CPA 10th Congress 2005 – Successful and optimistic
by Peter Symon
General Secretary, Communist Party of Australia
A Congress is always an important event for a communist party and the CPA’s 10th Congress was no exception. Participants generally rated it as “successful”. There were a sizable number of new participants among the 60 or so elected delegates and most spoke in the open discussion periods.
Congress had before it a Political Resolution, the party’s updated Program and a small number of amendments to the party’s Constitution. All of these documents were adopted unanimously, following a long period of pre-Congress discussion.
It is the established custom of the CPA to present the documents in draft form to every member, with the invitation to party organisations to amend the documents. Every amendment is considered by a party organisation and well over half of the suggested amendments were adopted in the course of this process. No other party in Australia involves its membership in this way. It is grass-roots democracy in action.
By the time these documents are presented to the congress delegates they have been read, amended and refined and it is this process that usually results in unanimous or near unanimous adoption when the final vote takes place.
Congress also heard a report delivered by the party’s general secretary on the work of the outgoing central committee in the four-year period since the last congress and this report was factual and also critical, particularly of decisions adopted but not acted on. At the same time the report noted the dramatic changes in the world situation since the 9th Congress held in 2001 and how the party has responded to these changes.
“The main tendency in this party is that we are growing”, said CPA General Secretary Peter Symon in his concluding remarks. This was illustrated by the fact that many delegates were attending their first party congress.
This is a significant feature of the CPA’s 10th Congress. It marks a period of growth in the party, a positive response by the CPA membership to the needs of the time. It is our responsibility to continue and develop this trend.
Some of the main points of the 52-page Political Resolution are:
- that on a world scale, “the struggle between the people and the transnationals is intensifying and that at the centre of this struggle is that between the capitalist class and the working class”;
- that over the last two decades “capitalism and imperialism have launched an unprecedented campaign on all social, economic and political fronts against the conditions and rights won by the people in the previous two centuries”;
- that “capitalist globalisation is a logical development of the monopolisation of all sectors of capitalist economies”;
- that the worldwide movement [against imperialism] “includes the existing socialist countries, the governments of most third world countries and many working people, small farmers and peasants in all countries who are savagely exploited by big capital”;
- that “militarism is an essential part of the drive for world domination by the United States and that the massive armed forces are the military arm of globalisation”;
- that, “although the power of the capitalist and imperialist states often appears to be overwhelming, they face worldwide opposition and their power is being challenged in all continents”;
- that “capitalism has become a monstrous system which bases its power on force, domination, lying, depravity and torture. It can no longer serve the interests of the people. The time has come for it to be swept away”.
The Political Resolution lists a number of the issues around which struggles are taking place — for peace and national independence, for jobs, working conditions and rights, environmental protection, democratic rights, for mutually beneficial trade and against religious fundamentalism.
On terrorism, the resolution says that the CPA “unequivocally condemns terrorism and rejects it as a legitimate tactic in the struggle against imperialism or as a means to end the capitalist system and establish a socialist society.
“At the same time the party condemns any attempt to brand as terrorism the legitimate use of armed struggle or other forms of action in the struggles of the people for freedom, independence and a better life.
“The “war on terrorism” is being used to justify the re-colonisation of resource-rich and strategically placed nations. It is a weapon in the arsenal of neo-colonialism”, says the resolution.
The Political Resolution has a whole section on the Australian scene. While listing and making an analysis of all the political parties active in Australia it says that “The current attacks on the trade union movement present great opportunities for the development of a broad, united-front movement which, at the same time, can be the catalyst of an even broader people’s unity” and that this movement “must have as its aim the development of a position that stops governments, of any persuasion, implementing policies which are not in the interest of working people”.
It is at this point that the resolution says that “fundamental changes must be brought about in society” and calls for “a broad democratic movement that unites all left and progressive parties, trade unions, community organisations and progressive individuals … to start challenging the existing structures of economic and political power”.
The resolution recognises the importance of the parliamentary arena in which “coalitions or alliances of organisations can work together against reactionary policies”. It says that “many more left and progressive parliamentarians are needed at all levels of government”.
It goes on: “A government made up of representatives of these organisations must be democratic, multi-party and answerable to the people. It is important that representatives of the working class form the core of the new type democratic peoples’ government” and points out that such “united front” governments already exist in a number of countries.
The Political Resolution lists a number of policy issues “for consideration” by all left and progressive political parties, trade unions and community organisations.
The next section of the resolution is about the Communist Party itself. It says that members of the party are “entirely dedicated” to the interests of the working class” while at the same time, “being internationalist”.
The resolution restates the party’s ideological position: “Without in any way departing from the tested theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism, new ideas and experiences are now at the disposal of communist parties. The world situation constantly changes and these changes have to be analysed and added to the sum total of theoretical knowledge and practical experience”.
The final section of the resolution discusses some theoretical questions which constantly arise in society and in communist parties.
It says that “in the course of activity, new issues and problems constantly arise. Members will be able to find correct answers and work out the best policies if they have an extensive knowledge of Marxism-Leninism and are able to apply it to the specific circumstances being faced. It is necessary at all times to combine theory with practice, testing theory and policies against daily events. Practice without theory is blind, while theory without practice is sterile”. It discusses ultra-left, sectarian ideas and practices and rightist ideas which are the two main trends which keep coming up in communist parties. Then there is the ideology of social democracy. The resolution says that “all social democratic parties endlessly compromise with the controllers of the capitalist system and do not alter the fundamental economic and political causes of the many problems that face the working people and their families”.
The Political Resolution ends on a confident and optimistic note: “Modern society is at a turning point”, it says. “Capitalism is being challenged extensively in many areas. Reactionary governments have been overthrown. National liberation and people’s movements have made significant advances. Anti-globalisation struggles are developing in every corner of the earth. The struggle for peace has swept every continent.
Century of socialism
“We declare that the 21st Century will be the century of socialism. That is the objective of our work and activity. But whether this is achieved cannot be taken for granted. It will depend of the successful outcome of the struggle against capitalism and imperialism. This in turn depends on the organisational, political and ideological maturity of the communist parties that must lead it”.
The party’s updated Program is another major policy document. It goes into considerably more detail about aspects of the party’s strategy and tactics in the struggles against capitalism. For example is sets out the principles which we see as necessary for unity and confidence to be build between cooperating organisations, our views about the winning of a people’s government in Australia and our views about aspects of a socialist society in Australia.
It also discusses the crisis which overtook socialism in the Soviet Union and the socialist states of eastern Europe while recognising the tremendous achievements of these socialist societies.
The Program also has a section on Australia in the Asia-Pacific region which raises important questions about the position taken by the present Australian government and makes an assessment of the role of socialist China and Japan.
Taken together these two documents are a treasure trove of policies, assessments, theoretical ideas and the roles being played by different political forces. Having been adopted they should not be relegated to some bookshelf but can be constantly used, as daily issues arise, to inform about the position of the party and, more importantly, what we can do to be active in our trade union, community organisation or in our party branch.
The 10th Congress was held under the banner displayed during the course of the congress:
Build The Party in The Working Class; Every Member an Activist.