalism" in order to create the impression that both are cults and extremism which should be targeted by the state and made the targets of the "war against terrorism". At the same time, provocateur activities are carried out both to entrap certain forces and also to attempt to discredit the Marxist-Leninists and social activists. At the height of the time John Buckle became active also, the US and British secret agencies were carrying out such activities as engaging in violent actions which they blamed the Marxist-Leninists for, as well as launching coups and horrible crimes against the people who were demanding democracy and human rights. Our Party and its forerunner organisations were no stranger to these state-organised attacks, the planting of explosives, the attacks by the police when it was the comrades who were branded as "violent". These days the powers-that-be carry out attempts to discredit and criminalise those who are fighting for rights and against the anti-social offensive. Their aim is to fragment and disorientate the political movements, sow doubt and distrust, and try and prevent the broad front uniting and growing against the so-called "austerity agenda".
The Party organises the people to be history-making. The Party always addresses the necessity to be on a par with the needs of the times, with the requirements of the movements of the working class and people, with the demands of history. At this time of the celebration of the Party's 35th anniversary, it is aware that there is a renewed interest in communism, in the necessity for organisation, consciousness and leadership as the way forward, and not only of the presentation of the ideology of communism, but how communism is linked with the solutions of the problems that the sections of the people are facing in their daily lives. One reason for this interest is the realisation that these problems are linked with the organisation of society, its social and economic base and its class composition.
But there is an interest which goes beyond this realisation. It is that a crucial necessity of the times is to build a Party of modern communism, a mass communist party, itself as what the times are calling for at this juncture of the 21st century. We refer to a Party of modern communism meaning that this is a Party which is bringing communism on a par with addressing and solving the problems of the 21st century. If communism does not do this, what kind of communism would it be? It has to be consistent not only with the objective conditions but consistent with the tasks of the time to overcome them. This means that it fights that the working class should take up its own programme to chart a way out of the crisis, take the stands which are in its own interests and that of the society as a whole, and delineate the alternative. We refer to a mass communist party, meaning its quality of the participation in its democratic centralism. In other words, its members are duty bound to be conscious participants in arriving at decisions and be conscious participants in implementing them. But its implications are for the whole of the Party's organising work. Its method of work is to mobilise the people in the objective movements to themselves be active in setting the agenda, based on the interests of the movement, and themselves to follow the principles of conscious participation in arriving at decisions in order to be conscious participants in implementing them. Such a method of work is aimed at empowering the participants in the movements of the working class and people to work out how to take a stand which favours their interests within the situation they are addressing.
We think that this method of work is key to overcoming the old and facilitating the rise of the new. It is certainly key to the vitality of the Party and ensuring it rises to meet the challenge of the times. The Party's call for this 35th anniversary, to build such a Party in the 21st century, is a call for all who are actually in motion, who are looking to strengthen the organisation and resistance of the working class and people's movements. The issue is that the ruling circles have concentrated so much political and economic power in their hands that they have the potential to and are unleashing great tragedies not only abroad but also at home.
So our reference point is the work of the Party in the 21st century. The Party has its vision for a new society, which is neither a truism nor a utopia, but, like the solution of any scientific problem, involves the practical application of sound theory. To bring this about is political work.
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