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Joint Seminar of the New Communist Party and the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), February 5, 2022:
What It Means To Be A Communist, New And Revolutionary, Today
State of Emergency and Mayhem with the So-Called "Freedom Convoys":
Anarchy Breeds Violence
The demand for an anti-war government is deeply significant. Rather than a simple shift in policy, a policy objective, bringing into being an anti-war government will be history-making. It will realise an entirely new form of democracy and move us out of the factional infighting into which the present cartel-party system has descended for good. An anti-war government will end the division of the polity into ruler and ruled and allow people to govern themselves directly by speaking in their own name. The battle for an anti-war government will reveal these deep-going constitutional ramifications as it continues to unfold, in opposition to the pro-war status quo that blocks the desire for peace and democracy at every turn.
The necessity for an anti-war government arises out of the conditions of the present; it is what the times call for. Most immediately, it poses itself as essential in the struggle to end British crimes against the peace, the intervention and warmongering that are so destructive and fraught with danger.
Anti-war government is a form of decision-making constituted to harmonise interests, the interests of individuals, collectives, and whole societies, and provide the right to peace with a guarantee.
The present period is one where anarchy, unpredictability and violence prevail, and politics is dominated by pro-war government. One could say that pro-war governance is the current mode of rule, which does not only mean a policy of war internationally, but is also manifested at home as rule by police powers. Pro-war government is a form that is not constituted with the aim of harmonising interests, but is rather aimed at various interests achieving dominance through usurping power by force.
In the previous period, the period that began with the October Revolution and ended with the events of 1989-91, the possibility of anti-war government opened up in the aftermath of the Second World War. The Charter of the United Nations expressed the demand of the whole world's people for an end to resolving international conflict through military force.
In the conditions of the time, the bipolar division of the world, the camp aligned with the US pursued a pro-war stance under the banner of opposing communism. The atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Cold War was declared in Churchill's iron curtain speech. Brutal intervention was inflicted in Greece, where napalm was first used against the democratic forces, followed by Korea, Vietnam, and other places around the world.
In the present, however, the Cold War is over and the times are significantly different. The present period is one where capitalism has declared victory and assumes free rein to act as it pleases. Capitalism is aggressive in its position, and ruthless in eliminating any threat to its existence.
The general evolution of capitalism to ever-greater monopolisation has reached the point of oligarchy. Nothing stands in the way of the oligarchies, which have overwhelmed the public authorities and civil societies that used to operate in nation states under the old political model. They operate globally, above states, and drive forward supranational arrangements in their favour as they fiercely compete for control over the world's political and economic corridors.
The October Revolution had ruptured the capitalist world and divided it into two camps: that of socialism and that of capitalism. That period is over, and with the fall of the Soviet Union, the US emerged as the single world superpower, both financially and militarily. That is now increasingly being challenged. The US remains as an imperial power, trying desperately to cling onto its role as indispensable to all aspects of world affairs. This role of the US itself is now in the service of and subordinate to various sections of the global oligarchy.
The present period is characterised by war in a way that is new. Nowadays, wars are less wars of geopolitics than a result of the chaos and anarchy. The US is trying to seek a new world order as a continuation of the old, dominated by itself, but is failing to do so. Everything is very unstable. Against this whole background, there are forces at play within Britain, which see Britain's role within this context, again in a manner that will serve various powerful interests.
Indeed, one of the first major events of the present period was the Gulf War, the first Iraq War, launched by George Bush Sr in 1990. Later that decade, Tony Blair and New Labour rose to power in an electoral coup d'état in Britain, spearheading the so-called Third Way, and represented a new kind of pro-war government. They gave the ideological backing to George Bush Jr's "war on terror", as the closest partners of the US in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. They put forward the "domino theory of failed states" as a pretext for intervention aimed at regime change where wherever they pleased in the world. Hand in hand with this was Tony Blair's ruling by conviction: what holds sway is the will of the leader.
One significant thing that began with Bush and Blair, and continues to the present, most brazenly in the cases of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, was the tearing up of norms, and the breaking of taboos. Since that time, successive British and US governments have considered themselves above the rule of law. They flout international norms regarding peaceful relations and national sovereignty, demolishing whole countries, their material resources and cultural heritage. At home they cast constitutional norms aside, concentrate power, even expel whole sections of their own parliamentary parties to maintain rule. It is this mafia-style factional rule, the cartel-party system, that Anglo-American imperialism is insisting is the model that must be imposed in all territories without exception, as it supposedly accords with "universal values". All of this serves the oligopolies, as this form of government both reflects and furthers the usurpation of the public authority and all decision-making by private interests. The "credible threat of force" is essential to this situation.
At the same time, the present is also characterised by profound democratic demands developing amongst the people themselves, in contradiction with rule by dictate and war, anarchy and violence. A space for change has opened up on the question of rights, decision-making, and the use of force to settle conflicts. The present is characterised by the struggle for real democracy, peace, economic well-being, human rights, and the protection of the environment. In this period, an anti-war government means the product of the battle of democracy.
When Bush and Blair launched their attacks first on Afghanistan in 2001 and then Iraq in 2003, the people responded with the largest demonstrations in British history. The march of some two million people in London on 15th February 2003 on the eve of the invasion of Iraq was a defining moment.
Not only did people say "No to War", declaring that another world without war is both possible and necessary, they condemned the war as "Not in Our Name".
It is no coincidence that it was the anti-war movement that first gave rise to this incredibly significant slogan, which people in action have since used in various other situations. It singles out the question of what it means to speak, decide and act in one's own name, or to rule in the name of someone else or something else. This question emerged as central, and cuts to the heart of the system and constitution, because it hits directly at its ideological foundation, the Hobbesian covenant thesis.
The covenant thesis was first put forward in developed form by Hobbes during the English Civil War period in the 1600s, when the democratic revolution broke out in earnest. It served to create a form that would accommodate the conflicting factions so as to put the lid on open civil war, while at the same time blocking the growing demand from the masses of people to participate in decision-making, such as was expressed by the Levellers and others. It put forward its vision of the appropriate democratic personality: the fictitious or artificial person of state, in which sovereignty lies and to which all must submit for the good of all (the covenant). It is on this conception that the notion of representative democracy is based: it is made to appear that those elected represent their electors and through this form generate an aggregate popular will; but in reality, the elected represent the person of state. The concrete reality behind this fictitious personality are the powerful interests at play in society - in the modern world, these are the global oligopoly interests. In reality, the people are prevented from participating in governance, from deciding their own affairs, and are reduced to mere voting cattle every few years.
In Britain, the person of state is embodied in the monarch. The Prime Minister and Cabinet of the day can, using the Royal Prerogative, declare war, sign treaties, even declare a State of Emergency and suspend all rights, without even consulting parliament, let alone the electors. After the February 15 march, when Blair simply ignored the will of the people directly manifested in that demonstration and joined the US invasion of Iraq regardless, it simply showed how far the executive power was at odds with the will of the people, and the authority is out of step with the times. The invasion of Iraq put Britain in a war context, and the New Labour Third Way revealed itself to be a programme of aggression and war, and at home set a direction to what by now has virtually openly become arbitrary rule by police powers.
Democratic renewal is needed, or to put it another way, there is a need for a modern democratic personality. The democratic revolution began in the 17th Century requires completion. There is not one question or one issue facing people right now that is not a question of who decides and who is in control. Every issue from what is happening in workplaces, through to what is happening in politics of the country, through to what is happening internationally, has this issue at heart.
The battle of democracy is the struggle over the very meaning of the word democracy; it is the battle over the content of democracy and the forms that fit that content. Giving rise to an anti-war government is part of the battle of democracy. The act of being of the modern democratic personality is to harmonise interests, which necessitates being anti-war and being opposed to the use of force to settle conflict. The modern democratic personality expresses itself in the form of an anti-war government. It is a matter of necessity that people bring an anti-war government into being, based on meeting the needs of people and in a manner that is in step with the times.
Joint Seminar of the New Communist Party and the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), February 5, 2022:
Taking the topic at face value, and giving an answer in a nutshell, one could say to be a communist means seeing the face of the New in the crisis of the Old, and working for the necessary change, for the transformation of the Old into the New, with revolutionary sweep.
Further, one cannot conceive of being a communist without membership of a communist party, a modern type of party which mobilises and organises the people to defend their own interests, collective, individual and the general interests of society.
And, as both propositions imply, the communist party takes up the problems of the day, whether national or international, with the spirit of proletarian internationalism, in order to provide solutions and to advance the progress of society.
But, as always, the nub of the definition centres around how the question poses itself. To be a communist is not necessarily synonymous with being new and revolutionary. It is great that in our two parties, if one wants to separate them, we share the name communist; and one has New in its name, and the other Revolutionary. I think this emphasises a common aspiration. It is difficult to think of a communist party worthy of the name that is not a party of revolutionary action and which fights for the New. It seems to us essential that this quality is present.
Being new and revolutionary is an act of being. In contrast, when it is posed, what it means to be a communist, one is invited to think of "communist" as a category, how many criteria one fulfils, what the communist positions are, and so on. It is interesting how much difference a little "a" can make: from "to be a communist" to "to be communist". In other words, "to be communist" is not a question of ideological beliefs. It is a question of action, of structures, of membership; while at the same time how can it not include being new and revolutionary, immersing oneself in the struggles of the working class and people for their rights and interests, struggles which are in defence of the rights of all, and recognising the urgency of change, having a burning flame that the New has to come into being, since the political, economic, cultural and every other kind of crisis of the Old world is causing havoc and suffering to the people wherever they are in the world. In this respect, being communist is to have an optimism, to see in the movements of the people, whether against war, whether against the anti-social offensive, that the outcome can be something positive, creative, the people mobilised and organised to speak and act in their own name and have fidelity to the ensemble of all human relationships and what they are revealing, most importantly the need for political power. This looks like it is closer to how the question poses itself, and what it means to be a communist, new and revolutionary, today.
So, "today". This is crucial, since the argument is sometimes put that a communist party can only be revolutionary when there is a "revolutionary" situation. So, then, what it means to be new and revolutionary today. It is the revolutionary nature and character of the party that matters, the revolutionary culture and driving force within it. But it is true that the revolutionary actions of the communist party are not to be understood as storming Parliament or Windsor Castle with an armed people's militia. Nor is it the answer to return to a catechism of Lenin's words that a revolutionary situation consists in when working people do not want to live in the old way and the ruling class cannot rule in the old way. Or, one could look at it from the point of view that that situation characterises the present, with the destruction of the public authority!
But one can characterise the issue as what does the communist party take up for solution in this period of our era. When in the 1980s, the world was going through its turning point from flow to ebb of revolution, of which, for example, the coming to power of Gorbachev in the Soviet Union was an example, the conclusion could be drawn that no force could act in the old way. Tony Blair tried to convince the world that there is a Third Way, but his new type of way was not in fact new, but pro-war, anti-worker, pro-covenant thesis.
What might be said is that what is taken up for solution today is the battle of democracy, of which the defence of the rights of all is part, and which is characterised by the people being the decision-makers versus "representatives" of the people claiming to act in their name but serving a fictitious person of state. In our view, not to engage in this battle of democracy condemns you to extinction today, particularly the communists. So these are crucial fronts of struggle that affect the lives of everyone: for economic well-being, for a ban on the use of force in settling conflicts, for the protection of the environment. It is our view that people are expressing their deepest desires for something new with these demands, which can be characterised as engaging in the battle of democracy, of the necessity to establish an anti-war government.
Just to quote from the article "Era" which Hardial Bains wrote in April 1991: "The main content of the era remains the same, but the forms of struggle have to be changed so that the working people can grasp and fight for the realisation of those demands which could improve their situation, bring peace, and protect the environment. The new situation demands a new approach and solutions that working people want." So the tasks of today present themselves with profound meaning as engaging in the battle of democracy, taking it through to the end. One could say that communists present one face to the world, not a revolutionary face and a reformist face. It is a matter of our being. The working class will emancipate the whole of humanity through revolution, through the act of emancipating itself.
In our view, confusion arises when "revolution" becomes an act of belief rather than a historical outcome of the working class and people participating in making history. In this sense, "revolution" as a belief simply says that the bourgeois ruling by force is overthrown with an act of revolution to be replaced by the proletariat ruling by force. But the state form must be profoundly changed, and it is not a question of force; it is a question of bringing into being those arrangements that empower the people to be the decision-makers. We stand with the slogan: There Is An Alternative! One Humanity, One Struggle! That is to say, people are the history makers. How can the communists mobilise and organise the working class and people to this end, with this consciousness. The communists are not in a competition to best describe the ills of capitalism and of US imperialist striving for domination in the world. They are striving to develop the proletarian front and provide an alternative so that the New can overcome the resistance of the Old and prevail. Not only is the history-making of the 1917 October Revolution still unfolding, but the battle of democracy from the time of the English Civil Wars has still to be brought to completion! It is not a matter of indifference whether this battle is joined or not! The working class must stand at the head of the struggles of the people to turn things around in their own favour, and modern definitions are required, not catechisms. That means that organising work for the communists takes pride of place, which means advancing step by step, accomplishment by accomplishment, dealing with the state disinformation that puts a veil over the need for political power. The character of the veil is that the people are told there is no question of achieving that power for themselves, but only replacing one set of "representatives" by another, left-wing versus right-wing. In this way, the conception that the people are being deprived of decision-making power gets thoroughly obscured, or put off sine die. We need a vantage point and a line of march to impart to the working class and people!
So, very briefly, that is what I wanted to say on what it means to be a communist - new and revolutionary - today!
State of Emergency and Mayhem with the So-Called "Freedom Convoys":
In Canada, a mobilisation called the Freedom Convoy converged in Ottawa on January 29. It is being presented as an initiative of truck drivers demanding the revocation of the vaccine mandate applying to truck drivers entering Canada from the US that came into effect on January 15. Publications in this country, such as the Daily Mail, have taken up this theme. The protests have spread to Europe, with a so-called "European freedom convoy" mimicing the Canadian example expected to arrive in Brussels on Monday, February 14, and other convoys taking place in the US and Australia. It is being well-reported that these convoys have links with "white supremacists and far-right political parties".
Writing on the Canadian experience, TML Daily, newspaper of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), re-affirms that these are not rallies of truck drivers, and its advice is Don't Blame the Truckers!
The newspaper says: "The demands of the promoters of the convoy are suspect from the get-go. For instance, while they protest against the Trudeau government's issuing mandates, those organising the entire affair behind the scenes in Alberta themselves rule by decree. This includes the Premier of Alberta, Jason Kenney, whose approval ratings have consistently been among the lowest, if not the very lowest, of any premier in the country. Kenney himself was in Washington DC at the National Governors Association Meeting at the time the convoy hit Ottawa, where he raised with members of the US Congress and Governors the demand for the US to end its vaccination mandate for truckers entering the US, and for favourable deals for the oil and gas sector his government represents."
What has become clear is that the mobilisation is a self-serving stunt to push factional rivalries in the contest over control of the supreme political power in Canada which, at this time, lies with the federal executive power. Taking their cue from the neo-liberal ideology and the positions of the factions within the ruling class, the media promote the mobilisation as being a truckers' convoy despite the fact that all discussion on the worrisome working and living conditions truckers face is taboo. All of it - the divisive stunts and expenditure of vast amounts of money to pay for policing, and the algorithms designed to portray "thousands" of rigs on the march - adds up to a massive disinformation campaign to hide the fact that it is up to the Canadian people themselves, in action in defence of the rights of all, to define what is democratic and what is not, what is pro-social and what is not, what is needed and what is not. The fact that organisers of this so-called Freedom Convoy won't even permit discussion on the living and working conditions of truckers, which are very difficult, is significant in getting to the heart of the matter of who is behind this convoy and who it represents. False photographs seek to create the impression of a huge convoy of trucks amassing. For the rich and powerful, at stake are the bonanzas that competing global private interests behind these parties are vying to control, lucrative contracts for infrastructure builds and other pay-the-rich schemes governments are putting forward in the name of "building back better" after the pandemic.
In a keynote article in TML Monthly, Anarchy Breeds Violence, on the "Freedom Convoy", Pauline Easton writes as follows:
The narrow supranational private interests behind the so-called "Freedom Convoy" that is making a nuisance of itself in Ottawa and other cities and provinces have lowered the level of culture to one word expletives and are doing their utmost to instil confusion and fear.
This is facilitated by the authority which exists at the federal and provincial levels which is self-serving. Any consideration for the well-being of the people and the polity has been replaced with self-serving cartel party posturing and in-fighting. These have degenerated to such an extent that epithets hurled at one another and the peoples who are fighting for their rights have supplanted political discourse. It shows what happens when retrogression is imposed and gives rise to anarchy and violence. This is not the answer to the all-round crises facing Canada and the world.
Today, anarchy describes the state of affairs when everyone fends for themselves as a result of the very rich putting the decision-making power and agencies of the state at their disposal. These supranational narrow private interests accept no authority above their own, making legislatures redundant to the decision-making process. The legislatures are reduced to paying the rich and putting all resources at their disposal. The cartel parties play a role by providing the façade of high ideals while the peoples are abandoned to their fate as a result of the absence of a unifying state authority which upholds the public good.
Anarchy goes hand in hand with violence because the methods used to sort out conflicts within the ranks of the rulers, such as elections, no longer achieve that aim. Resorting to the use of force is the only alternative the ruling class knows but when it comes to the blatant violations of law and order by goons calling themselves a freedom convoy in Ottawa, there has been a marked reluctance to use it.
Ottawa City Council has now declared a state of emergency. The ordinance does not provide police with increased powers or call in the military but does show the reluctance of the ruling class to use law and order measures when it is a matter of the contradictions within its own ranks. The Trudeau government went out of its way to say it defends freedom of speech and to protest so long as it is law-abiding but everyone can see that its law and order arrangements are reserved for Indigenous peoples and protestors fighting for social justice, against war and for other social and political causes, not for goons running around Ottawa in the name of freedom. It is a reminder of what took place in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. The violent rampage against the Capitol and failed coup were called an insurrection. The Biden administration raised accusations of "sedition" and talks about laying charges of treason and the like but it has not managed to force its rivals for power to submit to its authority. And it can be predicted that the same will happen in Canada as well. It all underscores that the violence which accompanies the assertions of "freedom of speech" and to protest are inherent to the state of anarchy which has set in where various factions attempt to assert their supremacy while they unite when it comes to putting down the struggles of the people.
Constitutionally speaking, the arrangements which justify the use of instruments of law and order are basically designed to mete out colonial "justice". They enforce structures which breed discrimination, misogyny and intolerance against the affirmation of the interests of workers, women and youth as well as Indigenous peoples. Those who have usurped power through their stranglehold on wealth and privilege are having trouble using these instruments of law and order against their rivals for power when neither they nor their rivals for power enjoy the support of the people.
Based on unfolding events, how is what is happening to be assessed? How is the character of this historical period to be determined? Should the peoples accept that there is no alternative to the state of anarchy and violence which exists?
To determine what is happening it is necessary to recognise that a great conflict is taking place between two fundamental outlooks; one which is counterrevolutionary and fights to preserve the status quo and the positions of privilege and power and another which is revolutionary and fights to bring in the New and open a path for society to progress. Only if the situation is looked at from the point of view that reveals the need for change, progress and the advancement of society can the status quo of anarchy and violence be ended and the retrogression be stopped. Only the working class and people have an interest to do that. In this regard, it really does not matter anymore what "ism" a person or an organisation espouses. What matters is whether the outlook of the fighting forces is consistent with the demands of the times and they are acting in a manner which provides solutions that favour the peoples. Without this, putting labels on things - including ideologies - is meaningless. It is not just meaningless but in fact it is harmful. It stops people looking at the reality because they are too busy getting incited, cursing one another and hoping the cartel parties, courts and agencies of law and order will sort out the problems in a manner which favours them.
The interest of those who occupy the top positions of power at the federal and provincial levels is served by the preservation of the status quo. They are trying to maintain control by concentrating more and more power in the hands of the executive which is, in turn, controlled by narrow private interests. When it comes to the workers, women, youth and Indigenous peoples, they rant against those who refuse to submit to their unjust laws and violations of their rights, calling them troublemakers or this or that "ism". The workers, youth, women and Indigenous peoples are called all kinds of names in the hope that they will be blamed for the disorder. In this vein, the official media are blaming the nuisance in Ottawa on "truckers" even though it is orchestrated by private interests and has nothing to do with the claims truckers are making on society to improve their living and working conditions.
The factions within the ruling class, their advisors and pundits also throw epithets at one another, accuse each other of sedition and the like. What it reveals is that the world the rulers have created for themselves is not working out for them. The conditions demand an authority which is in tune with the times, with the need to stop paying the rich, uphold the rights of all, renew the political process so that the people - not representatives of the most narrow supranational private interests against the well-being of the peoples - can rule and humanise the social and natural environment.
The history of civilisation shows us that those who profited from the status quo in any particular period always fought tooth and nail to stop the creation of a new form of society, even though the conditions were calling for it. They gave birth to outlooks that viewed the developments purely from the angle which served them.
Today, such self-serving outlooks are being promoted on the world scale. Their specific feature is that they do not take into consideration the conclusions drawn from the study and analysis of the contemporary developments and what they reveal. For instance, pay-the-rich policies make the rich richer and the poor poorer and this trend is presently out of control. No matter how hard they try, the rulers are having trouble having their pay-the-rich decisions accepted by the people as good for them. So they do it more and more in secret. It is also a fact that permitting state-organised racists and fascists to organise and flourish is a matter of grave concern to society. They are fostered and backed by the highest echelons of wealth and power to cause disruption, instil fear, stage coups as in the United States. The mimicry of this is on parade in Ottawa and has the residents of the city fuming and furious. Canada's rulers and their cartel parties also appease the wars the US wages abroad and try to pass the US and NATO off as peaceful.
The Government of Canada and the cartel parties in the federal Parliament use what are called identity politics and hurl epithets at one another to wage the factional fight among themselves and embroil the people to choose a side. They incite passions which serve to divert attention from their own corrupt rule by claiming they uphold high ideals. Their attempts to justify the dangers their appeasement of US warmongering causes are reaching the limit of absurdity.
So too at the provincial level, the factional fights over control of the reins of power are vicious and it is the people who pay with their lives when they are forced to fend for themselves. The rulers' law and order agenda is reserved for the people who fight, while they treat what are called white collar crimes and their own conflicts of interest with kid gloves. The crimes committed by the highest echelons including the courts against the Indigenous peoples, the working people, seniors and youth are facilitated and those committed against the peoples of the world are either attributed to corrupt leaders in their own countries, hiding the fact that they were put in place by foreign powers which benefit, or as inevitable collateral damage. The double standards and clash of outlooks which determine who and what are dispensable and who and what are indispensable is more naked than ever and have shaken the regimes which claim the superiority of the so-called liberal democratic institutions to the core.
It is crucial in these circumstances that the peoples speak out against what the rulers are doing and against their self-serving excuses and failure to carry out their social responsibilities which show more than ever that they are unfit to rule.
The habit of asserting the superiority of one belief over another, or one person or party over another, or of implementing policies, decisions and practices which declare some peoples or countries dispensable and others indispensable are all used to make sure the struggles of the peoples do not make headway. But the peoples are laying the claims on society which they must and this is the way forward. Meanwhile, the rulers are out of control. They cannot control the contradictions within their own ranks which are erupting in violent acts whose suppression escapes them.
The character of this period and what should be done is revealed by paying attention to the conditions themselves from the perspective of contributing to the advance of the society, from its present phase to the next. If this is not done, the state of anarchy and violence will lead to the grave dangers which lie inherent in blocking society's path to progress. This includes embroiling the peoples in war.
Recognising the claims all human beings are entitled to make by virtue of being human is the key to opening society's path to progress. Affirming the right to be begins by affirming the right to take the decisions which affect our lives.
Fight for the Peoples!
Fight for Peace and to Hold Governments to Account!
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