At its meeting on Saturday 7 December the National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland discussed both the national and the international situation and the current balance of global forces.
The outcome of the recent by-elections in the Republic has shown the stability of the system and the strength of the establishment political parties. But they cannot escape the deep economic and social divisions within the structures of society throughout the country. Homelessness continues to grow, rents are reaching a point of being unsustainable, and there is continued growth in poverty, precarious employment, and minimum-wage jobs. The fiscal strategy pursued by both the Irish and British governments that negatively affects our people is for rewarding the rich and strengthening social inequality, for punishing working people and the poor.
Health services are at breaking point, and private medicine continues to bleed the public health system of valuable resources and to undermine the public health system itself. The health service throughout the country suffers from severe staff shortages, ward closures, and chronic underfunding, resulting in growing waiting-lists for treatment, fewer hospital beds, and ambulances unable to discharge patients at A&Es.
There are growing calls for the re-establishment of the Northern Executive and Assembly, but a simple return to the same old institutions would not fulfil what is needed to solve the people’s needs: what is needed is a more radically reformed Executive and Assembly that have the necessary fiscal powers to raise revenue, This can create the basis for and become a focal point for building resistance against the continuous attacks on workers and the continued decline in health and other public services. We need to build the people’s resistance. The North of Ireland experiences a high level of poverty, in particular child poverty, investment in health is less, and wages are also lower than in other areas within the British state.
The housing crisis cannot be resolved without massive investment in public housing and ending the sale of public land to private developers and speculators. The recent debacle concerning the planned housing development at O’Devanney Gardens in Dublin and the imposition of the “cost-rental model” only confirms the correctness of the opposition of the CPI to such neo-liberal models, which are unfortunately supported by some left forces. The party also notes the growing use of “housing associations” as yet another means whereby the state can evade its responsibility to provide public housing. This can also be seen in the role of charitable organisations in housing and servicing the homeless as a form of privatisation, and the abdication by the state of its duty, both nationally and locally, to provide those services.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the global capitalist economy is slowing down. Such countries as the United States, Britain, and Germany, along with other developed capitalist countries, are beginning to slow down and to experience contractions. While it has not reached crisis point, it is of concern to millions of workers who are already experiencing renewed attacks on their living standards.
This comes in a period of unprecedented accumulation and the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands. In 2017, eight people (all white males) owned the same as the 3½ billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. The number of billionaires has almost doubled; they now have more wealth than ever before, while almost half of humanity live on less than $5.50 a day.
Coupled with a growing economic slowdown, we are experiencing a growth in militarism and military spending by NATO counties and by the EU through PESCO. Around the globe we are witnessing the overthrow of progressive governments along with the continuous and relentless attacks on working people by monopoly capitalism.
The CPI condemns the recent coup d’état in Bolivia and the overthrow of the progressive government of Evo Morales as US imperialism attempts to reassert its hegemony over the peoples of Latin America and to reverse the democratic and progressive changes won by the people.
Along with the European Union, the United States continues to strive to isolate and overthrow the governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. The party calls for a stepping up of solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela among trade unions and other workers’ organisations.
The party notes and expresses its solidarity with the working people of Bolivia, Chile, Lebanon, Greece, Iraq, Iran, and France, who, over the last few months, have been engaged in mass struggles against their governments. We are experiencing a growth in the global militancy of the working class, while the class struggle to defend its hard-won gains and further its interests is meeting growing repression and violence from the state.
Millions of people have been mobilised to demand better wages, better health services, and an end to “austerity.” In addition, millions of women have been mobilised to demand action against their daily experience of physical and sexual violence, demanding immediate action to protect them and to allow them to fully participate in society, free from the fear of violence and machismo. The climate resistance and the mobilisation of of young people around the world has pushed the environmental catastrophe now facing our planet up the political agenda. It has forced the system’s ruling forces to at least “talk green” though at the same time it continues to resist any real or meaningful change. The ruling forces know that real environmental policies would require a significant change in economic and social priorities, which would challenge the system itself and power and controlling structure.
The party also expresses its solidarity with the working class within Britain as the struggle against austerity grows. The CPI reaffirms its support and respect for the democratic decision to leave the European Union, which remains the central political structure to protect the interests of monopoly capitalism. It is clear that the outcome of the coming general election will create a new and more complex terrain of struggle for the working class in both states.
We have experienced a number of critical mobilisation of workers around the country and an important victory for peace forces. Two peace activists from the American organisation Veterans for Peace, through very public campaign work by peace forces, have secured the return of their passports, allowing them to return to their families in the United States.
The recent advances made in relation to both abortion and marriage equality are to be welcomed as a necessary first step but need to be built upon. It was the actions and the struggle of thousands of women and men over decades that forced these progressive changes.
We have also witnessed a growth in militancy and indeed small but important victories for workers. The party salutes the workers in the National Health Service in the North in their just demands for pay parity with health service workers within the British state. They have also linked their poor wages and working conditions to the savage cuts that have affected them and the patients they treat. We support the recent strike by members of the University and College Union over over pay and pensions. There has been a small but important victory for English-language teachers, an underpaid group of workers who experience the precarious nature of employment.
The party also welcomes the establishment of the People’s Dáil in Co. Tyrone as an important follow-up to the centenary celebrations of the first Dáil Éireann. The establishing of such progressive forums brings together grass-roots campaigns that oppose fracking and goldmining, local environmental campaigners and community, left and trade union activists. It shows the potential for real local co-ordinated actions and what a possible future progressive radical local democracy could look like.
It is the decisive actions of workers, both in their place of work and in their communities, that have changed and can further change the material conditions and hardships that they experience daily.
Our country and people need a new way forward to overcome the many social and economic crises that affect their daily lives, to break with the consensus of austerity and the “primacy of the market” and profit-driven solutions. The newly established campaign to repeal anti-worker laws and to fight for workers’ rights needs the support of all trade union and community activists. There is a clear and urgent need to break the legal shackles that prevent workers from protecting and furthering their own class interests.
We need to break the power of the European Union and the policy of submission to it by the Irish state, to end debt slavery, precarious employment, and poverty wages, and to demand a national programme for the building of public housing.
Source: Communist Party of Ireland via Solidnet / RedGlobe