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Issue # 1425      26 August 2009

CPA 11th Congress

The Party For the Future

The Communist Party of Australia will be holding its 11th National Congress in Sydney from October 2-5, under the banner of “The Party For the Future”. The period since the 10th National Congress in 2005 has been one of rapid change. Capitalism is in crisis on all fronts and its effects are being felt around the world – economic crisis, the global food crisis, the threat of new wars, possibly nuclear, and an environmental crisis threatening the future of life on our planet. These crises have a common thread – their origins lie in the system of capitalism.

At the same time people around the world have organised and struggled for real change, demanding a better world. In the US, trade unions, community organisations, civil rights and many other groups combined in a massive grass roots campaign to defeat the Republicans and elect for the first time a black president. In Australia, the Coalition government, and the prime minister John Howard himself, were swept out of office in an historic campaign uniting many diverse community organisations and trade unions.

They united in a vote against scorched earth policies of economic rationalism (neo-liberalism). Change in government brought new hopes and expectations. In Australia, these expectations included the repeal of WorkChoices, restoration of trade union rights, improvements in public health and education systems, measures to address climate change, and recognitions of the rights of Indigenous Australians.

Hopes dashed

The new Rudd Labor government moved quickly to ratify the Kyoto Protocol but failed to follow with the necessary actions to address climate change. The expectations of the electorate have not been met.

The federal intervention in the Northern Territory continues, with virtually nothing done to improve the housing, heath and other social services and job creation programs for Indigenous communities. The Rudd government has failed Indigenous Australians.

The US-Australia military alliance is being strengthened and military spending increased by $300 billion over the next 20 years. Instead of withdrawing from Afghanistan, additional forces have been sent in. At the same time, we are told there is not enough money to increase unemployment benefits or adequately fund public hospitals, education and aged care. More dashed expectations.

Australian workplace agreements are being phased out but the remainder of the Howard government’s WorkChoices laws and the building industry police force (ABCC) are being recycled under new names. The hopes and expectations of the trade unions and workers have not been met.

On the economic front, the federal government’s stimulus packages were primarily designed to bail out the crisis-ridden capitalist system, in particular to rescue big business and the finance sector. The federal government pursues the same economic rationalist deregulation and privatisation policies. State Labor governments have embarked on massive privatisation programs, selling off the people’s remaining assets and exposing workers to further sackings and attacks on wages and conditions.

Class struggle

The trade union movement has a huge struggle on its hands for basic trade union rights, to fight the attacks on workers and improve working conditions and living standards. This struggle is not just economic but political and ideological. The ideological struggle centres on raising consciousness of the class nature of the capitalist system and the existence of the class struggle.

Regardless of claims to the contrary, there are two basic classes under capitalism – working class and capitalist class – whose economic interests are diametrically opposed. This economic struggle is reflected in the shares of national income going to wages and those going to profits. Under Howard the share going to corporate profits reached its highest level for 50 years and the share for wages fell by a corresponding amount. Both are cut from the same cake – the wealth that is created by the labour of the working class. Both classes continually strive for a larger share. Workers pursue higher wages to meet basic needs and their employers never let up in their chase for ever higher profits.

The corporate media outlets, the various employer bodies and the Liberal Party never let up in protecting the interests of big business and the private profit-machine and the capitalist system. When it comes to action, Labor governments have historically sided with employers while claiming to govern for all Australians. They claim they can manage capitalism better than the Coalition parties. The Rudd Labor government is proving to be no different.

It has failed to meet the expectations of many rank and file ALP members and runs roughshod over the internal democratic processes of the ALP. It does not even feel bound to the Party’s policies.

The working class has its trade unions which play an important role in defending and promoting the interests of workers, but it also needs a political party of its own. The Labor Party does not fulfil that role. That is why there is a Communist Party which, without any apology, declares itself to be a working class party. It openly and proudly takes sides, the side of the working class. That is the fundamental difference. The Communist Party and its paper The Guardian are on the side of the claims and needs of the workers and want to change the system to one that protects and promotes workers’ interests – socialism.

Working class party

The Communist Party’s Constitution says that it is “a working class Party based on the concept that the working class is the only force capable of ... achieving the revolutionary changes necessary to build a socialist society”. The Party combines “defence of the best interests of the working people and the independence and sovereignty of the nation with international working class solidarity”.

The preparations for the forthcoming National Congress illustrate its democratic nature. Delegates elected from around Australia will have before them a Political Resolution, analysing developments since the previous Congress and setting the policy direction of the Party in the coming period. The Central Committee prepared a draft Political Resolution which was sent to all party members last April. For several months party branches devoted considerable time to studying the document and drafting amendments. These amendments were submitted to conferences of State and District Committees or directly by branches to the Central Committee for consideration.

At its meeting on August 15-16 the Central Committee incorporated in full or in part a large majority of these amendments to produce a further draft which is now being distributed to all Congress delegates. It is still possible to pursue any amendments at Congress that were not adopted during that process. It is hard to imagine a more thorough or more democratic procedure than this. When the Political Resolution is finalised it can be truly said that it is a product of the collective thinking of the Party membership.

Activists

The members of the CPA are workers (employed and unemployed), pensioners, scientists, students, writers, farmers and other people from different walks of life. They are women and men, young and old, and have different national origins. Some are religious. All are united by a commitment to work for the interests and needs of the working people of Australia.

There is much more to being a member than paying dues and attending the occasional meeting. Members are expected to be activists and to carry out decisions once they have been collectively discussed and decided by a majority vote.

Members carry out their activities in various ways. They may be activists as workers in a trade union and become a union delegate at their place of work. They may belong to a peace or an environmental organisation. They may be activists in one or another of the solidarity organisations, which have the aim of developing friendship between the Australian people and the people of other countries. Or they may be active in the many other community organisations, struggling for the rights of women, Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders, refugees, and migrants; in defence of public education, Medicare and a more progressive tax system; or in campaigns against racism, the inhumane treatment of refugees or the special building industry police force.

In addition, there are the campaigns and activities undertaken by the Party itself. For example, the Party recently held stalls and collected petitions against privatisation. It is campaigning against the anti-union laws and recently launched a publication promoting its IR policy. We are against racism and have always supported multiculturalism. The Party has put forward comprehensive policies to bring full recognition and land rights to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are the original inhabitants and owners of Australia.

The Political Resolution takes up these and many other issues. The Guardian presents party policies, news and analysis on many issues and promotes campaigns on economic and political questions.

They show that the CPA is The Party For the Future, with policies for real change, for a transformation of society from one driven by the profit-motive to one based on the needs of working people and the planet.

If this is the Party for you, then you can do no better than join the Communist Party. Contact the Party organisation nearest you (details below), have a discussion and get a copy of our Program and Constitution and other information on the CPA. If you agree with our aims, then come along to a few branch meetings, join in our activities and that way find out more about being a party member. You can find more information about the Party on our website: www.cpa.org.au.

Even if you are not considering joining, you might like to take out a subscription to The Guardian (See page 11) or send a contribution to the Special Appeal for Congress or The Guardian Press Fund (See page 2). We rely on our members and supporters – we have no corporate sponsors or government funding.

You are welcome to attend the opening of the Party’s Congress which will take place on Friday, October 2. See What's On for details.

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