International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
Extraordinary Teleconference, December 10-11, 2021
Address by Robert Griffiths – General Secretary Communist Party of Britain
Following the overthrow of the socialist systems in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the general crisis of capitalism was masked for almost two decades by neoliberal ‘turbo-capitalism’ and imperialist expansion.
Now, that general crisis has reasserted itself with a vengeance.
First, financialisation paved the way to the international financial breakdown and economic recession in the developed capitalist world. People’s China, on the other hand, survived these events with little economic damage and no recourse to the austerity policies imposed on the working class and peoples of Britain, Western Europe and North America.
Secondly, global warming and climate change have emerged as a critical dimension of the general crisis, reflecting contradictions in the capitalist mode of production that may well prove to be insoluble.
Significantly, the 15th Report of the UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that the devastating consequences of global warming will only be avoided by what it called ‘rapid and far-reaching transitions … on an unprecedented scale’ in industry, transport, energy, construction and land use. The panel proposed a raft of radical measures that would require extensive state intervention against capitalist market forces.
The recent UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow indicated that the capitalist states and monopoly corporations are not yet prepared to embrace many such measures.
The COVID-19 pandemic provides further evidence that capitalism in its general crisis is unwilling or unable to meet even the basic needs of humanity on the scale required.
After more than 5m deaths and 270m infections, we are now in the fourth wave of the pandemic, yet most capitalist states continue to give priority to the interests of the capitalist monopolies when it comes to combatting the impact of COVID.
In Britain – still one of the biggest and wealthiest capitalist economies – we have a higher death rate from COVID than most developing countries and the third highest in Western Europe. Our National Health Service is slowly being dismantled by privatisation and government under-investment in staff and facilities.
Instead of commandeering all necessary private sector facilities to produce medical equipment, vaccines and antidotes at cost, governments in Britain, Western Europe and the US have subsidised the pharmaceutical giants such as Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZenica to make profits at rates of more than 36%.
Instead of ensuring the availability of medical supplies and vaccines to all who need them across the world, the Western powers have put the corporate interests of their own economies first.
Incidentally – and it may not be a coincidence – of the 20 states with the highest COVID death rates in the world, 13 are former socialist countries in Europe and the Soviet Union.
People’s China, as we might expect, has the lowest death rate in the world, except only for Western Sahara.
China’s performance in such fields as the economy and public health stand in sharp contrast to the record in Britain, the USA, France and most developing countries.
The Western powers see China not only as an economic rival; they also understand that it poses an ideological and political alternative to state-monopoly capitalism and imperialism as well.
That is why US representatives demanded China’s exclusion from the WTO in July 2018, on the grounds that its economic and political system was incompatible with capitalist ‘free market’ principles.
They pointed to Chinese state ownership in the banking, energy, telecomms, transport, health and education sectors; to social ownership of land; to centralised economic planning, controls over capital, Communist Party rule and statutory party organisation in private sector workplaces as proof of China’s socialist character.
It is also the case that most Chinese transnational corporations are in state ownership or under state control.
The danger today is that US, British and NATO hostility is taking the form of a new Cold War against China, complete with the ideological and military dimensions that featured in the first imperialist Cold War aimed primarily at the former Soviet Union.
Britain’s Conservative central government is playing a leading role in this second Cold War, backed fully by the new right-wing leadership of the Labour Party.
Britain’s armed forces have been playing a major role in the provocations staged by Western powers in the South China Sea and on the borders with Russia. Britain’s arsenal of nuclear warheads is set to expand by around 40%. The new US-UK-Australia military pact escalates the danger of conflict with China.
Comrades, we cannot be neutral in this new Cold War. The Communist Party of Britain stands with peace and socialism against war-mongering and imperialism.
We also condemn the decision by England’s High Court on December 9 to allow the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States for exposing the war crimes of US imperialism.
Our 56th party congress last month committed our growing membership – up by 63% – to renewing the peace movement and promoting the work of the World Peace Council.
We called upon all countries to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
We reaffirmed our solidarity with the peoples of Cuba, Vietnam, Venezuela, Sudan and Cyprus, and with the Palestinian people in the ongoing struggle for their own sovereign state alongside Israel, based on the pre-1967 borders, with Palestine’s capital in East Jerusalem.
Our domestic priority remains to bring down Britain’s Conservative government at the earliest opportunity, winning the labour movement to a left-wing programme, rebalancing the economy through planning and public ownership, enhancing public services, repealing anti-democratic, anti-trade union and racist laws and reviving local government in a federal Britain, with real economic powers for Scotland, Wales and the English regions.
Then we will see the full benefits of being outside the entrenched pro-monopoly capital, pro-market treaties and institutions of the European Union.
We also rededicated our party to the principles of Marxism-Leninism and to do all that we can to strengthen the unity of the international Communist movement – a movement which the world’s peoples need as much as ever in a world of capitalist exploitation, social oppression, environmental degradation, imperialist aggression and war.