IMCWP Lebanon, November 2012
Speech of the Communist Party of Britain
- Let me begin by conveying the greetings of the Communist Party of Britain to the 14
International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties and our sincere thanks to the Lebanese Communist Party for facilitating and hosting our deliberations here in Beirut. The Communist Party of Britain is sure that the discussions at this meeting will add greatly to our collective understanding of developments throughout the world and provide new insights and inspiration to strengthen our solidarity and our struggle against imperialist aggression and for a democratic, just and socialist future.
Since we met in Athens a year ago, capitalism has continued to wreak havoc and devastation across the world and, although we may be relieved that the president of the world’s leading imperialist power is the Democrat, Obama and not Republican, Romney, we know that the United States and leading imperialist nations remain, as ever, dangerously determined to enforce their global hegemony, extend their monopoly dominance over the world’s supplies of oil and gas and over markets old and new, exploit new reserves of labour and shift the burden of the continuing systemic economic crisis of capitalism, the worse for 80 years, onto working people everywhere.
In line with strategic decisions made at its summit in Chicago in spring 2012, NATO’s new ‘defence strategies’ and an extended network of partnerships and projects are drawing more and more countries, both in the developing and developed world, into a shared security agenda. This is serving to enrich the military industrial complexes of the developed world, mitigate emerging inter-capitalist rivalries, deeply embed reactionary ideologies and erect barriers to progressive movements in their quest for democracy, peace and justice in all the countries concerned.
At our 13th International Meeting we noted the intensification of imperialist aggression, the reinforcement of militarisation and the spread of violence and war. During the time since then, we have seen a further dangerous escalation, war in Syria, the provocation of Iran’s reactionary regime and imposition of human suffering on an unprecedented scale. Having manipulated genuine and popular democratic demands raised in Syria, the US and its allies are stoking up sectarian violence to divide the country. The aim – a civil war to render Syria neutral in any conflict with Iran, a Lebanon-style civil war with a Lebanon-style solution! In its quest to secure military, economic and political hegemony in the region, imperialism is now focussing on Iran. This is masked by spurious ‘concern’ and scaremongering about Iran’s nuclear potential but, try as imperialism may it has been unable to demonstrate that Iran has violated any international treaty or obligation. Iran has neither nuclear weapons nor the means to deliver them. The International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) has found no evidence that it is developing them. Inspections continue with Iranian consent and firm ground has been identified on which to reach a peaceful and negotiated settlement. The Communist Party of Britain condemns imperialism’s drive to towards the brink of a catastrophic conflict in the region, one with the potential for global destabilisation and war.
Comrades – The Communist Party of Britain has a crucial role to play in exposing and challenging its ruling class. The British ruling class has a long and notorious history in the Middle East - targeting, dividing, exploiting and plundering the countries of the region. Today – No different! The British government as a major ally of the United States and NATO power is using every tactic of oppression, spreading sectarianism and strife, imposing sanctions, legitimising and strengthening reactionary regimes and using wars and threats of wars to enrich its military-industrial complexes. In a visit to the region earlier this month, the British prime minister set out the true interests of British state-monopoly capitalism – the unashamed pursuit of massive military contracts, the attraction of multi-billion investments for the City of London, further provocation of Iran and endorsement of the belligerent policies of the Israeli government.
The Communist Party of Britain condemns the British government for its role in strengthening the most reactionary forces currently governing Israel - supporting their continuing inhuman, racist and terroristic assaults on the Palestinian people, for supplying military and security technologies and for endorsing and promoting Israel’s position as the region’s only nuclear power. Imperialism’s failure to support United Nations’ resolutions and confront Israel over Palestinian statehood has exposed absolutely its reliance on Israel, with its arsenal of nuclear weapons, as its long-term regional base. The most recent assault on the people of Gaza has again exposed the inhumanity of those ruling Israel and once again exposed their true designs.
Comrades - Widespread struggles and uprisings across the Middle East in 2011 against anti-popular, oppressive and anti-democratic rule – in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Libya and Syria - were sparked by acute impoverishment, itself intensified by the global economic crisis. In Tunisia and Egypt these movements were able to topple corrupt, pro-imperialist and dictatorial regimes and opened the possibility of a process of radical and progressive change for all these countries. This struggle continues and must have our support.
From the outset, the US, NATO and their regional allies have stopped short of nothing in their attempt to control these movements and manipulate and derail them in the interests of imperialism and against the deep-rooted aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East to live in free, democratic and prosperous countries in which corruption, poverty and sectarian strife are forever eliminated. Authoritarian regimes – notably those of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Bahrain continue to play a central role providing military bases, spending on armaments, servicing military operations and silencing the voices of their peoples for democracy and justice. Also crucial to the negation of the struggles of popular and progressive movements, are the forces of reactionary sectarianism, especially those rooted in Islamic fundamentalism and political Islam. As with Iran, the US and its allies will play them to the full.
The laying waste of Libya and imposition of regime change there was never for democracy. It was for oil. It was for influence in the Mediterranean and north and central Africa. It was an intervention proto-type for Syria. The destabilisation of Syria, the immediate target of imperialist aggression, is vital for imperialist plans to isolate Iran, the goal of goals. In pursuit of Syria and next Iran, the US, NATO and their regional allies will stop at nothing. The Communist Party of Britain condemns every threat of intervention, every whisper of aggression and every act of war throughout the Middle East. We assert that it is the peoples of the region, and only they, who have the right to determine the future of their countries. In solidarity with the peoples of the region, we will build the broadest possible support for progressive movements and organisations campaigning for peace, justice, democracy and human rights in the Middle East, including progressive and democratic women’s organisations.
Comrades - In dealing with the continuing deep, systemic economic crisis, imperialism is imposing austerity on its peoples, making them continue to pay for what they had no part in creating through ever-deepening cuts to jobs, wages, benefits, services and living standards. But while the people are burdened with poverty, massive acquisition of wealth is taking place - through the privatisation of public services and their placement in the hands of ever-growing monopoly cartels and multi-nationals, through the decimation of jobs and through the freezing and slashing of wages. This is throwing millions upon millions into poverty.
Throughout the world, women are bearing the heaviest burden of the economic crisis. Their lot is super-exploitation on a massive scale – drudgery, impoverishment, exclusion, isolation, violence and misery. In Britain too women are disproportionately affected. They are the primary victims of privatisation and the cuts. More than 70% of cuts in public spending will come from women’s pockets, this through job loss - 473,000 women’s jobs in the public sector alone - wage cuts, the slashing of benefits and the decimation of the caring services on which they so heavily depend. Female unemployment is at a quarter-century high, women are more likely to be poor than men and are twice as likely as men to depend on benefits. Communists in Britain are doing everything they can to raise awareness in the labour movement of the class nature of women’s exploitation and the imperative of drawing women into struggle for a just and fairer future. In doing so, Communists support the National Assembly of Women and, through it, the Women’s International Democratic Federation in promotion of the tenet that peace is a pre-requisite of justice and freedom from oppression and exploitation for women everywhere.
In the European Union we see unresolved crisis and the face of monopoly capitalism unmasked.Unemployment has reached 18 million and is growing.Dearly won collective bargaining rights are denied.Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain are facing economic contraction on a scale never seen before in peace time.This is not from mismanagement of the system, which adjustments and fine-tuning can put right. The causes are rather endemic, integral to the EU, inherent in its very being. They lie in theconcentration of monopoly ownership and the EU’s denial of democracy - economic democracy - the right of working people to use their national democratic institutions to counteract and challenge the economic power of monopoly, to own and control themselves. This is why Communists in Britain do not believe that the EU as currently constituted can be reformed.Communists, trade unionists and progressive people must oppose both chauvinism and the fraudulent internationalism of ‘economic imperialism’. New forms of cooperation are needed and Communists must show the way.
In Britain Communists must continue to struggle against the EU policies of their government.These do not articulate the demands of British people but rather those of the City of London’s banks - most of them US ones.They have one aim - to defend control of EU financial markets by British and American interests and this in the face of French and German finance capital’s drive to impose fiscal and banking union, impose their own authority and control.Comrades, inter-imperialist rivalries remain – exactly as Lenin forecast. They are opening up and growing. We must understand them and exploit them to the full.
In Britain the ruling class is amongst the wealthiest in the world. The richest 1000 of our 62 million people own £414 billion between them. Monopoly finance capital is stashed away in secret bank accounts and offshore havens by the trillion. More than £100 billion of tax is uncollected every year. The wealthiest 10% of households own 44% of the wealth, while the poorest 10% own just 1%. The poor are getting poorer. Average household income fell by 5.7% last year, the biggest annual drop ever to be recorded. But there is an alternative – economic, political, social, cultural – and we must put it forward.Communists in Britainwill seekto champion economic democracy, popular sovereignty expressing the needs of working people through the democratic institutions we fought to establish and defend over the past century.
Comrades – The struggle continues. Imperialist aggression is intensifying but, as it does so, it is more and more exposed for what it is. People in every country dominated by dictatorship, threatened by sanctions and war, crushed by austerity are extending and deepening the struggle, drawing in new forces and challenging their ruling classes. We express our solidarity with them. We know that our struggles are for one end – a just and peaceful future, In Britain, trade unionists, women, youth and students, intellectuals, peace activists and community campaigners are taking up the fight. There is much potential for the trade unions, labour and progressive movement to broaden and deepen their challenge of the British ruling class, to move from economic to political challenge, to work for the broadening of democracy, the basis of a winnable, just and socialist alternative.
Down with imperialist aggression and devastation!
Long live international solidarity!
Long live peace and socialism!