17 March 2020

3. Immediate Demands

Capitalism creates the necessity amongst workers to engage in constant struggle. Even without communist leadership class battles will occur, albeit at an elemental level.

However, to liberate themselves workers must fight for the positive resolution of all social contradictions, first and foremost by winning the battle for democracy.

3.1. Democracy

Under capitalism democracy exhibits two sides. There is mystification, whereby the masses are reconciled to their exploitation and fooled into imagining themselves to be the sovereign power in society. On the other hand, there is the struggle to give democratic forms a new, substantive, content. This can only be achieved by the working class taking the lead in the fight to ensure popular control over all aspects of society.

Hence, communists do not counterpose democracy to socialism. Democracy is much more than voting every four or five years. Democracy is the rule of the people, for the people, by the people. To make that aspiration real necessarily means removing all judicial, structural and socio-economic restraints on, or distortions of, popular control from below.

3.1.1. Winning the battle for democracy

Communists stand for republican democracy. That means demanding:

  • Abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords, and a single-chamber parliament with proportional representation, annual elections and MPs’ salaries set at the level of a skilled worker.
  • No to the presidential prime minister. End prime ministerial appointment of ministers and all other forms of prime ministerial patronage.
  • Disband MI5, MI6, special branch and the entire secret state apparatus.
  • For local democracy. Service provision, planning, tax raising, law enforcement and funding allocation to be radically devolved downwards as far as possible and appropriate: to ward, borough, city and county levels.

3.1.2. Freedom

The interests of the working class require the open struggle of ideas and the ability to freely organise.

Therefore communists demand:

  • Unrestricted freedom of speech, publication, conscience, association and assembly.
  • An end to state bans and censorship. No laws against ‘hate speech’, which will inevitably be turned against the workers movement and the left.
  • No bans on controversial organisations and individuals in civil society institutions such as universities and student unions. Bigoted and reactionary viewpoints must be fought in the open, not via bureaucratic no-platform, safeguarding or safe spaces policies.
  • Oppose state secrets. Demand free access to all state files, cabinet papers, diplomatic agreements, etc.
  • Abolish copyright laws, patents and other so-called intellectual property rights.
  • Socialisation of internet service providers, public cloud infrastructure and other natural monopolies in communications. An end to the corruption of advertising-funded media.

3.1.3. The national question

As a general rule communists do not want to see countries broken up into small nation-states. Ours is the revolutionary call for humanity to shed the flag-waving, imagined community of the nation-state.

Communists are the most consistent internationalists and unreservedly denounce any tactical pandering to, let alone attempts to exacerbate, national tensions.

Communists want a positive solution to the national question in the interests of the working class: that is, the merging of nations. That can only be achieved through democracy and the right of all to fully develop their own culture.

Where national questions exist, communists fight to secure the right of nations to self-determination. Historically constituted peoples should be able to freely decide their own destiny. They can separate if they so wish. Thereby they can also elect to come together or stay together with others.

3.1.4. England, Scotland and Wales

The British nation evolved from the gradual bonding of the English, Welsh and Scottish. Drawn together over centuries by common political and economic experience, they now in the main possess a common language, culture and psychology.

The birth of the British nation was a progressive development objectively. Nevertheless, because it was carried out under the aegis of a brutal absolutism it was accompanied by countless acts of violence and discrimination.

As post-boom British imperialism was forced to turn inwards, and in the absence of a viable proletarian alternative, resistance in Scotland and Wales often took a national form. A mythologised past was deployed by nationalists, opportunists and Labourites alike to serve their nefarious purposes.

Communists stand opposed to every form of Scottish and Welsh national narrow-mindedness. Equally we oppose every form of British/English national chauvinism. Ideas of exclusiveness or superiority, national oppression itself, obscure the fundamental antagonism between labour and capital, and divert attention from the need to unite against the common enemy – the British capitalist state.

While communists defend the right of Scotland and Wales to secede, we do not want separation. Communists want the closest union circumstances allow. The peoples of Scotland and Wales cannot decide their future democratically through the monarchy and the Westminster parliament of the House of Commons and House of Lords. That is why we stand for a federal republic of England, Scotland and Wales.

It is the proletarian-internationalist duty of communists in Scotland and Wales to defend the right of the Scots and Welsh to remain with and achieve an even higher degree of unity with the English. Correspondingly communists in England must be the best defenders of the right of Scotland and Wales to separate. That in no way contradicts the duty to advocate unity.

3.1.5. Ireland

Ireland is Britain’s oldest colony. In 1921 Ireland was dissected – a sectarian Six County statelet was created in order to permanently divide the Irish working class and perpetuate British domination over the whole island of Ireland.

We communists in Britain unconditionally support the right of the people of Ireland to reunite. Working class opposition to British imperialism in Ireland is a necessary condition for our own liberation – a nation that oppresses another can never itself be free. The struggle for socialism in Britain and national liberation in Ireland are closely linked.

Communists in Ireland likewise have internationalist duties. They must fight for the friendship between workers in Britain and Ireland and their speediest coming together. They must be resolute opponents of nationalism.

3.1.6. Europe

Far from pushing through the unity of Europe capitalism has held back what is objectively necessary. National rivalries, short-term interests, stoking-up national chauvinism and subordination to US imperialism has allowed for nothing more than a weak, creaking, bickering quasi-democratic European Union.

Communists stand for the abolition of the EU commission and council of ministers, of the treaties which require unanimous agreement of states to amend them, and of the unaccountable Court of Justice. Instead we seek a united Europe democratically ruled by the working class.

Towards that end we have a vital interest in organising across Europe: trade unions; cooperatives; campaigns for the levelling up of wages, conditions and rights; coordination between communist groups and parties; etc.

No European country alone is capable of taking decisive action on a global scale. Those days are long gone and will never return. True, a workers’ Europe might be subject to blockades and attempts to isolate it, but that will not be easy. The flame of liberation will surely spread to Asia, Africa and the Americas.

3.2. Peace

British imperialism has an unparalleled history of war and aggression in virtually every corner of the world. Though no longer the power it once was, large, well equipped armed forces are maintained in order to serve the interests of British capitalism abroad and at home.

British capitalism is one of the world’s main weapons manufacturers and exporters. It has a vested interest in promoting militarism. Communists stress, however, that the struggle against the military-industrial complex cannot be separated from the struggle against the profit system as a whole.

Communists oppose all imperialist wars, military alliances and occupations. We also reject nuclear, biological and other such weapons of mass destruction as inherently inhuman.

Peace cannot come courtesy of bodies such as the United Nations – an assembly of exploiters and murderers. It is the duty of communists to connect the popular desire for peace with the aim of revolution. Only by disarming the bourgeoisie and through the victory of international socialism can the danger of war be eliminated.

Communists are not pacifists. Everywhere we support just wars, above all revolutionary civil wars for socialism. Communists will therefore strive to expose the war preparations of the bourgeoisie, the lies of social imperialists and illusions fostered by social pacifism.

3.3. Environmental crisis

Global warming and the danger of runaway climate change have to be dealt with as a matter of extreme urgency. But we should be on guard against pseudo-solutions. Carbon offsets and carbon trading amount to greenwashing capitalism. Blaming population numbers in poor countries easily leads to Malthusian programmes and terrible human suffering. Launching reflective aerosols into the stratosphere, ocean mirrors, cloud thinning and space sunshades would, quite probably, lead to unintended, potentially, irreversible, consequences.

Instead communists present these demands:

  • Rapidly transition away from coal, oil, gas and nuclear power towards wind, tidal, solar, geothermal and other renewables.
  • Reduce energy demand: bring home and work closer together, support workers who want flexible working arrangements; encourage online meetings, cycling, walking and staycations; introduce free local and urban public transport; discourage the consumption of meat and dairy products; put limits on air travel and car use; ensure that the existing housing stock is radically upgraded and exacting building standards are enforced; impose swingeing taxes on big scale polluters.
  • Aim to go beyond carbon neutral as soon as possible.
  • Where feasible, rewild: forests, natural floodplains, marshes, fens and heath land should be re-established. Strive to reintroduce the full array of native flora and fauna. Grouse moors, deer-stalking estates and upland sheep runs would be prime targets for returning to nature.
  • Concrete jungles, urban sprawl, using rivers and seas as common sewers, huge farms and intensive meat and dairy production result in substantial damage to the biosphere. Nationalise the land and waterways.
  • Towns and cities should be full of trees, roof gardens, planted walls, allotments, wild parks and small-scale cooperative farms.
  • Destructive fishing practices such as bottom trawling should be banned. Inshore seas must include wide no-catch areas. The aim should be to fully restore marine life and thus create a sustainable fishing industry.

3.4. Working conditions and wage workers

Communists begin with what workers need, not what capitalism can afford.

Therefore communists demand:

  • A maximum five-day working week and a maximum seven-hour day for all wage workers. Reduction of that to a four-day working week and a maximum six-hour day for occupations which are dangerous or particularly demanding. The working day must include rest periods of not less than two hours.
  • An uninterrupted weekly break of not less than 65 hours for all wage workers.
  • Equal pay for equal work.
  • Abolition of overtime in its present form. In the case of emergencies and other such eventualities overtime must be voluntary, for only short periods and with at least double pay.
  • A minimum net wage to be set on the basis of what is needed by a worker and one child to lead a full life, participating materially and culturally in society. All benefits, pensions and student grants to at least match the minimum wage.
  • A minimum of six weeks’ fully paid holiday leave during the year in addition to public holidays.
  • Insurance and other such payments to be made entirely by the capitalists and the state.
  • Occupational training for all workers to be a legal obligation for employers.
  • Child labour to be illegal. For young people aged between 14 and 16, the working week should be limited to five days and the working day to no more than two hours.
  • All industrial courts, arbitration panels, etc to be made up of at least 50% elected workers’ representatives.
  • All workers must have the right to strike and to join a trade union.

3.5. Migrant workers and racism

Large numbers of workers who have come from other countries live in Britain. Migration is often the result of poverty, lack of opportunity, war or persecution.

Capital moves around the world without restriction. As a matter of principle communists are for the free movement of people and against all measures preventing them entering or leaving countries. Simultaneously, we seek to end poverty, lack of opportunity, war and persecution everywhere.

The bourgeoisie uses migrant workers, especially illegals, as worst paid labour. That is ensured through immigration laws and quotas, lack of security and police raids, detention centres and deportations.

The capitalist state in Britain now has an official ideology of anti-racism. Of course, racism still exists, as does the national chauvinist consensus which champions British imperialism’s interests against foreign rivals and sets worker against worker.

Migrant workers are not the problem. The capitalists who use them to increase competition between workers are. The reformist plea for non-racist immigration controls plays directly into the hands of our exploiters. It concedes the right of the state to bar workers from entering Britain.

It is in the interest of all workers that migrant workers and ethnic communities are integrated. Assimilation is progressive as long as if is not based upon force. In order to encourage integration and strengthen the unity of the working class, the following demands are put forward:

  • The right to speak and be educated in one’s own language. The right to conduct correspondence with the state in one’s own language.
  • The right to learn English for all migrant workers and their families. Employers must provide language courses.
  • The right to become citizens with full social and political rights for all workers who have resided in the country for six months.
  • Fight all discrimination based on race, ethnicity or culture by state or private bodies.

3.6. The unemployed

Unemployment is an integral feature of capitalism. In periods of crisis millions cannot be profitably employed and are discarded. At all times unemployment is capitalism’s principal tool for collectively disciplining the working class and maximising exploitation. Full employment, whether as a result of deliberate government policy – as in the post-war period – or in periods of exceptional economic boom, increases the confidence of workers and the strength of their organisations, leading to higher wages and improved conditions.

Permanent full employment is not compatible with the continuation of capitalism. The capitalist class and its state will therefore act to restore the reserve army of labour to counter the combativeness of the organised working class.

Maintained at below subsistence levels, the unemployed increasingly constitute a permanently marginalised section of the population. The only way to eradicate unemployment is to end the system that causes and requires it.

As part of the working class the unemployed must be integrated as fully as possible into the workers’ movement.

They must be made into a reserve army of the revolution by demanding:

  • The right to work at trade union rates of pay or unemployment benefit at the level of the minimum wage.
  • No state harassment of the unemployed. Claiming benefit is a right, not a privilege.
  • Cheap labour schemes must be replaced by real training and education under trade union supervision.
  • The unemployed must have the right to remain in or join trade unions as full members with equal rights.
  • To the extent that they operate, unemployed workers’ organisations must be represented in the trade union movement – from trades councils to the Trade Union Congress.

3.7. Nationalisation

The historic task of the working class is to fully socialise the giant transnational corporations, and programmes for wholesale nationalisation can only succeed in breaking such corporations into inefficient national units. From the point of view of world revolution, programmes for wholesale nationalisation are today objectively reactionary. Our starting point is the most advanced achievements of capitalism. Globalised production needs global social control.

Communists oppose the illusion that nationalisation equates in some way with socialism. There is nothing inherently progressive or socialistic about nationalised industries.

However, specific acts of nationalisation can serve the interests of workers. We call for the nationalisation of the land, banks and financial services, along with basic infrastructure, such as public transport, electricity, gas and water supplies.

Faced with plans for closure, mass sackings and threats of capital flight communists demand:

  • No redundancies. Nationalise threatened workplaces or industries under workers’ control.
  • Compensation to former owners should be paid only in cases of proven need.
  • There must be no business secrets hidden from the workers. Open the books and data banks to the inspection of specialists appointed by and responsible to the workers.

3.8. Housing

Communists regard the provision of housing as a basic right.

Towards this end we demand:

  • A massive revival of council and other social house building programmes. The shortage of housing must be ended.
  • Council and social housing must be high quality, energy- efficient and with spacious rooms. Where appropriate, outside areas must be provided for children to play.
  • Accommodation to be allocated on the basis of need and rents set at a token level. There should be life-long tenure.
  • Communal housing schemes with shared services, gardens, swimming pools, gyms, etc should be included as part of the mix of housing options.
  • Housing estates and blocks of flats should be democratically run by tenants in conjunction with the local authorities and relevant trade unions.
  • Architects should be encouraged to innovate and use their imagination. However, the design of all newbuilds and the refurbishment of existing accommodation should fully involve future residents and the wider local community.
  • A publicly-owned building corporation to be established to ensure that planned targets for house-building are reached and to provide permanent employment and ongoing training for building workers.

3.9. Health

Communists demand a comprehensive, free and democratic health service to meets the needs of everyone.

Communists therefore present the following demands:

  • The national health service must provide the highest quality care in all areas, including dentistry, optometry and those complementary therapies that have been scientifically proven to be effective.
  • The national health service must place a strong emphasis on preventative interventions.
  • All NHS hospitals to be run by their staff and the community they serve.
  • For NHS community clinics providing a full range of health services democratically accountable to local people.
  • GPs, hospital doctors, consultants, etc who work in the NHS should be exclusively employed by the NHS.
  • The pharmaceutical industry should be nationalised, so that the development of drugs serves human need, not the generation of profits.

3.10. Trade unions

Trade unions limit competition between workers, thus securing a better price for labour-power. They represent a tremendous gain for the working class, drawing millions of workers into collective activity against employers.

Of course, left to itself, trade union consciousness is characterised by sectionalism. At best trade union consciousness attempts to constantly improve the lot of workers within capitalism. At worst trade union consciousness degenerates into business unionism and sacrificing the interests of workers for the sake of capitalist competitiveness and profitability.

Communists openly seek to make trade unions into schools for communism. They do this by always putting forward the general interest, by fighting for workers’ unity and by fully involving the rank and file in decision-making.

Bargaining is a specialist activity. Consequently the trade unions need a layer of functionaries. However, due to lack of democratic control and accountability these functionaries have consolidated themselves into a conservative caste.

The trade union bureaucracy is more concerned with amicable deals and preserving union funds than with the class struggle. Operating as an intermediary between labour and capital, it has a real, material interest in the continued existence of the wage system.

Within the trade unions communists fight against bureaucracy by demanding:

  • Trade unions must be free of any interference or control by the state or employer.
  • No trade union official to be paid above the average wage of a worker in that particular union.
  • All full-time trade union officials must be elected, accountable and instantly recallable.
  • Workers should support trade union leaders only to the extent that they fight for the long-term interests of the working class as a whole.
  • All-embracing workplace committees. Organise all workers, whatever their trade, whether or not they are in trade unions. Workplace committees should fight to exercise control over hiring and firing, production and investment.
  • One industry, one union. Industrial unions are rational and enhance the ability of workers to struggle.
  • Given the international nature of the capitalist system and the existence of giant transnational companies, trade unions also need to organise internationally.

3.11. Councils of action

In any decisive clash of class against class, new forms of organisation which are higher, more general, more flexible than trade unions emerge. In Russia they have been called soviets, in Germany Räte, in Britain councils of action.

Embracing and coordinating all who are in struggle, such organisations have the potential to become institutions in the future workers’ state. Communists encourage any such development.

3.12. Militia

Communists are against the standing army and for the armed people. This principle will never be realised voluntarily by the capitalist state. It has to be won, in the first place by the working class developing its own militia.

Such a body grows out of the class struggle itself: defending picket lines, mass demonstrations, workplace occupations, fending off fascists, etc.

As the class struggle intensifies, conditions are created for the workers to arm themselves and win over sections of the military forces of the capitalist state. Every opportunity must be used to take even tentative steps towards this goal. As circumstances allow, the working class must equip itself with all weaponry necessary to bring about revolution.

To facilitate this we demand:

  • Rank and file personnel in the state’s armed bodies must be protected from bullying, humiliating treatment and being used against the working class.
  • There must be full trade union and democratic rights, including the right to form bodies such as soldiers’ councils.
  • The privileges of the officer caste must be abolished. Officers must be elected. Workers in uniform must become the allies of the masses in struggle.
  • The people have the right to bear arms and defend themselves.
  • The dissolution of the standing army and the formation of a popular militia under democratic control.

3.13. Women

Women are oppressed because of the system of exploitation and the division of labour. Women’s oppression has existed since the dawn of class society. Ending exploitation will mark the beginning of women’s emancipation. Therefore the struggle for both is interconnected.

Women’s emancipation is not a question for women alone. Just as the abolition of class exploitation is of concern to female workers, so the emancipation of women is of concern to male workers. The struggle for socialism and the emancipation of women cannot be separated.

Women carry the main burden of feeding babies, house management, supermarket buying, family cooking, child ferrying, etc, which is performed gratis. Such work is often frantic, demoralising and allows no kind of rounded, cultural development.

Advanced capitalism has created the material prerequisites for the liberation of women. However, women cannot be fully emancipated until the disappearance of the division of labour and without going beyond bourgeois right, which entails: ‘To each according to work done’.

In Britain women have won or been granted formal equality with men. But the capitalist system often makes a mockery of that. At work, at home, in trade unions, in official politics, in culture, in organised religion, women still find themselves disadvantaged, facing bias and inequality.

There has been a rapid increase in women’s participation in the economy. As a norm therefore women are exploited by capital as cheap wage workers and domestic slaves. Hence they suffer a double burden.

Women, therefore, have their own problems and demands. These demands do not conflict with the demands of the working class: rather they reinforce them.

Communists say:

  • Turn formal equality into genuine equality. Socially, economically, politically and culturally there must be substantial equality.
  • Open free, 24-hour crèches and kindergartens to facilitate full participation in social life outside the home. Open high-quality canteens with cheap prices. Establish laundry and house-cleaning services undertaken by local authorities and the state. This to be the first step in the socialisation of housework. We would encourage a balance of male and female workers to be employed in these facilities.
  • Fully paid maternity leave of 12 months, which the mother can choose to take from up to three months before giving birth. The partner to be provided with six months’ fully paid paternity leave – three months of which should be compulsory – to encourage equality and bonding with the child.
  • Free abortion and contraception on demand.
  • Provision for either parent, or main carer, to be allowed paid leave to look after sick children.
  • A maximum six-hour working day for all nursing mothers.
  • Full support for women fleeing violence within the home.

3.14. Youth and education

Youth are used as cheap labour, sexually policed and blamed for social decay. The system also exploits youth as consumers. Every ideal, every artistic talent is judged in terms of generating artificial needs. There are many who reject the twisted values of the system. But in despair this often turns to nihilism and escapism – themselves turned into commodities by capitalism.

Youth are at the sharp end of capitalist decline. Young workers are in general less likely to be protected by trade union membership. Homelessness, unemployment and sexual abuse are greatly disproportionate amongst the young.

The education system is a vitally important site of struggle. Secondary education is narrow, unimaginative and obsessively focused on targets and exams. Official schemes for unemployed youth are notoriously mediocre, designed more to massage government statistics than equip young workers with the skills they need for a worthwhile future.

Higher education is increasingly designed to suit the commercial interests of employers – university courses included. This sector churns out the next generation of skilled workers. Elite universities specialise in the reproduction of the upper-middle and ruling classes. Not surprisingly, here something like a proper education is on offer.

The following demands are of crucial importance for youth:

  • Compulsory education up until the age of 16 and from then on within a fully democratic system. Secondary education should be of a polytechnical nature. That is, rounded to include technical and personal skills, as well as scientific, social, historical and artistic subjects. Tertiary education should be a right, not a privilege. Abolish student fees. Everyone should be encouraged to develop themselves and their intellectual and critical abilities to the fullest degree.
  • For academic freedom in teaching and research.
  • Students over the age of 16 should receive grants set at the level of the minimum wage.
  • No state funding, charitable status or tax breaks for religious and private schools and colleges.
  • Provision of housing/hostels for youth to enter of their own choice for longer or shorter periods when they lose their parents or choose to leave them.
  • The right of every young person on leaving education to a job, proper technical training or full benefits.
  • Remove all obstacles to the participation of youth in social life. Votes and the right to be elected from the age of 16.
  • The provision of a broad range of sports and cultural centres under the control of representatives elected by youth.
  • Young people are entitled to develop their sexual lives free from parental, police or religious control. We favour legislation which protects children and young people from sexual exploitation by those who are substantially older than them, especially by those in authority over them.
  • We defend contraception services which are free and confidential. We fight for extensive provision of education, counselling and advice on all matters relating to sexuality and reproduction.

3.15. Pensioners and the elderly

People deserve a secure, dignified and comfortable old age. The needs of the elderly should be met fully by the state and be available by right. Old people must not suffer the humiliation and anxiety of relying on means tests or charity.

The aim of these demands is to mobilise the working class as a whole to fight for pensioners’ rights:

  • No compulsory retirement on the basis of age. Right to retirement from age 60 for all workers – at 55 in unpleasant and dangerous occupations.
  • The state pension should be set at the level of the minimum wage, and should be paid to everyone who has reached retirement age and wants to give up work.
  • Old people should have the right to decide how they live. The state must provide what is needed to allow elderly people to live independently if they so wish, for as long as they are physically or mentally capable of doing so. There should be no compulsory institutionalisation.
  • Social clubs for the elderly should be democratic and subsidised by the state, not charities.
  • The comfort and dignity of the dying must be ensured at all times. Euthanasia and disposal of the body after death should be carried out according to the wishes of the individual.

3.16. Sexual freedom

Gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, etc have often been scapegoated or persecuted. They are portrayed as threats to timeless religious values, sexual norms and the nuclear family – the basic economic unit of capitalist society.

Bigoted attitudes divide the working class and aid those advocating the authoritarian state. The working class needs to be mobilised in order to defend and advance sexual freedom.

Communists demand:

  • Decriminalisation of all consensual sexual practices. End police and state harassment.
  • Lesbian women and gay men should be accorded the same rights in society as heterosexuals: that is, state marriages, artificial insemination for lesbians, adoption and fostering. No discrimination in custody cases on the grounds of sexual orientation.
  • No discrimination in any area of employment.
  • Decriminalisation of prostitution so as to remove it from criminal control. For the self-organisation of prostitutes to improve their conditions. Prostitutes to be provided with special healthcare and other services to reduce the dangers they confront. Measures must be put in place to give prostitutes wider social opportunities.

3.17. Crime and prison

Crime can only be understood in relationship to society. In class society crime is a product of alienation, want or resistance. Under capitalism the criminal justice system is anti-working class, irrational and inhuman. Property is considered primary; the person merely a form of property.

Against this communists demand:

  • The codification of criminal law. Judges cannot be allowed to ‘rediscover’ old offences or invent new ones.
  • All judges and magistrates must be subject to election and recall.
  • Defend and extend the jury system. Anyone charged with an offence that carries the possibility of a prison sentence can elect for a jury trial.
  • Fines to be proportionate to income.
  • Too many people are unnecessarily in prison. A high proportion of prisoners lack basic literacy skills, have mental health issues or suffer from an alcohol or drug problem.
  • Prison should always be considered a last resort.
  • End the war on drugs. Recreational drugs should be legalised and quality standards assured. People with a dependency problem should be offered treatment not given a criminal record.
  • There must be workers’ supervision of prisons. Prisoners must be allowed the maximum opportunity to develop themselves as human beings. People should only be imprisoned within a short distance of their home locality – if not, families must be given full cost of travel for visits.
  • Prison life must be made as near normal as possible. The aim of prison should be rehabilitation, not punishment.
  • Prisoners should have the right to vote in parliamentary and other such elections and to stand for election. Votes from prisoners to count within the constituency where they actually live, not where they happen to originate.

3.18. Religion

Unlike previous oppressed classes in history religion can play no progressive role for the working class in its struggle against today’s ruling class.

Nevertheless, though communists want to overcome all religious prejudices, we are the most consistent defenders of the individual’s freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.

Communists therefore demand:

  • The establishment of a secular state – ie, the separation of church and state. Confiscate all Church of England property not directly related to acts of worship: eg, land holdings, share portfolios and art treasures. End all state subsidies for religious institutions.
  • Freedom for all religious cults. Freedom for atheistic propaganda. Religious organisations and individuals have the right to propagate their ideas and seek to win converts. Opponents of religion have the same right.
  • End all state-sponsored religious propaganda and acts of worship. Religion is a private, not a state matter. Religion can be studied as a subject of academic interest in state schools, not as a means to indoctrinate children.

3.19. Small businesses and farms

Small business people, including small farmers, form a petty bourgeois stratum in Britain. Carrying on an unstable, precarious existence, these people operate in subordination to monopoly capital.

The petty bourgeoisie works alone, alongside family members or with a few hired employees. A combination of the threat of bankruptcy and an aspiration to become big capitalists drives them to work and work: often longer hours and in worse conditions than many members of the working class.

Every downward oscillation of the capitalist economy confronts the petty bourgeoisie with financial ruin. While the destruction of this stratum is economically progressive, the working class has a political interest to defend the petty bourgeoisie from the abuses and manipulations of big capital and the banks, at the same time fighting to improve the working conditions, security of employment and living standards of wage workers in farming and small businesses.

Communists demand:

  • Secure rights of tenure for owner-occupiers, small farmers and small businesses, with low rents.
  • Cancellation of debts to banks arising from disproportionately high interest rates. Provision of low interest rates for small businesses.
  • Guaranteed prompt payment of bills by big business to small businesses.
  • Encouragement for the formation of producers’ cooperatives through the provision of scientific and technical advice, research facilities, administrative machinery, grants for capital improvements, etc.

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