Report by Ben Mapletoft
Myself and Jay were pleased to represent Marxist and Proletariat Society at an event in Birmingham hosted by the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist). As well as being a good chance to grab some food and catch up with some of our comrades in the Midlands, the day also payed host to a selection of speeches and discussions on imperialism, in light of recent events in Syria. We were privileged to hear talks from members of the Indian Workers Association, Harpal Brar (editor of Lalkar and chair of CPGB-ML) and the DPR Korea ambassador for the UK, Hyon Hak-Bong.
Comrades from the IWA opened the talks with a short speech urging us to combat recent racist actions by the government. These actions include the ‘Go Home’ vans and a string of immigration crackdowns, clearly biased towards punishing black and Asian communities over anyone else. Attendees were also urged to sign a petition against Theresa May’s proposed immigration bond legislation, which would demand immigrants from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and several other countries to pay a £3000 bond to visit the UK (full details of the proposed bill can be found here). Coverage of this proposed legislation by mainstream media has been minimal, so we urge comrades to pass on this information to others, particularly those who may be affected by the legislation. The IWA also expressed its support for Syria in its struggle against Western imperialists during the current conflict.
Harpal Brar addressed the recent events in Syria with a rousing speech highlighting the hypocrisies of Western imperialism, both in Syria and around the world. He remarked on the West’s long history of imperialism and how it was willing to exploit the accusations against Assad (which still remain unconfirmed) to further its goals in the Middle East. Comrade Harpal spoke further on the West’s damning of chemical weapon use , whilst still retaining one of the largest stocks of chemical and nuclear weapons. I’m sure many of us can remember the use of white phosphorous by Israel in Gaza not long ago, which went unquestioned and unnoticed by the West. Western media’s role in the demonizing of Assad was also noted, and that the media’s portrayal of the conflict was a key reason that so many supported intervention in Syria, which chose to ignore the obvious imperialist motives of the intervention. Comrade Harpal concluded his speech by noting that imperialist wars would remain a tool of capitalists, who continue to exploit the proletariat, both abroad and at home.
Finally, the day closed with words from the DPRK ambassador, comrade Hyon Hak-Bong. Developing on much of what Harpal had said, comrade Hak-Bong addressed imperialist aggression in relation to his own country. He spoke of how the DPRK insists on being self-reliant in building their country to benefit the people of North Korea, who wish to remain free of imperialist intervention, which is often lead by the USA in the Korean Peninsula. The ambassador also addressed the matter of relations with South Korea and spoke very highly of the successful steps they had taken previously in peaceful negotiation with their neighbors and put any deterioration in relations down to recent South Korean leadership, who had not been as participatory in these talks as previous leaders had. Comrade Hak-Bong also spoke of recent nuclear tests made by the DPRK and although it was regrettable that it had come to this stage, he insisted the DPRK’s nuclear program was only in place to deter attacks from the imperialists and to provide security to the Korean people. He continued to say that the DPRK would gladly dismantle its weapons, but the process must be not be unilateral and all countries must participate in the procedure. Again, comrade Harpal’s earlier point about the West’s hypocrisy concerning weapons was highlighted and the ambassador agreed that it was inappropriate for the West to demand demilitarization of foreign countries whilst it still possessed the largest nuclear stockpile. The ambassador finished his talk with a short Q&A in which he spoke on the DPRK’s censorship policy in regards to internet use. He said that while much of the internet was free from censorship in North Korea, some content that was deemed detrimental to the DPRK and its people was blocked. All comrades in attendance expressed solidarity with countries such as Syria and the DPRK, who are struggling against imperialism.
Several points came up in discussion with some of the comrades in attendance that I feel are worth repeating here. Many agreed that although war was always a last resort, occasionally it was appropriate for socialists and revolutionaries to support wars, but only wars that champion liberation or revolution, not imperialist and capitalist gains. Others highlighted that it was in our interests as socialists to support all progressive and revolutionary activity, whether it be bourgeois democratic revolution or peoples’ uprising, and that a strong united force across countries was needed if the working class were to triumph. Discussion also focused on the attitude of some ‘anti-war’ movements, whose damning of Assad and his ‘regime’ seemed based in the fantasies of Western media and more in-line with the attitudes of imperialists, not those of anti-war supporters. Some comrades expressed the sentiment that if imperialism was to be defeated and if people wanted the war in Syria to come to an end, then they should throw their support behind Assad and the Syrian people, not Al-Qaeda associated rebels and terrorists.
Overall, I considered the day a great success. During times like these, where the hypocrisy and failings of imperialism (and by extension, capitalism) are so evident, it is important to know that the many stand in solidarity against these oppressive forces. I also felt very privileged to hear comrade Hak-Bong’s speech and hear about the DPRK without the veil of bourgeois media or imperialist bias being present. Myself and Jay were briefly introduced to the ambassador before the talks and had a short chat about the Marxist and Proletariat Society, of which he expressed his full support. I look forward to seeing our comrades again and to the next event, which should be the rally in defense of the NHS in Manchester at the end of September (full details can be found on the MAPSoc Facebook page or Twitter).
I’ve attached a small selection of pictures from the day and will add more as they become available. Hopefully, a video of the speeches will also become available in the near future which I will include here as well.