Congress motions 1: the way forward for our party during the economic crisis

The motions below were passed at the CPGB-ML’s congress on 5 June 2010.

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Correct tactics in the present period

Recognising that, for over a century, a portion of imperialist superprofits have been used by Britain’s imperialist bourgeoisie to offer a petty-bourgeois lifestyle to working-class leaders (the labour aristocracy) in return for class collaboration, which has become ubiquitous;

Recognising that to strengthen the influence of the labour aristocracy in the working class in general, and to dampen down class struggle, certain benefits, such as free health care and education, unemployment benefit, and pensions and wages above poverty level have been provided by the imperialist bourgeoisie to a high proportion of the British working class, which have made their life under capitalism relatively bearable;

Recognising that the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and the people’s democracies of eastern Europe in conjunction with the accelerating economic crisis cannot but result in a severely deteriorating standard of living for the British working class within the near future;

Recognising that the present capitalist crisis is making the prospect of a third world war ever more menacing, to say nothing of the continuing wars for imperialist domination waged against countries seeking independence from imperialism, and that in such wars the working class provide the cannon fodder and their living areas the battlegrounds;

Recognising that in its desperate lust after profit, capitalism cannot but seek to reduce costs of production not only at the expense of the working class and the oppressed peoples and nations but also at the expense of safeguarding the ecology of our planet;

Recognising that wars and ecological degradation threaten the very survival of our planet;

Recognising that the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of a planned economy in place of the anarchy of capitalist production is the only possible solution to these various problems facing the whole of humanity;

Recognising that it is the historic mission of the working class to effect the overthrow of capitalism, and, having established the dictatorship of the proletariat, to build socialism, and through economic planning to build a society capable of providing everybody with a decent standard of living and a cultured life fit for humanity, while at the same time taking the necessary measures to safeguard the ecology of our planet;

This congress resolves that:

a.we shall not despair in the face of the present general backwardness of the British working class, which is explained by Britain’s imperialist position, and which is only a transitory phenomenon;

b.we shall continue to have every faith in the ability of the working class to overthrow capitalism and of the ability of the communist party to convince them of the need to do so, even though we appreciate that in view of the length of time that opportunism has dominated the working-class movement this task is Herculean in nature;

c. we shall not be discouraged by the enormity of the task facing us, as the very survival of humanity depends on this task being successfully accomplished, and we shall redouble our efforts as communists to spread among the working class the understanding of the necessity of overthrowing capitalism and establishing socialism;

d. in this work, we shall strive to combat every prejudice commonly to be found among the working people that stands in the way of the working class fulfilling its historic mission of overthrowing capitalism and building socialism, for example, its faith in parliamentary democracy and/or syndicalism, as well as racist, xenophobic and chauvinist prejudices among large sections of the working class;

e. we shall also use the examples of the great achievements of the working class in communist countries to overcome the anti-communism spread by opportunists among the working class, to prove the correctness of Marxist-Leninist theory, and to give the British working class confidence that they too will achieve great things once they embark on the road of proletarian revolution and the building of socialism on the ground cleared through the overthrow of capitalism;

f. we shall focus our efforts on advanced workers, being those who are spontaneously inclined to rebel against capitalism, and through the advanced workers we will build links to the broader masses of the working class;

g. we shall continue regularly to produce in-depth propaganda material in our newspaper and in the fraternal anti-imperialist journal Lalkar (directed mainly at advanced workers), as well as agitational material (directed at a broader section of the working class) in these newspapers, in leaflets and through the internet, in the belief that in general books and newspapers are a better medium for the propagation of in-depth political arguments, while supplementing these with leaflets and the internet, which can be used to especially great effect to propagate agitational material;

h. we shall never be afraid to swim against the tide when this is what is needed in the service of the people.

Break the link

Congress notes that, with crisis and war besetting capitalist society, it has never been more important for workers to unite as a class. In the two years since we last met, there have been growing signs of militancy within the working class, exhibited in such developments as the Visteon and Vestas occupations, strike waves amongst construction workers in the energy sector, prolonged industrial action by postal workers and continuing strike-struggles waged by civil servants, BA cabin crew, railway engineers and others.

Whilst capitalism has not hesitated to use blacklists, court injunctions, terror laws and black propaganda in the attempt to cow workers’ resistance, its most potent weapon continues to be social-democratic treachery within a labour movement still dominated by the Labour party. Recent examples of this treachery were the refusal of the Unite leadership to fight the court injunction against industrial action planned by BA cabin crew for the Christmas period, and the failure of other civil-service unions to form a united front with the PCS in defence of existing redundancy arrangements.

Underpinning such opportunist retreats, Labourism steers workers away from identifying capitalism as the enemy to be dealt with, preferring workers to believe that the loss of jobs, decay of health and education, inadequacy of housing etc, are all the consequence of competition from immigrants. From one of its Janus faces Labour piously mouths “down with the BNP”; from the other it bellows “British jobs for British workers”.

Congress notes that Labour’s racism at home (with longstanding racist immigration laws now supplemented by the incarceration of asylum seekers in concentration camps) is of a piece with the racist wars of national oppression being waged abroad. Social democracy, in or out of office, is eager to draw workers into complicity with imperialism’s wars of national oppression against Afghanistan and Iraq, and threats of war against Iran. It is the dearest wish of social democracy that British workers should never understand that, in imperialism, they and the Afghan resistance share a common enemy.

Congress recalls that the historical roots of social democracy in Britain stretch back to the 1800s, when Britain’s colonial monopoly furnished the means to buy off an aristocracy of labour, by whose influence the revolutionary threat of Chartism was seen off, and by whose treachery the working class was tied to the apron strings of the exploiting class. Though in the latter part of the 20th century the British ruling class lost its empire, it gained enormously from the accelerating export of finance capital to a world bound economically to modern imperialism. A mere fraction of the superprofits thereby derived sufficed fatally to infect the Labour party and the leadership of the trade unions, keeping them subservient to the interests of British imperialism.

However, congress notes that the crisis besetting capitalism will increasingly set new limits on the level of bribery affordable to keep the labour aristocracy afloat, even as the demolition of the welfare state goes on apace. In particular, as more and more of the world’s peoples (eg, Venezuela) refuse to accept dictation by the IMF and World Bank, instead asserting control over their own resources and forming their own trade and diplomatic links with such as China, the scope for the extraction of superprofits is narrowed – further thinning out the gravy on which opportunism feeds.

Congress affirms that these new objective conditions are creating new opportunities for the working class in Britain to advance on the road to its self-emancipation. Consequently, they are also imposing new organisational tasks upon the revolutionary party of the proletariat. Such developments as the work of the National Shop Stewards Network, some of the work being done by union and community activists around the issue of organising migrant workers, and the campaign to fight the blacklisting of militants all indicate a groundswell of revulsion against social-democratic influence within the unions, which cries out for Bolshevik guidance and leadership.

Congress affirms that it is the duty of the party to do all in its power to intervene in such developments wherever possible, keeping to the fore our key slogan: Break the link with Labour. The possibility of an imminent collapse in Labour’s electoral fortunes renders this campaign against the pernicious influence of Labour if anything more urgent rather than less so. The sooner the proletariat ceases to be shackled to the Labour corpse, the better will be its chances of advancing on the road to social emancipation.

Class composition of British society.

Recognising that: 

* The classics of Marxist theory, which have a very strong focus on the industrial working class, were written at a time when the industrial working class was a rising force;

* Export of capital and the introduction of new technologies have had a significant effect on the class composition of British society;

* Immigration has resulted in the formation of new oppressed communities within Britain which are often more oppressed and more militant than the old guard of the industrial working class;

* The proportion of long-term unemployed and under-employed is increasing;

* Capitalism has created a growing ‘underclass’ layer which it has very little use for and which it has pushed into ghettoes and palmed off with drugs and negative culture;

This congress instructs the central committee to lead a wide-ranging analysis of the class composition of modern-day Britain, which should be published and used to inform our political strategy. 

Council housing

In recognising the need for shelter as one of the basic human requirements the satisfaction of which initially gave rise to the process of social production, this fifth congress of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) salutes the tenants and local-authority trade unionists who have fought – and continue to fight – over the last ten years in defence of council housing.

As part of a bid to shift the burden of its crisis ever more heavily onto the shoulders of working people, the ruling capitalist class has sought to claw back more and more of the already limited social gains won by the proletariat and its allies through decades of struggle.

Part of that campaign by the monopoly bourgeoisie was to decree the end of council housing by 2010. That this has not happened according to schedule is almost entirely due to the work of local activists, among them communists, who convinced tenants in many parts of the country to vote against the sell-off of their homes to so-called housing associations, thinly disguised private companies. Elsewhere, grassroots pressure on the local authority privateers resulted in the ballot being postponed, time and time again, and finally abandoned.

These examples of successful community mobilisation represent a series of tactical victories in the battle to defend fundamental working-class interests.

On a strategic level, however, the ruling class and its Labour government were not to be thwarted. Rather than admitting defeat, they simply moved the goalposts, abandoning the housing association idea and instead announcing that council housing would be transferred – without a vote on the part of tenants – to newly-established ‘Arms-Length Management Organisations’ (ALMOs), under nominal council control but effectively operating as private enterprises.

These organisations, correctly characterised by housing activists as ‘ALMOst privatisation’, continue to be the targets of tenants’ struggles for decent living conditions and a say in the way in which their allegedly ‘social’ housing is run.

As communists, we are more than aware that the general provision of genuinely affordable social housing is impossible under the capitalist mode of production, and that only the construction of a socialist society will satisfy the basic human right of every worker to have a secure, financially accessible roof over his or her head.

However, in the present situation and as a series of minimum demands, the CPGB-ML calls for:

1. the transfer – or return – of all ‘social housing’, be it controlled by ALMOs or ‘housing associations’, to democratically accountable local authority control;

2. the reinstatement of ‘secure tenancies’ where these have been downgraded to ‘assured tenancies’;

3. the ring-fencing of local authorities’ rent accounts to provide funding for repairs and improvements to council housing;

4. the return of all housing-related services to the control of in-house Direct Labour Organisations (DLOs);

5. a united campaign by tenants, council-worker trade unionists and councillors themselves aimed at forcing central government to provide funds for the construction of tens of thousands of new council homes.

Free the Gaza protestors; free Joe Glenton; jail the warmongers.

This congress notes the increasing use of force against political protestors, in particular the massive repression wielded by the state against those who protested last year against Israel’s massacre in Gaza, proving once more Britain’s complicity in those crimes.

Congress notes with horror the massive police resources put into hunting down young people, and young muslims in particular, who took part in those protests, and the outrageous jail sentences handed down to defendants who were intimidated into pleading guilty to offences they should never have been charged with.

Congress further notes the draconian punishment meted out to Joe Glenton, the heroic soldier who has set a shining example to British workers by refusing to play any further part in an unjust, illegal, imperialist war for domination in Afghanistan.

This congress believes that the Gaza protestors and Joe Glenton, far from being criminals, are setting an example other workers should follow by upholding international law and refusing to cooperate with British war crimes.

Congress further believes that the criminalisation of muslim protestors in particular is an attempt to push workers away from the growing Palestine solidarity movement, and to divide that movement along racial lines.

This congress therefore resolves to increase our efforts in the campaigns for the release of Joe Glenton and the Gaza protestors, and to work with as many organisations as possible to:

* launch a vibrant campaign to draw attention to their cases and to secure their release from prison;

* do everything in our power to recruit muslim activists into the antiwar and Palestine solidarity movements, in order to foil attempts to divide the movement along racial lines;

* push the campaign for non-cooperation with British war crimes, and for bringing the war criminals to justice;

* popularise the slogans:

Free Joe Glenton; jail the warmongers!

Free the Gaza protestors; jail the warmongers!

No cooperation with war crimes!

World economic crisis and the tasks of the British proletariat

Recognising that:

* the world economic crisis is becoming deeper, notwithstanding the regular announcements in the bourgeois press that this or that country has emerged from recession, and that the reason for this is that all the desperate measures taken by the bourgeoisie of different countries to emerge from the crisis involve still greater impoverishment of the working class and oppressed masses and the slashing of public expenditure – measures that cannot but reduce demand still further and thus exacerbate the crisis of overproduction;

* the crisis will inevitably intensify the imperialist propensity to war, forcing imperialist blocs to confront each other in attempts to redivide the world as each attempts to emerge from crisis by grabbing markets and sources of raw materials at the other’s expense;

* the crisis cannot but impose great suffering on the masses of working-class and oppressed people by intensifying poverty and want on a mass scale and by plunging them into more and more wars in which they are the cannon fodder and their living areas the battlefields;

* the only escape for the working class and oppressed masses is the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism and the establishment and building of socialism;

* it is the masses of the people who make history. The power and might of the international bourgeoisie cannot be displaced by communist parties on their own, no matter how powerful. This task requires the mobilisation of the working class as a whole, even if not every individual within it. It is the working class and oppressed masses of the world from whom the exploiting classes extract their wealth and their power. It is therefore only if these masses are mobilised against their exploiters that these exploiters’ power to suppress revolution can be overcome;

* if the working class is to be in a position to overthrow capitalism, it must as a class become sufficiently aware of the basics of Marxist-Leninist science to conclude that nothing will do but for capitalism to be overthrown. It is only if these basics are understood by the class as a whole that its masses will be willing to follow the lead of the communist party when a revolutionary situation arises. 

This congress resolves:

1. that the party’s main task is to prepare the British proletariat and its party for proletarian revolution;

2. that at this stage, the most urgent task to address is raising the class consciousness of the British proletariat so that it will be able to fulfil its historic mission of seizing power from the bourgeoisie and establishing socialism;

3. that the most important areas of class-conscious understanding on which to focus in our propaganda and agitation are as follows:

a. that capitalism is a transitional stage in the long march of humanity from primitive communism to the higher stage of socialism – communism;

b. that capitalism long ago became a historically outmoded system, owing to the conflict between the productive forces, which are social, and relations of production (private appropriation); this basic conflict lies at the heart of recurrent crises of overproduction and the resultant misery of the working class;

c. that under the conditions of monopoly capitalism, capitalism has grown into a monstrous system of domination and exploitation by a handful of monopolist concerns within each of the imperialist countries, and on a world scale, by a tiny group of imperialist countries, which exploit, dominate and oppress the overwhelming majority of humanity inhabiting the vast continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America;

d. that, for reasons of the conditions peculiar to this stage of capitalism, imperialism cannot but result in incessant  warfare  waged by imperialist countries against the oppressed peoples (for instance, the current predatory wars of Anglo-American imperialism against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan) and inter-imperialist wars, which claimed the lives of 100 million people during the 20th century;

e. that socialism alone offers the way out of the contradictions of capitalism; it alone is able to offer humanity a world without the crises of overproduction, without unemployment, poverty and wars; socialism alone is able to provide the conditions for a limitless increase in production, unending prosperity, fraternal cooperation and peace among peoples and nations;

f. that capitalism itself creates the power, namely, the proletariat, which alone is capable of putting an end to the anarchy of production and all other horrors of the capitalist system of production, for “of all classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of modern industry, the proletariat is its special and essential product” (K Marx and F Engels, The Communist Manifesto);

g. that the struggle of the proletariat for the overthrow of capitalism must be led by a vanguard revolutionary party of the proletariat;

h. that the state is nothing but an instrument in the hands of one class for the suppression of another class; that the proletariat too needs a state of its own; that the struggle of the proletariat for socialism must lead to the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which lasts for a whole historical period, and is the instrument of the proletariat for suppressing any attempts of the bourgeoisie at the restoration of capitalism, on the one hand, and for creating the material and social conditions for the transition to the next, the higher, stage of communism, in which the state withers away and society is able to move from the formula “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work” to “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”;

i. that, in the words of Lenin, “If we translate the Latin, scientific, historico-philosophical term ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ into simpler language, it means just the following:

Only a definite class, namely, the urban workers and the factory, industrial workers in [u]general[/u], is able to lead the whole mass of the working and exploited people in the struggle to throw off the yoke of capital, in actually carrying it out, in the struggle to maintain and consolidate the victory, in the work of creating the new, socialist social system and in the entire struggle for the complete abolition of classes” (‘A great beginning’ by V I Lenin, June 1919);

j. that commodity production and socialism are incompatible and it is the function of socialism to eliminate commodity production and the market and make way for planned production, which instead of being regulated by profit is guided by the principle of the maximum satisfaction of the constantly rising material and spiritual needs of the people.

k. that all bourgeois prejudices against the Soviet Union of the period of J V Stalin’s leadership must be dropped, as this was the most glorious period in working-class history, that is both an example to be emulated, irrefutable proof of the truth of Marxism Leninism and encouragement to the proletariat that all is possible. During that period, the Soviet Union made earthshaking achievements in every field – from socialist construction, through collectivisation, to victory in the anti-fascist war – of which the proletarians and oppressed peoples of the world have every right and duty to be proud. Negating that important period in the history of the international working-class movement has only served to negate the most glorious achievements of the working class to date, to defame the dictatorship of the proletariat and the international communist movement and to sully the banner of Marxism Leninism. Our movement must understand that anti-Stalinism always was, and is now, a cover for attacking Marxism Leninism, and especially the dictatorship of the proletariat, the purpose being “to kill in the working class the faith in its own strength, faith in the possibility and inevitability of its victory, and thus to perpetuate capitalist slavery” (‘Report to the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’ by J V Stalin, 1938);

l. that the guard and fight against all forms of opportunism – social-democracy, Trotskyism and revisionism – must never lessen, for “the fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism” (Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism);

m. that, in its struggle for power, the proletariat in the centres of imperialism must wholeheartedly support the national liberation struggles of the oppressed peoples against imperialism, for the “revolutionary movement in the advanced countries would actually be a sheer fraud if, in their struggle against capital, the workers of Europe and America were not closely and completely united with hundreds upon hundreds of millions of ‘colonial’ slaves who are oppressed by capital” (V I Lenin, The Second Congress of the Communist International, 1920);

n. that although capitalism pits workers against each other in competition for jobs, the proletariat must rise above this, as it will never be able to overcome its class enemy if it allows itself to be divided against itself by racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance or any other such divisive prejudices.

>Congress motions 2 – our international solidarity tasks – August 2010

>CPGB-ML holds successful congress – August 2010