Following the pandemic, the whole world is finding itself in a situation of economic chaos. Living standards of working people are falling precipitously almost everywhere in the world. Countries such as Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Ghana are already bankrupt and unable to purchase essentials needed by their populations – medicine, food and energy especially. In Britain, things are also very bad, though not as bad as they are in most countries of the world. Prices have gone through the roof, while wages, even in a time of relatively full employment are in no way keeping up with inflation. The government is reducing expenditure on public services in order to reduce its borrowing requirements, while simultaneously increasing taxation on the working population. At the same time, it is spending outrageous amounts on armaments, on supporting war in Ukraine against Russia, and on various military provocations around the globe. Nor is it prepared very easily to impose a wealth tax on the multi-billionaires (i.e., the bourgeoisie of the world) who are actually still enriching themselves to the tune of several billions a year while ordinary people (the proletariat) are being systematically pushed lower and lower into poverty and destitution.
What must now surely be obvious is that the economic system, capitalism, which dominates the world is absolutely not fit for purpose. Despite the human ability to produce more and more with less and less effort, the vast majority of people are seeing a drastic fall in their living standards and all because the capitalist mode of production has a fundamental design fault – that periodically causes it to stall simply because it has produced infinitely more than people (and governments on their behalf) can afford to buy. In these periods of crisis, people go hungry because they have produced too much, the markets are flooded, and the capitalists can’t make a profit, so living standards plunge as the capitalists try to rescue themselves at the expense of the working masses. So desperate is this situation that the leading imperialist countries are driven to war, to try to secure advantages they can no longer hope to gain by peaceful means.
This is why the US, with the backing of European countries, through the Nato alliance has been threatening Russia in order to be able to dominate it, moving vast amounts of weaponry into Ukraine and nurturing a fascist movement in the country to use against Russian interests; and it is why Russia has been fighting back. The bill for all the armaments and weaponry being supplied by the UK to the Ukrainian fascists is presented for payment to the British taxpayer, while the billionaire owners of the armaments industry get ever richer.
Similar aggressive moves are being made by Nato against China, very much risking a conflagration over Taiwan that will again cost a fortune in treasure and in lives.
The aggression against Russia and China, both of which are in possession of very advanced weaponry that they have independently developed, in both cases purely for the purpose of defending themselves against Nato expansionist ambition rather than for purposes of aggression against anyone at all, risks plunging the world into a third world war – a war which will not leave North America and Europe unscathed but runs a very real risk of the kind of damage being inflicted on our cities, towns and infrastructure that North America and Europe have unleashed on defenceless countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia, etc. We could soon be seeing our historical buildings smashed to smithereens, our supplies of water, electricity and gas destroyed, our sewers blown up. Is that what we want?
Clearly not, but how do we stop it?
Once we understand that the real cause of the problem is the unavoidability of ever worsening periodic economic crises and war for as long as capitalism continues to be the economic system that dominates the world, then the solution begins to be obvious. When it is further understood that this economic system remains in use despite its lethal flaws because there is a tiny minority of billionaires in the world who benefit from it, whose private wealth and control over the world’s means of production and financial system provide them with the leverage to dictate terms to governments, be they ‘democratically’ elected or not, we cannot but realise that this tiny minority of people have to be dispossessed and overthrown so that we can get rid of the capitalist system and replace it with a system of rational planning of deployment of the means of production to meet the needs of the people who do the producing.
Because of the vast wealth at their command, this tiny minority of billionaires have at their disposal a massive propaganda machine (media, educational institutions of every kind, etc.), plus armies of bureaucrats, government officials, to say nothing of the means of coercing people by violence to submit to their requirements through deployment of the army, the police and the judicial system. It will therefore be no easy task to dislodge them in order to establish public ownership of the means of production and central planning of production for the benefit of the producers to replace the blind turmoil of the market. The resistance unleashed by the billionaire class (the bourgeoisie) will be massive, cruel, unprincipled, inhuman.
Nevertheless, it is the destiny of the working class – i.e., everybody who depends for a decent livelihood on getting and keeping a job – to overcome the violence of the state machine wielded by and on behalf of the super-rich and to set up their own working class, proletarian, state to ensure that an economic system is installed to replace capitalism, a socialist economic system that is not geared to private profit but to the ever greater satisfaction of the needs of the people.
The Soviet working class and peasantry established a communist state in 1917, which it was able to do because it rallied behind the leadership of their communist party. After the communist state was established, the powerful capitalists of the world moved heaven and earth to try to smash it, by military intervention first and then by economic sanctions, massive assistance to dissidents to sabotage and destroy, and then through world war. All steps taken by the working class state to defend itself against these attacks were portrayed in all the world bourgeois propaganda media as vicious totalitarianism, in order to give the workers of the world the idea that, terrible though their conditions were under capitalism, communism would be even worse. Nevertheless, when the capitalist world was enveloped in the Depression of the 1930s, that spread utter misery and want throughout the working class population of all capitalist countries, the Soviet economy was going from strength to strength, with full employment, and a high level of education and health provision available to all.
This is what communists are trying to achieve. However, unless millions of people actively support them, communists by themselves can achieve nothing. And in countries such as Britain, whose finance kings are extracting extraordinarily large amounts of profit from the third world by lending them money they can never repay at high rates of interest, the ruling class has been able to afford to buy off proletarian revolution (revolution by the oppressed and exploited) by making such concessions as offering free education and healthcare, as well as a minimum level of welfare and pensions. As a result, they have made the lot of the working class masses more bearable, while at the same time deluging them with anti-communist propaganda to impart the illusion that there is no point in going through all the trauma and chaos of a revolution because any communist state that emerged would be even worse than the worst that capitalism can provide.
In addition, the first communist country, the Soviet Union, succumbed to the pressures put on it by the enemies of working-class power. She had during the Second World War lost 27 million people, a disproportionate number of whom would have been among the best of the country’s communists, bound as they must always be to take the lead in fighting the forces of darkness. Some people whose Soviet education had enabled them to rise to leading and responsible positions in society began to envy the ostentatious wealth that their social counterparts in capitalist countries were able to accumulate. Young people who had only ever known a communist society began to resent the restrictions that the USSR’s hostile environment forced it to maintain. In the ideologically weakened communist party these tendencies made themselves felt to the point that the party leadership was able, in the name of bringing Marxism-Leninism up to date, to unleash a plan gradually to restore capitalism, by restoring the market and profitability to the position of decisive elements for determining what should be produced in terms of goods and services and how and to whom it should be distributed. As the supposedly ‘socialist’ market took over, the power of the masses of the people to influence production and distribution decisions through representations to the planning commission was gradually eroded, producing the cynicism among the masses that is typical in capitalist countries, except that, since it was all happening in the name of Marxism-Leninism, the disillusion came to be aimed at communism itself. It was in these circumstances that the working class was ousted from power in the Soviet Union, with millions, including those who may even have supported the overthrow of socialism, nevertheless finding themselves either jobless or demoted, thrown out of their homes, bereft of any form of social security. Elderly people trying to sell their few possessions in order to survive became a common sight. Russian prostitutes became a phenomenon all over the world, wherever there were tourists. Life expectancy plummeted by 10 years. Eventually under the leadership of Vladimir Putin a stop was put to the worst of the rot, and workers were able to derive some benefit at least from the high price of oil, gas and other commodities. They still have not, however, regained state power, or been able to restore socialism.
It should be easy for the masses of humanity to rid itself of a defective economic system installed purely for the benefit of 0.1% of the population, but of course if it were easy in reality then it would have already happened. Angry people often riot in protest at inhuman demands made of them and outrageous injustices committed against them, but the riots rarely bring about any improvement in the situation, or at least none that is longlasting. Those who lead the riots are forced to pay a heavy price in terms of prison sentences and ongoing punishment thereafter, while the perpetrators of people’s anger are left to gloat and wag a sorrowful finger at those who dared rise against them.
For people’s rage and anger to bring about the changes in society that are needed to free it from the irrationalities of capitalism, what is needed is a leadership body, the Communist Party, that knows both what needs to be achieved and what needs to be done in order to achieve it; and that Party needs to have the trust of the people so that they are willing to follow its lead.
If we look around the capitalist world today, and particularly if we look at the situation in Britain, one is hard put to identify any communist movement that inspires any confidence in its ability to lead a revolution to put an end to capitalism and establish a socialist planned economy. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the communist movement can only be described as being in a sorry mess, stacked up with ‘communists’ who have actually given up on proletarian revolution and have resigned themselves to joining pleas to the capitalists and their governments that they should try to be a bit less mean. Because they do tend to have a smattering of Marxist understanding they realise that the major problems in the world are caused by the persistent reign of capitalism, which they are generally happy roundly to denounce, but they feel totally helpless to do anything other than beg, and they pass on that helplessness to the working class people at large.
It follows that what the communist movement needs is revitalisation. To start with, those who are already in the movement need to study the setbacks it has received, in particular, though by no means exclusively, the collapse of the Soviet Union, in order to understand what mistakes were made and how those mistakes will be avoided in the future. It is essential to grasp the fact that in no way do those defeats signify that Marxism Leninism is at fault, but that they are universally the result of departure from Marxism Leninism. They must regain confidence in their ultimate destination, a society where a centralised planned economy has replaced capitalism and where production is not for profit but for the maximum satisfaction of the needs of the masses, be they physical (e.g., food, clothing, shelter and medical provision), cultural (e.g., education, research, sport, literature, art and music), or spiritual (e.g., entertainment and encouragement to aim high). They must break with their infatuation with bourgeois elections and remember that the only point of participating them is to expose their fraudulent nature in practice in the eyes of those whom the bourgeoisie seeks to deceive. They must recall again Marx’s watchword to the effect that workers should not be inscribing on their banners only a demand for higher wages, but should be demanding that the wages system be brought altogether to an end.
All energetic class-conscious workers need to devote time and energy to building and strengthening a worthy communist party. No more sitting around in organisations wedded to parliamentarism and the return of left-leaning MPs, and/or which devote themselves to parroting the lies that the bourgeoisie tells about the states where the working class has in the past taken power under the leadership of its communist party. We in the CPGB-ML believe that our party is a proper Marxist-Leninist party that is worth joining and supporting, that offers Marxist-Leninist training to everybody who wants to make themselves fit to serve the people. At the present time our party is not strong enough to offer effective leadership to a revolutionary movement of the masses, but, given the vicious blows that the bourgeoisie is preparing to deliver to the living standards of the masses as well as their war preparations for World War 3 against Russia and China, it is urgent that anybody who can should add their weight to improving our ability to reach the masses to spread the understanding that they do have the power to overturn the rule of the 0.1% and to instal an economic system capable of providing to their needs.
Don’t sit on your hands, don’t fiddle while Rome burns. Your class needs you! The future of humanity needs you! Step forward to help make history!