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Year 2010 No. 49, October 1, 2010 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

October Is Black History Month

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

October Is Black History Month
Some of the Many Black History Month Events

Successful Conference of Workers' Party of Korea Re-Elects Comrade Kim Jong Il as General Secretary
Message of Congratulations from RCPB(ML) to General Secretary Kim Jong Il

Democratic Renewal and the Role of Political Parties

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October Is Black History Month

Black History Month recognises the achievements and history of Africans, people of African descent, and the people from the Caribbean. It is an important reflection of the necessity for the people to know about the history of Africa and Africans, and place this history within the context of world history. This is especially true of the place of peoples of African and Caribbean origin in Britain and their place within the struggles of the working class and people of Britain for their social liberation and for their right to exist and to create the conditions for the flourishing of that existence.

It is especially important in the context of the disinformation of the powers-that-be who declare that the people of Africa have no history. The equation goes that if you have no history you have no memory, and if you have no memory you have no intelligence, and if you have no intelligence that you are not a human being. On the contrary, the peoples of Africa have a very ancient and important and continuing history. As well as the history and pre-history of the peoples of the African continent, of course, not only have Africans played their part in British history for some 2,000 years, but they have taken their place as class sisters and brothers of the working people of Britain in their struggles throughout this time. Africans have contributed in all the major wars of Britain since the 18th century. The emperor Septimus Severus who occupied Britain in 197 CE was African, and perhaps the emperor before him, Claudius Albinus.

It is a fact that not only have the people of Africa been their own liberators from the direct colonialism of the colonial powers, especially Britain, but they have continued to play a forefront role in affirming their rights within Britain, that they are not the gift of anyone else. Historically, they have played and they continue to play an integral role in the communist movement in this country also. In this respect also, they have continued to insist within the communist, workers and people’s movements that racism must be considered, as a fact, as stemming from the state itself, and that it does not have its origin within the ranks of the people. The people of African and Caribbean origin have always taken their place within the front ranks of the people fighting to unblock the path to progress.

Under the signboard of “multiculturalism”, the historic role of the national minority peoples has continued to be denied. Indeed, Black History Month itself can be said to have a negative side in that the history of national minority peoples is ghettoised as something apart from mainstream history. The other negative aspect that the powers-that-be promote about “multiculturalism” is the confusion of identity, nationality and citizenship. Of course, it is undeniable that in one sense Britain is a multicultural society, and it is very important that this is recognised, and that the pressures for assimilation on the one hand, or that national minority communities are second class human beings, on the other, are combated. The negative form of multiculturalism is also brought into play when it is promoted that separation is going too far, and that national minority communities are not espousing “British values”, and that “national security” is under threat from what this sense of separation is giving rise to. In this sense, the term “multiculturalism” is used by the ruling elite and the backward forces to whom they give the green light, to divert and attack the working people as a whole by dividing them along the lines of different cultures who should have a hierarchy of roles to play within the body politic. Black History Month at its best takes issue with this racist presentation of the issue on the one hand, and the ghettoisation of “black history” on the other by upholding the rights of all, the flourishing of all cultures, but that the Africans and Caribbeans, as well as Indian and all the other national minority communities, are second to none, and take their place at front and centre of the line of march to a new society.

Black History Month presents an opportunity to deal with the problems of racism, and state-organised division of the polity, the proud history of Africans and the African Diaspora, and so on, by putting them under the spotlight and discussing their solutions. Naturally, the struggle to resolve these problems and to create a society where the rights of all are recognised by virtue of everyone being human is not confined to October. But we call on everyone of whatever national origin to participate in Black History Month on this progressive basis and contribute to opposing in practice all forms of racism and racial discrimination which are being organised and promoted by the British state.

Article Index

Some of the Many Black History Month Events

Friday 1 to Friday 29 October, 9am to 5pm

Return of the SS Windrush - photographic recreation of the migration to the UK in June 1948
Southwark Council Social Services, 1 Bradenham Close, SE17 2QA. Cost: free. Access: Wheelchair accessible
The SS Windrush arrived on 22 June 1948 bringing passengers from the Caribbean islands, to help rebuild a post war Britain. The staff and young people from Southwark Council social services are commemorating this voyage with a photographic recreation of the journey of the migrants and the process of settling in amongst the indigenous population.
Contact: 020 7525 7077/0183. Dee.copeland@southwark.gov.uk. Bus: 171, 176, 45, 40, 68, 148. Tube: Elephant and Castle, Train: Denmark Hill

Friday 1 October, 6:30PM - 9:30PM

The A-Connexion's Global Village Film Club Screening of 'Ruby Bridges'
Flash Musicals, Methuen Road, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 6EZ
For further information: theaconnexion@yahoo.co.uk
The film is based on the true story of 6-year-old Ruby Bridges, who in 1960 walked into an all-white New Orleans school as a mob screamed racist threats. She had to contend with a bigoted administrator and fellow students who had been taught to hate, but was taught by a sympathetic teacher and supported by concerned parents. Screening will be followed by a discussion led by Dr Morgan Dalphinis, an experienced educator and will centre around the question: 'Can separate schools in the UK be justified in light of the landmark Brown vrs Board of Education case?' Film will be preceded by a presentation on the Sierra Leone Contribution to West Africa.

Saturday 2 October, 11am to 4pm

Pop up choir day
London Bridge Station, Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Rye Lane, Lordship Lane, Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre. Cost: free. Access: Wheelchair accessible
The 60-member Southwark Community Choir, Koruso!, celebrates Black History Month with outdoor performances in five Southwark locations: London Bridge Station, Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, Rye Lane, Lordship Lane, and Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre. Featuring a rich programme of black and soul music from Africa, the Caribbean, the USA, and the UK.
Michael.Cleere@southwark.gov.uk. www.koruso.co.uk, Contact: 02075255645. Bus: 12, 436, 171, 36. Tube: London Bridge, Elephant and Castle, Canada Water. Train: London Bridge, Elephant and Castle

Saturday 2 October, 6 to 8pm

Sixty poems for Haiti
Peckham Library, 122 Peckham Hill Street, SE15 5JR. Cost: free. Access: Wheelchair accessible
Award-winning, Guyanese-British poet, Maggie Harris and a number of contributors will be reading their poems from the anthology along with other works. Sixty Poems for Haiti comprises poems from authors in the West Indies, UK, Ireland and Europe. The aim is to raise money for the reconstructive work on the island and to provide a stimulating read. Part of Southwark’s Rhyme and Reason II poetry festival.
Contact: 020 7525 0230. Mike.allport@southwark.gov.uk. www.southwark.gov.uk. Bus: 12, 36, 63, 76, 171, 343, 345, 363, 436. Train: Peckham Rye

Sunday 3 October 2010, 12.30 to 7.30

UpRise Festival is back!
@ Finsbury Park – FREE. www.uprise.org.uk

UpRise started as a grass roots campaign responding to the cancellation of the annual anti-racism festival Rise . The intention was to gather a petition to present to the Mayor of London calling for the reinstatement of the festival with its traditional anti–racism message he had removed from the 2008 event. The campaign quickly gathered cross-party support from politicians. Darren Johnson AM , Simon Hughes MP, David Lammy MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP , Chuka Umunna and Jennette Arnold AM were among those who publicly spoke out in support of UpRise. Jennette Arnold also presented the petition at the Mayor’s Question Time. Additional support for the campaign was given by artists and performers who had previously performed at the Rise Festival, with Roots Manuva , Asian Dub Foundation, Trojan Sound System , Beardyman and many others adding their names to the petition. In six weeks more than 2,000 signatures were collected for presentation to the Mayor. Disappointingly, the response received from the Mayor’s Office affirmed that it would not be reinstating the Rise. However the campaign continued and through on and offline campaigning, the petition grew to number more than 3,500 names.

Tuesday 5 October , 7.00pm – 9.00pm

MidKent College, Medway Road, Gillingham ME7 1FN
RSVP to Yvonne Wilson, LSP Manager at Yvonne.Wilson@medway.gov.uk for this ticket only event.

Wednesday 6 October, 12 - 4pm

Mary Seacole Event
Friends House, Euston
The aim of the day is to highlight the contribution and life of Mary Seacole. Followed by QA with Prof Elizabeth Anionwu and Dr Geoffrey Day.

Friday 8 October, 6.30 - 8.30pm

Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QP
Epic documentary discussing the life of Walter Tull, England’s first black professional football player and first Black officer in the British Army.

Friday 8 October, 6.30 - 8.30pm

An Evening With Dawn Butler, Dame Jocelyn Barrow Special Guests/The ‘African Voices’ Speed Discussion
Space 2, Willesden Green Library Centre, 95 High Road, Willesden, London NW10 2SF (Willesden Green). COST: £8 or free with a copy of the book or DVD. To book or for more information: Ms Serwah,
info@btwsc.com , 020 8450 5987,  www.btwsc.com
Starts with the ladies from the ‘What They Said I Should Be’ DVD discussing strategies for drive, achievement, values and overcoming challenges. Followed by the quotees from the 'African Voices: Quotations By people Of African Descent' book, including Supt Leroy Logan and Bieneosa Ebite, leading the speed discussion based around their quotations covering topics such as discipline, role of role models, and self-responsibility. Refreshments at beginning.

Saturday 9 October

The Keyworth Conference Centre, (South Bank University), Keyworth Street SE1, 6NG. Host: The Rev'd David Shosanya. PASS ON THROUGH YOUR NETWORKS!!!  NOT TO BE MISSED!!! Come and join us for the second annual State of Black Britain Symposium at The Keyworth Conference Centre (South Bank University) as we explore the theme of HEALTH WEALTH: AN AGENDA FOR BLACK BRITAIN?
We are privileged to have leading thinkers and practitioners sharing their insights with us. Dr. Vivienne Lyfar (Transitional lead, NHS BME Network) Mr. Ken Olisa, OBE (Chairman, Restoration Partners Bank) will be delivering two keynote speeches exploring the the twin themes of Health Wealth respectively, and in particular, what challenges and opportunities might face African Caribbean communities in the light of The Prime Minister's speech on 'The Big Society' and the reconfiguration of the global financial system and National Health Service.
We have modified the format of the symposium to incorporate six practical and interactive seminars facilitated by thought-leaders and experienced practitioners in their field (see below). The seminars are designed to assist you in further engaging with the issues raised during the mornings keynote speeches and panel discussions.
Our aims for the 2010 symposium are to: Create awareness among attendees about the current health and economic challenges and opportunities facing wider society and African Caribbean communities in particular. Hi-light the twin importance of health and wealth as two important components in community building and development. Introduce representatives from key organisations that are at the forefront of policy advocacy with government, health agencies and financial institutions with regards to health and financial inequalities and how they impact on African and Caribbean communities. Inspire attendees to become health advocates and to be proactive in engaging with the health care system at strategic levels by applying for and accepting opportunities to influence policy-making decision bodies through active participation and representation. Encourage positive health outcomes by educating and encouraging good health practices within African Caribbean communities. Encourage attendees to become increasingly financially literate and to employ their new literacy to build a strong economic - and financial - base personally and as communities. Encourage an entrepreneurial culture within African and Caribbean community
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Dr. Vivienne Lyfar Mr. Ken Olisa, OBE
register at

Monday 11 October, 6.30 - 8.30pm

Westminster City Hall
Practical ways in which participants can raise their confidence and self-esteem to enable them to acquire personal power to achieve excellence and success in their chosen goals.

Monday 11 October, 6.30 to 8pm

Walter Tull 1888 – 1918, Officer Footballer: A talk by Phil Vasili

Location: Peckham library, 122 Peckham Hill Street, SE15 5JR. Cost: Free. Booking required. Access: Wheelchair accessible
Walter Tull was Britain’s first black infantry officer, a black Briton in a society where there were few others, and a professional footballer for Clapton, Tottenham Hotspur and Northampton Town. Tull died at the second Battle of the Somme, in 1918. Tull’s fascinating story is told by Phil Vasili, playwright and author of his biography and Walter Tull, 1888-1918, Officer Footballer.
Contact: 020 7525 1570. mike.allport@southwark.gov.uk. www.southwark.gov.uk/libraries. Bus: 12, 36, 63, 76, 171, 343, 345, 363, 436. Train: Peckham Rye

Wednesday 13 October, 5.30pm-8pm

Black History in the Archives: Talks, Exhibition, Film Screening
FREE, but advance booking essential via phone or email, Venue : Tower Hamlets Local History Library Archives. Address : 277 Bancroft Road, Mile End, London, E1 4DQ. Tel : 020 7364 1290 . Email : localhistory@towerhamlets.gov.uk, Web : www.ideastore.co.uk
Black people have lived in Tower Hamlets for centuries but what traces of their presence did they leave in the historical record? Guest speakers will introduce their work with archive and local history sources. Includes presentations from Black Cultural Archives and more! A display from the borough's archive collections will be on show.
Dr Hakim Adi: Communists and black workers in East London; Dr Caroline Bressey (UCL Equiano Centre): Young people in the Victorian East End; Kelly Foster (Black Cultural Archives): The Michael Banton archive: black organisations in the pre-WW2 East End

Saturday 16 October 2010, 9:45am - 5:00pm

Coming to London
London Metropolitan Archives | conference 2010
As a bustling centre of trade, commerce, culture and politics London has always been a popular destination attracting millions of people from around the UK and the world. AfL’s annual conference will explore why individuals and groups came to London, and share the role of archives in telling and re-telling stories of migration. With speakers drawn from archive users and practitioners, the day will host a fascinating range of research:
· Dr Stephen Inwood - Londoners by Choice (keynote address)

· Dr Hakim Adi - West African Students Union: in photographs
· Else Churchill - Sources for migrants at Society of Genealogists
· Vandana Patel - London Chinese groups at RGS-IBG archive
· Clifford Pereira - Cogwheels of the Empire: history stereotype
· Steven Spencer - Salvation Army Rescue Homes
· Peter Tilley - Inward Migration from Home Counties to London
Delegate fees (including buffet lunch refreshments) from 1 August: £35 AfL members / £50 non-members (including membership). Download a booking form and keep up to date with the latest conference news at www.archivesforlondon.org/conference2010. For queries please email conference@archivesforlondon.org. Not online? Call us on 020 7332 3879.

Saturday 16 October, 11am - 1pm

Westminster Pier
To provide an enjoyable and informative trip on the River Thames, raising awareness of key landmarks and highlighting the history of the River Thames during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Black history and our wellbeing
Join us for poetry, art and music and a special performance by the South London and Maudsley Choir. Special guests including Patrick Augustus, author of Baby Father and the Reverend Claudette. Mingle with other service users, community volunteers and special guests.

Monday 18 October
Bell Garden Community Centre, Buller Close, SE15 6UJ, Cost: free. Access: Wheelchair accessible. Time: 10.30am to 6.30pm, Contact: 020 3228 5319. J_Kiguwa@slam.nhs.uk

Bus: 63, 78, 363, 381, P13, Train: Peckham Rye

Wednesday 20 October
Inspire, St Peter’s Church, Liverpool Grove, SE17 2HH. Cost: free. Access: Wheelchair accessible. Time: 10.30am to 4.30pm. Contact: 020 3228 5319. J_Kiguwa@slam.nhs.uk. Bus: 12, 35, 40, 45, 68, 148,171,176, 468

Friday 22 October, 6.30 - 8.30pm

Westminster City Hall, highlighting significant events such as the Pan-African Conference in 1900 which took place in Caxton Hall, Westminster and notable attendees, including Westminster Barrister and local MP Henry Sylvester Williams, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, John Alcindor, Dadabhai Naoroji, John Archer and William Du Bois.

Saturday 23 October, 11am to 11pm

Celebrating Black History Month
Kingswood House, Seeley Drive, Kingswood Estate, SE21 8QR. Access: Wheelchair accessible
Culture, history and workshops in craft, music and dance. There will be food tasting and a mini crafts fair, followed by an evening of comedy and music.
Contact: 020 7525 6442. kingswoodhouse@southwark.gov.uk. Bus: 3, 363, 450. Train: Sydenham Hill

Tuesday 26 October, 11am - 12pm

Pimlico Toy Library, Pimlico Academy
For children to have the opportunity to experience theatrical story telling of African/Caribbean traditional tales.

Wednesday 27 October, 18:00

Evaluating Black History Month at Museum of London
Debate the future of Black History Month with leading historians, funders and activists. This event includes a performance of Queen Nanny of the Maroons. Please come to voice your views and become part of the solution. This event will be recorded.

Thursday 28 October, 7pm

Exhibition talk: Kwame Nkrumah and Ghana's Independence
Dr Hakim Adi presents an overview of Kwame Nkrumah and his fight for Ghana's independence. Just drop in.
Address : Willesden Green Library Centre . 95 High Road. Willesden Green NW10 2SF.

Friday 29 October, 3 to 4pm

Songs of the Caribbean
Blue Anchor Library, Market Place, Southwark Park Road, SE16 3UQ. Cost: Free

Access: Wheelchair accessible
Enjoy a live music performance of historical Caribbean songs that echo times of hardship and joy, led by the Library band. The performance will include traditional songs, Day Oh!, Brown Girl in the Ring, Island in the Sun and By the Rivers of Babylon and more. These songs have lasted the test of time and remain at the heart of Caribbean community.
Contact: 020 7525 2000. elaine.walters@southwark.gov.uk. www.southwark.gov.uk/libraries. Bus: 1, 381, P12. Tube: Bermondsey

Sunday 31 October, 4.00PM - 5.00PM (registration refreshments from 3.30PM)
African History: Did You Know? CD Rewind The Conscious Music Mini Discussion
Where: Gayton Library, 5 St John’s Road, Harrow, HA1 2EE (Harrow On The Hill station, by Debenhams/Cumberland Hotel)
. Free. For further information: akobenawards@gmail.com www.bstop.net
Another chance to hear the 'African History: Did You Know?' edu-tainment CD made for Akoben Awards by rapper and songwriter Kimba, who will be joined by other conscious artists discussing issues around connecting consumers with artists that make conscious, positive black music to educate. It's also an opportunity for artists and consumers to network and find out more about aims and plans of Akoben Awards. Ends with free-form improvised session centred on African history through music.

Article Index

Successful Conference of Workers' Party of Korea Re-Elects Comrade Kim Jong Il as General Secretary

On September 28, the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) convened a historic conference in Pyongyang as a means to consolidate its leading role in the defence and further development of the self-reliant and thriving socialist nation. Delegates from across the country gathered in Pyongyang to take important decisions that would facilitate the WPK's leadership in the new situation facing the nation and the world. Officials of the Party, armed forces and power organs, working people's organisations, ministries and national institutions, personnel of the armed services and officials in the fields of science, education, public health, culture and arts and media attended the Conference as observers.

All the participants observed a moment's silence in memory of President Kim Il Sung who successfully accomplished the cause of founding the Juche-type (self-reliant) revolutionary Party and developed the WPK into a powerful and victorious staff of the revolution.

Kim Yong Nam, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, gave the opening address, following which the Conference elected its Presidium and then considered the following agenda items:

1. The re-election of the Kim Jong Il as General Secretary of the WPK;

2. The revision of the WPK rules;

3. The election of the central leadership body of the WPK.

Kim Yong Nam proposed the re-election of Kim Jong Il as General Secretary of the WPK. He pointed to Kim Jong Il's life-long devotion to the prosperity of the country and the nation and the victory of the revolutionary cause. The half century-long history of Kim Jong Il's revolutionary activities was one of heroic struggles, he stated. The proposal was a reflection of the unanimous will of Party members, the military and people of the country, he pointed out.

Many delegates representing the military, the youth, the workers and others spoke in favour of the proposal, following which he was re-elected, reflecting the high level of approval for his bold and decisive leadership by Party members, the armed forces and the people.

With respect to the revision of its Charter, the WPK adopted a resolution stating that the present reality calls for revising the Party rules so as to strengthen it in every way and increase its leadership role including in the parliament, the youth league and the Korean People's Army (KPA).

As concerns the election of the central leadership of the Party, the Conference declared that Kim Il Sung, founder of the WPK and outstanding leader who led the Party and the revolution to successive victories, would always be held in esteem at the supreme level of the WPK. The Conference also declared General Secretary of the WPK Kim Jong Il re-elected to the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, to the Central Committee and to the chairmanship of the Central Military Commission of the WPK. This was carried out according to the WPK rules and the detailed regulations for the election of the supreme leadership body of the WPK.

The election of the members and alternate members of the Central Committee followed, as did the election of the members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK.

Following the conclusion of the conference, the newly elected Central Committee of the WPK was convened also on September 28, where the Central Committee's Political Bureau and its Presidium, as well as the WPK's Central Military Commission, were elected.

The occasion of the historic conference and the enthusiasm of the WPK delegates for the re-election of Kim Jong Il as General Secretary of the WPK were reflected in a celebratory atmosphere throughout the country. In Pyongyang, Party flags and billboards with revolutionary slogans adorned street corners while outdoor artistic performances and other festivities took place at various locations. This included a performance by the art squad of the Central Committee of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League at the plaza of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium on September 27 in which the performers extended the warmest congratulations to Kim Jong Il. Across the country, youth and students held celebratory balls, including at the plazas of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium and the Arch of Triumph. On September 29, the KPA held a mass rally in Kim Il Sung Square in central Pyongyang also in celebration of the re-election of Kim Jong Il.

In related news, Kim Jong Il also issued an order on September 27 promoting several military personnel as part of strengthening the armed forces which play a central role in the nation-building project and its defence, on the basis of the DPRK's Songun (military first) policy. The order for the promotions was also part of marking the 65th anniversary of the founding of the WPK on October 10. The ranks of Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Jong Un and Choe Ryong Hae and three others were promoted to general; Ryu Kyong to colonel general; Ro Hung Se and Ri Tu Song and four others to lieutenant general; and those of Jo Kyong Jun, Jang To Yong and Mun Jong Chol and 24 others to major general. In the order, Kim Jong Il underscored the integral relationship between the Party and the military, where the steadfast leadership of WPK was forged in the anti-Japanese liberation war. He pointed out that the KPA is demonstrating its might before the world as a powerful revolutionary army, having developed into a strong army in unison with the leader and the Party, devotedly defending the headquarters of the revolution with arms and performing heroic and historic feats in the defence of and building of a thriving socialist nation. He expressed the firm belief that the commanding officers of the KPA who have matured under the care of the Party and the leader would creditably discharge their honourable missions and duties as the mainstay of the revolution in accomplishing with arms the revolutionary cause and remain true to the Party's leadership in the future.

Article Index

Message of Congratulations from RCPB(ML) to General Secretary Kim Jong Il

September 29, 2010 (Juche 99)

Comrade Kim Jong Il
General Secretary
Workers’ Party of Korea

Dear Comrade Kim Jong Il,

On behalf of the Central Committee of RCPB(ML) and our entire Party, may I convey to you our very warmest congratulations on your re-election as the General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea at its historic conference on September 28.

We note with the highest regard that your re-election represents the unanimous will not only of the delegates assembled at the conference, but of all members of the WPK, as well as the members of the armed services and the entire people of the DPRK. It has the profound content of safeguarding the revolutionary cause of Juche , the revolutionary theory and practice of the Korean revolution, the character of the Workers’ Party of Korea as the party of President Kim Il Sung, and the entire victories of the people of the DPRK and advancing them at this historic time. It is a time characterised as marking a decisive moment in giving impetus to the cause of building a thriving socialist nation, as well as marking a crucial time in world history when the world’s people are heroically resisting the onslaughts of world reaction and imperialism, and working out how to forge an outlook which will guarantee the lasting victory of their cause. In this respect, the historic conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea and your unanimous re-election to the supreme post in the WPK represents a milestone in the life of DPRK and the Korean nation, as well as being a great political event on which the eyes of the world’s people have been focused, and which demonstrates that the Korean people and their leadership are solid as a rock, and made from a single sheet of steel.

Your leadership, embodying the Songun revolutionary cause, has been tried and tested, and has made an indelible contribution to carrying out the cause of independence against imperialism. Your re-election signifies that the Korean people will march from victory to victory in their heroic struggle to defend national sovereignty, their independence and their chosen socialist system. Our Party pledges that it will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the common cause of independence and socialism and a world in which the people decide their own destiny.

With the warmest fraternal regards, heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for your continued good health.

Chris Coleman, National Spokesperson

Article Index

Democratic Renewal and the Role of Political Parties

A new pamphlet has been published by the Oxford Marxist-Leninist Study Group. It has the title Democratic Renewal and the Role of Political Parties.

The Introduction to the pamphlet says:

“At the time of writing, Britain’s new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government is getting under way, in the wake of the failure of a convincing champion of the British ruling circles to come to power through the mechanisms of the general election.

“It could not be more evident that a fundamental problem in Britain demanding resolution is the archaic character of its political institutions and processes. The burning need is for democratic renewal. This longstanding point of contention in society is sharpening and taking on central importance, so much so that the establishment parties openly acknowledge the fact.

“This need is expressed in the growing demand that people have a say over the major issues that affect their lives and their future, from the direction of the economy at home to rejection of the use of force abroad. The concentration of power in the hands of an ever-more disconnected political élite has left people disenchanted with a political process that is unable to serve their interests. They are discussing their disempowerment and are beginning to take their own initiatives to become an effective opposition by providing themselves with a voice and working out ways to ensure that their say bears weight.

“The problem is not just that the political institutions and processes are out of date, but that their character is fundamentally at odds with a modern definition of democracy. People cannot affirm their sovereignty without a modern constitution and a political mechanism which places the electorate above their representatives, which actually empowers the people.

“Resolving the age-old issue of where sovereignty lies and empowering the people requires a new perspective and a modern theory of governance in opposition to the prevailing outmoded political theory and ideological conceptions. This new political perspective then needs to be consciously brought into existence by creating new mechanisms for empowerment.

“This pamphlet, a summation of a series of Democratic Renewal Forums held by the Oxford Marxist-Leninist Study Group between October 2009 and February 2010, is a contribution to the discussion needed on the nature and basis of the present political system that bars the majority of people from power, to assist in developing the alternative of renewing democracy in a way that favours the progress of society.”

There follow chapters on: The Archaic Nature of Westminster Democracy; The Role of Political Parties in Governance; and, The Evolution of the Mass Party.

The conclusion points out:

“The question of where sovereignty lies has a long history in Britain and is once again assuming central importance.

“The historical compromise of sovereignty vested in the ‘monarch-in-parliament’ arose as a mechanism for defending the rights of men of property. Together with a political system that has become dominated by a cartel of major parties, this constitutional arrangement guarantees that the electorate is kept away from governance.

“The question is how to change this situation so that sovereignty is vested in the people as a mechanism for defending the rights of all. Rather than the political parties that keep political power from the people, a political system is required where the people themselves hold political power.

“People cannot affirm their sovereignty without a modern constitution and a political mechanism that places the electorate above their representatives. A democracy in line with the requirements of the present would ensure that the legislature is subordinate to the people and that the executive power is subordinate to the legislative power.

“The old struggle over the right to vote has been superseded by more fundamental questions such as the demand for a role in how elections are run. Who selects the candidates for election? Who sets the agenda for discussion? What kind of party do the working and broad masses of the people require?

“For a political party to be called political in a modern sense requires it to be organised around the aim of democratic renewal, politicising and enabling the people to raise their level of participation in the political life of the country.”

As a postscript, the pamphlet reprints the article of Workers’ Daily Internet Edition, September 13, 2010, on the issue of The Fixed-Term Parliaments Bill.

The pamphlet is available from the Oxford Marxist-Leninist Study Group, c/o RCPB(ML).

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