Contribution of WP of Ireland [En]
Central Executive Committee
Workers’ Party of Ireland
The Workers’ Party of Ireland would like to thank our comrades from the Communist Party of Vietnam for hosting this IMCWP and for providing the facilities in which we can conduct our work. We extend our best wishes and solidarity to the Communist Party of Vietnam.
Lenin made clear that in its struggle for power the proletariat has no other weapon but organisation. Therefore, the task of establishing a revolutionary workers’ party capable of leading the struggle for the emancipation of the working class and the construction of a socialist society remains a fundamental requirementfor parties committed to socialist revolution and the overthrow of capitalism. The need for such a party is essential - to provide a disciplined, ideologically coherent and effective force to promote class struggle and revolutionary change among working people and to secure the transition to a new society. The task of raising and consolidating the level of class consciousness falls to the revolutionary party.
The threat to the social and economic conditions of workers and small farmers across the world and the escalation of imperialist war has sharpened the ideological struggle and provides new conditions for building class consciousness and preparing workers for political action.
Capitalism has been rampant since the counter-revolution removed many of the limitations it had been forced to accept by the existence of the socialist states.The importance of a militant and effective vanguard party of the working class with a coherent ideology and a firm presence within the working class and its organisations remains essential. A revolutionary transformation of society requires a revolutionary party to define clearly where it stands and to set out its political strategy and tactics for a rupture with capitalism.
At its last Ard Fheis (Congress) in 2015 the Workers’ Party of Ireland confirmed its ideological orientation as a Marxist-Leninist party committed to the revolutionary transformation of society, the abolition of capitalism and the building of a Socialist Republic in which power is firmly in the hands of the working class. Without this scientific outlook and without a proper understanding of the nature of class struggle a revolutionary strategy is impossible. We have set ourselves a programme of work focussed on building the organisational, administrative and political capabilities of the Party and developing a strategy for better and more effective political and ideological work to enhance its capacity to challenge and contest the centres of power at every level.
The task of socialist revolution is difficult and complex. The central issue of a socialist strategy is, accordingly, to attain the objective and subjective conditions for a revolutionary transformation of society. In order to realise such conditions it is necessary not only to build the vanguard party but to have on board the broad popular masses of the working class, the working people of the country. The leading role of the working class is secured by conscious planned action. In this respect the revolutionary party must be prepared to take the necessary steps to raise and strengthen class consciousness and to build an organisation capable of establishing a society built on workers’ power.
Every class struggle is a political struggle. The negative consequences of an economic crisis for working people do not spontaneously lead to an intensification of class struggle. The development of class consciousness remains a central task of the ideological and political work of the Communist and Workers’ parties.
This year, the Workers’ Party of Ireland has been fully engaged in peoples’ struggles, in the fight against water charges and privatisation; in exposing the outrageous levels of homelessness and the absurdly high cost of accommodation, especially in the capital city, Dublin. In a country filled with empty houses built in a period of frenzied property speculation, so-called “ghost estates” remain unoccupied while thousands of people remain homeless. The intensive work of our Party on the housing crisis in which the Workers’ Party of Ireland has led the way,has brought our Party into conflict not only with the anti-democratic, bureaucratic structures of government and the land speculators and private builders but also with the bourgeois parties and the “new social democrats” who protect their interests. The Workers’ Party of Ireland has used this struggle not only to stand with working people in their day-to-day struggles but also to expose the true character of opportunism and class collaboration while seeking to heighten class consciousness in working class communities. Our Party has demanded the nationalisation of Ireland’s oil and gas resources and opposed the sell-off of state and semi-state enterprises to private interests. Our Party has also been active in the struggle for workers’ and trade union rights; against unemployment; for integrated, secular, publically funded education; for properly funded and accessible childcare; against the continued erosion of public health and care services; against racism, sectarianism and violence against women.
Our Party has also been actively engaged in the struggle for peace, participating in the Peace and Neutrality Alliance and the protests at Shannon Airport and taking part in the protests and events against the NATO summit in Warsaw organised by the European Communist Initiative and the World Peace Council.
The WPI in Northern Ireland was activein a campaign for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union from a class and anti-capitalist perspective. Our Party called on workers to vote in the interests of their class, exposing the steady erosion of the sovereignty of peoples as well as the restriction of democratic and trade union freedoms in the EU member states, the reinforcement of the EU as a centralised, militarised, imperialist inter-state alliance which acts in the interests of big capital while pointing out that all EU member states act directly in the interests of their own capitalist class. Our Party underlined the attacks on popular support for Irish neutrality; the assaults on social and economic conditions; the impoverishment of working people and the increased power of the monopolies as evidence of the anti-people political line of the EU and its member states which is further manifested in persistent offensives against labour rights; social protection; public health, education and employment and the provision of public services which have dealt a devastating blow to working people while serving to increase and expand the power of the capitalist class.
Our Party stated its belief that only a rupture with the EU will create the necessary conditions for progressive social development while recognising, of course, that withdrawal from the EU will not, of itself, solve the problems of the working class and that the struggle against capitalist exploitation and for the construction of a socialist society is still timely and necessary.
The Workers’ Party of Ireland hasalso been engaged this year in an intense campaign to secure the reproductive rights of women. In neither state in Ireland do women have the right to control their own bodies. Our Party believes that this is fundamental to gender equality, rejecting the paternalism that regards women as second class citizens. Large numbers of women every year are forced to go to Britain for abortions for which they must pay themselves – and many working class women cannot afford to do so. In the Republic of Ireland, our Party has campaigned actively for the repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution which acts as a prohibition on a woman’s right to choose. In Northern Ireland the Workers’ Party of Ireland has demanded the immediate introduction of legislation to facilitate the right of women to free and safe abortions. For our Party, this demand represents one vitally important part of our wider struggle for secularism in Irish society, to break the stranglehold of religion in political life. It is also provides another opportunity to highlight the inextricable link between gender oppression and the class oppression of capitalism.
During 2016, we also fought elections in both states in Ireland, putting forward the democratic, secular, socialist alternative against the right-wing consensus that governs both states and the false hope offered by the social democrats. We stood on a platform which related the problems facing working people such as unemployment, precarious work, a dramatic decrease in real income, increasing prices for food and the essentials of life, decreasing expenditure on the public provision of health, education, housing, welfare and social services, raised retirement ages, attacks on pensions, increased levels of poverty, homelessness and emigration to the inevitable consequence of the capitalist system of exploitation.
It is an essential prerequisite of a political strategy to determine a path for revolutionary change. Lenin called upon communist parties to focus their attention and forces on the “search after forms of the transition or the approach to the proletarian revolution”. (Collected Works, Vol 31 p 92)
A communist party must have a revolutionary programme for change. This programme must have as its goal the establishment of workers’ power, the abolition of the capitalist mode of production and the construction of socialism. The Party must rally the majority of the working class and inculcate within them the need for revolutionary change and organise the working class in a sense of anti-capitalist consciousness. The existence of a working class is not sufficient, it must be formed into a revolutionary force.
It is necessary to clearly and unequivocally express the position that real and fundamental change requires a break with capitalism in which workers are exploited and abused – a revolutionary transformation to create a world which maximises human potential, dignity and development rather than a system driven by the relentless pursuit of profit for the benefit of the few.
It is within this framework that progressive demands can be articulated - demands which, for example, include permanent and stable work for all, with full social insurance, working and wage protection, full occupational, health and safety measures and full trade union rights; social protection for the sick, disabled, pensioners and the unemployed; the satisfaction of health, education, welfare and housing needs; democratic rights and trade union freedoms; an end to privatisation of public assets; environmental protection etc.,exposing the class nature of society; raising class consciousness, encouraging workers to develop a sense of their power as a class, underlining and emphasising the nature and basis of class struggle, facilitating the organisation of mass campaigns while simultaneously demanding measures to improve conditions for working people and articulating in a concrete and understandable way that only socialism is the alternative.
2016 marks the centenary of the 1916 Rising, when the men and women of Ireland’s democratic and progressive forces, including the socialist Irish Citizen Army led by James Connolly, struck a blow against the imperialist First World War and for the neutrality and independence of Ireland. The revolutionaries of 1916 remain an important source of inspiration for our Party. This year the Workers’ Party of Ireland publishes a major new analysis of the 1916 Rising and its meaning today. Our Party has also published a new edition of Connolly’s classic Marxist analysis, Labour in Irish History (1910), which applied a systematic Marxist approach to Irish politics and society for the first time.
We are fast approaching an important anniversary for the communist and workers’ parties. Next year we celebrate the Great October Socialist Revolution which transferred power to the working class, broke down the machinery of the bourgeois state, established the world’s first workers’ state and set in train a revolutionary political experience the impact of which was felt across the world. There are many lessons to be learned.
Political struggle is impossible without an ideological struggle. This requires the communist and workers’ parties tocombat anti-communism, expose opportunism and reformism, defend the achievements of the historical attempts to build socialism and the historical experience of the international communist movement and to implement the principles of socialist internationalism and solidarity in our day-to-day work. It is our duty to contest the prevailing ascendancy of bourgeois ideology at all levels of political, economic, social and cultural life and to stand in solidarity with and assist those communists who are suffering the onslaught of anti-communist aggression across the world.
It was Lenin who demonstrated that the strategy and tactics of every communist party should take into account the experience gained by the revolutionary movement in its own country and elsewhere. Proletarian internationalism remains a vital constituent of the work of the international communist movement and working class. Internationalism is an inseparable and unique characteristic of the revolutionary struggle and a fundamental concern of the communist and workers’ parties whose object is to transform the world. Of course, at a time of systemic capitalist crises and increasing imperialist offensives, proletarian internationalism assumes ever greater importance for the communist and workers parties. Solidarity and co-operation remain at the centre of our internationalism.
We live in a time of increasing aggression and war by the imperialist powers. In Syria, for example, the machinations of imperialism has brought war and terror to Syria and beyond. Today Syria is exposed to a humanitarian catastrophe. As a consequence of this war millions of Syrian citizens have fled their homes and have become internally displaced refugees in neighbouring countries living in miserable conditions requiring food, shelter and medicine. The vital infrastructure of the Syrian state and its cultural heritage are being destroyed. Death, suffering and destruction is on a massive scale. It is imperialism which has led to the devastation of Syria and which threatens further and widening conflict in the region. We extend our comradely solidarity to the Syrian communists recognising the very difficult conditions in which they have to operate. We demand respect for the territorial integrity of Syria and for a solution which secures lasting peace for the people of Syria, in a secular state free from sectarianism and terror where the working people of Syria can conduct their own struggle for the construction of a socialist society.
The question of strategy and tactics is not incidental to our struggle. It is a central question. We are engaged in an historic mission to put an end to the domination of private ownership and exploitation, to the end of the capitalism system and the construction of a socialist society.