Participants included leading representatives of the communist and workers’ parties of China, the USA, Australia, Canada, Britain, Cyprus, Spain, Germany, Italy, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. Robert Griffiths spoke on behalf of the Communist Party of Britain. Following the seminar, the CPC International Department issued a joint statement on ‘Paths to Democracy and Common Development’ endorsed by 355 political parties, social organisations and think-tanks around the world. The speech and Declaration are set out below.
Democracy, Justice, Development and Progress:
The Pursuit of Marxist Political Parties
Communist Party of Britain
All Communist Parties have a responsibility to identify a road to socialism which begins from the concrete conditions and trends in their own country. That road must be both realistic and revolutionary, a road that can lead to the capture of state power by the working class and its allies.
Our Chinese comrades have conquered state power and – as the proceedings of the 16th Plenum of the 19th Central Committee have recently confirmed – has used it to lift up the masses of the people. The trajectory in People’s China is now one of building its own model of a prosperous socialist society, in harmony with our planet and at peace with the world.
Our party’s programme, Britain’s Road to Socialism, takes as its starting point the reality that Britain is a multinational state dominated by the interests of monopoly capital, at the core of which are the financial capitalists based in the City of London.
Moreover, as Lenin elaborated in his work Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism, in the advanced capitalist countries the economic power of the capitalist monopolies has – in effect – fused with the power of the state to produce a mechanism which he called state-monopoly capitalism.
British monopoly capital, backed by the power of the British state, has long extended its actvities over much of the world. Britain remains one of the major imperialist powers.
This means that Communists in Britain have long understood our serious responsibility to act in solidarity with peoples around the world in their struggles against British imperialism.
We also have to analyse and challenge the economic, political and ideological impact of British imperialism at home, on the domestic economy, on the exercise of state power and on the ideas and views of the working class and the people generally.
British imperialism’s economic strategies have produced a seriously unbalanced domestic economy, over-dependent on the financial, property and services sector, on armaments production and its technology, on imports of strategic products and on inward investment. Britain’s balance of payments remains in surplus only because of the income from British capital around the world and from servicing foreign capital (what Lenin called ‘clipping coupons’) in the City of London.
For the peoples of Britain, the results are a relatively low investment, low tech, low skill and low productivity economy, with many low-paid, part-time and precarious jobs. The free reign of market forces, privatisation and the absence of macro-economic planning has left many older industrial areas to deteriorate economically and socially.
The grossly unequal distribution of income, wealth and purchasing power has combined with a free market in housing to create a more or less permanant housing crisis in its various forms. Public sector housing has been largely replaced by private rented accommodation, leaving many young people at the mercy of private landlords.
Increasingly, second or ‘holiday’ homes blight society and its development in and around rural and coastal areas.
These are the conditions in which divisive racist and xenophobic sentiments grow and fester.
The majority section of the British ruling capitalist class wanted to remain in the European Union with its entrenched legal framework favouring monopoly market forces and limiting the possibilities for macro-economic planning, state aid to industry, regional development policy and controls over capital.
But these potential benefits of Brexit will not be realised until we have a central government in London that is prepared to use the powers repatriated from the treaties and institutions of the EU.
Instead, we have a right-wing Conservative government which further undermines the powers and resources of local government and the devolved parliaments in Scotland and Wales, expands the coercive powers of the state, greatly increases Britain’s arsenal of nuclear weapons and joins the USA, France, Australia and NATO in a new Cold War against Russia and China.
This is the context in which the Communist Party of Britain and its allies strive to show people that an alternative economic and political strategy is not only possible but essential: a strategy which can win improvements and reforms, preparing the best basis on which to challenge state-monopoly capitalism.
Furthermore, our programme points to the only type of society – socialism – that can guarantee first-class public services, full and rewarding employment, dignity in retirement, real democratic rights and power in the hands of the people, a federal Britain in place of both centralised unionism and divisive separatism, and a foreign policy based on international solidarity, peace and the protection of our planet.
Developing these perspectives has compelled us to draw upon and elaborate Marxist-Leninist theory in order to guide our practice, notably on such questions as the environment, financialisation and the re-emerging general crisis of capitalism; the international collaboration and contradictions of state-monopoly capitalism; popular sovereignty; neo-liberalism, the state and the limitations of social democracy; building alliances against state-monopoly capitalism; women’s liberation, racism and class exploitation; and the unifying, class-based character of progressive federalism.
This work has also enabled the Communist Party of Britain to grow rapidly and carry forward our shared values of democracy, justice, development and progress in today’s national and international conditions.
How we practice and reflect these values today, inside our party, in our relations with allies and in our conduct of the political class struggle is important not only to attract people to the Communist Party, but also to combat the negative image of socialism – past, present and future – propagated continuously by its enemies.
JOINT STATEMENT of World Political Parties, Social Organisations and Think Tanks ON Making INDEPENDENT Efforts to Explore the Path towardS DEMOCRACY AND Working Together to Promote Common Development
Democracy represents an important achievement of humanity in the advancement of political civilisation, and development an eternal pursuit throughout human history. People of different countries and regions, through their unremitting explorations, have brought about distinctively varied forms of democracy and development paths, presenting a magnificent spectacle of flourishing human civilisations. Political parties, as they are in a position to build, preserve and develop democracy, have been charged with the important mission to realise democracy and promote development. In view of the above, we, the 355 political parties, social organisations and think tanks from 140 countries and regions, issue a joint statement to the whole world as follows:
I. We are of the view that the world we live in is a diverse and colourful one. Diversity is what defines the fascinating feature of human civilisations, and indeed the source of vitality and dynamism for the development of the world. The ways and means of realising democracy are varied. Since different countries and regions may not necessarily share the same history, culture, social system and development stage, there does not exist any system of democracy or pattern of development that is applicable to all countries. The practice of judging the rich variety of political systems around the world by a single yardstick, or observing the colourful political civilisations of humanity from a monochromatic sight, is in itself undemocratic. Nor is it conducive to development.
II. We are of the view that the best way to evaluate whether the political system of a country is democratic and efficient is to observe whether the succession of its leading body is orderly and in line with the law, whether all people can manage state affairs and social, economic and cultural affairs in conformity with legal provisions, whether the public can express their requirements without hindrance, whether all sectors can efficiently participate in the country’s political affairs, whether national decisions can be made in a rational, democratic way, whether professionals in all fields can be part of the team of national leadership and administrative systems through fair competition, whether the ruling party can serve as a leader in state affairs in accordance with the constitution and laws, and whether the exercise of power can be kept under effective restraint and supervision.
III. We are of the view that the judgement on whether a country is democratic hinges on whether the people can become the real masters of the country. While it is necessary to observe whether the people can enjoy the right to vote, it is even more important to observe whether their right of extensive participation is guaranteed. While it is necessary to observe what verbal promises the people get during election campaigns, it is even more important to observe how many of the promises are fulfilled after elections. While it is necessary to observe what political procedures and rules are stipulated in regulations and laws, it is even more important to observe whether these regulations and laws are rigorously enforced. While it is necessary to observe whether the exercise of power follows democratic rules and procedures, it is even more important to observe whether the exercise of power is truly subject to supervision and restraint by the people.
IV. We are of the view that democracy is the right of all peoples, rather than an exclusive privilege of the few. The judgement on whether a country is democratic or not should be made by their people. We stand opposed to acts that interfere in the internal affairs of others in the name of democracy.
V. We are of the view that the point of departure as well as the goal of the development of human society should be to improve people’s wellbeing and to achieve well-rounded human development. The promotion of democracy should focus on the continuous realisation of people’s aspiration for a better life and the uplifting of their sense of fulfilment, happiness and security. Currently, countries need especially to strengthen cooperation in the fields of poverty alleviation, food security, COVID-19 responses and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialisation, digital economy and connectivity, and to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, so that concentrated efforts are devoted to solve problems of the greatest, most immediate and most practical concerns of the people. All countries and all peoples of the world deserve the opportunity and right of development. Efforts need to be made to promote inclusive development and ensure that no country is left behind.
VI. We are of the view that to make international relations more democratic is the trend of the times and that the only way to realise this lies in putting true multilateralism into practice. As humankind is faced with various challenges and global issues, the effective response thereto can only be found in more inclusive global governance, more effective multilateral mechanisms and more proactive regional cooperation. Better performance in the practice of multilateralism can always lead to better answers to the common problems facing humanity.
VII. We are of the view that efforts to build a human community with a shared future point in the right direction to the development and progress of civilisation. The shared human values of peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom must serve as guidance in the endeavour to build such a community with a strong sense of responsibility for the future of humankind, so that countries with different social systems, ideologies, histories, cultures and levels of development can share interests, rights and responsibilities in international affairs and work together to build a better world.
Deeply aware of the joint mission placed on our shoulders to promote democracy and improve people’s livelihood, we undertake to work hand in hand to rise above all kinds of differences, promote exchanges and mutual learning, enhance mutual understanding and build broad consensus, so that we continue to make our due contribution to the people’s wellbeing, national development, world peace and human progress.