International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
New Delhi, November 20-22, 2009
Intervention of Harjit Daudharia, Communist Party of Canada
Dear Hosting parties and fraternal delegates,
First of all, we would like to thank our hosts – the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India – for all of their efforts in convening this Meeting, and for their generous hospitality. The leader of our party, cde. Miguel Figueroa, was unable to attend due to visa problems and has asked me to convey his warmest greetings to all.
The theme for this 11th Meeting of Communist & Workers’ Parties – the global capitalist crisis and the role of the Communist and working class movements – is most timely. The maturing of the basic contradiction of capitalism is rendering the system ever more volatile and destructive, with dire and sometimes unpredictable consequences. In the hope of reversing the falling rate of profit, ruling circles are stepping up a vicious offensive against our class in order to ‘save’ capitalism while transferring the cost of the current crisis onto the backs of working people. At the same time however, the deepening crisis is having a radicalizing effect on sections of the working class whose economic and social conditions are sharply deteriorating and are increasingly driven to fight back. These are dynamic times indeed, full of dangers and challenges and also with the potential of resurgent socialism.
The main task of Communists today is to help foster class unity and struggle in the face of this deepening crisis. Our orientation should focus on mobilizing and winning today’s immediate (largely defensive) struggles, but always with the perspective of building conditions for our class to mount a counter-offensive against the political and ideological edifice of capitalist relations, of winning state power and building socialism. The main thrust of this perspective is contained in the Draft Delhi Declaration prepared by the Working Group for this meeting, and it has our wholehearted endorsement.
The global crisis is still in its early stages, but certain general features can now be identified, and conclusions drawn:
1. everywhere the crisis is attended by growing impoverishment of workers and the masses of the people, job losses and rising unemployment, economic insecurity and the degradation of public services and social conditions;
2. the corporate/government drive to impose the costs of the crisis on the backs of working people is accompanied by an intense ideological offensive directed at the working class to split its ranks, and to scapegoat the unemployed, new immigrants, racialized communities, and women workers. A crucial part of this ideological campaign is the resurgence of virulent anti-communism;
3. one aim of this ideological offensive aims to mislead working people with rosy and sometimes falsified reports that economic recovery is now underway, even though this is contradicted by the facts. Bourgeois apologists try to justify such wishful and dishonest claims on the grounds that ‘good economic news’ helps to stimulate consumer and investor confidence. But it also serves a more sinister purpose – to delude working people into believing that the worst is over, and that they simply need to wait and ride out the storm, rather than to organize and fight for their class interests;
4. the crisis is aggravating contradictions among the leading imperialist states and blocs, as each scrambles to defend its own financial interests at the expense of foreign competitors. Notwithstanding the rhetorical defence of ‘free trade’ and ‘open markets’ at G-20, World Bank and other summits, the evidence unmistakably points to increasing economic nationalism and retrenchment. In time, this will lead to rising inter-imperialist tensions and rivalries – the historical precursor to imperialist aggression and war;
5. the current crisis has more fully exposed the relative decline of U.S. economic might compared to other competing centres. This decline applies not only in relation to Japan and the EU, but also and even more significantly with respect to the PRC (China) and to a lesser extent, India and Brazil; and
6. the labour and people’s fightback has been slow to develop and remains uneven and sporadic, even though important advances have been made in a number of countries. This is due to a number of factors: the impact of fear and insecurity among broad sections of the working class, weakening – if only temporarily – their capacity to unite and fight; the imposition of state measures to restrict, and sometimes directly repress, organized dissent, and the betrayal of social democracy; and the failure of the trade union leadership to initiate – and in some cases, to actively obstruct – the development of a united and coordinated fightback movement.
Clearly, the current recession/depression will be deep and protracted, with ruinous effects on the living standards and social conditions of working people.
The global economic crisis has impacted heavily on Canada and its people. While the financial sector escaped relatively unscathed – none of the Canadian banks collapsed during the meltdown – most other parts of domestic economy, especially the manufacturing and resource sectors, both of which are heavily dependent on exports to the U.S. market, have been severely crippled. Unemployment continues to increase, and is expected to officially surpass 10% by the end of this year, although in real terms, it is already much higher than that. Construction, retail trade, tourism and the public sector are also in decline.
The right-wing Conservatives under Stephen Harper have stubbornly resisted implementing any significant measures to protect workers’ jobs, living standards and the public services upon which the people depend. Their last budget prioritized bail-outs for the banks and other lenders, and tax hand-outs to business. Over the past three years, the Harper Conservatives have repeatedly ignored laws, court rulings, Parliamentary resolutions, and public opinion to impose their reactionary agenda. The government has extended Canada’s role in the dirty imperialist occupation of Afghanistan, encouraged the corporate assault on workers’ pensions and collective agreements, and refused to sign the historic United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Harper and his government deny any responsibility to tackle the global crisis posed by climate change. In short, at a crucial time of economic crisis and environmental degradation, Canada is governed by one of the most extreme neo-conservative parties in the capitalist world.
And yet despite their right-wing, anti-people policies, the Tories remain in power and are even positioned to gain a majority in the general election expected next year, in large measure because the bourgeois ‘opposition’ parties, including the main social-democratic party, the NDP, have failed to bring forward any substantial alternative policies to those of the Conservatives.
Generally speaking, the fightback by the labour movement and its allies has been slow to develop. There are many reasons for this, including the intensity, speed and escalation of the assault. But it is also a result of the lingering effect of the Cold War attack on the left and the socialist states, which ushered in the dominance of right-wing social democracy as the main ideology of the trade union leadership. This has definitely hampered attempts by organized workers to develop extra-parliamentary political struggles to resist plant closures and economic attacks. Notwithstanding these weaknesses however, Canadian workers have repeatedly shown their capacity to struggle in the face of the capitalist crisis and its consequences.
The problem of leadership – or lack thereof – in the fightback against the corporate attack is not primarily organizational, but rather ideological in character. It is absolutely essential therefore to build the left & militant forces within the trade unions. This is the main challenge confronting our Party as we prepare for our upcoming 36th Convention next February.
Finally, a few words about our own movement internationally. Over the past decade, these international meetings have grown both in terms of participating parties and with respect to our capacity to initiate and strengthen coordination and joint action. At the same time, we must note a growing differentiation among the parties on certain fundamental questions. While respecting the right of each member party to articulate its political analysis and line of march, and while working to foster unity-in-action despite a diversity of views, we reiterate our conviction that the essence and strength of our Communist movement derives from its fidelity to Marxism-Leninism, both in theory and practice, including our collective responsibility to respond to, and struggle against, all manifestations of opportunism, revisionism and reformism within our ranks.
These are the shared challenges which the Communists throughout the world face in today’s turbulent and dangerous world. And the degree to which we confront these challenges in a principled, militant and united way will be decisive in building the people’s counter-offensive, in defeating capitalism, and in building socialism for the benefit of our class, the oppressed and exploited and for all humanity.