On Saturday 28 January comrades from the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB-ML) Birmingham branch participated in a meeting called by the JVP (People’s Liberation Front of Sri Lanka), addressed by visiting comrade Vijitha Herath, information secretary of the JVP and a member of the Sri Lankan parliament. The visit of Comrade Herath presented the opportunity for establishing even closer relations between our two parties.
We print below the speech given by Comrade Maqbool, a CPGB-ML comrade of Indian origin, which makes important points with regards to the question of proletarian internationalism and the unity of the working class, independent of all nationality.
I am a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) in Birmingham, and I bring to this meeting a message of greetings from our Birmingham committee and all the comrades and supporters of our organisation in Birmingham. Our party is extremely proud to have good relations with the JVP (People’s Liberation Front) and we ask that Comrade Vijitha Herath let the comrades of the JVP who are at home in Sri Lanka know that they have sincere friends in Britain who are with them in the struggle against imperialism and for socialism.
Comrades, the billionaires who control the world keep the masses in abject poverty. In the oppressed and economically backward countries the conditions for the working classes are especially hard. All wealth is the product of human labour power, and much of the wealth produced through the blood and sweat of Sri Lankan workers is stolen by foreign companies, which channel billions back to Britain and other imperialist countries.
The workers in Sri Lanka struggle bravely for a dignified life and set a great example to the working class of Britain. They could not do this without the leadership of genuine socialists. The Sri Lankan workers are fortunate to have the JVP leading them in their struggle. Our party, the CPGB-ML is determined to become such an organisation for British workers.
In Britain, hardship exists for the working classes too. Even though the British ruling class exploited and plundered the riches of most of the planet, they gave only temporary concessions to British workers. At the height of the power of the mighty Soviet Union, when socialism was victoriously sweeping the globe, the British imperialists paid off British workers with benefits so as to ensure that they didn’t follow the example of the Soviets and make socialist revolution. The same happened in all the imperialist countries to a greater or lesser degree.
These concessions included free healthcare, free or subsidised comprehensive education, improved housing conditions and state and employer funded pension provision, so that workers could retire early from work. All this meant that workers in the imperialist heartlands could live a comparatively comfortable existence relative to the workers in the developing world.
But, since the demise of the USSR, the workers of Britain have failed to defend their privileged position and are being dragged down along with everybody else. Capital is exported on a gigantic scale, factories close and reopen in India and China, job losses are huge and millions of workers have no chance to sell their labour-power.
This is the logic of capitalism: it cannot be nice to workers; it can do nothing but seek out maximum profit. All concessions to workers under capitalist conditions are temporary, and when the time comes, the ruling class snatch back all that they can. Today we see the privatisation of the NHS, constant attacks on working conditions in Britain and a growing unemployed population who have no escape other than drugs and crime.
But there is an alternative. The enemy of British workers is the same as the enemy of Sri Lankan workers: it is capitalist imperialism, the system by which exploitation is legalised and all rights are trampled underfoot – that is, all rights of working people, for the system defends fiercely the rights of capital, the right of one man to exploit another, the right of private property and corporate theft. The alternative is socialism.
Our struggle here in Britain is therefore one and the same struggle as that which the workers face not only in Sri Lanka but in all countries ruled by capitalists. The class-conscious workers in this country, organised in the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) know this to be true.
What did British workers gain when the British ruling class plundered Sri Lanka in the 19th century and squeezed from you every ounce of coffee, tea and rubber? The British workers gained nothing, but the British capitalists gained superprofits.
I am Indian by birth and I know as well as our British and Sri Lankan comrades here today the untold destruction and suffering visited upon the Indian workers and peasants as a result of British imperialism. When I was living in India I made it my business to struggle against capitalism and imperialism and I was organised in a communist party in India. Upon coming to Britain I joined the struggle here.
To fight capitalism and imperialism, a worker must be organised. He must be organised and take part in the movement in the country in which he lives. I will always have an interest and an involvement in Indian politics, but so long as I live in Britain my energies must be spent in the fight here. And what better contribution can I make to the struggle for socialism in India than by helping to bring about the defeat of British imperialism?
Britain remains an extremely vicious, cunning and aggressive imperialist country and all of us who live here have a duty to fight against British imperialism. No matter where we are from, whilst we work here we are a part of the British working class. I would urge all workers here today to involve themselves in the work of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and make the relations between the JVP and CPGB-ML stronger and deeper still.
Our struggle is one and the same. Brothers, sisters, workers of the world, unite; we have nothing to lose but our chains!