Liz Payne, women's organiser of the communist party is in Lebanon this weekend to attend an International gathering of communist and worker's parties. Read Liz's speech here.
Dear Comrades - Let me begin by conveying the greetings of the Communist Party of Britain to the 14th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties and our sincere thanks to the Lebanese Communist Party for facilitating and hosting our deliberations here in Beirut. The Communist Party of Britain is sure that the discussions at this meeting will provide new insights and inspiration to strengthen our solidarity and our struggle against imperialist aggression and for a democratic, just and socialist future.
Since we met in Athens, capitalism has continued to wreak havoc and devastation across the world. The United States and leading imperialist nations remain, as ever, dangerously determined to enforce their global hegemony, extend their monopoly dominance over the world’s supplies of oil and gas and over markets old and new, exploit new reserves of labour and shift the burden of the continuing systemic economic crisis of capitalism onto working people everywhere. In line with strategic decisions made at its summit in Chicago in spring 2012, NATO’s new ‘defence strategies’ are drawing more and more countries into a shared security agenda. This is serving to enrich the military industrial complexes of the developed world, mitigate emerging inter-capitalist rivalries, deeply embed reactionary ideologies and erect barriers to progressive movements.
Since our 13th International Meeting, we have seen a further dangerous escalation, war in Syria, the provocation of Iran’s reactionary regime and imposition of human suffering on an unprecedented scale. The laying waste of Libya and imposition of regime change there was an intervention proto-type for Syria. Having manipulated genuine and popular democratic demands raised in Syria, the US and its allies are stoking up sectarian violence to divide the country, the aim – a civil war to render Syria neutral in any conflict with Iran. In its quest to secure military, economic and political hegemony in the region, imperialism is now focussing on Iran. Its intention to isolate the regime is masked by spurious ‘concern’ and scaremongering about Iran’s nuclear potential but, try as imperialism may it has been unable to demonstrate that Iran has violated any international treaty or obligation. Iran has neither nuclear weapons nor the means to deliver them. The Communist Party of Britain condemns imperialism’s drive towards a catastrophic conflict in the region, one with potential to ignite a global war. Comrades – The Communist Party of Britain has a crucial role to play in exposing and challenging its ruling class. In a recent visit to the region, the British prime minister set out the true interests of British state-monopoly capitalism – the unashamed pursuit of massive military contracts, the attraction of multi-billion investments for the City of London, further provocation of Iran and endorsement of the belligerent policies of the Israeli government.
The Communist Party of Britain condemns the British government for its role in strengthening the most reactionary forces currently governing Israel - supporting their continuing inhuman, racist and terroristic assaults on the Palestinian people, for supplying them with military and security technologies and for endorsing and promoting Israel’s position as the region’s only nuclear power. Imperialism’s failure to support United Nations’ resolutions and confront Israel over Palestinian statehood has exposed its fundamental reliance on Israel as its long-term regional base. Israel’s current assault on the people of Gaza has again exposed the viciousness of those who rule Israel and their bellicose designs and we unequivocally condemn it.
Comrades - Widespread struggles and uprisings across the Middle East in 2011 against anti-popular, oppressive and anti-democratic rule – in Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Libya and Syria - were sparked by acute impoverishment, itself intensified by the global economic crisis. In Tunisia and Egypt these movements were able to topple corrupt, pro-imperialist and dictatorial regimes, opening the possibility of achieving radical and progressive change for all these countries. This struggle continues and must have our support.
From the outset, the US, NATO and their regional allies have stopped short of nothing in their attempt to control, manipulate and derail these movements in the interests of imperialism and against the deep-rooted aspirations of the peoples of the Middle East to live in free, democratic and prosperous countries. Authoritarian regimes – notably those of Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Bahrain continue to play a central role providing imperialism with military bases, servicing military operations and quelling the voices of their peoples for democracy and justice. Set against the struggles of popular and progressive movements are the forces of reactionary sectarianism, especially those rooted in Islamic fundamentalism and political Islam. As with Iran, the US and its allies will play them to the full.
The Communist Party of Britain condemns every threat of intervention, every whisper of aggression and every act of war throughout the Middle East. We assert that it is the peoples of the region, and only they, who have the right to determine the future of their countries. In solidarity with the peoples of the region, we must build the broadest possible support for progressive movements and organisations campaigning for peace, justice, democracy and human rights, including progressive and democratic women’s organisations.
Comrades - In dealing with its continuing deep, systemic economic crisis, imperialism is imposing austerity on its peoples, making them pay through ever-deepening cuts to jobs, wages, benefits, services and living standards. But while the people are burdened with poverty, massive acquisition of wealth is taking place - through the privatisation of public services and their placement in the hands of ever-growing monopoly cartels and multi-nationals.
Throughout the world, women are bearing the heaviest burden of the economic crisis. Their lot is super-exploitation on a massive scale – drudgery, impoverishment, exclusion, isolation, violence and misery. In Britain too women are disproportionately affected. They are the primary victims of privatisation and the cuts. They will pay for the majority of cuts in public spending through job loss, wage cuts, withdrawal of benefits and the removal of vital caring services. Communists in Britain are doing everything they can to raise awareness in the labour movement of the class nature of women’s exploitation and the imperative of drawing women into struggle for a just and fairer future. We are supporting the National Assembly of Women and, through it, the Women’s International Democratic Federation in their pursuit of justice and freedom from oppression and exploitation for women everywhere.
In the European Union we see unresolved crisis and the face of monopoly capitalism unmasked. Unemployment has reached 18 million and is growing. Dearly won collective bargaining rights are denied. Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain are facing economic contraction on a scale not seen before in peace time. This is not from mismanagement, which adjustments and fine-tuning can amend. The causes are inherent in the EU’s very being, in the concentration of monopoly ownership and denial of economic democracy - the right of working people to use their national democratic institutions to counteract and challenge the monopolies’ economic power. Communists in Britain do not believe the EU can be reformed.
Communists, trade unionists and progressive people must oppose both chauvinism and economic imperialism’s fraudulent internationalism. New forms of cooperation are needed and Communists must show the way.
In Britain Communists must continue to struggle against the EU policies of their government. These do not articulate the demands of British people but rather those of the City of London’s banks - most of them US ones. They have one aim - to defend control of EU financial markets by British and American interests and this in the face of French and German finance capital’s drive to impose fiscal and banking union, impose their own authority and control. Comrades, inter-imperialist rivalries remain – exactly as Lenin forecast. We must understand them and exploit them to the full.
In Britain the ruling class is amongst the wealthiest in the world. The richest 1000 of our 62 million people own £414 billion between them. Monopoly finance capital is stashed away in secret bank accounts and offshore havens by the trillion. But there is an alternative and we must put it forward. Communists in Britain will seek to champion economic democracy and popular sovereignty expressing working people’s needs.
Comrades – The struggle continues. Imperialist aggression is intensifying but it is more and more exposed for what it is. People in every country dominated by dictatorship, threatened by sanctions and war and crushed by austerity are extending and deepening the struggle, drawing in new forces in their millions and challenging their ruling classes. In Britain, trade unionists, women, youth and students, intellectuals, peace activists and community campaigners are taking up the fight. Communists must move this struggle from economic to political challenge. We must to work for the broadening of democracy, so laying the firm basis of a winnable, just and socialist alternative.
Down with imperialist aggression and devastation!
Long live international solidarity!
Long live peace and socialism!