Year 2000 No. 6, January 17, 2000

The Line of March to a New Society

View of the Meeting to Release the Political Report
Meeting in Conway Hall, London, at the Release of the Political Report to
the Third Congress of RCPB(ML) on the work of the Central Committee, January 8.

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

The Line of March to a New Society

News In Brief
More than 470 Jobs Going at Michelin Factory
Britain Suffers Low Productivity
Pay Deals Plunge to New Low
Employees Working Harder for Less Pay
Long Hours Cause Stress
Call for Reform of Workers’ Benefits
People View Britain as Less Caring
BT Bids £1.5bn for Esat Telecom
Business Failures Highest for Five Years

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The Line of March to a New Society

Presentation given by a representative of the Central Committee at the release of the Political Report to the Third Congress of RCPB(ML) on the Work of the Central Committee

Comrades and friends,

The significance of the 3rd Congress of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) to us as we start the new millennium is that it has opened up the line of march that will take us to a new society, to a socialist Britain, as part of the struggles of the working and oppressed peoples, the workers’ and communist movement world-wide for emancipation. This is why we have given the Congress Report this title: "The Line of March to a New Society". This line of march does not mean that now everything is cut and dried. But it means that we have a clear perspective. The experience of our Party, especially since 1994, summed up in the 3rd Congress, has taught us how to build our history from one stage to the next in the course of working out the line of march and the problems which demand solution in the whole of society. Therefore, this is why the Report to the 3rd Congress is such an important document, and becomes itself a weapon in the struggle. We are very proud to be opening up the 21st century, the new millennium with the publication and release of this document. There could be no more fitting way that our work in this millennium could be opened up other than with the publication of this document. Of course, this also means that all the hard work is ahead of us, that we actually have to advance along this line of march. But now the success of the Congress will give rise to the success of the implementation of its decisions and its perspectives. We are confident that this work too will be crowned with success, and that these successes in turn will be transformed into lasting victory, into a realisation of a socialist Britain, the deed of the working class and people themselves through social revolution, so that the working class does indeed constitute itself the nation, become the leading class and take the human and material resources under its control, set its revolutionary stamp on society, and move to the elimination of exploitation of persons by persons and finally achieve the goal of communism and the classless society.

This 21st century ahead will be a century of unprecedented revolutionary transformations. This is what we can confidently predict from the whole history of the 20th century from our standpoint as communists engaged without reservation in the struggle to transform society from capitalism to socialism. The bourgeoisie cannot offer the people any bright future for the 21st century. Their world is full of incoherence, which they try to rescue by imposing on the people a programme of being competitive globally while hatching up various versions of the so-called Third Way to convince the people to go along with this programme and accept that there is some hybrid system, some mythical beast of a society which is neither capitalist nor socialist, to convince the people that human development has ended apart from implementing the programme of globalisation, that the future can only be guaranteed if they do so, but that life consists of such hard choices.

For us the exact opposite is true. From the concrete analysis of the objective situation and armed with the theory of Contemporary Marxist-Leninist Thought, we can see how the human factor/social consciousness can be brought into play so that humanity can march along the path that will open the door to progress and bring about a new society based not on sentiment, not a utopia, but a society which is born of the very conditions that exist in today’s society, but provided all that is blocking the forward development of such a society is cast off. This is the challenge to our Party and to humankind, to remove those blocks to the development of society, to fight the class struggle on these fronts where the space for change exists, to actually bring about this change in a programme of practical politics, to bring the gestation of the new society to its full term precisely along this line of march.

In other words, our task is to prepare the subjective conditions for revolution. This is one of the main themes of the Report, that the whole reason for the Party’s existence to prepare these subjective conditions, to prepare for the coming revolutionary storms is brought out in The Line of March to a New Society. The Party itself is the number one factor, the decisive instrument, the most conscious element in preparing these conditions. We say that the objective conditions are ripe, in fact over-ripe, that there is and can be no next stage of society except socialism, that everything about this society cries out that such socialism should be brought about. But that conversely this is the ruin of the bourgeoisie, it is the ruin of the financial oligarchy and all exploiters. So all their efforts go into the promotion that there is no next stage, that the working class should not go for socialism.

The Political Report to the 3rd Congress brings out what the main thesis of the Party’s 3rd Congress is. It points out that it is the work of the Party and its Central Committee which brought the Party to the 3rd Congress and enabled us to stand on our own feet. The Report then stresses that in order to rise to the occasion in the period which lies ahead into the 21st century and carry out its new plan of practical politics, the tasks which are required to lift society out of the crisis and open the door to a socialist Britain – what is necessary is that RCPB(ML) be consolidated on the new historical basis. What this new historical basis is, is elaborated in the report. The conscious factor is what underlies this new historical basis. It involves all the members, all the Marxist-Leninists, in being political, not confining themselves to agreeing or disagreeing, not just being members of a basic organisation but actually working out ways to wage the class struggle in practice at the appropriate level. It requires organisations that combine action with analysis. In this context, the Report raises the importance of settling scores with the old philosophic conscience. Here it is the new parts company with the old, what is revolutionary parts company with what is conciliatory. Settling scores with the old philosophic conscience is not something obscure or esoteric that we are putting forward. It is crucial to Marxist-Leninists finding their bearings. It determines whether it is revolution that is being organised or something else. One can be very "left" sounding but not be settling scores with what is old. And this struggle dates right back to the time of Marx when he put forward that philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, but the issue is to change it. He put forward that the most radical rupture was required, not only with the old property relations but with the whole superstructure and pervading ideology that protects and defends those old property relations. This is the radical rupture, this is the settling of scores with the old conscience, that Marx and Engels came to the conclusion must be carried out in their day. And they did so by going into the essence of things. All forms of social democracy deny that scores must be settled with the old conscience. Margaret Thatcher was a Conservative. She was and is a whole-hearted advocate of privatisation and the neo-liberal agenda. She made no bones about her support for capitalism, and was "radical" only in the sense that she pushed forward the programme of privatisation and neo-liberalism, the adoption of 19th century values on the economic basis of the rule of the monopolies. In dismantling the state sector of monopoly capitalism and dismantling the welfare state to suit the needs of the monopolies, at the same time she promoted the "trickle-down" effect and "people’s capitalism" as to how the people were supposed to benefit from this neo-liberal agenda. But the people were up in arms against such an agenda. At this point in Britain comes Tony Blair, after the interregnum of John Major where "style of leadership" was changed without changing the substance of the policies, without departing from Thatcherism. Blair has done a service to the whole bourgeoisie internationally by his elaboration of this "Third Way", the attempt to re-impose a coherence on the crisis-ridden capitalist society. Logic shows that if the programme of privatisation and neo-liberalism that Thatcher put forward has not only failed to lift society out of its crisis but is a factor exacerbating the crisis, then without further ado the whole motive of this society should be changed. The whole direction of the economy should be changed, society should move forward to socialism. But Tony Blair comes up with the "Third Way", a modernised and renovated social democracy that is supposedly neither capitalism nor socialism, that is neither pro-worker nor pro-capitalist, that is neither old left nor new right. It is supposed to transcend all these divisions and release the British genius. In this context, Blair too claims to be "radical" just as Thatcher before him. But actually to be radical is to transform society at its root. In other words, to be actually radical also means that scores have to be settled with the old. Settling scores is the last thing that Tony Blair wants to do, apart from settling scores with the independent working class programme. This Third Way is all elaborated, and one of the latest things is that a TUC journal is set up. This comes after the special TUC conference on social partnership last year, at which both John Monks and Tony Blair elaborated that the key thing for the workers and the trade unions is what is in it for the employers, that capitalists and workers should be "partners for progress". And note that this word "progress" is being introduced which becomes one of the main themes of the "Third Way", that under the signboard of progress, in fact retrogression and medievalism, the promotion of 19th century liberal values takes place. Up till now, workers have thought of trade unions as their fighting organisations to defend their interests. They and us may have criticisms of them and how well they are doing their job. But at least there was a consensus that this should be their aim. But Tony Blair and John Monks are assigning a completely different role to the trade unions. The trade unions themselves are to become tools for the benefit of the employers. This is called "new unionism in the workplace". It is to seek common ground with the employers. There is to be partnership at work. Partnership can beat militancy. So this is a call for the workers to get behind the capitalists of their enterprise in the conditions of globalisation, when being competitive in the global market is everything and further monopolisation is the order of the day. Nothing could be worse for the financial oligarchy and the government than workers fighting for their interests. And not just for their interests but to put forward solutions, to have an independent voice in society. Now having also set up a new trade union journal, Blair begins the new year by writing that unions should not even think about politics, and not just unions but workers themselves. The unions should just provide services for the workers. Of course, they are not to be debarred from putting forward the politics of partnership at work. Of course this whole Blairite thesis is to be opposed, but social democracy gets very flustered by it, that the union leadership is being debarred from having its influence and is having its links with New Labour loosened. The point here is then that social democracy conciliates with all these Third Way illusions that Tony Blair and an increasing number of government cronies internationally of the "centre-left" are fostering in the working class. Who is to step forward and put forward the independent programme of the working class, that can rally them to occupy the space for change, that can challenge the bourgeoisie in trials of strength on particular fronts of this programme, that within the very movement against the anti-social offensive and for the victory of the pro-social programme can begin to create the subjective conditions for revolution? Social democracy cries, not us! Liberalism cries, don’t look at me! It is true that the direction of society is causing havoc for the people, it is instituting cut after cut in social programmes, it is enriching beyond measure the financial oligarchy, it is leading to increased tensions and armed interventions internationally. But as for settling scores with the old conscience, that would be a bridge too far! The workers would never follow us, they say, if we made such a clean break. At the same time, all varieties of the old ideology are promoted and given currency within the working class, which leads to their spiritual disarming, to their ideological disarming, to reluctance to break with passivity and a holding back from organising for their own emancipation and the emancipation of all sections of the people and entire society.

(To be continued)

Article Index


News In Brief

 

More than 470 Jobs Going at Michelin Factory

The Michelin Tyre factory at Stoke-on-Trent is to make 473 workers redundant. The workforce of 2,700 was told that the jobs would be lost by the end of the year. At the same time, the company announced an £11 million investment in the plant to update buildings and equipment.

Britain Suffers Low Productivity

Britain has achieved higher employment than most of its European peers but only at the cost of lower productivity. This is the conclusion of research carried out by analysts Business Strategies. According to EU league tables they have produced, Britain has one of the best employment rates for adults in Europe, with nine out of 12 British regions ranked in the top half. But every region except London is in the bottom half of the report’s productivity tables.

Pay Deals Plunge to New Low

A CBI survey shows that pay awards to manufacturing workers have plunged to a six-year low, while staff in service industries saw a slight rise in settlements. Pay awards in manufacturing averaged 2.4% in the three months to October 1999, while awards in the service sector averaged 3.6%.

Employees Working Harder for Less Pay

A government report has revealed that workers in Britain receive less money than their counterparts abroad, but work longer hours. The Department of Trade and Industry report blames poor management and a lack of basic skills. Average salaries in Britain are one fifth lower than those for workers in six other leading industrial nations.

The report, UK Competitor Indicators 1999, says that the average worker has a 44.9 hour week, receives £15,200 compared with EU average of £17,270, that 13% of all workers work more than 48 hours a week and that half the population has less leisure time now than five years ago.

Britain, the report says, ranks eighth out of nine countries in the literacy study, ahead only of the US, and performed worst on average in numeracy skills tests. "Low levels of basic educational attainment in the workforce are potentially a serious competitive disadvantage in building the knowledge-driven economy. Improving skill levels is critical to improving UK productivity performance," according to the report.

Long Hours Cause Stress

According to a report by the Industrial Society, Britain’s long working hours culture is "alive and kicking", despite mounting evidence that it causes workplace stress. The report suggests that talk of family-friendly policies is too often rhetoric rather than reality, with few workers daring to speak up for fear of damaging career prospects.

Call for Reform of Workers’ Benefits

Research, carried out by the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick for the Equal Opportunities Commission, shows that more than two million people are not eligible for the state pension and unemployment, sickness and incapacity benefits because they do not make National Insurance Contributions (NICs). Many people pay contributions erratically, for such reasons as that they work seasonally with periods of unemployment, such as in the hotel and catering trades. The money they pay on NICs is effectively "lost" because entitlement is based on qualifying years rather than on lifetime contributions. Older women were the biggest losers as they had more frequent periods out of employment and made irregular contributions. This means that they were often not entitled to pensions or unemployment benefit in their own right and had to rely on their husband’s pension or Income Support benefit. With divorce rates increasing, even more low-paid women are likely to have no pension provision when they retire. The Equal Opportunities Commission is calling for an overhaul of the NICs system.

People View Britain as Less Caring

According to a Mori survey, nearly two-thirds (63%) of British adults think the country has become a less caring place than it was 10 years ago. The survey took in the views of 1,979 adults, and compared data from a similar survey 10 years ago.

BT Bids £1.5bn for Esat Telecom

BT has launched a "white knight" takeover offer for Esat Telecom, Ireland’s second largest phones group. The £1.5 billion offer was accepted by Esat’s board over a £1.2 billion hostile bid by Norwegian group Telenor. The deal with boost BT’s position in the Irish Republic, where it already has a 50% holding in Ocean, a fixed line Irish telecom company.

Business Failures Highest for Five Years

According to research by business information group Dun & Bradstreet, business failures jumped by 12% last year, with the number of companies collapsing at its highest for five years. The new figures reveal that 43,365 companies went bankrupt or were wound up during 1999 – around 830 every week. Dun & Bradstreet warn that more failures could be on the way.

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