10 IMCWP, Contribution of WP of Ireland

11/28/08 4:23 AM
  • Ireland, Workers' Party of Ireland (Official) Ireland, Workers' Party of Ireland IMCWP
http://www.workerspartyireland.net/ , mailto:wpi@indigo.ie
10th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
Contribution by the Workers’ Party of Ireland to the
10th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
Delivered by Gerry Grainger
Dear Comrades,
I wish to convey the best wishes of the Workers’ Party of Ireland to the PCdoB and fraternal parties and to thank the PCdoB for the organisation of this meeting and the working conditions provided.
We are meeting at a time of major structural and systemic crisis in the world capitalist system. Those who triumphantly announced the end of history and the victory of the capitalist project have had to retreat from their positions.
As the capitalist formation develops it accumulates more and more contradictions – the conflict between capital and labour, between the dynamic nature of the forces of production and the relations of production, the pattern of boom and bust, the maximisation of profit versus human and social need and environmental sustainability etc. The contradictions of capitalism are aggravated at the highest stage of its development, imperialism. The private ownership of the means of production, the use of debt-credit to finance accumulation, the buying and selling of labour power are inherent characteristics of the system. Every attempt by the capitalist ruling class to reconcile these contradictions, to avert the economic cataclysms and convulsions which constantly threaten the system or to lessen their effects has failed. The crises are endemic and the structural contradictions remain.
This crisis is no different in that respect. Capitalist accumulation reflects the concentration and centralisation of production and capital together with the growing exploitation of millions of workers throughout the world. The power of the banks and finance capital characterised by increased financial speculation with its dependence on high risk financial instruments such as derivatives as opposed to productive investment has played a significant role in the current crisis.
The current crisis in capitalism has laid bare the fallacies of market economics and exposed the inherent contradictions and weaknesses within the system. Many advocates of monetarism and the so-called “free” market who vehemently opposed regulation or “state intervention” are now demanding a bail-out from the state. The greed and rapaciousness of the speculators is to be subsidised and their operations recapitalised by the taxes of the working class while tax cuts and financial incentives are on offer for the capitalist class. Government debt is rising not as a result of increased public spending on education, health and social welfare but rather due to increased military spending and financial support, whether directly or indirectly, to prop up the capitalist system.
The advanced capitalist economies are entering a deep and prolonged recession. The working class is likely to witness a worsening of conditions in which wages have already been forced down in real terms, pension benefits have been decimated, labour has been casualised through compulsory, part-time, temporary and agency working and “social dumping” and health, education and social welfare services are increasingly under threat. Mass unemployment, poverty and homelessness loom for millions in the capitalist world. In Ireland the Central Statistics Office estimates that unemployment has reached 6.7 per cent and in percentage terms the month on month increase in unemployment benefit claimants is the highest since January 1975. One economist has predicted that it is only a matter of time before those claimants on the Live Register breaks through the 300,000 mark. In Britain unemployment has risen to an 11 year high and the figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that the number of people claiming unemployment benefit reached 980,900 in October, an increase of 36,500 on the previous month with a prediction of 3 million unemployed.
While the recent success of Barack Obama in the US presidential elections is to be welcomed as a demonstration of widespread dissatisfaction with the neo-conservatives we should be under no illusions. While there may be some change in direction and strategy and some adjustment in the “shock and awe” approach of the current US elite any such change is likely to be towards the equally discredited “Washington Consensus” favoured by Clinton and both approaches are likely to remain the stock in trade of US foreign policy.
Imperialism will represent as great a threat in January 2009 as it does in November 2008. The fundamental objective of US foreign policy is to keep the world open for capitalist expansion and exploitation. The US and its allies expend more per annum on military funding than the rest of the world together. No other country has instigated and financed intervention and war on the scale practised by the US since the Second World War, expanding and maintaining US global hegemony in support of capitalism. Imperialism remains a reality and will continue to be so as long as the capitalist market system continues to exist.
In Europe the European Union is a capitalist project. The lack of internal democracy, the attack on workers’ rights, the promotion of privatisation of the public sector, the promulgation of “undistorted competition in the market”, the downgrading of health, education and social security systems, the massive growth in militarism, the attack on social and environmental regulation and the development of policies and stratagems for the exploitation of the developing world are integral to the political agenda of the European Union. The European Commission’s Green Paper on modernising labour law encourages “flexicurity” at the expense of job protection. Recent judgments of the European Court of Justice place greater emphasis on securing economic freedoms than on the protection of social rights.
“Global Europe” established in 2006 and launched by the Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, operates in the interests of big business. Global Europe pursues an aggressive course to attack and dismantle social and environmental regulations which corporations in the European Union regard as barriers to the exploitation of the markets and national resources of the developing world. Central to this strategy is a battery of regional and bilateral free trade agreements.
Business Europe and similar corporate interests have been at the heart of the EU. These interests have been involved from its inception and have been instrumental in articulating its demands for the liberalisation of investment, services and public procurement and for the enforcement of intellectual property rights. They have also sought unlimited access to the raw materials of the developing world.
The Workers’ Party of Ireland and other progressive forces in Ireland campaigned vigorously against the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty by Ireland in a referendum held on 12th June 2008. Despite the extent and financial resources of the pro-treaty elements in Ireland the Irish people resoundingly defeated the Treaty. The only democratic interpretation of this result is that the Treaty is now dead. Despite this the European Union insists that the process can proceed and has suggested, contrary to the democratically expressed will of the Irish people, that Ireland vote again.
The Workers’ Party participated in this referendum under the slogan “Defend Democracy – Defeat Lisbon”. Democracy and respect for national sovereignty dictates that the European Union should respect Ireland’s democratic decision.
After years of US intervention and support for violent right-wing dictatorships Latin America suffered extreme inequality, poverty, illiteracy and exploitation. Now, however, in Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries in Latin America the capitalist project is under attack.
The government of Venezuela has brought about a real democratisation of society. Workers, small farmers, women and the poor who have traditionally been excluded from political life have been provided with a powerful voice. The introduction of free education, universal health care, land reform, opposition to privatisation and neo-liberalism together with the control over the country’s wealth and natural resources has brought about far-reaching change. Venezuela has nationalised key enterprises in the oil, gas and electrical industries, steel, cement, food production and distribution and telecommunications. The government has taken millions of acres of unused farm land from speculators and absentee owners. It has invested in agriculture, public transport, primary health care clinics and literacy campaigns. Venezuela is creating a society based on meeting the needs of its people in the face of open imperialist aggression.
The Cuban Revolution remains an inspiration for the workers and poor farmers of Latin America and the world. Cuba has led by example. The popular revolution which triumphed on 1st January 1959 overthrew the tyranny of Washington’s unconditional ally, Batista, and established the sovereignty of the people over the land and its resources.
The Cuban people have had to fight to preserve the gains of their revolution. From the earliest days of the Revolution the US commenced a campaign of aggression including economic and financial sanctions, sabotage, assassination attempts, slander and misinformation, military training of Cuba’s enemies, attempted invasion and open terrorism. These acts of imperialist aggression continue with the aim of destroying the Cuban Revolution, reversing its gains and bringing Cuba under US control. The continued imprisonment of the five Cuban patriots in the US, the ongoing economic war against Cuba and the EU restrictions and “common position” on Cuba are evidence of imperialism’s continuing efforts to extinguish Cuba as a beacon of hope and socialism for progressives throughout the world. These efforts have failed and will fail. International respect for Cuba has grown stronger and the commitment of the Cuban people to national independence, socialism and solidarity is undiminished.
The development of Mercosur under the leadership of Brazil has seriously challenged US attempts to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas in the region. The Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America creates the basis for regional solidarity and social and economic transformation based on socialist principles and objectives. The creation of the Banco de Sur, another progressive project which offers alternative assistance to economies in the region free from the constraints of neo-liberalism is another example of the possibilities for progressive development and change.
One aspect of the right of self-determination recognised by international law is the right of peoples to use and exploit their natural wealth and resources. International law also provides that the territorial and political independence of the state is inviolable and that each state has the right to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems.
These principles are, of course, anathema to capitalism which believes in its right to move capital and profits across national boundaries without interference from nation states. Where nation states have sought to develop political, social and economic systems based on the needs of their peoples they have been confronted with economic pressure, covert actions to undermine and overthrow national governments and direct military intervention. This continent alone is littered with examples of terror, subversion, intervention and attacks, both overt and covert, on progressive and democratic forces and governments by the US and its allies.
That global intervention continues. Imperialism continues to support its client states and to undermine those states committed to an anti-capitalist development path. While significant advances have been made throughout Latin America the US has renewed its efforts to turn back progressive change and to restore power to the privileged elites. In Latin America Colombia is the “aircraft carrier” for US imperialism in the region.
Under “Plan Colombia” the US has supplied the Colombian government with $6 billion in arms, personnel and logistics. Colombia receives more US military aid than the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean combined. The primary purpose of “Plan Colombia” is to preserve the position of Colombia’s political and economic elite and to intensify imperialism’s attack on democracy and social progress in Latin America.
The US, through its Colombian proxy, directs its aggression towards Ecuador and Venezuela. In March 2008, while the US openly supported Colombia’s military incursion into Ecuador, the Organisation of American States (OAS) passed a resolution condemning the attack as an illegal violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty.
If Columbia is the US “aircraft carrier” in Latin America then Israel is its “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East. Since World War II Israel has been the largest overall recipient of US aid. Between 1996 and 2006 Israel received $24 billion in military aid from the US. While the United States threatens and pressurises the DPR Korea, Syria and Iran over the alleged possession of nuclear weapons technology Israel has nuclear weapons and has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the US remains silent over Israel’s nuclear capacity.
Palestinians who remained in the state of Israel after 1948 were treated as second-class citizens and subjected to repeated discrimination. The Palestinians exiled to the refugee camps are not permitted to return to their homes and property and are exiled to a life of poverty, exclusion and deprived of basic civil, political, social and economic rights. Those Palestinians who live in the territories occupied by the Israelis in 1967, the West Bank and Gaza, have been subjected to oppression, destruction, death and unceasing military attack.
Since 1968 the United Nations has documented repeated violations of human rights in the Occupied territories including occupation, annexation of territory, the illegal building of Jewish settlements, the deportation and expulsion of Palestinians, the confiscation and destruction of property including the demolition of Palestinian homes and agricultural land as collective punishment, the exploitation of Palestinian labour, mass arrests and administrative detention without trial, ill-treatment and torture of persons under detention, censorship, the violent suppression of demonstrations and protests, military attacks on political organisations and the strangulation of the economy of the Occupied territories.
There must be an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; the Apartheid Wall must be removed, the settlements dismantled and Palestinian prisoners released. There must be a solution to the refugee problem based on the legitimate and inalienable right of the Palestinian people to return to their homes and property in accordance with UN Resolution 194 and the creation and recognition of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The continuing occupation of Iraq, the attempts by the US and Israel to extend the conflict into Syria and Iran, the new US military command for Africa (Africom) with the proposal to establish permanent bases in sub-Saharan Africa, the plans for the so-called “Missile Defence Shield” in Poland and the Czech Republic, the creation of military bases in Central Asia, the construction of a US marine base in Henoko/Okinawa, the reactivation of the 4th US Navy fleet in South America, the continued aggression against the DPRK, the unilateral secession of Kosovo-Metohija from Serbia, with the active connivance and support of the US, NATO and EU, in violation of the United Nations’ Charter and UN Resolutions, making Kosovo- Metohija the US/NATO “aircraft carrier” in the Balkans and the US and NATO sponsored war in Ossetia by the government of Georgia all serve as examples of continuing imperialist aggression, increasing militarism and an ongoing threat to peace, progressive political movements, the sovereignty of independent nations and the natural resources, including the oil and gas reserves, of the developing world.
Global warming and environmental change together with environmental pollution which adversely affects the health, safety, lives and the general quality of life must be urgently addressed. The bio-fuel policies of the US and EU accelerate climate change and deepen poverty and hunger. While spending billions of dollars supporting bio-fuels the richest nations have blocked Brazilian ethanol which is far less damaging to global food security.
The current crisis in capitalism with the consequent threat to the social and economic conditions of workers and small farmers throughout the world, together with the escalation and continuing threat of imperialist war has sharpened the ideological struggle and provides new conditions for building class consciousness and preparing workers for political action.
For capital and imperialism there is no genuine democracy. For socialists genuine democracy can only be guaranteed by a united struggle against imperialism and capitalist exploitation for freedom, equality, peace and democracy. The opportunity now exists to effectively challenge economic globalisation, the corporatisation of the world order and the subordination of national economies and natural resources to the interests of the US and EU. We must build on the present conditions to develop a response capable of mounting that challenge at national, regional and international level. There is an alternative. Socialism is the alternative and the future will be socialist.