CPA 9th Congress: Party-wide discussion
by CPA President Dr Hannah Middleton Every four years the Party holds its National Congress. This is an important event in its own right, but it is also part of the ongoing process within the Party of testing theory against practice and guiding our practical activities on the basis of the Party's analyses and policies. Congress brings together Party members from all parts of the continent. Comrades who may not meet again for another four years have the opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas and to relax together socially. This opportunity is appreciated by many comrades who value the chance to get to know other members who share the same ideals and commitment. One of the most important tasks of Congress is to elect the Central Committee, the body which leads all Party work between Congresses. Congress resolution One of the main responsibilities of Congress is to consider a resolution which assesses the current situation, estimates developments and lays out the Party's policy priorities for the next four years (until the next Congress). The resolution analyses the social, economic and political conditions that today, in a period of TNC-dominated capitalism, confront the Australian and the international working class and working class movement. The draft resolution begins: "The world-wide struggle between the people and the transnational corporations is intensifying." Analysis is essential, but is not enough. Analysis explains the interaction of social, political and historical causes and effects, but the political resolution also presents proposals to change these. The numerous, complex and urgent problems raised by analysis call for policies to help resolve the problems. The third element of the resolution is action to build campaigns and support for the policies put forward by the Party. As Marx wrote: "The philosophers have interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it." It is not adequate just to demand that present governments do certain things. They will take no notice and certainly take no action since they are doing what they are there to do. The political resolution directs its call to working-class and popular organisations which can and will, when mobilised, take sustained and united action on the streets and elsewhere not only to exert mass, effective pressure on governments, but also to build a longer term movement for social change, a movement which aims to win a people's government. Discussion Congress is not just four days. It is a process that lasts much longer. There is a party-wide discussion of this document which lasts for about six months. The discussion has several important purposes. One purpose is to draw on the experiences and understanding of the entire Party membership to ensure that the resolution is as informed and correct as possible. Another is to ensure that all Party members are involved in the examination and assessment of Party policy. This is an essential element of democratic centralism which, our Constitution says, is "a process which entails ascertaining and converting the will of the majority of members into policy decisions which become binding on all". The pre-Congress discussion also has an educative purpose. It is intended to help make sure that all Party members are aware and informed of Party policy. The Congress resolution is an invaluable living document which is available to guide and assist Party members in their work over the next four years. "What does the CPA think about .....?" is a question that is often asked. The first place to go for an answer is the Congress resolution. Here we find the analysis and policy points that may answer the question directly and immediately or provide us with the principles to apply to the problem so we can work out the answer. The Congress resolution can and should be a constant guide for our Party activity at all times. It allows us to bring that `something extra', the special contribution that only the Party can add to a struggle. The Party's work around S11 is an example of this. At the demonstrations against the World Economic Forum held in Melbourne in September last year, at least 30,000 people took part, many of them young, some from organisations, some coming as individuals. A critique of corporations and the effects of corporate greed was shared by all the protesters, but what responses were offered? A shopping list of demands, calls for regulation of the TNCs, demands for governments to do something, calls for a workers' revolution ... The Liberal and Labor Parties both go along with globalisation and the primacy of capital's right to expand and make profits. What was lacking was ideas about the way forward in Australia. Only the Communist Party of Australia leaflet started to talk about this, pointing to the need for a new type of government. The Party leaflet talks about the social forces and organisations whose actions challenge corporate greed and demand change. "All these movements should be linked to form a united national political alliance", it says. "Only such a powerful force will be strong enough to form a new kind of government. "A government which really represents the people can only succeed if it is backed by a powerful, united people's movement, with working class organisations at its core." These ideas are developed further in the draft Congress resolution. This says, for example, that "such a new type government would have to implement policies to substantially curb the power of the big corporations and increase the democratic rights of the people, especially the working class and the trade union movement.... "The new government must be prepared to mobilise the people to win support for, assist, implement and safeguard changes which are in the interests of the people and which challenge the power of capital." Building a united movement of the working class and other social forces requires a great deal of Party members, above all that they are educated politically and are activists. Nothing can be achieved without activity among, with and for the people. Comrades must be involved. It is no good preaching from the sidelines. There are so many areas that cry out for our activism. We invite readers to join the CPA to help bring about our vision for change. The use of armed force is as much a part of the process of globalisation as wars, conquests and aggressions were part of colonialism. Globalisation involves even greater military spending than in the past and the immense and wasteful diversion of natural resources to destructive ends, along with a transfer of decisive political power to military- industrial complexes controlling armaments industries in the industrialised countries. This diverts funding from public and social programs. Cuts in the health services, in public housing, in schools and universities, in scientific and medical research, in childcare, in public transport, and in environmental protection are thus the inevitable consequences of globalisation. These areas are the subject of the Congress debate — the months long process which aims to involve, educate and develop us and to refine and develop our analysis, policies and activities so that we may better achieve our basic purpose which the draft Congress document sets out in its conclusion: "Modern society is at a turning point. Never has its division `into two great hostile camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other — bourgeois and proletariat', to which Marx and Engels referred in the Communist Manifesto, been sharper or clearer. But as the ravages of capitalism and imperialism eat at the very fabric of the planet, time is no longer on our side. "We declare that the 21st Century will be the century of socialism. That is the objective of our work and activity. But whether this is achieved cannot be taken for granted — that will depend on the successful outcome of the struggle against capitalism and imperialism. "This, in turn, depends on the organisational, political and ideological maturity of the Communist Parties that must lead it."