Since imperialism has integrated the world into a single global system (and is increasingly doing so) the world situation increasingly influences the development in each country; thus the revolutionary forces all over the world must base themselves on a correct evaluation of the overall world situation. – Declaration of the RIM
2.a.1 The future of the working class in Britain is unavoidably bound up with the development of the world as a whole. Only if we conduct our struggle against capitalism on the basis of being just one contingent of the international working class will we achieve ultimate victory over our oppressors.
2.a.2 The world today is divided into two different types of countries: the imperialist countries and the oppressed nations and peoples. The imperialist countries are the ones where there is advanced capitalist development such as America, Britain, Russia and East Germany. The monopoly capitalist classes of these countries oppress and exploit the great majority of people in the rest of the world; Asia, Africa and Latin America. Because the division of the world is now between a few advanced capitalist countries and a very large number of oppressed nations and peoples, which the imperialist countries parasitically ravage and keep in an enforced state of dependency, it follows that the conduct of the revolutionary struggle is not uniform and depends upon the type of country involved. In this very real sense the world revolution is composed of two main streams: the proletarian-socialist revolution waged by the proletariat and its allies in the imperialist countries and the national liberation or new democratic revolution waged by the nations and peoples oppressed by imperialism. Although these two streams have a certain distinctiveness in terms of revolutionary strategy and tactics, they are in no way in contradiction with each other as overall they constitute a mighty torrent to topple imperialism as a world system, they are contingents of the same army.
2.a.3 Consequently one of the major antagonistic divisions or contradictions in the contemporary world is between imperialism and the oppressed nations. The workers and peasants as well as some other elements of the oppressed nations are waging struggle against imperialistic domination. In some countries this anti-imperialist struggle is very intense and is at the stage of armed struggle. It is in the interests of the working class in the imperialist countries, including Britain, to support the national liberation struggles of the oppressed nations because we both have a common enemy: the monopoly capitalist classes of the imperialist countries. British monopoly capitalism is still, next to American monopoly capitalism, one of the most powerful with vast investments in many regions of the world e.g. Southern Africa.
2.a.4 Advances in the national liberation struggles weaken economic and political position of British monopoly capital and thus makes it more difficult for them to maintain the rule at home as well as abroad. This makes it easier for working class in Britain to fulfil their tasks as part of international contingent of the revolutionary working class fight back against the ruling capitalist class. So support the anti-imperialist struggles of the oppressed peoples nations is an essential task for the working class in Brita it is part of the strategy for making proletarian revolution Britain.
2.a.5 The monopoly capitalist classes of the different imperialist countries are in rivalry with each other in their struggles dominate the world. The very character of capitalism at monopoly stage drives the capitalists to continually seal abroad for new sources of cheap raw materials, cheap labour c new markets. Yet for a century or so now the world has be completely divided up among a number of imperialist powers a so the only way in which one can expand its spheres influence is at the expense of the others and this eventual gives rise to major inter-imperialist wars of which there ha been two this century.
2.a.6 Today there are two major imperialist blocs: one led by the USA and the other by the USSR. British imperialism is the lead junior partner of US imperialism. Although it is to considerable extent dominated by US imperialism, British imperialism is no less of an oppressor and exploiter than ever was. At present the US bloc is the most powerful of the two major blocs in economic, political and military term! However, it is facing an increasingly powerful challenge from Soviet social imperialism, that is the USSR and its allies such as Hungary and East Germany. Ever since the restoration of capitalism (of a state monopoly capitalist kind), the ruling state monopoly capitalist classes of these countries have been seeking profits abroad in places such as India and Ethiopic This is necessary in order to try to stabilise the economies c their countries. Inevitably, Soviet social imperialism can only make gains at the expense of US imperialism and its allies. So these two blocs are coming into increasingly hostile collision Sooner or later, unless prevented by the working class, the struggle for world domination will result in another major inter-imperialist war.
2.a.7 It follows from this that an urgent task for Marxist-Leninist in the coming period is to prepare and organise the class conscious workers and revolutionary sections of the people t oppose the imperialist preparations of the British state for World War III. Ultimately a new inter-imperialist war will only be prevented by revolutionary upheavals in at least some of the imperialist countries as this would have an immensely disruptive effect on the imperialist war machines.
2.a.8 So the first line of strategy must be to work to bring revolution to prevent the war. However, if, on the other hand the revolutionary struggle is not capable of preventing the inter-imperialist war, then the communists must be prepared to mobilise the working class and its allies to take full advantage of the massive disruption such a war will bring to, the relatively weakened position of their own imperialist ruling class and in this way turn the reactionary imperialist war into a just, revolutionary war against imperialism. In this way the working class will still have an opportunity to seize power but this will only be possible if the most thorough preparations for this second strategic line are brought into being immediately. It is important to make crystal clear that in no circumstances is in the interest of the international proletariat and oppressed peoples for the working class in the imperialist countries to collude with and uphold the interests of their ’own’ ruling class. The primary task of the British working class, and indeed all working classes in the imperialist countries, is to struggle against the imperialist masters of their respective countries.
2.a.9 In the advanced capitalist countries the major class division is that between the working class and the monopoly capitalist class. In Britain this contradiction between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is particularly clear. While always presenting an antagonistic form it is during periods of economic depression that this contradiction sharpens as the capitalists try to retrieve their declining profit margins by attacking the living standards of the working class. The necessity to do this is increasing because the resistance of the oppressed nations to imperialism and the intrusion upon their interests by rival imperialisms serves to intensify the crisis of British capitalism.
2.a.10 The working class in Britain has no interest in making peace with its own rulers so as to weather the storm of the world capitalist economic depression. On the contrary we have every interest in stepping up and intensifying the class war to overthrow this oppressive and exploitative capitalist system. Taking the road of tightening our belts to help our masters through the crisis of their rotten system simply perpetuates a class-divided and oppressive society.
2.a.11 The working class in Britain finds itself situated in a still powerful imperialist country in a period when the major contradictions in the world are developing in such a way as is likely to result in a major inter-imperialist war. We are presented with a great danger but at the same time also face great opportunities, provided that we seize them. It has always been in the course and the aftermath of inter-imperialist war that opportunities for making proletarian revolution have emerged. The working class must struggle to make the revolution prevent the war, or failing that, turn the imperialist war into revolutionary civil war.
2.b.l Central to the capitalist economic system is the exploitation of workers by capitalists. In modern Britain, the chief means of production – raw materials, machinery, buildings, transport, etc. are owned and controlled by a small minority of capitalists. This determines that the great mass of people, the working class, have no choice except to work for capitalist employers so as to earn a money wage to buy the goods and services, the commodities, necessary for them to survive. On the face of things this relationship between capitalist and worker seems to be a fair and equal one: the worker agrees to do so many hours work for the capitalist and in return the capitalist agrees to pay a certain amount of money in wages. In reality this relationship is an unequal and exploitative one because the wages paid to the worker are less than the value of what he or she produces. The difference between the value of what workers produce and what they receive in wages constitutes the profits of the capitalist employer. Massive exploitation of the working class is an integral part of the capitalist economic system and will persist for as long as does capitalism.
2.b.2 Not only do capitalist exploit workers but the system operates in such a way that capitalists constantly have to try to exploit workers even more. Different capitalists producing the same kind of commodity are competing with one another in the market to sell their products. Failure to sell the commodities produced by his firm means bankruptcy and ruin for a capitalist and the main way of ensuring steady sales is to offer given commodities on the market at a price below that charged by other capitalists. If a capitalist is to reduce his prices without reducing his profits then one way is to increase the hours of work of his employees without paying them any more wages. Sometimes employers get away with this move (for example,in the car industry paid, time for tea breaks and cleaning up have been abolished), but in modern Britain, where many workers are organised in trade unions, it is not easy for capitalists to force workers to accept such an increase in the degree to which they are exploited. Another ploy is to speed up the rate of work, increase its intensity, and thus reduce the cost per item by forcing the workforce to produce more commodities in the same time as before. In the car industry this generally takes the form of speeding up the rate at which the production assembly line moves. Again, this does happen but in a given type of production there is usually a very definite limit to which the pace of work can be increased and anyway workers are likely to resist such a move.
2.b.3 It is important to realise that capitalists are not always looking for ways to increase the degree of exploitation of workers because they, the capitalists, are inherently greedy but that they do this because of the way in which the capitalist economy operates leaves them with no choice if they are to stay in business. Similarly, if workers are not to be worked to death and totally impoverished then they have no choice except to take a common stand together against capitalist employers so as to resist employers’ attempts to exploit them even more. This is done by forming trade unions to defend wage levels and working conditions. In Britain a greater proportion of workers are in trade unions than in any of the other advanced capitalist countries. Even so it is obvious, especially with the onset of the present economic depression, that trade unions only have a very limited capacity to defend the living standards and working conditions of the working class.
2.b.4 While trade unions are a necessary means of defence of the working class against the capitalist class it is also the case that they pose no fundamental challenge to the whole capitalist system. Trade unions do not challenge the right of capitalists to exploit workers but only the degree to which this takes place. Even the most militant trade union struggles, involving workplace occupations and clashes with the police, pose no fundamental challenge to the dominant position of the monopoly capitalist class within contemporary Britain. If the working class does not rise above the level of recognising the necessity to organise industrially, of a trade union consciousness, then it will be doomed to an eternity of struggle with the capitalist class.
2.b.5 The whole of capitalist society is organised around the capitalist economy. The modern family is structured to produce and discipline the workforce, labour power. The state passes laws and maintains the police and armed forces So as to keep the working class in line. Education and the mass media are powerful means of spreading the ideas and outlook of the capitalist class, bourgeois ideology, among the working class so as to get them to accept the capitalist system. Religions promise the good life in this world for those who knuckle under to oppression and exploitation in this one, and so on. Capitalist society in its totality is structured so as to preserve the exploitative relationship between the capitalist class and the working class which lies at its heart. Nonetheless this same system contains within itself forces which periodically throw it into crisis and open up the possibility of its final overthrow arid replacement by a society where oppression and exploitation do not exist.
2.b.6 Another way, in fact the most important way in which capitalists try to gain an advantage over each other is by introducing new and more efficient means of production, technological innovation. The capitalist employer in a given field of production may be able to reduce his costs of production by introducing new production processes which enable output per worker to rise and thus cost per unit to fall. This allows the employer to sell his commodities at a price lower than that of his competitors while at the same time increasing his rate of profit on the capital he has invested. This advantage does not last long because the other employers will also quickly adopt the new production processes so as to be able to compete and stay in business. As the new production processes become introduced throughout an industry the proportion of total capital which is spent on raw materials, machinery, etc. rises while the proportion spent on employing labour power, on paying wages, falls. The consequence of this change is that since capitalists can only extract surplus value from those workers they employ directly and the number of these is falling, their rate of return on their capital falls as well. Paradoxically the greater efficiency in production brought about by developments in technology means a falling rate of profit for capitalists and redundancy for workers.
2.b.7 Such is the inbuilt unavoidable absurdity of the capitalist system of production: its enormous productive power brings it grinding to a halt. As the rate of profit falls, so capitalists become increasingly unable to find profitable ways in which they can reinvest their capital. As investment falls off so workers become unemployed. In Britain the rate of profit declined from around 1960 onwards and this structural feature of capitalism is the fundamental cause of the current world depression of capitalism. The last major world depression was in the 1930s. After World War II there was a world wide capitalist boom with a rapid rise of working class living standards in the imperialist countries. Capitalist politicians attributed this return to prosperity to the Keynesian economic policies being pursued by Western capitalist governments. The ruling class and their political and ideological mouthpieces proclaimed the advent of an everlasting economic boom with no return to major depression. Now it is all too clear that the periodic crises of capitalism have not been eliminated. The only way in which the working class can permanently rid itself of these cycles of boom and slump is to get rid of capitalism and replace it with socialism.
2.b.8 The only way out of the present world-wide economic depression for the monopoly capitalist class is to do whatever is necessary to restore the profitability of capital. One way or another this means intensifying the exploitation of the working class by means of the methods mentioned earlier. If this is to be done then the trade unions have to be undermined and weakened so that workers are unable to resist intensified exploitation. Ever since the late 1960s in Britain successive Labour and Tory governments have been trying to break the power of organised labour and have done so with some success thanks to the might of the capitalist state. As well as weakening the unions the capitalist state has an important role to play in restructuring industry and commerce so as to make them more profitable. It does this by providing all sorts of financial concessions and help to areas of production which seem to have profitable potential, such as microelectronics, while ruthlessly withdrawing support from declining sectors of the economy such as mining. Another way of providing profitable investment opportunities for capitalists is by selling off the more lucrative state-owned enterprises such as British Telecom.
2.b.9 In Britain successive governments have claimed that steadily rising prices, inflation are a barrier to economic recovery and that inflation needs to be eradicated. Of course it is the working class who are blamed for causing inflation by demanding wage increases in excess of increases in productivity. The truth of the matter is quite different from this capitalist propaganda. Inflation is a weapon in the class struggle. Back in the 1960s and 1970s when workers had a stronger position with respect to employers the latter tried to offset the cost of wage increases by putting up the prices of the commodities produced. In a highly monopolised economy it is possible for capitalists to do this but such action also tends to provoke further wage demands as a result of rising prices, Another important cause of inflation has been the capitalist state spending out more than it had revenue coming in from taxation and other sources. This has increasingly been the case because as the numbers of unemployed have grown the state has had to payout ever growing social security benefits. Also with the intensification of inter-imperialist tensions armaments expenditures have greatly increased. At the same time as state expenditures have been increasing state income has been declining because there are less employed workers to tax. Increasing taxation on those in work is no answer because that would simply stimulate fresh wage demands and put more pressure on already depleted profit levels.
2.b.10 As the depression has deepened the British state has tried to reduce its expenditures, especially on welfare services and social security. This has been done so as to try to keep down the degree to which those workers in employment are taxed. The reason for that is that if the rate of taxation rises then workers will probably struggle to gain higher wages and thus cut into already low profit levels. Savings in state expenditures have particularly hit those sections of the working class who are least able to cause much trouble for the monopoly capitalist class – the unemployed, the sick and the old. The state has pursued a deliberate policy of divide and rule by penalising the weakest sections of the working class rather than those who could offer some organised resistance. Despite these attempts to reduce state expenditure the monopoly capitalist class are caught in a dilemma between the need to cut spending and the growth in expenditure caused by rising unemployment and new armaments.
2.b.11 Right from its earliest days British capitalism has oppressed and exploited peoples in other countries, it has always been imperialist. Since the late nineteenth century the most important form imperialism has taken is the export of capital to other countries in search of higher profit rates than could be obtained in Britain. This has been possible primarily because the monopoly capitalists have been able to exploit workers and peasants in the economically backward regions of the world to a greater extent than has been possible in Britain. The massive flow of wealth from countries under the domination of British imperialism has helped stabilise British capitalism whose overseas investments are very considerable. During the current depression there has been a massive increase in the flow of capital leaving Britain for investment elsewhere. While more profitable than investments at home capital exports cannot fully resolve the crisis of profitability. The present depression is a world-wide one which affects the imperialistically dominated countries as well as the imperialist heartlands. One aspect of the depression is the inability of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America to repay the enormous loans they have had from imperialist banks.
2.b.12 This imperialist superexploitation has served to stabilise British capitalism during this century. While there have been two major depressions these almost certainly would have been more serious if it were not for the profitable outlets for investment which the British monopoly capitalist class has found abroad. The relative stability thus brought about has meant that some sections of the working class in Britain have enjoyed more prosperous and secure material conditions of life than they would otherwise have done. Whether this labour aristocracy have and do directly share in imperialist superprofits is still an unresolved question. What is clear is that their relatively privileged position has made them amenable to reformist politics and thus has undermined any revolutionary potentialities among them. It is the lower sections of the working class, some of whom are present in Britain precisely because of the activities of British imperialism, who have no interest at all in the perpetuation of imperialism, who thus are more likely to be willing to take up an anti-imperialist and revolutionary stance.
2.b.13 It is most important that the Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries encourage the working class to support anti-imperialist national liberation struggles, especially those directed against British imperialism. The weakening of British imperialism from without by those people suffering its oppression and exploitation undermines its internal stability and thus creates more favourable conditions for revolutionary struggle within Britain. Similarly active support by workers in Britain for national liberation movements can help the oppressed peoples to wage their struggles more effectively. There is an objective unity of interests between the working class in Britain and the peoples oppressed by British imperialism. They share a common enemy: the British monopoly capitalist class.
2.b.14 The current world-wide capitalist depression very clearly reveals the limitations of trade unionism and social democratic politics for the working class. With the re-emergence of mass unemployment the employers and their capitalist state ride roughshod over organised labour and vigorously set about undermining trade union organisation. The capitalist state cuts back upon welfare and social security benefits received by the working class with little effective opposition being forthcoming. Of course it is correct for workers, both employed and unemployed, to fight back as best they can against these attacks on their living standards and the Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries should encourage and support such struggles.
Even so these struggles are at best of a defensive nature and can only prevent the impact of the depression on the working class from being slightly less worse than it would otherwise be. The Marxist-Leninists must vigorously combat the propaganda of the social democrats which seeks to convince the working class that parliamentary reforms can make capitalism deliver the goods. We revolutionaries must participate in these struggles in such a way as to help workers realise that only by the complete abolition of capitalism will they ever achieve freedom from material want and the security to enjoy it.
2.b.15 A paradox of the capitalist system of production is that in the midst of plenty it also produces severe material deprivation. Capitalism has brought about the progressive development of the forces of production at a very rapid rate. Modern science and technology make it possible to provide material comfort and plenty for all. Yet in the world as a whole today the gap between the rich and the poor is actually widening, especially in the underdeveloped countries. The proportion of the world’s population who are underfed and starving is increasing. Even in the relatively prosperous imperialist countries such as Britain there are still millions of people who lack such basic necessities as a healthy diet and adequate housing. Clearly the problem for the great mass of humanity is not a lack of the skills, knowledge and resources necessary to bring about the material welfare of humankind. Rather the problem is one of abolishing the capitalist relations which prevent the forces of production being utilised in ways that meet the real human needs of everyone. From being in its earlier stages a force for the progressive development of humanity capitalism has now become a brake on further progress. The working class in all countries, including Britain, has a very real and urgent need to abolish the capitalist economic order.
2.b.16 Not only does capitalism deprive most people of the means of material wellbeing but it also means that they lose control over the process whereby they produce the means of material life; we are in a state of alienation. What crucially distinguishes human beings from other animals is the very active relationship we have with our natural environment in the course of productive activity. We act on the world to satisfy our material needs and in the course of so doing change not only the world but ourselves as well; our relationships and consciousness. Man makes himself and he does this through work. Yet the worker does not possess the products of his labour, he does not have control over the productive process, capitalist economic relations throw workers into conflict with each other and work itself, that most human of our attributes, is experienced as a burdensome imposition. The loss of control, the alienation of the worker, is not confined to the sphere of production but extends out to all aspects of life in capitalist society. We need to abolish capitalism not simply to have a fatter pay packet but so as to gain control together over all aspects of our lives, to liberate the whole of humanity from alienation. Only protracted proletarian revolutionary struggle can achieve this objective.
Far from preaching “the monolithic unity of the working class”, Lenin demonstrated that imperialism inevitably leads to a “shift in class relations”, to a split in the working class in the imperialist countries between the oppressed and exploited proletariat and an upper section of the workers benefitting from and in league with the imperialist bourgeoisie. – Declaration of the RIM
2.c.1 In Britain today, as with all class societies, there is a fundamental division between the small but immensely rich and powerful monopoly capitalist class who own and control the chief means of production and the great majority of people, the working class, who own and control no means of production except for their ability to work, their labour power which they are forced to sell to the capitalist class in return for wages. The relationship between capitalists and workers is unavoidably and inherently exploitive and oppressive because capitalist profits are derived from paying workers less than the value of what they produce. It follows that all the time a class-divided capitalist society exists there will be a continuous, never-ending class war between capitalists and workers.
2.c.2 The main enemy of the working class, the target of the revolution, is the monopoly capitalist class. These are the really large-scale industrialists and bankers together with leading state functionaries such as generals, judges, top civil servants etc. Although in numbers they total no more than one hundred thousand people in contemporary Britain they dominate the economic, political and cultural life of this country. The monopoly capitalists have a solid interest in perpetuating the rule of capital. Experience has shown that while they find it necessary at times to make certain minor concessions to the working class and are willing to enter into alliances and accommodations with various groups outside their ranks, that even so the monopoly capitalists will never tolerate any fundamental challenge to their interests and rule. While there are differences within this class on what is the best way of controlling the working class so as to perpetuate the rule of capital they stand united in their determination to uphold its reign. Any challenge to their rule is met with whatever measures are necessary to defeat it, including armed force. These people are the real rulers of capitalist Britain and the working class will never be free until they overthrow the monopoly capitalist class by means of violent revolutionary insurrection.
2.c.3 Situated between the monopoly capitalist class and the working class are various intermediate strata, who, taken together comprise about a quarter of the population. If the working class is to succeed in making proletarian revolution then it must make a careful assessment of these intermediate elements so as to win allies where this is possible or at least neutralise some of these elements in the class struggle.
Failure to make such an as ruling monopoly capitalist the intermediate strata and a much stronger opposition than it would otherwise face. Successful revolutionary struggle for the working class will be very much more difficult without significant allies and supporters among sections of the intermediate strata.
2.c.4 A small and declining intermediate stratum is the small scale competitive capitalists, the petit bourgeoisie. While they are certainly capitalist employers who oppress and exploit workers they are not part of the ruling class. The means of production in their possession afford them little economic power and the competition from the monopolies is steadily driving them out of business. Many of these petit bourgeois have a standard of living little better than the workers they employ. Even so they are imbued with a bourgeois outlook and are important disseminators of bourgeois ideas among the workers with whom they have direct contact. The very existence of this stratum holds out the hope for workers that they too can become capitalists. Few members of the petit bourgeoisie will come over to the side of the working class. Our aim should be to try to neutralise them in the class struggle, to make it clear to them that it is the monopoly capitalists and not they who are the main target of the revolutionary struggle.
2.c.5 A much larger and growing intermediate stratum is the managers and administrators in both the public and private sectors. These people themselves do not own any significant capital but they have an important role in organising and controlling workers on behalf of the monopoly capitalist class. Some of them are highly paid for their services and are indirect recipients of the value exploited from workers. These people are the right hand agents of the ruling class and some actually succeed in joining its ranks. However, many other members of this manageriat are relatively lowly paid and exercise a rather limited amount of control over workers. Some of these elements develop a certain sympathy for the struggles of the working class and it is in the interests of workers to cultivate such sentiments. We certainly should assure these lower sections of the manageriat that in reality they have nothing to fear from socialist revolution, that the organisational skills they have can be utilised after the revolution but in the context of serving the working people instead of oppressing them. Not many members of this stratum will line up with the revolutionary forces but even so it is worthwhile for the working class to put some effort into encouraging wavering and disaffection among the manageriat in their loyalty to the monopoly capitalist class.
2.c.6 An even larger intermediate stratum is the professionals and technicians, people such as scientists, technologists, lawyers, teachers, social workers etc. This stratum has been growing rapidly as a result of the growing application of science and technology to production and administration. These people are producers and distributors of ideas and knowledge of various kinds. Their upper echelons are important functionaries of the monopoly capitalist class but the great majority of them occupy a position in society not so different from that of the working class. Some of the members of this stratum, the so-called “caring professions”, do have a genuine sympathy with the working class and see themselves as acting so as to improve the situation of workers. In political terms this usually takes the form of social democratic ideology and participation in the Labour Party. In fact, social democracy is an ideology which arises out of the conditions of life of the manageriat and intelligentsia during the period of monopoly capitalism. Nonetheless, some sections of this stratum can be won over to the side of the working class and genuine participation in the revolutionary struggle. This is possible because as a result of their work, these people gain a first hand acquaintance with the oppression and exploitation suffered by the working class. Some of these members of the intelligentsia come to see the limitations and illusions of social democratic politics and thus gravitate towards a more revolutionary outlook. Even so, in the main such people can only take up a firm revolutionary stand if there is a proper Marxist-Leninist party to provide the necessary political leadership. Yet more of these people can be persuaded to give some support to working class struggles or at least to waver in their support for the ruling class.
2.c.7 The police and armed forces, although small in actual numbers are an essential part of the capitalist state apparatus for oppressing the working class. These people are often of working class origin but they have chosen to become the direct agents of capitalist oppression. Few of them will ever wholeheartedly join the ranks of the revolutionary forces but it is still worthwhile working on the contradictions in which they are involved, e.g. between the class they originate from and the class they serve. Even a few informers in the ranks of the military would be a valuable asset for the revolutionary forces.
2.c.8 Although it constitutes about three quarters of the population the working class is not a unitary bloc and success in revolutionary struggle will not be achieved unless the revolutionaries correctly handle the divisions within the working class. A broad distinction can be made between the industrial proletariat, those workers who are directly exploited by capitalists, and the semi-proletariat, those workers such as clerical and sales workers who, while absolutely necessary for the functioning of the capitalist economic system, are not themselves a direct source of profits for the capitalist class. The industrial proletariat consists of those workers employed by capitalists in the immediate production of commodities and from whom surplus value is extracted. These workers have been declining as a proportion of the working class as a result of the tendency for machinery to increasingly replace living labour power in capitalist commodity production. However, since the rate of profit received by ’the capitalist class depends upon the rate of surplus value extracted from the industrial proletariat, the degree of exploitation of this sector of the working class has been increasing and this has been possible because of the great increases in productivity brought about by developments in the forces of production. At the same time the capitalist economy and society have been developing in such a way that the number of workers employed in distribution, administration and the provision of public services has been proportionally increasing. While such semi-proletarian employees are necessary for the monopoly capitalist economy to operate effectively, they represent, from the standpoint of the capitalist class, a cost which has to be taken out of the surplus value they extract from the industrial proletariat. Thus the capitalist class are always trying to minimise the number of semi-proletarians and intensify their pace of work and productivity so as to maximise the part of the surplus value extracted from the industrial proletariat which takes the form of profits. Where possible, especially during periods of economic crisis, semi-proletarians are converted into industrial proletarians and thus become a direct source of surplus value, e.g. the “privatisation” of hospital cleaning. Since the onset of the current depression the monopoly capitalist class and their politicians and economists have tried to divide the working class by representing the “unproductive” workers (semi-proletarians) as a burden on the “productive” workers. This is not true. What is true is that the semi-proletarians are a drain on the profits of the capitalist class and this is why they are anxious to reduce the numbers and pay of semi-proletarians. Both sections of the working class do not own or control the means of production, have to sell their labour power for wages and receive wages of less than the value of their labour power. Thus both the industrial proletariat and the semi-proletariat have the same relationship to the means of production and a common interest in abolishing capitalist relations of production, a common objective interest in making proletarian revolution.
2.c.9 The industrial proletariat number around one half of the working class and because they are the direct source of the capitalist class’s profits they are in the front line of the class struggle. The principal class contradiction in Britain today is between the monopoly capitalist class and the industrial proletariat. The rate of profit received by the whole capitalist class depends on the degree to which they can exploit the industrial proletariat and this is the reason why the lines of division in the class war are sharpest on this front. There can be no doubt that the industrial proletariat must be the major force in successful revolutionary struggle in modern Britain. Unless large numbers of this section of the working class become actively involved in revolutionary struggle there can be no socialist revolution.
2.c.10 It is vital to recognise that there is one section of the industrial proletariat who are not likely to playa revolutionary role – the labour aristocracy. These are some of the more highly paid, more privileged sections of the working class who enjoy a relatively advantageous position as compared to the rest of the working class. They are found in most industries and traditionally have been the base for Labour Party politics within the working class. A good example in recent decades has been compositors in the printing industry. As a result of their key position in print production and their extremely strong trade union organisation, compositors were able to win very high wages, often earning more than some managers employed in the same firms. It was possible for employers to pay such high wages to compositors because other employees in print production, very often women, were paid very low wages. The relative advantages of compositors were based upon the relative disadvantages of other print workers. Another example is the textile industry where it is often white men who are highly organised and monopolise the highly paid jobs at the expense of women and black workers who are concentrated in the lower paid jobs. It is in industries where black people are concentrated in the least desirable and lowest paid jobs that the advantages the labour aristocracy have reaped from imperialism are most clearly seen. Given their objective position the labour aristocracy taken as a whole playa reactionary role within the working class. While they may favour some limited reforms which favour them, overall they are wedded to the perpetuation of monopoly capitalism. In the past revolutionaries have often made the mistake of assuming that these people, because of their strong trade union consciousness, had the greatest revolutionary potentiality of any section of the working class. Nonetheless, an integral feature of capitalism is that the forces of production are continuously being revolutionised and this can rapidly undermine the position of whole sections of workers including the labour aristocracy. This is exactly what is happening to compositors as a result of the computerisation of typesetting.. Their particular skill is becoming redundant within the space of a few years and their privileged position is fast crumbling. The same fate has been met by many other sections of the labour aristocracy and in these changed circumstances some of these workers may become more receptive to revolutionary ideas. It may well be the case that as capitalism moves deeper into the monopoly stage of development the deskilling of large sections of the workforce diminishes the ranks of the labour aristocracy. At the same time it is possible that new developments in the forces of production will promote the emergence of new sections of the labour aristocracy. Either way, while the revolutionaries should not neglect winning over individual members of this stratum who display revolutionary inclinations, our main task is to expose and isolate them from the rest of the working class.
2.c.ll The main force which can make revolution in Britain is the great majority of the industrial proletariat, especially those sections of it who suffer the greatest oppression and exploitation. With the onset and deepening of the world-wide economic depression the material differences within the industrial proletariat have widened. It is those workers in the lower paid, least secure jobs who have been most hit by falling living standards and unemployment. These are the people who have the least interest in the continued survival of capitalism and thus objectively have the most to gain as a result of its abolition. Women and members of black communities are disproportionately represented among the most oppressed and exploited sections of the industrial proletariat. It is here that a revolutionary movement worthy of the name must build a firm base of participation and support. This will not be easy, especially at first because many of these people are somewhat apathetic and demoralised as a result of the failure of trade unionism and social democratic politics to defend their position. However, the weakening hold of reformist politics opens up the possibilities of a movement towards revolutionary perspectives -provided that the committed Marxist-Leninists show the way forward.
2.c.12 The semi-proletariat constitute around one half of the working class. One fairly sizeable sector consists of self-employed people who work on their own account as, for example, is quite common in the building trade. Many of these people have relatively low earnings, often on an irregular basis. While some of them are people who are trying to break with the slavery of wage labour some of them also have petit bourgeois aspirations in that they strive to become small employers. Given their objective position in the relations of production these people are a significant source of petit bourgeois ideas within the working class. Even so, the revolutionaries must work on and develop the positive side of this section of the semi-proletariat, the side that rejects the oppression and exploitation of wage labour. If we handle these people carefully then some can be won over-to the revolutionary ranks and others can at least be neutralised.
Another section of the semi-proletariat are the large numbers of clerical and sales workers, the majority of them being women. While their earnings are poor and their jobs are being eroded by the new information technology it is still the case that these “white collar” workers have some tendency to identify with employers and managers. However, many of the relative advantages that these workers had as compared with the industrial proletariat are disappearing and some of these people are developing a more proletarian outlook. It is certainly possible to win over large numbers of these people to the revolutionary cause. Finally there is a section of the semi-proletariat who are manual workers in various types of “service” employment such as cleaning and catering. They tend to be the lowest paid and most oppressed workers of all and include many women and black people. Capitalism has nothing to offer these people and the revolutionary movement should strive to win them over.
2.c.13 As the present world economic crisis has intensified millions of workers in Britain have been made unemployed. It is the lower sections of the working class who suffer the highest rates of unemployment and among them it is women, black people and youth who are particularly badly hit. These people constitute the industrial reserve army of labour, a group who are always present in capitalist society but whose numbers increase greatly during periods of economic depression. They are drawn from the sections of the working class who, from the point of view of the convenience of the monopoly capitalist class and their state, can be most easily moved in and out of the workforce according to changes in the level of economic activity. During the post World War II capitalist economic boom both married women and black immigrant workers were brought into the workforce so as to meet the shortage of labour and to keep earnings down. Also, the relative position of young workers as compared with older ones improved. With the onset of a new depression all this has changed and married women and black workers are often the first to be sacked. As for young people, they are lucky to get any sort of job and the state is pursuing policies to discipline them and turn them into a source of supply of cheap labour power. Most of these workers are disaffected with life under capitalism but many of them are demoralised as well, seeing no possibility of changing their deprived situation. An important task for the Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries is to struggle with and begin to win over to a revolutionary outlook this section of the working class. At best capitalism can only offer these people poverty-level handouts to scrape by on, and abuses them for the injuries that the capitalist system has inflicted upon them. These unemployed workers have a considerable revolutionary potential.
2.c.14 Around the fringes of the working class and the stratum of small-scale capitalists (petit bourgeoisie) there is a lumpenproletariat. These are people who have no regular employment but instead get by on state benefits, casual work, begging, and in some cases, criminal activities. Some of the members of this group are vagrants, people who are victims of capitalist oppression and exploitation and who have been thrown out of or dropped out of regular employment and living arrangements. Greatly oppressed as they are, often suffering from mental disturbance, alcoholism or drug addiction, this section of the lumpenproletariat are so demoralised that they represent no threat to the bourgeoisie because they lack the vitality to take up a consistently revolutionary stance. Another section of the lumpenproletariat are criminal elements engaged in such activities as stealing, prostitution and dope dealing. These people are normally strongly under the influence of petit bourgeois ideology and are very reactionary in their outlook. Often they exist on the fringes of “legitimate” business and the main victims of their activities are the working class. It is quite common for such people to be in collusion with and act as the paid agents for the police and bourgeois politicians. Taken as a whole, the lumpenproletariat have little revolutionary potentiality. Even so, in the heat of great revolutionary upheavals they can playa role, frequently on the side of the capitalist class, and so the revolutionaries must pay some attention to exploring ways in which the lumpenproletariat could at least be neutralised, if not won over.
2.c.15 The Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movement and party must firmly base itself in the middle and lower sections of the industrial proletariat and the lower sections of the semi-proletariat. This is because these people have the greatest revolutionary potentiality. Their position and condition of life under capitalism means that they have the least interest in working for its perpetuation. At the same time they are not completely demoralised and thus incapable of positive, collective action. They are the key to the development of revolutionary struggle in Britain. The revolutionary movement must seek to win over or at least to neutralise other sections of the proletariat. It should also seek to weaken the alliance between the various intermediate strata and the monopoly capitalist class and even win over some elements in the intelligentsia and manageriat. However, political work among the intermediate strata must not be done in such a way as to compromise the principles of proletarian revolution. It must be made absolutely clear that it is the working class who are the one and only force that can make a socialist revolution in capitalist Britain and that it is in the objective interests of the members of the intermediate strata to support proletarian revolutionary struggles. Britain has long been at the monopoly stage of capitalist development and the target of the revolution, the main enemy which must be overthrown, is the monopoly capitalist class. The working class, united around the industrial proletariat, can in favourable conditions and with a correct revolutionary leadership accomplish this task within the coming period.
Even in the most democratic bourgeois state the oppressed masses at every step encounter the crying contradiction between the formal equality proclaimed by the “democracy” of the capitalists and the thousands of real limitations and subterfuges which turn the proletarians into wage slaves. It is precisely this contradiction that is opening the eyes of the masses to the rottenness, mendacity and hypocrisy of capitalism. It is this contradiction that the agitators and propagandists of Socialism are constantly exposing to the masses, in order to prepare them for revolution. – V.I.Lenin
2.d.l Many people in this country believe that it is a democracy, and that everyone has a say in how the country should be run, what laws should be passed etc. In reality this is an illusion, a clever and subtle illusion which is propagated by the monopoly capitalist class. This country is ruled and controlled in all its aspects by-that same monopoly capitalist class. It is they and they alone who have real power over the destinies of the great mass of the people. This situation has not come about by accident. The monopoly capitalist class own and control all the means of production, that is the factories, the shipyards and all the other places where wealth is created by means of the exploitation of the working class. In this way the ruling class dominate the economic life of the whole people. Yet economic domination in and of itself is not sufficient for them to maintain an all-round rule. They also need to dominate in an ideological way, that is they need to mould and shape the very thinking of the people whose bodies they already control: They need to rule both hearts and minds. The ruling class need to manipulate and restrict the consciousness of the working class and other strata so that their world yiew, the view of oppression and exploitation on a massive scale, is seen as the only possible way of viewing things, is seen as the natural order of things which can never be altered. So in order to maintain economic and ideological control, that is -total control, over the great mass of the people, the monopoly capitalist class have created a number of agencies of ideological and social control. One very important agent of ideological control is the bourgeois state. More specifically the idea that this state is fair and neutral; that it is the same for everybody, rich or poor, that it stands above the class divisions in society. Yet in truth, the bourgeois state is the instrument of control of the monopoly capitalist class who exercise a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the working class and intermediate strata.
2.d.2 The general means by which this dictatorial rule is enforced is through the various state agencies which consists not just of the goverment and Houses of Parliament but also includes the monarchy, the courts, the civil service, the police, the armed forces and the whole range of services known as the ’welfare state’. During the last hundred years or so, the era of monopoly capitalism, the range of activities of the capitalist state has been expanded in response to the growing instability of the whole capitalist system and a corresponding desire on behalf of the monopoly capitalist class to keep control at all costs. The working class can only take control of its destiny by overthrowing and smashing the bourgeois state, which in its every feature is indelibly stamped with the marks of the exploitative and oppressive rule it is the expression of. Instead of the bourgeois state the working class must set up an entirely new state, a proletarian state, and themselves exercise the dictatorship of the proletariat.
2.d.3 In Britain the members of the House of Commons are elected by the people thus creating the illusion of democracy. However, we have no real choice in the general elections because all of the main parties essentially support and strive to maintain the rule of capital. We are simply allowed to choose which particular representatives and supporters of the monopoly capitalist class are to rule over the people. Enormous efforts go into trying to convince us that the way we vote really matters but even so about a quarter of the electorate do not even bother to go through the farce of voting. The British state is the capitalist state and the working class forgets this crucial fact at its peril.
2.d.4 At the heart of the capitalist state in Britain lie the police and armed forces. In the final analysis, these are the means by which the ruling bourgeoisie upholds its rule at home and abroad. As the current crisis of capitalism deepens the police are being reorganised in a more militaristic way so as to be able to mount attacks on workers who dare to rebel. At the same time t should not be forgotten that British imperialism is still a very significant military power with the ability forcibly to impose its rule in many parts of the world. Clearly if the working class in Britain is to overthrow the ruling monopoly capitalist class it will have to do so by means of armed force, by forming its own revolutionary army.
2.d.5 It is not simply through physical force that the British state upholds the rule of the monopoly capitalist class. Another important way in which it appeases and controls the working class is through the whole range of social services which have come to be known as the ’welfare state’. The capitalist state only instituted measures such as unemployment and sickness benefits, health care, public housing etc. in response to working class demands for such provisions and the state is always willing to cut back expenditure on these services during periods of crisis. It is correct for working people to struggle to defend these hard-won benefits but we should never forget that it is ’their’ welfare services and not ’ours’ that we are fighting over. The capitalist state will never relinquish control of these matters into the hands of the working class. We can only take command of our welfare provision by smashing the capitalist state. The welfare provision provided by the proletarian state will be very different from that of the bourgeois state. In general, the main concern of the bourgeois ’welfare state’ is to keep the working class in a reasonably healthy condition in order for them to be profitable and efficient as workers. The aim of the proletarian state’s welfare provision will be to attend to the all-round physical, mental and general well-being of the working class and its allies.
2.d.6 Another important means of ideological control exercised by the state is through education and the mass media. The state either directly controls these activities or passes laws of a kind which enable the monopoly capitalist class to remain firmly in control of these activities. In education and the various mass media great emphasis is placed on sustaining the illusion that all shades of opinion are allowed to be expressed. In reality it is the outlook of the monopoly capitalist which dominates, with some space for middle strata views, while any genuinely critical views of existing society are held tightly in check. Even so, while it is true that education and the mass media mainly teach acceptance of the capitalist status quo these means of communication also open the eyes of the working class to a broader, less parochial view of the world. An ignorant working class is not likely to have the vision necessary for making proletarian revolution and carrying through socialist transformation. We should not turn our backs on education and the mass media but take what is useful from these sources and struggle against the distortions and lies. But again we should not fall into the delusion that the capitalist state would ever allow us to wrest control of these ideological instruments out of its grasp.
2.d.7 During the era of monopoly capitalism the state has played an increasingly active role in managing the capitalist economy. It has done this to try to ensure that the profitable accumulation of capital can proceed smoothly despite the growing instability of the capitalist economy. Various means of trying to regulate the capitalist economy are used such as subsidising industrial research and development, state ownership of unprofitable industries, financial controls, securing overseas markets and investment opportunities etc. When speaking of ’unprofitable industries’ it must be made clear that this is expressing the view of the bourgeoisie. In the case of some of these industries, e.g. the railways, they play a vital role in maintaining economic life and in assisting the bourgeoisie to retain and maximise profits. Once again it is an example of the ruling class acting entirely in their own interests. Regardless of the economic doctrine according to which the state acts – ’Keynesianism’ or ’monetarism’ – the objective is the same: to perpetuate the rule of capital. There is nothing socialist about the capitalist state taking over certain business concerns. It only does this to maintain the capitalist economic system as a whole and such enterprises e.g. coal mining are run in a thoroughly capitalist way i.e. to maximise profits. Workers in nationalised industries are exploited just as much as workers in private employment. Thus we have no interest in state ownership of a capitalist kind because it is the capitalist class and not the working class who are in control and who reap the benefit.
2.d.8 The British state employs, directly or indirectly, around one third of the working population. While the top levels of the state apparatus are staffed by members of the monopoly capitalist class it is also true that the great majority of people in state employment are members of the intermediate strata or working class and are just as oppressed as their fellow workers in private employment. Thus there is very sharp class conflict within the state apparatus itself. Indeed, very often the, monopoly capitalist class spearheads its policy towards the working class as a whole by first applying it to state employees, e.g. imposing wage restraint and redundancies. Those who control the functioning of the capitalist state are themselves either members of the ruling class or very close associates. So they are different from private employers in form rather than essence and the working class must struggle against oppression and exploitation coming from this quarter.
2.d.9 The political party which most clearly represents the interests of the monopoly capitalist class is obviously the Conservative Party. Even the most cursory examination of its leadership and sources of finance makes this very clear. However, the monopoly capitalist class is not a completely unitary, monolithic entity and the material interests of the different sections of this class find expression within the Tory Party. The older landowning and industrially based elements tend to espouse an organic conservatism while the elements based on finance capital favour some sort of liberalism. Either way, these are doctrines which uphold the capitalist status quo but are presented in ways which can be made acceptable to large sections of the intermediate strata and working class. At times the Conservative Party panders to the intermediate strata by putting forward various petit bourgeois managerial and technocratic ideologies but this is essentially a tactical ploy. The Conservative Party is the normal party of government in Britain, the means by which the monopoly capitalist class present themselves in Parliament. It is the ’open’ deadly enemy of the working class.
2.d.10 Working class people and members of the intermediate strata who have rejected the influence of the Conservative Party have tended to support the Labour Party. Many persons of progressive inclinations see the Labour Party as some sort of genuine proletarian socialist party whose radical politics have become diluted and which has the potential of becoming more radical and even revolutionary. This is a gross misconception. The Labour Party has always had a reformist character and has never mounted any serious challenge to capitalism, Rather, it simply seeks to make capitalism work in a way more favourable to the working class and intermediate strata. However, considerable periods of Labour government have shown that this is not really possible. Labour governments have shown themselves to be willing agents of the monopoly capitalist class in upholding capitalism and on the odd occasion when they have trespassed on the interests of the capitalist ruling class they have been firmly pushed back into line. Although the Labour Party did win the support of a large minority of the working class it was never firmly based within the great mass of the industrial proletariat. Rather, its material bases have been the labour aristocracy and the newer intermediate strata, the manageriat and intelligentsia. From the labour aristocracy comes its trade union, ’Labourist’ ideology which seeks to consolidate and improve the positions of the more privileged sections of the working class in capitalist society, while from the manageriat and the intelligentsia, especially those sections based in the state sector, is derived social democratic ideology, which strives for a more rationally organised, less wasteful and conflict-ridden form of capitalism. One section of the Labour Party dreams of a capitalism where the working class enjoys permanent prosperity and security while the other dreams of a transformed capitalism where everyone is ’middle class’. Within the Labour Party there is considerable tension and conflict between these two sections and some of the middle strata elements have drifted or broken away into essentially middle strata organisations such as the Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Ecology Party.
2.d.11 While the anti-working class character of the Conservative Party is of an overt nature, that is, it is fairly easy to see how most of its policies are attacks on the working class, in the case of the Labour Party this is not so obvious. The Labour Party is also anti-working class but in a covert way. In a certain sense its leaders are more despicable and hypocritical than the Conservatives because they lie to the working class. The Labour Party is very necessary to the ruling class, partly because its very existence helps to sustain the illusion that the British state is a democratic one, consisting of at least two major parties. Also the phoney radicalism spouted by some Labour Party leaders helps sustain another illusion that the ruling class is anxious to promote, that there is freedom of speech and action in this country.
2.d.12 Whatever the intentions and delusions the leaders of the Labour Party have had, its historical role has been to sustain the illusion that real change for the working class can be achieved by peaceful means through capitalist parliamentary democracy. The Labour Party has been highly effective in heading off any significant development of revolutionary consciousness among the working class in Britain. Part of the reason it has been able to do this is because the position of British monopoly capitalism as a major imperialist exploiter has enabled it to make considerable concessions to working class reformist demands. However, with the relative decline of British imperialism since World War II the room for manoeuvre has been reduced and the Labour Party has experienced a steady decline in membership and electoral support. The hold of social democracy over the working class is disintegrating and this opens up the possibility of sections of the working class developing a truly revolutionary consciousness. However, this will only happen if the Marxist-Leninists take full advantage of these circumstances and seize the opportunities opening up. Our task is to expose and attack the Labour Party and on all possible occasions, to make its anti-working class character abundantly clear. The clearest possible lines of demarcation must be drawn between reformist social democracy and revolutionary Marxism-Leninism.
2.d.13 With the onset of major economic depression in recent years various small fascist groups have arisen. These arise out of the declining sections of the middle strata, especially the small-scale competitive capitalists, but their chauvinistic and racist ideologies have found some following among some of the more oppressed and exploited sections of the working class. Fascism and racism are profoundly reactionary doctrines which serve to divide the working class and thus strengthen the ruling class. However, fascists often espouse a phoney sort of revolution ism and in this way gain some working class support. So far in Britain fascist organisations have remained small and with limited influence but if the monopoly capitalist class becomes unable effectively to maintain its rule in the old parliamentary way then sections of this class may turn to, build up and use fascist terror in order to retain power. The working class needs to struggle against fascist influences within its ranks and it is the task of the Marxist-Leninists to lead such struggles.
2.d.14 The authentic Marxist-Leninist movement has never been strong in Britain. The Communist Party of Great Britain, founded in 1921, was never very large nor influential and came under revisionist influences from the mid 1930s onwards which resulted in it abandoning any revolutionary pretensions many years ago. The ageing, declining rump of the CPGB pathetically tail behind the Labour Party and engages in apologetics for Soviet social imperialism. These people give communism a bad name and our duty is to thoroughly expose the fact that their timid reformism has nothing in common with revolutionary Marxism-Leninism.
2.d.15 There are in addition to the CPGB other organisations purporting to be revolutionary. There are the various Trotskyist groupings in and around the fringes of the Labour Party – Militant, SWP, WRP etc. While they pay lip service to the international proletarian revolutionary movement led by Marx, Engels and Lenin, their actual practice is completely alien to this great revolutionary tradition. Trotskyism is essentially an ideology of the petit bourgeois intelligentsia and has a parasitic relationship with social democracy. Trotskyists have a patronising attitude to the working class, whilst the peasantry, that great mass of oppressed people all over the world, they both dismiss and despise. The Trotskyists completely ignore, or view only through the distorting prisms of their mentor’s spectacles, those momentous revolutionary experiences of this century. This is especially true with regard to the Chinese revolution, which most Trotskyites have only minimal and confused knowledge of, and also the whole experience of socialist construction, which they deny ever happened. Most of their energies are expended in trying to make the Labour Party take a leftward turn which usually results in the Trotskyist group concerned moving more to the right. They never make it clear to the working class that only armed proletarian revolution can bring about socialist transformation. Neither the revisionist CPGB nor the various Trotskyists will ever have much impact on the working class. However, they do play a counter-revolutionary role by confusing and demoralising people who are moving in a revolutionary direction. It is the task of Marxist-Leninists to attack and expose these counter-revolutionaries.
2.d.16 There are also a few groups purporting to be Marxist-Leninists, of these the RCLB and CPB(ML) are probably the most significant, though this is not to imply they have any substantial mass base. The RCLB is still thoroughly soaked with the reactionary ’Three Worlds Theory’ and hence supports the present Chinese revisionist regime. Their practical activity consists largely in tailing after various solidarity work on national liberation front issues. While they are bad enough the CPB(ML) are even worse. Once comprising some genuine elements, this organisation has now thoroughly degenerated. It is chauvinist, racist, and sexist. Its activities now consist of attacks on the Thatcher regime and a rather apologetic attitude towards social democracy. Of armed proletarian revolution there is no mention. In terms of any overall revolutionary strategy and perspective neither organisation has one. Both these organisations are a disgrace to the Marxist-Leninist movement and should be remorselessly exposed.
2.d.17 Two things are absolutely clear: the British state is the instrument of rule of the monopoly capitalist class and there is no way they are going to let it out of their grasp. The only way forward to socialism for the working class is to smash this state, ultimately by means of armed insurrection. Any attempt to ’democratise’ the British state so as to serve the working class is a dangerous illusion. The task of the Marxist-Leninists is to lead the working class in smashing this mighty instrument of oppression. It is also the case that all of the existing political parties and organisations in Britain either openly support capitalism, pretend it can be gradually reformed, or, in a few cases try to make out that the revolution can occur without engaging in violent, armed revolutionary civil war.
2.d.18 It is obvious then, that the working class desperately needs its own revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Party dedicated to the overthrow of the capitalist state by means of political struggle culminating in violent revolution. There is no such party in Britain today, and it is the duty of the Marxist-Leninists to lead the struggle to build such a party.
2.e.1 Over the centuries many different groups of migrants have settled in Britain. Among the most recent to arrive have been ’people of various Asian and Afro-Caribbean origins who came to settle here from various former British colonies. These people and their descendants are easily distinguishable because of their ’black’ skins. They were encouraged to come to Britain by the monopoly capitalist class during the post-World War II boom as a source of cheap labour power. At the same time these people have been and still are subjected to very considerable racial prejudice and discrimination in all aspects of their lives. As well as being especially oppressed at the hands of the state and employers, black people in Britain are subject to considerable hostility and even attack from white workers. Hostility from white workers against black people arose in the era of direct colonialism when the idea of ’superior’ and ’inferior’ races was used by the ruling class as a justification for colonial wars of conquest and for slavery. Britain today continues to be a major imperialist power and these racist ideas are still being peddled by the capitalist class in a deliberate Policy of ’divide and rule’ and in attempts to divert the blame for effects of the economic crisis of capitalism onto black workers who are among the main victims. Furthermore, it is true that some sections of the working class in Britain did reap some benefits from this imperialist oppression and exploitation and still do so. The Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries must confront white working class racism head on and direct attention towards the real enemy, the monopoly capitalist class.
2.e.2 Black people in Britain are underprivileged as compared to white people in every way: economic, social, political and cultural. In response to their particular sufferings the various black communities have formed many types of organisations to defend themselves and even fight back. The Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries must give support to the anti-racist struggle of black people. However, very often such organisations are under petit bourgeois, middle strata leadership and pursue a policy of compromise and collaboration with the racist British state. In return for relative privileges for a few black bureaucrats and businessmen they encourage black workers to accept their lot under capitalism. Furthermore some of these organisations support and encourage the perpetuation of various backward, reactionary, feudal practices, especially towards women. Others foster various types of Black Nationalism which proclaims racist division as fundamental in the modern world rather than class division. These sorts of reaction undermine working class unity and revolutionary struggle and it is the duty of Marxist-Leninists, especially those from the black communities, to struggle against such divisive ideas and practices.
2.e.3 The black communities in Britain are here to stay and while they retain their cultural distinctiveness they are becoming an integral part of British society. They are not temporarily domiciled here, neither do they have the position of national minorities in a country who live apart from the majority population. However, they are heavily concentrated among the most oppressed and exploited sections of the working class. In particular it is young black people who are hit most by unemployment and suffer the greatest harassment at the hands of the police and other state agencies. As a result they have shown themselves to be willing to hit back at their oppressors in the most forceful way. These young militants can be a rich source for the recruitment of communist revolutionaries but this will only happen if the Marxist-Leninists show themselves in practical terms to be willing to struggle resolutely against racism.
2.e.4 Modern capitalist Britain has developed out of three distinct national communities: the English, the Scottish and the Welsh. Over a period of many centuries the English ruling class forcibly subjected the people of Scotland and Wales to the rule of one unitary British state. In the course of this process the ruling classes of Wales and Scotland merged with their English counterparts to form one unified capitalist class but a fully unified British nation has not completely emerged. Strong feelings of national consciousness are still present among the working class and intermediate strata in Scotland and Wales and these sentiments cannot be ignored by Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries.
2.e.5 The national consciousness of the Welsh and the Scots has a very definite material basis. Although Scotland and Wales have become incorporated as parts of the integrated British capitalist economy it is nonetheless the case that the workers and intermediate strata of these countries are relatively underprivileged as compared with their English counterparts.
The inherently uneven character of capitalist development has operated in such a way that employment opportunities, living standards, housing provision etc. are significantly worse in Wales and Scotland than they are in England. For many generations there has been an exodus of Scots and Welsh from their homelands because of the restricted and uneven economic development which has occurred under the domination of the British ruling class. Furthermore, the British ruling class has conducted a policy of cultural oppression against these people trying to eradicate their languages and distinct cultural practices. However, this policy of national oppression and assimilation towards the Welsh and the Scots has only been partially successful and these peoples continue to resist total subordination to British bourgeois culture.
2.e.6 The contemporary national political movements in Scotland and Wales, the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru have a petty bourgeois, middle strata basis. They entertain the notion that if their countries were less formally subordinated to the British state then vigorous capitalist economic and social development could be promoted. This is a fantasy in the era of monopoly capitalism, of modern imperialism. The economies of Scotland and Wales are firmly locked into the international network of capitalist imperialism and this cannot be broken out of short of socialist revolution. ’Independent’ Scotland and Wales would be illusory because of their inevitable domination by capitalist imperialism. One task of the Marxist-Leninists is to expose and criticise this sort of petit bourgeois nationalism pointing out that it offers no real solution to the problems faced by the working class in Wales and Scotland.
2.e.7 It is important to remember that while the Scottish and Welsh working classes are even more oppressed and exploited than are the English working class it is still the case that they all face the same enemy, the British monopoly capitalist class. Only if the workers of England, Scotland and Wales are united in the struggle to overthrow their common ruling class are they likely to meet with success. In order to bring about such unity it is essential that the Marxist-Leninists encourage English workers to overcome their English chauvinism towards the Scottish and the Welsh and to support wholeheartedly the struggles of the Welsh and Scottish workers against the further relative decline of their homelands in relation to England. It is also correct to support the Scots and Welsh in their struggle to defend their languages and cultural traditions provided that this is done in a way which serves working class interests.
2.e.8 The Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries must strive to build one communist party encompassing England, Scotland and Wales. This can only be accomplished if we deepen our grasp of and line on the national question within Britain and this will only come about as a result of involvement in such struggles. We must make it clear to the working class that the proletarian stat which would arise out of a proletarian revolution will be federated one in which the Scottish and Welsh workers and their allies would have a significant degree of national autonomy. Only if this is so can the relative disadvantages of these workers be eliminated. Furthermore, if the revolutionary struggle were to develop such that there was a strong desire among the working class in Scotland and Wales for national independence then it would be correct for the Marxist-Leninist party to support such a development. However, this would not be likely to strengthen the international working class against its various imperialist enemies and the revolutionary party should struggle to achieve a federal socialist republic of Britain.
2.e.9 For many hundreds of years the Irish people have been fighting against the imperialist oppression and exploitation that they have suffered at the hands of the British ruling class. This struggle is still proceeding especially in the Six Counties, that part of Ireland still under the direct rule of the British state. In this part of Ireland lives the so-called ’Loyalist’ community, the descendants of Scottish and English colonialists introduced there during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Many of these people wish to remain under the rule of the British state and actively oppose the struggle for Irish national liberation. However, the Loyalist section of the community including those who are working class have had a relatively privileged position with respect to the nationalist section of the population. They seek to maintain their relative advantages by acting as the direct agents of British rule. Their position is that of a colonial settler regime of British imperialism.
2.e.10 It is in the interest of the working class of Britain to support the struggle of the Irish people against imperialism, especially British imperialism. We share the same enemy – the British monopoly capitalist class and its state. The struggle against British imperialism in Ireland is at a very high level, the level of armed struggle. The Irish national liberation struggle is seriously weakening the British state, both politically and economically and this is entirely in the interests of the working class in Britain and elsewhere throughout the world. An important task of the Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries in Britain is to struggle for workers and others to actively support the struggle of the Irish people. Another is the struggle against the particular oppression by the British state which Irish people in Britain are subjected to, which takes forms such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act.
2.e.11 While we know that only under proletarian leadership can the national liberation struggle in Ireland lead on to the socialist revolution, it is not the task of Marxist-Leninists in Britain to chart the course of the struggle in Ireland, a country oppressed by imperialism. This is something that can only be done by revolutionaries in Ireland, as part of the international struggle against imperialism. Our duty is to give real solidarity by means of undermining British imperialism as much as we can. British defeat in Ireland and withdrawal would greatly weaken the hold of the British state over the working class in Britain but in itself would not bring about the collapse of the British state. This can only come about as a result of proletarian insurrection within Britain. But by means of mutual support and aid the working class in Britain and Ireland will greatly accelerate the process of struggling to weaken and overthrow the British ruling class.
2.e.12 Chauvinism and racism are ideological products of capitalist imperialism and here in Britain, once the most powerful imperialist country, they are particularly strong among the working class and middle strata. All the while these divisive ideologies maintain their grasp the bourgeoisie can sleep soundly at night. The Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries must never cease to emphasise the fact that the working class is an international class, that be we English, Scottish, Welsh, Asian, Afro-Caribbean or of any other origin, we have one common enemy, capitalism and imperialism; in this country in the form of the British monopoly capitalist class.
2.f.1 Throughout the entire period during which human societies have been divided into classes women have been oppressed and exploited by men. In the earliest and simplest societies, primitive communism, both men and women were fully involved in social production and the contribution of women to sustaining the material life of the society was just as important as that of men. Consequently men did not dominate women and relations between the sexes were fairly equitable and harmonious.
However, the forces of production developed in such a way that, not only did private ownership of the means of production arrive and give birth to a class-divided society but also women were removed from the main types of social production and largely confined to domestic labour. Henceforth, throughout the entire development of human societies, through the stages of slavery, feudalism and capitalism, not only have the ruling classes oppressed and exploited subordinate classes but within subordinate classes women have been even more oppressed and exploited than the men and very often the immediate agents of their subordination are men of the same class.
2.f.2 Capitalist society is no exception. In Britain today women in the working class and intermediate strata obviously have an inferior position as compared with their male counterparts. Women have a less advantageous educational experience, limited employment opportunities, relatively lower pay and bear the burden of the greater part of domestic labour including child care. Furthermore, in other aspects of life outside of the immediate sphere of production and family life, women are usually at a disadvantage. This pattern of sexual inequality is no historically accident but is in reality an integral feature of modern capitalist society. It is very much in the interests of the monopoly capitalist class that the working class and intermediate strata are divided along sexual lines.
2.f.3 The immediate means of the subordination of women is the monogamous family. This is the social arrangement whereby the labour power required by capitalists is reproduced and maintained in a condition fit for work. However, this vital activity, given that it is organised in this way, is not a direct cost of production for the capitalist employer. Domestic labour is unpaid labour. The fact that most families largely or solely depend upon the earnings of a husband has two important consequences. On the one hand the employee will act with restraint in the workplace because loss of his Job would have serious consequences for his family. On the other hand, it means that women and children are in a relationship of economic dependence with respect to the husband-father. So the man is subordinated in the workplace but he in turn exercises power over women and children in the family. This patriarchal authority engenders submissive, deferential attitudes in the family members, thus preparing them to play and accept subordinate roles in work and society as a whole.
During periods of economic boom and thus labour shortage the capitalist class are prepared to allow women to become more integrated into economic life outside of the home but only in a limited and provisional way. While in some respects full integration into social production encourages women to struggle against their particular oppression and exploitation it also often increases the burden they bear because they still have to carryon with the greater part of domestic labour. Women are for the monopoly capitalist class part of the industrial reserve army of labour who can be called upon in times of labour shortage and then pushed back into the home when no longer required. Capitalism does not just simply bring about the oppression of women in the working class and intermediate strata by men in the same class position but the continuation of this oppression of women by men is absolutely necessary for the survival of the capitalist social order.
2.f.4 Throughout the history of class society women have fought against their subordinate position. Wherever there is oppression there is resistance. This has been especially so during the era of capitalism. For the last few hundred years there has been a growing movement to assert the rights of woman. This movement has been based among women of the intermediate strata rather than the working class. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Britain it took the form of the suffragette movement which demanded bourgeois political and legal rights for women, the vote, and the right to stand for elections to Parliament. For the period this was a progressive movement, but it was based on the illusion of bourgeois parliamentary democracy; the false belief that real changes in the fundamental structure of capitalist society can be brought about through the ballot box. By the 1920s the suffragettes had achieved their political objectives but the experience of women in Britain since then has shown what a limited victory this was.
2.f.5 The next active, organised struggle of women began to renew itself during the 1960s. This was to a considerable extent a result of the re-integration of married women into social production during the post Word War II period and the new confidence this gave women and the new problems they faced as a result of their changing position. As with the earlier women’s movement the new women’s movement was firmly based within the intermediate strata and was articulated around the demands of women in managerial occupations who found that their career prospects were considerably less than that of their male equivalents. The new women’s movement focussed upon attacking male chauvinist attitudes and getting Parliament to pass laws outlawing sexual discrimination at work and unequal pay for men and women. In fact, the legal changes have had a negligible impact on the position of women and the new women’s movement never won a solid base of support among working class women. Its main achievement was to create widespread awareness among both women and men that women are even more oppressed than men in capitalist society.
2.f.6 The limited character of the women’s movement up to now is only too apparent. The demand for equal rights with men is a demand to have the same right to be oppressed and exploited as men and the same right to become an oppressor and exploiter. True, if working class women won the same rights as working class men then this would be a step forward for them. However, experience has shown that while the monopoly capitalist state can be pressured into making some legal concessions to women this makes very little, if any, difference to their real position in society. After all, bourgeois ideology has always stressed the principle of equal rights for all before the law, but this has always been a cover for the most profound inequalities in actual practice. The Marxist-Leninists should support struggles within capitalism for equal rights but at the same time it is vital that we point out that the full liberation of women can only come about through proletarian revolution and the abolition of class society. Also, we must stress that it is working class women who are most oppressed and exploited and that many of the demands made by the women’s movement are of relevance only to intermediate strata women, e.g. equal career opportunities.
2.f.7 However, under no circumstances must-the struggle to point out the limitations and inadequacies of petit bourgeois feminism be allowed to obscure the struggle against male chauvinism. Backward reactionary attitudes and behaviour towards women are widely held among working class and middle strata men in Britain today. This rotten ideology simply serves to perpetuate capitalism and keeps all working people, men and women alike, in bondage to the monopoly capitalist class. Furthermore, by dividing working class men and women and breeding antagonisms between them, male chauvinism undermines the possibility of really strong revolutionary class struggle against the bourgeoisie. Thus an important task for the Marxist-Leninist is to seize all opportunities for combatting male chauvinism within the working class. Less pervasive but still reactionary and divisive is the position that some ’radical’ feminists have gravitated towards. Disappointed at the results of trying to improve the position of women by means of campaigning to change public opinion and for legal reforms, they have taken up a position where men in general are seen as the oppressors of women and this is seen not as a historical product of class society, as something which can be transcended, but as an inevitable state of affairs determined by the different biological nature of men and women. So they propose that the only redress for the wrongs of women is for them to withdraw as much as possible from any contact with men. This radical feminist doctrine simply turns bourgeois male chauvinism on its head and has the same reactionary character. It implies that the existing social order of inequality is inevitable and unchangeable. Marxist-Leninists must also combat this phoney feminism. Only by confronting the woman question head on can the revolutionary forces strengthen the unity of the working class.
2.f.8 A sizeable minority of the population are sexually and emotionally attracted towards members of their own sex. In Britain today both male and female homosexuals are subjected to various types of oppression. Scientific investigation has not yet proceeded far enough to clarify the question as to whether homosexuality is a socially determined product of class society or whether it is a more universal feature of human species life. Thus it would be quite incorrect for Marxist-Leninists to enter into any unfounded doctrinaire pronouncements on this question.
2.f.9 One thing we can unequivocally condemn is the hypocritical attitude the monopoly capitalist class takes up toward homosexuality. On the one hand, they are prepared to turn a blind eye towards it within their own ranks while condemning it in society at large. On the other hand, they have given in grudgingly to pressure from below in Britain to decriminalise male homosexuality while in practice they continue to persecute and discriminate against both male and female homosexuality. One reason the bourgeoisie are alarmed by homosexuality is that they perceive any kind of non-conformism as a threat to their order of things. More specifically the capitalists are concerned about the threat homosexuality poses to the monogamous family, an institution that is central for the reproduction and stability of capitalist society.
2.f.10 The Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries must take up a stance of uncompromising defence of gay people against persecution. This entails not just taking a stand against attacks by employer and the capitalist state against homosexuals but also confronting homophobic behaviour among the working class and intermediate strata. Hostility between heterosexuals and homosexuals only serves to divide the oppressed and exploited and this can only be in the interests of the monopoly capitalist class.
2.f.11 The antagonistic contradictions between men and women heterosexual and homosexual are an integral feature of class-divided capitalism. These contradictions will only be resolved by the abolition of capitalism and the revolutionary socialist transformation of human relationships. Certain differences between men and women and maybe between heterosexuals and homosexuals will remain but these can be of non-antagonistic kind. The project communists are committed to and of which the only possible historical agent is the working class, is the total liberation of human beings from all forms of alienation.