Introduction: The Committee for a Workers’ International
The Committee for a Workers’ International is a Trotskyist organisation with parties or groups in nearly 40 countries.
In the formative years of the CWI, the 1970s and 1980s, its members in many countries were organised as marxist factions within the traditional workers’ parties – social democratic, labour or Stalinist – which at that time still had real roots in the working class. The most notable example of this was in Britain where the CWI was then known as Militant, and led mass workers’ struggles in Liverpool (1983-87) and against the Poll Tax (1988-90).
The collapse in the early 1990s of the Stalinist planned economies in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and in a different form also in China, transformed the world situation. This posed new challenges for revolutionary Marxism: to grasp the full significance of these events and draw the correct conclusions in terms of slogans, tactics and practical activity. The transformation of the old social democratic and Stalinist parties, from parties that in a distorted way reflected the pressure of the working class into completely bourgeois parties, posed the need for a new orientation and greater tactical flexibility, but at the same time a firm defense of the ideas of Marxism. At every critical historical turning point, a layer of former revolutionaries are unable to adjust and either continue as if nothing has happened or become disoriented. The CWI is not immune to this general law of politics and experienced defections in the 1990s, part of the overhead for arriving at a clear analysis of the new historical period. Through vigorous debate, much of which is recorded in public documents (www.socialistworld.net), the CWI drew the conclusion that new parties of the working class would increasingly be on the order of the day. In several countries – Germany, Brazil, Scotland and Nigeria for example – the sections of the CWI have played an important role in building and even initiating new left formations. While not presenting our programme in an ultimative fashion, winning support for our ideas through struggle, the CWI explains that unless today’s new working class and left formations draw all the necessary conclusions from the degeneration of social democracy and Stalinism - the need for democratic, inclusive internal structures; an orientation towards struggle; and a socialist programme – they will inevitably suffer a similar process of political degeneration only more rapidly.
A socialist world is possible
In the face of an ideological offensive from the capitalists which led many former ’socialists’ to abandon the ideas of socialism and class struggle, the CWI has refused to succumb to the pressure to dilute our programme or hide our socialism so not to ’scare away’ workers and youth. We apply the method of the transitional programme, linking today’s issues – war, neo-liberal attacks, nationalism and racism – to the need for the socialist transformation of society. On this basis, CWI sections in several countries were able to organise tens of thousands in school strikes and demonstrations against the US war in Iraq in 2003, and CWI candidates have been elected to parliament in Ireland, and city councils in Australia, Britain, Ireland, Germany, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Sweden. The CWI regards the theory of the permanent revolution and Trotsky’s analysis and struggle against the Stalinist counterrevolution in Russia as crucial to understanding and intervening in current events whether in China, South Africa or the Middle East. We uphold the decisive role of the working class and the Leninist concept of a politically cohesive revolutionary party and international.
The process of capitalist globalisation, the unprecendented concentration of economic power in the hands of few super-rich nations and financial groups, has opened a period of unprecedented shocks and crises for world capitalism. But while capitalism is creating the technical and material means to unify the world into one economic whole, it cannot conjure away the system of nation states upon which the rival capitalist classes rest. Rather than nation states ’disappearing’ as some globalisation theorists have argued, a sharpening global struggle for markets, raw materials and spheres of influence is reviving seemingly dormant national and continental antagonisms.
What we stand forGlobal capitalism means an ever widening gap between rich and poor. China's 100 richest tycoons saw their wealth grow by 41 percent in 2004, while 700 million Chinese live below the poverty line. Speculation and the mad chase for profits globally leads to crises, war and environmental catastrophe. The CWI fights for international socialism and democratic planning of the world's resources, based on the needs of the people and the environment. The CWI fights for:
• An end to authoritarian rule. Mass struggle for democratic rights – freedom of assembly, free speech and freedom of political association. For the complete democratisation of society including the election of all representatives subject to recall and without economic privileges. For an elected workers’ and poor farmers' government on a socialist programme.
• Replace Hong Kong’s rubber-stamp Legco with a genuine popular assembly elected on the basis of universal suffrage, with the right to vote at 16 years of age. Elected representatives to be subject to immediate recall and receive no more than the average skilled worker’s wage.
• Independent, democratic and fighting trade unions and workplace committees. For the right to organise and strike. For democratically elected health and safety representatives in every workplace with control over workplace training and safety procedures. For a mass workers’ party with socialist policies.
• Drive out the profiteers from the health service. Fight privatisation. Universal, free healthcare and social services for all, and massive investment by central government to rebuild public services. Nationalise the pharmaceutical industry under democratic workers’ control and management.
• For a fully state-owned pensions system and guaranteed living pension for all.
• The abolition of sweatshop conditions and wages. For an 8-hour working day without loss of pay, and a national minimum wage of 1,500 yuan per month in mainland China. For the immediate nationalisation of all foreign and privately-owned sweatshops with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need.
• Housing for all! For an emergency house-building programme of affordable accommodation instead of luxury projects. Confiscate the wealth of the property tycoons – for democratic workers’ control and management of the construction industry.
• Free education for all! No to privatisation and market-driven school ’reform’. For maximum 25 pupils in a class, improved pay and conditions for school personnel. No to exam hysteria and stress in the school system.
• Equal rights for women! Fight sexism, discrimination and sexual harassment. Equal pay for equal work and 6 months paid maternity leave for all. Scrap the coercive one-child policy – for a humane, democratic and voluntary system of birth control.
• The nationalisation of all major industry, the banks and financial sector, under democratic workers’ control and management, and a fundamental redirection of economic development towards socially necessary and environmentally-safe production.
• Democratic village committees with full powers to determine allocation of the land in their areas, on the basis of state ownership. A return to collective farming on a voluntary basis which, given the technical advances of Chinese industry and modern machinery, would be on a far higher level than in the 1950s-70s.
• A huge programme of useful public works in the countryside to improve water conservation, irrigation, transport and communications. For environmentally sustainable farming based on an emergency programme to provide state-financed mechanisation, seeds and organic fertilisers.
• Fight racism, religious intolerance and discrimination. Equal rights for migrant workers. Repeal the household registration system. Common struggle – workers and farmers – against unemployment, low wages and the housing crisis.
• A democratic socialist plan of production. Elected representatives from workplace committees, rural communities and user groups to be instrumental in drawing up a plan to put the people’s needs before profit.
• Struggle against imperialism and war. USA out of Iraq and the Middle East. Let the peoples of the region decide their future. International struggle against militarism and the arms race – jobs and schools, not bombs!
• International working class struggle for socialism, against national chauvinism. For full democratic rights, including the right of self-determination for China’s national minorities, alongside the strongest possible links between the workers’ movement of all countries.
• Opposition to multi-national big business blocs like the WTO, APEC and a capitalist ’Asian Community’ – which only serve to maximise profits at the expense of workers and the poor. For a democratic socialist federation of the Asia-Pacific region and a socialist world.