Communist Party of Great Britain
Towards a Communist Party of the EU  |  weeklyworker.co.uk

3. Immediate demands

Capitalism creates the necessity amongst workers to engage in constant struggle. Even without communist leadership class battles will occur, albeit at an elemental level.

However, to liberate themselves workers must fight for the positive resolution of all social contradictions, first and foremost by winning the battle for democracy.

3.1. Democracy

Under capitalism democracy exhibits two sides. There is mystification, whereby the masses are reconciled to their exploitation and fooled into imagining themselves to be the sovereign power in society. On the other hand, there is the struggle to give democratic forms a new, substantive, content. This can only be achieved by the working class taking the lead in the fight to ensure popular control over all aspects of society.

Hence, communists do not counterpose democracy to socialism. Democracy is much more than voting every four or five years. Democracy is the rule of the people, for the people, by the people. To make that aspiration real necessarily means removing all judicial, structural and socio-economic restraints on, or distortions of, popular control from below.

3.1.1. Winning the battle for democracy

Communists stand for republican democracy. That means demanding:

3.1.2. Freedom of information

Knowledge is power. The British bourgeois state has always shrouded its affairs in secrecy. Real class interests and imperialist plans and ambitions are thus kept from the eyes of the working class. Simultaneously there is a close relationship between the state and the owners and controllers of the mass media. The press, radio, TV and the internet are highly monopolised and not only serve as a means of generating huge profits, but constantly reinforce bourgeois values.

The working class needs openness in state, business, scientific and cultural matters, not least as a preparation for running its own state.

Communists therefore demand:

3.1.3. The national question

As a general rule communists do not want to see countries broken up into small nation-states. Ours is the revolutionary call for humanity to shed the flag-waving, imagined community of the nation-state.

Communists are the most consistent internationalists and unreservedly denounce any tactical pandering to, let alone attempts to exacerbate, national tensions.

Communists want a positive solution to the national question in the interests of the working class: that is, the merging of nations. That can only be achieved through democracy and the right of all to fully develop their own culture.

Where national questions exist, communists fight to secure the right of nations to self-determination. Historically constituted peoples should be able to freely decide their own destiny. They can separate if they so wish. Thereby they can also elect to come together or stay together with others.

3.1.4. England, Scotland and Wales

The British nation evolved from the gradual bonding of the English, Welsh and Scottish. Drawn together over centuries by common political and economic experience, they now in the main possess a common language, culture and psychology.

The birth of the British nation was a progressive development objectively. Nevertheless, because it was carried out under the aegis of a brutal absolutism it was accompanied by countless acts of violence and discrimination.

As post-boom British imperialism was forced to turn inwards, and in the absence of a viable proletarian alternative, resistance in Scotland and Wales often took a national form. A mythologised past was deployed by nationalists, opportunists and Labourites alike to serve their nefarious purposes.

Communists stand opposed to every form of Scottish and Welsh national narrow-mindedness. Equally we oppose every form of British/English national chauvinism. Ideas of exclusiveness or superiority, national oppression itself, obscure the fundamental antagonism between labour and capital, and divert attention from the need to unite against the common enemy - the British capitalist state.

While communists defend the right of Scotland and Wales to secede, we do not want separation. Communists want the closest union circumstances allow. The peoples of Scotland and Wales cannot decide their future democratically through the monarchy and the Westminster parliament of the House of Commons and House of Lords. That is why we stand for a federal republic of England, Scotland and Wales.

It is the proletarian-internationalist duty of communists in Scotland and Wales to defend the right of the Scots and Welsh to remain with and achieve an even higher degree of unity with the English. Correspondingly communists in England must be the best defenders of the right of Scotland and Wales to separate. That in no way contradicts the duty to advocate unity.

3.1.5. Ireland

Ireland is Britain’s oldest colony. In 1921 Ireland was dissected - a sectarian Six County statelet was created in order to permanently divide the Irish working class and perpetuate British domination over the whole island of Ireland.

We communists in Britain unconditionally support the right of the people of Ireland to reunite. Working class opposition to British imperialism in Ireland is a necessary condition for our own liberation - a nation that oppresses another can never itself be free. The struggle for socialism in Britain and national liberation in Ireland are closely linked.

Communists in Ireland likewise have internationalist duties. They must fight for the friendship between workers in Britain and Ireland and their speediest coming together. They must be resolute opponents of nationalism.

3.1.6. Europe

Communists oppose all programmes and demands for a British withdrawal from the European Union. By the same measure we oppose the EU of commissioners, corruption and capital. However, as the political, bureaucratic and economic elite has created the reality of a confederal EU, the working class should take it, not the narrow limits of the nation-state, as its decisive point of departure.

The constituent national parts of the EU exhibit a definite commonality due to geography, culture, history, economics and politics. Put another way, the EU is not an empire kept together by force. Nor is it just a trading bloc. Far from capitalism pushing through what is objectively necessary - the unity of Europe - on the contrary capitalism has held back European unification.

For the working class that necessitates organising at an EU level: campaigns, trade unions, cooperatives, for the levelling up of working conditions and wages across Europe to the best status quo currently in force, and the fight for extreme democracy.

Communists want not a quasi-democratic, confederal EU, but a united Europe under the rule of the working class.

Naturally, to the degree the working class extends its power over the EU it will exercise attraction for the oppressed peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Such a bloc would be able to face down all threats and quickly spread the flame of universal liberation.

British imperialism has an unparalleled history of war and aggression in virtually every corner of the world. Though British capitalism is no longer the power it once was, large, well equipped armed forces are maintained in order to serve its interests abroad and at home.

British capitalism is one of the world’s main weapons manufacturers and exporters. It has a vested interest in promoting militarism. Communists stress, however, that the struggle against the military-industrial complex cannot be separated from the struggle against the profit system as a whole.

Communists oppose all imperialist wars, military alliances and occupations. We also reject nuclear, biological and other such weapons of mass destruction as inherently inhuman.

Peace cannot come courtesy of bodies such as the United Nations - an assembly of exploiters and murderers. It is the duty of communists to connect the popular desire for peace with the aim of revolution. Only by disarming the bourgeoisie and through the victory of international socialism can the danger of war be eliminated.

Communists are not pacifists. Everywhere we support just wars, above all revolutionary civil wars for socialism. Communists will therefore strive to expose the war preparations of the bourgeoisie, the lies of social-imperialists and illusions fostered by social-pacifism.

3.2. Peace

British imperialism has an unparalleled history of war and aggression in virtually every corner of the world. Though no longer the power it once was, large, well equipped armed forces are maintained in order to serve the interests of British capitalism abroad and at home.

British capitalism is one of the world’s main weapons manufacturers and exporters. It has a vested interest in promoting militarism. Communists stress, however, that the struggle against the military-industrial complex cannot be separated from the struggle against the profit system as a whole.

Communists oppose all imperialist wars, military alliances and occupations. We also reject nuclear, biological and other such weapons of mass destruction as inherently inhuman.

Peace cannot come courtesy of bodies such as the United Nations - an assembly of exploiters and murderers. It is the duty of communists to connect the popular desire for peace with the aim of revolution. Only by disarming the bourgeoisie and through the victory of international socialism can the danger of war be eliminated.

Communists are not pacifists. Everywhere we support just wars, above all revolutionary civil wars for socialism. Communists will therefore strive to expose the war preparations of the bourgeoisie, the lies of social imperialists and illusions fostered by social pacifism.

3.3. Environment

Our aim is not only to put a stop to the destruction of nature and preserve what remains. For the sake of future generations we must restore and where possible enhance the riches of nature.

Against the destructive, wasteful and polluting logic of capital, communists present these immediate demands:

3.4. Working conditions and wage workers

Communists begin with what workers need, not what capitalism can afford.

Therefore communists demand:

3.5. Migrant workers and racism

Large numbers of workers who have come from other countries live in Britain. Migration is often the result of poverty, lack of opportunity, war or persecution.

Capital moves around the world without restriction. As a matter of principle communists are for the free movement of people and against all measures preventing them entering or leaving countries. Simultaneously, we seek to end poverty, lack of opportunity, war and persecution everywhere.

The bourgeoisie uses migrant workers, especially illegals, as worst paid labour. That is ensured through immigration laws and quotas, lack of security and police raids, detention centres and deportations.

The capitalist state in Britain now has an official ideology of anti-racism. Of course, racism still exists, as does the national chauvinist consensus which champions British imperialism’s interests against foreign rivals and sets worker against worker.

Migrant workers are not the problem. The capitalists who use them to increase competition between workers are. The reformist plea for non-racist immigration controls plays directly into the hands of our exploiters. It concedes the right of the state to bar workers from entering Britain.

It is in the interest of all workers that migrant workers and ethnic communities are integrated. Assimilation is progressive as long as if is not based upon force. In order to encourage integration and strengthen the unity of the working class, the following demands are put forward:

3.6. The unemployed

Unemployment is an integral feature of capitalism. In periods of crisis millions cannot be profitably employed and are discarded. At all times unemployment is capitalism’s principal tool for collectively disciplining the working class and maximising exploitation. Full employment, whether as a result of deliberate government policy - as in the post-war period - or in periods of exceptional economic boom, increases the confidence of workers and the strength of their organisations, leading to higher wages and improved conditions.

Permanent full employment is not compatible with the continuation of capitalism. The capitalist class and its state will therefore act to restore the reserve army of labour to counter the combativeness of the organised working class.

Maintained at below subsistence levels, the unemployed increasingly constitute a permanently marginalised section of the population. The only way to eradicate unemployment is to end the system that causes and requires it.

As part of the working class the unemployed must be integrated as fully as possible into the workers’ movement.

They must be made into a reserve army of the revolution by demanding:

3.7. Nationalisation

The historic task of the working class is to fully socialise the giant transnational corporations, and programmes for wholesale nationalisation can only succeed in breaking such corporations into inefficient national units. From the point of view of world revolution, programmes for wholesale nationalisation are today objectively reactionary. Our starting point is the most advanced achievements of capitalism. Globalised production needs global social control.

Communists oppose the illusion that nationalisation equates in some way with socialism. There is nothing inherently progressive or socialistic about nationalised industries.

However, specific acts of nationalisation can serve the interests of workers. We call for the nationalisation of the land, banks and financial services, along with basic infrastructure, such as public transport, electricity, gas and water supplies.

Faced with plans for closure, mass sackings and threats of capital flight communists demand:

3.8. Housing

Communists regard the provision of housing as a basic right.

Towards this end we demand:

3.9. Health

Communists demand a comprehensive, free and democratic health service to meets the needs of everyone.

Communists therefore present the following demands:

3.10. Trade unions

Trade unions limit competition between workers, thus securing a better price for labour-power. They represent a tremendous gain for the working class, drawing millions of workers into collective activity against employers.

Of course, left to itself, trade union consciousness is characterised by sectionalism. At best trade union consciousness attempts to constantly improve the lot of workers within capitalism. At worst trade union consciousness degenerates into business unionism and sacrificing the interests of workers for the sake of capitalist competitiveness and profitability.

Communists openly seek to make trade unions into schools for communism. They do this by always putting forward the general interest, by fighting for workers’ unity and by fully involving the rank and file in decision-making.

Bargaining is a specialist activity. Consequently the trade unions need a layer of functionaries. However, due to lack of democratic control and accountability these functionaries have consolidated themselves into a conservative caste.

The trade union bureaucracy is more concerned with amicable deals and preserving union funds than with the class struggle. Operating as an intermediary between labour and capital, it has a real, material interest in the continued existence of the wage system.

Within the trade unions communists fight against bureaucracy by demanding:

3.11. Councils of action

In any decisive clash of class against class, new forms of organisation which are higher, more general, more flexible than trade unions emerge. In Russia they have been called soviets, in Germany Räte, in Britain councils of action.

Embracing and coordinating all who are in struggle, such organisations have the potential to become institutions in the future workers’ state. Communists encourage any such development.

3.12. Militia

Communists are against the standing army and for the armed people. This principle will never be realised voluntarily by the capitalist state. It has to be won, in the first place by the working class developing its own militia.

Such a body grows out of the class struggle itself: defending picket lines, mass demonstrations, workplace occupations, fending off fascists, etc.

As the class struggle intensifies, conditions are created for the workers to arm themselves and win over sections of the military forces of the capitalist state. Every opportunity must be used to take even tentative steps towards this goal. As circumstances allow, the working class must equip itself with all weaponry necessary to bring about revolution.

To facilitate this we demand:

3.13. Women

Women are oppressed because of the system of exploitation and the division of labour. Women’s oppression has existed since the dawn of class society. Ending exploitation will mark the beginning of women’s emancipation. Therefore the struggle for both is interconnected.

Women’s emancipation is not a question for women alone. Just as the abolition of class exploitation is of concern to female workers, so the emancipation of women is of concern to male workers. The struggle for socialism and the emancipation of women cannot be separated.

Women carry the main burden of feeding babies, house management, supermarket buying, family cooking, child ferrying, etc, which is performed gratis. Given the ever increasing pressure on time, such work is often frantic, demoralising and allows no kind of rounded, cultural development.

Advanced capitalism has created the material prerequisites for the liberation of women. However, women cannot be fully emancipated until the disappearance of the division of labour and without going beyond bourgeois right, which entails: to each according to work done.

In Britain women have won or been granted formal equality with men. But the capitalist system makes a mockery of that. At work, at home, in trade unions, in official politics, in culture, in organised religion, women are still faced with inequality, discrimination or oppression.

There has been a rapid increase in women’s participation in the economy. As a norm therefore women are exploited by capital as cheap wage workers and domestic slaves. Hence they suffer a double burden.

Women have their own problems and demands. These demands, however, do not conflict with the demands of the working class: rather they reinforce them.

Communists say:

3.14. Youth and education

Youth are used as cheap labour, sexually policed and blamed for social decay. The system also exploits youth as consumers. Every ideal, every artistic talent is judged in terms of generating artificial needs. There are many who reject the twisted values of the system. But in despair this often turns to nihilism and escapism - themselves turned into commodities by capitalism.

Youth are at the sharp end of capitalist decline. Young workers are in general less likely to be protected by trade union membership. Homelessness, unemployment and sexual abuse are greatly disproportionate amongst the young.

The education system is a vitally important site of struggle. Secondary education is narrow, unimaginative and obsessively focused on targets and exams. Official schemes for unemployed youth are notoriously mediocre, designed more to massage government statistics than equip young workers with the skills they need for a worthwhile future.

Higher education is increasingly designed to suit the commercial interests of employers - university courses included. This sector churns out the next generation of skilled workers. Elite universities specialise in the reproduction of the upper-middle and ruling classes. Not surprisingly, here something like a proper education is on offer.

The following demands are of crucial importance for youth:

3.15. Pensioners and the elderly

People deserve a secure, dignified and comfortable old age. The needs of the elderly should be met fully by the state and be available by right. Old people must not suffer the humiliation and anxiety of relying on means tests or charity.

The aim of these demands is to mobilise the working class as a whole to fight for pensioners’ rights:

3.16. Sexual freedom

Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, etc have often been scapegoated or persecuted. They are portrayed as threats to timeless religious values, sexual norms and the nuclear family - the basic economic unit of capitalist society.

Bigoted attitudes divide the working class and aid those advocating the authoritarian state. The working class needs to be mobilised in order to defend and advance sexual freedom.

Communists demand:

3.17. Crime and prison

Crime can only be understood in relationship to society. In class society crime is a product of alienation, want or resistance. Under capitalism the criminal justice system is anti-working class, irrational and inhuman. Property is considered primary; the person merely a form of property.

Against this communists demand:

3.18. Religion

Unlike previous oppressed classes in history religion can play no progressive role for the working class in its struggle against today’s ruling class.

Nevertheless, though communists want to overcome all religious prejudices, we are the most consistent defenders of the individual’s freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.

Communists therefore demand:

3.19. Small businesses and farms

Small business people, including small farmers, form a petty bourgeois stratum in Britain. Carrying on an unstable, precarious existence, these people operate in subordination to monopoly capital.

The petty bourgeoisie works alone, alongside family members or with a few hired employees. A combination of the threat of bankruptcy and an aspiration to become big capitalists drives them to work and work: often longer hours and in worse conditions than many members of the working class.

Every downward oscillation of the capitalist economy confronts the petty bourgeoisie with financial ruin. While the destruction of this stratum is economically progressive, the working class has a political interest to defend the petty bourgeoisie from the abuses and manipulations of big capital and the banks, at the same time fighting to improve the working conditions, security of employment and living standards of wage workers in farming and small businesses.

Communists demand: