The above seminar was held near Brussels, Belgium, on the above dates. Fifty-two communist and workers’ parties from 43 countries participated in its deliberations. The CPGB-ML was represented by Harpal Brar and Ella Rule. After considerable discussion, General Conclusions on the seminar theme were agreed upon and have been signed by the majority of the parties that participated in the seminar. The delegates also passed resolutions expressing solidarity with Cuba, on the developments in Latin America, on the attacks on democratic rights in the European Union and on the war in Syria.
The fourth paragraph of the resolution on Syria read: ” We … support the absolute right of the Syrian people, who suffer from subversive attacks and terrorist actions supported by imperialism and the reactionary regimes of the region, to determine their political path and leadership without any foreign interference. We declare complete and unreserved solidarity with the people of Syria .” The CPGB-ML proposed an amendment to add at the end of this resolution the words “led by the Ba’athist regime of Bashar al-Assad“, but this amendment was not accepted. The reports, resolutions and general conclusions of this seminar can be accessed at its website www.icseminar.org.
Harpal Brar made a presentation on behalf of the CPGB-ML which is as follows:
On behalf of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), I express my sincere thanks to the organisers of the Seminar, the PTB, for inviting us to present our views to this important gathering. I would also like to thank the interpreters for their hard work and the kitchen staff who have served us tirelessly during the past 3 days. While greeting the delegates assembled here on behalf of my Party, I wish the Seminar great success.
Dear comrades, we are in the midst of the deepest crisis of capitalism since the late 1920s. Like all capitalist crises, this is a crisis of overproduction, notwithstanding the fact that it had made itself most forcefully felt in the financial sphere. This is to be expected since the feverish speculation in stock markets, bonds, derivatives etc is merely a reflection of the lack of profitable opportunities in the productive sphere.
After the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank in the US, there was a near meltdown of the imperialist financial system, with large banks in all the centres of imperialism staring bankruptcy in the face. To save the financial system, imperialist governments poured gargantuan sums of money into rescuing the banks. But while this temporarily staved off ruin for those establishments, it failed to cure the problem, merely transforming the banking crisis into a sovereign debt crisis, so that now many governments are facing bankruptcy.
As a result, various governments have been forced to resort to extreme measures of fiscal austerity, attacking working-class living standards through a combination of cuts in social spending, job losses and tax rises. The entire exercise is an attempt to save capitalism by transferring hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth from the working class to the robber barons of finance capital. Even the most dim-witted among the working class are beginning to sense what a total racket monopoly capitalism is.
While the banks have apparently returned to profitability, they are now refusing to loan money to some of the governments that are in trouble (except on extortionate terms) on the grounds of the shaky creditworthiness of these governments. And on top of this, the austerity measures that have been implemented, far from reducing sovereign budget deficits, are merely serving to exacerbate the problem, since they have inevitably resulted in high unemployment, with its consequent loss of tax revenues and increase in unemployment payments.
There is a debate going on between the Keynesian and the monetarist factions of monopoly capitalism, with the former calling for growth and the latter for continuing austerity. But the truth is that none of these factions has any solutions to the problem inherent in capitalism, namely, the crises of overproduction, which is a consequence of the contradiction between social productive forces and private appropriation.
In fact, capitalism today finds itself in the same dilemma as the person in the famous Chinese fable, who was dying of thirst but the only drink he had to hand was a cup full of poison. He died if he drank it; he died if he didn’t.
Faced with this dilemma, each imperialist country is doing what it has always done when faced with similar situations in the past – it is intensifying its attacks on the working class at home and on the oppressed peoples abroad, while trying to outmanoeuvre its rivals and competitors. This is leading to the intensification of the contradiction between labour and capital in the imperialist countries, between a tiny group of imperialist exploiting nations and the vast masses of the oppressed countries on a world scale, and between the various competing imperialist powers.
Confining myself to the situation in Britain, dear comrades, there is a rising tide of anger among layers of the working class. However, the resistance of the working class to attacks on it has so far been muted because of the suffocating grip of social democracy on the working class through the trade-union leadership.
It is just the same in the anti-war movement, which is controlled, through their agents, by the same people who are attacking working people at home and waging war on oppressed peoples abroad.
Through its own ‘left-wing’ luminaries, as well as through its Trotskyite and revisionist servitors, the Labour party – the same party that waged wars against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan while in power and continues to support imperialist wars in opposition – controls the anti-war movement. It is not therefore surprising that this movement has been run into the ground and, from being able to mobilise 2 million people to demonstrate against the war in Iraq, can now mobilise no more than a few hundred.
And yet the Trotskyites and revisionists want workers to believe that the Labour party is the party of the working class and can be used as an instrument for ushering in socialism in Britain!
We, on the other hand, are firmly of the view that the Labour Party, right from its inception, has been, now is, and shall always remain, a bloodthirsty party of imperialism, which attacks working people at home and wages wars on oppressed peoples abroad. It is a conduit for purveying bourgeois ideology in the working-class movement. Our Party continues to insist that the working class, if it is to come within striking distance of its real enemies, must get rid of all illusions in the Labour Party.
Further, our Party is of the view that it is equally important to fight against the opportunists of the revisionist and Trotskyist variety who, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, continue to foster illusions in this party of imperialism. We continue to insist, with Lenin: “That the fight against imperialism is a sham and a fraud unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism” ( Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism).
At a time when the opportunist leadership of the anti-war movement in Britain – composed of ‘left’ social democrats, revisionists and Trotskyists – is doing its best to support, albeit slyly and surreptitiously, imperialist predatory wars against the oppressed people, our Party takes to the anti-war movement the message of solidarity with the victims of aggression by our own bourgeoisie, for we are convinced that: ” the revolutionary movement in the advanced countries would actually be a sheer fraud if, in their struggle against capital, the workers of Europe and America were not closely and completely united with hundreds upon hundreds of millions of ‘colonial’ slaves who are oppressed by capital” (V I Lenin, Second Congress of the Communist International, 1920). In this context, it is so very important to support countries such as the DPRK, which are under constant threat of war by imperialism and which at great cost confront US imperialism every day on the world’s most militarised border.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the east European socialist countries, the imperialist bourgeoisie was triumphalist, claiming that Marxism Leninism was dead. The present crisis has been a rude shock to it, demonstrating as it does that the case for socialism has never been greater. Capitalism, far from being eternal, is decadent, parasitic and moribund; it is the chief obstacle to the forward progress of humanity and is the cause of the misery of the overwhelming majority.
Our party is doing its best to bring ideological and theoretical clarity into the working-class movement. We are doing our best to build a proper Communist Party capable of connecting itself with the broad masses of the working class and leading it in its struggle for socialism through the overthrow of capitalism.
The working-class movement in Europe has gone through a period of several decades during which there was almost no resistance to capitalism. This state of affairs came about through a combination of the prosperity created by the special conditions that followed the second world war and the degeneration and demoralisation brought to our movement by Khrushchevite revisionism. As a result, the working-class movement appeared to have reached a permanent dead end.
However, as Marx once observed, “In developments of [great] magnitude, twenty years are no more than a day, though later on days may come again in which twenty years are embodied.”
Looking at the unfolding crisis of imperialism, we would not be surprised if, in the not-too-distant future, we are witness to days in which four decades are embodied.
The defeat of the imperialist predatory wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rising tide of militancy among the European working class are proof enough of this assertion.
Comrades, ours is a very small party and we do not claim to be the movers and shakers of the working-class movement in Britain. We are doing our very best to develop our party and connect it with the working class. We are having a fair amount of success; however, we have a long way to go. All the same, it is our assertion that we are the only party in Britain calling itself communist, which, while firmly adhering to the tenets of Marxism-Leninism and refusing to be diverted by the latest political fashion and allurements of easy success through adopting opportunist stances, is growing and attracting young and serious workers. In the not too distance future, we hope to reach the position that was occupied in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s by the the old Comunist Party of Great Britain.
There are half a dozen parties in this conference hall which have achieved commendable electoral support in their respective countries. We congratulate these parties and are envious of their successes. I hasten to add, however, that it is important to remember that elections under the conditions of capitalism, as Engels pointed out a long while ago, are an instrument of rule of the bourgeoisie. These elections have a momentum of their own and induce a tendency in the working-class parties taking part in them to compromise on principle for the sake of securing the votes of the electors who generally, especially at the present time, stand to the right of the communist parties. For instance, there is a temptation not to refer to the achievements of socialist construction in the USSR and to avoid mentioning the name of the person, Joseph Stalin, under whose leadership these earth-shaking developments took place.
I conclude my remarks by saying that communist parties all over the world have a duty to cooperate with each other. There is an urgent need to build an inclusive international communist movement that does not resort to bans and exclusions to stifle debate, nor strive to perpetuate the schisms and sectarianism brought into the movement by Khrushchevite revisionism.
Long live Marxism-Leninism!
Long live Proletarian Internationalism!
Death to Imperialism!
The next, 23rd, International Communist Seminar is scheduled to be held from 13-15 June 2014.
With these words we conclude our report of the Seminar and once again thank the organising committee of the seminar for their warm and generous hospitality.