Britainâ€™s Road to ocialism Programme of the Communist Party Draft new edition
Britainâ€™s Road to Socialism
Programme of the Communist Party. Draft new edition This is the draft of a new updated edition of the Communist Party's programme Britain's Road to Socialism, (7th edition 2001). Following a decision of the July 2008 executive committee, it was produced by a drafting committee comprising Mary Davis, Robert Griffiths and Gawain Little. The Communist Party's 51st congress in October 2010 will decide the procedure for its amendment and adoption. Published July 2010
CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 1. Capitalism or humanity?
The development of capitalism and imperialism A system of crises A system of contradictions
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2. The case for Socialism
3. State monopoly capitalism in Britain
4. The labour and progressive movement
5. An alternative economic and political strategy
6. Towards socialism and communism
Public ownership, planning and popular sovereignty The limits of social democracy The lessons of socialism Ending exploitation and oppression The priorities of monopoly capital Social inequality and oppression Democracy and the state Ruling class strategy
The leading role of the working class The labour movement and the left Progressive movements and alliances The Communist Party and revolutionary leadership The fight on three fronts The left-wing programme A popular anti-monopoly alliance A government of the left
The international balance of forces Taking state power and defeating counter-revolution Building a socialist society The transition to full communism
Introduction In this programme, the Communist Party of Britain explains its view that: Capitalism is a system of exploitation, contradiction, crisis, social conflict, inequality, corruption, environmental degradation and war which is incapable of solving the most fundamental problems of humanity. The capitalist monopoly corporations and the state apparatus which serves their interests are the main obstacles to progress on every front: economic, social, cultural and political. Socialism is the only form of society that offers the potential for solving humanity's problems in conditions of individual and collective freedom. Because the working class has the most direct and immediate interest in putting an end to capitalism and replacing it with a socialist society, its own class interest also represents the interests of society as a whole. In Britain, the potential exists to pursue an alternative economic and political strategy which challenges the ruling class. More specifically, a popular anti-monopoly alliance can be built, led by the labour movement, to fight for a Left-Wing Programme of policies that would make inroads into the wealth and power of the monopoly capitalists. Through an upsurge in working class and popular action, left governments can be elected in the countries of Britain, based on parliamentary majorities of labour, socialist, Communist and progressive representatives. In striving to implement the most advanced policies of the Left-Wing Programme, the mass movement and its left governments will have to engage in a decisive struggle for state power. Achieving state power and minimising the opportunities for resistance and counterrevolution will create the conditions in which capitalism can be dismantled fully. A socialist society can then be built in which wealth and power are held in common and used in a planned way for the benefit of all, with the working class and its allies liberating the people generally from all forms of exploitation and oppression. Putting an end to British imperialism and building a federal, socialist Britain would be the biggest contribution we could make to the cause of international human liberation and socialism. A bigger, stronger Communist Party which exercises mass influence will be essential if Britain's Road to Socialism is to be realised in practice, through political class struggle. This programme is based on the study, analysis and assessment of concrete realities trends and tendencies. It is intended to be a guide to action, not a speculative prediction or a dogmatic blueprint. It is a living, developing programme to be constantly tested in practice and reassessed in the light of experience. Above all, it is subject to the Marxist insistence that the liberation of the working class and the emancipation of the people must be through the action of the working class and the people themselves. Freedom cannot be imposed from outside or above—it has to be fought for and won by the active, conscious participation of the overwhelming majority of the population.
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1. Capitalism or humanity? In the first half of the 21st century, after more than 200 years of capitalist domination, humanity faces a series of inter-related crises which imperil the very existence of our species and our planet. Two billion of the Earth's seven billion population lack adequate nutrition, sanitation, healthcare or education. The world faces a catastrophic energy crisis, as finite resources are depleted without the development of safe, sustainable alternatives. At the same time, burning fossil fuels is warming the planet and changing climate patterns with potentially disastrous consequences for us all. Wars continue to devastate human lives on a massive scale, while the existence and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction carry the threat of even greater horrors to come. Communists hold capitalism primarily responsible for these crises, for taking the planet and its peoples towards the edge of the abyss.
The development of capitalism and imperialism
The term 'capitalism' was coined by its early advocates, not by its opponents. It denotes a type of society in which capital—money invested in producing and distributing commodities—largely dictates economic, social, cultural and political development. The owners of capital—the capitalist class—employ labour power as a commodity, extracting surplus value from it which forms the basis of capitalist profit. This is made possible because human beings have the capacity to produce more value at work than the value of the wage they need to sustain and reproduce their labour power. The resulting profit provides the capitalists with their main sources of income in the form of share dividends, money interest and commercial rent. The super-exploitation of slave labour in the colonies provided much of the raw material— especially cotton—and the capital vital for the industrialisation of Britain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. As capitalism developed, its drive to maximise profit revolutionised industry, commerce, science, technology, culture, politics and society in general. In the most advanced capitalist countries, a small number of large combines, trusts and syndicates between them came to monopolise each major branch of the economy. This compelled them to find greater investment outlets abroad for their growing capital. In particular, they sought to monopolise sources of raw materials and cheap labour, thereby preempting imperialist rivals. More and more of these monopolies established themselves as transnational corporations (TNCs or ‘multinationals’), locating at least some of their operations abroad. This extension of their economic power into colonies and semi-colonies was backed by the power of the state of their 'home' country. Thus capitalism entered its 'imperialist' stage towards the end of the 19th century, the chief characteristics of which are monopolisation, inter-imperialist rivalry, colonial and neo-colonial super-exploitation, wars of national liberation, and socialist revolution. The conflict between British, German, French and other imperialisms culminated in the bloodbath of the First World War. In the Russian empire, the corruption and incompetence of
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a landlord and police state helped forge an alliance between the peasants’ struggle against landlordism and the workers’ struggle against capitalism. Out of this came the October Revolution of 1917, when Lenin, the Bolsheviks and their allies seized political power. Meanwhile, in the leading capitalist countries, the demands of 'total war' stimulated important shifts in the productive forces and production relations. The state intervened to take command of the war economy, promoting monopolisation and methods of mass production which sharply raised the productivity of labour. The war thus accelerated the fusion between the economic power of the monopolies and the political power of the state, to create the system of 'state-monopoly capitalism'. Big business now came to play a more prominent and direct role in state and political affairs and vice-versa, with the state using its financial, diplomatic and military power to protect and promote the interests of the monopolists. The First World War also marked the onset of a general crisis of capitalism, characterised by the recurrence of severe economic crises, the failure to solve endemic social problems, the intensification of inter-imperialist rivalry, the emergence of a socialist alternative and the growing movement in the colonies for national liberation. As capitalism was re-stabilised in the mid-1920s, with the capitalist state mobilised to defeat trade union militancy and attempts at revolution, productive capacity grew faster than workers' consuming power. This contradiction laid the basis for the 1929 financial crash and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Only massive state intervention in the economy, including preparations for war, began to rebuild industry and ameliorate social conditions in Britain, the US and elsewhere. In Germany, the ruling class turned to fascism—open terroristic dictatorship in the service of monopoly capital—to destroy the Communist challenge and a divided working class movement, partly in preparation for a new imperialist war to redivide the world in its favour. Initially, Nazi Germany was able to use the anti-Sovietism of powerful sections of the ruling classes of other imperialist countries to strengthen its own economic and military position. In Britain, France, Spain, the US and elsewhere, Communists led the fight to build a working class united front as the basis for a wider people's front against fascism. The Soviet government and the international Communist and working class movement were able to use the divisions within imperialism—between bourgeois democracy and fascism—to prevent a united front of the main imperialist powers against the Soviet Union. This made possible the defeat of fascism in what became a war of people's liberation. The Second World War also marked the emergence of the United States as the world’s leading imperialist power, having already established its own colonies and semi-colonies in Central and South America. State-monopoly capitalism was rebuilt in west Germany and the basis laid for its rapid development in Japan. But inter-imperialist rivalry was moderated by the common purpose of waging the Cold War against the Soviet Union and its allies. Stabilisation and the restructuring of capitalism, nationally and internationally, characterised the second phase of imperialism from 1945. This was achieved largely through the use of capitalist state power and resources to regulate economic demand, promote profitability and coordinate international trading and currency relations. Capitalism’s productive forces grew at an unprecedented rate, largely due to the Scientific and Technological Revolution (STR) with its widescale application of computer and microelectronic technology. The research and education needed to underpin the STR could only be organised and financed through substantial state involvement. Concurrently, the transnational corporations became the decisive monopolies of imperialism. In their pursuit of maximum
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global profit, their decisions—which sectors to expand, which to contract, which type of productive forces to develop, which to make redundant—determined the fate not only of workforces but of whole communities, regions and nations. Although most colonies gained political independence during the post-war era, the main imperialist powers retained a large measure of economic control through the operations of their TNCs and through international agencies such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). But the TNCs could neither even out economic and political development at the global level, nor abolish capitalist crisis. While capitalism grew rapidly in the 'newly industrialised countries' of the Far East, for example, large parts of Africa and South America fell further behind in economic and social development as Western imperialism ruthlessly plundered their natural resources and plunged them into debt bondage. In the leading capitalist economies, the prolonged period of post-war expansion—made possible by state intervention, the STR and rising productivity—was based on a strategy of class collaboration. Workers would enjoy job security, social benefits, employment rights and ever-higher living standards, while their trade union and political representatives would seek only to reform capitalism, not to challenge or abolish it. But cyclical and structural crises reasserted themselves more markedly from the late 1960s. In 1973, the international oil crisis exacerbated one such cyclical downturn and at the same time signalled the onset of today's gathering energy and ecological crisis. A new, third phase of imperialism began to emerge in the early 1980s, with the ascendance of the monetarist, neo-liberal New Right in US and British ruling class circles. Monopoly capital needed to restore profitability through a wide-ranging onslaught against real wages, trade unionism, public and welfare services, progressive taxation, public ownership of industry and the utilities, and against banking and financial regulation. Additionally, counter-revolution in the Soviet Union in the early 1990s opened up enormous opportunities for monopoly capital to seize control of resources, utilities, markets and transportation routes in the former socialist countries and across the Third World. The result has been a new world-wide imperialist offensive to maximise monopoly profit through policies of privatisation, deregulation, intensified exploitation of labour exploitation and the free movement of capital. Although 'globalisation' is presented as an inevitable economic process, from the outset it has been driven politically by the representatives of statemonopoly capitalism. New and existing international agencies and mechanisms such as the World Trade Organisation, the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the IMF and the World Bank are utilised to enforce neo-liberal policies. The European Union has played a leading role in this process, confirming its character as an alliance of state-monopoly capitalisms which strives to overcome internal contradictions and transform itself into an imperialist, militarist United States of Europe. The champions of capitalist 'globalisation' seek to confront workers with a single option: either yield to its logic of lower wages, intensified labour and permanent job insecurity—and hope to stay in work—or defy it, with allegedly dire consequences personally and for the nation's economy. Third World countries and leaders judged to be obstructing the exercise of imperialist power risk being demonised as 'rogue' or 'failed' states—often on the basis of racist presumptions— which frustrate the will of the 'international community' (usually meaning the US and its allies).
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Consequently, bombing missions or full-scale military invasions have been launched against Iraq, Libya, Lebanon and Somalia. Moreover, the September 11, 2001, attacks on the USA were used as the pretext to launch a bogus 'war on terror', with US, British and NATO forces extending imperialism's military, political and economic influence across the 'Greater Middle East' region, from north Africa to Pakistan, while inflicting state terrorism on a monstrous scale upon the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq. Far from the collapse of the Soviet Union delivering a much-vaunted 'peace dividend', the imperialist powers led by the US and Britain have engaged in a massive escalation of armaments programmes, a non-stop series of military interventions and the expansion of NATO towards the borders of Russia.
A system of crises
The whole history and experience of capitalism—even in the most advanced economies— demonstrates that it is a system of crises and contradictions. The most fundamental, insoluble contradiction of capitalism is that between the social character of production—the ways in which society's goods and services are produced and distributed—and the private character of its ownership and control. The economy's productive forces—labour, technology and the means of production (premises, equipment, power and other inputs etc.)—are organised together in a complex, inter-dependent system on which society as a whole depends. Yet under capitalism, these forces are mostly owned or controlled by a small minority of the population—the main capitalist shareholders—who direct them to serve their own narrow individual and class interests rather than the needs of society as a whole. In their drive to maximise market share and profit, capitalist managers raise production as each period of economic growth leads into a boom. But, for the same reasons, they also hold down the wages of their workforce. So the point is reached where the working class cannot afford to buy all of booming capitalism's commodities at prices which sustain profitability. An increase in working class purchasing power through higher wages might ease the situation, but it would eat into profits and only spur the capitalists to boost production still further. An expansion of private credit or public expenditure might also maintain demand, but it would have to be paid for as production continues to grow. This is why capitalist growth always ends in a crisis of 'over-production'. Commodities can no longer be sold at a profit and companies begin to cut back on production and investment, causing a slowdown or recession. Workers are laid off, further depressing demand in the economy. Production actually falls—sometimes in a sudden crash— and stagnates in depression. Society's productive forces are destroyed as premises are closed, plant and machinery scrapped and large numbers of workers are forced into unemployment. In the wake of such crises, the trend to monopoly is reinforced as stronger companies take over the weaker and lay the basis for the cycle to begin again. This process has been intensified by the development of international financial, currency and commodity markets, where severe structural crises arise as the result of sharp imbalances, shocks and raids. Gambling in stocks, shares, currencies, commodities and financial instruments of every kind has long since replaced their original functions of such markets. The results can include company closures, investment crashes, currency collapses, market
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paralysis, the ruination of small commodity producers and the loss or theft of working people's savings and pension funds which are conscripted to finance market operations. The liberalisation of financial markets from the 1980s led to a huge boom in trading— nowhere more so than in the City of London, where bankers, speculators and asset strippers found lax regulation, attractive financial 'products', a favourable tax regime and easy access to tax havens under British protection. But in Britain and the US, the resulting huge bubble in capital values, based on insecure and fraudulent financial securities and derivatives linked to debt and risk, burst in late 2007. The private, household and government debt which had maintained demand in the economy dried up, making the postponed cyclical downturn in the real productive economy all the sharper and more sudden. Across the developed capitalist world, governments and central banks then had to rescue the financial monopolies and their markets with the biggest bail-outs in human history—and using public money and public institutions to do so. Yet these same governments and central banks have utterly failed to mobilise politically and financially to rescue jobs and public services—or even to introduce stricter national and international regulation of the financial system. Instead, mass unemployment returned to the record post-war levels of the early 1980s. The 2007-10 combined economic and financial crisis confirmed the tendency to synchronisation between the main capitalist economies. This has been driven by the growing domination and integration of international trade, commerce and production by transnational monopoly corporations, and the international linking of financial markets in around the clock trading. Increasingly, crises strike whole regions of the world at a time (eg. the 1997-99 SouthEast Asia financial crisis) or, as in 1974 and 2008, the international capitalist economy as a whole. At the same time, the anarchy of capitalist production and innovation—where no effective economic planning takes place above the level of the individual enterprise or conglomerate— means that disparities between localities, regions, nations and whole areas of the world persist and even increase. In particular, structural crises can occur in a specific geographical economy, when technological change and corporate or state policy dictate that a major enterprise or industry should go into decline or shut altogether. And despite the importance of international markets, in a major economy such as Britain the predominant economic relations are domestic rather than international: most production is for home consumption and most consumption and investment is supplied from within the British economy rather than from outside.
A system of contradictions
So the fundamental contradiction between the social character of capitalist production and the private character of capitalist ownership and control produces cyclical and structural crises, nationally and internationally. The anarchy of the capitalist economy in general—in contrast to the planning within individual enterprises—militates against society's need for balanced, equitable and sustainable development across countries, regions and the world as a whole. At the core of the capitalist production process lies another insoluble antagonism: that between capitalist employers who—in order to compete and survive—must strive to extract
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unpaid surplus labour value, and the working class which must fight to maintain or improve its wages, terms and conditions. This equally true in the public sector, where the state reflects monopoly capitalist interests by striving to extract surplus labour from the workforce, holding down labour costs, driving up productivity and thus reducing the pressure for higher taxation. Here, therefore, is the economic basis for the class struggle, between the monopoly capitalists on the one side and the working class in both private and public sectors on the other. Moreover, as companies mechanise to compete more effectively against each other, so the source of fresh surplus value in the economy as a whole—namely, living labour power— occupies a smaller share of the production process, thereby depressing the general rate of profit. In order to counteract this tendency, capitalism searches perpetually for cheap labour and materials, higher levels of productivity, new profit-making activities and fresh markets for its products. This reinforces the tendency of the most ruthless big capitalists to subject oppressed sections of society—women, black workers and immigrant labour—to super-exploitation at work, using them to undermine workers' terms, conditions and trade union strength. Capitalism's drive to maximise profit also leads it to turn every area of human need—food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education, sex, leisure—into a market for the production and sale of commodities for profit. Whole economic sectors have developed—advertising, property management, business consultancy, advertising—which perform little or no useful function in society, except to promote the interests of monopoly capital and, ultimately, to transfer income to it from the working class and middle strata. In Britain as elsewhere, social inequality has widened once more and the alienation of people from their local community and society—especially among youth denied prospects and opportunities—has grown, together with longer-running problems of drug abuse, psychological disorder, crime and anti-social behaviour Culturally, capitalism has lost much of the vigour, confidence and creativeness that it once displayed, sinking into a morass of cynical, superficial, escapist, mass-produced and profit-driven 'popular culture'. Politically, large numbers of people—especially in Britain among the working class—have turned away from bourgeois politics with its naked careerism and corruption, both of which are nurtured by big business influence. Developed capitalist society is one in which the price of everything is proclaimed, while real value of things to society as a whole is distorted or denied. This is true of another fundamental contradiction of capitalism, one which increasingly threatens the very future of human society on the Earth. The rapacious, short-term drive to maximise monopoly profit now endangers our global environment and eco-system. The refusal of big business and the major capitalist states to drastically curtail carbon emissions is playing the main part in heating up the planet, melting the polar ice caps, raising sea levels, spreading desertification, disturbing weather patterns and destabilising some of the most vulnerable societies on our planet. Until and unless global warming is halted, many more people will join what are already some of the biggest forced migrations in human history, as millions flee the war and famine inflicted on their homelands by imperialist super-exploitation and military intervention. The depletion of finite resources such as coal, oil and natural gas without the planned
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development of renewable alternatives confronts humanity with the prospect of catastrophic energy shortages within a generation or two. Instead of investing massively in alternative, safe and renewable energy generation and distribution, Britain and the European Union have promoted carbon emission trading schemes. These enable the industrial and financial monopolies to trade licences to pollute for profit, while shifting dirtier production to the developing countries when not limiting their industrialisation altogether. At least one billion of the Earth's seven billion population are severely undernourished or starving and more than one billion people lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation, leading to millions more deaths from preventable disease. Food production and distribution is organised by transnational monopolies in order to maximise profits in the most lucrative markets, while Third World governments enslaved by debt collaborate in 'cash crop' farming which leaves their own populations poor and hungry. Likewise, water and other energy resources which could be harnessed for those in direst need are instead exploited, under-developed or over-produced by capitalist monopolies for maximum profit. Hundreds of millions of adults and children have no medical services and a similar number—the majority of them women—are illiterate. The reality that monopoly capital uses state power to enforce its interests against rival imperialists and against Third World peoples through super-exploitation, trade inequality, war and forced mass migration illustrates another fundamental contradiction: that between imperialism's incessant drive for domination at home and abroad, and humanity's aspirations for peace, national selfdetermination and a civilised society. Capitalism has not lost its dynamism in the quest for maximum profit, but it has long ceased to play a progressive role in human history. Taken together, these contradictions constitute a general crisis of capitalism, which has been developing since the First World War. Collapse and counter-revolution in the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe in the early 1990s temporarily reinvigorated capitalism, masking its general crisis. But its contradictions and inter-imperialist rivalries have since resurfaced. Inevitably, the re-emergence of capitalism's general crisis has generated mass opposition to its most important aspects. Anti-globalisation, anti-war and environmentalist movements have sprung up to challenge capitalism's severe deficiencies as an economic, social and political system. Workers and their trade unions are fighting back against deregulation, privatisation, cuts in public and welfare services, mass redundancies and the use of non-union labour to undermine trade union rights and terms and conditions of employment. As ever, Communists and socialists come to the fore in such battles when they provide strategic and non-sectarian leadership. Movements of the left have gained ground in Latin America—inspired by Cuba and driven in part by the Bolivarian socialist revolution unfolding in Venezuela—and their governments have collaborated in continental initiatives to eliminate economic, financial and political dependence on the United States. But in many countries, especially in Europe, the impact of anti-socialist propaganda and the collapse of socialist systems has severely damaged the credibility of socialism as a viable alternative to capitalism. This underlines the need to explain not only why capitalism is incapable of solving humanity's most fundamental problems—but also why socialism, renewed and applied to society in the 21st century, offers the potential do so.
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Far from promoting economic and social progress, national self-determination, intellectual freedom and democracy, the monopoly capitalists and their contradictory system block, restrict and undermine them on every front. They have brought human society to the point of general crisis, confronting people with the stark choiceâ€”will there be a future for capitalism, or a future for humanity?
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2.The case for socialism The urgency grows to lift people out of hunger, poverty, sickness and ignorance and to save our planet before its eco-system degenerates beyond the point of no return. Even under wasteful and destructive capitalism, the productive forces exist which could—if planned and utilised to meet human need instead of maximising capitalist profit—ensure sufficient food, nutrition, health care and education for all. Indeed, never before in history have the rapid advances in science and technology provided such opportunities for the all-round development of every human being. But while it has proved possible—from time to time—to curb capitalism's tendencies to crisis, deprivation and war, those tendencies have always reasserted themselves because they arise from from the nature of the system itself. In most developed countries, the welfare state with its benefits and pensions and benefits (and in Britain the National Health Service) has helped masses of people to escape destitution and avoidable ill health, but it is constantly vulnerable to cuts and privatisation. Progressive taxation has made possible the provision of public services and a redistribution of wealth, although the latter too has been severely restricted by wealthy vested interests. In many countries across the world, public ownership of basic resources, industries and utilities together with massive public investment has enabled them to lay the basis for extensive economic and social development—but this has invariably been turned, sooner or later, to the advantage of private capital at the expense of workers and consumers. Neither the welfare state, progressive taxation, public ownership nor economic planning amount to socialism, although they do represent real advances and can provide a glimpse of socialism's potential. But they also indicate the limits to collectivism and planning in what remains a capitalist society. Even so, the experience of social-democratic policies and the attempts so far to build socialism—albeit in very different conditions to those in Britain—provide some valuable lessons. They indicate, for instance, that public ownership, economic planning, collective provision and the redistribution of wealth can provide enormous economic, social and cultural benefits to the mass of the population, even when they are restricted, distorted, exploited and subverted by capitalist interests in a capitalist society. They also indicate that unless they are also mobilised as the basis to make deeper inroads into capitalist economic and state power, they will prove to be partial and temporary, used to discredit any socialist alternative to private capitalist ownership, the 'free' market and social inequality.
Public ownership, planning and popular sovereignty
For as long as the capitalist 'free market' exists, whether dominated by monopolies or not, its operations will produce waste and inequality on an enormous scale. Competition means advertising, excessive packaging, unnecessary duplication, takeovers, 'rationalisation', closures, asset-stripping, commercial secrecy and the contrived advantages of design and fashion—all of which represent the waste, limitation or destruction of society's productive resources. Similarly, the capitalist economic cycle produces gluts, crises, cut-backs, redundancies and then shortages before beginning all over again. Capitalist enterprises produce for profit in
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order to reward directors and major shareholders, not in order to meet society's needs, especially those which do not or cannot yield a profit. The reality of monopoly power is that it is used to block or take over more efficient but smaller competitors, especially those which seek to share the benefits of economic activity more equitably with workers or consumers. Anti-trust, anti-cartel and similar laws have utterly failed to halt the march of the capitalist monopolies towards national and international domination, while breaking them upâ€”even if achievableâ€”would merely set the clock back as the process begins again. Only public ownership of the economy's major sectors and enterprises can put end to monopoly power and fundamentally change the basis on which economic decisions are taken. Pointless and wasteful competition and duplication could be eliminated. The development and deployment of society's productive forces could be planned in order to meet people's real needs and aspirations. Jobs, houses and vital or useful goods and services would be created as the primary purpose of planning and production, not as the incidental consequence of making and maximising profits for shareholders. In particular, public ownership is the only viable basis on which energy and public transport can be planned and developed in an integrated way, to combat global warming and climate change while ensuring renewable power supplies. In capitalist society, it is the interests of capital which predominate, regardless of proclamations about the sovereignty of the people or of parliament. The big capitalists and their top politicians and administrators constitute the ruling class, designing and running the state apparatus to maintain their system. The electoral franchise and other democratic rights were conceded only in the face of mass pressure, to be manipulated and restricted wherever possible, and subverted by huge inequalities in wealth and power between different classes and sections of the population. In Britain, the ruling class has long learnt how to blunt or divert people's aspirations, although democratic rights and working class political parties always possess the potential to threaten capitalist power. Politicians and political parties can be intimidated or corrupted, issues and debate can be distorted by the mass media, the electoral system can be rigged against small, new or left-wing parties, and elected parliaments can be marginalised or dissolved. The European Union represents a new model for circumventing democratic representation and accountability. Its parliament is elected by constituencies so large as to break any meaningful organic link between electors and representatives, it has few powers that it would dare exercise, the fundamental capitalist economic and political character of the EU is set in constitutional concrete, while any real sovereignty is shared between the Council of Ministers, the appointed EU Commission and the unaccountable European Central Bank. The essence of popular sovereignty, on the other hand, is that the democratic will of the people should prevail over the vested interests of a powerful minority and their state apparatus. This revolutionary concept originates in the French Revolution, found expression in the workers', peasants' and soldiers' soviets (councils) of Russia's revolutions, and can be glimpsed in all mass movements against exploitation and oppression. In Britain today, for example, the struggle to exert popular sovereignty can be seen in the mass movement against imperialist war, in progressive campaigns against EU power and in local broad-based campaigns to defend jobs and public services. But it will only prevail when state power is taken out of the hands of the capitalist class by the working class and its allies, whose interests represent those of the people and society as a whole.
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The limits of social democracy
In many developed countries including Britain, Germany, France, Sweden and Australia, Labour and Socialist governments have attempted to reform capitalism in the interests of the working class, if not to abolish capitalism altogether. None has do far succeeded in taking the road to socialism. Certainly, social democracy has delivered benefits for workers, their families and sections of the middle strata (professional people, the self-employed, farmers etc.). But they have found it difficult if not impossible to maintain adequate funding of welfare and public services by taxing big business and the rich, instead of squeezing the middle strata and the working class. Instead of the progressive nationalisation of key enterprises or sectors of the economy, making deeper inroads into monopoly power, they have carried out the capitalist nationalisation of failing industries or firms, paying extortionate compensation and running them in the interests of the private sector rather than those of the workforce and society generally. In the main imperialist countries, the failure of social-democratic governments to challenge monopoly capital at home has also been reflected in their foreign and military policies, where they continue to promote the interests of their own country's monopoly capitalists abroad, even to the point of military intervention. Invariably, social democracy has ended up capitulating to monopoly capital, abandoning its most radical policies and turning on sections of its own supporters in an effort to stabilise, manage or modernise the capitalist economy. The one notable exception was the elected Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende in Chile, whose policies of progressive nationalisation and taxation met with a military coup backed by Chilean landowners and US transnationals. In every case, Labour and Socialist parties and governments have had no theory and programme to guide them, no outlook based on a Marxist understanding of how capitalism works and where and when it is most vulnerable. Instead they elevate pargmatism to the level of principle. Consequently, social democracy has had no strategy for progressive advance and socialist revolution, confusing conference policies and election manifestos with a programme for farreaching change, and government office with state power. Moreover, once in office, social democracy has never had any conception of involving and mobilising the working class and its allies beyond elections, of drawing them into extra-parliamentary action to defend the government and help implement progressive, anti-monopoly policies.
The lessons of socialism
During its near 70-year existence, the Soviet Union showed how socialist planning and public ownership could transform society in the interests of the mass of the population. However, serious mistakes, pressures and unresolved contradictions eventually resulted in the collapse of the socialist system in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, allowing capitalism's politicians and intellectuals to proclaim the death of Communism and socialismâ€”and even the end of history. The Bolsheviks and their allies seized state power in Russia in 1917 and used it to withdraw from the war and defeat counter-revolutionary forces including British, US, Polish and other invading armies. The Soviet Union was transformed from a semi-feudal, semi-capitalist monarchist dictatorship into a modern society with near-full employment, universally free
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education and healthcare, impressive scientific and cultural facilities, equal rights for women and degrees of self-government for formerly oppressed nationalities. More than any other, the Soviet Red Army smashed Hitler's war machine, halted Nazi genocide and liberated much of Europe from fascism, later extending solidarity to progressive and national liberation movements around the world. But the struggle to survive and build socialism against powerful internal and external enemies led to the development of a bureaucratic command system of economic and political rule. This was replicated when the Soviet model was exported to eastern Europe. Severe violations of socialist democracy and law allowed the persecution, imprisonment and execution of large numbers of people innocent of subversion or sabotage, thereby providing what has become a permanent, world-wide campaign of lies and distortions aimed at the Soviet Union, the international Communist movement and the concept of socialism. In practice, the proclaimed rights of women and nationalities were neglected, subverted or negated in important respects. The failure to mobilise the party, the working class and the people to solve vital economic and political problems led eventually to stagnation and collapse, aggravated by the pressures of the arms race begun by US imperialism. Yet the weaknesses and failures of the Soviet model of socialism have since been overtaken by the calamities of capitalist restoration. Economic property has passed into the hands of Western transnational companies, state bureaucrats and home-grown gangsters. Millions of workers have lost their jobs, pensions and trade union rights. Public and welfare services have collapsed. The peoples of the former Soviet Union experienced the biggest reductions in life expectancy ever recorded. National and ethnic differences have exploded into terrorism and war. In some countries, the brutal trafficking and sexual exploitation of women has become widespread. Determined not to suffer the same fate, China's Communists have placed greatest emphasis on economic and social development. State power is being used to combine economic planning and public ownership with private capital and market mechanisms, with the aim of building a socialist society in its primary stage. Already, state-directed policies have lifted more than 600 million peopleâ€”almost half the populationâ€”out of extreme poverty since 1981, a feat unequalled in human history. Advances have also been made in extending democratic rights, but without the Communist Party weakening its leading role in political life. The foreign policy of the People's Republic of China has sought to uphold the principles of national sovereignty and peaceful co-existence. The Cuban model of socialism seeks to involve the masses of people in the defence of national sovereignty against US imperialist subversion, mobilising them to solve economic, social and environmental problems. The result is a society with the most advanced educational and medical provisions in the Third World, bold approaches to food production and carbon emissions and an internationalist foreign policy to assist oppressed and disadvantaged peoples around the world. The experience of Communists and socialists attempting to build socialism indicates the importance of mobilising wide support for progressive and revolutionary change, making inroads into the economic and political power of the monopoly capitalists, taking the bold steps necessary to move from holding government office to taking state power, exerting popular sovereignty and involving the mass of the people at every stage in the revolutionary process including the exercise of political power. It also reveals the need for each country to
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find its own path to socialism, applying general principles to specific national conditions in their international context, developing its own model of socialism in tune with the characteristics and aspirations of its people. In Britain and its constituent nations, taking the road to socialism can only be done successfully if those differing national conditions are taken fully into account. History also demonstrates that taking state power and beginning to construct a socialist society can occur in one or more countries at a time, reflecting the reality of uneven economic and political development under capitalism, exploding the abstract and defeatist myth that socialist revolution can only be a single-stage and wholly or primarily global process.
Ending exploitation and oppression
Social ownership of economic property puts an end to the exploitation of the working class, whereby surplus labour is translated directly or indirectly into profit for capitalists. Surplus labour time and value can now be consumed or invested in accordance with the needs and aspirations of the working class and society as a whole. This must mean that workers and their representatives are fully represented in the economic and political spheres of decision-making, ensuring that surplus labour is not exploited to the benefit of a privileged class or group. Since society first became divided into classes, the ruling class of the day has used the oppression of sections of the exploited classes to maximise exploitation and reinforce its rule. Under capitalism, for example, the oppression of women, black workers and other groups has reaped super-profits and helped ensure the reproduction of existing class relations economically, ideologically and politicallyâ€”not least by fomenting or perpetuating divisions within the working class itself. Such oppression is sustained by sets of prejudicial ideas and assumptions such as sexism and racism. These ideologies apply across class boundaries, affecting members of the oppressed group in every class, although their impact is usually felt most severely by those in the exploited classes. Putting an end to capitalist property relations and the exploitation of labour would remove the material basis for social oppression. No class in society would gain from the superexploitation of any section of the working class, or have the means by which to secure it. The reorientation of priorities in production to meet the needs of the people would further reduce the scope for conflict over scarce provision, whether of jobs, housing, public services or essential goods. Yet the experience of socialism confirms that prejudice and discrimination on grounds of gender, nationality or sexual orientation can survive the abolition of capitalism, weakened but not altogether eliminated. Socialism furnishes the potential but not the guarantee that all forms of social oppression can be brought to an end. The most powerful forces for the perpetuation of racist, sexist, homophobic and other reactionary attitudes will have been disarmedâ€”leaving the forces of socialism with the responsibility to consign them, through deliberate policy and action, to the rubbish heap of history where they belong.
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3. State-monopoly capitalism in Britain Why and how should the working class and peoples of Britain take the road to socialism? The answers can only originate in the specific conditions and features of capitalism as it operates in Britain today. In particular, the impact of state-monopoly capitalism on the different classes and sections of society has to be understood if it is to be counteracted in ways which draw the masses of people into political thought and activity. The most powerful sections of the capitalist class predominate in the determination of British state policy, at home and abroad, and their strategy in the new, third phase of imperialism needs to be identified, exposed and challenged. The maximum possible unity within the working class and the labour movement will be essential, together with the coalescence around the organised working class of an alliance for a popular, anti-monopoly alternative. In working out the way to socialist revolution, full account must also be made of the international context in which progress is sought, assessing the external balance of forces likely to support and oppose progressive advance in Britain.
The priorities of monopoly capital
After more than 30 years of 'neo-liberal' economic policies, the British economy is dangerously dependent on financial and property services. It comprises many more low-paid, temporary, part-time, insecure and low-skilled jobs and is extensively owned and controlled by transnational monopolies with no long-term stake in it. The most powerful section of the British monopoly capitalist class is that based in the City of London with extensive investments in banking, insurance and property at home and abroad, including in the US and Europe. It is allied and overlaps with British non-financial monopolies— notably in oil and gas, mining, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications and food and tobacco— which utilise the City's markets and operate across the world, especially in Third World countries. Indeed, the British capitalist class has more directly invested capital outside its own state borders than any other except that of the US. Profit, interest and rent from overseas investments and the City of London play an enormous and essential role in maintaining Britain's balance of payments and the value of sterling. At the same time, the City has become a major base for—and increasingly dependent upon—US finance capital and its operations in Europe. Hence the priority given by the British ruling class to the requirements of foreign policy and the subservient alliance with US imperialism, recognising the unequalled capacity of US diplomatic and military power to protect capitalist markets and investments in almost every part of the world. At the same time, significant sections of British monopoly capital increasingly orientate themselves to the European Union as a large market and a political and economic superpower with a growing military dimension. This means that inter-imperialist rivalry between the US and the EU, confined at present to economic and foreign policy disputes rather than military confrontation, and within the EU between its major imperialist powers including Britain, is an important factor when trying to understand policy differences within the British ruling class. In Britain's domestic economy, large and strategically important sectors such as the utilities, ports, motors and steel are now owned by foreign monopoly interests. Indeed, for powerful sections of the British capitalist class, the domestic economy is of less direct interest (with the
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notable exception of retail food and tobacco, pharmaceuticals, construction, transport and armaments), although it has to be maintained at a level viable enough to preserve social stability and sustain the all-important international operations of the British state. With many British monopolies preferring to export capital in order to reap super-profits abroad, overseas transnationals are attracted to Britain by government grants, tax breaks and some of the most repressive anti-trade union laws in Europe, to fill part of the investment gap.
Social inequality and oppression
Britain is one of the most unequal societies in the developed world in terms of income and wealth, housing, diet, health and employment and educational opportunities. These inequalities are often expressed in terms of gender, locality, age, race and physical or mental disability. But while these dimensions can be influential, social class is the primary determinant of social well-being related to wealth, health, housing, education and other factors. In return for providing most of society's goods and services, workers rely mostly on their wages to sustain themselves and their families, many of them also rearing the next generation of labour power or caring for the previous one. Many unwaged parents and carers depend on state benefits or pensions which are mostly paid for out of the wages and profits generated by the working class. At every turn, the size and purchasing power of those wages, benefits and pensions is eaten up in housing costs, interest payments and monopoly prices, keeping millions of workers, claimants and pensioners in poverty. The big capitalist owners of the means of production and exchange, on the other hand, enjoy inflated salaries, fees, interest payments, share dividends and bonuses of every kind. This is why in Britain the richest one-tenth of the population own almost half of all declared personal wealth, while the poorer half of the populationâ€”comprising a substantial proportion of the working classâ€”own less than 2 per cent of it. In order to drive down the level of wages, extend working hours and generate higher profits, the capitalist class also seeks to use vulnerable and marginalised sections of the working class. In the past, child, young female and immigrant labour could be super-exploited in this way. Even when unionisation among women and black workers is relatively high, they have often been marginalised within those trade unions. Today in Britain, most women workers are still paid less than many men for doing work of equal value, while black and ethnic minority labour is used to fill many of the jobs with low pay and minimal training and promotion opportunities. Transnational monopolies in particular seek to employ young adult and migrant workers as casual or short-term labour on inferior conditions, often to undermine collective agreements reached with trade unions. This superexploitation has been enshrined in law by European Union legal judgements and directives. It is also be reinforced by sexist, racist and anti-foreigner attitudes which appear to justify or excuse it. Prejudice and discrimination can also affect many non-working class people who are members of disadvantaged or oppressed sections of society, although in some cases the impact is avoided or ameliorated by wealth or status. In an imperialist country with a history of empire, in particular, racist ideas are deeply rooted and can be manipulated by the ruling class, its politicians and mass media, as well as by rightwing nationalist or fascist movements. Social inequalities of class and race can be further exacerbated by uneven development and
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structural crises in the regions and nations of Britain. All such inequalities can be utilised to divide people, whereas the struggle to eliminate them has the potential not only for promoting unity within the working class but also for drawing in those people from the middle strata who experience and oppose inequality, prejudice, discrimination and oppression.
Democracy and the state
In its first term of office, the 1997-2001 New Labour government fulfilled manifesto commitments to establish a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly and re-establish an elected authority for Greater London. Without charting a clear course to the reunification of Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement helped bring peace and power-sharing to the north. But the powers and resources granted to the new devolved bodies were kept to a minimum, in order to limit their potential to enact policies that could challenge the interests of monopoly capital. Similarly, proposals for regional government in England were drained of any real democratic content and turned into measures for bureaucratic reorganisation, threatening the already meagre powers of local councils. New Labour introduced limited reforms to expand trade union rights, but refused to repeal the vicious anti-union laws of the Thatcher period. As a result, trade union rights have since been blocked and undermined by the use of injunctions and the courts by employers to overturn democratic ballots for industrial action, while a series of judgements at the European Court of Justice threaten negotiated agreements and national legislation which protect workers' terms and conditions. Increasingly, the New Labour regime introduced repressive new laws to target scapegoats being held responsible for social problems and to suppress the growing opposition to government policies. Asylum seekers and refugees were blamed unfairly for government failures to invest fully in health, education and housing, while Muslims were demonised as part of a bogus 'war on terror' launched at the behest of US imperialism. Huge holes were punched in longstanding civil liberties including rights to peaceful protest and freedom from detention without charge or trial. The powers of the police, intelligence and immigration services were increased to unprecedented levels. Even more shamefully, successive British governments colluded in the operation of an international network of internment camps and interrogation centres, ultimately under US control, where suspected terrorists and other opponents of US foreign policy could be detained illegally and tortured. This covert policy has mirrored Britain's participation in imperialist wars and occupations and the New Labour government's support for repressive regimes in Colombia and the Middle East including Israel. It also reflects the foreign policy priorities of Britain's ruling class and its financial monopoly interests.
Ruling class strategy
The chief immediate concern of the British ruling class is to ensure that British monopoly capital's profit-making capacity does not suffer as a consequence of the 2007-10 economic and financial crisis. This means that the financial burden for narrowing Britain's budget deficit must be made to
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fall mainly on public services, public sector workers and the mass of working class taxpayers— not on the wealthy and big business. Narrowing the government and public sector deficit is vital for British state-monopoly capitalism in order to maintain the value of sterling and the position of the City of London as one of the world's leading financial centres. For the same reasons, British finance capital wants to maintain its freedom to operate through the City with minimum regulation and taxation, helping to ensure that the growing challenge from other financial centres in Europe, Asia and the Middle East is kept at bay. At the same time, US capital is using its ownership of City financial institutions as the springboard to extending its interests in Europe. British non-financial monopolies with a significant home base orientated to the domestic market—construction, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, retail, public transport and telecommunications—want to ensure that monetarist policies do not depress government or consumer demand too much, although the armaments industry will be protected because of its strategic significance. Internationally, Britain's monopoly capitalists—notably in banking, property, insurance, oil, mining, construction and food—want to compete more effectively against rivals within the European Union, especially in the east; to continue expanding in US markets; to protect their investments from the threat of regulation and even nationalisation in parts of Latin America; to extend their interests in the Middle East and the Asian sub-continent, especially through ownership of natural resources and control over supply routes; and to defend substantial economic and political positions in Africa, against rival imperialisms and the rising influence of China with its mutually beneficial economic relations with host countries. They therefore wish to see British influence maintained and extended both within the European Union and through the alliance as a junior partner with US imperialism, acting as far as possible to reduce the potential for conflict between the EU and the US. The British ruling class regards it a top priority in the 21st century to participate in the extension of US military power and NATO to the regions surrounding Russia, India and especially China, in order to contain and exert pressure on emerging economic, political and perhaps military powers. Maintaining Britain's nuclear weapons and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council are seen as essential to pursuing these foreign policy strategies. In common with its counterparts in the US and other developed countries, British statemonopoly capitalism also seeks to place the main burden for combating global warming on the developing countries through unfairly distributed quotas which can then be undermined by carbon emission trading schemes. In pursuing such a strategy internationally and at home, it is clear that British state power remains central to the interests of British monopoly capital. This strategy also found reflection in the programme for coalition government drawn up by the Tories and Liberal Democrats in May 2010. The coalition was the preferred option of British finance capital and the ruling class, as Labour in government might have been more susceptible to popular and trade union pressure on some important economic and social questions—despite the pro-monopoly, pro-imperialist orientation of the Labour Party leadership.
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4.The labour and progressive movements Which forces in society can be mobilised to resist some or all of the policies of state-monopoly capitalism and, furthermore, could be won for far-reaching change and even socialism? Any serious strategy for socialist revolution in Britain must identify such forces at each stage of the process, developing policies which meet their interests but which also make inroads into capitalist power. The aim must be to maximise the forces for resistance, advance and socialism and neutralise or minimise those actively defending the status quo and opposing progress or socialist revolution. Different sections of society have their own reasons for opposing aspects of modern capitalism, even if they do not understand their situation in political or ideological terms. The point is that they share a common enemy which exploits or oppresses them all, which blocks progress on every significant front and which will have to abolished because it cannot be fundamentally reformed. That enemy in Britain is state-monopoly capitalism, a system which exploits workers here and abroad, oppresses large sections of society, constantly strives to roll back our democratic rights, generates militarism and war, and is now threatening the viability of our planet.
The leading role of the working class
The working class—those whose livelihood relies on the sale of their labour power, past, present or future—have the most direct interest in abolishing capitalism. After all, this is the system which exploits them, condemns many to poverty at one or more stages in life, and confines most of them to a lifetime of inequality and insecurity. Of course, some members of the working class do not see themselves as such, believing that they are 'middle class' or that class is defined by job or professional status, skill, type of residence, accent or social habits. But the reality is that class is defined objectively. The capitalists derive their main sources of income—profit, interest or rent—from their ownership of economic and financial property (usually in the form of stocks and shares, other financial assets and property deeds). Some workers may own stocks and shares directly, or indirectly through a pension fund, but their chief if not sole source of income is usually their wage. What they all have in common as a class is that all waged workers are exploited, including those in the public sector whose unpaid surplus labour does not produce commodities to be sold for profit. This remains the case even though that class changes its composition as industries and occupations come and go, as women or children enter or leave the labour force, as the nature and pattern of work changes. Yet the conditions of capitalist production, trade and administration also create the potential for the working class to liberate themselves. Workers are brought together in large factories, offices and other workplaces, where they share a common interest in organising to improve their terms and conditions of employment. They formed trade unions which can express and develop their collective strength as a disciplined force in society. Many of those unions helped establish the Labour Party at the beginning of the 20th century with the aim of representing working class interests in parliament. The most politically advanced elements of the working class founded the
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Communist Party to fight not only for reform, but for the revolutionary replacement of capitalism by socialism. These organisations, together with the co-operative movement and a host of other bodies built by the working class, comprise the labour movement, which has by far the biggest organisational capacity and resources to challenge monopoly capitalism. But what equips the working class—uniquely—to be the leading force in the struggle for socialism is the fact that capitalism would cease to function without its labour power to exploit. Furthermore, the working class has also gained extensive experience—born of necessity—in developing unity between people. Whether in industry or services, in the private or the public sector, large enterprises in particular embrace the greatest diversity of workers. They reflect in miniature the diversity of the whole working class. To build here a concentration of organised forces, capable of confronting monopolist employers and the power of the state, inevitably gives these workers the deepest and longest experience in overcoming sectionalism. They learn why it is essential to combine the legitimate, immediate interests of any one section of the working class with the long-term interests of the class as a whole. Over recent decades, for example, many more women have entered the workforce, often in part-time jobs. Through the trades unions, they make a major and progressive contribution to the labour movement. The scandal of low pay among women must become a central issue for the unions, which have a responsibility to step up the fight for equal pay for work of equal value, for childcare facilities, against sexual harassment and for other measures that can ensure the equality of women. Campaigning along these lines will help to build the confidence of women so that they participate on a basis of equality with men in the joint struggle to abolish capitalist exploitation. The labour movement must therefore be won to the fullest understanding that the demands for genuine equality for women, black people and for other oppressed sections are essential aspects of the class struggle. As such, they must be seen as a priority for the whole working class. Trades union organisation and ideas of class solidarity have spread among workers in the state apparatus, in the mass media and other key areas of society. Nor should their importance in smaller enterprises, including in the most technologically advanced sectors, be underestimated. Such developments represent an important extension of the potential power of the working class to engage in mass struggle outside parliament, utilising an ever wider range of tactics and techniques. To summarise, then, there is no substitute in modern capitalist society for the organised working class as the leading and central force in the struggle for progressive and revolutionary change.
The labour movement and the left
Trade unions play a defensive role in a capitalist society, seeking to protect workers against excessive exploitation, dangerous working conditions, redundancy, bullying and harassment. Yet they also go on the offensive to improve the terms and conditions of their members. Moreover, they have also sought to represent the wider and more fundamental interests of workers in society more generally, campaigning for changes in government policy, establishing
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or supporting political parties and concerning themselves with a wide range of economic, social, cultural and political issues, both domestic and international. In Britain, trade unions and socialist organisations founded the Labour Party, not only to represent working class interests in Parliament and local government but to strive for a socialist society. The predominance of the social-democratic trend over the socialist trend in the Labour Party leadership, especially in Parliament, helped ensure that Labour governments have only reformed capitalism rather than tried to abolish it. The New Labour faction which seized control of the party in the mid-1990s represented the emergence of a new trend from within social democracy. Adapting to and then championing neo-liberalism and so-called 'globalisation', it broke from social democracy to openly represent monopoly capital in the emerging new phase of imperialism. In its drive to turn the Labour Party into a wholehearted 'party for business', it brought the corrupting interests of monopoly capitalism into party fund-raising, conference sponsorship, public appointments and government policy formation. New Labour also embraced the use of state power to promote monopoly capitalism abroad, strengthening British imperialism's subservient alliance with US imperialism, participating in wars of aggression, offering facilities to the US Star Wars programme and colluding in the illegal kidnapping, transportation and torture of detainees from around the world including Britain. To ensure the Labour Party's acquiescence in its own political and ideological transformation, a series of measures were adopted by agreement with misguided trade union leaders to dismantle the democratic processes inside the party. Whether the affiliated trade unions and the socialist and social-democratic trends will be strong, determined and united enough to take back control of the Labour Party from New Labour can only be determined in the course of a struggle to do so. The working class and peoples of Britain need a mass political party, based on the labour movement, which can win General Elections, form a government and implement substantial reforms in their interests. For as long as many of the biggest trade unions are affiliated to Labour, the potential exists to wage a broad-based, resolute fight to reclaim the party for social-democratic and more leftwing policies. Certainly, this would be the most direct route to ensuring the continued existence of a mass party of the labour movement in Britain, and is an objective and a struggle that every non-sectarian socialist and Communist should support, whether from within the Labour Party or from without. Should it prove too difficult to challenge New Labour with any real prospect of success, the major sections of the trade union movement should meet together with their political allies to consider how to re-establish a mass party of labour, one which will represent the interests of the working class and the people generally. For as long as little or no progress is made in the direction of reclaiming or re-establishing such a party, other left-wing and class-struggle trends are likely to emerge which are not organisationally or politically related to the Labour Partyâ€”and which will increasingly seek to participate in the political and electoral arena. Such developments should not be opposed or dismissed because they arise outside the Labour Party. If primarily based on militant and left-aligned sections of the trade union movement, they should be supported insofar as they contribute to left unity and strengthen the labour movement, and encouraged to support those trends fighting to reclaim the Labour Party.
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The Communist Party's role is to work with all left trends which have a real base in the labour movement, urging them to unite around policies and in actions which raise the combativeness, confidence and political consciousness of the working class. This would lay the basis for their convergence in a reclaimed or re-established mass party of labour, one federally organised to permit the affiliation of socialist and Communist parties and committed to the fight for socialism. Socialist and progressive forces, left parliamentary and assembly representatives in the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the SNP and other organisations also have an important part to play in the battles for reforms, for peace and more fundamental social change. But they do not resolve the crisis of labour movement political representation. Neither do sectarian or ultra-left initiatives which have no significant base in the working class and which misrepresent themselves as the alternative or solution to the fight for a mass party of labour.
Progressive movements and alliances
Workers do not exist in a vacuum and the economic sphere, in spite of its importance, is not the only aspect of people's lives. Monopoly capitalism has its impact on these other aspects and identities as well, and many workers may be brought to political ideas and activity by issues not directly related to work or the economy. Members of other classes, too, can become aware of the destructive and divisive character of monopoly capitalism, coming to see it either as the cause of problems in society or as the system which obstructs their solution. Oppression affects people in diverse ways and the movements which have been built to resist it are equally diverse. The women's movement in Britain has a long and proud tradition of fighting for social and political rights. Yet, in spite of the fact that working class women make up the largest and most oppressed group of women, the aims and leadership of many of these initiatives have been dominated by more affluent women, with notable exceptions such as those linked to the National Assembly of Women. The adoption by major sections of the trade union movement of the Charter for Women, with its clear class content, represents a break with this tendency and demonstrates a greater working influence within the women's movement. There is also a growing understanding among those who campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights of the ways in which powerful vested interests in capitalist society act to perpetuate prejudice and oppression. The growth of self-organisation among the black and minority ethnic communities, exemplified by the Indian Workers Association, coupled with broad-based anti-racist and antifascist campaigning by Searchlight and other organisations, provide an important basis for challenging the prejudice and discrimination that emanate from empire and imperialism. However, the maximum possible mobilisation of black, minority ethnic and other working class communities, and of the labour movement at every level, is essential if government policies are to be changed and fascist organisations stopped dead in their tracks. As well as movements against oppression, there are other social forces whose interests conflict with those of state-monopoly capitalism. Young people face their own specific problems whether as students or young workers, apart from those they face in common with other sections of the population. Mass unemployment has become a fixture for younger generations, aggravating the discrimination felt by young
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women and black youth. Discontent among young people is too often met by demonisation from the mass media and harassment from the authorities. There is also the danger that continuing youth unemployment could strengthen the appeal of extreme right-wing trends, stemming from growing frustration and a lack of contact with the labour and progressive movements. Therefore the labour movement needs to campaign more vigorously on young people's demands, providing social and cultural facilities for them, recruiting them into the unions, fighting for their right to study and their right to work. In recent decades, the pensioners movement has taken on a new militancy. But the fight for a ‘living pension’ is not the responsibility of pensioners alone. The trades unions have to understand that this is a fight for their members’ future, as the provision of a decent basic state pension is the only way to guarantee a financially secure retirement. Every union should have a retired members section. Although the pensioners movement has received increased backing from trades unions, the labour movement needs to help turn this into a truly mass, broad-based and militant campaign. Public opposition to militarism and imperialist war have drawn hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people into the campaigning activities of CND, the Stop the War Coalition and other peace organisations. While it is essential to maintain the broad appeal and unity of the peace and anti-war movements, the connections between monopoly capital, British and US imperialism, NATO, the European Union and the drive to militarisation and war need to be exposed and understood. Sections of the environmental movement already recognise the extent to which the current economic system threatens to destroy our planet's eco-system while resisting the measures necessary to protect it, because those measures would challenge monopoly profit and power. This understanding urgently needs to be spread throughout the movement and into all other parts of our society—including into the labour movement. The national movements in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall also contain substantial progressive and left-wing elements which campaign against many of the reactionary policies of monopoly capital and the British state. While they tend to over-emphasise the national rather than the class dimension of important issues, many members and supporters of the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) can be won to fight for measures which favour the working class and challenge the interests of British imperialism. In Britain and its constituent nations there are also a range of movements campaigning in solidarity with the peoples of Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine, Colombia and others facing imperialist-backed repression or subversion. In the case of all of these progressive movements, they cannot be considered as separate from the working class. Rather, they intersect with it in two senses. Firstly, the working class makes up a substantial proportion—in most cases the vast majority—of the members of these movements. Secondly, they intersect and have the power to interact politically. Many members of the working class will come to a class understanding of politics and the need for action through these movements. The question is how and where their various demands can be united and taken further to create the conditions for revolutionary change. When assessing the forces that can be mobilised for progress, due account should also be taken of divisions within the capitalist class, with the aim of minimising those in the opposing camp in any given battle or stage.
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Some sectors or enterprises orientated towards industry rather than financial services, or the domestic market rather than exports, or which are home-owned rather than owned from outside, can be split away from a united front of monopoly capital by appropriate measures. Small businesses and the self-employed may have their own reasons for opposing monopoly power, and their support for anti-monopoly policies can prove important in blocking reactionary mobilisations against the working class movement and the left. The organised working class needs to show them that there is no solution to their problems in lining up with big business against the workers. It must seek to win small business to the side of the labour movement, and prevent them falling prey to right-wing and fascist propaganda. This means campaigning for measures such as cheap credit, restrictions on monopoly price manipulation, controls on rent, relief from high business rates, the abolition of VAT etc., as well as winning small business for the wider democratic demands of the working class, including the struggle for peace, disarmament and environmental protection. The self-employed, junior and middle managers, senior administrators in the public sector, small and middle farmers together constitute the middle strata under capitalism, usually enjoying a degree of autonomy at work, often directing the labour of others, but also ultimately dependent on selling their own labour powerâ€”or the products of itâ€”for much of their livelihood. Their support or acquiescence can be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of economic and political battles and even the fate of progressive or left-wing governments.
The Communist Party and revolutionary leadership
The aim of the Communist Party is to replace capitalism with socialism, as the prelude to achieving a fully communist society. Founded in Britain in 1920 as a party of a new type, it represented a fundamental break with the class collaboration and pro-imperialist approach of social democracy which has always prevailed in the Labour Party. The Communist Party bases itself on the ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin about the class character of capitalist society, the exploitation of labour power, the role of the state, the development of imperialism and the need for a revolutionary party to ensure that the working class and its allies take political power and use it abolish capitalism. The Communist Party is rooted in the working class, as the leading potential force for revolution, while also being open to all who share its aims and ideas. The Party also seeks to organise itself in every major area of economic, social, cultural and political struggle. It draws upon the commitment, creativity and initiative of its members in order to make the most effective contribution possible to the labour and progressive movements. It is also a democratic and a disciplined force, utilising democratic-centralism to involve its members fully in the formation, renewal and implementation of the Party's policies. As part of the international Communist movement, it benefits from extensive links with scores of Communist and workers' parties and national liberation movements around the world. Such links enhance the contribution that the Communists in Britain make to the trade union, peace, solidarity and other movements. The basis, outlook, organisation and internationalism of the Communist Party enable it to combine theory with practice, engaging in the battle of ideas while at the same time assisting the labour and progressive movements to fight consciously and strategically across every front, and not just from day to day. As the Marxist Party of the labour movement, the Communists therefore have a fundamentally different approach to the often shallow, opportunistic, short-
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term and ultimately self-defeating politics of the Labour Party and other reformist organisations. The Communist Party's class basis, historical experience and Marxist-Leninist outlook also distinguish it from many ultra-left Trotskyist, Maoist or anarchist groups with their adventurist and sectarian approaches. But this does not make the Communist Party immune from criticism and mistakes. Indeed, the party had to be re-established in 1988 after revisionist and anti-democratic trends, especially in the leadership, threatened to destroy it. Moreover, within the Labour Party and other left-wing parties there are many socialists who make a vital contribution to the working class and progressive movements, and with whom the Communist Party can work closely on the basis of common policies or objectives. But it is the Communist Party's strategic and political outlook, expressed above all in its programme, which enables Communists to analyse the distinct stages in each major struggleâ€” including that for socialism itselfâ€”and to identify the potential allies in each. In this way, on the basis of cooperation and mutual respect, it seeks to give guidance and offer leadership in the mass movement which needs to be built for socialist revolution.
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5. An alternative economic and political strategy What kind of strategy would unite the maximum forces for progress, reforms and socialist revolution in each of its likely phases? The immediate need is for an approach which takes as its starting point the objective basis for building a broad alliance of a wide range of movements: namely, opposition to the policies of state-monopoly capitalism in Britain. This has to be done taking into account the differing conditions in Scotland and Wales—not least the existence of their own parliament and assembly. The European and wider international dimensions also have to considered when devising such a strategy. The reality is that most of the capitalist monopolies based in Britain are owned and controlled at the British—not the Scottish, Welsh, European or global—level. Likewise, their political power is exercised primarily through the apparatus of the British state. That is why the Communist Party proposes an alternative economic and political strategy (AEPS) to that pursued by the capitalist monopolies and their state power at the British level. Because the revolutionary objective of this programme is the capture of state power by the working class and its allies, this means that in foreseeable circumstances this will take place at the level of the British state. In our estimation, this struggle is likely to be weakened if it is divided separately between three nations, while the ruling capitalist class remains organised and united at the British level. That is why this strategy places so much emphasis on the need to maintain and enhance unity at this level between the labour and progressive movements, across England, Wales and Scotland. The AEPS must, therefore, identify the policies which can draw together the widest, most powerful range of forces from the outset, while also outlining the most likely stages through which such a popular anti-monopoly alliance will have to pass before state power is achieved.
The fight on three fronts
The political class struggle is waged by the ruling capitalist class on three main, distinct but inter -connected fronts: the economic, the political and the ideological and cultural. This presents the challenge to the Communist Party, the left and the labour and progressive movements to join battle or to surrender, while recognising that evasion, compromise and orderly retreat may sometimes be necessary. On the economic front, the main strategic objectives are to maintain and improve the living standards of working people and their families at every stage of life, based on full employment in a modern, productive, balanced and sustainable domestic economy. Strong, democratic and independent trade unions are central to fighting for these goals, in alliance with other progressive movements representing particular interests or sections of the population. But if the working class is to put an end to exploitation and oppression altogether, the trade union struggle against employers must go beyond this specific economic relation to embrace the political relation between workers and the state. Industrial militancy is not enough—it is necessary to combat the economistic outlook which sees the fight on economic issues as sufficient in itself. In fact, this struggle needs to be linked with a political perspective if it is to produce lasting gains for the working class.
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Politically, the labour and progressive movements need their own political organisations which fight for the necessary policies and reforms in campaigning and electoral arenas. Here the main strategic objectives are to protect and extend democratic freedoms and to take the political struggle into every sphere of the state apparatus to try to impose the interests of the working class and the people. There needs to develop a mass understanding that democracy is not itself an institution—it is a process of emancipation. People must be won to involvement in the struggle for all their legitimate needs to be met. They need to use and improve their own organisations in collective action to win their objectives at each stage—and to gain vital experience for the exercise of state power when the time comes. On the ideological front, the left and the labour and progressive movements have to engage consistently, creatively and rigorously in the battle of ideas against those of the ruling class. In particular, the values, notions, prejudices and thought processes which seek to justify and perpetuate capitalism—or which otherwise serve its interests—have to be challenged by others which point to the desirability, practicality and necessity of socialism. Notions of 'free enterprise', 'the free market' and 'social partnership'; ideas of national or racial superiority or exclusiveness; sexism, ageism, homophobia, anti-Communism, obscurantism, sectionalism and nihilism—all serve to divide, disorientate or undermine the working class and the struggle for socialism. To them can be counterposed the values and ideas of cooperation, planning, collective and class interests, the common good, liberation and social justice, multiculturalism, internationalism, rational thought and human liberation. On all three fronts, the Morning Star as a daily paper of the labour movement and the left, with its editorial policy based on Britain's Road to Socialism, plays an indispensable role in informing, educating and helping to mobilise the forces for progress and revolution. As such, it needs and deserves the support of all socialists, Communists and progressives so that together with its website it can further strengthen the working class movement and its allies in the battles ahead.
The Left-Wing Programme
As well as stepping up the resistance to the policies of the capitalist monopolies and their state, securing solidarity and coordination wherever possible, the labour and progressive movements need a unifying programme of alternative policies. Such a coherent, integrated Left-Wing Programme would give positive direction to all those fighting against right-wing policies and the capitalist monopolies, adding to their confidence and combativeness as realisable advances are won. Many of these policies can also be popularised through initiatives such as the People's Charter for Change, the Charter for Women and the Charter for Youth. But in important respects, the Left-Wing Programme goes further while also showing how policies in different spheres can reinforce one another, laying the basis for even more advanced policies from a left-wing government at a later stage in the revolutionary process. Economic and environmental policies The Left-Wing Programme could include economic policies to invest massively in public services; end all forms of privatisation; direct public and private sector investment into manufacturing and productive industry; outlaw mass redundancies in viable enterprises; take strategic enterprises threatened by closure into progressive public ownership; expand
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sustainable agricultural production and end subsidies to big landowners and agri-business; impose a levy on City financial transactions and big business profits and the closure of all tax havens under British jurisdiction; regulate British transnational corporations overseas to ensure compliance an end to hostile buy-outs based on debt, asset-stripping and speculation in commodities, securities and derivatives; guarantee jobs, study places or apprenticeships for all young people; reinstate full employment as a central policy of state; restore progressive taxation through deep cuts in VAT and higher taxes on the top levels of income and wealth; replace the council tax by local taxes based clearly on the ability to pay; seek major new trade and technology agreements with China and other developing countries; and cancel Third World public debt to British financial monopolies. A shorter working week and standard working life, with no loss of pay, would help to ensure that investment in new technology does not lead to an overall loss of jobs. The fight against unemployment must unite the employed and the unemployed around such key demands, including reduced retirement age, higher unemployment benefits and pensions, more apprenticeships and proper training for workers of all ages at trade union rates. To this end, the role of unemployed workers' centres as campaigning organisations should be strengthened, along with trade unions actively recruiting and representing the unemployed. Measures to promote cooperative, municipal and other forms of social enterprise and common ownership can provide an alternative to capitalist enterpriseâ€”even a glimpse of postcapitalist possibilitiesâ€”although they have to function within the confines of the monopolydominated 'free' market in a capitalist system. Public ownership of gas, electricity, water, oil, railways, buses, road haulage and air travel is the only basis on which these vital sectors and resources could be planned, integrated and managed in the interests of society and the environment. A huge expansion of investment and production in wind, tidal, geo-thermal and solar power is vital to meet what should be strict targets for cutting carbon emissions. Policies in this direction could include the installation of solar panels in all large and new public and private sector buildings, harnessing Severn estuary tidal power through the deployment of lagoon and submarine turbine technology, utilising deep-mined coal reserves with the application of cleancoal and carbon capture technology, extending rail and tram networks and enforcing a massive transfer of freight from road to rail. A national programme of waste disposal and recycling would utilise the most advanced energy-efficient and environmentally friendly technology. While research and development of nuclear fusion should be continued and even increased, reliance on nuclear fission as a source of energy remains a costly, dangerous and hugely irresponsible option, linked as it is with the production of nuclear weapons. Social and cultural policies The main social policies of the Left-Wing Programme would be to enforce stronger legislation against all forms of discrimination on grounds of gender, race, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation; increase state pensions, benefits and the national minimum wage substantially, linking them to rising earnings or prices and ending all discrimination against women and young workers; provide free or affordable nursery provision for single and low-paid parents, funded by the public and private sectors; undertake a massive drive to build more council housing, especially in inner-city and rural communities; maintain rural schools, post offices and other facilities while limiting the spread of holiday homes; ensure free domestic fuel, public transport, sheltered accommodation and home care for the elderly; transfer long-term empty properties to socially useful purposes; provide a comprehensive network of refuges for victims of
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domestic violence; decriminalise drug addiction and combat self-destructive and anti-social behaviour through much greater investment in youth services and facilities that provide stimulating and constructive alternatives. Funds should be made available to provide high-quality training for all young people who want it, particularly for working class youth. It is also important to provide a programme for training and retraining adults, especially women and ethnic minorities, to allow them entry into more skilled, secure and better-paid jobs. The education system should be of the highest quality, adequately staffed and free to all sections of society. Nursery and childcare provisions need to be improved and made available to all, thereby ensuring that women with children can escape casualised work on the margins and obtain better jobs in the mainstream of the economy. The principle of a comprehensive, secular primary and secondary education system must be resolutely defended and, wherever possible, extended. Breaking up and privatising the current state system, separating children along religious lines and removing democratic local government accountability will plunge Britain's schools back into the past age of gross inequality, privilege and divisive sectarianism. Further and higher education, including the universities, must be accessible to every section of society, with grants generous enough to support students without recourse to loans or family contributions. Maintenance grants should be a right for all adults engaged in full-time study, with no place for tuition fees or graduate taxes. All moves to weaken, break up, commercialise or privatise the National Health Service should likewise be resisted. The NHS must remain free at the point of delivery, funded largely through progressive taxation. Its coverage should be expanded, for example in areas such as cancer screening and dental treatment, rather than reduced. The aim should be to drive profiteering out of the NHS, while involving workers and users more closely in consultative and administrative functions. The promotion of social harmony and good community relations should be based on the principles of multiculturalism and secularism, respecting and celebrating cultural diversity, opposing reactionary and oppressive ideas and practices in all cultures, educating all children together rather than dividing them into separate schools based on religion, and ending privileges for religion in the machinery of state while upholding equal religious freedoms for all. Offences of advocating or promoting racial hatred should be more rigorously enforced by the state. But this policy should not be relied upon as a substitute for denying all possible platforms to racists and fascists, including through mass mobilisations which seek to drown them in a sea of popular, democratic activity. Cultural policies would aim to encourage people's participation, creativity and selforganisation as the alternative to passive consumption the mass, trite, individualistic 'culture' propagated by the capitalist monopolies with the support of the state. This would mean greater support for all kinds of local facilities and initiatives in the arts and physical culture, including in radio, television and film production, publishing and sports. There should also be policies to promote the Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Cornish languages in economic, social, political and cultural life, protecting the rights of all citizens, with free provision for all immigrants to Britain to learn English. Democratic policies The democratic policies of the LWP would restore all the democratic and civil liberties abolished or eroded by Tory and Labour governments since 1979, especially those relating to
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rights of assembly and demonstration and to detention without charge; repeal the anti-trade union laws; remove all direct and indirect racist discrimination from Britain's asylum, immigration and nationality laws and close the internment centres for asylum seekers; abolish the House of Lords; introduce a system of proportional representation, namely the Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies, to ensure that Britain's parliaments and assemblies more closely represent the votes of electors; make MPs subject to re-election by petition of the electors; submit corporate political donations to a ballot of the employers and employees in each enterprise; restore powers and resources to local government, including the freedom to set rates for local businesses; set the age of adulthoodâ€”including the right to voteâ€”at 16; recover powers of the Westminster parliament from the European Union; introduce a right of reply in the mass media, stop the extension of monopoly ownership and end the use of injunctions and libel laws by the wealthy and powerful to limit media freedoms. Full trade union rights should be extended to police officers, intelligence staff and armed forces personnel, who will also be encouraged to study and discuss the wider social, civic and political context in which they operate. Calls for state funding of political parties should be resisted, so that they have to rely largely on voluntary donations from people they claim to represent rather than take money from those who do not support their policies. Directly-elected regional government in England should proceed where there is clear demand, although without sufficient powers and resources to direct economic development there is the danger of creating 'talking shops' which draw powers from local councils instead. The national characteristics of Cornwall should be expressed through a directly elected Cornish Assembly, with powers which match the aspirations of the Cornish people. It is essential to ensure that the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly have the full economic, legislative and financial powers necessary to protect and develop the economic, social and cultural interests of their peoples. Such powers and resources are particularly important if the Scottish and Welsh governments are to be able to intervene decisively in the economy, to exercise popular sovereignty over monopoly and market forces. Should the peoples of those countries express a clear preference to secede from Britain altogether, their wishes must be respected and negotiations take place to ensure that separation takes place on as amicable a basis as possible. The Communist Party does not advocate such a course of action, not only because it would fracture the unity of the labour and progressive movements across Britain, in the face of a largely united ruling capitalist class. It could also cause substantial economic dislocation as big business uses threats and promises on jobs and investment to exert pressure on Scottish, Welsh and English governments to outbid each other in 'business-friendly' and 'pro-market' policies. Moreover, 'independence' would most likely prove illusory in nations whose economy is still dominated by the capitalist monopolies and the anti-democratic, imperialist European Union. But the growth of legislative powers in Scotland and Wales raises the question of the legislative process for England. The Communist Party believes that this would best be resolved by the House of Commons reconstituting itself as a second chamber for England when Englishonly measures are considered, supplemented by standing and select committees as appropriate. A longer-term constitutional settlement, based on the unity of three nations of Britain combined with substantial powers of self-government for each, could take the form of a federal system with new structures which reflect their equal status.
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The special status enjoyed by capital in the Isle of Man and Channel Isles, which are run as semi-feudal big business fiefdoms, will have to be ended. Instead, the peoples of those islands should be democratically represented in the Westminster parliament, with their democratic institutions at Tynwald and in the States strengthened by proportional representation and economic powers like those proposed for Wales and Scotland. Foreign and defence policies In the international arena, Britain should end its subservient alliance with US imperialism including collusion in violations of fundamental human rights and international law; oppose any further enlargement of NATO and argue for it to be dismantled; cease all involvement in military invasions and occupations of other people's countries, unless it is sanctioned by the UN beforehand to combat a reactionary regime rejected by its people; end all diplomatic support and arms exports for repressive regimes; actively work for the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel, on the basis of UN resolutions, while pursuing sanctions against the Israeli state and its institutions until real progress is made; and strengthen relations with progressive regimes around the world on the basis of practical and political solidarity. Within the European Union, supporting the domestic policies of the Left-Wing Programme means rejecting the neo-liberal directives and policies proposed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Council of Ministers; and legislating to negate the anti-trade union and anti-working class judgements of the European Court of Judgement. The British government should also oppose any further steps towards a United States of Europe, including membership of the euro-zone or involvement in the European Defence Agency; and oppose all attempts in Europe to equate or supplant the crimes of fascism with the real or fabricated 'crimes of Communism'. As well as fulfilling all the terms of the Good Friday Agreement in northern Ireland, the British government should work with the Irish, Scottish and Welsh governments to strengthen and extend the work of the Council of the Isles and make clear Britain's commitment to help bring about the reunification of Ireland on the basis of popular consent, north and south. The defence policies needed to develop an independent and progressive foreign policy for Britain include unilateral abolition of Britain's nuclear weapons, with no replacement for the Trident missile system; supporting international measures for a world free from nuclear testing and all weapons of mass destruction; reducing British military expenditure to the average European share of GDP; and redirecting arms production capacity, including research and development, to socially useful production for domestic use and export, notably in such fields as renewable energy technology and advanced communications, transport and rescue systems.
A popular anti-monopoly alliance
The motive force for advance in our society is the class struggle between workers and capitalists. But capitalism not only exploits people at work, it also oppresses them in many different aspects of their lives. Thus people react and struggle against capitalism and its effects not only in their workplaces, but in their communities and in their social, culture and leisure activities, as men and women, black and white, young and old, and of whatever nationality. Students, pensioners, tenants, environmentalists and other movements, pressure groups, local community-based bodies, charities and the like challenge significant aspects of the current system, even though they may
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not always see their stance in ideological or political terms. They embrace people not only from different sections within the working class, but often from other classes and strata in society. However, if these movements and their struggles proceed in isolation from each other, they can only challenge the position of the ruling class on single, isolated issues—never challenging the overall control and domination exercised by that class. Experience of joint campaigning with the labour movement and the left, who can project wider political perspectives while also maintaining the unity and sovereignty of all the forces involved, will lead many more activists to a fuller understanding of the nature of capitalist society and why it needs to be replaced by the only real alternative—socialism. If these movements remain apart from the labour movement, not only will they suffer from the lack of its support, but the organised working class will be unable to fulfil its role as the leading force in society. It is imperative, therefore, that the organised working class builds the widest possible alliance with all other movements fighting for progress, democracy and equality. The objective basis for uniting these forces is that they all face a common enemy, namely British state-monopoly capitalism, which blocks advance on every front. Thus the combined weight of the overwhelming majority of the population needs to be brought to bear on the power of the capitalist state and the monopoly corporations. At the all-Britain level, the Trades Union Congress and its equalities committees and conferences can play a valuable role where they are prepared to take bold, broad-based and campaigning initiatives. The Scottish TUC, Wales TUC, English regional TUCs and local Trades Councils are also crucial to building campaigning alliances for progressive and left-wing policies, although they need the involvement and resources to do so effectively. The left and the labour movement need to transform an array of defensive battles against the capitalist monopolies, right-wing governments and reactionary policies into a united offensive across a broad front, winning support for the Left-Wing Programme. The policies of the LWP challenge state-monopoly capitalism on every front. They also advance the interests of broader movements in which the working class is active, and other sections of the population who can be won to support at least some substantial aspects of the programme. Thus they may be persuaded through experience that the organised working class—the labour movement—alone has the capacity to give huge strength and leadership to a popular anti-monopoly alliance. Nonetheless, this is a leading role which the labour movement has to deserve and win, by fighting for the whole range of policies in the Left-Wing Programme and respecting the independence and particular interests of other movements. It may prove possible to win the battle for some of these policies—perhaps in diluted form— even from a right-wing, centre or social-democratic government. But achieving many of the others will require the election of a left-wing government, based on a socialist, Labour, Communist and progressive majority at the polls, committed to the Left-Wing Programme in part or whole.
Winning a government of the left
Democratic rights in Britain have usually been won and retained in the teeth of ruling class hostility. This is especially so in the case of the right to vote, to stand for parliament or local
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council, and to serve as an elected representative and participate in political decision-making. People's belief in their right to decide who governs them is deeply rooted in England, Scotland and Wales, and only in the most exceptional circumstances would they be likely to accept government on any other basis. Socialists and Communists should also understand that mass, active, popular and working class support will be essential if the policies of the Left-Wing Programme are to have any chance of implementation. The peoples of Britain are unlikely to extend such support without also having the opportunity to express it in the electoral arena. Indeed, such democratic endorsement will be vital in order to mobilise the working class and its allies to overcome all forms of resistance and even sabotage, as a left-wing government attempts to implement policies which challenge the interests of big business and the state apparatus. But Communists also understand that democracy is very limited, distorted and precarious in a capitalist society. Democracy does not extend into people's working lives which comprise up to one-half of their waking hours in adulthood; it can be countermanded by the enormous wealth and power of the capitalist class and its mass media; and it can eroded by the actions of the government and the state. Even the much-proclaimed 'sovereignty of Parliament' is contradicted in reality by the power of the government, the state apparatus, the mass media, the monopoly capitalists and their 'market forces', the European Union and international agencies such as the IMF and the WTO. Experience also indicates that the British ruling class and its allies are prepared to be utterly ruthless in defending their interests, not only through the use of state power at home but also abroad through the use of economic sabotage, military force, anti-democratic subversion, military dictatorship, state torture and death squads. This underlines the need for a popular anti-monopoly alliance to secure the maximum support and the broadest possible alliances for policies which challenge any aspect of statemonopoly capitalism. Based on mass extra-parliamentary campaigning and militancy, it will need to win the election of a left government based on a socialist, Labour, Communist and progressive majority in the Westminster Parliament, supported by similar formations in the Scottish and Welsh legislatures. Whether such victories are won with or without electoral alliances or pacts is less important than the need for socialists and Communists to approach electoral strategy with a combination of political principle and tactical flexibility. Different levels of left cooperation, coordination and unity are possible in election periods, although the Communist preference is to build strategic alliances based on mass campaigning in between elections rather than rely upon short-term, expedient tactical agreements. The history of resistance and revolutionary movements in every country is that they give rise to new forms of self-organisation: in Britain, for example, Working Men's Associations, the Chartist movement and Female Charter Associations, workers' and consumers' cooperatives, workers' and soldiers' councils, councils of action, the People's Convention, CND, the Liaison Committee for the Defence of Trade Unions, miners support groups and Women Against Pit Closures, anti-poll tax unions and the Stop the War Coalition. In the process of winning the forces in the popular anti-monopoly alliance to this perspective, new organisational forms and structuresâ€”however formal or informalâ€”will almost certainly arise to take forward the mass movement and help it to draw the necessary political conclusions.
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6.Towards socialism and communism The election of a left government in Britain committed to the Left-Wing Programme would mark the transition of the revolutionary process to a new, higher stage. The government's immediate priority will be to try to implement the LWP as fully and speedily as possible, working with the labour movement and the other forces of the popular anti-monopoly alliance, mobilising the maximum political support inside and outside parliament. It will be very important to win the election of governments in Scotland and Wales with similar perspectives, backed by a similar popular anti-monopoly alliance of forces but with the likely involvement of left and progressive elements in the Welsh and Scottish national movements. In the course of the struggle for the Left-Wing Programme and the election of a left government, it is likely that new forms of working class and progressive organisation will have arisen. Every effort should be made to involve these new forms of embryonic political power in the formulation of policy, tactics and strategy and in the enforcement of government measures based on the LWP. It is also at this point that different and even contradictory interests within the popular antimonopoly alliance might come to the fore, encouraged and exploited by hostile elements within the ruling class. In such circumstances, the left-wing government and the labour movement will have to make enormous efforts to maintain the unity of the alliance through the best prioritisation of policies and choice of tacticsâ€”short of undermining or abandoning the revolutionary process itself. In particular, new forms and ways of cooperating together will have to develop to ensure that unity is maintained and enhanced between the forces in the alliance and the new left government. The drive to implement the basic Left-Wing Programme will undoubtedly meet with resistance from powerful sections of the capitalist class and from within parts of the state apparatus. In this connection, the British ruling class will seek support from anti-socialist allies within Britain and abroad, in the world's financial and currency markets, the boardrooms of transnational corporations, the institutions of the European Union, the US government, the World Trade Organisation and the International Monetary Fund.
The international balance of forces
The damage that could be inflicted on a left government and its programme from outside should not be underestimated. Attacks on Britain's currency and the government's ability to borrow in financial markets, a huge political propaganda offensive, denunciations or diktats from the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Court of Justice, restrictions on British exports, all are possible as international capitalism seeks to block Britain's road to socialism Yet these dangers should not be overestimated, either. The policies in the basic Left-Wing Programme are intended to reduce vulnerability to outside pressure and sabotage by taking strategic sectors and enterprises in the British economy into public ownership, reducing the need for government borrowing by taxing the wealthy and monopoly profits, keeping Britain out of the euro-zone and preparing public opinion for possible confrontation with EU neo-liberal policies, rebuilding Britain's industrial
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base and strengthening economic and political relations with non-imperialist and developing countries. Recent shifts in the world balance of forces have strengthened the potential for a left government in Britain to develop mutually beneficial international relations beyond US and EU control, not least in Asia and Latin America. The left government and its supporters will have their allies in the international arena, too. Communist, left-wing, progressive, anti-imperialist and non-aligned governments may be in a position to extend diplomatic, political and economic assistance. The trade union, left-wing, peace and environmental movements in other countries could be called upon to exert pressure or take action in solidarity with their allies in Britain. Certainly, there is every prospect that the international links of Britain's working-class, progressive and Communist movements will continue to develop in the future as they have in the immediate past. Indeed, broadening and deepening such relations should have been a very high priority for all sections of the popular anti-monopoly alliance, from the time that the election of a left government became a serious possibility, if not before. Above all, there is the likelihood that substantial political advances would not have been made in Britain in isolation. There may be other advanced capitalist countries, as well as developing ones in Latin America, Africa and Asia, where the left and revolutionary movements have been gaining ground, putting their own ruling classes under increased pressure. In any event, Communists do not accept that there is some iron yet abstract law of history which predetermines that socialist revolution cannot be achieved in one country before others—or that one of the wealthiest, most developed societies in the world is incapable of then going on to construct its own model of socialism. The uneven economic and political development of capitalism makes it possible to break weak links in the imperialist chain, while the fundamental contradictions of capitalism ensure that the necessity for socialist revolution suggests itself everywhere, sooner or later.
Taking state power and defeating counter-revolution
A left government does not of itself indicate that the apparatus and forces of the state are now on the side of a fundamental transformation of society. Nor should it be thought that they are—or ever have been—neutral on the question of which socio-economic system should exist in Britain, or anywhere else for that matter. Key parts of the state apparatus will continue to operate in the interests of the socioeconomic system for which they were designed, as will many of their top personnel who have been selected, trained and promoted to the same ends. Therefore, the state apparatus itself will quickly become a central arena of heightened class struggle. Efforts to publicise and implement even the basic Left-Wing Programme will meet with resistance inside the civil service and associated public bodies including regulatory agencies, the Bank of England, state broadcasting bodies and the like. Success or failure in the drive to implement the LWP will largely decide whether or not the revolutionary process advances to the next and decisive stage: the struggle for state power. If substantial inroads have already been made into the wealth and power of the monopoly capitalists, the conditions will be all the more favourable for taking the advanced measures necessary to remove political power from their hands, decisively and completely. But if, on the other hand, progress has been obstructed to a significant extent, then the
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revolutionary movement will have to decide whether—in view of the balance of forces at the time—it would be better to intensify efforts to implement the LWP or proceed to the stage of fighting for state power. Either way, the monopoly capitalists will be battling for their very survival as a ruling class. Therefore, they can be expected to use every weapon at their disposal against the revolutionary movement and its left government. Certainly, previous experience of social-democratic governments in Britain—notably in the 1960s and 1970s—indicates that a left government should expect monopoly attempts at economic and financial sabotage. An investment strike, the flight of capital, an attack on Britain's currency, trade sanctions and a boycott of government bills and bonds can all be anticipated. This is why, from its inception, the government must take steps to control the movement of capital, close all tax havens under British jurisdiction and take the required powers—to be deployed as and when necessary—to control and liquidate British-owned economic and financial assets abroad. There may also be tactical value in prioritising the public ownership of sectors or enterprises according to the economic or political threat that they pose to the left government and socialist revolution, whether they are owned or controlled from inside or outside Britain and so on. Within the state machinery, senior people in the civil service, judiciary, police, intelligence services and armed forces may seek to use their positions to frustrate and overturn the policies of the democratically elected left government. From the outset, therefore, the left government will have to introduce extensive changes in recruitment, staffing and management policies within the main departments of state in order to replace key personnel with supporters of the revolutionary process. The police, intelligence services and armed forces will have to be made fully and openly answerable to elected representatives of the people at national and British levels; and their functions and priorities reviewed and in some respects altered fundamentally. The introduction of wide-ranging trade union rights and civic education programmes in these areas will also help to break down oppressive and reactionary ideas and practices. Substantial improvements in their terms and conditions of employment will also show uniformed as well as civilian public servants that the left governments upholds the interests of all workers. These and other measures of reform and democratisation will need to begin transforming the state apparatus from an instrument which sustains capitalism to one which represents the interests of the working class and the whole population. Throughout this process, the positive involvement of public sector trade unions will be essential. It will also be vital to secure the widest possible public support. This is more likely to be forthcoming if it can be demonstrated that all parliamentary means have been tried in order to implement the government's programme, and that the left government's policies regularly receive democratic endorsement by the people in elections and referendums. In order to counteract anti-revolutionary propaganda from the capitalist mass media, the grip of a small number of monopoly conglomerates will have to be decisively broken. A more diverse and accessible pattern of ownership and control in the print, broadcasting, internet and film media would aim to reflect all legitimate interests and aspirations in a modern, democratic and tolerant society. Because the European Union's fundamental treaties and institutions cannot be radically reformed without near-unanimous agreement among all member states, Britain would almost
Page 36 Programme of the Communist Party. Draft new edition
certainly have to withdraw from the EU in order to implement these and other key policies of the Left-Wing Programme. Such an assertion of popular sovereignty will also be necessary if British governments are to engage in free and equal relations with other nations across the globe, developing trading, commercial and political relations with non-hostile countries, extending solidarity to the poor and oppressed in particular, and promoting these values in international bodies such as the United Nations. The threat of direct foreign military intervention is less likely and would, of course, be resisted without compromise by Britain's own military and popular forces. Nevertheless, there is the possibility that US and NATO military bases in Britain could become centres of intrigue and subversion. Once again, this underlines the need for an elected left government to move swiftly to close all foreign military bases in Britain and withdraw from NATO and EU armed forces, if those bodies are not already being dismantled through international negotiation. A bigger danger is that that, as happened in the 1970s, private armies could form under the direction of ex-military chiefs, supported by big business leaders and sections of the mass media. This possibility will be reduced by the measures already proposed to democratise and unionise the armed forces and to break monopoly power—not least in the mass media. But other safeguards would be to expand the state's military reserve, linking it with large workplaces and local working class communities and involving the trade union movement in its recruitment, education and administration. Over time, reflecting the adoption of an independent foreign policy based on peaceful coexistence, the balance of resources will tilt away from a full-time selective professional army towards popular military reservists with specialised professional units in each sphere. There should be no question that the democratically left government will use all the official and popular forces at its disposal to crush all attempts at military subversion and rebellion. Popular sovereignty means the sovereignty of the people and their elected representatives in parliaments, governments and mass movements. This would therefore require the abolition of all powers and institutions relating to the monarchy, including posts as head of state and commander of the armed forces, the royal prerogative, the Privy Council and associated regional offices of state. Such measures would themselves reduce the scope for counterrevolutionary violence against the people and their elected authorities. In striving to implement the advanced policies of the Left-Wing Programme relating to capital controls, mass media ownership, EU or NATO membership and the state apparatus, one or more decisive confrontations will determine who exercises state power. Will the monopoly capitalists and their supporters be able to continue using the state machine to obstruct the LWP—or will the working class and its supporters be able to take control of the state, restructure it and use it to replace capitalism by a system which serves the interests of society as a whole? The key factor in this struggle will be the balance of forces outside parliament and in society as a whole, in particular the extent to which the popular anti-monopoly alliance—led by the organised working class—can mobilise decisively to uphold popular sovereignty and help the elected government to enforce its policies. The extent to which this process involves physical or military violence will depend upon the revolutionary movement having the best strategy to minimise the capacity for resistance of the capitalist class. As the working class would invariably bear the brunt of counter-revolutionary violence, it is the duty of all serious revolutionaries to devise such a strategy rather than
Britain’s Road to Socialism Page 37
propose simplistic notions of violent insurrection and armed struggle.
Building a socialist society
Holding state power would enable the left government and popular movement to complete the process of removing all economic and political power from the monopoly capitalist class and its representatives. As capitalism is dismantled, so the construction of a new, higher type of society—socialism—can proceed. In Britain and its constituent nations, this will have to take place along the lines decided by the working class and the mass of the population—and not in accordance with any model imported from other countries, from different conditions in different times. But this does not mean we cannot learn from successes and mistakes elsewhere. For instance, the former Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China have demonstrated how centralised economic planning can play a vital role in promoting scientific education and rapid economic growth; cooperative ownership helped secure a thriving agricultural sector in Hungary; self-management in Yugoslavia showed how workers can be drawn into democratic decision-making at workplace level; the German Democratic Republic provided extensive workplace nursery and communal laundry facilities; in the Soviet Union, people's courts in large workplaces brought the criminal justice system closer to the people; in Cuba, Committees for the Defence of the Revolution involve local communities in a wide range of social, environmental and political campaigns; from time to time, the former socialist countries demonstrated how different ethnic and national populations could live in relative harmony on the basis of cultural development, equal status and mutual respect. All the former socialist countries placed a high priority on achieving full employment, universal healthcare and education, equal status in law for women, affordable housing and public transport for all, and on reducing inequalities between urban and rural areas. However, the conditions in which many countries embarked upon the road to socialism also gave rise to features which would be inappropriate or unacceptable to people in Britain. Here, socialism would have to be built without the abuse of repressive state power, the denial or severe limitation of democratic rights, ideological regimentation, the exclusion of large sections of the working class and the population in general from economic and political decision-making, the perpetuation of gender inequality in practice, and without severe violations of national and cultural rights. Indeed, in order to defeat attempts at counterrevolution and to involve the mass of the people in socialist development, democratic rights and freedoms would need to become deeply entrenched in every aspect of economic and political life—now free from the restrictions and distortions imposed by monopoly capital. Moreover, it is likely that new forms of popular participation and direct democracy would arise in the workplace, localities, regions and nations of Britain to counteract tendencies to over-centralisation, elitism, careerism and bureaucratic control. All sections of the state apparatus at every level of society would be directed by the elected representatives of the people and monitored by non-state bodies appointed by working class and popular organisations. Freed from the requirements of maintaining capitalist rule and commercial confidentiality, most activities of the state will be open to public scrutiny, while all must be open to scrutiny by the public's elected representatives. The constitutional relationship between England, Scotland and Wales will develop according to the sovereign will of their peoples, whether that relationship take the form of co-existence
Page 38 Programme of the Communist Party. Draft new edition
in a federal state, a confederation or wholly separate from one another. The first of these arrangements might best maintain working class and progressive unity and solidarity, but in any event it is likely that socialist societies in those three nations will develop specific features of their own, reflecting their different economic, cultural and political conditions. Socialism in Britain would also be characterised by diversity, tolerance and a healthy resistance to state interference in people's personal lives and choices. Freedom of conscience, opinion and criticism will not only be guaranteed in law—it will also be allowed means of expression previously denied by monopoly ownership and control of the mass media. Religious freedoms will also be fully protected, although they will have no privileged position to undermine or negate other democratic rights and freedoms in society. On the economic front, social ownership would be extended into the major enterprises in every significant sector of the economy including construction, engineering, armaments, land and property, shipping and chemicals while consolidating the sectors already in public ownership. These measures will enable economic planning to develop in accordance with society's needs and objectives, combining local and sectoral consultation with centralised policy -making in strategic sectors, all under democratic control. At the same time, socialism does not require that all economic enterprise must be confined to the public sector or to a single model of public ownership. Even as socialism is being constructed, there may be scope for substantial small business, self-employed, cooperative, voluntary and municipal sectors in the economy, although they too would be subject to progressive laws relating to taxation, terms and conditions of employment, equal treatment and industrial democracy. In fact, there will have to be a substantial extension of democracy throughout the economy— in cooperation with the trade unions—so that the knowledge, experience, interests and creativity of working people can be drawn fully into the processes of administration, decisionmaking and planning. Economic planning will also have to involve a wide range of other groups and forces in society besides government ministries and major enterprises, including local government, NGOs, consumer groups, community organisations and the like. In terms of advanced social policies, the overall aim will be to complete the abolition of private, privileged education and healthcare for the wealthy, uniting the interests of all citizens in the development of public services of the highest possible quality. Big landed estates in urban as well as rural areas will be taken into local, central and cooperative forms of public ownership; aristocratic titles will cease to receive any official recognition and the hereditary monarchy should be replaced by a democratically elected and accountable head of state.
The transition to full communism
The guiding principle of wealth production and distribution during the lower, socialist stage of communist society would be: 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their contribution'. People's material reward and status would broadly reflect their contribution to society in terms of the nature of their work, their skills and effort. This would greatly reduce the extreme inequalities promoted under capitalism. As cooperation, planning and the full application of science and technology begin to produce an abundance of the most important goods and services in society, so the principle in the higher stage of communism—full communism—would become: 'from each according to their
Britain’s Road to Socialism Page 39
ability, to each according to their needs'. Wages and money would begin to lose their usefulness, as more of life's essentials become free or of little cost. Of course, the production, distribution and deployment of society's economic output wouldâ€”like other significant activitiesâ€”have to be planned in order to safeguard the environment and eco-system. Without exploitative capitalists or landowners, the division of society into antagonistic social classes would cease to have any material basis. In place of class conflict and social discrimination, social cooperation and equality would predominate. As the amount of human labour required to produce society's needs decreases, every citizen would have the time and facilities to develop her or his skills and talents to the full. The basis for many social problems and tensions would be removed, while resources of every kind could now be devoted to solving or alleviating individual problems and incapacities. As the danger of internal counter-revolution recedes, the international dimension of the struggle for socialism becomes crucial. The victory of socialism in other countries will eventually remove the threat of capitalist restoration by outside forces. Such developments will end the role of the state as a coercive force to be used by one class in society to suppress other classes. The state apparatus need no longer play a predominant role in society as cooperation between autonomous, self-governing communities of people displaces centralised state power. This would include workers' self-management of industry and enterprises, of which workers have shown themselves perfectly capable even in the hostile context of market capitalism. Most if not all people will understand the need to help organise and fulfil essential work as the pre-condition of their freedom, not least in order that they benefit from the massive expansion of educational, cultural and leisure provision. Communists do not accept that such a society cannot develop over time, that 'human nature' comprises negative characteristics that would render socialism or communism impossible to achieve. So far in human history, people's impulses and instincts have been distorted, exploited and misrepresented by their existence in class-divided societies based on exploitation and oppression. Even so, human beings have displayed an enormous capacity for reason, compassion, cooperation, courage, self-sacrifice, invention and striving to create human societies together. There is no reason why they should not comprehend that we share this earth in common, we are interdependent, that the individual good of the vast majority requires the collective good, and that cooperation and unity is better than conflict and division. It is capitalism which seeks to make a virtue out of greed, egoism, exploitation and inequality while claiming them to be the ruling characteristics of 'human nature'. It is capitalism which creates so much misery, destroys so many lives and now threatens the very future of human existence on this planet. A new morality will characterise the social relations between people: the egotistical individualism of capitalism will be replaced by collective care and concern for every individual and for the full, all-round development of the human personality. Capitalism is the problem and socialism is the solution. For the sake of humanity, the future is communism.
Page 40 Programme of the Communist Party. Draft new edition
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