I would like to thank the TKP for hosting this meeting of Communist and Workers Parties.
The historic task before us, both as individual parties and collectively, is, as it has been since the inception of the Communist movement, the mobilisation of the working class, youth, women, and intellectuals in the struggle against capitalism and imperialism and its replacement by socialism.
As we meet the world is on fire. The Earth is experiencing temperatures higher than at any time since our species evolved. The seas are getting warmer, huge wildfires have swept the globe this year and will continue to do so. Is it any wonder that the General Secretary of the UN has stated, that “Humanity has opened the gates to hell?”
Metaphorically the world is also ablaze. The war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine shows no sign of ending, and as more and more weapons are poured into the country, the risk of it becoming a wider conflict leading to a global nuclear war increases. And of course, for the past 2 weeks we have seen the viciousness of the Israeli occupation of Palestine writ large.
War and famine are forcing millions of people in the global south to seek refuge in Europe and North America. Millions of people, in both the advanced capitalist economies and in the global south, face a precarious future as they struggle to provide themselves and their families with the basic requirements of life, in a world that has never before seen such an abundance of wealth.
The very existence of human life on the planet is now threatened.
The UN General Secretary is wrong, it is not humanity that has opened the gates to hell, it is capitalism in its most lethal form, imperialism. The imperialist system of exploitation and oppression is a global capital conveyor belt in which wealth and poverty are inextricably linked and increasingly polarised. Wealth is extracted from the earth and the labouring masses to enrich a tiny minority, operating on a global scale. Increased poverty and exploitation under the capitalist mode of production, and all its detrimental effects, will inevitably first hit hardest the poor in the poorest regions of the planet. The human costs have been devastating, almost incalculable, with women and children suffering the most.
The development of capitalism continues to be driven by genocide, slavery, plunder and war. The exploitation of the natural world is central to the activity and planning of capitalists. The destructive emission of greenhouse gases, the massive clearing of forests, depletion of fossil fuels and pollution caused by the use of weapons of war have been essential to capitalist over-production; and imperialism cannot limit these trends seriously without weakening itself.
The wealth of nature was exploited in an unsustainable way to enrich the capitalist class. The over-accumulation that is a feature of contemporary capitalism has led to a catastrophic overuse of finite natural resources. The capitalist system is driven by its hunger for short-term profit. It presupposes the continual exploitation not only of workers and primary producers but also of the natural resources of the world.
Capitalism created these environmental and social problems, but it is not capable of solving them. Concern for, and the protection of, the continuing existence of life on earth depends on an appropriate relationship between humanity and nature. This is not possible when the creation of profit is raised to the status of the dominant law of society. Waste is integral to capitalism: The longer capitalism remains in existence, the greater the risk to humanity.
People throughout the world seek to make sense of their situation. The capitalist media by means of news, movies and popular culture say there is no alternative to capitalism. Social democracy has failed to provide any alternative, while the extreme right attacks the victims for the failures of capitalism but never criticise the capitalist system of exploitation.
The only viable alternative to capitalism and imperialism has come from our movement. Yes, we suffered a setback with the overthrow of Socialism in the Soviet Union and in the Peoples’ Democracies. And yes Imperialism, led by the US, is dominant in the world with the US using the war in Ukraine to increase its control over its imperialist rivals.
However, as Marxists we know that nothing is constant, societies are always in a process of change. While it is true that the US is the dominant economic and military power in the world, its relative position has weakened. Its position is being challenged by the rise of the Peoples Republic of China and by the BRICS. The nature of the challenge the PRC presents to imperialism is a contentious issue within our movement. Some of the features we see in China seem alien to our concept of socialism. The other countries that make up the BRICS make no claims to be anything other than capitalist, so how do we see their challenge to the US determined Rules Based Order, or do they even present a challenge?
These are questions that we must study in a non-dogmatic manner. Our theory is informed by the study of concrete reality. We will not see struggles in which the good guys line up on one side and the bad guys on the other; that is the stuff of Hollywood. Social development, social processes, do not operate in straight lines, and they do not always work out in ways promoted in textbooks; social processes are complex and diverse, influenced and shaped by the balance of class forces, both nationally and internationally.
The growth of BRICS could increase the contradictions between the imperialist powers. At the same time the demand for national sovereignty and independence is emerging with renewed vigour, as more and more countries reject the neo-colonial structures imposed on them by imperialism.
The task for communists is to study these developments in order to advance the struggle for socialism.
The Communist Party of Ireland is a revolutionary party. Our aim is the complete emancipation of our people through the establishment of a Socialist society. Over 100 years ago, the greatest leader produced by the Irish working class, James Connolly, pointed out that the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland and that the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour. He recognised that imperialism was a development of capitalism and that if an anti-colonial struggle was to be successful it would have to be anti-capitalist and that in a subject nation there could be no advance to socialism as long as it remained under the control of Imperialism. The Communist Party of Ireland is still an anti-imperialist party. We recognise that if we are to achieve socialism in Ireland we will have to break free from imperialist domination. That means opposing British Imperialism, which directly controls the occupied 6 counties in the North, and US imperialism, whose economic presence enables it to shape the economic and foreign policy of the Irish state. We also oppose EU imperialism, which is a threat to the sovereignty of its member states and increasingly to the whole world. Any movement which seeks to advance towards socialism in Ireland, North and South of the British imposed border, which doesn’t also challenge the triple lock of US, UK and EU imperialism is doomed to failure.
The Communist Party of Ireland supported Brexit because we recognised that it reflected a split within the British ruling class and it would lead to contradictions between the imperialist powers, which could be used to advance the struggle for Irish national liberation and socialism. Brexit caused, and continues to cause, difficulties for the Irish Ruling class. It has exposed the lack of democracy within the EU because the negotiations over the protocol were conducted with no input from Irish elected representatives. It has also weakened unionism, the most pro- imperialist ideological current in Ireland.
The US, UK and the EU will try to ensure that in the event of a united Ireland, it will remain firmly within the grip of Imperialism. That is also the policy of the Irish ruling class. However, the task of the Communist Party, to borrow a phrase used by the General Secretary of the TKP in his article on the 103rd anniversary of his Party, is to disrupt the plans of imperialism. We are campaigning, with other progressive political forces, to defend and deepen Irish neutrality. Campaigning for neutrality means campaigning against the interests of the Irish ruling class. It means confronting imperialist control over Ireland and forcing the ruling class to concede ground, which will open up new opportunities for revolutionary advance.
The campaign for Irish neutrality is part of the global struggle against imperialism. We can only perform our internationalist duty on the national stage. The struggle to strengthen our neutrality will create opportunities to mobilise the working class, youth, women, and intellectuals in the struggle against exploitation and oppression and advance the struggle for national independence and socialism.
Thank you comrades.
Long Live the World Communist Movement!
Long Live Proletarian Internationalism!