WORKERS' WEEKLY Vol. 29, No. 8, March 6, 1999


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Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 0171 627 0599


Article Index


International Women's Day: Women Must Affirm Themselves and Fight for the Emancipation of the Whole of Humanity

Preparing For The 3rd Congress: Strengthening and Consolidating Workers' Weekly

Condemn the Government for the “Undeclared War” against Iraq!

The Scotland Act and Its Implications for Scottish Sovereignty

The Machinations of the Big Powers Cannot Negate the Rights of the Peoples of the Balkans

Budget 1999: The Working Class and People Should Take Control of What Belongs to Them

Key Theoretical and Political Issues: Women at the Forefront of the Movement for Emancipation

CORRESPONDENCE

East London Branch Prepares for Congress

South London Branch Salutes Party Preparations for the Third Congress

Birmingham Branch Studies Necessity for Change!

Lessons in Fighting against Health Cutbacks

To the Brink with the March 10 Deadline

In the Face of US Aggression: Cuba Is Defending Itself

South Korea’s Anti-DPRK Smear Campaign


International Women’s Day:

Women Must Affirm Themselves and Fight for the Emancipation of the Whole of Humanity

MARCH 8 MARKS International Women’s Day. Workers’ Weekly hails the struggles of women across the world who are fighting to affirm their rights and to open the door to a new society.

In order for women to affirm themselves and to take a conscious stand in the fight to establish a new society, women themselves, in common with all people in the society, must do their own thinking, on the question of women as on all questions pertaining to how society is run.

The arrangements in society today block women from affirming themselves. At the same time, these arrangements accommodate a select few into an elite. Only after a protracted struggle did women belatedly win the vote and place themselves in the electoral system on a par with men. Meanwhile, the party political system was being perfected so as to keep the people as a whole away from political power. Even within this system, the representation of women in parliament is still very low. Such a situation cannot be remedied by a quota system or reserved lists, which only heap further humiliation on the dignity of women. The struggle for all the people to be empowered needs thorough-going democratic renewal, a struggle in which women are at the forefront.

In reality, far from bringing about changes for the better in the conditions for women in Britain today, the government has gone all out to attack women. In recent times there have been even more calls for the regulation of so-called “single mothers”. Tony Blair’s first public speech after gaining office as Prime Minister was to announce that so-called “single mothers” would be obliged to go to work in order to “be good role models for their children”. He said nothing of the high levels of unemployment, nor the lack of child care facilities for those who would need it while working. In fact, in the same speech he went on to blame women for the “degeneration of the youth” and what he sees as the fall in moral standards of the society. And this attack that he launched has intensified during the course of the Labour government’s stay in power.

There have been all kinds of regulations brought in. Women are now supposed to be responsible for the behaviour of the youth such that there has been talk of bringing in laws to penalise women who fail to keep their children under check. If their child gets into trouble with the law, it is proposed that the mother can be brought to court and imprisoned for the child’s misdemeanour. The government fails to say how the children of such a woman languishing in jail would continue to survive let alone cope with the problems that society heaps on the youth.

As part of the offensive to keep women marginalised and treated as second-class human beings and doubly oppressed, women are encouraged simply to fight for their own small patch, and ignore the agenda for the transformation of society. It is buried that the emancipation of women cannot happen aside from the proletarian movement for the emancipation of the whole society. Standing at the forefront of this proletarian movement for emancipation, women will be instrumental in bringing about their own emancipation also. It is quite criminal the way women are today sidelined in society. It is an indictment of society itself that women are encouraged to consider that the transformation of society through social revolution is not their concern. This is an indication that the political culture of society has been brought down to its lowest level.

Workers’ Weekly is confident that in their struggle for their own emancipation, women will be in the vanguard of opening up the path out of the crisis to the building of a new society fit for women and all human beings. At the same time, it is the duty of the whole society and all its members to fight for and defend the rights of women, to bring about a society where women are no longer second citizens and considered “fair game”, but where their rights and needs are guaranteed and they occupy a place of honour.

Hail March 8, International Women’s Day!

For the Affirmation of Women!

Build a New Society Fit for All Humanity!  

Article Index

PREPARING FOR THE THIRD CONGRESS:

Strengthening and Consolidating Workers’ Weekly

PREPARING the conditions for holding the Party’s Third Congress and the strengthening and consolidating of the Party’s newspaper have been inseparable tasks. Only as one has advanced has the other also advanced. If Workers’ Weekly had not been strengthened and consolidated, how could the conditions have been created for launching the next stage of the Party’s work? Not only is the paper a collective organiser but is the scaffolding which enables the building of the Party to proceed. As the newspaper is consolidated, so can the tempo and scope of the organising increase. This is how the significance of the Party’s programme of strengthening and consolidating its newspaper, with its fighting slogan Improve the Content, Extend the Readership! presents itself as Congress approaches.

So important is this question that the July National Consultative Conference of 1998 gave the call to make this consolidation irreversible. The significance of this is that it becomes woven into the thinking and practice of the Party, that the quality of a Leninist party and a modern communist party is inseparable from the quality of its newspaper; that the whole Party as one will defend this position; that successors are constantly being trained; that the Marxist-Leninist positions of the newspaper and the embodiment of the line of the Party in it are unshakeable. The November National Consultative Conference had as a focus drawing the Party activists and sympathisers into the discussion on the editorial policy of Workers’ Weekly. It drew attention to the fact that if the Party has life, then the paper has life. This life of the Party is its organising work, and the work of organising the working class, the women, youth and other sections to study, write for and disseminate the paper is the work to develop the independent programme and leading role of the working class, without which the transformation of society is not possible. The November Conference demonstrated that the subjective basis and objective conditions exists to consolidate all the gains which have been made in developing a Party press with this militant and political character. It therefore drew the appropriate conclusions, and issued this militant resolution on strengthening and consolidating Workers’ Weekly: “This conference resolve to do its utmost by the time of the Congress to have a fully rounded, fully focused regular Party newspaper, partisan to the working class, with a strengthened editorial board, backed by a journalistic staff and fully functioning apparatus, which is at the focus of all the work politically, and which all comrades read, write for, discuss and disseminate on a regular basis, as a matter of course and as a matter of discipline. This conference recognises that this is the surest base from which the next stage of the Party’s work and line of march can be launched.”

Will this target have been reached by the Third Congress in two week’s time? This is for the Congress to assess. The newspaper has been regularised, the editorial board strengthened, the journalistic staff consolidated, the consciousness raised throughout the Party on applying and defending the Party’s line on the newspaper. This work has been organised to achieve success. Will this success be declared a victory? The Party’s newspaper be assessed as its most prized asset? The next stage of the Party’s work and line of march be launched on this basis?


The Third Congress is taking place from Friday, March 19, 1999, to Sunday, March 21, 1999, inclusive. To apply for credentials to attend the Congress, please get in touch with the Party contact in your area, or write to the Central Committee of RCPB(ML) at 170 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LA, telephone 0171-627 0599, fax 0171-498 5407 or e-mail office@rcpbml.org.uk

Article Index

Condemn the Government for the “Undeclared War” against Iraq!

Demonstration in London against the bombing of IraqDAILY CONFRONTATIONS are taking place over northern and southern Iraq, according to the Defence Secretary, George Robertson. This is a further criminal escalation of the Hitlerite attacks against Iraq and amounts to an “undeclared war” being waged against that country. China and Russia, as well as Iraq itself, have condemned Britain and the US for these actions.

George Robertson also announced on March 3 that the rules of engagement had been “expanded” so that US and British planes could hit at Iraqi command and control systems. US military officials have declared that the “number of bombs and range of targets is growing”, and that US warplanes will attempt to completely destroy Iraq’s air defences in the so-called “no-fly zones” if they keep trying to shoot down American and British planes. Thus while the US and Britain step up the war, the imperialist propaganda blames the Iraqi regime for defending itself and for the escalation of the aggression. US and British aircraft have now attacked more Iraqi air defence sites than during the four-day Operation Desert Fox.

The Foreign Minister of Iraq, Muhammad al-Sharaf, has claimed in a letter to the UN Security Council that the US were trying to destroy Iraq’s oil export capacity as part of its plan to destabilise the government of Iraq. This comes after an attack on an Iraqi oil pipeline to Turkey on February 28, cutting off the flow of oil. Turkey, an ally of the US in the region, has also expressed concern over the damage to the pipeline and has urged an end to the confrontation.

What the US and Britain are doing to Iraq violates the elementary principle that the people of any country have the right to determine their own affairs free from outside interference, which includes bombings, blockades, selling arms, cultural penetration, imposition of foreign values, and all other interference. The bourgeoisie on the other hand promotes reactionary chauvinism, which gives Britain the right to interfere in social systems, following the doctrines of “might makes right”, and the “white man’s burden”. According to them, someone is always needing assistance or human rights need protecting. Then it is promoted that Britain is a paragon. This is the thinking that must be swept aside if the working class is to take up an independent, pro-social programme as its own, taking up the question of its own rights.

Workers’ Weekly once again vehemently condemns the Labour government for this further “undeclared war” against Iraq and demands that it cease forthwith, itself break with the dictate of US imperialism, and withdraw all British armed forces from the region. It also demands that the sanctions against Iraq be ended. While the media are full of reports of “savagery” and “genocide” elsewhere in the world, such genocidal sanctions as against Iraq and other independent countries which are killing millions are being almost entirely left out of account.

A national demonstration against the bombing of Iraq and for the lifting of the sanctions is taking place in London on April 17. An open meeting of the Organising Committee is being held on March 23 at 7.00 pm at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1.  

Article Index


The Scotland Act and Its Implications for Scottish Sovereignty

AFTER COMPLETING all its parliamentary stages Royal assent was granted to the Scotland Bill on November 19, 1998, transforming it into the Scotland Act 1998, at which point it became part of the statute book. It was New Labour’s election manifesto which put the issue of devolution for Scotland and Wales and constitutional reform onto the parliamentary agenda. However the government has been forced to deal with this constitutional issue because of the ever increasing demand in Scotland and Wales that the people have “a greater say in their own affairs” and be free of the Westminster dictate. In reality the government is opposed to the granting of national rights and sovereignty to the peoples of Scotland and Wales.

The Act provides for the establishment of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Administration which will legislate on the following areas: education, health, local government, housing, law and order, social work, the environment, agriculture, forestry and fishing, transport, economic development, training, sport and the arts. The Scottish Executive will have 129 MPs (MSPs) accountable to the Parliament, headed by a First Minister. Elections are to be held on May 6, 1999, to elect the MSPs, the same day as elections will be held for the Welsh Assembly. The Scottish Parliament will take up its full powers on July 1, 1999, on the same day that it is officially opened by the Queen.

There will still be a Scottish Secretary of State and the Queen will remain as Head of State of the UK. Documents from the Scottish Office point out that “ sovereignty of the UK Parliament at Westminster will be unaffected”. The UK Parliament will retain control of the constitution of the UK, foreign policy, defence and national security, the fiscal, economic and and monetary system, common markets for UK goods and services, employment law and social security. In other words sovereignty will remain with the Westminster parliament.

What then is the significance of the Scottish Parliament in relation to the struggle of the Scottish people for their national rights? It was always New Labour’s intention to grant Scotland the right “to govern their own affairs” and to this end they were fully prepared to go with the outcome of a “yes” vote to the devolution referendum. Westminster was prepared to concede a parliament for Scotland. However, this parliament has not been granted as a matter of principle by one nation that has subjugated another. If a principle were involved, then why a parliament for Scotland and an assembly for Wales?

It is not the wishes of Westminster that have established the Scottish Parliament but the demands of the Scottish people for their national and sovereign rights. However, it has to be said that whilst the parliament may present some opportunities for the Scottish people to develop thier struggle in the future, it is not a sovereign parliament, sovereignty still resides at Westminster. While political and constitutional power remain at Westminster there will never be modern sovereign states of Scotland or Wales. By introducing, what is in effect, additional layers of government in the UK, with the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, the British state has instituted an arrangement whereby it can accommodate and control the aspirations for Scottish and Welsh sovereignty and maintain the status quo. The Union remains intact and the national struggle for constitutional reform is contained and kept within boundaries controlled by the British state and its government at Westminster.

The British state was founded on the basis of the suppression of the peoples of England, Wales and Scotland, it colonised Ireland and plundered and conquered round the world, brutally suppressing the people. It is the most reactionary state and is the cover under which English chauvinism is expressed at its extreme, saying to the world that everything is fine in England as regards human rights, and that everyone should follow the Westminster style of government as a model of democratic rule. This British state supported by the government does not recognise the national rights of any people, it bullies other countries and interferes in their internal affairs, creating instabilty and tension, as in the Balkans, and is even prepared to bomb other countries into submission as with Iraq. New Labour wears the mantle of this state and is waging a vicious, anti-social offensive against the people in the name of “Making Britain Great Again” in the global economy.

The working class programme demands modern sovereign states for Scotland, Wales and Ireland. This raises the question, what of the English working class, what about their parliament, their national rights? The stand of the working class in England should be to wage a vigorous struggle against English chauvinism which parades beneath the banner of the reactionary British state. This chauvinism, that exhorts people to be “proud of being British”, belongs to a class who rule by expropriating the wealth of society for their own selfish gain, who stand for and carry out the subjugation of sovereign nations, and whose greed for markets and spheres of influence lead the people to the brink and into war itself. To end this state of affairs the working class must constitute itself the nation. It must make its own arrangements to empower the people. Voting every five years or so is not empowerment, it is simply choosing to agree or disagree with policies that the people have had no part in making. Representative democracy marginalises people and keeps them out of the political life of the country. Executive power is with the Cabinet of the majority party which is at liberty to change policy whenever they choose. Becoming the nation means being sovereign in government, that the working class controls the assets and wealth of the nation, that it plans and controls the economy, forges the political, social and foreign policies of the nation and empowers the people to write the constitution. And, because the working class is not an exploitative class, the government will be subordinate to the people and the whole of society will be organised around the needs of and with the interests of the people at heart. The working class becoming the nation is the only guarantee of the national political and social rights of the Scottish people and all the other nations of the territory of Britain.  

Article Index


The Machinations of the Big Powers Cannot Negate the Rights of the Peoples of the Balkans

The build up of NATO forces in the Balkans is increasing as violence continues in and around Kosova in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Britain, the US and the other big powers in NATO continue to threaten air strikes and other military action against Yugoslavia. In the past week the British government has deployed a further 3,000 troops in northern Macedonia, where they join over 2,000 French troops stationed on the Kosova border. Defence Secretary George Robertson, who visited Macedonia this week, threatened that NATO would act if the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities continued to amass troops on the Kosova border.

Since the ending of the “peace talks” in France, the Yugoslav army has deployed troops throughout Kosova and on its border with Macedonia. This has been widely seen as a signal to the big powers that the Yugoslav government will not accept the occupation of Kosova by NATO forces, as demanded by the big powers. But the Yugoslav army has also been deployed in support of the Serbian authorities’ repressive actions against the Albanian population of Kosova. There are reports of the shelling of towns and villages and of renewed fighting between Serbian and Yugoslav forces and the Kosova Liberation Army. As a consequence, thousands of Kosovan refugees have been forced to flee their homes and cross the border into Macedonia.

The fact is that the “peace talks” in France, imposed by the threats and bullying of the so-called Contact Group countries, have not brought peace to Kosova. The violence and instability remains and is already involving other countries in the region. It continues to provide the justification for the interference and intervention of Britain and the other big powers. The big powers are continuing to put pressure on the representatives of the Kosovars to agree to their proposals for “autonomy” for a limited period of three years when talks resume in France on March 15. But this plan which involves the occupation of Kosova by 30,000 NATO troops is tantamount to a relinquishing of the Kosovars’ right to self-determination, while at the same time their agreement will increase the likelihood of NATO military action against Yugoslavia which totally rejects such an occupation. Efforts by representatives of the big powers to bully the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities into acceptance again ended in failure this week.

Peace can only be brought to Kosova if the Kosovan people are allowed to exercise their sovereignty as is their right. The problem is that the conditions need to be created for them to exercise this right. Neither the repression of the Yugoslav and Serbian authorities nor the threats, bullying and “peace talks” of the imperialists can create such conditions. The Kosovars’ right to determine their own affairs is not necessarily synonymous with Kosova being separated from Yugoslavia. But unless a people is sovereign, with a modern sovereign state, how can their rights be affirmed in practice? The people of Kosova will certainly not be able to exercise their rights under the occupation of the NATO forces as Britain and the other big powers suggest. Indeed Britain, Russia, the US and the other big powers are using the intransigence of the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities and their repression of Kosova and the Kosovars’ demands for independence for their own strategic aims. Russia has longstanding strategic and economic concerns in the region, while the US, backed by Britain in particular, aims to establish a new “protectorate” in the Balkans, as it has already done in Albania and Bosnia.

There can be no illusions about the concerns of Britain and the big powers. Their bullying, warmongering threats and interference in Kosova and throughout the Balkans must be totally condemned. What must be supported are the rights of the peoples of the Balkans and especially the rights of the people of Kosova to self-determination, the inalienable right to exercise their sovereignty and to determine their own futures free from outside interference.  

Article Index


Budget 1999 


The Working Class and People Should Take Control of What Belongs to Them

FINANCIAL COMMENTATORS now are saying that the budget that will be announced on March 9 by Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, will be broadly “neutral”. The idea is being promoted that now Gordon Brown has put the “macro economy on auto-pilot” by putting the lever of interest rates in the hands of the Bank of England “what has he to do?”. Tradition has it that the Chancellor is tight-lipped, but all expect no surprises. Of course, deficit financing is now anathema to New Labour, whilst Old Labour still clings to “tax and spend”, with the TUC also adding to the illusion that lowering interest rates will avoid the recession.

In this way the media, the government and the TUC leaders are telling the workers to lull themselves to sleep, to continue to keep mum and look to their betters. On the one hand they are told all the important reins must be kept in the hands of the government, the political parties and the Bank of England, on the other that such matters are not of interest, except when it come to such matters as cigarettes and spirits, and now issues such as greenhouse gases and so on are making an appearance.

What should happen is that everything is put into perspective, assessed, debated by the people in the context of the aim of the economy and the advice of those with specialist knowledge on economics. This is the last thing that is happening. The aim of the budget is mystified. There is speculation that the “budget surplus” is the issue and will be high and will mean a slight reduction in income tax, then it is announced that “cigarette bootleggers” are responsible for a loss of excise revenue and that it is “revenue” that is the issue and not budget surplus and therefore taxes will have to be increased and so on. Even the reams and reams of commentaries and websites are not designed to inform and clarify, but to obscure what the issues are.

What will happen is that “prudence” and “keeping in check public spending” will prevail. The Chancellor will be extremely sympathetic towards business, whilst making some gestures about policy objectives for social programmes. The budget will come and go once more, with the vulnerable once again at the sharp end, and the city and the monopolies broadly satisfied, while the TUC will complain once more of missed opportunities, that the Chancellor could have done more, that the trade union leaders should be listened to more, for it is they that can deliver social partnership. Meanwhile, the rich, the financial oligarchy, will further strengthen their stranglehold on the economy and the whole of society and the people further marginalised.

This system must be rejected out of hand. Why should the working class and people be treated like ignoramuses and the butt of economic and financial policy. The working class and people should place themselves at the centre of the debate, that why is it not they who make the decisions on the social product, who have first claim on it, who decide on how the aim of the economy should be set. The issue is that the working class and people should take hold of what belongs to them.  

Article Index


KEY THEORETICAL AND POLITICAL ISSUES:

Women at the Forefront of the Movement for Emancipation

THE EXTENT to which women are free and equal in society is the extent by which the progressive nature of that society can be measured. Without women taking their place at the forefront of the struggle for emancipation of humanity, no lasting solution can be found to the progress of society as a whole. This is why RCPB(ML) gives pride of place to women. Without the emancipation of women, the working class cannot emancipate itself, and without the emancipation of the working class, women cannot be emancipated. This is a dialectical relationship.

In the experience of RCPB(ML), women are taking their place in the leadership of all the struggles being waged in society. The Party takes a stand against the marginalisation of women from political life and the relegation of their problems to “women’s issues” which is their only concern and which it is up to them alone to solve. In this way, women as a collective become ghettoised, while through the practice of elite accommodation, a select few women are accommodated to positions of power and influence, to the ranks of the elite. This is a policy to deliver the vote of women for the political parties. It is used to foster the illusion that women as a whole have made advances, while the reality is that under the present society, women continue to suffer humiliation and degradation. They remain marginalised from participating in governing the affairs of society, which would enable them to change the situation, to end the state of affairs whereby their objective claims on society are denied, and their second-class status is not addressed. It is promoted that it is an individual’s responsibility to fend for themselves. However, the arrangements in society actually block women from providing for their children. It is a necessary demand that society fulfils its responsibility to provide all that is necessary, not only for bringing children into the world, but so that they grow up to thrive and develop in mind and body.

The government ensures that the rich are able to squeeze every last drop of profit from the labour of the people, and in this respect women are utilised as a source of cheap labour. Not only does competition in the global market demand that the rich do not have to pay for the nurturing and education of the children who are the next workforce, but the care and education itself is made into a source of profit for them. The so-called “single mothers” are targeted as being the source of the problem, while the reality is that the polarisation of society between rich and poor is increasing, while it is women who make up the majority of the workforce, earning on average only two-thirds the income of men. The majority of children are being brought up in households run by women in part-time employment.

This society must be changed so that women exist in conditions which allow them to affirm themselves, where society recognises the claims of women as a collective, as well as the rights of women and men as human beings. This is a question for everyone in society to take up, and equally women in affirming their rights must take and are taking a stand for the emancipation of the whole of humanity.  

Article Index


C O R R E S P O N D E N C E 

East London Branch Prepares for Congress

THE East London Branch of RCPB(ML) has been engaged in a range of work to strengthen all its activities in preparation for the Third Congress of the Party. It has begun the study of the documents of the National Consultative Conference held last November, and has paid particular attention to those documents relating to setting the themes and agenda of the Congress and on the editorial policy and strengthening of Workers’ Weekly.The Branch has also discussed the series of articles in Workers’ Weekly – “Preparing For the Third Congress”, and initiated a systematic study and discussion of the Necessity for Change pamphlet by Hardial Bains.

The main focus of all the work of the Branch, as it prepares for the Congress, has been to strengthen itself politically and ideologically in the course of carrying out the work it has set for itself and in particular in the work to Improve the Content and Extend the Readership of Workers’ Weekly. To this end it is striving to make certain that it strengthens the collective study of the paper and the political line of the Party; that it works to develop the ability of all its members to write for the paper on a regular basis and that it collectively finds ways to continually extend the regular readership of the paper.

There have been many significant steps forward, but it is in the context of this ongoing work that the Branch has to grapple to overcome its weaknesses and the many problems, both objective and subjective, that stand in the way of it advancing the work of the Party. In particular it has to struggle against the idea that the people’s movement is everything and that organisation and consciousness is not important, the tendency to be diverted from the Party’s central tasks at this stage of its work. It must also continually struggle against any liquidationist tendencies, against succumbing to the pressure that we should live to be used by jobs rather than the demand that we use jobs to live. It is in recognising these problems, facing them and collectively working to overcome them that the Branch has been able to strenthen itself and all its work in preparation for the Congress.  

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C O R R E S P O N D E N C E 

South London Branch Salutes Party Preparations for the Third Congress

THE South London Branch of RCPB(ML) has responded with enthusiastic determination to prepare for and uphold this historic event of the holding of the Third Congress of the Party from March 19-21. It is conscious that as we prepare for the event so will the event prepare for a national revolutionary upsurge.

Our Branch has worked hard to build the necessary conditions within which such a Congress could be held. The work of the last year, especially for the two National Consultative Conferences held in July and November, has seen a much greater level of participation in all aspects of the work. It has raised the consciousness of the activists, leading to our becoming more determined to overcome any weaknesses that we have and to do our part to ensure that this Congress is a success.

In parallel with preparations for the Congress, the South London Branch is active in combating the anti-social offensive and is deeply conscious of the significance of the Congress taking place at the height of this anti-people policy of the Blair administration. In South Lambeth alone, the number of colleges has been reduced from eleven to just four since 1992. The coming Congress represents the opportunity for the Party, as part of its determined and conscious step-wise approach to its work, to strengthen the fighting organisation necessary to lead the way for the working class and people into the 21st century. The Congress will also set the seal on the Party’s programme of work since the Coventry International Seminar of January 2-3, 1994, and on the consolidation of the Party press.

Since the November 1998 National Consultative Conference, the Branch has set itself a programme of work to prepare for the Congress. This has included the work to study in depth the November Conference documents and the republished “Necessity for Change”. With the latter document, this has included the requirement on the part of each comrade to produce an elaboration of a prescribed theme. With the regularisation of Workers’ Weekly, so regularisation of mass work has gone ahead in keeping with that, and the Branch has responded to the task to Improve the Content, Extend the Readership of Workers’ Weekly with articles from comrades and contributions from contacts. Investigation of the anti-social offensive and activity on that front has been mounted. Qualification for credentials for the Congress has been gone into thoroughly and decisions made on requirements and eligibility. We are also conscious of the necessity for all the delegates to participate in formulating the agenda of the Congress in order to implement it, and are taking steps to ensure that this is done.

The activists and circles of the South London Branch will also be active in participating in the cultural event to celebrate the Congress. Performers will include friends and professional associates of Party activists.

We look forward to the Third Congress as a pathfinder of the socialism to be inaugurated in the 21st century!  

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C O R R E S P O N D E N C E 

Birmingham Branch Studies Necessity for Change!

THE Necessity for Change analysis was based on a speech given by Hardial Bains during the Necessity for Change Study Programme organised by The Internationalists in February - March 1967.

First of all, we considered why now, over 30 years after it was first written, it is necessary to study the Necessity for Change Document (N for C). There are several reasons.

First we concluded that at a time when the Party is trying to reach a new coherence, based on modern definitions, in the struggle to lead society out of crisis and open the path for progress, the theory and ideology that a human being needs to fully and consciously participate in this movement is contained in N for C. We recognise that profound changes have occurred in the world since 1967, when the document was first launched, but the clarion call of the N for C analysis that “Understanding Requires the Conscious Participation of the Individual, An Act of Finding Out” is still true today. The Internationalists were successful in their work because they linked the struggle against bourgeois theory and ideology to organising to change the world. Organising was the key and it was in the struggle to build the anti-imperialist youth and student movement of the sixties that The Internationalists drew their theoretical and ideological nourishment. This struck a blow to the dogmatists and scholars of the time who preached “revolutionary” theories from the sidelines without ever participating to build an organisation for progress and change. It fought against the idea that you had to have perfect analysis or much more knowledge before one could organise the movement for change. In reality this meant that nothing was organised and was a block to progress on this front. Thus it was in the heat of the struggle against revisionism and opportunism of all hues that The Internationalists were able to lay the foundations for the building of Marxist-Leninist communist parties in England, Ireland and Canada. Today, the act of conscious participation is a prerequisite for the building of a modern communist party. Supporters of such a party can no longer just agree or disagree with this or that policy and then carry on their lives holding these opinions divorced from the reality of organising. Supporters of a modern communist party must discuss and participate in the elaboration and strengthening of its political line and programme. In concrete terms this finds expression in the Party’s programme at this time to “Improve the Content, Extend the Readership of Workers’ Weekly” in which all supporters and activists of the Party and all those active in the various collectives of society trying to change things for the better are encouraged to read, study, write articles for and disseminate Workers’ Weekly.

This brought us on to the second consideration for studying N for C. This analysis was the rock on which our Party was built. In studying this analysis we are studying the history and development of our Party. If we ignore this, if we chip away at the rock or take it away altogether we will destroy the Party. In studying N for C we are studying the theory and ideology upon which the Party was built. This is particularly important at this time when the Party is coming up to its Third Congress and is preparing to strengthen itself and set the next stage of the Party’s work to take it into the next century. It is impossible to think of strengthening the Party, of elaborating and developing its line further if we do not know where we come from or what it is we are strengthening. It is, therefore, both timely and essential that all Party members and supporters and indeed the public at large become acquainted and reacquainted with the history and development of the Party through the N for C analysis and that we develop uniformity of thinking on the theory and ideology needed to continue and sustain the Party’s forward march.

Another reason for the study is to assist our understanding of and implementation of Resolution 3 from the second National Consultative Conference of 1998. In the author’s preface to the book is stated “the NFC analysis clearly established that the most important factors for victory are organisation and ideology along with culture in social form, which facilitates the two. In the absence of this there is no way a revolutionary movement can be imbued with revolutionary theory. In fact no organisation can lead anyone to victory if it does not develop culture in its ideological and social forms in order to facilitate the development of the movement on an uninterrupted basis.” The same preface also states, “Today, as was the case in the sixties, the ideological struggle and culture in social form have assumed the first position in the building of a revolutionary organisation and in the creation of subjective conditions for revolution.”

The N for C analysis not only recognises the problems of individuals with “the will to be” stepping into the class struggle to change the world, but analyses in depth the root cause of these problems, how they manifest themselves and most importantly gives the ideological and organisational guidelines to tackle these problems head on. Our study looked into the problems arising from the “conflict” between the political work, i.e. the political life of the individual and their so-called “private “ life. This conflict of interest only presents itself because the system we live in is an anti-social, monopoly capitalist society. This is a system where the interests of the ruling class who have “usurped power by force” and those of the working class are not in harmony. The ruling class is exploitative, while the working class has the interests of the whole society as its own and is struggling to make these interests a reality. The ruling class, on the other hand, wants to maintain the status quo, wants to carry on expropriating and controlling the wealth of society which is produced by the working class. To this effect the ruling class wages an ideological onslaught against the working class and all the collectives in society, who are in opposition to the anti-social offensive, to make sure that their struggles never go beyond certain limits and that they never organise in such a way as to challenge the right of the ruling class to rule. According to bourgeois logic the working class must never demand that the economy be run with its interests and the interests of the whole society as the decisive factor for developing economic policy.

In the sixties we were told “do your own thing” and now we are told “people must be responsible and provide for themselves”. The effect of both these statements is the same, both say that society has no responsibility, no duty of care to its members and citizens simply by dint of their being human and born to that society. Such thinking disarms people politically and ideologically, it nullifies and paralyses their struggles, rendering them passive in the face of the anti-social offensive. We are told “this is the way it is, there is no alternative” and all we can expect are the handouts and “privileges” the ruling class is prepared to concede when and if they can afford it. It puts great pressures on people not to organise for change, not to put the interests of the working class in first place but to instead pursue their own personal goals of a career or acquiring private property and all the gadgetry that a consumer society has to offer. This ideology is self-serving and self-seeking and only exists because capitalism exists.

The Party and its organisations cannot ignore these ideological questions and in order to secure its uninterrupted development must wage struggle to oppose the bourgeois line. N for C provides us with the ideology needed for this task and its study is essential for all Party members and supporters

These are just some of the issues raised in our study so far. We are continuing with our study and hope to report this further in Workers’ Weekly.  

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C O R R E S P O N D E N C E 

Lessons in Fighting against Health Cutbacks

Dear Editor,

OVER recent weeks Worker’s Weekly has reported on the concerted campaign of many thousands of people against the downgrading of the Kent and Canterbury Hospital. This important struggle has not only united the people against these cutbacks to the NHS but has revealed some important lessons for the people.

Firstly, it has demonstrated that the New Labour government is committed to continuing the anti-social offensive of the previous period in health care provision whatever the opposition of the people. Secondly, it has raised the issue that how is the future of the NHS as a whole to be safeguarded when the people of Kent and Canterbury have no say over the fate of such a vital part of their community as this district hospital. This strikes a chord with the people throughout the country. For example, in my home town over the past few years the people of South Tyneside have also launched a number of campaigns to save the provision in the borough of community based elderly care hospitals and elderly day care facilities provided by the NHS. The fight to save Hebburn Hospital under the previous Conservative government and the present fight against further closures of elderly care and other services has likewise united the people of the borough. In a similar fashion their reasonable requests have been ignored whilst elderly care services have been removed from the NHS and placed into either the private sector or into the realm of “social services” both of which introduce means testing and charging. A situation has been created whereby if a service is declared to be “health care” then the patient does not have to pay and if it is declared to be “social care” then the patient has to pay. This has led to ridiculous situations where some official has to decide whether a patient bath at home is a “health bath” or a “social bath” in which the patient has to pay. In the most recent campaign to oppose the closure of the Charles Palmer Day unit for the elderly in a Jarrow hospital the people have been forced to accept a non-NHS service run by charity and social services in its place.

All these examples show that the issue facing the people is that they are marginalised from taking decisions even over something so vital as their health services and that the authorities can do what they want with impunity. A resolution passed by the Hebburn Hospital Campaign after the announcement of the final closure on November 12, 1996, declared, “This closure shows there is no democracy in Britain” and that “modern society should guarantee the right of all to health care regardless of their individual circumstances.” Today, this issue of empowerment of the people to take the decisions in society must be dealt with if the people are to end the situation where the health service is being used as a source of profit for the monopolies. The demand must be for a health service that is guaranteed without discrimination and at the highest standard available.

Health worker  

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North of Ireland:

To the Brink with the March 10 Deadline

Despite mounting pessimism, March 10 remains the government’s deadline for the “devolution” of legislative powers from London to Belfast, Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam has said. However, it is beginning to be suggested that the deadline may pass before powers are “devolved” to the Northern Ireland Executive. Mo Mowlam may be reconsidering the position, saying that she wished to see more progress by the end of the month.

The Ulster Unionists and Sinn Fein are currently deadlocked over the issue of decommissioning of weapons. John de Chastelain, the former Canadian General who heads the international body on decommissioning, has held talks with the parties. Tony Blair announced on March 3 that he is ready to come to the north of Ireland at a moment’s notice. All seem agreed, however, that when the Executive gets off the ground, it must include all the parties, including Sinn Fein. Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein president, has stated that if “devolution” does not begin on March 10, it will be a breach of commitment. Mitchell McLaughlin of Sinn Fein also said in a radio interview, “Those who are now demanding prior decommissioning before we move to setting up the executive are reneging on the Good Friday Agreement.” Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness said that the IRA will not surrender by decommissioning because Unionists say they have to. He said that the IRA would view forced decommissioning to get the Executive set up as a surrender.  

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IN THE FACE OF US AGGRESSION:

Cuba Is Defending Itself

The country will create the laws it needs to defend itself..THE National Assembly of People’s Power, Cuba’s highest legislative institution, recently approved stiffer sentences for a range of serious crimes which have marked repercussions on citizens’ sensibilities, after extended debates which confirmed enemy attempts to destabilise the country through promoting violations of law, social indiscipline and civic insecurity.

Speaking at an extraordinary session called for this purpose, and which continued into the evening hours over two days, President Fidel Castro emphasised that those methods had become one of the principal planks of the US strategy of destroying the Cuban Revolution, over and above the Helms-Burton Act and other actions.

Included among the modifications to the Penal Code are prison terms of up to 30 years, or life sentences for crimes such as robbery with violence, robbery with force, theft from occupied homes and other crimes linked to the manufacture and trafficking of drugs, all of which were fully discussed by known jurists and deputies representing a wide range of professions, activities and sectors of the Cuban population.

SEVERE, JUST AND HUMANE

The Cuban Penal Code now includes the crimes of money laundering and the traffic of persons - which have recently appeared on the island - and, concurrently, harsher sanctions were approved for persons involved in the corruption of minors or pimping, phenomena that were virtually eradicated by the Revolution and that have reappeared in recent years with the country’s opening to international tourism, and the economic crisis resulting from the disappearance of the socialist camp and the intensification of the US economic blockade.

Deputies were in agreement that, with the new penal measures, the humanism of the Revolution, far from disappearing, will increase, be better defined and directed and will become a genuine stimulus for saving human beings, correcting their ways and rewarding their positive side, as opposed to fuelling impunity.

In this context, nobody will be sentenced in the absence of full legal evidence, nor on account of their ethnic origin, nor for being poor; and neither will anyone escape punishment through having money, a high position or power, Fidel stated in one of his many speeches during the debating sessions.

Moreover, he stressed that this is a country of justice, in which legislation has been applied and will continue to be applied with maximum equity and equality, in contrast to countries like the United States, where racist and classist considerations have clearly intervened on thousands of occasions.

Reverend Raúl Suárez, speaking of the Church’s role in the fight against crime and on behalf of citizens’ tranquillity and security, affirmed that the institution, in conjunction with other social organisations, has a duty to cultivate the best values in the family and the community, highlighting what he referred to as the “ethic of being” rather than “the ethic of having.”

He clarified that he was not in agreement with the application of the death penalty due to his profound Christian convictions, in a demonstration of honesty that was subsequently praised by Fidel, who described the religious leader as a revolutionary.

THE RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENCE

The first extraordinary session of the 5th legislature of the National Assembly also devoted much space to approving the Act for the Protection of the National Independence and Economy of Cuba, whose central objective is to defend the country from the annexationist aims of the Helms-Burton Act and all complementary measures (included those yet to be adopted) in the economic and subversive warfare waged against this island by the US government.

Due to its exceptional nature, this legislation takes precedence over any prior acts, without signifying the repeal of any crime against state security included in the Penal Code currently in force.

Criminal acts typified in the new legislation include: the supply, search for or obtainment of information benefiting the US government in its aggression; the introduction into the country of subversive material, its reproduction or diffusion; direct collaboration or through a third party with radio or television stations, newspapers, magazines or other mass media to the aforementioned ends.

It likewise sanctions persons promoting, organising, inducing or participating in meetings or demonstrations with the previously mentioned aims; and is applicable to those who support, solicit, receive, distribute or facilitate financial, material or other kinds of resources to the ends covered by the new legislation.

In general terms, this act is an attempt to respond to the various channels and tracks established by the Helms-Burton Act, and to which the federal budget has even assigned public funds.

As Fidel commented: “We are drawing up legislation to live by the law as we have always done, and to confront problems head on. The country will create the legislation needed to defend itself from an enemy which spares no weapon in its arsenal at the moment of attacking it and trying to bring it to its knees.”

The Cuban President affirmed that it is a matter of not allowing the Cuban Revolution to be killed, or the death sentence passed against it to be carried out, which would be equivalent to a death sentence on national dignity, independence and the major social gains attained by the Cuban people.

BY ALDO MADRUGA (Granma International staff writer) Photos: Ahmed VELAZQUEZ  

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South Korea’s Anti-DPRK Smear Campaign

THE following article was carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), date-lined Pyongyang, March 1.

The spokesman for the Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) answered a question put by KCNA today as regards an anti-DPRK smear campaign launched by a South Korean Intelligence Service while floating a nasty rumour about the population of the DPRK in a bid to frustrate International Humanitarian Assistance to it. Warning that South Korea must act with discretion, the spokesman said: A South Korean Intelligence Service is spreading these days a rumour that 3 million people of the north have died of starvation over the last four years.

In order to attach credibility to their rumour, it quoted a “result of the population census carried out by the Ministry of Public Security of the DPRK”, saying it was confirmed that the population of the north decreased from 25 million in 1995 to 22 million in 1998. On top of this, the service, citing “data” and “analysis”, alleged that International Humanitarian Assistance is helpless because the famine-stricken DPRK has diverted most of relief food to the army. This is a whopping lie which was hurriedly invented by those who do not know what organ of the DPRK is in charge of population census.

The latest population census in the DPRK was the wholesale census carried out by the central statistics bureau of the DPRK in 1993 in co-operation with the United Nations Population Fund. The census showed that in 1993, the population of the DPRK was 21,213,000, or a 1.5 percent natural increase in population. Taking into account this rate of natural increase in population, the population of the DPRK will reach as many as 23 million in the year 2000. This is a factual figure which was officially recognised or is being quoted by the United Nations, the UN Population Fund and other international organisations.

The whopping lie being floated by the South Korean Intelligence Service over the population of the DPRK throws a revealing light over its dirty nature once again. It is not the first time that the intelligence service which is accustomed to intrigues and deception resorted to ill-intentioned schemes to check International Humanitarian Assistance to the DPRK. For example, it had once brought disgrace upon itself in the eyes of the world by circulating a rumour that the DPRK government diverted fund relief in aid for natural disasters to military spending.

To make matters worse, it put mixed bio-chemical substance with food and other relief materials for the DPRK to achieve their sinister design, thus doing harm to or killing a large number of people in the north. The South Korean authorities and intelligence service would be well advised to act with discretion, mindful that their frantic and reckless anti-DPRK smear campaign will only arouse more bitter curses and accusations from the international community.  

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