The world-wide struggle between the people and the transnational corporations is intensifying.
The situation in Australia and internationally is marked by this struggle at the centre of which is the struggle between the capitalist class and the working class.
On the one hand, capital is attacking the conditions of work and the rights of workers and the community generally. Living standards are being slashed. The exploitation of labour has been sharply increased. Welfare programs and public services are being cut back. Unemployment is again increasing. The aspirations of women for equality are being denied. Democratic rights and democratic forms of government, which have been achieved as a result of decades of struggle, are being eroded. The sovereignty and independence of nations are trampled on. There is rapacious exploitation of the world's natural resources. The rights and needs of indigenous people are not being recognised or fulfilled by governments.
Pursuing their insatiable drive for expansion and ever-higher profits, the transnational corporations have undertaken a new drive to expand their control over the markets and resources of all countries by whatever means necessary, including war. This is the real meaning of globalisation and the aim of the New World Order proclaimed by the United States and the giant transnational corporations.
These policies create an expanding web of social problems — mass unemployment, poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, inadequate or no education, lack of medical care and environmental damage. They have brought a growing gap between the rich and the poor in every nation and between the major imperialist powers and the underdeveloped countries.
On the other hand the working class, working farmers, the self-employed, those with professions and small business people, are resisting in various ways the onslaught by the big corporations and those governments which are implementing their policy demands. Often this resistance is in defence of conditions and rights already won. The working class must lead and convince these potential allies of the necessity to turn these struggles into a united offensive for the interests and needs of all those who are exploited and oppressed by monopoly capitalism.
Resistance is taking many forms — strike struggles, solidarity actions, demonstrations, protest meetings, pickets, boycotts, hunger strikes, petitions, community campaigns, attempts to change capitalist governments and, in some countries, armed struggle. These actions will remain a major aspect of life in capitalist countries in the coming years. In the fight against the transnational corporations, all forms of struggle must be used. Different forms of struggle suit different circumstances.
Despite its apparent strength, capitalism is wracked by instability. Commodity prices fluctuate sharply and currency exchange rates are subject to concerted raids by speculators. Share prices are driven by speculation to many times their actual value — a bubble waiting to burst. There is a sharp conflict between the major capitalist trade groupings. The predominance of finance capital has engendered massive parasitism with trillions of dollars changing hands daily in speculative activities across the globe. All of these developments have serious consequences for the people of all countries.
The dominant form of ownership and deployment of capital today is the transnational corporation. By mergers and takeovers many corporations are approaching the near total monopoly of production and trade in key economic sectors. The TNCs are supported by the governments and the armed forces of the major imperialist powers, which create and foster "instability" in various countries and use the pretext of alleged violations of human rights and democracy to interfere in the internal affairs of those countries in pursuit of the profit-driven economic and political interests of the TNCs.
The objectives of the TNCs are formulated and implemented by the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD, APEC, NAFTA, the WTO, the G7 and other similar bodies.
There are some other features of globalisation such as the development of worldwide communications, information and cultural exchange, the Internet, the internationalisation of production processes, trade between nations, ever-increasing travel and many other facets of cooperation and interchange. The TNCs make use of these scientific and technological developments to intensify the exploitation of the great majority and to secure their privileges and power. These aspects of globalisation will continue to develop when the present capitalist control and their misuse of globalisation processes have been overcome.
Imperialism is furthered by military alliances, principal among them being NATO which is no longer a purely "Atlantic alliance" and has spread its potential area of operations to the whole world. NATO has adopted a new doctrine which makes use of the UN whenever it suits its interests and pushes the UN aside or ignores it altogether on other occasions. It uses deliberately provoked "incidents" to justify its interference, military interventions, boycotts and occupations. Another important military alliance in the Asia/Pacific area is that between the US and Japan which has resulted in an increasing build up of Japanese military force and the concentration of US naval and air power in the Asian region.
The clear and scarcely disguised aim of these interventions is the hegemonic control of the world's strategic resources and labour force, a process that has already enslaved many nations and brought about massive poverty and unemployment. In support of this process, rampant militarism is being encouraged and the imperialist use of force in international relations promoted as normal and acceptable. The numerous military alliances and trade blocks have not lowered the tensions that exist in international relations. Instead, old colonialist ambitions and imperialist rivalries have been re-ignited and new ones created which bring a danger of major wars.
The USA, the leading imperialist power, is pushing ahead with the development of a national missile defence (NMD) and tactical missile defence (TMD) systems despite worldwide opposition. These missile programs are directed particularly at the People's Republic of China and the Russian Federation. They will inevitably lead to a renewed nuclear arms race and to greater insecurity and the danger of a new war engulfing all nations.
Imperialism uses ethnic differences, exploits national and religious sentiments, and promotes working class divisions to weaken the unity of the working class. The aim is the naked intensification of exploitation on a global scale.
The process of globalisation has been accompanied by a fundamental shift away from commodity production to the provision of services and to the finance sector, in particular, for financial speculation. Finance capital now predominates over industrial capital. Foreign Direct Investment has been rising at an exponential rate, the majority of this investment has been in the form of mergers and takeovers, rather than in the creation of new enterprises.
The process of globalisation is used increasingly to subordinate national governments to the dictates of transnational corporations. It has brought significant changes to the state apparatus, parts of which are being privatised and brought under the direct control of the transnational corporations.
While government regulation of the corporate sector is being reduced to a minimum, thereby allowing the corporations to virtually "do as they please", the repressive role of the state is being increased. The strengthening of police forces and the training of "special forces", the use of troops in civil internal matters, and industrial legislation which places severe restrictions on the trade union movement are examples of the increasingly repressive nature of the state in all capitalist countries.
Changes are also being made to electoral laws. These have occurred in Australia as well as in Japan and Italy. These changes have the objective of making it more difficult for political parties and individuals, who advance alternative policies to those demanded by the TNCs, to achieve representation in parliaments.
All these developments indicate that the democratic rights of the people are being whittled away by the increasingly open dictatorship of the TNCs — politically, economically and militarily.
The accelerating trend to concentration and monopoly has affected all sectors of the capitalist economy. This includes the media, and confers on it a decisive role in the consolidation of the cultural hegemony of the ruling class. Not since the spread of literacy in the late Middle Ages first challenged the power of the church over the minds of mainly illiterate populations, has ruling class control of the manufacture and dissemination of information and the moulding of public opinion been so complete. An unprecedented concentration of media ownership has given the ruling class control of public opinion, culture and the content of education. It disseminates ruling-class social and moral values and helps the ruling class implement its policies. It undermines working-class ideology, consciousness, culture and struggles.
The monopoly control of the media is a serious threat to democratic processes and their further expansion and represents a substantial attack on working-class interests and the future of working-class power. These circumstances highlight an urgent need to strengthen the means by which the ideological and cultural values of the ruling class can be confronted and opposed.
The peoples of the under-developed countries are at present the main victims of the policies of the TNCs and the imperialist governments. With limited industrial development and few resources, many of the under-developed countries have few opportunities to improve the living standards of the people. The imperialist countries have imposed unfair and unequal trade relations — buying the resources and crops of these nations at very low prices while imposing high prices for manufactured commodities, machinery, fertilisers and other products sold to developing countries. In an attempt to find finance for their development many governments of under-developed countries have borrowed money from the IMF and the World Bank. Under-developed countries have repaid the loans and interest many times over but continue to remain indebted. If countries default, new draconian and anti-people policies are forced on their governments. The debts have now become unbearable and cannot be paid or collected.
As a consequence the G77, that combines most of the Third World countries, has played a significant part in opposing policies being demanded by the TNCs, notably at the Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organisation. Their stand reflects the growing opposition to the policies of the imperialist powers. They are not prepared to accept a new colonialism that is the objective of the major imperialist countries.
The most striking contradiction is the gap between rich and poor which has reached appalling dimensions and is widening visibly year by year. Poverty is spreading like an oil slick. This is taking place in an age of the unprecedented advance of technology and scientific knowledge that could provide the means to guarantee the welfare, security and a rich life for all. In more than seventy underdeveloped countries — or more than a third of all the countries on earth — per capita incomes have fallen sharply in the past twenty years, and are still falling. While human labour assisted by technology has reached formerly undreamed of levels of productivity, socially produced wealth has accumulated in private hands to such a degree that the 200 richest persons in the world own more wealth than 40 per cent of the world's population. These gross and obscene inequalities reveal the inexorable consequences of the rules that govern capitalist accumulation. It glaringly exposes the economic irrationality and the moral bankruptcy of the capitalist system.
Globalisation therefore means:
In their efforts to impose the domination of the big corporations real or imagined ethnic and religious differences are used to divide the people. Racism and the repression of the peoples' struggles go hand in hand. As the struggles of the people grow, the big corporations will resort more and more to open fascist terror to preserve their domination.
Capitalist globalisation means massive damage to the environment as the corporations pollute the water, soil and atmosphere, rip out the resources of the planet, and destroy its vegetation and the biodiversity of the world in their criminal drive for profits irrespective of the consequences for the long-term survival of life on earth.
It means an attack on the national independence and sovereignty of all countries except the most powerful and dominant imperialist states. The laws and practices of independent states stand in the way of the unfettered domination of the big corporations which, in calling for "freedom", mean freedom only for the big corporations to transfer finances and industrial enterprises to whatever corner of the world brings them the greatest profits.
TNC domination means disregard for the principles of the United Nations, its Charter and the many Declarations that have been adopted and which have brought hope that the destruction of war will be eliminated and that a better world for the people of the world can be achieved. The decision of the Australian government to downgrade its participation in some UN Human Rights Committees and its failure to ratify a protocol which promotes the equality of women confirm that conservative political forces do not support UN principles and do not intend to implement their commitments to the UN Charter. The aggressive NATO war against Yugoslavia without reference to the UN is the latest example in which the UN was ignored.
Globalisation means that the attacks of the TNCs and their subservient governments against socialism and all who stand for and struggle for a better and more democratic world will be intensified by every means. These will include intervention, boycotts, pressure of all kinds and even invasion and occupation.
This is the evil face of capitalism and imperialism today.
Imperialism has great political, military and economic strength and has had some successes, the most important being the successful counter-revolutions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the overthrow of socialism in those countries. They have also had success in brainwashing millions to believe that there is no alternative to TNC power and domination and that this course is inevitable.
It is now easier to identify the real face of those who are a roadblock to human progress and real freedom.
It is now clear that the international capitalist system and its main agencies such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) cannot be effectively reformed. These organisations are undemocratic and are effectively controlled by the major imperialist powers. They must be swept away and replaced by democratically structured institutions that implement policies which liberate rather than enslave, which lift living standards rather than create poverty, which extend democratic rights rather than destroy them and which preserve the environment rather than pollute the world.
Australia lies in the Asia-Pacific region and our trade, political and security interests will inevitably be tied up with our neighbours in this region.
For decades, Australia, because of its British colonial origins and then its close relations with the United States, has been allied with the political and military interests of these powers. This is illustrated by Australia's role in wars waged by Britain and then by the US — in Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq — to list only four conflicts. In former times Australia's trade was also predominantly with Britain but this has now changed. Today, many of our main trading and economic partners are in Asia and this trade relationship will continue to grow.
The economies of Asian countries are growing again after the economic crisis of 1997. The overall production and trade of Asian countries now surpasses that of the European Union and, in time, will surpass the economy of the United States as well.
The maintenance of the ANZUS alliance with the US, the willingness of Australia to provide bases for the US military and its spying operations and its support for the Star Wars program of the US poses a threat of Australia's participation in war against Asian-Pacific countries should the US commit aggression in the region. These military commitments turn Australia into a potential nuclear target in the event of conflict and could be a factor resulting in the substantial political isolation of Australia in the region.
The policy of successive Australian governments towards Indonesia, their support for the military dictatorship of the Suharto regime and Indonesia's invasion and annexation of East Timor has now collapsed. While Australia's involvement in the final stages of East Timor's struggle for independence has been widely supported, this does not represent any fundamental change in Australia's foreign policies. The imperialist powers are fearful that the overthrow of the Suharto regime by the mass action of the Indonesian people demonstrating on the streets could lead to the formation of a socially progressive, anti-imperialist government in Indonesia. Intervention in East Timor is calculated to ensure that a government acceptable to imperialism is eventually established in East Timor and will perhaps facilitate the establishment of a US military base on its territory.
Australia's so-called "defence" policy which has recently been set down in a government White Paper, makes clear that the government, together with the United States, continues to pursue a policy of "forward defence" which claims the right to intervene in the affairs of Asian countries should the "security" interests of Australia or the US be threatened. For this purpose the Australian government intends to upgrade Australian military forces with the principal aim of making them inter-operable with those of the US. It is these policies which are the real threat to Australia's security. In addition, they mean huge additional expenditures.
Of particular concern to all nations in the Asia/Pacific region is the so-called Security Treaty between the US and Japan which has recently been reaffirmed and upgraded. Australia is effectively tied to this Treaty through its membership of ANZUS. Japan (with its island of Okinawa) and Australia are the two principle military bases by which the United States will attempt to re-establish its domination of the whole of Asia and overthrow the socialist systems of China, Vietnam and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
However, many Asian countries are resolute in preserving their sovereignty and independence.
An important development in the region is the enlargement of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which has now been joined by Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma. The DPRK has also been admitted with observer status. ASEAN's three principle partners are China, Japan and South Korea. All the countries of ASEAN strongly defend their right to independence and sovereignty and are developing their political and trade relationships. Australia is largely excluded from this grouping.
The opening of negotiations and the establishment of relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea is a welcome development. It is a step towards the reunification of the divided nation of Korea, and will help to bring about a change for the better in the Asian region. The exchange of top level delegations and the possibility of enhanced trade relations have contributed to a dramatic lessening of tension on the Korean peninsular. These changes undermine the excuses used for many years by the US to maintain its military forces in South Korea.
The people of Bougainville are continuing their long struggle for independence from Papua-New Guinea. Ethnically and economically different, having closer ties with the Solomon Islands than with PNG, and taking into account the long struggle of the Bougainville people against German, British and Australia colonialism, the CPA has supported the call for Bougainville's independence. Although the Australian government has supported negotiations between the Bougainville Interim Government and PNG and with a peacekeeping force stationed in Bougainville, it is clear that the present Australian government does not support the independence of Bougainville. By its partisan use of economic aid, it is attempting to bring into existence capitalist class forces that will stand in the way of a future independent government of Bougainville adopting progressive social and economic policies.
The Party also supports the independence of West Papua. West Papua was formerly part of the Dutch colonial empire and became part of Indonesia in 1965 as a result of an unrepresentative referendum. The people of West Papua are ethnically related to those of PNG and in the future, a single unified Papuan nation is likely to emerge despite the divisions imposed on the island by various imperialist governments. As in East Timor and Bougainville, genuine independence movements have arisen which should be supported.
However, this does not mean automatic support for independence movements. The political content of a movement, ethnic composition, economic and cultural cohesion, historical factors, and external interests and influences must all be considered. The most important consideration is what best serves political and social progress among all the people involved. The break-up of Indonesia, for example, would play into the hands of the predatory imperialist states and could undermine moves towards restoring and maintaining a unified, progressive and anti-imperialist Indonesia. It is the imperialist powers that have an interest in keeping Indonesia in a weakened, divided client position so they can maintain their domination of the region and intensify the exploitation of the people of the whole area.
Australia participates in the South Pacific Forum, has trade relations and undertakes aid programs in the region. However, Australian Governments have attempted to foist the economic programs demanded by the IMF and the World Bank onto the governments of these countries, ignoring the traditional culture, land tenure and processes of governance. These nations need considerable assistance to find additional means by which to meet the increase in population, the resulting pressure on land and the failure of the big powers to provide them with markets for their products. At the same time, Australian governments must respect the right of nations to establish their own social, economic and political systems without interference.
We call for:
The control, policies and arguments of the TNCs are being challenged by a broad front of struggle in many countries.
Resistance to the intensification of attacks by the ruling-class is being awakened among workers and working-class organisations. But resistance is not limited to the working class. Many progressive community organisations which oppose privatisation, support public education and health services, stand for the maintenance of democratic rights, for peace and independence, for preservation of the environment, etc are all part of the resistance. The struggle for the rights of indigenous people is an important part of this movement.
The resistance movement has been expressed in a series of mass protests and demonstrations against the big corporations in Seattle, Washington, Davos, Okinawa, Melbourne and Prague and at other gatherings and summit meetings of representatives of the ruling class of the major capitalist powers. There is extensive evidence that this resistance movement is growing rapidly in response to the intensified exploitation and impoverishment of the people and imperialism's blatant use of military aggression to impose its global hegemony.
To protect the gatherings of big business leaders from the anger of the people, the corporate leaders surround themselves with a wall of police and military forces eagerly aided and abetted by compliant government, whether conservative or social democratic. Alternatively, they shift the venues of their meetings to countries considered politically "stable" and less likely to stage mass protests. The mass protests, however, continue.
The resistance movement is extremely diverse in its composition, its organisation and in its political demands. It reflects both geographic and class diversity. It brings together the social and political forces of under-developed countries and from social classes and groups which, for a variety of reasons, oppose the big corporations, the repressive policies of governments and the interference and aggression of imperialism.
The component parts of the resistance movement include:
The global scale of this resistance movement is giving great strength to the common struggle against capitalist globalisation. The fact that the people of all countries now face the same, easily identifiable enemy present unparalleled opportunities for struggle that the working class must set out to lead. At the same time, it poses many problems brought about by different levels of organisation, political consciousness, the difficulties of communication and language.
Policies that can be supported by an extremely wide range of participants from different sections of this resistance movement and from many countries need to be put forward. At the same time the working class and revolutionary parties must retain their independence and ideological integrity.
It is a question of integrating minimum and maximum programs but now on a global scale. In future, revolutionary activity will be necessarily conducted on a wider front with much more diverse and dispersed participation than in the past. This calls for more extensive international political and organisational links and a greater degree of ideological preparation and flexibility of tactics than has been the case in the past.
Communist parties cannot be content to travel on the back of this vast movement. They must give leadership at the ideological, political and organisational levels.
The situation calls for a higher level of expertise and quality of Party work, not only in the application of Marxism-Leninism, but also in media and communication skills, the rapid and competent adoption of available technology, such as provided by computers, the Internet, video conferencing, micro broadcasting, etc. By these means active links can be maintained between party organisations, with communist and workers' parties, trade unions, NGOs, community organisations and the many liberation movements. The use of homepages has proven to be an important means to convey Party views and policies to a much wider audience. These technological means enhance and must be combined with actual work on the ground.
There is now a vast worldwide force that can be mobilised globally. It is now possible to conduct campaigns on a scale previously inconceivable and with greater and more telling effect.
These prospects present the international communist and workers' movement with the most urgent task of resolving the differences that, in the past, have weakened it. The global imperialist system is feverishly engaged in economic, political, and military expansion, intensified class exploitation, and a campaign of uninhibited class warfare. It is a situation that demands that within every country, energetic efforts are made to establish political unity among all left-wing and anti-corporate movements and forces which are committed to the common struggle against the policies of capitalism and imperialism and who are also committed to collective and unifying methods of work.
Some important achievements need to be recorded. The first among them is the continued building of socialist systems in China, Vietnam, Cuba , the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Lao People's Democratic Republic In the former socialist states communist parties are growing again. Cambodia defeated the recent attempt of imperialism to impose its domination. The people of South Africa defeated the apartheid regime. The struggle for the socialist alternative is being advanced by the Communist Party of South Africa (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and some sections of the ANC.
There have been changes of a progressive nature in the leadership of Venezuela and the People's Progressive Party heads the government of Guyana. There is a strong people's movement throughout Central and Latin America. Control of the Panama Canal has been returned to Panama. A revolutionary people's war in which the Communist Party of Colombia plays a leading role, is being waged in Colombia against a puppet government and direct US military intervention.
The courageous resistance of the people of Yugoslavia to NATO aggression created a road-block to the plans of the US together with the countries of the European Union to reimpose imperialist domination of the whole of the Balkans.
The reunification of the Russian Federation and Belarus is a first step towards a new union of states on the territory of the former Soviet Union. The restoration of friendly relations and the establishment of a "strategic partnership" between the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China can be of world historic importance in building a barrier to imperialism.
The move towards the reunification of Korea is a step of historic importance and could ultimately mean the end of one of the world's flash point for nuclear warfare.
These are some of the developments which indicate the strength and scope of the resistance to capitalist globalisation and the attempts to impose an imperialist dominated New World Order.
An international united front of the working people's organisations is a necessary condition for a successful struggle against the forces of imperialism and TNC globalisation. It must be mobilised from progressive forces drawn from all left and progressive parties and organisations. The international solidarity already demonstrated in the waterfront dispute, the Rio Tinto struggle, strike struggles in South Korea, the Seattle, Washington, Melbourne, Prague and other demonstrations are examples of the development of international action and solidarity.
The various international trade union federations and trade union internationals will play a foremost part in leading international working class solidarity actions and in organising worldwide campaigns against the policies of the TNCs. Recent experiences show that working class internationalism is growing stronger and we support this unity being reflected in the re-establishment of one united international trade union federation. We welcome discussions towards this vital objective.
Trade Union unity has also been expressed in the work of the various Trade Union Internationals (TUIs) which cover different sections of the modern working class. Once again the strengthening of these organisations must be promoted in every possible way.
Following WW II and the defeat of fascism, a united international trade union body called the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was set up. It was founded in place of both the Red International of Labour Unions and the International Federation of Trade Unions. The WFTU was a truly all embracing organisation.
In the late 1940s the WFTU was split. It was the period of the Cold War and intense anti-communism in a number of countries. The representatives of some western trade unions, in a breakaway move, formed the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in 1949.
The WFTU pursues a policy of class struggle and its affiliates embrace over 400 million members. A number of Australian unions maintain friendly relations with the WFTU. The affiliates of the ICFTU cover over 125 million members. Its leadership is still strongly influenced by social-democratic ideas.
The Australian trade union movement, both individual unions and the ACTU, have an important role to play in promoting the common struggle for better working conditions. While the ACTU remains affiliated to the ICFTU, the year 2000 ACTU Congress, welcomed the initiative to develop a united world trade union body at all levels, ie., internationally, regionally and at industry levels. The CPA supports the development of joint action by the international trade union bodies as a first step in the process of unification.
Many Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) play a foremost role in the common struggle against the TNCs, the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. A number of NGOs have adopted anti-imperialist policies and recognise that the present problems facing the people of many countries can only be met by implementing entirely different policies to those being enforced by the TNCs.
Within these diverse alliances, discussions will take place as problems of strategy and tactics on matters affecting fundamental issues of policy inevitably arise. In such debates the Communist Party must be prepared to offer policies, leadership and guidance that will maintain the unity of the movement and, at the same time, carry it forward. Communist Party members should, where appropriate, seek to establish or strengthen existing ties between trade unions or other non-party organisations they work in, and similar bodies in other countries.
Faced with the growing opposition of the people, the transnational corporations and those politicians and academics who support them are attempting to cover up and justify the policies and crimes of the big corporations.
People's Capitalism: The idea that capitalism can be turned into a people's capitalism and that there can be a partnership between the people and the controllers of the corporations is assiduously spread. It is represented by the assertion of Liberal Party leader John Howard that his objective is to turn Australia into a "nation of shareholders".
The reality is that small shareholders have little control over the policies of corporations which are determined by the big shareholders who hold controlling interests. Company directors are not elected on the basis of one vote one value, but on the extremely undemocratic voting system by which an individual with a million shares has a million votes. Small shareholders are easy victims of the large shareholders who employ accountants and financial dealers to look after their interests in stock exchanges on a minute by minute basis.
Furthermore, there can be no partnership between exploiters and the exploited, between wage earners and those who make their profits out of the labour of wage workers, between those who own the means of production and the commodities produced and those who do the work but do not own any part of the wealth their labour creates. The propaganda about partnership attempts to blur the realities of ownership of the means of production, social inequalities and class conflict. It attempts to persuade workers that they cannot do without the capitalist class and that employers are genuinely concerned for the interests of workers.
Encouraging workers to become shareholders has the objective of breaking down class consciousness, creating illusions that they are now "part of the company", with a stake in making higher profits by increasing productivity and discouraging workers' struggles.
Development: It is asserted by the spokespersons of the big corporations that unemployment and poverty can be overcome by more and more "development" and growth.
The fact is that the development of Australia's economy has made some rich and a small number very rich, while the huge majority of the working people live on wages with a declining value, are employed for longer hours of work or are employed as casuals or part-time workers. Despite "development" the share going to workers is decreasing. While a general, planned development is desirable, it does not in itself mean better living standards for the working people. Higher wages, better working conditions and shorter hours of work have to be wrung from employers by working class struggle.
At the same time, not all development is desirable or beneficial. Capitalist development is based on the ruthless exploitation of the environment. The struggle for sustainable development which benefits the people, is a struggle to restrain and restrict capitalist corporations, to compel disarmament, to ban environmentally destructive production processes and to end imperialism's exploitation and distortion of Third World economies. It is part of the struggle against capitalist globalisation and for a new democratic economic system.
Free Trade: It is argued that free trade will open up all markets and bring products to the tables of the people. By free trade is meant the deregulation of all trade between countries, the removal of tariff barriers, subsidies and other measures employed by governments to regulate imports into a country and protect home industries. Their complete removal does not create a "level playing field" as it is claimed. The more powerful and more technically advanced enterprises or those employing cheap labour will be able to produce a cheaper product and put out of business producers that do not have such "advantages". Trade must be based on the principle of mutual advantage between countries so that the interests of the people of both the exporting and importing countries are taken into account when determining trade arrangements.
The US, while loudly demanding that others open their markets to US products, uses subsidies, anti-dumping laws and other devices that effectively protect US industries.
"Inevitable and Irresistible": It is argued that the system being imposed by the TNCs is "inevitable", "irresistible" and that there is "no alternative". The aim of these assertions is to promote powerlessness and the belief that any struggle against capital is hopeless. It is vital that such ideas be opposed and defeated.
The struggles that have already taken place against globalisation and the IMF show that their policies can be defeated. The Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) had to be abandoned in that form (although imposition of the MAI in principle is still very much on the agenda) and the Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organisation was not able to complete its work.
"No Alternative": Another claim is that there is "no alternative" to the political and economic system of the TNCs. But there is an alternative. It is to extend public ownership of the economy with political power being won by the representatives of the working people and all anti-monopoly sections of the community. This provides the basis to regulate and plan the economy overall so that the interests and needs of the working people are met. The economy must work for people not the corporate few.
It is not "inevitable" that millions of people around the world should suffer unemployment, live in poverty, be denied health care, education and housing and have no clean drinking water. The earth's resources and the productive capacity that has been created by work are sufficient to provide a good living, security and necessary services to every man, woman and child on earth.
Social Democratic governments: It is asserted that social democratic governments provide the only possible alternative to government by the conservative parties. Social democratic governments elected in many European countries and in Australia have shown repeatedly that such governments not only do not break with the policies demanded by the TNCs but are active in promoting and implementing them. It is an historical fact that the Labor governments of Hawke and Keating were the first governments in Australia to implement economic rationalist (neo-liberal) policies. They were responsible for the first moves to break down the centralised Award system and permit introduction of individual work contracts. They initiated the present round of privatisation of public enterprises and government departments. Social democratic governments have never tried to build a socialist system in any country in which they have held power and have all but abandoned any pretense of retaining the socialist objective.
The claim that "socialism has failed": The overthrow of socialism in the Soviet Union and the socialist states of eastern Europe was not a failure of socialism but was caused by a number of internal and external factors that included the weakening over many years of the ideology of the Marxist parties in these countries, the concerted economic and ideological assault of imperialism, the systematic introduction of policies which confused the mass of people and the isolation from and ultimate betrayal of the people by some of the Party leaders. This opened the way for the pro-capitalist forces to thrive and led to the socialist system being overthrown. The subsequent developments in these countries, the staggering destruction of their industrial capacity, their health and educational system, the loss of jobs, the enormous increase in the price of commodities and services, etc., have served to demonstrate in a practical way the bankruptcy of capitalism and the benefits of socialism.
That capitalism has a "human face": It is claimed that the IMF the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and similar organisations are committed to a better world for all the people and that despite a few blemishes, capitalism has a human face. The opposite is the truth. The policies of these organisations have helped to create the world-wide poverty and unemployment that is now being suffered on an unprecedented scale. They have enforce the privatisation of public enterprises, imposed drastic cuts to welfare services and eliminated laws that imposed certain regulations on the activities of the big corporations. They impose unfair trade terms and loans. Far from these measures helping to liberate the recipient countries, they have colonised them just as effectively as the military occupation of the previous colonial period.
Within this global framework, foreign investment in and control of all sectors of the Australian national economy by TNCs is extensive and increasing. A wave of take-overs and mergers reflects the increasing concentration of capital. One example is the merging of major banks, effectively reducing their number but increasing their financial power.
Australia is seen as a provider of natural resources and agricultural products by the executives of the big foreign corporations rather than as a country in which manufacturing industries can be developed. Their global plans do not include building up economies which would compete with the manufactures of the stronger industrialised countries. Consequently, there has been a process of de-industrialisation of Australia. Many manufacturing industries have closed down, lie idle, are operating at reduced capacity or are shipped overseas to low wage states.
Another major aspect of the concentration of capital is the widespread privatisation of public enterprises and even government departments and institutions. Not only have enterprises such as the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas been privatised and Telstra part privatised, but some government services such as transport, water supply, energy networks, health and education are being sold off to private corporations. Private police forces are being built up and privately owned prisons built. Privatisation provides a new area for the investment of capital and for profit making. It also eliminates the concept of publicly owned enterprises as even government ownership is not acceptable to the ruling class.
Of particular importance in the government's attack on the living standards of the working people is the introduction of the GST and a new tax system. Its fundamental aim is to shift the burden of tax from the rich to the shoulders of the working people. The GST does not stand alone but is part of a package involving a substantial reduction in the rate of tax applied to businesses. Other concessions were introduced such as the reduction of capital gains tax to half while nothing was done to close the gaps which allow businesses to avoid their tax obligations.
Democratic rights won in more than a century of labour struggles are being extinguished. The aim is to silence the voice of those opposed to the power and policies of the big corporations and to eventually take over the affairs of state and put the direct representatives of the corporations in control of remaining state functions. Trade union rights to organise and represent the working class are restricted. Legislation to permit the government to use troops in domestic affairs is a particularly dangerous development. Surveillance cameras, the compilation of data banks of citizens by private enterprise and governments agencies are other examples of restrictions on rights to free speech and assembly. While widespread corporate corruption goes unpunished, mandatory sentencing is racist and is an example of the punitive attacks on the poor. It is also an attack on the limited independence of the judiciary. The attack on democratic rights also opens the way for the intensification of the exploitation of the working class that has reached unprecedented levels.
The big corporations respect no environmental norms. Even in heritage sites and urban areas of high population density they irresponsibly dispose of toxic industrial effluent which has led to excessive levels of environmental pollution and creates a serious danger to life and health. In the agricultural sector, large-scale deforestation has created major environmental degradation such as the spread of soil salinity.
Australia's government and ruling class ignore international agreements on environmental protection, however small the obligations required of them. Australian industries continue to discharge CFC emissions, ignoring the dangers to the world's climate.
The establishment of working relations between the workers and farmers in the countryside and working class organisations in the cities remains a largely neglected task. The initiative must be taken by the trade union movement and the Communist Party which has always called for friendly and cooperative worker-farmer relations.
There is a deliberate attempt to promote a narrow Australian nationalism and attitudes of superiority although overwhelmingly the Australian people have friendly attitudes to the people of other countries. Extreme right-wing organisations such as the League of Rights, the National Front, One Nation, Moral Rearmament and religious fundamentalist groups have become more active and open. They promote racism, religious intolerance and neo-fascist attitudes. They express their fear and hatred of the peoples of other countries by campaigning against the United Nations Organisation and call upon Australia to break its relations with the UN. The fact that a number of the policies of One Nation are being implemented by the Howard Government is a warning that in circumstances of acute class struggle, the Australian ruling class could resort to open fascist measures to suppress discontent and preserve their class rule.
Racism, religious differences and other social divisions are promoted as the ruling class manoeuvres to exploit every potential weakness in popular and working class unity. Deteriorating social and working conditions and a steadily degenerating social environment can also nourish cynicism and frustration as well as developing resistance. The conservative offensive against "political correctness" is merely a cover under which to promote racism and intolerance of progressive ideas and to take back what has been achieved in the struggle for equal economic, political and social rights.
Despite Federal and State anti-discrimination legislation, a number of different forms of discrimination are used to attack rights won and undermine existing laws. The manipulation of government funding for political, religious or social reasons is a widely used form of discrimination. The refusal of the Federal Government to sign the optional protocol of the United Nations Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women is a dramatic example of the Government's retreat from its responsibilities.
Some examples of discrimination include:
Today, almost one child in five in Australia lives below the poverty line. Unemployment, the falling levels of which reflect statistical juggling rather than any significant social change, is increasingly long-term, affecting mainly young workers. The casualisation of labour is widespread and increasing, and is rapidly becoming the norm.
In the midst of these negative political and economic trends, democratic opinion found expression in the debate preceding the referendum on the republic, in the campaigns for land rights and reconciliation, for a progressive taxation system, in opposition to the legalistic compromise which permitted the continuation of mandatory sentencing in WA and the NT, against the MAI and the World Economic Forum and on other issues.
There is a weakening of the two-party system taking place. Despite the electoral difficulties smaller parties are beginning to win significant votes although representation in parliaments has been mostly limited to the Senate and to a number of State Upper Houses. The disillusionment with the major parties has seen many voters look to the Greens, the Democrats or progressive independents. However, this widespread disillusion can swing to the right, even the extreme right. The support for One Nation confirms this. None-the-less, alternative policies are being presented and, on some issues, challenge the policies of the corporations and the conservative and rightwing Labor parties.
It is necessary to record the historic struggle of maritime workers and the Australian and international union movement against the union-busting conspiracy of the Federal Government and employers, the miners' and steelworkers' fight against the closures of pits and factories, the struggles against the repressive industrial relations legislation of several governments, the campaigns of students and teachers against education cuts and the privatisation of learning and research, the struggles by nurses and others to preserve the public health system and the demonstrations against the World Economic Forum in Melbourne. All are examples of the struggles of the trade union movement and other progressive organisations. These are signs that political awareness is growing into militant class consciousness.
The trade unions remain the primary class and mass organisations of Australian workers. Their outlook however still remains firmly within the confines of reformist thought and bourgeois ideology. The damage of the Accord process in the trade union movement still remains and is reflected in the considerable loss of membership in recent years.
Trade unions include in their membership workers of different political conviction and undertake activities irrespective of these differences and, thereby, contribute to the overall task of uniting the working class.
The scope of trade union activities extends beyond hours and wages questions although these remain basic issues for all trade unions. Social, democratic, solidarity and other economic issues have all been taken up. The CPA supports the extension of trade union activities to include issues of national and international politics ¾ the peace struggle, national independence, solidarity with the workers of other countries, and so on.
The adoption of class collaborationist policies and acceptance of the ideas of the economic rationalists by many is still a fundamental problem for workers and the trade union movement.
The lack of involvement of rank and file workers in the affairs of unions is becoming more widespread. The establishment of trade union rank and file organisations give added strength to the trade union movement. It is a task of the Communist Party and militants advocating the class struggle to turn this state of affairs around.
There has been a significant shift of the ALP leadership to the right and there is evidence to show that members of the National Civic Council who were expelled from the ALP in the 1950s have found their way back into the Labor Party in some States and remain in the leadership of the NSW Branch of the ALP where NCC members remained throughout this period. The rightward shift contradicts the wishes of many ALP members who remain committed to progressive policies.
The rightward shift in the ALP is manifesting itself in the trade union movement in a tightening grip by ALP factions. The leaderships of many unions owe their loyalty to one or more factions of the ALP. This is reflected in the changes to the structure of the union movement and political controls within the trade union movement. Decisions of major trade union bodies are more subject to the policies of the ALP. This is to be seen in the failure of the trade union movement to mount a campaign against privatisation and to counter the offensive of both the Liberal and Labor governments against the rights of trade unions and workers.
The damage done to working-class militancy and class-consciousness by the ALP's Accord policies has now been recognised by many. It is becoming more apparent that Labor policies do not serve working class interests, in that in all major aspects, they support the ruling class. They do not offer a real political alternative because they change nothing in class relationships or the distribution of class power. There is often little difference between the policies of the Liberal and Labor parties. Working people are, however, taking industrial action more frequently to press their demands and interests.
Left Labor forces have been weakened by the decline in communist influence in recent years and by the pursuit of the idea of "unity" regardless of the actual policy content of such "unity". This has often resulted in acceptance of rightwing policies and arguments and the idea that the only choice is to elect a Labor government ignoring the necessity to fight for progressive policies and to support the aim of establishing a people's government dedicated to policies which firmly pursue the needs and interests of the working people.
The Liberal Party leadership has also moved substantially to the right and has adopted a number of the policies first put forward by One Nation. This rightward shift is reflected in the Liberal Party's attitude to migration, the United Nations, in its discrimination against single parents, its "troops on the streets" legislation, its refusal to acknowledge the crime of the "stolen generations" of the Aboriginal people, its support for the US NMD program, in the rapid privatisation program of enterprises and institutions, its promotion of religious organisations in the fields of welfare and education, etc.
As the difficulties and the crisis facing the capitalist system increase and as the opposition of the people grows, the Liberal-National Party coalition government will take even more repressive measures and adopt even more conservative social, economic and political policies. A number of these policies are taking on a neo-fascist character.
The ruling class, through the main mass media, promoted One Nation for a time and having prepared the ground, then began to pursue its reactionary policies through the Liberal-National Party coalition.
The National Party represents large farmers and graziers and agri-businesses, but finds its base of voter support among family farmers (both large and small scale) and the residents of country towns. However, the policies of the National Party and their Liberal coalition partners — on such questions as deregulation, taxation and privatisation of government services — are contributing to forcing small farmers off the land. As the numbers engaged in agriculture have declined, the base of the National Party has shrunk. It attempted to increase its base by moving into city electorates but this move brought it into conflict with the Liberal Party and was largely unsuccessful.
The serious economic and social problems confronting many country farmers and workers (country unemployment, the closure of government and other commercial establishments such as banks and post offices) has resulted in considerable discontent with the Coalition parties. However, rather than this discontent being reflected in support for more progressive organisations, considerable support has been given to One Nation.
With several changes of leaders in the 1990s, the Democrats moved to the right. This is reflected in their attempts to find accommodation with the Coalition parties. As a consequence the Australian Democrats supported the privatisation of 49 per cent of Telstra, voted for the GST and for the Howard Government's repressive industrial legislation. All of these decisions by the Democrats gave the Coalition government important legislative successes which are extremely detrimental to the working people of Australia.
The Democrats remain a petty-bourgeois party based mainly on professional workers, small businesses and the self-employed. It relies more on parliamentary work than on encouraging mass action outside parliament.
The Democrats do not make a class analysis of society but attempt to portray themselves as standing between the excesses of the big corporations and what they regard as the excesses of the working class. They merely call for a "fairer" form of capitalist society.
Despite its swing to the right the Democrats retain a number of progressive policies on such issues as the environment, social security, health, ethnic affairs, Aborigines and foreign affairs for example.
In contrast to the Australian Democrats, the Greens have moved to a more progressive position and have adopted good policies, not only on questions of the environment but on social and economic issues as well.
Again, in contrast to the Democrats, The Greens encourage and take part in grass roots actions on environmental and ecological questions as well as on other issues. They took part in the S11 demonstrations and in parliament opposed the sell-off of Telstra, the Federal government's industrial legislation, the law putting troops on the streets and the government's discriminatory legislation directed against some sections of the community.
If implemented the policies of The Greens would bring a new direction to Australian politics.
In recent times they have advanced their party in association with the trade union movement, thereby allying themselves more closely with the working class.
Despite a number of splits, divisions and desertions by even elected representatives, One Nation continues to win support from many voters in the country and in Australian cities. The Party and its principal leader, Pauline Hanson continues to receive widespread coverage in the mass media.
One Nation's demagogic policies and slogans continue to appeal to a section of the community who are discontented with the present situation and express their discontent by following One Nation's call to remove all sitting members. One Nation has been supported by many in rural Australia who are victims of economic rationalist policies. One Nation rails against the banks and refugees and puts forward racist and anti-foreigner policies. One Nation would withdraw Australia from the UN.
It is anti-communist and anti-working class and its policies are extremely rightwing. One Nation has similar policies to and is supported by the League of Rights and National Action which are notorious neo-fascist organisations.
None of these Parties have the objective of ending the capitalist system. Indeed, the central task of the Liberal and National parties, for example, is to maintain and strengthen capitalism. The progressive organisations and parties engage in the struggle for popular reforms and this is an important aspect of the class struggle. We aim to unite all progressive organisations in this struggle and we have a duty to win support for a program to change the direction of Australian politics.
There is a weakening of the two-party system taking place. Despite the electoral difficulties smaller parties are beginning to win significant votes although representation in parliaments has been mostly limited to the Senate and to a number of State Upper Houses. The disillusionment with the major parties has seen many voters look to the Greens, the Democrats or progressive independents. However, this widespread disillusion can swing to the right, even the extreme right. The support for One Nation confirms this. None-the-less, alternative policies are being presented and, on some issues, challenge the policies of the corporations and the conservative and rightwing Labor parties.
So far, however, few vote for those who stand for the socialist alternative. Instead, they give their support to candidates they judge to be "good" and "honest", in the hope that these will, given the opportunity, succeed in "cleaning up" a "dirty" political system in which many people have lost faith.
The Communist Party must, as a matter of priority, work to draw together all left and progressive parties and community organisations or elements in these organisations into a popular anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly democratic front transcending party and organisational boundaries. The aim of such a front is to build the widest possible unity of the people's organisations. Within the front, differences on policies and tactics will inevitably exist. It will be necessary to agree on platforms and for this, it may be necessary to make concessions in negotiation with other parties and groups in the front, to integrate as many forces as possible. Unity and breadth will be of vital importance to the success of a popular democratic front. The anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly unity should transcend any differences, while compromises must not lead the people's movement into dissolution or towards the "management of the system".
Such a front presupposes either formal or informal agreements on issues held in common not only at the grass-roots level, but also between organisations and their leaderships. For example, while no formal agreement among organisations came into existence during the 1998 waterfront dispute an extremely broad range of supporters helped to defend the locked out workers in the form of the "community pickets". The demonstrations against the WEF are another example in which the cooperation of many organisations and individuals created a powerful movement against globalisation.
The Party seeks both short-term and long-term agreements for joint action with, first and foremost, other left progressive organisations — Greens, trade unions, progressive community organisations, social-democratic parties, and other people's organisations. We lay stress on the development of mass action in which coalitions of organisations and individuals can play a major part in mobilising thousands and tens of thousands of workers and those in other social groups and classes that are anti-monopoly.
This does not mean that communists abandon their own independent work of communist education, organisation and mobilisation of the working people. While working in coalitions the ideological work of the Party must continue to oppose both the limitations and blind alleys of reformist ideas and those of the left sectarians. Communists must awaken the class-consciousness of working people and, above all, build the Party as the organisation that has the essential task of bringing class and socialist consciousness to the working-class movement.
It is the Communist Party's view that an effective change of policies and direction is needed. The alleviation of even some of the worst features of the present economic and social system with its drive for maximum profits, requires the establishment of a new type of government such as has not been seen in Australia before.
Such a government, closely linked with the people's mass movements and struggles, could implement many of the policy proposals which have been put forward by the left and progressive political parties, by trade unions, environmental, peace, educational and community organisations, health and democratic rights bodies and so on.
Many more left and progressive parliamentarians are needed at all levels of government. Respected, knowledgeable and active participants in the above organisations should be encouraged to stand for office. Progressive parliamentarians can publicise, resource and help to build the people's struggles and, when sufficiently numerous, could form a government committed to fulfilling an agreed program of policy proposals.
The political program and aims of such a new type government would have to be worked out in discussion and negotiation between the representatives of the organisations willing to form a coalition in government.
Details of a commonly adopted national program and explanations of it would be widely publicised. Representative organisations and individuals would be encouraged to participate in discussion of the program and its purposes and be invited to submit proposals and amendments. A major aim would be the maximum participation of workers, scientists, technologists, economists and other academics to both plan the priorities, the means to achieve the stated objectives and to ensure that bureaucratic distortions and corrupt practices were quickly brought under control and eliminated.
To be effective, we believe that such a new type government would have to implement policies to substantially curb the power of the big corporations and increase the democratic rights of the people, especially the working class and the trade union movement.
A government of this type — a real people's government — would include the political representatives of all the progressive and democratic forces, from communist and left Labor, from trade unions and progressive community organisations, from the Greens and environmental organisations, from working farmers, professional and small business circles. Such a government would be democratic, multi-party and answerable to the people. As the vast majority of the population are working people we believe that the representatives of the working class would form the core of the new government.
The CPA as part of a government of people's unity would seek the implementation of a program of policies in the interests of the working people and the other social groups represented in the new type government.
The full implementation of the new government's program will take a considerable time during which the big corporations and their political supporters will attempt to regain their power and privileges. In this period, the continuous active support of the people would be necessary to ensure the defeat of these counter attempts. The new government must be prepared to mobilise the people to win support for, assist implement and safeguard changes which are in the interests of the people and which challenge the power of capital.
The winning of government by an anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly coalition would be a first step in the protracted and historical struggle to wrest power from the capitalist ruling class.
Recognising that many organisations which could come together to form a government of people's unity will each contribute to the formulation of an agreed program of policies, the Communist Party advances the following ideas and proposals on its behalf:
These and other social and economic policies would be incorporated into an economic program that would outline the measures to be taken to achieve designated objectives. Details of the national program and explanations of it would be widely publicised. Representative organisations and individuals would be encouraged to participate in discussions of the program and its purposes and be invited to submit proposals and amendments. A major aim would be the maximum participation of workers, scientists, technologists, economists and other academics to both plan the priorities, the means to achieve the stated objectives and guard against bureaucratic distortions and corrupt practices.
The capitalist system is unable to provide for the lives of the overwhelming majority of the world's people who continue to live in poverty, unemployment, without adequate health care, education housing, clean water and much else. The Communist Party proposes a socialist solution to the problems created by capitalism.
The reconstruction of economic and political life in favour of the people necessitates the wealth, power and so-called "rights" of big capital being challenged and restricted. This process will take some considerable time. As progress is made, more people will come to the conclusion that big capital also has to be eradicated. Over a long historical period the people's own political experiences will lead them to support and eventually adopt as their own, the revolutionary policy that the full implementation of the people's program requires a socialist reconstruction of society.
The socialist stage of revolutionary development means that working class power replaces capitalist class power and that more radical steps must be taken to end the control and ownership of the economy by capitalism.
As has happened in many other countries, the forces of the old ruling class will attempt to regain their power and their private ownership of the means of production. More than ever, the active involvement of the people, prepared to use all forms of struggle, will be needed to defeat these counter-revolutionary attempts.
The struggle for socialism calls for an intense ideological contest to overcome persisting notions that it is sufficient to achieve some reforms and that a real political change in Australian society can be achieved by a "middle" or a "third" way.
A socialist change is not possible through the periodic reforms and the class collaboration that lies at the core of social-democratic policies. The idea that reforms within the capitalist system are the limit of possible change has been instilled in workers for decades. It cannot be expected that workers who are under the influence of social democracy and are satisfied with small reforms and the ideology of class collaboration with the bourgeoisie, will break with this ideology of their own accord. It is the responsibility of communists to overcome the influence of reformist ideology. The work of explaining the principles and program of the Communist Party must be carried on patiently, in a comradely fashion, and must be adapted to the degree of development of individual workers. Our policies and our criticism must be concrete and systematic and must be based on the experience of the working people themselves.
Socialism has many achievements and these should be stressed during this period when the whole weight of the capitalist media is used to denigrate socialism and assert that it has failed, is dead and cannot be restored.
Socialism brought tremendous gains to the living standards, security and welfare of the people of the socialist countries. Unemployment was eliminated. Education and culture reached previously unattained levels. The sciences often surpassed that achieved in the more industrially developed countries. Housing was built on a mass scale. Production soared in many fields. A new relationship between nations was established based on equality and mutual benefit. The socialist states consistently campaigned for international peace and disarmament and were in the forefront of the struggle to ban nuclear testing and to eliminate nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
This is not to overlook the shortcomings, the sometimes wrong policies and the lack of attention to some social problems, particularly that of effectively involving the people in the political, economic and social affairs that closely affected their everyday lives.
In the period since the counter-revolution in the Soviet Union, communist parties have been giving a great deal of attention to these problems, to learn from them and, thereby, avoid similar mistakes and shortcomings in the future.
The Communist Parties of China, Vietnam, Cuba and the DPRK, where socialist regimes have not been overthrown, have maintained majority public ownership in their economies and are building socialism in accordance with the circumstances and traditions of their countries. Many parties, including a number that are influential , continue their work in the former socialist states while the struggle for socialism remains on the banners of all communist parties.
The Communist Party of Australia reaffirms its commitment to a socialist future and believes the following main principles need to be implemented during the construction of a socialist society:
The maintenance of the democratic gains already won in capitalist society by working class and people's struggle is essential.
The transition to socialism is closely related to the development of people's democracy, encouraging the involvement of the people in all aspects of the life of society, through the democratisation of the mass media, improved electoral laws, including proportional representation, the existence of strong and militant trade unions, the strengthening of community organisations, the institution of a republican form of government and the extension of the public sector of the economy.
The participation of workers in all matters, not only through their elected parliamentary representatives, but also through the activity of workers' committees established in enterprises and communities is essential.
A number of political parties will continue to represent different sections of the people with their cooperation consummated in the form of a strong coalition.
A socialist society would be based on the predominance of public ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, particularly of those enterprises which are major or key factors in the economy. Other forms of ownership including co-operative, private enterprises and joint public and private enterprises would continue to exist for a considerable period of time.
A socialist society presupposes the macro-planning of economic and social development to eliminate the booms and slumps of capitalist economies and to ensure that steps necessary to maintain a sustainable economy are strictly observed. Economic controls and planning which serve the people are distinguishing features of socialist society.
Mechanisms to plan economic and social development can take a number of forms — a planning authority and the use of various economic levers such as taxation, interest rates, import and export controls, price controls, etc. The use of supply and demand factors in the market will also be used. However, this does not mean that the market and only the market would determine all things as in capitalist society. Macro-economic controls, planning and the market would be combined in a socialist society.
A socialist government would educate everyone in an attitude of concern for, and a lifestyle which protects the environment. Measures to protect the environment will demand constant vigilance and public awareness together with democratic involvement and accountability. Community environmental organisations would be encouraged and supported.
Socialist principles of co-operation between peoples, opposition to racism and narrow nationalism, support for peace and humanitarianism and scientific thinking would be encouraged.
Experience also shows that it is necessary to clearly define the role of the communist party in society and in government. A proper understanding needs to be reached of the party's responsibility in government and its role as a force in the community.
The party must strictly maintain the distinction between the party and non-party community organisations such as trade unions, youth and women's organisations recognising that Party and non-Party organisation play different roles and carry different responsibilities. For example, the primary role of the trade unions is to protect the interests and rights of the working people who are its members and there may sometimes be a conflict with decisions of government.
Bureaucratic tendencies will inevitably arise and these have to be fought against both inside and outside government. They are best met by the development of the democratic participation of the working people at all levels of government and society.
A protracted struggle will be necessary in the fields of ideology, the economy, culture, politics and state power, to defeat the attempts of the defeated ruling class to regain its lost power.
The Party has to provide leadership in many fields — in ideology and the practical application of theory to the tasks of the times, in organisational work taking part in and developing activities, in building the party particularly among the working class, in the political and theoretical education of its members and supporters, in working to build the necessary left and progressive forms of unity, in defending socialism and elaborating socialist policies for Australia, in maintaining and developing the cooperation of communist parties internationally.
It is vitally necessary to develop many more Party cadres who are capable of providing the all round leadership to the working people that is necessary. This means in the first place, education in Marxism-Leninism and its application to the tasks and political developments of the times. The classics of Marx, Engels and Lenin remain the main source for ideological enlightenment, that is, dialectical and historical materialism, political economy and class struggle. These are the essential elements of Marxism. They have stood the test of time in the socialist revolutions and revolutionary struggles undertaken by communist parties in the last 150 years. But theory is not a dogma. It is a guide to action that calls for study of the realities of the present time and the correct application of Marxist theory. Theory and practice have to be combined at every stage with adopted policies and tactics tested against the practical results.
Study is not limited to that of theory and ideology. It is also necessary that the various organisational and practical skills be learnt so that the Party becomes an efficient organisation, making full use of the available technology. This includes skills in organisation and education, how to check the fulfillment of decisions taken, how to undertake the various responsibilities of secretaries, treasurers, etc., how to publish leaflets and booklets, how to write articles and letters for publication, how to speak in public, etc.
All party organisations, from the Central Committee to every branch should undertake regular study of all subjects — theory, practical work, organisation and administrative skills.
The building of party workplace organisations which were once a basic strength of the Communist Party of Australia is a decision which the emerging working class struggles demands be implemented as a matter of urgency. This is a task that will only come to fruition with painstaking, detailed and persistent work. Every single worker in industry and every single comrade who is active in a trade union must be nurtured and helped in this difficult work. Help means help in a practical and supportive way. Experience shows that success requires a great deal of initiative, resourcefulness and patience. Party members in workplaces can be helped with advice on political and economic questions, helped with the writing of articles and leaflets, helped in how to answer various questions, etc.
The current problems which face the working class as a result of the offensive of capital and the loss of trade union membership and influence in many industries can only be reversed by the reestablishment of substantial Party influence among the working people and in trade unions. The strong influence of social democracy and Accord type thinking in the trade union movement are reasons why trade unions have lost influence and membership. It is these political and organisational tasks which have to be met in a practical and non-sectarian way.
Communists must continuously review their work and exercise criticism of their own errors and weaknesses. Their objective is a socialist society founded on socialist principles and the political power of the working class supported by its allies. These objectives can only be realised by mobilising the broadest possible popular forces in the struggle to win and then construct a socialist society. Stubborn and ruthless opposition to the building of socialism is to be expected from the capitalist class. This opposition will occur throughout the transition period and after the building of socialism. Measures must be put in place to deal with it throughout those respective stages. The long and courageous struggles of the many generations of workers and revolutionaries, despite temporary setbacks, have not been in vain.
It is in this period that new urgency has been given to cooperation between the various communist parties of the world. This has often been expressed in the form of conferences and forums at which questions of common interest have been discussed. It is increasingly taking the form of active cooperation on issues of mutual benefit to the parties and countries concerned.
It is as well to remember that struggle and changes in society take place by both reform and revolution. By reforms is meant those changes in the interests of the working class and working people that can be achieved within the existing system of capitalism. A wage increase, the winning of safety provisions, workers' compensation, better health services, etc. are all objectives that can and have been won as a result of struggle for these reforms, without changing the social system. The ruling class also make use of the word "reform" but they mean by reforms those changes which are in the interests of the employers — deregulation of the banking system, a reduction of wage levels, the destruction of the Award system, are examples. By revolution is meant changes of a fundamental nature that result in the overthrow of capitalism and the building of a new socialist society. The change from capitalist class rule to working class rule is a revolutionary change. The transformation of private ownership to public ownership is another necessary revolutionary change.
We must learn from all experiences to better equip all members for the tasks and responsibilities that Party membership carries.
The Communist Party has maintained its adherence to scientific socialism as developed mainly by Marx, Engels and Lenin.
It means basing our analysis and work on the application of dialectical and historical materialism, political economy and the reality of the class struggle.
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.
The education of Party members in Marxism-Leninism, in the Party program and in contemporary political events is a foremost responsibility of every Party committee. At the present time insufficient attention is being given to this task. Enhancing theoretical understanding is a never-ending task. Practice without theory is blind, while theory without practice is sterile.
Regular study organised by Party branches, by State and District Committees and by the Central Committee must become a principal feature of Party life in the future.
Party committees should impress upon Party members the importance of individual study, which can be undertaken in conjunction with objectives set by Party organisations and linked to life and work.
Two main departures from Marxism-Leninism have often asserted themselves in communist parties and need to be discussed and overcome. The first is dogmatism and sectarianism and the second is a rejection of both the class struggle and the need for a communist party.
We believe that attention needs to be paid to the following errors in method and approach.
Ultra-leftists often reject the fight for reforms as a legitimate part of the struggle for fundamental social change. Those who engage in the struggle for reforms are accused of "selling out", "sowing illusions among the workers" or "compromising".
In Australia these concepts have been expressed in a call to turn every strike struggle into a general strike or even revolution irrespective of the circumstances and without preparation or winning the necessary support.
If "advanced" and "revolutionary" sounding demands and slogans are put forward which are beyond the understanding or willingness of workers to struggle for they result in confusion and retard the development of the workers' movement. They can result in disunity and defeat.
George Dimitrov, the Secretary of the Communist International in 1935, referred to those who put forward simplified methods of solving the most complex problems of the working class movement as those for whom "mountains are mere stepping stones."
This approach was also condemned by Lenin when he spoke of the "revolutionary phrase which leads to the death of the revolution".
A variant of this idea is the concept of "permanent revolution" which often masks a rejection of the necessity for stages in the revolutionary process. It is a denial of the fact that change takes place by both "evolution" and "revolution".
The call for "permanent revolution" is often a call for the situation to be kept in a state of continuous revolution. This idea has nothing in common with Marxist dialectics.
Much criticism has been levelled at socialist countries based on the idea that it is not possible to build socialism in a single country. This arises from lack of confidence in the power of the revolutionary movement and, on the other hand, an over-estimation of the power of the remaining capitalist powers. It suggests that no socialist revolution can be successful and, therefore, should not be attempted until the working people of all countries are ready to struggle for and win power and start to build socialist societies.
To follow this argument to its logical conclusion means that the Russian and Chinese revolutions should not have been undertaken, not to mention Cuba, Vietnam and other countries. Life itself has exposed the argument that socialism cannot be built in one country even in circumstances of capitalist encirclement. Cuba is a prime example of the falsity of this argument.
Ultra-leftists often refuse to work in alliances with non-revolutionary groups, claiming that alliances with reformists or sections of the middle class in particular circumstances and for particular limited objectives are "betrayals" of the revolution. This reflects a refusal to accept the struggle for partial demands or to work in alliances except with those who share similar, sectarian attitudes.
The different roles of the party, trade unions and community mass organisations are mixed up and an attempt is made to impose revolutionary objectives on any and all organisations, irrespective of their aims and objectives. For example, leftist organisations have in the past put forward the slogan of "Electing a Labor Party Government with socialist policies". The Labor Party is not, however, a socialist party and has never worked for that objective. It is an unrealistic proposal.
Some on the left refuse to work in a democratic manner and on the basis of mutual respect and equality with others who have a different outlook on some questions. They refuse to accept that others may be in leading positions because of their popular support.
Another mistake to be avoided is to concentrate on what divides the left and progressive forces to prove the "purity" of one's own organisation and policy. A principled approach to other forces entails giving emphasis to and finding points of unity around which action in the interests of the working people and progressive forces can be developed.
There is, on the part of some, a refusal to extend the mass struggle into the electoral arena. Taking part in elections is branded as "parliamentarism", that is, a reliance on elections as the sole means of achieving change. We see the parliamentary arena as an important area of struggle against reactionary policies in which much can be done to unite the working class and other social forces. At the same time, parliamentary work has to be based on work outside parliament to build the mass movement. These two fields of work do not exclude one another.
Another error is to pose membership against leadership of organisations. This happens especially in attitudes to trade unions, where all trade union officials are seen as "bureaucrats" or "misleaders of the workers". A correct approach to work in trade unions should have the overall aim of strengthening the militancy and unity of the union as a whole. The strongest unions are those in which there is confidence between leadership and membership working together. This includes developing organisational structures that result in the full participation of members in all the affairs of the organisation.
A never-ending campaign against "bureaucracy" is often used as cover for libertarian demands for absolute freedom for themselves resulting in the effectiveness, strength and respect for the organisation's democratic processes being undermined. At the same time, these ultra-democratic principles are not extended to others in those organisations in which they have leadership.
Some leftists pursue a policy of flooding into other organisations which have a mass influence. The aim is to "use" that organisation to build up their own strength and is a kind of parasitism. Having gained maximum benefit for their own narrow objectives, they shift their resources to another target.
Another serious issue is the development of nationalism. Some on the left raise national separatism to an absolute principle. It was just such a wave that contributed to the dismemberment of the Soviet Union and brought a grave setback for socialism throughout the world. The promotion of national antagonisms is a weapon widely used by imperialism against socialist and progressive governments. Nationalism, when raised to an absolute, downgrades internationalism and the necessity for international solidarity with those in the struggle against imperialism.
Ultra-left trends have appeared in all countries from time to time. In the main the working class movement is repelled by sectarianism and narrow-mindedness. Ultra-left groups have never been trusted with the leadership of the revolutionary movement in any country, nor have they provided leadership for the victory of socialism in any country. On the other hand, they have often done great damage to revolutionary movements by building false hopes and misguided expectations which often result in burn-out and cynicism.
Rightist ideas are also present in the working class and revolutionary movements. They lead to the abandonment of the class struggle and the liquidation of the revolutionary party. Such ideas often arise from defeatism and are a capitulation to the economic power, influence and ideas of the ruling class. The class struggle is replaced by proposals that society is motivated by "common interests" or "universal human values" which apply to all, irrespective of their class position in society. The class struggle is condemned as "crude", "doctrinaire", "mechanistic", "confrontationist" or "outdated".
The ruling class campaigns ceaselessly against recognition of the existence of classes in society. Such recognition would expose the minority status of the capitalist ruling class in society. It has, however, not abandoned the class struggle itself and continues to attack workers' wages, conditions of work and the trade unions. It fights the class struggle while advocating that workers should abandon it. It was the relegation and denial of the class struggle that led to the adoption of the Accord by large sections of the trade union leadership including some who professed to be communists.
Rightists idealise the democratic rights existing in capitalist societies and present them in a non-class way and as superior to the democratic rights existing in socialist societies. A super-critical attitude is adopted towards existing socialist countries. There is a failure to publicise the achievements of socialist countries for fear of being labeled as supporters of "undemocratic regimes". This has not only weakened the struggle for an extension of democratic rights in capitalist societies but also weakened the struggle for socialism.
There are those who downgrade and belittle Marxist-Leninist ideology and theory, declaring them "out of date", no longer "relevant" to present day society, or "dogmatic". Marxism-Leninism is often supplanted by so-called "new left" ideas that are neither "new" nor "left". They advance as "new", ideas that have been contended with in the communist movement even in the time of Marx and Engels. The ideas of the "new left" are non-revolutionary and are a repudiation of scientific socialism. They originate from a non-class view of society and are an unprincipled compromise with capitalism. Some who advance these ideas become defeatist, become adherents of social democracy or join the capitalist class as advisers.
Some on the left and the right view history from the point of view of individuals rather than seeing individuals in the totality of their social role. No better example of this is the unending demonisation of revolutionary and working class leaders. What is needed is an objective analysis of historical circumstances and the positive and negative role played by individuals within this wider context.
Rightists abandon the class struggle, the need for a revolutionary party and the objective of socialism. Left-sectarian ideas reduce a Marxist-Leninist party to an isolated, narrow sect continuously shouting allegedly "revolutionary" slogans while failing to make a realistic analysis of actual circumstances.
Modern society is at a turning point. Never has its division "into two great hostile camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other — bourgeois and proletariat", to which Marx and Engels referred in the Communist Manifesto, been sharper or clearer. But as the ravages of capitalism and imperialism eat at the very fabric of the planet, time is no longer on our side.
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 — that will depend on 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.