With capitalist corporations so often in the spotlight nowadays, it is timely to remind ourselves of the words of Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto, outlining the strategic approach of communists in the working class movement, indeed in the wider struggle for progressive and revolutionary social change.
Communists “ … point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality.” They “ … always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.”
The Communists, therefore, are on the one hand, practically, the most advanced and resolute section of the working-class parties of every country, that section which pushes forward all others; on the other hand, theoretically, they have over the great mass of the proletariat the advantage of clearly understanding the line of march, the conditions, and the ultimate general results of the proletarian movement.
The latter refers to what we call the “vanguard” role of communists in the struggle for social change, meaning their analysis of contemporary social reality is based on the most advanced social theory, Marxism-Leninism. In this sense, communists are theoretically equipped to play a leading role in struggle.
Marx and Engels remind us that the distinguishing feature of the communist world outlook is “the abolition of bourgeois property”, of capital, which is not a “personal” but a “social power”. Capital is “a collective product”, the result of society’s labours.
We must raise opposition to bourgeois private property; not just anger at the billions made by private companies, but outrage at the fact that being privately owned, such exploitative property allows the working people’s social labour to be converted into private profit. This is what Marx meant when he said “property is theft!”
Undermining bourgeois property “rights” includes building hatred for the capitalist class, for their rapacious exploitation of working people and the planet, their callous condemnation of millions to poverty, their inhumane squandering of global resources on predatory wars which kill, maim and traumatise the world’s people.
It is no coincidence that as transnational corporate plunder becomes more audacious and vastly unpopular (BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, capitalist banks and other financial institutions reaping billions) the call for their nationalisation rightly grows louder.
In protecting their private property and the right to exploit labour flowing there from, the capitalist class use all forms of class struggle, economic, political and ideological.
For example, the mining companies in Australia, recently “threatened” with a resource super-profits tax, know full well the tax and associated provisions will not undermine their outrageous earnings, yet they fight tooth and nail against it for ideological reasons, fearing the general popularity and spread of taxing super-profits in all industries, plus combating the concept that the Australian people own, in any sense, the minerals they mine.
The media row between the mining companies and the Australian Government may have looked like a fight, on the surface, as if the government was trying to hobble the miners by overtaxing them. It was nothing of the sort! With the government offering a 30 percent refund of mining exploration costs, 40 percent compensation if mining companies make a loss, a cut in company profit tax from 30 to 28 percent, the effective abolition of royalty payments, plus billions of public money allocated for mining company infrastructure needs, mining company propaganda has in reality turned the relationship on its head!
The stance of the mining companies is indeed highly ideological, even claiming to have brought down a prime minister (who was threatening “national” development!!), but really was no threat to them at all.
In this era of transnational domination and globalisation of production, so brilliantly foreshadowed in the Communist Manifesto, communists must read and re-read our basic texts, to continually enrich our everyday experience with the theoretical insights and analysis of the founders of our movement, thereby sharpening our ability to lead the class struggle.