Strengthening the struggles against escalating imperialist aggressiveness, for satisfying people’s socio-economic-democratic rights and aspirations, for socialism

14th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
Beirut, 23–25 November 2012




A class approach to the defence of national democracy and sovereignty

Address by Eugene McCartan

General secretary, CPI
24 November 2012


Comrades,
      Firstly, on behalf of the Communist party of Ireland I would like to thank the Lebanese Communist Party for hosting this, the 14th International Meeting of Communist and Worker’s Parties. We salute your party’s contribution to the national life of your country and people in its struggle for independence, in defence of the sovereignty of your nation, and opposition to invasion and aggression.
      To all communist and anti-imperialist forces in this region that struggle against imperialism and its allies we express our solidarity. In particular, we express our solidarity with all those Palestinians resisting occupation and repression and struggling for a Palestinian homeland.
      Finally, we salute our comrades in the Communist Party of Israel, who continue to struggle in very difficult conditions and in the face of deeply reactionary forces in the belly of the Zionist beast.
      Comrades,
      The crisis of the system continues to deepen and is increasingly showing the features of stagnation, permanent mass unemployment, growing permanent mass poverty, a future in which the working class will have very few rights and many restrictions on its ability to fight back.
      Most ominously, the crisis has heightened the aggressiveness of imperialism and its agents. We are gathering in Lebanon at a time when the forces of imperialism and reaction are working hand in glove to thwart the aspirations of the peoples of this region for peace, freedom, justice, and democracy.
      We are meeting at a time of aggressive imperialist interventions in a region long seen by them as an important strategic arena. They are especially determined to block the development of any form of popular democracy not under their control and any area of the globe not fully under their market mechanisms. They are prepared to align themselves with the most backward forms of mediaeval obscurantism in order to achieve their goals.
      They are using well-tested methods of fomenting “civil war” now in Syria, as they did in Yugoslavia. They have no qualms about allowing Israel a free hand in its brutal and premeditated attack on the people of Gaza that is now going on.
      The United States and the European Union should not be allowed to escape responsibility for these crimes, for which they are primarily responsible. Throughout the entire world the imperialist powers are pushing ahead with their strategy of military build-up and confrontation with progressive forces and the overthrowing of governments—not only progressive governments: witness the crescendo of military threats and economic sanctions against Iran.
      War and preparation for war is both a military and an economic strategy. Vast profits can be made in the manufacturing of weapons; it is the dominant manufacturing industry in the United States, and its development is actually written into the EU treaties. There is also the aim of bringing oil and other natural resources back under their control.
      Within the European Union the crisis of the euro and the debt is apparently insoluble. The drama has been going on for several years now, with the “patching up” of the euro-zone crisis every couple of months and a new “solution” proclaimed at a summit meeting, to great fanfare, which twenty minutes later proves not to be a solution at all.
      State monopoly capitalism may have reached a point where measures meant to repair one aspect of the crisis simply aggravate others, worsening the whole mess. If this is so, then capitalism is in very deep trouble, because it has used the state as a means of adapting and manoeuvring and of stabilising itself since the early twentieth century.
      This is a crisis of the system, of its ability to reproduce itself. Profit-creation is suffering, despite decades of intensification of exploitation. There are very few areas left for capital to infest, but they will try. Fictitious capital appears in more and more financial products, yet still the system is in repeated crisis.
      While trying to solve the crisis at the expense of working people in the interests of the capitalist class, they are also using the crisis as an opportunity for multiple attacks on the working class. In Ireland, “austerity” is working, with a massive transfer of wealth from the people to the monopoly finance houses of Europe. This year alone the Irish people will pay €7 billion in interest on the debt, together with nearly €5 billion to bond-holders.
      At the same time the state is inflicting massive hardship on the people through cuts in public spending and employment, new taxes and levies, and cuts in wages, pensions, and social welfare. Unemployment in the Republic now stands at 445,000, or 15 per cent, with youth unemployment at 30 per cent. The crisis has also produced a massive increase in emigration, now running at over a thousand a week in the Republic alone.
      There is increasing popular support for the repudiation of this debt, which is an odious debt, generated by the banking houses of Europe and the Irish banks.
      The gross debt is fast approaching €200 billion, while the gross national product was only €129 billion in 2011 and is decreasing. This odious debt is simply unpayable by 4½ million people, and the inability of the native capitalist class to find solutions to this crisis exposes them for what they are, simply the gatekeepers for foreign monopoly capitalism, and is a strategic weakness and contradiction in capitalist rule in Ireland.
      The Irish people’s wealth is being vacuumed up into the finance houses, to prop up German and EU finance houses and the euro itself, with state companies now being prepared for privatisation under the supervision of the EU and IMF in conjunction with the Irish state.
      Added to this is the fact that the British state still controls the North of Ireland, and with the North of Ireland outside the euro and within the sterling area. Nevertheless the same “austerity” policies are applied north and south: cuts in wages and cuts in public services, resulting in rising unemployment and growing poverty.
      The drive to concentrate power in Brussels is a long-standing strategy of the European Union. Fiscal union and budgetary controls are now advanced as a solution to the crisis. It is even claimed by some Irish politicians that such measures would make possible some slight amelioration of the burden of debt. Indeed, some such deal may be offered as a bribe.
      The ruling forces at the heart of the European Union are using the crisis to complete the construction of the European imperialist centre, not only economically but politically and militarily. This programme will further strip away any real substance in national political and economic sovereignty and democracy and further remove crucial areas from pressure and influence from class struggle at the national level. It is fundamentally anti-democratic in purpose, in spite of their rhetoric. Democracy is increasingly becoming an obstacle to modern monopoly capitalism.
      We Irish communists take a class approach to the defence of national democracy and sovereignty. The consolidation of the European Union is designed both to obstruct the self-defence of the working class and to close the door to any advance towards socialism. Fear is used to terrorise the people and to manufacture their consent. We do not believe that the European Union can be transformed into anything other than an instrument of class domination and neo-colonial oppression.
       The great challenge facing our movement is to bring together all those who are suffering the effects of the crisis of the system and imperialist aggression in a mighty popular resistance, uniting all anti-imperialist forces. Such an awakening would inevitably open up the road for an advance towards socialism, which is ultimately the only solution to the massive human crisis and environmental crisis that capitalism has created.

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