Political Storm in USCPUSA report to the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties

December 23, 2005

Athens Meeting 18-20 November 2005, Contribution of CPUSA

International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties ‘Current Trends In Capitalism: Economic, Social And Political Impact. The Communists’ Alternative’ Athens, 18-20 November, 2005

The Communist Party USA expresses its appreciation to the Communist Party of Greece for hosting this important international gathering, and we also express our solidarity with the communist and workers’ parties of the world.

The United States is going through one of the most politically turbulent periods in recent memory. The administration of George W. Bush is facing a profound crisis of legitimacy.

Less than a year after he narrowly won re-election, the Bush presidency is reeling, with a big majority of the U.S. public saying they do not trust him and disagree with his policies. What are the reasons?

* The Iraq war: The administration was able to sell the war using post-Sept. 11 fear. But the war has now been fully exposed to the American people as a disaster, based on lies. A majority now say they want an exit strategy to bring U.S. troops home. The administration is being discredited with the indictment and continuing investigation of top officials over their criminal machinations to sell the war to the public. It is also embroiled in a series of other scandals.

* Hurricane Katrina: The American people were deeply shocked by the callousness and incompetence of President Bush and his administration following the storm that devastated the historic city of New Orleans and the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, leaving over 1,000 dead. More profoundly, this disaster, with its televised images beamed around the world, starkly revealed to all Americans the persistent systemic racial and economic inequality in our country and the inhuman, racist policies of this administration. They saw how thousands of people, mostly Black, poor and elderly, were literally abandoned by the government. To this day, hundreds of thousands remain displaced, with no home and no income.

* Skyrocketing oil and gas prices have outraged the public, causing financial hardship, with many low-income people facing a winter heating crisis.

* Bush’s effort to privatize Social Security sparked mass grassroots opposition.

* There is wide unease over the economy and growing concern over the multi-billion-dollar price tag for the Iraq war, combined with Bush’s sharp cuts in social programs and tax giveaways to the rich.

These factors are fueling increasingly open splits in the ruling class and its political representatives, even within the right. Some worry that the extreme, reckless policies of this administration could endanger the interests of U.S. capitalism.

This is not just a crisis for the politicians now in power in Washington, but for the entire ‘neo-conservative’ project that dates back 25 years to the Reagan administration. That project involved a group of far-right ideologues, representing the most extreme right-wing sections of U.S. transnational corporations, who sought to counter the setbacks experienced by U.S. capitalism in the 1960s and 70s.

Those setbacks included most notably its defeat in Vietnam, and the accompanying rejection of imperialist war by the majority of the American people, but also the success of the Cuban Revolution and failure of the U.S. efforts to crush it, and other successful national liberation struggles, the continued influence of the socialist bloc of nations, and major democratic advances won by the mass progressive upsurges within the U.S. the civil rights, women’s rights, labor and environmental movements including enactment of federal social welfare programs and some curbs on corporate prerogatives. All these were seen by this neo-conservative group as threats to the untrammeled domestic and global dominance of U.S. monopoly capitalism, occurring in the context of a slowing down of the U.S. and world capitalist economy.

This group gained unparalleled political power with the current administration, controlling both the White House and Congress, and seeking to entrench itself in the courts.

The policies of this neo-conservative project are characterized by:

* deregulation of the economy, privatization of the public sector * attack on government as an instrument for the social good, seeking to transform it into a repressive redistributive mechanism openly serving the wealthiest families and corporations * attack on civil liberties and rights, democratic structures, especially voting rights, and labor rights * exacerbation of class, racial and ethnic inequality * militarism, unilateralism, preemptive war projection of the U.S. as the sole global superpower * ideology of fear, national chauvinism, racist, ethnic and gender chauvinism, backward religious fundamentalism, merging of religion and state, attack on science.

They strive to roll back the expanded definitions of democracy achieved in the U.S. over the past two centuries.

The crisis of the Bush administration and the neo-conservative ideologues takes place in the context of their foreign policy failures and emerging shifts in the world balance of forces. The U.S. cannot exercise global hegemony unimpeded.

Their most glaring disaster has been the Middle East. Their unilateral preemptive war policy has yielded disastrous results in Iraq and fueled terrorism and reactionary sectarian trends. It has left the U.S. isolated in the world community.

Their open or silent support for the Sharon government’s illegal occupation and aggressive repression of the Palestinian people has set back efforts to form an independent, viable Palestinian state living peacefully alongside the Israeli state, and has fueled anger throughout the region.

In Europe the U.S. faces imperialist rivalries and a potentially competing power bloc. U.S. efforts to impose neo-liberalism in Latin America are in trouble, with country after country moving to the left. The Venezuelan people defeated U.S. coup attempts, although we know that the Bush administration actively seeks to destabilize not only the Chavez government but also that of Lula in Brazil, and continues efforts to destroy socialism in Cuba.

Of growing significance is the rise of the ‘middle powers’ such as Brazil, India, South Africa, Canada and others, challenging U.S. imperialism in a number of ways. Finally, the emergence of China as a dynamic global economic and political power presents an enormous new challenge to U.S. and world imperialism.

The U.S. economy is fragile and beset with contradictions. The budget deficit has jumped to unprecedent levels, with an enormous foreign debt. The share of U.S. exports in the world market has declined sharply, while the country relies increasingly on foreign government purchases of dollars.

The deficit has largely gone not to fund investment in technology or increased productive capacity, but for import of consumer goods and for military spending. About a third of U.S. manufacturing capacity is idle, for the fifth consecutive year. This is the first time since the 1930s that so much capacity has been unused for so long.

Meanwhile, new production facilities are built elsewhere and outsourcing to non-union supplier firms abroad continues.

While U.S. gross domestic product has remained stable, this stability has been gained in good part through deepening attacks on the living standard of workers and the racially and nationally oppressed as well as through record consumer debt, military spending and big tax cuts for the rich, some of which is used for luxury consumption.

Basic sectors of the U.S. economy like airlines, steel and auto, including icons of U.S. capitalism like Ford and General Motors, are sharply downsizing their workforce, laying off tens of thousands. They have used corporate takeovers and bankruptcies, or the threat of these, to divest themselves of worker pension and health care obligations on which generations of American workers have relied.

Accompanying the disappearance of unionized manufacturing jobs has been an unprecedented growth in low-wage jobs and the dramatic expansion of the financial sector to a position of dominance in the overall economy.

At the same time corporate profits are at boom levels, aided by government policies. Thus we are seeing a major disconnect between economic indicators such as GDP and profits, and the conditions of life for working people. The U.S. is experiencing widening inequality, increased poverty and a growing sense of insecurity among broad sections of the population. This represents a profound break in the way of life that millions of working people had become accustomed to.

Big sections of the U.S. labor movement have been adjusting their thinking and actions to these new conditions. New levels of consciousness have emerged on the need for racial, ethnic and gender unity and for independent political action.

The labor movement is building new alliances with people’s organizations, especially those of the African American, Latino and other racially and nationally oppressed peoples, immigrants, women, youth, gay, lesbian and transgendered people, and environmental groups. Unions are emerging as champions of the whole working class and other social strata and movements. Despite the recent split in the national labor federation the AFL-CIO, trade unionists on the ground see the need for unity and are working together. We believe this trend will continue and strengthen, locally and nationally.

For U.S. unions, as those of other countries, to make gains in the face of corporate globalization, it is increasingly clear that greater international trade union cooperation and coordination is necessary. Initiatives are being taken in this direction, and we believe communist and workers’ parties can play a big role in helping to advance this trend. The slogan ‘Workers of all nations unite’ has never been more timely than today.

Likewise, greater cooperation by communist and workers’ parties can help advance internationalist solutions on trade and agriculture that address the problems of developing nations and build solidarity among workers and rural peoples of all countries.

In the past, the U.S. labor movement has avoided publicly opposing the government on foreign policy. But at its national convention in July, the AFL-CIO unanimously passed a resolution calling for a prompt end to the occupation of Iraq. This was a historic indicator of profound shifts in the thinking of American workers.

There is growing mobilization and unity of progressive forces around ending the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and on defeating the ultra-right.

Some 300,000 Americans demonstrated in September demanding the troops be brought home from Iraq. Many of these people had never attended a demonstration before. Recently more than 1,000 peace vigils were held around the nation to mark the 2,000th U.S. death in Iraq. Polls show a majority want the money now spent on the war to be transferred to rebuilding the region devastated by the recent hurricanes.

This public mood has pushed some Democratic Party members of Congress to introduce legislation demanding an ‘exit strategy’ from Iraq with timetables, or cutting off funds for deployment of troops to Iraq. Such calls, joined by some Republicans, are likely to grow as pressure from the people mounts.

Bush’s Social Security privatization plan has been defeated, at least for now, by the mass grassroots mobilization of labor, retirees and other people’s organizations.

The Communist Party USA is deeply involved, and welcomed as activists and leaders, in all of these movements. We believe that this growing broad unity and grassroots activity must and will be expanded to thoroughly defeat not only the current administration’s programs but the whole far-right effort to entrench itself in power.

We see the all-people’s movement to defeat the ultra-right as a vital step toward building a broad anti-monopoly coalition that will challenge the rule of transnational monopoly capital. Through the struggle for an anti-monopoly platform and government in the United States, we believe, the American people will see that socialism is not only a better way of organizing society, but a necessity. At every stage of the struggle, the core components of the movement are the working class, the nationally and racially oppressed and women.

Events in our country and around the world show that the struggle for socialism is intertwined with the fight for democracy, for multi-ethnic, multi-racial unity and gender equality, for education and democratic, secular culture.

Finally, in the last 12 months the South Asian tsunami, hurricanes and earthquakes have demonstrated that nature is a force to be reckoned with. In the past communists spoke of ‘mastering’ nature. But we cannot conquer nature. The struggle for socialism must include an insistence on acknowledging and understanding the power of nature and working in harmony with it.

These natural disasters sharply expose the vast social and economic inequalities globally and within individual countries. They show that capitalist societies are incapable of protecting and rescuing their people, and that capitalism itself makes humanity less secure. They underscore the human necessity for socialism.


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