|51st Congress: International Resolution|
Read the final version of the international resolution "Oppose imperialism’s drive to super-exploitation and war" from the 51st Congress of the Communist Party.
The shift in the balance of world forces since 2008
In the wake of capitalism’s most recent crisis, a significant shift has taken place in the balance of world forces. China, Brazil, India and Russia have emerged economically stronger. China, particularly, has maintained a scale of growth that is shifting world investment patterns towards primary producing countries in Africa and Central and South America. As a result, a degree of cohesion is being developed, both globally and in certain regions, among countries acting independently of the US and its allies.
Yet the US remains the dominant imperialist power. It controls much of the international banking system and key technologies, and has overwhelming military strength. Its control over the world’s strategic resources is in part maintained through the global deployment of its military forces — although under President Obama the emphasis of US policy has shifted towards:
The systemic character of the capitalist crisis has also deepened contradictions among the imperialist powers.
The crisis of state-monopoly capitalist financial control across the European Union has put in peril Germany’s banking system and its continuing ability to provide the long-term investment that has sustained its technological and productive primacy in world markets. The new powers accorded to the European Union under the Lisbon Treaty are now being used to impose strongly deflationary policies, resulting in a crisis of local capitalist production in the weaker EU member states and a concentration of capacity in the hands of German and French monopolies. The exercise of these powers has clearly demonstrated the neo-liberal and federal character of the EU.
The biggest potential conflict within the EU is over the penetration of US finance capital and hence between Germany and France, on the one hand, and Britain — the key base for US finance capital operations — on the other. Britain seeks to defend the freedom of US investment banks and hedge funds to seize control of assets in EU countries — as well as defending its own ability to act as a production platform in the EU for US multinationals. This conflict of interests is likely to prove a fundamental one as deflationary policies threaten deeper economic recession.
Britain’s ability to act as an independent imperialist power has steadily diminished over the past two decades, as its own productive base has been eroded and its banking system subordinated to external speculative capital, mainly from the US. Its capacity to maintain global influence has depended upon:
The global role of the City of London is now being challenged. In these circumstances, the increasing importance of primary resources is likely to enhance the significance for British finance capital of their interests in the Middle East and Africa — with growing dangers of deeper military involvement with the EU and the US, and the extension of Britain’s mercenary role.
Imperialism’s military agenda
The Unites States' number one political and military goal in the post-Cold War era remains that of ensuring that no rival power emerges to challenge its position.
This has led to the eastward expansion of NATO and an increase in its out-of-area operations, as well as the strengthening of US military alliances and bases in the Asia-Pacific region. It has led to a growing intervention in the wider Middle East and Africa, and an expansion of the US military presence in Latin America.
At the same time, changes in the relation of world forces — in particular the rise of China and capital’s deep and on-going economic crisis — have weakened US hegemony, so that the United States becomes increasingly reliant on its undisputed military strength to uphold its role as the leading imperialist power.
Nuclear weapons and a global network of foreign bases are crucial to the maintenance of US military supremacy. The US aims at having the capability to carry out a nuclear attack against its opponents while protecting itself from retaliation. To this end, it is:
Thus the increasing use of military power by the US is the driving force behind nuclear proliferation, raising the spectre of a new 21st century arms race and threatening the future of humanity. This is the context in which to judge attempts by the US to further isolate the Democratic People's Republic of Korea; by the use of nuclear blackmail and the issuing of military threats, the US hopes to extend its foothold and increase the likelihood of conflict in the region.
Within the context of a changing balance of world forces, these developments in US military power have also stimulated the emergence of alternative political and security structures. Two challenges to US unipolar dominance are worthy of particular note.
Firstly, founded in 2001, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (comprising China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) has laid the foundations for a new regional realignment and is expanding its influence. Iran, Pakistan and India have taken observer status; and Belarus and Sri Lanka have opened partnership dialogues with the SCO.
Secondly, the past decade has seen a shift to the left in Central and South America, with progressive governments established in Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua beginning to challenge US hegemony. At the same time, the survival of socialism in Cuba remains an inspiration in the region and beyond. Under the presidency of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has played an indispensable role in bringing about economic and political alternatives in Latin America, including the formation in 2006 of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA). Together with Cuba, Venezuela has also played a leading role in the drive to establish the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations (CALC).
The Middle East and Central Asia
The US-led wars of aggression against Iraq and Afghanistan have dominated the first decade of the 21st century. US imperialism maintains strong geo-political interests in the wider Middle East, where the world’s biggest oil and natural gas reserves and some of its most strategically important distribution routes are to be found. However, US relations with its chief allies — Israel and Saudi Arabia — are increasingly insufficient for upholding its interests.
A just resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict which guarantees justice for the Palestinian people suffering Israeli state oppression and terrorism remains fundamental to securing a sustainable peace in the wider Middle East. Pressure on Israel is growing. Despite destroying the southern infrastructure of Lebanon, Israel’s 2006 invasion resulted in defeat in terms of its failure to achieve the destruction of Hezbollah as a serious military force. International anger at Israel over the attack on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09, reinvigorated by its recent attack on the Gaza aid flotilla and the murder of peace activists, reflects a significant shift in international opinion. In the region, relations with Turkey — previously a key regional supporter of Israel — are breaking down.
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the establishment of a puppet regime represented a military victory for US and British imperialism. In consequence, the US now has control of Iraqi oil and is setting up permanent military bases there. But the occupation has failed to produce a stable environment. The US is forced to maintain a huge troop presence to prop up the weak and disunited Baghdad regime, and will need to do so for the foreseeable future. Seven years of conflict have taken their toll on the Iraqi people. But resistance, though fragmented, remains widespread.
An unintended consequence of the Iraq war has been the strengthening of Iran as a major regional power and as the chief adversary of the US and its allies in the Middle East. The Iranian regime has demonstrated interest in securing spheres of interest in the Middle East that are not compatible with the US vision of a 'New Middle East'. Control of Iran, with its substantial oil and gas reserves and geopolitically sensitive location, continues to be a strategic aim of US foreign policy. Iran’s size and strategic position mean that it has the potential to pose a serious challenge to the interests of US-led imperialism. US attempts to isolate Iran diplomatically continue. However, China and Russia have not supported a full sanctions regime and, more recently, Turkey and Brazil have opposed a US-backed resolution at the UN Security Council.
Despite oft-repeated threats, US military inaction is a tacit admission that it cannot achieve a successful 'surgical strike'. It understands that war on Iran could ignite a military-political storm that would be likely to engulf the entire region including Afghanistan and Pakistan. Nevertheless, the threat of imperialist war on Iran remains.
In Central Asia, Afghanistan is of geo-strategic importance to imperialism, lying at the cusp where East meets West. After nine years of war against one of the world’s poorest countries, the US has failed to achieve any of its military objectives. At the same time, its military campaign in Afghanistan is seriously destabilising Pakistan.
The war in Afghanistan is an unwinnable war. US military strategy is publicly in crisis, with deep divisions in the top ranks of US military and political personnel over the size of troop deployment, rules of engagement and relations with the Taliban. Meanwhile, Taliban forces are notching up significant victories and the numbers of foreign troops killed and injured is mounting, matched by growing opposition to the war in all the countries which supply NATO forces. The Afghan Army is unfit to take over from NATO and will remain so in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, with the sole exception so far of Britain, US NATO allies are preparing to withdraw from active participation.
Central and South America
The first decade of the 21st century has seen the emergence of progressive governments and left social forces. In particular, the continued presence of the progressive Chavez government in Venezuela is seen as an immediate threat to imperialist interests. Openly critical of US exploitation, Chavez is developing strong and independent international relations, including with China and Russia, while seeking to establish regional political and security relationships and structures that contest US dominance.
On the pretext of fighting a war on drugs, the US has responded to these developments by stepping up its military intervention in the region. It seeks to exercise strategic control in Latin America to defend imperialism from left-leaning governments and social forces, and thereby protect its access to the natural resources of a region rich in oil as well as timber, rubber, gold and bauxite.
Claiming concern about a supposed regional arms race led by Venezuela, the US established access to seven military bases in Colombia when it signed a bilateral treaty in October 2009. Colombia is the region’s highest military spender, devoting 4 per cent of its GDP to the military budget; its 254,000 troops are second in size only to Brazil. The US has also given material support to the military coup regime which replaced the progressive democratically-elected government of Honduras.
The US now has military bases across Central and Southern America in El Salvador, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Curacao, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay and on the island of Cuba. And the US Navy’s Fourth Fleet, deactivated at the end of World War Two, is patrolling regional waters again but now with nuclear capability.
At the same time, the US has extended its blockade of Cuba. For half a century, Cuba has been subject to sustained economic, political and sometimes military attacks by the United States, aimed at isolating this small island and defeating the Cuban revolution.
Climate change and imperialism’s military agenda
Climate change is inextricably linked to imperialism’s military agenda.
The expansion of society’s productive forces in the capitalist era has led to a profound reshaping of ecological and, consequentially, social systems. Global warming — the continuing rise in the earth’s average temperature caused by a build-up of CO2 and other 'greenhouse' gases — has resulted in a number of detrimental changes to the natural environment, such as more frequent extreme weather conditions, the threatened extinction of animal and plant species, coastal erosion, desertification, etc. The result is increasing immiseration, migration and conflict.
These human impacts of global warming are differentially distributed. The world’s poorest regions, countries and peoples bear the brunt of adverse eco-system changes. For example, the destruction of rainforests in Amazonia and elsewhere, through logging and agricultural clearance, has reached emergency proportions to cause droughts and the loss of food crops ,with severe consequences for indigenous peoples.
Global warming has generated an increasingly urgent 'climate change' debate and, in some cases, mass popular movements opposing those activities which bring it about. Under capitalism, however, the search for solutions is distorted by the drive for profit and the accompanying competition over scarce natural resources. Imperialism regards access to these resources as an important component of state security.
In the 21st century, adequate supplies of non-renewable petroleum — especially oil, which is the most flexible of all energy sources — is a foundational component of economic growth and development. Oil is equally indispensable to ensuring military strength. But demand for it is growing at the same time as world supplies are diminishing. Without the (unlikely) discovery of significant new reserves or its (at present, equally unlikely) replacement by an adequate quantity of sustainable alternatives, competition will intensify.
The major imperialist powers, including Britain, have a long and continuing record of intervening in areas of the world rich in valuable natural resources, undermining and often destroying their prospects for balanced, stable economic and political development. This is especially true of the Middle East, where the likelihood exists of further military intervention by the US and its allies to maintain and extend imperialism’s access. Hence, oil wars are a feature of the new century.
Britain can and should be politically and economically sovereign and environmentally sustainable — a force for peace in the world. Britain's Communists will therefore work with those who press the British government to prioritise the development of domestically-produced renewable energy: hydro-electric, wind and solar power etc. In such campaigning, we will continue to emphasise that public money spent on the armed forces, over and above that absolutely necessary for national defence, should instead be invested in a state-led infrastructure and research and development programmes aimed at reducing to a minimum Britain’s dependence on non-renewable energy sources from abroad.
The legacies of British colonialism
Britain’s past role as the world’s biggest colonial power still casts a powerful and dangerous shadow, in terms of attempts both to mobilise chauvinist attitudes in Britain and attempts to exploit them in support of direct and indirect interventions in areas of traditional British interest.
In Africa, particularly, there have been repeated interventions — economic, diplomatic and directly military — to support those who perpetuate neo-colonial exploitation on behalf of British finance capital. Additionally, vast profits are generated for British TNCs through the exploitation of oil, gas and mineral resources in a diverse range of African countries such as Ghana, Mali, Angola, Algeria and South Africa.
To extend and preserve these interests, British imperialism makes use of a range of mechanisms which result in either subtle or explicit support for corrupt governments and dictatorships.
The increasing strategic importance of Africa’s resources to imperialism is likely to increase the likelihood of future economic, diplomatic and military intervention, under the guise of 'peace keeping', 'nation building' and the exercise of Britain’s 'civilising mission'. British imperialism’s role in Africa is supported by the European Union and by US strategy on the continent. Africom and the militaristic aspirations of the EU (manifested in the Lisbon Treaty) represent destabilising forces in the region, complimenting existing British military interests in countries such as Gambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In Ireland also we need to be aware of a continuing imperialist agenda. Every attempt is being made to normalise the inclusion of the northern six counties as part of the territory of the United Kingdom, and to establish the belief in Britain that the Good Friday Agreement was an agreement to continued partition and that British, US and EU interest in the North of Ireland is entirely benevolent.
British finance capital, together with that of the United States and the EU, still exercises disproportionate political and economic control over the resources of Ireland, north and south, and together exploit the resulting political influence for their own purposes within the institutions of the EU — with disastrous consequences for Ireland’s working people. The territorial division of Ireland continues to powerfully inhibit the development of a united working class movement that can challenge this exploitation and assert popular sovereignty.
Peace, nuclear disarmament and climate change
The 21st century opened with a period in which capitalist economic crisis and competition over increasingly scarce resources make imperialist-driven wars more likely. In these circumstances, the chief duty of Communists and socialists in the heartlands of imperialism is to place every possible obstacle in the path of imperialism’s drive to war, which threatens the very future of humanity.
This is an especially important strategic task in Britain, which remains a major imperialist power, a nuclear state and the chief ally of US imperialism in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It puts a strategic premium on building the biggest and broadest possible anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons movements and solidarity campaigns, as well as the less developed networks and actions on climate change.
The Communist Party needs to be situated at the heart of these movements, mobilising the widest opposition to imperialism’s military agenda by promoting and supporting activities that objectively hinder its advance. Britain's Communists will use their influence in trade unions and among other progressive left forces and individuals to encourage them do likewise.
Specifically, the Communist Party continues to support the Stop The War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Palestine, Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Campaigns and Justice for Colombia, which are all leading organisations in Britain promoting progressive policies in these areas. We likewise encourage Party branches to affiliate and to ensure that members participate in the structures and activities of these campaigns. We also stress the importance of the active involvement of the trade union movement in all these areas of struggle and solidarity.
Communists recognise that the drive for profit will put more pressure on the Earth’s resources and environment. The recent BP Gulf disaster also shows that, again, it is the poorest sections of society which suffer most and will continue to do so after the so-called clean-up has finished. Floods in Africa and Pakistan also show the impact of climate change on countries impacted by imperialism. In making the link between the fight for peace, against poverty and for a sustainable world, the Communist Party will support bodies such as the Campaign Against Climate Change and produce updated materials exposing the impact of climate change and its link to imperialism.
Relations between the US and Britain rest on mutual arrangements over nuclear weapons, military bases and intelligence-sharing. In the post-World War Two period, all mainstream British political parties have supported an Atlanticist foreign policy, believing that Britain’s international status is maintained by the primacy of its relationship with the USA. This bipartisanship profoundly distorts the policy options — domestic as well as foreign — available to successive British governments.
The Communist Party reaffirms its commitment to the unilateral abandonment of all Britain’s nuclear weapons and the closure of all US bases sited on British soil and in British waters. We call for an end to Britain’s involvement in US missile defence systems, including the use of Fylingdales and Menwith Hill bases in Yorkshire, and to the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons at Aldermaston and elsewhere. We support the campaign against Trident replacement.
We recognise that the organisation of technologically advanced societies is dependent on computerised systems and that any malicious intervention would have catastrophic consequences for the civilian population. In addition to its aim of maintaining full-spectrum military dominance of land, sea, air and space, the USA has identified cyberspace as the 'fifth domain' of war fighting and in 2010 established US Cyber Command. The USA aims to secure its military-computer systems from cyber attack and develop an attacking role in cyber warfare. Intelligence gathering is the foundation for cyber warfare. The Communist Party will therefore support the campaign to oppose the cyber warfare role of the US base at Menwith Hill.
Britain's Communists reaffirm their commitment to the withdrawal of Britain from all its overseas dependencies and territories and to the removal of all its military bases from foreign territories. We also call for the removal of all military bases from British dependencies and territories. Britain should renounce any territorial or economic claim on Antarctica and call for its protection from any and all political, military or economic exploitation.
We also oppose Britain's acquisition of new military systems that are primarily intended for aggressive, offensive purposes rather than for legitimate defence. The Communist Party will work to raise again in the labour movement the need for the planned diversion of substantial financial, R&D and other resources away from military production and into civilian and socially useful production.
Israel, Palestine and the wider Middle East
The Communist Party will:
Central and South America
The Communist Party will:
The Communist Party will:
The European Union
The Communist Party will work to:
The Communist Party will seek to:
International trade unionism
There is a need to consider the major developments in trade union internationalism in recent years, including the establishment in 2006 of the largest ever and most inclusive trade union international. Most British unions are affiliated to this organisation. Its new general secretary has a long and progressive history of bringing down Cold War barriers.
The International Trades Union Congress (ITUC) groups 176 million members in 301 affiliated organisations from 151 countries. It is represented in many major global institutions and is a force for peace, protection of workers in developing countries, and for the implementation of international labour standards. Communists as internationalists play a role in its structures in promoting solidarity.
There is now a need for international structures of trades unions such as ITUC to consider how best to apply workers' power across borders at industry and company level.
Solidarity with socialist countries — a prime duty
The socialist countries existing today demonstrate a variety of approaches to strengthening the economic well-being of working people and to building up the economic potential of anti-imperialist forces. All have shown themselves able to maintain growth through the world capitalist crisis. Cuba, despite the imperialist blockade, has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to provide assistance to other countries in the region. It has also played an important part in developing a new model for regional economic cooperation through ALBA.
China has massively increased economic growth and wealth production through the use of foreign capital. This has resulted in a real reduction of poverty and the material base for future socialist development. Alongside new welfare provisions, China’s Contract Law of 2007 has also enabled workers in externally owned enterprises to use their collective bargaining power to increase wage levels. Moreover, China has provided essential infrastructure aid to countries across Africa and Latin America.
At a time of acute capitalist crisis, Communists must remain alert to the dangers of military intervention against socialist countries and those in alliance with them. We have a duty to win support for the right of peoples to build socialism in their own circumstances and to secure an understanding of both the difficulties which have to be overcome and of the achievements which have been won. Doing so remains integral to our own struggle for socialism.
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