The following resolution was carried unanimously at our party’s ninth congress in October.
Congress notes that with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has come an associated demand for what its activists describe as ‘decolonisation’.
Congress further notes that this is presented not in the context of a physical struggle against colonial oppression and exploitation, but as a cosmetic ‘face lift’, which we are told can ‘decolonise society’ by removing references to colonial exploitation and oppression in the imperialist heartlands. The focus of these campaigners can take the form of (but is not limited to): changing the name of an institution, building or street; removing statues, monuments or memorials from public places; or revising the information displayed regarding historical figures or events in museums and other educational facilities, etc.
This congress believes that the popularity of this concept amongst a certain section of the population is in part a result of the noble and righteous indignation of workers when faced with a bourgeois culture intent on preserving the monuments to its own ancestry, which grew fat on the exploitation and oppression of these workers’ ancestors.
Conversely, there is an influential section of the ruling class which sees the opportunity for an easy concession to be made through such actions, and considers it expedient in the current climate to allow cosmetic adjustments to be made which make it possible for this liberal section of the ruling class to present itself as ‘forward thinking’, ‘progressive’ and sanitised of the crimes of its forebears.
Congress believes that whilst this is indicative of the split within the ranks of the ruling class, we must recognise that at the same time, the debate around attempts to ‘decolonise society’ is clearly a misdirection used by the media to stir up further division between the more conservative and the more liberal sections of the working class itself.
This congress confirms that our job as communists is to point out that the concept of ‘decolonising’ society is meaningless for the purpose of effecting real social change, since it wilfully overlooks the fact of Britain’s contemporary imperialist status and modus operandi, and that only the overturning of the imperialist order will enable us not only to reckon with the legacy of the colonialist era but also to chart a path towards a peaceful and prosperous future.
This congress believes that the toppling of statues and other such acts under our present conditions can only be an indication of the rage of the working class, powerless by themselves to result in any real change. Monuments to colonialism and imperialism will only be torn down in a meaningful way when imperialism itself is toppled; when the class rule of capital is overturned as the masses take state power into their own hands, melt it down in the furnace of the class struggle, and cast anew a state built to support the majority and suppress the attempts of the minority exploiters to force their way back into power.
Until then, workers should use these monuments and institutions as reminders that state power remains in the hands of the contemporary imperialist ruling class, who are the inheritors and beneficiaries of the system built by historic colonial exploitation and slavery.