All over the world (apart from in the few socialist countries that refuse to submit to imperialism's diktat), life for the impoverished majority is increasingly characterised by hunger, ill health, lack of educational facilities, lack of clean water etc.
Everywhere, basic human rights are being trampled on by the force of profit, which brings privatisation, war, occupation, poverty, devastation and Structural Adjustment Programmes. To put it simply, while the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer at an alarming rate.
A capitalist future - war and devastation
Since the collapse of the USSR and the socialist bloc in Europe, the main imperialist powers have lost their common enemy, and all the contradictions between these powers (US, EU and Japan) are asserting themselves with renewed energy.
The possibility of a major inter-imperialist war, with all the devastation and destruction that would bring, is increasing by the day, as the battle for control of markets, avenues of investment and raw materials is waged with increasing ferocity.
In addition to opening up huge new markets and sources of raw materials for the imperialists to fight over, the loss of the Soviet Union also meant the loss of a major deterrent force against imperialist military actions. Wars against, and occupations of, countries in the Middle East and eastern Europe became much easier for the US and others.
Even in its period of degeneration, the USSR was a thorn in the side of warmongering imperialism, and it is unlikely that the predatory wars waged against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq would have been possible while it was still around.
Such is the arrogance of the imperialists now that they feel able to go to war at the drop of a hat, on the flimsiest and most transparent of excuses, be it bogus connections between Afghanistan and the WTC bombings, phoney ethnic cleansing campaigns in Kosovo or fairytale weapons caches in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the imperialist countries are despoiling the earth's environment in the most short-sighted way, once again driven by the irresistible thirst for profit. Whilst tiny Cuba has transformed its agricultural policy, going over to 90 percent organic farming, the US and Britain are dropping depleted uranium, dumping toxic waste, increasing emissions, deforesting, bleeding the land dry and using up fossil fuels at a reckless pace.
Whilst many individual capitalists may be perfectly 'sympathetic', the fact is that the imperialist system, by its very nature, demands war and destruction. It is totally subservient to the short-term interests of profit, and it cannot but generate misery and death wherever it goes. To leave a market alone or a raw material untouched, to leave a country to its own devices, means to render oneself uncompetitive and to face being driven out of business and into the ranks of the exploited.
Reformism is just a diversion
British working class movement today is permeated with reformism - trying to persuade the ruling class to make things a bit better within the framework of capitalism: campaigning for 'fair trade', for better conditions of employment, for a more responsible environmental policy etc. In short, for a milder, less aggressive, more 'acceptable' and 'ethical' capitalism.
This ideology is nothing but a prop for capitalism. It encourages the prejudice that it is possible to win a decent level of existence under capitalism. It gives the false impression that if only we can make the capitalists care, if only they knew about our suffering, they would be overcome with benevolence and would immediately set about putting things right.
This is the ideology of the social democrat - the person who benefits from a few crumbs from the imperialist table and who realises (because it is plain for all to see!) that if capitalism continues on its path of brutal destruction, impoverishment and humiliation of the world's poor, it will soon be met with a level of resistance that it cannot contain, and its days (and those of the social democrat) will be numbered.
Whilst they are prone to showing off their 'activism' to the world, these reformists are famously ineffective even in securing reforms. They arrange meetings with government figures and support 'left-of-centre' candidates, but it turns out to be nothing but an elaborate show; a diversion.
There can be no doubt that, in order for humankind to be freed from this path of poverty and destruction, capitalism must be overthrown. There is no point striving for nicer capitalism, or a return to small, 'free market' capitalism.
Capitalism is not simply a collection of individuals who can just take a vote one day and decide to 'be nice'! It is a social phenomenon, and is subject to laws of motion over which the capitalists themselves have no conscious control. Small capital always strives to become big capital - this is a basic law of economics; and with big capital comes all the destitution and injustice that characterises 21st century imperialism.
Communism - the only solution.
There is no need for anyone on this planet to be hungry or without a home, health care and education. It is not beyond the ingenuity and technical ability of mankind to afford a decent standard of living to all. But this can only be provided on the basis of the abolition of exploitation of man by man; on the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. No longer can production be subservient to the interests of profit - it must be made subservient to the interests of the people.
Once the contradiction between social production and private appropriation is done away with, all its concomitant social ills - poverty, war, racism, sexism, inequality, environmental destruction - can be easily swept away, as they will no longer have an economic basis.
But first, capitalism must be defeated. No-one should think that this is an easy task. It is not simply a matter of printing up a few leaflets, getting elected into parliament and putting an end to exploitation - the examples of Chile and other places demonstrate that all too clearly.
Imperialism is ruthless and will not give up without a desperate, ferocious struggle. The capitalists really would prefer to be "better dead than red". As Marx famously said, the only weapon the working class have in their battle against capitalism is organisation; and without a disciplined party of the working class, steeled in revolutionary theory and practice, to lead the struggle for socialism, we have no chance of winning.
The CPGB-ML strives to become precisely such an organisation. Furthermore, the battle against imperialism is one that takes place across borders, and therefore we must aim to unite our forces with the people across the world who are fighting imperialism on the front line - in Iraq, Palestine, Nepal, Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Korea etc.
No to reformism!
Join the struggle against imperialism and for communism!