Year 2000 No. 7, January 18, 2000

The Line of March to a New Society

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

The Line of March to a New Society - Part 2

Flu Crisis:
Government Can in No Way Claim to Be Meeting People’s Basic Health Care Needs

News Commentary:
Nurses’ Pay Rise Divisive and Not Funded.

Letter to the Editor:
Congratulations!

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The Line of March to a New Society

Continuation of 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. Part 1 appeared in Workers’ Daily Internet Edition No.6, dated January 17, 2000.

So for us this is the issue of settling scores with the old philosophic conscience. The bourgeoisie has so steeped the working class movement in Britain with social democracy that it is afraid to overcome the very divisions that social democracy has created because of the fear that to do so would divide the workers from the Labour Party. Even if it were true that the Labour Party could be considered as a workers’ party, would that debar they working class from having and fighting for its independent programme? This is not the case. But what we are talking about is the necessity to organise for revolution, to insist on the necessity for change and to actually organise to bring this change about. Furthermore, because of the gathering of the retreat of revolution and the fact that the world is going through an historic turning point, a defining moment, it is the case that no force can act in the old way. It simply does not meet the demands of the times. The old communism, in the sense of taking sides and not continually renovating society and the workers’ organisations including the communist party, is dead. There is no longer a division of the world into a socialist camp and a capitalist camp. This does not mean that socialism failed, that communism failed. The opposite is true. It was capitalism that failed and pseudo-socialism that collapsed. But the issue is not to resurrect this old communism and use it as a model. It is not, for instance, to speak of Stalin’s time and call for the world’s people to uphold Stalin and his system. This is not to say that we should not draw lessons from the Soviet Union and what in its change and development contained the seeds of its later collapse. Again the opposite is true. But, without going into the question in any detail, the lessons from the collapse are of the necessity for the human factor/social consciousness to be brought on a par with the requirements of the times. And this is the case today. The times are demanding that we move forward on the basis of modern definitions. These modern definitions are not new definitions, in the sense of changing the principles of Marxism-Leninism. But they are precisely to breathe life into these principles in line with present day conditions and requirements, to give content to our words. This is the issue again of settling scores with the old philosophic conscience, that our deeds must be consistent with our words. When we talk about a socialist Britain, or when we talk about preparing the subjective conditions for revolution, these cannot be left on the level of phrases or dogmas. As the Report to the 3rd Congress points out, when Tony Blair transformed Labour into New Labour and distanced the Labour Party from anything socialist, this so-called "socialist" space was occupied by others who have reduced socialism to merely a phrase. So the issue is that one’s deeds, the way the Party organises, has actually got to be along the line of march that brings close in concrete reality the establishment of a socialist Britain. This means organising the working class here and now to occupy the space for change. Not to complain of the ills of capitalism on the one hand and make socialism a distant dream on the other, while one’s actual actions only contribute to the deepening of the crisis, the kind of reforms that divert the working class fighting here and now for its independent political programme. That is to say, that the workers must be organised right now to fight battles with the bourgeoisie on particular fronts. These struggles should by no means be confined to the economic or industrial fronts. In fact the political battles are of supreme importance, the workers must themselves become political, they must end their marginalisation, they must set their agenda. This is precisely the task we have taken up so that both the Party and the class end their marginalisation from the political affairs of society. This is a practical political programme, which is not practicalist in the sense that it is a question of what "works" which must be followed. In fact the development of revolutionary theory is of the utmost importance, especially in Britain. The working class movement here is old and has been very strong, but it has not achieved the goal of the revolutionary transformation of society. Without a revolutionary theory the movement constantly gets diverted pacified, divided by social democracy. We, our Party, must give pride of place to this revolutionary theory, and this also is a matter of settling scores with the old philosophic conscience. At the same time, a revolutionary theory is only formed, can only be fully developed, in the course of a genuinely revolutionary movement. The point here is that when all is said and done, theory is the summation of the development of the actual movement. But unless the theoretical work is done and analysis takes place, the actual movement is not summed up. Imbued with that revolutionary theory the working class movement becomes invincible. Without that revolutionary theory it is prey to the diversions and incoherence that the bourgeoisie throws at it.

Crucially, what the Report to the Congress highlights in this connection is the thesis of the Congress. It points out that the 3rd Congress was historic because it was based on and is giving rise to the quality of the new historical basis that is decisive for preparing the subjective conditions for revolution, for preparing for the coming revolutionary storms. It points out that what is necessary to lift society out of the crisis and open the door to a socialist Britain is that the Party must be consolidated on the new historical basis. Now is the time for this consolidation and the issue is that the consolidation of the Party on this basis is to consolidate it as the most important subjective force in the preparation for the coming revolutionary storms.

The Report points out that this issue of preparation is fundamental. What is meant by preparation for the coming revolutionary storms? What is meant is precisely that the subjective conditions for revolution should be prepared. The issue is not just that there are great upheavals coming in the 21st century and we should be prepared to sway them one way or another. This in essence would be to say that the spontaneous movement is the primary thing. As a communist party, a modern communist party, we work according to a plan. Our participation in the working class movement is precisely to prepare the subjective conditions for revolution, while the fact that revolution is in ebb or in flow is largely an objective consideration. This is one reason we prize the work with Workers’ Weekly so highly. Precisely by organising with and around the newspaper, improving its content and extending its readership, building groups of workers or other sections who write for and disseminate the paper, this is a fundamental way of ending the workers’ marginalisation and ensuring that they themselves take up politics and write for their peers from their own experience on this basis. This is why we are developing the Workers and Politics section of Workers’ Weekly and are ensuring that the paper speaks with the voice of the workers. It is not a case of organising with the perspective of organising little groups but of organising with the aim of waging the class struggle.

The Report stresses that the consolidation of RCPB(ML) as the most decisive conscious force, the building of the unity of the Marxist-Leninists on the new historical basis, ensures that the work to take Britain forward into the 21st century on a new basis can be accomplished and takes place in the course of the elaboration and implementation of this work.

The thesis of the Congress which the Report presents is that the consolidation of RCPB(ML) on the new historical basis is what will characterise this period of the Party’s work up until the next Congress. It is the foremost aim of the Party in this period. It points out that, as the vanguard of the working class, the communist party must fight to place the working class as the leader of society, take hold of what belongs to it and place itself in the positions of political power, as well as placing the resources of society in its own hands. The Marxist-Leninist party is both in theoretical and practical terms the most decisive subjective factor in bringing about this revolutionary transformation of society in Britain to socialism, as well as contributing to this same cause internationally. Furthermore, when Britain leads the world in backwardness and the contention about what is progressive and what is reactionary is particularly being fought out in this country, this strategic objective assumes unparalleled importance. It is a trial of strength whether the door to progress and a socialist society is opened up or kept shut.

In focusing on building and consolidating the Party, stressing that this task can never be downgraded, besides highlighting that the whole Party is organised in and around the work to strengthen Workers’ Weekly, the Report also raises that it is also a question of gearing all one’s thoughts and actions to serving the movement of the working class for its emancipation. A communist party cannot have members whose life is compartmentalised into a section dedicated to social revolution and a section dedicated to the pursuit of individual interests. The communist party cannot realise its tasks if it has members who live their lives with their social culture being detached from their politics or with their ideological culture which is not revolutionary. The force must arise which is capable of working to ensure the victory of the pro-social programme and opening the door to society’s progress, and people must arise who are capable of carrying that line organisationally.

These are also the characteristics of a modern communist party, and RCPB(ML) is becoming consolidated as such a communist party and this is the defining characteristic of its work. Once again, this is the unity of word and deed, that the Party’s word is its deed, and the members and activists of the Party reject that there should be a hiatus, this gap between the word and deed, which is characteristic of the bourgeoisie and their parties. In a sense, this is characteristic also of social democracy and the Third Way, that they say one thing and do another. The Third Way turns progress into reaction and vice versa, while social democracy keeps everything, all its good intentions, as policy objectives. In striving to turn its words into deeds and working that the independent programme of the working class itself – Stop Paying The Rich – Increase Investments In Social Programmes! – is not turned into a series of policy objectives, this is also a question of settling scores with the old conscience, of consolidating the Party on the new historic basis, so that in concrete practical steps the subjective conditions for revolution are prepared and the line of march to a new society is carried. In other words, the task of preparing the subjective conditions for revolution is one of taking into account the revolutionary class battles that will inevitably break out, the necessity to prepare for going on the offensive when the conditions for launching an assault exist, as well as the fact that such conditions may come into being soon rather than later.

(To be continued)

Article Index


Flu Crisis:

Government Can in No Way Claim to Be Meeting People’s Basic Health Care Needs

Statement of Workers’ Weekly Health Group, January 17, 2000

The flu crisis which has gripped several regions of the country since the end of last year has become a field for intense speculation in the media not just on the flu crisis but mainly on how the NHS is funded. It is a legitimate question to ask where all this is leading. The Labour government has clearly played up the claims that this is "a flu epidemic" to divert attention from the severe shortage of Intensive Care Beds, hospital beds, nursing staff and so on. But the situation is revealing that the crisis is not just a lack of cutting edge technology but the provision of basic health care for the people when they fall ill. On January 5, at some points in the day there was not a single intensive care bed in the country. Nursing and other health staff have been stretching themselves to the limit to cover the hospitals and community, including working 24-hour shifts. Wards full of very ill people have been staffed at dangerously low levels, or by nurses without appropriate specialist experience. Health managers and staff have been put in a position of either caring for people under conditions they know to be medically unsafe, or turning them away with nowhere else able to take them.

As the conflict between government-speak and reality grows sharper ("There is no crisis"; "The NHS is coping well with the pressures"), the question of New Labour’s fitness to govern must be raised. The government’s agenda is not to address the causes of the regular winter crises. Indeed, a report by a senior Department of Health economist calling for a significant increase in emergency beds and investment in the NHS has been held back from publication. Rather, Labour's Health Ministers have used the crisis to push home the Labour government’s anti-social agenda towards the NHS, crying crocodile tears that it cannot keep pace with all the high technical developments in health care and so on without "creating a sustainable economy". Instead of gearing the economy to meet the needs of the people, this agenda of the government, this "Third Way", is an agenda of further charges to patients, more PFI hospitals, further private health insurance and more taxation. In this agenda it is the people who bear the brunt of the anti-social offensive in health care, whilst the economy is further geared to paying the rich.

Facts show that what the country is experiencing is not a flu epidemic. The flu outbreak this year is slightly worse than last year and is expected to show 200 cases per 100,000 as against the beginning of January 1999 when 185 cases per 100,000 were reported. But for it to have officially reached epidemic proportions it will have to reach 400 cases per 100,000 according to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) who monitor flu outbreaks. It is also reported that according to criteria from the Public Health Laboratory Service the outbreak is designated to be at "higher than expected seasonal activity". Also, the outbreaks have remained localised hitting many but not all areas of the country. The government has claimed that the crisis is worse than the figures show because people have been contacting NHS Direct without going to their GP. But the setting up of NHS Direct is not investing in health care for the future. It has not created one more bed, or trained one more nurse or doctor. What is more significant is that Health Authorities and Trusts do not have the beds and nursing staff to cope with even this modest rise in bed occupancy and have been cancelling operations and turning people away because of it. In Britain, since 1960 the number of hospital beds has been reduced from 550,000 to 194,000 in 1999, with nearly 60,000 beds being cut since 1995.

Even more telling is the government's planning for the NHS, because with bed occupancy running so high there is no room for any planned increases. Recent research shows that hospitals will risk periodic bed crises if their occupancy is run at anything over 90%. Many hospitals are now planned to run at 95% capacity, compared with 75% 20 years ago. The flu outbreaks are predictable outbreaks which government was supposed to have planned for when it made available an insignificant sum of £250 million for the "winter pressures", which was incidentally less "investment" than the previous year. At the same time, the government’s future plans have nothing to do with dealing with the crisis. Dr Simon Fradd, Deputy Chairman of the BMA GP Committee, is reported as saying that the "introduction of Primary Health Care Groups is unlikely to have any great effect at all. Having pared back the NHS resources to the bone there is not now sufficient total capacity in terms of hospital beds to deal with even a predictable increase in demand, such as an outbreak of flu."

The issue for doctors and other health care workers as well as the working class and people is whose agenda is being implemented. New Labour is not shouldering society’s responsibility to make sure that a modern health service meets what people actually need. The people want a solution that meets the needs of the people for health care in the 21st century. Workers’ Weekly Health Group strongly believes that all health workers and the working class and people must take up and organise around their own agenda for a health service that fully meets the health needs of the people at the highest level without discrimination. This agenda recognises the responsibility of society towards all its members and makes proper investments to cater for all such emergencies as the present flu crisis, as well as epidemics and other health crises. This question is not negotiable, no amount of government excuses and trade-offs against the interests of a "sustainable economy" which benefits big business and city financiers can justify the present situation where the health care needs of the people are not being met in full. It is an inviolable right for the people to receive all their health care needs in the modern age, and the society and the economy should be geared to meeting those needs.

Article Index


News Commentary:

Nurses’ Pay Rise Divisive and Not Funded.

It has just been announced that the government is to offer 3.4% to nurses and professions allied to medicine (PAMs) for the financial year beginning April 2000. The top increment of E grade staff nurses and top increment of C grades as well the top of senior grade PAMs will have an extra amount which has been presented as a 7.8% rise. At the same time, all other grades of health staff, such as domestics, porters and administrative staff who are not covered by the pay review body, have yet to receive a rise for the year beginning April 1999. They have just been offered a three-year deal of 3% for last year and 3.25% this year, which amounts to an even lower rise.

Speaking to WDIE on the announcement, a hospital nurse pointed out: "Causing divisions over pay seems to be the stock in trade of the present government with different pay rises between the grades of nurses and PAMs and between nurses and other health workers. The offer to nurses and PAMs has immediately caused much anger because nurses fully understand that the delivery of health care is dependent on the whole health team." She continued, "The government portray this as an 'inflation busting' rise that will help keep nurses within health service, but low pay is not the main reason for nurses leaving. It is the day to day struggle of trying to provide health care with ever decreasing resources. The pay rise is not funded fully by government and health trusts will have to fund the rises by cutting resources and jobs, increasing the pressures and in fact causing more nurses to give up their careers," she said.

"The government has made a big show of extra funding for the NHS but hidden in this is the fact that each NHS Trust has each year to make a 3% ‘cost improvement’." The nurse pointed out to WDIE that the pay offer is not funded by the government and that this would mean that it would be funded at a further cost in jobs and resources in the NHS.

"As we move into the 21st century, how come a country as rich as ours is not increasing investments in health and education?" she asked in conclusion.

Article Index


Letter to the Editor

Congratulations!

Congratulations on the Workers’ Daily Internet Edition. This is a major step forward in providing day to day analysis of the objective situation and the workers’ movement in Britain as well as abroad. Congratulations to all the hard working comrades who make this advancement possible.

Editor’s Reply: We thank the reader for her congratulations. These are due in the first instance to the whole Party as a collective, which is advancing together on the road the 3rd Congress opened up, as well as all the comrades who by their hard work and dedication have built and given the Party life since its founding, as well as the experience of the communist and workers’ movement nationally and internationally which the Party has taken account of. The commitment of all the comrades to consolidating RCPB(ML) on the new historical basis is what will ensure that the Party’s newspaper continues to advance, and we encourage all our readers to contribute to this historic challenge the Party has taken up.

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