We thank the Communist Party of Turkey for hosting this International Meeting and for the opportunity this provides for deepening our mutual understanding of capitalism and imperialism and for learning from each other’s struggles for socialist transformation.
In Britain our ruling class faces a very specific crisis. And so also does the British working class
The British ruling class is today divided on how to rule – and divided on how to align itself in face of rival imperialisms
It faces its own systemic crisis at a time when the capitalist system itself is entering another, deeper crisis – with a mountain of fictitious capital paralysing growth.
What is the nature of Britain’s particular crisis ?
Over the past half century British imperialism has faced four key contradictions.
Over the past ten years these contradictions have become unmanageable and have resulted in a crisis of capitalist rule – both political and economic.
The world financial crisis of 2008 was focused on the City of London. The government’s rescue of its banks was at the cost of a reduction in working class living standards of an unparalleled severity.
The ruling Conservative party faced a revolt within its own working class political base, a base on which its viability as a governing party depends. This revolt took the form of right wing populism focused on issues of immigration and national culture which challenged Britain’s membership of the EU.
The Labour Party, traditionally the alternative party of capitalist rule, also failed our ruling class. It did so in part because it was not a typical social-democratic party but a Labour Party directly based within Britain’s unitary trade union movement. In face of the economic crisis, its members rejected its previous neo-liberal direction and elected a new leadership that called for democratic, public sector control over the economy.
The new leadership also questioned membership of the EU. But it did so from the Left – challenging the compatibility of EU neoliberalism with any programme of industrial regeneration based on public ownership and planning.
Finance capital therefore faced a fracturing of the political system on which it had hitherto depended.
Economically this coincided with a crisis in British capitalism’s dual alignment both the EU and the US and the intensification of inter-imperialist rivalries between the two blocs.
Germany and France could no longer tolerate the EU financial system being controlled through London by mainly US banks. The US dollar could no longer sustain a trade deficit with the rest of the world of which the biggest part was with the EU.
This is the origin of the combined political and economic crisis facing Britain’s ruling class
It could neither rule in the old way. Nor could it extract a surplus in the old way. It was itself divided on its international alignments.
This crisis has presented an opportunity for the Left. But it also holds great dangers.
The crisis has seen the Labour Party explicitly condemn neo-liberalism and call for public ownership of all key utilities.
No less important, it has seen the creation of a mass membership for the Labour Party, largely young and supporting these objectives which, while the neo-liberal right wing still dominates in the parliamentary party, is enough to ensure it does not control the party as a whole.
Yet our ruling class has also been quick to exploit the divisions in the Labour Party.
It has also been quick to exploit the conflict over the EU in a way that dominates, transforms and narrows political debate into one between nationalists and pro-EU ‘internationalism’. It has largely succeeded in polarising discussion in a way that excludes class issues and socialist options.
On the Right the Conservative Party appears to have recaptured its political base within the working class but on far more populist and chauvinist lines of ‘defending the nation’ against the EU. To a significant extent it has done so at the expense of Labour.
In the trade union and labour movement the ruling class intervention have been in favour of EU membership argued in terms of jobs, internationalism and citizenship.
These argument have largely succeeded in overlaying any socialist critique of the EU and this has placed the Labour Party’s Left leadership under enormous pressure.
It is in these circumstances that the current deal on the EU is being negotiated – one that is likely to restore the populist credentials of the Conservative Party leadership but at the same time maintain alignment with the EU’s neo-liberal prohibitions on comprehensive public ownership and democratic intervention in the economy.
This is why Communists and the Left in Britain call for the support of their comrades in Europe in explaining the anti-people, neo-liberal and anti-working class essence of the EU.
It is why we need the support of comrades elsewhere in the world to explain the enormity of free trade treaties that open up communities to unimpeded exploitation and circumvent all democratic protections.
This report on Britain has underlined the current dangers and it is in immediate terms pessimistic. But we make this analysis in the wider understanding that capitalism is again in incipient crisis, that further grave financial disturbances are likely and major attacks on working people will follow.
There is already, the basis for mobilisation around immediate class demands as well as long-term demands for socialist change.
A socialist challenge to
the system of financialised imperialism,
the on-going cycle of proxy wars
the military preparations for conflict with existing socialist countries
the attempt to destroy the possibilities of further socialist advance in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Our rulers understand this challenge. They seek to isolate Communists ideologically and politically. The EU parliament’s recent resolution on European Remembrance is designed specifically to drive a wedge between Communists and other working class formations. It is a recognition of imperialism’s political and ideological weakness in face of the ideas of Marxism - ideas that once related to practical action become a material force.
This is the challenge we have to take up. On the 100th anniversary of the Communist International we have to draw upon what unites us as Communists and make this the basis of a wider unity among working people against the capitalist system world-wide. Over these 100 years our movement has grown – and, in growing in different concrete circumstances, it has also become more diverse. We need to respect this diversity as the product of real life struggle. But unite as well around the basic principles of Marx and Lenin.
Long live our Communist unity for Peace and Socialism
Long live the international unity of Communist and Workers parties