The ruling capitalist class wages its political class struggle on three main, distinct but inter-connected fronts: the economic, the political and the ideological and cultural. This requires corresponding responses from the labour and progressive movements.
On the economic front, the main strategic objectives must be to maintain and improve the living standards of working people and their families at every stage of life, based on full employment in a modern, productive, balanced and sustainable domestic economy. Strong, democratic and independent trade unions are central to fighting for these goals, in alliance with other progressive movements representing particular interests or sections of the population.
But if the working class is to put an end to exploitation and oppression altogether, the trade union struggle against employers must go beyond this specific economic objective to embrace the political relation between workers and the state. Industrial militancy is not enough. It is necessary to combat the outlook that sees the fight on economic issues as sufficient in itself. In fact, this fight needs to be linked with a political perspective if it is to produce lasting gains for the working class.
Politically, the labour and progressive movements must have their own political organisations to fight for policies and reforms, including in the electoral arena. Here the main strategic objectives are to protect and extend democratic freedoms and to take the political struggle into every sphere of the state apparatus – not least parliament, the government and the civil service – to try to impose the interests of the working class and the people generally. The movements need to develop their own organisations in collective action to win their objectives at each stage. In so doing, they will gain vital experience for exercising state power themselves when the time comes.
On the ideological front, the left and the labour and progressive movements have to engage consistently, creatively and rigorously in the battle of ideas against those of the ruling class. A mass understanding must be developed that democracy is not an institution but a process of emancipation. People must be won to support and participate in the struggle to ensure that all their legitimate needs are met. Notions of ‘free enterprise’, ‘the free market’ and ‘social partnership’; ideas of national or racial superiority or exclusiveness; sexism, ageism, homophobia, anti-communism, obscurantism, sectionalism and nihilism all serve to divide, disorientate or undermine the working class and the struggle for socialism. To these should be counterposed the values and ideas of cooperation, planning, collective and class interests, the common good, liberation and social justice, multiculturalism, internationalism, rational thought and human liberation. These strengthen the struggle for socialism.
The value of art and culture as a liberating force that can stimulate as well as stifle human development has to be fully appreciated. It is an important medium through which the values, notions, prejudices and thought processes that serve the interests of capitalism must be challenged.
Through the education system, too, the ruling class seeks to propagate its ideas, values and views that have to be challenged by the anti-imperialist left. The content of the national curriculum and associated teaching environments, materials and methods must be a particularly important focus for this vital aspect of the ideological struggle.
On the economic, political and ideological fronts, the Morning Star as the daily paper of the labour movement and the left, with its editorial policy based on Britain’s Road to Socialism, plays an indispensable role in informing, educating and helping to mobilise the forces for progress and revolution. As such, it needs and deserves the support of all socialists, communists and progressives, so that it can further strengthen the working class movement and its allies in the battles ahead.