The following speech was delivered by our party chair, Ella Rule, to an international conference organised by the Communist Party of China. The event was the annual CPC and World Marxist Political Parties forum, and the topic under discussion was ‘Indigenising and contemporising Marxism in the 21st century: achievements and prospects’.
The CPGB-ML is strongly based on the classic tenets of Marxism, and considers that the writings of the great Marxist leaders of the past are as relevant today as ever they were. This is not to say that there have not been important changes that any Marxist party needs thoroughly to analyse and understand, so as to adapt their strategy and tactics in an appropriate manner.
For us, the most important point to note since the end of the second world war is the change in the mechanisms used by imperialism in order to enforce its domination. Occupation, colonisation and day-to-day military enforcement are no longer the order of the day, having been replaced in the main by debt servitude.
The oppressed countries from which imperialism continues to extract tribute are for the most part nominally free independent countries, but the reality is that their relationship with their imperialist creditors forces them into abject slavery, with a large proportion of the proceeds of sale of the fruits of the labour of their population being taken by the imperialists by way of service of the enormous debts owed to them, which are virtually unrepayable.
What is left to the producers is generally insufficient to meet their most basic needs, so the oppressed countries have no choice but to obey the imperialist diktat, because to disobey is to risk not being able to borrow enough to meet the shortfall, although of course increasing their indebtedness means further tightening of their bond of service.
The position of the oppressed countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America can be likened to the position of China’s peasantry before liberation, who toiled day and night to make their landlords rich, but because of their debts and their perennial need to borrow were in a situation akin to slavery.
A ray of light appeared on the horizon of the downtrodden countries when China became strong enough to offer them an alternative source of loans – loans that would help them loosen the ties of imperialist bondage. And, indeed, Chinese loans have brought about a transformation in very many oppressed countries, enabling them to build modern infrastructure and facilities, and take steps towards genuine sovereignty and independence.
However, this has at the same time enraged imperialism by weakening its political and economic domination of those countries, driving it to wage incessant wars to try to bring to heel any countries trying to exert their political independence and/or trying to ensure that a larger proportion of their resources is made available for the benefit of the people of the countries concerned rather than being syphoned off by imperialist bankers and multinationals.
This is why China is seen as being the number one threat to the interests of imperialism. This is why China is the target in the imperialist countries of unremitting hostile propaganda, and why attempts are being made to encircle it militarily in preparation for possible war, despite the Chinese leadership making it as clear as clear can be that it is only interested in peaceful development and mutual cooperation.
Marxist parties will recall that in the run-up to the start of the first world war, the dominant imperialist powers at the time – Britain and France – were being warned that the cost of war would severely weaken all participants, including themselves. However, in defence of their imperialist domination of the world these countries were driven, contrary to all the best advice, to wage war on Germany on the principle that it was necessary to crush German designs to grab a ‘fair share’ of the imperialist booty before Germany got too strong to be beaten.
In the event, the cost of the war to all the participating European powers was far greater than anybody had foreseen. Today, US imperialism, along with European and Japanese imperialism, feel that its domination is again under a threat to which it cannot possibly afford to submit, being itself in considerable economic difficulties.
This time, the threat is not coming from a rival imperialist but from a liberating force. From the point of view of the imperialists, that difference is not important. Whatever the threat, they know they have to quash it – regardless of the price in lives and treasure.
The only hope, therefore, for averting a third world war is that communists in every country should mobilise their own people against war – not simply by passing resolutions to be duly ignored when war breaks out (just as such resolutions were ignored by most of the supposedly Marxist parties of the Second International at the time the first world war), but by organising the masses to frustrate all war preparations, arms build-ups, arms transportation, military enrolment, etc, etc, and overthrow the ruling class that seeks to mobilise them for war.
All communist parties in imperialist countries and in countries allied to imperialism need to work flat out to counter the image of China or Russia as an enemy, and all communist parties in oppressed countries must propagate to the masses the need to break the chains of debt servitude and reclaim the right to benefit from their own labour, and to organise their productive forces to meet their own needs rather than imperialist requirements.
In so doing, communists will restore the good name of communism among the exploited and oppressed people of the world that was tainted when the Soviet Union was brought down by Khrushchevite revisionism.
The masses of the people must be helped to understand that the future must be communist, that communism stands for progress and greater happiness, that the future lies in their hands and in theirs alone, and that with the leadership of a genuine communist party the future is theirs for the taking.