"Struggle" — the battle cry for 1999!
In an article in the January 9, 1999, issue of the People's Weekly World, Gus Hall, National Chair of the Communist Party USA, shared some thoughts about 1998 and predictions for the coming year. His remarks were an edited version of a speech delivered to the CPUSA's annual holiday open house in New York City. Unfortunately, all is not well with the world. The production and stockpiling of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons poses a threat to the very existence of the world. We face the threat of mass annihilation so long as these weapons exist on any country's soil — making it possible for anyone, anywhere to obtain and use them. What the world needs now more than anything else is the immediate and total elimination of all these lethal weapons. The United Nations, the world's peacekeeper, must take the initiative to establish an international movement, a movement that will mobilise all the countries and peoples of the world to unite and forever eliminate all weapons of mass destruction from the face of the earth. To do so, the UN must stop playing around with all kinds of secondary and irrelevant issues. It is time to sound a warning. It is time to mobilise world public opinion against these horrific weapons that, if loosed on the world, could annihilate the entire population two times over. Hasn't the world suffered enough from these monstrous weapons? Civilisation has never faced a challenge of such magnitude. All progressive, peace-loving people of the world must unite and accept this challenge to save our precious planet from these weapons of death and destruction. We can only do that by eliminating them from the face of the earth. Right-wing conspiracy The tremendous electoral victories of 1998 [in the US] were truly a people's victory. It was politics of unity that did the job on the Republicans. The results were the beginning of a new coalition electoral pattern. Make no mistake, the Republicans suffered a big, unexpected setback. It was not only an electoral setback, but also an ideological and long-range political setback. It was a jolt you would expect the rabid right-wing leadership to take note of and maybe even back off to save their political necks. But, no, they want to get Clinton so badly that they recklessly and contemptuously continue to ignore the will of the people. It isn't that they just hate Bill Clinton personally. It is a political vendetta. The ultraright has a "Contract on America" agenda and they see Clinton as an obstacle. So they called together the Gingrich gang, who took over the Republican Party, some extremists and fanatics — like the Christian Coalition, Ken Starr, Linda Tripp — and corporate moneybags like Richard Scaife, and they hatched their conspiracy. We fully agree with Hillary Clinton when she called it a "vast right-wing conspiracy". It was just that right from the very beginning. Like most Americans, we do not condone Clinton's personal behaviour or the recent attack on Iraq. But the crisis is much, much bigger than any inappropriate behaviour and moral outrage. It is an attempted right-wing coup d'etat at the highest levels — an attempt to seize the reigns of government. What we have witnessed in the US Congress is the ugly face of fascism. What they could not win in the electoral arena, they are determined to win "by any means necessary", including riding roughshod over the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the laws of the land, democratic rights and even human decency. Struggle The theme for 1998 was "change". In 1999, it should be "struggle". Struggle means militancy, strikes, picket lines, protests and demonstrations, rank- and-file movements and coalitions. The theme of struggle fits today's trade union movement. With a new leadership, it is organising and leading important, militant struggles and strikes, most of which they are winning. They are conducting drives to organise unorganised workers. The AFL-CIO's campaign for "2,000 (labour candidates) in 2000" will elect trade union members to public office. Labour played, perhaps, the key role in the November electoral struggles, organising coalitions of broad sections of people, in which our party was a full partner. The electoral struggles showed that the Communist Party is now accepted as a legal political organisation that trade unionists and others can work with and join without fear of being labelled or isolated. Agricultural workers, who suffer terrible working conditions, low pay and vicious anti-immigrant campaigns, are in struggle to organise unions in the fields. The small family farmers, who fed generations of Americans, are in struggle to keep what's left of their farms. Farmers are going bankrupt, thrown off their land and into poverty. Huge agribusinesses now completely dominate US food production, from seed to supermarket, while farmers and their families go jobless and hungry. Struggle describes the US Congress — the struggle between the two parties, the struggle within the Republican Party, the struggle between the Congress and the President, between the right wing and the people. Struggle is the trademark of the movements against racism. It is a struggle for equal rights for African-American, Mexican-American, Latino, and American Indian people — for all nationally oppressed peoples. Racism means discrimination, prejudice, oppression, police brutality, no medical coverage, no jobs, slum housing and poor education. Women workers, who make only 75 percent of men's wages, are still in struggle to win equal pay for equal work. The senior struggles to save Social Security are leading the way to an all-people's movement. Young people are in struggle for the right to an education, to a decent job, a Youth and Students' Bill of Rights. People's movements are in struggle to save all the entitlements that are being stolen, one by one, and the social safety net that is being ripped to shreds. Struggle is the only way to resist lower wages, downsizing and mass layoffs, poverty, homelessness and hunger. Struggle is the only way to eliminate food lines, homeless shelters and emergency rooms that are turning away thousands every day. In New York City alone over 400,000 are going hungry and more than 25,000 are homeless children on the streets, eating out of garbage cans and living under cardboard. Unity in struggle The key is not just unity, but unity in struggle. Throughout US history the people have won only with unity in struggle. Through struggle, the American people learned that "in unity there is strength". Without unity in struggle, the Civil War could not have been won. Without unity in struggle, the New Deal, Social Security and unemployment insurance could not have been won. Without unity in struggle, the civil rights laws could not have been won. Without unity in struggle workers would not be able to organise trade unions and win strikes. There are millions of temporary, part-time workers. There are millions of permanently unemployed workers. The great majority who are working live in a state of daily dread. They are in constant fear that the company they work for will make a cold- blooded decision to downsize their jobs and with it their homes, their children's education and any hope for a happy New Year. With unity in struggle the labour and people's movements can win a Public Works Jobs Bill to create millions of jobs and rebuild our crumbling cities. It will only be with unity — black, brown and white unity — that this coming year's struggles will be victorious. On a world scale there is a struggle between two opposing systems, capitalism and socialism. We Communists predict that socialism will win this struggle. The key word for our party is also "struggle". For 80 years the Communist Party has been fighting on the side of all working people in their struggles for a better life. Wherever people are in struggle, we are there — in the struggle to save Social Security, public education, welfare, Medicare and Medicaid, to stop privatisation and the gutting of all our entitlements and to preserve our democratic rights. All of these are part of the class struggle between the "haves" and the "have-nots" that will go on year after year until the great majority of Americans decide the system doesn't work anymore, that it is broken and can't be fixed, and that socialism is the best — and only — solution. Why? Because the great class divide between those who produce all the wealth and those who steal it for their private profit is getting bigger every year. 1998 was a banner year for corporate profits and stockholder dividends. Mergers and acquisitions produced huge conglomerates that roam the earth, stealing more billions and plundering more countries than ever before. Conglomerisation and privatisation have become code words for downsizing, plant closings and mass layoffs. Under capitalism the higher productivity is resulting, simultaneously, in a higher level of joblessness and poverty. As the new technology produces more advanced automated and computerised systems, layoffs and plant closings will increase. Advanced technology is based on replacing human hands, eyes and minds. Under capitalism, these great advances create leisure and wealth for the ruling class and unemployment and poverty for the working class. Under a rational socialist system of production, technology would be used to shorten the workweek, while at the same time raising the living standards of all workers. Socialism is in harmony with new, advanced technology. Socialism is the only system that can utilise technology for the benefit of all the people. New technology and socialism go together. Today, millions are asking: If the corporate and financial empires can accumulate such vast wealth, make profits in the billions, why can't this rich nation of ours guarantee basic human rights for everyone — a decent job at union wages; a decent, affordable place to live; free child care and a free education for all; free medical and dental care? The reason is simple: corporate profits and greed that gets more insatiable and ruthless every year. New Year's predictions Now let's look into our Communist crystal ball for 1999: * Most of the members of Congress who voted for Clinton's impeachment will be impeached by the electorate in coming elections. * The Republican Party will self-destruct. * The world stock market — including the US stock market — will fluctuate wildly and crash. * Exxon, which now has a chokehold on the world's oil, will increase oil production and then increase petrol prices. * Boeing Aircraft, the biggest in the industry, will cut production and go bankrupt. Companies like Boeing and Exxon announced New Year's layoffs in the hundreds of thousands. In 1999, they will begin public announcements of plant closings. * The scientific and technological revolution will bring on the next crisis of capitalism. * Living conditions for abandoned children, the poor, homeless, hungry, unemployed, sick, elderly and disabled will worsen. * The drive to privatise everything, including Social Security, will continue but the people increasingly will resist and win. * Communists will win more elections in Russia. Coalition governments, including the Communists, are the way of the future and maybe even a peaceful road back to socialism. * Gingrich, Ken Starr and Boris Yeltsin will be forced into the trash can of history. Gingrich is already out, Yeltsin will be out of power and Starr will be out of a job. * The radicalisation process of the people will accelerate. * The slogan "six-hour day, no cut in pay" will catch on. * The trade union movement will continue to grow. Strikes will be longer and more difficult. * And finally — we predicted this one last year, but the numbers were so good in 1998 that I want to try again — new members joining the Communist Party and the Young Communist League will double in 1999.