Articles by Cheddi Jagan - Opposition Leader (1964-1992)
(An address by Dr Cheddi Jagan to the Second Triennial National Convention of the National Union of Government & Federated Workers, October 15, 1976)
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, Comrades and Friends,
I bring you greetings from Guyana. And permit me to express my gratitude for your kind invitation; I consider this a great honour. My presence here rekindles fond memories of my first visit in 1945 to your beautiful country. Thereafter, a very close association developed with one of your former presidents, Cde Quintin O’Connor.
In the course of my talk, I propose to deal with the present explosive situation in the Caribbean, including Guyana, in Latin America and also in Asia and Africa -- those areas of the world which have come to be described as the “Third World”. Then I shall attempt to explore the answers to questions such as: why poverty, why disease and premature death, why such world-wide deprivation and denial of human rights, why such abnegation of duties and responsibilities, why such conspicuous consumption by the few while the many endure physical starvation, and hunger for so many of the simple joys of life -- why all this human waster in a world of such unparalleled scientific achievements? Why do we have to live under the constant shadow of a nuclear war? And I shall seek to answer the question: what role the trade unions can and must play in national and social liberation?
Social And Economic Conditions
In early 1976, the Secretary General of CARICOM, Alistair McIntyre, told the summit meeting of the Caribbean Economic Community that the region was faced with “unprecedented difficulties”, including a 20% inflation rate, the “scandalous” food importation bill of $1,000 million, a worsening balance of payments problem, and an unemployment figure of 150,000. He stressed that there was the need to create 500,000 jobs for full employment by 1980. And he lamented the shortage of funds for the public sector and “startling increase” in consumption expenditure.
There is persistent poverty in the area with significant deficiencies not only of calories, protein and iron but also calcium, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin and vitamin A.
In one of the larger CARICOM territories, 39% of families suffer from calories deficiency; 30% fail to meet adequate protein requirement (meat and fish); 30% lack sufficient iron and more than 50% are deficient in their intake of the B-Vitamin, riboflavin.
Low nutritional levels result in stunting of growth of children, a high infant mortality and general debility. For children under 5, the mortality rate is twice that in the North American countries; and for the 1-4 age group, the mortality rate is 5 time as high.
Anemia, which is mostly due to iron deficiency, is also common among children before age 5, and adult women. Since about 50% of pregnant women are anaemic, there can be complications for mother and child.
We are all familiar with many of the effects of malnutrition in early childhood, aggravated by chronic undernourishment in later years due to the disproportionately large intakes of carbohydrates, and the need to consume more protein-rich foods like meat and fish. We know, too, that the protein intake is low because high prices put these items out of reach of low-income families.
According to a report presented to the 10th West Indian Agricultural Economic Conference in 1975, Guyana had the lowest consumption of meat per person in the developed CARICOM countries; Guyana -- 28.08 lbs; Trinidad – 42.42 lbs; Barbados – 67.25 lbs; Jamaica – 41.63 lbs per person for the year 1967. “This”, Dr John Dukhia commented, “is rather paradoxical since it was generally argued that Guyana has the potential of being the food basket of the Caribbean.”
Dr Clive Thomas in his 1973 Preliminary Report to the Guyana Trade Union Congress on Inflation, Shortages And The Working-class Interests In Guyana indicated the low levels of production and intake of major meat and dairy products. He said that “calculations using the government estimates show that beef production represents an average of 12 lbs per head per year for the entire population, i.e., a consumption level of 3-4 ozs per person per week. Pork production represents a consumption level of about one and a half ozs per person per week. Poultry production represents a consumption level of about 3 ozs per person per week. Milk production represents a consumption of only four-fifths of one pint per person per week and eggs about 35 per person per year. Even when totaled together the production of all types of meat was equal to only 43 lbs per person per year or only 13 ozs per person per week.”
The Caribbean and Guyana are not unique. In Latin America, with a population of 320 million and immense natural wealth, more than 100 million persons suffer from malnutrition and 36 million are afflicted with tuberculosis, among whom are 15 million children.
According to the Declaration of the Havana Conference (June 1975) of Latin American and Caribbean Communist and Workers’ parties, “ore than one-fifth of the population lives in countries where the average consumption of calories and proteins is below the necessary minimum. While in the developed capitalist countries 20 children out of 1,000 die during their first year, in Haiti this figure is 230, in some regions of Brazil, 180, and in the important industrial centre Sao Paulo it is 90. In Chile, out of every thousand children born 79 died, and now this number is growing. For Latin America as a whole, with the exception of Cuba, where it is less than 30, the average figure is 66.”
For the “third world” as a whole, more than 500 million people live in misery with the majority of them suffering from malnutrition. There are 300 million unemployed and under-employed. And illiteracy is growing; it increased from 700 million in 1960 to 760 million in 1970; today, it is nearly 800 million. And the geographical distribution of illiteracy is as follows: 73% of the population of Africa, 46% of Asia and 27% of Latin America.
Historically, the position of the developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America has been deteriorating. The gap in living standards between the industrially developed capitalist states and the dependent imperialist-dominated states has been progressively widening. The share of world income of the “third world” countries declined from 54% around 1800 to 42% in 1900 and only to about 18% by 1962.
Since then, there as been further deterioration. Attempts by concerned organisations and the United Nations with its “First Development Decade” (1960-70) and “Second Development Decade” (1970-80) programmes have not succeeded in narrowing the gap. The annual per capita gross national product of the industrialised capitalist states is US$4,550 as compared with a little more than US$100 for some areas of Southeast Asia and Africa with about a billion inhabitants.
Today, with the deepening crisis of world capitalism characterised by high unemployment, inflation and economic stagnation, there is a mood of desperation. Neo-Malthusians -- those who say that population is outdistancing subsistence -- are predicting doom. And because of the aggravation of poverty, the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are being sub-divided into “third” and “fifth” worlds.
Prospects do not appear to be bright. The Non-oil producing developing countries face serious economic problems. Their annual payments deficits increased from US$9 billion in 1973 to $28 billion in 1974 and $38 billion in 1975. And deficits from 1976 through 1980 are estimated to be about US$150 billion. Already by the end of 1975 the total debt of “third world” countries has reached about US$130 to $145 billion.
What is alarming is that the rates of current deficits to exports increased from 10.8% in 1973 to 30% in 1976.
According to the Economic commission for Latin America, the gross domestic product of Latin America increased in 1975 by 2.6% which was slightly less than the increase in population. This represents a worsening of the position compared with the period 1971-74. The 1976 World bank Annual Report for Latin America and the Caribbean pointed out: “In some countries exports and output actually declined. The recession in industrial countries of Europe and North America was the main cause of economic decline in the region. Declining demand in the industrial countries reduced growth of export values and caused the prices of several important agricultural commodities -- beef, sugar, soybeans and cotton -- to decline.”
The Report went on to say that interest payments on foreign debt placed an increasing burden and were an important factor in steeper balance of payments deficits. For 22 countries in the region – except Venezuela -- the total deficit rose from US$12.6 billion (G$32 billion) to over US$16 billion (G$40.8 billion) in 1975.
The Caribbean Development Bank disclosed that during 1975, there was little if any overall growth in output in the Caribbean territories. The volume of production in the major agricultural crops -- sugar and bananas – fell. There was also a decline in production in bauxite and alumina in the region as a whole.
Within the past 2 years Guyana was classified no longer with the More Developed Countries (MDCs) but with the Less Developed Countries (LDCs) in terms of income per head of population.
Is there a way out of this apparent impasse, this deluge of “population explosion” surpassing food resources?
Before we attempt to answer this question, it is necessary to get at the root causes of poverty and backwardness.
The vast majority of the “third world” countries are poor because as colonies and semi-colonies they have been relegated to a status of dependency -- archaic social structures; an imbalanced economy with concentration on the production of raw materials; markets for goods and technology from outside or a deformed type of industrialisation under which, in keeping with a policy of import substitution, a certain degree of industrial “development” has taken place; (today the developing countries with about 70% of the world’s population has only about 7% of the world’s industrial output); unequal international trade; extraction of super-profits.”
Of the early period of colonial expansion, slave trade and indenture exploitation and primitive accumulation, Karl Marx wrote:
The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the ear of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief mementos of primitive accumulation.
The colonial system ripened, like a hothouse, trade and navigation…The treasures captured outside Europe by undisguised looting, enslavement and murder, floated back to the mother country and there turned into capital.
From 1890 to 1965, Britain’s total imports were 159 times more than its exports. This vast difference was covered by the tribute which British imperialism extracted from the colonial people.
This kind of tribute provided the European metropolitan countries with higher standards of living than ever before. As far back as 1929, Sir (then Mr.) Winston Churchill openly admitted this. He said:
The income which we derive from commissions and services rendered to foreign countries is over sixty-five million pounds. In addition, we have a steady revenue from foreign investments of closed onto three hundred million pounds per year. That is the explanation of the sources from which we are able to defray social services at a level of incomparably higher than that of any European country or any country.
The tribute also led to inter-imperialist rivalry. We are all too familiar, for instance, with the intrigues and wars between Portugal, Spain, Britain, France and the USA for hegemony of the Caribbean.
It was in this period that John Quincy Adams enunciated he doctrine of “Manifest Destiny.” At a cabinet meeting in 1819, the US Secretary of State observed that the absorption of all North America was “as much a law of nature…as that the Mississippi should flow to the sea.” It was a “physical, moral and political absurdity” that European colonies “should exist permanently contiguous to a great, powerful, and rapidly-growing nation.”
It was in recognition of this doctrine that the Florida peninsula passed into the possession of the United States.
Later, the Monroe Doctrine was conceived. On December 2, 1823, President Monroe of the United States in his message to Congress said:
…The American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.
This part of his message was aimed at preventing any further expansion of Russia on the Northwest Pacific coast. The second part of Monroe’s message concerned Latin America and was actually aimed at the Holy Alliance and its plans with regard tot he western hemisphere. The President’s message continued:
We should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.
Any such attempt would be considered “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States.”
With the Roosevelt Corollary of 1904, “protection” gave way to “aggression.” President Theodore Roosevelt, justifying US intervention in the domestic affairs of “unstable” countries on the ground that instability was a threat to “civilization”, stated that “the adherence of the Untied States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States however reluctantly…to the exercise of international police power.”
It did not take long for the US under the new “Big Stick” policy to undertake armed intervention in the Caribbean -- in the Dominican Republic in 1904 and in Cuba in 1906. And despite Woodrow Wilson’s avowed policy of non-intervention under “New Freedom” policy, marines were sent later to Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
In 1917, US oil interests stage-managed a military coup overthrowing President Gonsalves of Costa Rica who had refused to legalise an oil concession to an American company which was inimical to the national interests.
US expansionist role and methods in this era of the foothold of US imperialism in the Caribbean was summed up by Major General Smedley F. Butler, a former US Marine Commander, in Common Sense, November 1955, when he wrote:
I spent 33 years and 4 months in active service as a member of our country’s most agile military force -- the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from a second Lieutenant to a major general. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. Thus I helped to make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for a National City Bank boys to collect revenues in…I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown bros. In 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic from America sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras ‘right’ for American fruit companies in 1923.
In this period, the USA established a de facto protectorate over the Caribbean. The military, in the interest of big business, virtually ran the governments and economies of several countries, the so-called protectorates -- Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Honduras and Panama.
US imperialism thus successfully thwarted the political independence of several nations by instituting neo-colonialism for colonialism.
American supremacy was established particularly after World War II. The US was now a financially powerful nation -- so powerful that it was able to buy St Thomas and St Croix from Denmark in 1917.
Those were the days when the US dollar was badly needed for effective world trade. Pushed on by Presidents Taft and Wilson, the dollar became a diplomat. The period of “dollar diplomacy”, defined by President Taft as a “policy…characterised as substituting dollars for bullets,” was ushered in.
It was the logical successor in the era of the export of capital to the Monroe Doctrine for the exclusion of competitors and the staking out of hegemonistic claim, and the “open door” demand for “equal rights” in Asia and the Arab world in the era of the export of goods.
In this era of dollar diplomacy, foreign investment was given protection under the Evart doctrine, which stated that “the person and property of a citizen are part of the general domain of the nation, even when abroad.” President Coolidge had pointed out that “there was a distinct and binding obligation in the part of self-respecting government to afford protection to the persons and property of their citizens, wherever they may be.”
THE TRUMAN DOCTRINE AND THE COLD WAR
After an interlude of President F.D. Roosevelt’s “good neighbour” policy, the “big stick” again became the instrument of policy. President Harry Truman, in declaring the “cold war” in 1947, followed the lead of the arch-imperialist, Sir Winston Churchill, who at Fulton, Missouri on March 5, 1946 had referred to the “police governments” in Eastern Europe, warned of “Communist Fifth Colomns” everywhere which were a “growing challenge and peril of civilisation,” and called for joint action in bringing about through the preponderance of military power for “a good understanding”; namely, a showdown with the USSR, the leaders of which, he had always previously regarded “as murderers and ministers of hell.”
President Truman’s “cold war” declaration was made a Baylor University on March 6, 1947. In a speech on foreign economic policy, he stated explicitly that governments which went in for planned economies and controlled foreign trade endangered freedom since, in the American view, freedom of speech and worship were dependent on the free enterprise system. Controlled economies, he said, were “not the American way” and “not the way of peace.” He wanted the whole world to adopt “the American system” and insisted that the system could survive in America “only if it became a World System.” He wanted urgent action and shrilled: “Unless we act and act decisively, it (government-controlled economy and foreign trade) will be the pattern of the next century…if this trend is not reversed, the Government of the United States will be under pressure, sooner or later, to use these same devices to fight for markets and for raw materials.”
The United States of America has an insatiable appetite for raw materials. President John F. Kennedy, in a message to Congress in 1962 on conservation pointed out: “During the last thirty years, this nation has consumed more minerals than all the peoples of the world had previously used.”
The USA itself had produced in 1900 15% more raw materials than it consumed; by 1950, the position was reversed -- it consumed 9% more than it produced.
Nelson Rockefeller, referring to the importance of Western Hemisphere resources to the US economy on March 17, 1955, stated:
North American industries every day depend more and more on the raw materials of the Western Hemisphere. These sources are indispensable for the US to maintain industrial production that amounts to more than half of the total goods manufactured in the free world.
By 1969, Latin American and Caribbean countries were providing the United States with a substantial share of its minerals -- bauxite -- 99%; manganese ore -- 36%; copper -- 60%; iron ore -- 43%; lead ore -- 31%; zinc ore -- 35%; crude petroleum --31%.
Another leading imperialist spokesman, Zbigniev Brezinski stated that US depended on other countries for 26 of the 36 basic raw materials consumed by US industry, and that dependency was increasing in all areas, and particularly in energy.
To secure these raw materials, the Rockefeller Report of 1951, partners for Progress recommended the doubling of US private investments. Consequently, US investments increased in Latin America from US$3 billion (book value) in 1946 to $8 billion in 1961; by 1969, total investments rose to over $13 billion. Worldwide, by the end of 1969, direct US investments abroad amounted to $70.8 billion, of which about 2/3 ($47.7 billion) was invested in the developed countries and 26% (about $20 billion) in the underdeveloped countries.
And these investments were highly profitable. In 1948, US private investments in Latin America were yielding a profit of 22% as compared with only 13% in the United States.
During the decade 1946-56, US companies extracted $3.17 for every dollar invested abroad; by the 1970’s the amount increased to about $4 for $1 invested.
In 1972, US$3½ billion was invested abroad by US corporations, but $10½ billion was repatriated.
To secure raw materials and super-profits, imperialism found it necessary to create the myth of the threat of communism, “from within and without.” Under the Truman doctrine, a vast apparatus was created to “contain” communism and socialism, to liberate the so-called “captive states” of Eastern Europe and to halt national liberation.
To attain its objectives, US imperialism operated on various fronts -- military, economic, ideological, trade union, etc. And in 1948, it established the Central Intelligence Agency for overt and covert operations.
With the Rio Pact of 1947, the Atlantic Treaty (NATO) of 1949, the Southeast Asia collective Defense Treaty (SWATO) of 1954 and the Baghdad pact of 1955 (now called CENTO), and “iron-ring” of military bases in US-client states was established to “contain” the Soviet Union and the world socialist system, 216,000 in Southeast Asia; 207,000 in the Far East and Pacific; 287,000 in Europe and 50,000 in other areas.
From aid to the tottering fascist regimes in Greece and Turkey in 1947, it was a short step to aid for Chiang Kai-Chek in China, the French in Indochina, the British in Malaya and the Dutch in Indonesia; intervention in Korea in 1950; the overthrow of the Romulo Gallegos government in Venezuela (1948); Mossadegh government in Iran (1953); the PPP government in Guyana (1953); the Arbenz government in Guatemala (1954); the attempted overthrow of the Nasser government of Egypt (1956); the forced resignation of the Quadros government in Brazil (1960); the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba (1961); the overthrow of the Patrice Lumumba government in Congo in 1961; the removal of the Goulart government of Brazil and the PPP government of Guyana (1964); the massive intervention in the Dominican Republic (1965) and in Vietnam (1965-673); the overthrow of the Nkrumah government of Ghana (1966); the Sukarno government of Indonesia (1970) and the Allende government of Chile (1973); the attempted overthrow of the Makarios government in 1974 and the virtual partition of Cyprus; the overthrow of the Mujib Rahman government of Bangladesh.
And it must not be forgotten that during the “oil crisis” in late 1973, with US dependence on imported oil for 15 per cent of its requirement, Western Europe 45% and Japan 98%, US Secretary of state, Dr Henry Kissinger, threatened that the USA would be prepared to take “military action” in the event that there was “some actual strangulation of the industrialised world.”
Apart from direct aggression (British Guiana in 1953, Dominican Republic in 1965 and Vietnam in 1965-1973 and indirect aggression (Guatemala in 1954 and Cuba in 1961), the arming, training and control of the military and the police, and the use of client states, economic aggression has also been a weapon in the arsenal of imperialism -- economic blockade, aid with strings, curtailment of credits, essential machinery and spare parts, and the imposition of an economic planning strategy designed to perpetuate a status of dependency.
In 1953, a tanker blockade helped to strangle the nationalist government of Dr Mossadegh of Iran.
Beginning in 1960, the United States government embarked on a policy of economic blockade of Cuba -- refusal to buy sugar and to sell spare parts, pressure on other Latin American states to break off diplomatic, trade and other relations with Cuba. Pressure was exerted on Canada not to sell wheat and flour, and on Britain not to sell buses. Even the Dutch KLM airlines suspended its flights to Havana. And the PNC regime, after its installation in power in December 1964 with the help of the CIA, broke off trade and cultural links which the PPP government had established with Cuba.
The imperialists succeeded in strangling the government of Nkrumah in Ghana with a sharp drop in the price of cocoa.
Similar tactics were used against the Allende government of Chile -- spare parts were cut off; the price of copper dropped from 68¢ in 1970 to 59¢ in 1972; foreign credits fell from about $200 million in 1970 to US$32 million in 1972.
In territories where the imperialists held sway, a policy of economic subversion was also carried out. A developmentalist approach with an economic planning strategy geared to satisfy not local-national but foreign interests was advocated.
What came to be known as the Puerto Rico model of economic planning was fostered in the immediate post-war period. The theoretical justification for this strategy was that capital was necessary for development, that capital was short, that to secure this capital the less developed countries must create an investment climate by granting incentives to foreign investors.
These incentives in their aggregate were to be such as would facilitate the investors to recover their investments in three to four years.
The end result of the “incentive to capital” Puerto Rican model (industrialisation by invitation) was a relative decline in the position of the underdeveloped countries. Viewing this as a potential threat to world peace, the United Nations launched in 1960 the first Development Decade. And with the 1959 Cuban Revolution and the declaration in May 1961 by Premier Fidel Castro that it would take a socialist course, President Kennedy launched his Alliance for Progress.
Kennedy’s aim was to reform the capitalist-imperialist system so as to make life more tolerable and thus to prevent Latin American from exploding. If there was no evolution, he argued, there was bound to come revolution.
And in place of the discredited Puerto Rican economic planning model, the United Nations Commission for Latin America (ECLA) proposed a new, the so-called ECLA model. To stimulate local production, and to prevent the financial losses suffered by developing countries from non-equivalent international trade (buying dear and selling cheap), the policy of import-substitution and the establishment of import-substituting industries was proposed. Land reform was also seen as a necessary measure to stimulate production to meet the demand for agricultural goods imported from abroad, to provide the raw materials for the industrialisation programme, and at the same time to raise productivity and farmers’ income to provide the means in the countryside for the locally-produced industrial goods. It was felt also that foreign capital would be required for the establishment of industries and for payment of land taken over from the latifundistas.
But foreign capital introduced the same, if not greater, problems than under the Puerto Rican model. While there was a greater emphasis on manufacturing industry, a deformed type of industrialisation developed in Latin America based on transnational corporations producing mainly for the domestic market with assembly-type, branch-plants or factories which had become technologically obsolete.
Foreign capital also demanded regional integration. This was justified on the basis that the grouping of territories in Free Trade Areas or Common Markets would facilitate economies of scale and thus cheaper commodity production for the benefit of the consumers. However, it served the multinational corporations to increase the rate of exploitation. By sharp practices and unfair competition, they eliminated their competitors, and from their monopolistic positions extracted enormous profits.
In the case of the Commonwealth Caribbean, regional integration has helped the USA to undermine the position of Britain. In the first two years of CARIFTA, the United States more than doubled its exports of food into the area. The manufacturing plants, predominantly of the branch-plants, assembly-type, which have been set up mainly in Jamaica and Trinidad, use materials, parts and components imported principally from the United States. Included in the CARICOM Treaty Appendix are twelve foolscap pages listing apples, grapes, rye, barley, oats, wheat, paper, silk, iron, steel in all forms, copper, nickel, tungsten, zinc, tin molybdenum, tentalum, as well as “all other non-ferrous base metals, unwrought or wrought, which may always be regarded as originating wholly within the common Market when used in the state described in this list in a process of production wit the Common Market.”
As a result of this type of deformed industrialisation, the CARICOM area as a whole has become a collective colony of imperialism. And the “less developed countries” LDCs) have become colonies of some of the MDCs.
Aid is also an instrument for perpetuating the status of dependency. It is not given for a basic programme of socio-economic change, for a planned proportional development of the economy with emphasis on industry and agriculture; it is restricted mainly to infrastructure projects – roads, sea defence, airstrips and airports, public buildings, stellings, harbours, communications, etc. – which constitute an indirect help to the foreign investors.
This was made clear by leading policy-makers. On March 30, 1950, Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the point 4 program put it this way:
I think there is a pretty widely held idea that we are going to build large mills, mines and factories for these underdeveloped peoples. This is not true.
The Clay Committee on foreign aid observed in 1963 that the US should not aid a foreign government in projects establishing government-owned industrial and commercial enterprises which compete with existing private enterprises.
The lending institutions like the World Bank also favoured foreign capital and channeled aid to foster the growth of capitalism. Eugene R. Black, a former President of the World Bank, wrote in the Columbia Journal of World Business:
Our foreign aid programmes constitute a distinct benefit to American business. The three major benefits are: (1) Foreign aid provides a substantial and immediate market for US goods and services; (2) Foreign aid orientates national economies toward a free enterprise system in which US firms can prosper.
How aid is used to make an underdeveloped country subservient and dependent was highlighted by Nelson Rockefeller. After the downfall of the Mossadegh government in 1953, he wrote in a report to President Eisenhower:
We should not ignore the vital fact that virtually all our natural rubber, manganese, chromium and tin, as well as substantial proportions of our zinc, copper and oil and a third or more of the lead and aluminium we need comes from abroad, and, furthermore, that it is chiefly drawn from the underdeveloped areas of Africa and Asia, which are in the orbit of one or other of the military alliances built by the US. This is also true of a major part of our super-strategic material (uranium ore particularly).
The most significant example in practice of what I mean, was the Iranian experiment with which, as you will remember, I was directly concerned. By the use of economic aid we succeeded in getting access to Iranian oil and we are now well established in the economy of that country. The strengthening of our economic position in Iran has enabled us to acquire control over her entire foreign policy and in particular to make her join the Baghdad Pact. At the present time the Shah would not dare even to make any changes in his Cabinet without consulting our Ambassador.
“Third World” countries also suffer from trading and monetary manipulation. They are caught in the “price scissors” of buying dear and selling cheap. During the past 20 years, the volume of their exports increased by 30%, but revenue increased by only 4%. In 1975, their exports of 12 primary commodities, except oil, earned about US$30,000 million, but the industrial producers earned more than $200,000 million after converting these raw materials into finished goods. And their trade deficit increased from US$9,000 million in 1973 to an estimated US$36,000 million in 1975 -- a 400% increase in two years.
The policy of “tight money”, financial orthodoxy and devaluation fostered by the International Monetary Fund also cause financial losses.
Of the extra US$102 billion of international reserves created between 1970 and 1974, the developed countries received over $98 billion; the developing countries got only $3.4 billion.
In the 1970’s, the transnational corporations, which comprise only abut 3% of the capitalist companies but represent 75% of world production, became the targets for attacks; they struck out as “sharks devouring sardines.” In this new situation the imperialists devised the new tactic of partnership. President Nixon substituted for Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress the formula for “equal partnership.”
Under this new policy individuals and governments in “third world” countries were to be allowed to buy shared in US companies even to the extent of 51%. “Joint ventures” or “mixed companies” were held out to be the panacea of the problems facing the peoples of the developing countries. But in time this also failed to produce results as was so visibly demonstrated in Chile, particularly under the Eduardo Frei’s regime.
The end result of these pro-Western models and strategies was that in the 15-year period, 150 and 1965, there was a net outflow from US investments from Latin America of US$7,500 million; from Asia and Africa $9,100 million. In Puerto Rico, US corporations took out about $25 million in profits in 1925; by 1968 they were over $300 million.
In the late 1960’s, US statistics disclosed that the volume of funds flowing to “third world” countries was about US$8 billion, but the outflows were estimated at US$12 billion, one and half times as large. By 1974, the drain by US foreign capital alone was US$13.4 billion.
“Third World” countries also pay about US$2 billion a year in patent and licensing fees to the capitalist states.
And because “aid with strings” arrested the development of the productive forces and stultified balanced industrial and agricultural development, the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are strangled by a growing indebtedness. The foreign debt was estimated at US$40 billion in 1966; at the end of 1965, it was US$120 to $145 billion for the non-oil producing countries. And about one half of all loans now received by them goes to make repayments on the crushing debt burden. By 1985, if present trends continue, the developing countries will be paying back more in repayment than all the aid they receive. Meanwhile, aid in the form of loans and grants has been steadily declining. And the imperialists states have stoutly resisted the “third world” demand for the indexation of their exports to the prices of their imports.
CONTROL OF THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT
One of the principal aims of imperialism is the control of the trade union movement. With the launching of the Cold War in 1947, one of the first objectives of Anglo-American imperialism was the smashing of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).
In this, it was facilitated by the contradictions which faced the British Trades Union Congress. At the end of the war, a weakened British economy needed dollar support from the USA. But quite apart from this, Britain needed to hold on to Malaya, “the biggest dollar earner.” Its war in Malaya put the British TUC in a real dilemma. On the one hand, the British Labour Government which it had put into power in July 1945 with an overwhelming majority, was waging the Malayan war; on the other hand, the WFTU which is also backed, was supporting the Malayan patriots, who had been forced to wage a war of national liberation.
It resolved the problem in favour of imperialism by joining with the American Federation of Labour 9AFL) in engineering the splitting up of the WFTU and the creation of the western-oriented International Confederation Free Trade Unions (ICFTU).
The breakaway ICFTU and its Pan-American branch, the Inter-American Regional Organisation (ORIT) as its Caribbean section (CADORIT) came under the influence of the CIA. Prior to ORIT, the AFL had established right-wing Inter-American Confederation of Labour (CIT) to counter the influential leftist Latin American Confederation of Labour (CTAL).
The stated objective of ORIT was the fostering of a “free” and “democratic” trade union movement in Latin America and the Caribbean. In actual fact, its main task was to smash or split militant and progressive trade unions.
One of the early “success” of ORIT was its smashing of the Guyana TUC. After the suspension of the Constitution and removal of the PPP from the government in October 1953, the TUC which had backed the PPP was illegally disbanded in November 1953 through the pressure of the influential Serafino Romauldi, head of ORIT, and a new TUC of company-dominated and conservative trade unions was set up.
Because of its close identification with conservative unions which collaborated with reactionary and dictatorial regimes like that of Batista in Cuba, ORIT began to lose it effectiveness by the early 1960s.
The staff report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (July 15, 1968) says that ORIT:
…was originally founded for the specific purpose of combatting communist infiltration of the Latin American labour movement. ORIT has never quite solved the problem of emphasis as between fighting communism and strengthening democratic trade unions…generally speaking, in ORIT North Americans have emphasised anti-communism; Latin Americans have emphasised democratic trade unionism.
This is one reason for what seems to be a decline in ORIT prestige in Latin America. More fundamental, perhaps, has been the tendency of ORIT to support US government policy in Latin America. ORIT endorsed the overthrow of the Arbenz regime in Guatemala and of the Goulart regime in Brazil. It supported Burnham over Cheddi Jagan in Guyana, and it approved the US intervention in the Dominican Republic. To many Latin Americans, this looks like ORIT is an instrument of the US State Department.
Thus the American Institute for Free Labour Development (AIFLD) was set up in 1962 to save the ORIT unions. The rabid anti-communist, George Meany became President, and J. peter Grace was appointed chairman of the Board of Trustees. Grace is the chief executive of the big monopoly, W.R. Grace and company, with extensive interests in the Caribbean and Latin America. About 95% of AIFLD’s annual six million dollar budget comes from US Treasury.
The main aim of the AIFLD is to create a docile subservient trade union movement. At its school in Front Royal, training was given to 1,092 trade unionists from the Caribbean and Latin America. The rest of the 18,795 trained by 1972 received their training at Labour Institutes and Colleges set up in 11 territories in the Hemisphere.
"Graduates” from these schools have helped to subvert several progressive, anti-imperialist trade unions and governments.
In an address given in September 1965, J. Peter Grace said:
…AIFLD trains Latin Americans in techniques of combatting communist infiltration. This training has paid off handsomely in many situations. For instance, AIFLD trainees have driven communists from port unions which were harassing shipping in Latin America. After several years of effort AIFLD men were able to take over control of the port union in Uruguay which had long been dominated by communists. AIFLD men also helped drive communists from control of British Guiana. They prevented the communists from taking over powerful unions in Honduras and helped to drive the communists from strong “jugular” unions in Brazil.
In a statement about these trainees made after his visit to Guiana in April 1962, Romauldi said: “…it appeared to me that young democratic trade union leaders would need intensive training to combat Dr Jagan’s efforts. Subsequently, eight Guianese came to Washington in June 1962, as participants in the Institute’s first course. In September of that year, six of these men returned to British Guiana, supported by AIFLD internships, enabling them to put into practice, on a full-time basis, what they had learned at our school…When the BGTUC decided to call a general strike, we put the Institute’s six interns, who were working with various local unions, at the disposal of the Council’s strike committee… In agreement with the Institute’s Secretary-Treasurer, Joseph A. Beirne, I instructed the interns to fully devote their efforts to supporting the strike, and extended their internships, which were scheduled to end on June 15, to August 15… I would like to say that I am proud of our graduates in British Guiana. In spite of sacrifices and hardships they kept their places in the front lines of a difficult and, unfortunately, sometimes bloody battle.”
The CIA agents operating inside Guyana were Gerald O’Keefe, posing as an official of the Retail Clerks Association and Howard McCabe, posing as a representative of the American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees (FSCME), which was affiliated to the London-based Public affiliated to the London-based Public Service International (PSI).
The FSCME, according to The New York Times, was “actually run by two CIA aides who operated out of the union’s former headquarters in Washington with the knowledge of the union leadership.” And CIA funds were channeled for the Guyana operation through the dummy Gotham Foundation.
CIA support for anti-communist trade unions and terrorist activities was disclosed by Thomas W. Braden, European Director of the CIA from 1950-1954. In his article, “I’m glad the CIA is Immoral” (Saturday Evening Post, May 20, 1967), he stated:
Lovestone and his assistant, Irving Brown…needed it to pay off strong-arm squads in the Mediterranean ports so that American supplies could be unloaded against the opposition of communist dock workers…With funds from Dubinsky’s union, they organised the Force Ouvriere, a non-communist union. Why they ran out of money they appealed to the CIA. Thus began the secret subsidy of free trade unions…
In the Latin America area, Jay Lovestone, Meany’s foreign relations manipulator, renegade of the Communist Party, was the principal link in the business of espionage, infiltration and subversion abroad. According to the New York Post: “One of Lovestone’s ‘institutes’ actively helped to train Brazilian unionists here to participate in the military coup against Goulart’s Brazilian regime…an alleged leftist but constitutional government…replaced by an oppressive tyranny of the right.”
William C. Doherty of the AIFLD later admitted the assertions of the New York Post about the coup against Goulart. In 1968, he told a senate sub-Committee: “As a matter of fact, some of them 9graduates of the AIFLD school from Brazil) were so active that they became intimately involved in some of the clandestine operations of the revolution before it took place on April 1. What happened in Brazil on April 1 (1964) did not just happen -- it was planned -- and planned months in advance. Many of the trade union leaders -- some of whom were actually trained in our institute -- were involved in the revolution, and in the overthrown of the Goulart regime.”
Similarly in Chile, the CIA collaborated with the anti-Allende reactionary political parties and trade unions. Time (September 23, 1973) wrote that its correspondent Rudolph Ranch “visited a group of truckers camped near Santiago who were enjoying a lavish communal meal of steak, vegetables, wine and empandadas (meat pies). ‘Where does the money come from?’ he enquired, ‘from CIA; the truckers answered laughingly.”
No doubt, the CIA and transnational corporations met the US$30 million per month loss suffered by the truck owners in their 39-day strike.
In Chile, the armed forces and Carabinieri revolved, bombarded the Palace and murdered the President. The only difference in the case of Guyana was that because the country was a British colony, the British armed forces and the Guyana police, under the command of a British Governor and Commissioner of Police respectively, could not overthrow the PPP government. They did the next best thing; they stood by and permitted the counter-revolutionary forces to run riot. The resultant disorder and racial strife was then used by the British government to amend the Constitution and to change the voting system, through which the PPP was ousted from the government.
Another major weapon in the armoury of imperialism is ideological subversion. A worldwide campaign was mounted in the intense battle of ideas to win men’s minds, as Harold Macmillan had said in 1960 in his famous “wind of change” speech. Reactionary ideas intended to perpetuate the free enterprise system were fostered. These took the form mainly of anti-communism, particularly anti-Sovietism and anti-Castroism. The objective was to create confusion in the ranks of the liberation movement and thus divide and weaken it, to isolate Cuba and the Soviet Union which offer a viable alternative, and to provide the “stick” of anti-communism to suppress any progressive movement against colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism.
To carry out this task, CIA created a vast world-wide apparatus and channeled money mostly indirectly through CIA-formed Foundations to hundreds of organisations. A partial list includes the following: American Federation of State, Country and Municipal Employees, and its affiliates in Argentina, Peru, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago; Retail Clerks International Association; American newspaper Guild; Communication Workers of America; Institute of International Research; International Labour Training Programme; World Federation of Organisations of the Teaching Profession; International Confederation of Journalists; International Federation of Petroleum and Chemical Workers; Congress for cultural Freedom; American Council for the International Commission of Jurists; African-American Institute; American Friends of the Middle East; Institute of International Education; American Society of African Culture; Institute of Public Administration; Atwater Research Programme in North Africa; American National Student Association; International Development Foundation of New York; University of Pennsylvania; National Education Association; International Student Conference of Heyden; US Youth Council of New York; World Assembly of Youth, Brussels; International Market Institute; Independent Research Service; India Committee Trust; Asian Students Press Bureau; Council for International Programmes for Youth Leaders and Social Workers; Crossroads Africa; Gambia National Youth Council; Guyana Assembly for Youth; International Union of Young Christian Democrats; International Youth Centre; New Delhi; National Newsmen Club Federation; National Federation of Canadian University Students; Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church outside Russia; National Council of Churches; Billy Graham Spanish-American Crusade; Young Women’s Christian Association; Radio Free Europe; Centre for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; etc.
What is to be done? Where do we go from here? Let me first of all clear up a misconception which I might have created by referring so fully to the strategies, tactics and intrigues of imperialism -- a misconception that imperialism is all powerful. This is certainly not so. Vietnam has demonstrated that a small country can humble and defeat a mighty colossus. Cuba, only 90 miles from the United States, has demonstrated the falsity of the theory of “geographical fatalism”; namely, that no country in Latin America and particularly in the Caribbean can stand up to Uncle Sam. Today this first socialist state in the Americas stands as a revolutionary bastion and beacon of hope, acknowledged even in bourgeois circles. According to Euromeny:
One of the most successful Latin American economies in the 1970s is that of Cuba. Barring the economic miracles of Brazil (sic!) and Venezuela, Fidel Castro’s country is about the most bankable round, and that is not likely to change soon.
Western European governments…are showing unprecedented confidence in Cuba’s economy. Britain, for instance, has stopped extending credits to Argentina, but is fast stepping up those to Senor Castro.
Actually, in the fourth quarter of the 20th Century, the balance of world forces have definitely shifted against capitalism. To socialism has passed the historical initiative. Its morel prestige has grown and the world historical tide is moving towards socialism.
This does not mean that needed change will come about spontaneously. Nor does it mean that imperialism will willingly surrender. Indeed, newer and more subtle chains are being devised to hold back the tide. What is needed is many-sided struggle. And this cannot be left merely to the politicians and political parties. By their very nature, they have varied class positions and interests, and these do not always coincide with the interests of the working class. Trade unions as social mass organisations, have a vital role to play, and they cannot and must not shirk this responsibility.
At this period of crisis with worsening living conditions, it is necessary for the workers to be armed with working class ideology, the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism, and creatively to apply its principles in their struggles for national and social liberation.
On the trade unions must fall the responsibility for embarking on an extensive and intensive programme of workers education.
Workers’ vision must transcend more “bread and butter” issues. They must comprehend the roots of underdevelopment and backwardness; they must see development as a dynamic process with an interconnection and interaction dialectically between economies, politics and ideology.
They must see the essential unity of theory and practice. To fight successfully, it is necessary to organise. And to be better able to organise for struggle, it is necessary to inform, to educate and raise the level of understanding of the workers.
I have already referred to the role of ORIT, AIFLD and the Labour Institutes and Colleges, which they finance and control, in indoctrinating trade unionists from the hemisphere in anti-communism and the glories of the free enterprise system.
In Guyana, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ union and the People’s Progressive Party have consistently and persistently fought anti-communism and its modern-day brand, anti-Sovietism. This is essential if past mistakes are to be avoided.
The renowned Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow, who organised the first trade union (the British Guiana Trade Union) in the British colonies, was one of the earliest victims of the red witch-hunt. In 1932, Critchlow had visited the Soviet Union. On his return home, he spoke highly of the developments in the interest of the workers that had taken place in the USSR as a result of the socialist revolution. The reactionaries in Guyana branded him as communist, and the Daily Chronicle greeted him with this bitter jibe:
We are very interested in the account Mr Critchlow brought back tot he West Indies of his activities in the Soviet Union. We believe all he said of his experiences and wish to assure him that if and when it suits him we will accommodate him in a call.
Previously in 1928, the British government had disrated the Constitution and reduced the country to crown-colony status. Just prior to that, at the 1926 general election, the candidates backed by Critchlow and his union had won victories and had shaken the power of the plantocracy.
Marcus Garvey, Capt Cipriani, Uriah Butler and others were similarly smeared. And they too suffered at the hands of the colonialists.
We must not forget that for over 25 years anti-communism paralysed practically the whole West Indian political and trade union leadership. This was very clearly demonstrated in 1953 when the British government suspended the Constitution of British Guiana and with force removed the PPP from the government. Instead of support, there was attack. This was largely due to the fact that West Indian leadership by and large had taken its ideological orientation from the British Labour Party and the British TUC, which had then supported the cold-war policies of Anglo-American imperialism.
Actually, the political retreat had taken place much earlier. By 1948, West Indian leadership had begun to reflect the changed attitudes in the Socialist International and in the British Labour Party (the latter’s National Executive was then under the influence and control of the British TUC through the bloc vote, against which Aneurin Bevan and his group of left-wingers in the Labour Party had always railed). For instance, in 1948, Grantley Adams of Barbados defended British colonialism at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in Paris, while the British representative to the Untied Nations. Sir Hartley Shawcross, did the same New York. For his defence of colonialism, Adams was roundly attacked.
A year later in 1949, former stalwarts in the West Indies and H.N. Critchlow went to London for the founding Congress of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). This came about because of the British TUC’s break with the WFTU which I have already referred to. Actually, earlier in 1945, prominent Guyanese and West Indian leaders had participated in the founding conference of the World Federation of Trade Unions in Paris.
In Jamaica, the TUC was ordered in 1951 by the Norman Manley-led People’s National Party (PNCP) to dis-affiliate from the WFTU. The trade union leaders would agree only if the TUC would be affiliated neither to the ICFTU nor the WFTU. The Party leadership rejected this proposal and expelled Ken and Frank Hill, Richard Hart and Arthur Henry from the Executive Committee of the PNP in 1952. And a new union, the National Workers Union, headed by Michael Manley, the present Prime Minister, was organised to counter the TUC.
Meanwhile, steps were afoot to disband the militant Caribbean Labour Congress (CLC), which had been launched in 1945 in Barbados with socialism and independence as its aims, and had demanded at its 1947 Conference at Montego Bay, Jamaica, a west Indian Federation with dominion status and internal self-government for each constituent unit.
At this point, Richard Hart, Quintin O’Connor, John Rojas, John LaRose, Ebeneza Joshua and I journeyed to Barbados. We interviewed Grantley Adams and his chief lieutenant Frank Walcott, who then had held the posts of president and secretary respectively of the Barbados Workers’ Union and of CADORIT, the Caribbean section of ORIT, the regional organisation of ICFTU. We pleaded in the interests of West Indian unity and the cause of West Indies federation that everything should be done to prevent the disbanding of the CLC. The LC, we argued, had been the repository of all progressive thought in the Caribbean. We said that if affiliations to the WFTU and ICFTU of trade union affiliates of the CLC had led to disruption, then two separate organisations should be established. These would be the Caribbean Labour Congress and Caribbean Federation of Labour. The CLC should affiliate only political parties and should become the political arm of the West Indian movement. The Caribbean Federation of Labour should embrace trade unions in the area and must be affiliated neither to the ICFTU nor the WFTU, but must approach for aid and guidance both of these world organisations. It was disclosed to Grantley Adams by Richard Hart that Ferdinand Smith, representative of the WFTU in Jamaica, would be prepared to recommend support to such a Caribbean Federation of Labour. Adams was asked to make the same request of the ICFTU.
Unfortunately, our proposal was not accepted, and shortly afterwards the CLC was disbanded.
These developments were catastrophic for the whole West Indian labour movement. They had some bearing on the breakup of the West Indies Federation. And today there are boomerang “destabilisation” effects in Jamaica. The witch-hunting of communists and leftists led to a strong right-wing within the PNP and a reactionary, almost fascist JLP.
The unfortunate experiences of the past 25 to 30 years certainly justify the trade unions maintaining their independence. While trade unions must have an active political outlook and interest, they must under our multi-party political system jealously guard their independence.
In Guyana Dr P.A. Reid, General Secretary of the ruling People’s National Congress has recently declared that the trade union movement should recognise the ideological leadership of the PNC and become affiliated to it. Rightly, important trade union circles, including the powerful Clerical and Commercial Workers Union, are opposed to such affiliation.
And many question the PNC’s ideology of “cooperative socialism” and the claim that Guyana has a socialist government. It must not be forgotten that demagogues like Hitler and Mussolini fooled millions of workers with their “national socialism”. And remember too that the CIA paid US$1 million to Norman Thomas of the Socialist Party of the USA, who admitted setting up 17 Socialist parties in Latin America to fight communism. Included also in the CIA’s armoury is the deliberate distortion of Marxism-Leninism.
“Cooperative socialism” is utopianism. It has nothing to do with scientific socialism. It is easy to claim to be socialist. But many who have made such claims even when they have assumed state power have not succeeded in building a socialist society. It is not accidental that socialist societies have been built only in those countries which are guided by Marxism-Leninism.
As Mohamed Siad Barre, President of the Supreme Revolutionary Council of the Somali Democratic Republic stated: “There is only one socialism, namely scientific socialism. Anyone who gives it other names is only deceiving himself and others.” Further: “Our socialism cannot be called Somali socialism, African socialism or Islamic socialism…Our socialism is scientific socialism founded by the great Marx and Angels, i.e. Marxism-Leninism.”
In Guyana, the progressive labour movement, denying the government’s claim to be socialist, is fighting for a socialist-oriented national-revolutionary democracy. This means struggling to create economic, political, ideological, cultural and social prerequisites in the transition period for the construction of a socialist society, which include:
Ending foreign economic domination and consolidating national independence.
A comprehensive land reform aimed at ending rapacious landlordism and “giving land to the tillers.”
Democratisation of social life with effective workers and working people’s involvement at all levels.
The expansion of public and cooperative sectors with increasing emphasis on the productive sectors of industry and agriculture.
Raising living standards of the people, and increasing workers involvement in cultural and sports activities.
Forging a foreign policy based on the establishment of close links with the socialist and progressive non-aligned countries.
These are objective necessities for the building of the foundations of socialism, for taking the non capitalist path to socialism.
It has now become very fashionable in the name of socialism to exhort the workers to behave responsibly and not resort to strike, to work hard and to produce surpluses.
Socialism means not just political independence and economic emancipation, but also social justice. Workers must produce surpluses (over and above what are directly paid to them) but they have a right to ask and to determine what is done with the surpluses: whether the fruits of their labour are being utilised for the purpose of ending unemployment and underemployment and raising material and cultural levels of the working people or are being misappropriated corruptly or otherwise by a new bureaucratic-administrative and police-military elite. It must not be forgotten that a new bourgeoisie can emerge under the nationalised state sector.
Under socialism in the socialist states, there are at the enterprise level of production a development fund, material incentive fund and the fund for social and cultural measures and housing construction.
And the state ensures rising living standards through free medical care, free education, subsidised housing, established and stable prices, adequate security in old age, protection of the environment, cultural development.
And socialism cannot be built without democracy. There must be people’s involvement and workers’ control at all levels of the society -- central and local government, factory, shop, farm, school, etc.
V.I. Lenin observed that “under socialism…for the first time in the history of civilised society, the mass of the population will rise to take an independent part not only in voting and elections, but also in the everyday administration.
In this regard, Lenin further noted: “…democracy introduced as fully and consistently as is at all conceivable, is transformed from bourgeois unto proletarian democracy.”
The importance of workers’ control was emphasised by Lenin just before the Great October Socialist Revolution in his pamphlet “The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It.” He stated:
This measure is control, supervision, accounting, regulation by the state, introduction of a proper distribution of labour power in the production and distribution of goods, husbanding of the people’s forces, the elimination of all wasteful effort, economy of effort. Control, supervision and accounting are the prime requisites for combating catastrophe and famine. This is indisputable and universally recognised. And it is just what is not being done from fear of encroaching of the supremacy of the landowners and capitalists, on their immense, fantastic and scandalous profits, profits derived from high prices and war contracts (and directly or indirectly, nearly everybody is now “working” for the war), profits about which everybody knows and which everybody knows and which everybody sees, and over which everybody is sighing and groaning.
And absolutely nothing is being done to introduce such control, accounting and supervision by the state as would be in the least effective.
This control must be exercised by trade unions which in a socialist state are mass non-party organisations uniting on a voluntary basis people of all trades and professions irrespective of race, nationality, sex or religion.
In Guyana, the question has been posed: Who should exercise the control, the workers or the trade unions?
This question can be answered properly only in the context of trade union democracy -- and the principle that unions adopt as their methodology democratic centralism. Once this is done, then there is no question that the workers will exercise control through their trade unions.
The debate is Guyana also ranges on the question whether there should be workers’ participation or workers’ control.
The bourgeoisie, faced with a permanent crisis of capitalism and increasing members of class battles (strikes), are experimenting with workers’ participation as a possible solution to their headaches; they cannot and will not contemplate workers’ control.
In some countries, the state assumes the appearance of being supra class (above class) and neutral. Here, there is sometimes a tendency by the ruling groups to take a patronising attitude towards the workers. The workers are not ready to assume responsibility, the argument goes; only when they are educated and have shown a sense of responsibility can there be workers’ control; until then, there will be workers’ participation.
This line of reasoning must be combatted. The state in the final analysis is an instrument of a class. If there is to be a socialist state, a workers’ state, then workers must be put in power at all levels. Power breeds responsibility. As the saying goes, one cannot learn to swim without going into the water.
In this regard, the workers must demand an end to the old bourgeois method of employment directors. In Guyana, the colonial practice continues of appointing directors to nationalised enterprises from outside. By contrast, in socialist countries, the Board of Directorate consists of managerial, technical and professional staff and the workers -- all from within the enterprise. This has the distinct advantage of more intimate knowledge of the functioning of the enterprise. And in these directorates, the workers generally have a majority. This does not pose a problem as it is not a question of opposing sides; the workers and management usually arrive at decisions on the basis of consensus.
In socialist countries, there is no conflict of interest among the state, the party and the trade unions. A socialist state is a form of state in which the workers hold and wield political power; a communist or workers’ party is a class-conscious, ideologically – developed vanguard of the working class; and a trade union is a voluntary, mass organisation of the workers -- all work towards the same objective: ethically, to end exploitation of man by man; morally, to develop a new type of man materially and culturally based on the brotherhood of man.
The does not mean to say that the state, party and trade unions should all be integrated and merged organisationally and functionally.
In capitalist states, there are antagonistic contradictions between the bourgeois (capitalist-controlled) state and the trade unions representing the workers. In socialist states, contradictions do not disappear between the workers’ state and the workers’ organisations, the trade unions, but they are non-antagonistic. This is why the trade unions must not be affiliated or directly linked with the ruling party. They must be organisationally independent.
And the trade unions must inculcate in their membership a true spirit of patriotism and internationalism. Narrow national chauvinism and jingoism, the brand which Hitler so cleverly manipulated, must be combatted.
Capital has become an international force, especially at this time of dominance by the powerful transnational corporation. So too must become the labour movement.
We must steadfastly work for national and international working class unity. We must bring as closely as possible the world’s three revolutionary streams -- the national liberation movement in the “third world”, the socialist world, and the working class and peace forces in the capitalist world.
We must express militant solidarity with all revolutionary nations and governments which face destabilisation. We must categorically condemn the sabotage of the Cuban airliner which claimed 73 precious lives, and punish the murderers.
We must at the same time work for peaceful coexistence, détente and disarmament. Money spent for the arms race is not available for aid and development. The UN committee of Experts on the Economic and social Consequences of the Arms Race said: “One major effect of the arms race and military expenditure has been to reduce the priority given to aid in the policies of donor countries.”
Actually, the promise by the developed capitalist states to give as aid 1 per cent of their gross Domestic Product (GDP) has never been attained. The amount fell from 0.52$ in 190 to 0.3% in 1975 and is expected to be only 0.2% by 1980. The UN Committee further stated: “It would take only a five per cent shift of current expenditures of arms to development to make it possible to approach the official target of aid.”
We must fight to make détente irreversible. And political détente must be accompanied by military détente.
We must support the Soviet proposals for a 10% reduction of arms expenditure by all the members of the UN Security Council, and for international treaty for the non-use of force in international relations.
Peace is the hope of all mankind. Let us pledge to struggle for détente, disarmament and development, and to fight against colonialism neo-colonialism, imperialism, fascism and racism. These are all interlinked. Development is peace and peace is development.
Long Live the Trade Union Movement!
Long Live the International Working Class!
Copyright © Nadira Jagan-Brancier 2000