Looking ahead – Political report by general secretary Robert Griffiths

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Communist Party Executive Committee

January 15 2022


In the current 2020 edition of our party’s programme, Britain’s Road to Socialism (2020), we included a new section on the General Crisis of Capitalism, noting that the long post-World War Two economic expansion in the West had come to an end. 

The programme points out that the world’s major capitalist powers and their international agencies are unable or unwilling to control the ‘immense anarchic, parasitical, anti-social financial forces unleashed by capitalist globalisation’. All attempts to construct a new international financial and economic settlement have failed. The insoluble contradictions of capitalist production have combined with – and been aggravated by – the contradictions of financialised capitalism. ‘Together’, the programme contends, ‘they constitute the permanent structural crisis in the economic base of capitalist society’.

Britain’s Road to Socialism goes on to show how capitalism’s structural economic crisis has also produced a structural crisis of distribution on a world scale. Significantly, the programme then argues that another dimension of capitalism’s general crisis has come to the fore in recent decades, one which threatens the very future of humanity, namely the combined environmental and energy crisis: global warming and climate change, caused by capitalism’s ‘rapacious short-term drive to maximise monopoly profit’.

There are other dimensions of general crisis which arise on this material basis: social oppression and inequality, cultural domination and degeneration and – reflecting and reinforcing all these aspects – political crisis. In the major imperialist countries, the ruling class finds it increasingly difficult to rule in the old ways, although the working class has yet to understand the need to fight for state power in order to rule in a new way and construct the socialist alternative to capitalism. 

British state-monopoly capitalism is emerging as a prime example of this General Crisis.

As the resolutions of our 56th Communist Party Congress explain, the deep structural weaknesses and contradictions of the British economy are proving difficult if not impossible to resolve: our unbalanced economy, the domination of finance capital in the City of London, the balance of payments dependence on income from British imperialist investments abroad, chronic under-investment in the productive economy domestically – except for a dangerous reliance on armaments production and foreign capital – and the long-term under-investment in new technology, research & development, labour skills and education.

The main domestic resolution outlines the extent of Britain’s historical and present-day contribution to carbon emissions and what should be the immediate and longer-term demands around which mass campaigning can be built.

Britain’s social crisis is reflected in the reversal of progress on every front in the struggle against social inequality, whether in the battles against child poverty and the gender pay gap, or in the fight to save the NHS (when six million people are now waiting for operations) and overcome the chronic housing crisis in all its manifestations.

The two increases in household fuel bills last year pushed an extra half a million households into fuel poverty. The increases due in April this year are estimated to plunge an additional one and a half million households into fuel poverty, to make a total of six million.

Yet the Big Five energy retailers are making big profits, some of them as gas producers as well. For example, British Gas more than doubled its profit in the first six months of 2021, helping parent company Centrica to offset the losses when 7,000 engineers took industrial action to defeat the company’s ‘fire and rehire’ plans.

The Communist Party calls for an immediate and tighter cap on gas and electricity charges, a windfall tax on energy sector monopoly profits and the permanent abolition of VAT on household fuel – a measure only made possible by Brexit. But, unlike the Labour Party under new management, we also insist that only public ownership will end the profiteering market anarchy that has seen 50 suppliers go out of business since 2018 – half of them since last November – compelling the state to step in and rescue millions of consumers at a cost to the public purse of £2 billion.     

Certainly, British state-monopoly capitalism is in a political crisis that runs much deeper than Boris Johnson’s tenure in Ten Downing Street. Divisions within the Conservative Party over EU membership; the determination of 17.4 million voters to defy ruling-class scaremongering and support Brexit; the temporary turn to the left by the Labour Party on the basis of mass campaigning against imperialist war and austerity; further Tory divisions over future relations with the EU; and then the deadly failure of the Conservative government and the state system to protect the public against the onset and impact of the Covid pandemic – while protecting the profits of big business – had already destabilised bourgeois politics in Britain, even before Boris Johnson turned Number Ten into the equivalent of an American speakeasy during Prohibition.

Of course, Johnson is unfit by any measure to be Prime Minister. But what many millions of people need more than anything is a change of government, policy and direction. They need a government that will challenge monopoly power, not subsidise it and protect it with a battery of new laws designed to increase the rights of the police, the courts and the intelligence services and decrease our hard-won rights to dissent and demonstrate.

Talking of which, we should do more to oppose the threatened extradition of Julian Assange to face trumped up – literally – charges before a kangaroo court in the USA and to demand his immediate release after almost three years of imprisonment without trial.  

Britain’s political crisis also includes the threatened secession of Scotland and the break-up of the union. The Communist Party has long argued for federalism as the only means by which working-class and progressive unity can be retained in the struggle to transfer wealth and power from the monopoly capitalist class to the working class and peoples of the whole of Britain. 

Scotland breaking away will leave all of that wealth and much of that power behind in England, shattering the organic unity of the labour movement for the mirage of ‘independence’ under the thumbs of the EU, NATO, the English Treasury and the Bank of England. 

Which brings me to the international dimension of British state-monopoly capitalism’s general crisis, namely, the crisis of British imperialism’s alliances and their implications for peace. 

There is no settlement yet of Britain’s future economic and political relations with the EU, within which the dominant state-monopoly capitalisms of Germany and France struggle for supremacy while also seeking to maintain dominance over other member states in turmoil.

British imperialism’s main ally, the USA, has itself been in growing political crisis since the 1990s if not earlier, with presidents taking office despite losing the popular vote and more than one-third of potential electors choosing not to vote for anyone.

Again, the ruling class is finding it ever more difficult to rule in the old way, while the only new way to emerge recently through Donald Trump has worsened the instability instead of reducing it. 

As global economic, political and military hegemony tilts away from the US and its major allies and towards the People’s Republic of China, imperialism’s desperate rearguard action has taken the form of a new Cold War. Dangerously, this has a military dimension as well as economic and political ones.

The US-UK-Australia pact is an aggressive escalation of military intervention in the Asia-Pacific region and, in particular, in the South China Sea. The new military pact between Australia and Japan does likewise. France wants to strengthen the military dimension of the EU beyond the reach of US domination, with or without some form of British collaboration.

Britain’s specific, individual contribution to this Second Cold War is to be a 40% expansion in its stock of nuclear weapons.

Comrades, this is international and national context in which this new Executive Committee of our Communist Party meets this weekend.

Our 56th Congress set the perspectives and priorities for our work over the coming two years, with an emphasis on building solidarity and unity between campaigning bodies in a popular, democratic anti-monopolies alliance. The main political resolutions are before you, and I urge you endorse them in general during our review of the Congress tomorrow, with any unresolved contentious matters to go to the Political Committee for a final decision before publication.

The March EC will have the usual strategy document – ‘What Is To Be Done’ – for discussion and amendment, prepared by the PC and setting out the concrete tasks and organisational steps that need to be undertaken.

In the meantime, the key campaigning issues are clear. This EC, our trade union advisories and policy Commissions, our Party branches, districts and nations have to:

Promote green jobs and the New Deal for Workers.

Work with unions to organise and mobilise precarious, low-paid and young workers and the unemployed. 

Oppose the new austerity and strengthen the People’s Assembly at every level.

Campaign against carbon emissions, for environmental security.

Launch a campaign against energy price rises and for public ownership.

Defend women’s rights, promote the Charter for Women and build the National Assembly of Women.

Promote a new initiative against racist immigration and nationality laws.

Defend and rebuild the NHS.

Highlight Britain’s housing crisis and the policies to resolve it.

Win the labour movement to support Progressive Federalism.

Oppose the new Cold War and strengthen the peace movement and the British Peace Assembly. 

Wherever possible, we should promote the Morning Star and work closely with the YCL.  

Most urgently, we must take advantage of the May 5 local elections to stand candidates and run campaigns showing the real political alternative to state-monopoly capitalist policies and rehashed New Labourism. CP branches, districts and nations should begin identifying possible candidates and campaigns now, if they have not already done so.

The Communist Party must continue to grow in numbers and influence if we are to play a significant role in the fightback. Political education and campaigning activity are the keys to turning new recruits into revolutionary cadres. Party district and nation congresses later this year will be an important opportunity to strengthen our work and organisation at these vitally important levels.

Guiding, supporting and reinforcing our party’s advance is the supreme responsibility of this Executive Committee. It will require dedication, comradeship, discussion, discipline, self-discipline and – when the chips are down – unity. Our members have elected us to show leadership, which we must do in deeds as well as words, setting a personal example whenever possible.

Long live the Communist Party!

Long live Marxism-Leninism!

Long live the international Communist movement!