On the 90th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia (1917)
With revolutionary optimism, the Central Committee of the KKE pays homage to the 90th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. The teachings of October guide the struggle of the KKE.
The October Revolution brings to mind the communists of the First International of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, those of the Second International, the heroic Paris Commune, the first proletarian revolution that “made the leap to the skies” but was unable to consolidate its power owing to inexperience, and the slogan “Proletarians of all countries, unite”. The red armies come to mind, the Third Communist International, the revolutionary workers of Canton, Turin, Berlin, Spain, Hungary, and of all proletarian centres around the world.
In the glory of October, communist men and women see the realization of the historic mission of the working class. They see the confirmation of what Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto, “Of all the classes which, at this moment, are confronting the bourgeoisie, only the proletariat is a truly revolutionary class. The other classes are disappearing and being eliminated by big industry, while the proletariat is its most characteristic product.”
Their example vindicates human existence; it educates and constitutes the invaluable heritage of communists and of the peoples.
The October revolution was an event of historic proportions, the greatest event in the 20th century, which set its seal for decades on the course of humankind. The “ghost of Communism”, which a few decades earlier had haunted Europe, took on concrete meaning in the form of (proletarian) power.
The victorious outcome of the October revolution meant that the way was paved for mankind to pass “from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.”
“We have begun this task. But exactly when, after how much time, the proletarians of which nation will finish this task is not the most essential issue. What is essential is that the ice has been broken, the road has been opened, the path has been charted,” wrote Lenin.
The October revolution was the spark that ignited the progressive growth of the international Communist Movement. Its flame accelerated the formation of a number of Communist Parties, among which was the KKE. It led to the creation of the Third Communist International (1919-1943), whose necessity arose from the fact that capital is an international power, but also from the fact that the Second International had betrayed the interests of the workers.
Since 1917, international capitalism was obliged to take into consideration the existence of a countervailing force as the first determinant of its policy.
Thanks to the October socialist revolution, the conditions were created to establish rights, unprecedented up to that point for the working people, even in the most developed capitalist countries.
The gains of the workers and farmers under Soviet power functioned in favour of the working people in the capitalist countries as well. They were a basic factor that obliged the bourgeois governmental parties, liberals and social democrats to make concessions to the working class.
The shock of the October Revolution to the foundations of the old world had an immediate positive reflection in the movements against colonialism. It was since then that this inhuman regime essentially began to crumble.
The liberating power of October was expressed in the global culture as well, in the arts and letters. Major artists worldwide joined the revolutionary labour movement, were inspired by the messages of the October Revolution, and placed their work at the service of its ideals, at the service of the international working class.
The counter-revolutionary reversals of the years 1989-1991 do not negate the character of our times as the epoch of transition from capitalism to socialism, which was symbolically inaugurated by the October Revolution.
Historical developments have refuted the claim that the nature of the socialist-communist undertaking was utopian. No socio-economic system has ever been consolidated once and for all in the history of mankind, not even capitalism in its battle with feudalism. Contrary to the ideological and political representatives of the bourgeois class, who claim that the end of history has arrived, socialism remains necessary and timely.
The necessity and timeliness of socialism arise from the contradictions in the capitalist system. They stem from the fact that capitalism has created the material pre-conditions required for humanity’s transition to a superior socio-economic system, however long this may be delayed today by the adverse correlation of forces, which makes capitalist aggressiveness appear invincible.
The necessity for the transition to socialism is generated by capitalism itself, in which, although labour and production have been socialised on an unprecedented scale, the products of socially organised labour constitute private, capitalist property.
This contradiction is the womb of all the crisis phenomena in contemporary capitalist societies, but it is also the beacon pointing to the way out and to the need for: bringing relations of production in correspondence to the level of development of the productive forces, for private ownership of the centralised means of production to be abolished, and for them to be socialised, for their planned use in social production by the socialist power that expresses the interests of the producers of social wealth.
Theories arguing that the objective pre-conditions did not exist for the realisation of the October Revolution are the result of either propaganda or unscientific analyses of reality.
The October Revolution took place on the ground of capitalism’s development in Russia, which had already evolved into its imperialist stage. This fact is not refuted by the profound disparity in the capitalist development of Russia, nor by the pre-capitalist heritage that prevailed in a large part of the Tsarist empire. The existence of the material pre-conditions for the socialist transformation of Russia can be proved by the statistics of the period.
In the working class of Russia and especially in its industrial section, the soviets were founded as cells around which the revolutionary struggle of the working class to gain power was organised.
The Bolshevik party had unlimited confidence in the strength of the working class and in its ability – even though it was then a minority of the total work force – to draw the masses into the struggle and lead them. It learned from the revolutionary initiative of the masses, from the institutions that the latter created during the moments when the class struggle became more acute. At the same time it developed the initiative of the masses, and raised it to a more conscious level.
The words of Karl Marx have proven to be true, that the class struggle, with the revolutionary violence it comprises, is the “midwife of history”, and that history to date is the history of the class struggle. October came in the footsteps of the great uprising of the slaves led by Spartacus, the revolts of the peasants in the Middle Ages, and the glorious bourgeois revolutions, first of all the French revolution.
Victorious October constituted the most resounding expression of the superiority of the theory of scientific socialism-communism, of Marxism-Leninism over any of the idealist and anti-dialectical philosophical variations on which bourgeois ideology is based. It confirmed that Marxism truly constitutes a qualitative leap forward in relation to the most advanced theories created by the human mind up to the 19th century, in philosophy and the social sciences: English political economy, German philosophy and French utopian socialism.
The ideas of the Enlightenment that inspired and guided the bourgeois revolutions had long since been surpassed, because the bourgeoisie had ceased to be an ascending class, and had become a reactionary class.
The Bolshevik party treated the economic, political and ideological struggle of the working class as a single, indivisible whole. It was guided by the Leninist principle that the role of the vanguard fighter can only be fullfiled by a party guided by a vanguard theory.
The socialist-communist ideology – which sets out the laws of motion of capitalist society and the laws for the revolutionary transition from capitalism to socialism, and generalises the experience of the class struggle – is developed and disseminated among the working class by the revolutionary Communist Party, its conscious and organised vanguard. It is precisely here that lies the need for the Communist Party.
The theory of the socialist revolution was forged in the ceaseless struggle against the bourgeois ideology, and against the various reformist and opportunist theories. It established scientifically why the condition of the working class cannot change radically through a struggle for reforms
After the foundation of the Bolshevik party (1903) and an intense ideological struggle that followed for many years between the followers of Leninist and the followers of opportunist viewpoints in the party, an organised force was created for the first time in political history, with statutorily determined rights and obligations of party members, with its fundamental operating principle being democratic centralism: with the right to an opinion and criticism, with unitary action and discipline as one voice once decisions have been adopted, with strong links with the working - popular masses, that grow stronger, when internal democracy and self-criticism, based on the supreme guiding principle of collectivity, are being developed in the party.
The comprehensive theoretical preparation of the Bolshevik Party, under the leadership of Lenin, made it capable of correctly estimating the disposition and correlation of social and political forces, of showing the appropriate political flexibility, without distancing itself from the strategic goal, revolutionary workers’ power, of solving problems related to the policy of alliances to the benefit of the revolutionary movement, of adapting positively and developing slogans suitable for each moment, within a fluid, complex and swiftly evolving set of conditions.
One of the decisive factors for the victory of the revolution was the policy of the Bolsheviks during World War I.
This was an imperialist war; its purpose was to redistribute markets, spheres of influence and colonies. It sharpened to the utmost all the contradictions in Russian society, and caused a greater and more abrupt deterioration in the lives of the masses. It was understood that the war was the continuation of the same internal policy by military means, i.e. that it served the interests of the same class forces that were exploiting the working class and had led tens of millions of peasants to destitution.
The leadership of the Second International, projecting the slogan of the “defence the homeland”, concealed the imperialist nature of the war, leading to the fragmentation of the working class worldwide, and its conversion into a defender of its own “national” thief, the domestic bourgeois class. On the contrary, the Bolsheviks did not only denounce the war, as the pacifists did. They argued in favour of transforming the imperialist war into a war against the ruling classes, for their overthrow. This road alone could have led to a just peace, with the elimination of class exploitation and imperialist oppression.
Life itself created the conditions for the onset of the socialist revolution. It shaped the revolutionary situation, which is an objective fact that exists, as Lenin emphasised, when the following conditions occur simultaneously: “1. The inability of the ruling classes to maintain their rule in an unchanged form (…) for the revolution to break out, it is not sufficient that “the lower strata do not wish to”, but it is also necessary that “those at the top are unable” to live as they had before. 2. A deterioration, greater than usual, in the privation and misery of the oppressed classes. 3. For the reasons above, a significant increase of the activity of the masses, which in “peaceful” times would allow themselves to be robbed quietly…”
While the war lasted, the Bolsheviks did not let the revolutionary masses to be influenced by the bourgeois forces that rose to power in the revolution of February 1917 and the overthrow of the Tsarist government, but led them to the October revolution. They did not take part in the bourgeois governments that were formed between February and October of 1917. They took advantage of the existence of contradictions that not only maintained the revolutionary situation, but also helped to change the correlation of forces in the soviets. The last bourgeois government, that of Kerensky, was also incapable of resolving the issues that had mobilised millions of people in a life and death struggle, with the drive of those to whom everything belongs and that deserve to conquer them and live in peace.
The slogan “All power to the soviets!” won the majority of the working class and rapidly attracted millions of peasants, while it was also expressed in the ranks of the bourgeois army, where the soldiers removed the reactionary officers and elected revolutionaries in their posts.
The Leninist theory about the weak link in the imperialist system was fully confirmed. Under conditions of asymmetrical economic and political development, which is an absolute law of capitalism, there is the possibility of victory of the socialist revolution in a few countries or even in a single country taken separately.
The new state, that of the dictatorship of the proletariat, that was based on the Soviets, an offspring of the masses’ self-activity in the flame of the revolution of 1905-07, replaced the old state machinery, that was crushed by the October Revolution.
The smashing of the structures of the bourgeois state is necessary, because “the modern state, whatever its form, is essentially a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal collective capitalist,” as Engels wrote.
“Democracy on the basis of private property or on the basis of the struggle to abolish private property? (…) Freedom and equality for the worker, for the working peasant, for the oppressed race! This is our slogan!” declared V.I. Lenin. And he emphasised:
“The dictatorship of the proletariat… is not solely the exercise of violence against the exploiters and, in fact, it is not mainly violence… the proletariat, in comparison to capitalism, represents and achieves a higher form of the social organisation of labour.”
The effort of the young Soviet government to build the economic foundations of socialism advanced under the conditions of a hard struggle against the forces of foreign military intervention and the domestic bourgeoisie, imperialist encirclement and internal subversion, with conspiracies, sabotage and assassinations of Bolsheviks.
The fact that the foundations of socialism were actually built constitutes an unprecedented historical feat given the conditions. It is not accidental that it is treated with such rabid rage by the bourgeoisie and opportunists. To this day, the flag of the “anti-Stalinist” crusade is being raised to discredit the communist struggle and prospects as a whole.
The Party’s activity was based on the theoretically consolidated view regarding the possibility of building socialism in one country, especially one of the size of Russia, in opposition to the Trotskyist view of the “permanent revolution”. It was based on the unity of the working class and its alliance with the poor strata of the peasantry. In the absence of these conditions, socialist industrial development and collectivisation (cooperatization) of agricultural production could not have been accomplished.
A significant force in the construction of socialism was the vanguard work of the Stakhanovite movement, that included in its ranks millions of revolutionaries, the cream of the new society.
Thanks to all this, the Soviet Union was able to become a great economic and military power by the eve of the imperialist World War II.
The role of the Soviet Union in the antifascist victory of the peoples in World War II was decisive. The USSR decimated the military machine of Germany and its allies, that had invaded its territory. It liberated a number of European countries from German occupation forces. It is for this socialist homeland, that more than 20 million Soviet citizens gave their lives, and another 10 million or so were left injured or disabled.
The victories of the Red Army gave considerable thrust to the development of national liberation and anti-fascist movements, in which the Communist Parties were in the front ranks. It is characteristic that their growth was most vigorous right after the battle of Stalingrad, which marked a turnn in the war to the detriment of the Axis forces.
The struggle of the working class and the people of China, Cuba, Vietnam, and the D.P.R. of Korea found in the policy of the Soviet Union a disinterested supporter and a prop against imperialism.
The Soviet Union helped the peoples of Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, South Yemen, Ethiopia and dozens of other countries in Africa, Asia and the Americas. It stood by Palestine and Cyprus. Thanks to the USSR and the other Warsaw Pact countries, entire regions, such as the Balkans, witnessed decades of peaceful co-existence between their peoples, despite their ethnic diversity.
The USSR sought in every way to implement a policy of peace, and of elimination of the hotspots of tension and war that were sparked by imperialism, which was responsible for two world wars and hundreds of local conflicts. The Soviet Union submitted dozens of proposals for the abolition or the reduction of all nuclear weapons, for the conclusion of agreements not to produce new ones. Its proposals clashed with the aggressive character of the capitalist states.
The Warsaw Pact – which was established in 1955, six years after imperialist NATO was set up – was an instrument of defence, a bastion of socialism. The Soviet Union and its other member states often proposed the simultaneous dissolution of the two alliances, but with no response. The Warsaw Pact decision to provide its internationalist assistance to Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968) was intended to defend socialist power from the counter-revolution. The class struggle, between capitalism and socialism, was carried out at an international level.
The human right to permanent and steady work, to free education, health care and welfare, to low-cost housing, and to the guarantee of basic political and social rights for the majority of the people are all owed to the October Revolution.
Within a few years of the October Revolution unemployment disappeared in the Soviet Union. From 1956 on, the 7-hour and 6-hour working day was instituted, as well as the five-day workweek.
Leisure time was ensured for all working people. Its content was also changed, owing to the infrastructures created by Soviet power, such as rest homes, resorts and camping sites. A vast network of theatres and movie houses, artistic and sport associations, music ensembles and libraries covered the Soviet Union, reaching to the smallest village and to the remotest parts of Siberia, huge expanses of which were exploited and literally transformed thanks to the heroic labour of thousands of workers, among whom many were volunteers.
Social security was a primary concern for the Soviet state. Retirement was universal, at the age of 55 for women and 60 for men. Social security funds were financed by the state budget and by contributions from the enterprises. There was similar concern in the other socialist countries of Europe as well. The working people never experienced the insecurity, problems and anxieties that the workers, the youth and the popular strata in the capitalist countries are suffering.
The Soviet power laid the foundations for abolishing the discrimination against and the oppression of women. It gave her full legal rights. It protected maternity in practice, as a social and not as a private or family duty. It relieved women of many responsibilities in the care of the family, by creating a free state-run system of social benefits. From the very first moment it dealt with centuries-old prejudices and with the enormous objective difficulties. It showed particular interest in young couples. Although this does not mean that every form of inequity between women and men was eliminated, it is a fact that the Soviet power helped women to emerge from their status of neglect, of being second-class human beings.
The effort to raise the level of public education at all levels was a constant and integral component of Soviet policy. More than ¾ of the working people in the USSR acquired university or full secondary school education, while the illiteracy that in 1917 affected 2/3 of the population of this enormous country, was quickly eradicated.
The results were expressed through the flourishing of sciences, through the first manned space flight by Yuri Gagarin, by the rise of scientists of world renown in fields like physics, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, engineering, psychology and others, creating a vast reserve of scientific knowledge.
The building of the socialist economic base and the formation of a workers’ state became the foundation and the instrument for the molding of the new man, the creator of socialist culture. Its influence was universal and embraced all peoples and nations of this vast country. The achievements of socialist culture in all fields became the property of the broad masses of the people, as a state social benefit.
The state provided the resources for art education from childhood, for the development of artistic creativity. In the Soviet Union, it was not only the great artists in all fields of aesthetics that stood out, but above all the high cultural level of the masses of its people.
Equal care was given to protect and disseminate the best intellectual achievements ever known to mankind. Together with the works of socialist art and of socialist culture in general, millions of Soviet citizens were able to learn about and assimilate the great works of human culture. After the Louvre and the Vatican, the Hermitage museum had the best collection of art works in the world, accessible to all. The Soviet people began to become broadly acquainted with cultural creations from the very first moments of the October Revolution and the civil war, at a time when they were hungry, cold and dying of cholera or falling on the battlefield.
The advances made by the peoples of the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries prove the superiority of the socialist versus the capitalist mode of production. They acquire an even greater value, if we take into into consideration the heritage of capitalist asymmetry and backwardness at the time of the revolution, in comparison with the USA, but also with Great Britain, France, Germany and Japan.
The construction of socialism began in Russia on the ruins left over by World War I, the civil war and the intervention by the armies of 16 imperialist states. To these must be added the even greater destruction resulting from World War II. The reconstruction of the USSR without any foreign aid within four years (1945-1949) constituted another feat of the socialist Soviet power. On the contrary, the reconstruction of capitalist Europe relied to a large extent on the US “Marshall Plan”.
The creation of the Soviet Union was a progressive, popular unification, in contrast to the “United States of Europe under a capitalist regime”, which is “either unrealisable or reactionary”, as Lenin predicted.
Today, the imperialist unions are permeated with insurmountable contradictions. Their competition for domination is generated by private ownership of the means of production. The relations of the EU with other states and among its own members are governed by inequity and domination.
The Soviet government opposed nationalism, parochialism and xenophobia. It recognised the right of every people to self-determination, including full separation. It promoted mutual respect and equality between nations and ethnic groups, it cultivated and established the idea of their voluntary merger in the single framework of the Soviet Union.
This policy was based on proletarian internationalism, the only principle whose consistent application can secure respect for national, linguistic and cultural particularity and the uniform participation in the course of socialist construction. On the contrary, the violation of proletarian internationalism, particularly under conditions of accumulating internal problems, can provide the ground for the blunting and loosening of ties, and even for an open opposition to unification.
The imperialist factor, in collaboration with the internal counter-revolutionary forces, took advantage of distortions and mistakes, and triggered vestiges of nationalistic feelings, in order to undermine the socialist system and aggravate secessionary tendencies.
The Soviet government’s handling, at one level or another, of so many popular problems proves that the constant improvement of life and the development of the working people’s personality lies in the nature and the inherent potential of socialism-communism. It can only be achieved, however, through the implementation of a correct policy on the part of the Communist Parties. Deviations and violations of principles become factors fostering delay, stagnation and even counter-revolutionary backsliding.
The KKE, with the conclusions and elaborations of its National Conference of July of 1995 on “The causes for the overthrow of the socialist system in Europe”, took a first step in the study of this adverse development for the peoples. A number of further observations and assessments were formulated in the “Theses of the CC of the KKE on the 60th anniversary of the great Antifascist Victory of the peoples – May 2005”.
Today, the KKE, having acquired greater maturity and knowledge of historical sources, but also following the discussions that have developed at an international level among Marxist scholars, is striving to further deepen its understanding of the causes for the counter-revolutionary overthrow, without considering that this investigation has been completed.
The overthrow of the socialist system constitutes a counter-revolution because it brought social regression.
The absolute domination of capitalism has piled up great sufferings for millions of people, inside and outside the socialist countries that we knew. The exploitation of man by man, crime, prostitution and narcotics, unemployment and the capitalist plundering of the enormous wealth of the Soviet Union – all of which had been unknown for seven decades – are now typical of the situation that has evolved since the counter-revolution and the break-up of the USSR. The counter-revolution brought an incredibly widespread destruction of productive forces. Counter-revolutionary propaganda has endeavoured, on a global scale, to present the disasters of the counter-revolution as a problem of socialist construction.
The peoples have been temporarily deprived of their great support, their sincere ally. Thousands are the dead, the victims of imperialist aggression, the disabled and the refugees. The Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan, the peoples of Rwanda, Haiti and Somalia are the most characteristic victims of the new global correlation of forces after 1989-91.
Nationalism, social racism, religious and cultural differences, anti-socialism and anti-communism are becoming weapons in the hands of the imperialists in fomenting discord among peoples and breaking up states. New nuclear weapons and systems are being developed. The new dimensions that anti-communism has taken on, having become in a number of cases the official government policy, reveal the formal and limited character of bourgeois democracy as the dictatorship of capital. In states that emerged from the restoration of capitalism and the break-up of the Soviet Union, in the Baltic countries, in Poland, in the Czech Republic and elsewhere, war criminals and collaborators of the Germans are honoured, while the heroes of the anti-Fascist struggle are persecuted and the symbols of the victory of the peoples against fascism are toppled.
< We reject the term “collapse” of the socialist system, because it suggests a kind of necessity for the counter-revolutionary process, it conceals the social struggle, and the conditions required for its evolution into an open class struggle.
We regard it as fundamental to acknowledge that in these counties socialist construction was in progress, with its weaknesses, mistakes and deviations. It was not some “transitional exploitive system”, or some form of “state capitalism”, as some currents in the labour movement claim.
The fact that in the former socialist countries the overthrow was led by party and state leaderships shows what the entire history of the labour movement confirms: Opportunism in its development, particularly under conditions when the class struggle is becoming sharper, matures into a counter-revolutionary force.
Our adversaries, distorting our positions, claim that the KKE reduces the entire question of the causes for the counter-revolutionary reversals to the subversive activities by imperialist agents in the party and in the state. This claim is a vulgarization of KKE positions. It aims to present the Party’s thinking as falling short of what conditions demand, to discredit it in the eyes of the concerned working people.
The imperialist encirclement of the socialist system constituted a powerful reinforcement of its internal problems and contradictions. It led to decisions that made the socialist construction more difficult. The arms race absorbed a large part of the resources of the Soviet Union.
The line of peaceful co-existence, as developed during the early post-war period, to some degree at the 19th (October 1952), but especially at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR (February 1956), allowed the cultivation of utopian views, that it is possible for imperialism to relinquish war and military means.
In shaping the global correlation of forces, a significant role was played by developments in the international communist movement, and by issues in its strategy. The decision to dissolve the Communist International (May-June 1943) signaled the absence of a centre in which revolutionary strategy against the international imperialist system could be formulated. Despite the fact that World War II created conditions in which class contradictions were greatly sharpened, the anti-fascist struggle led to the overthrow of bourgeois power only in the countries of central and eastern Europe, with the decisive contribution of the Red Army, in one way or the other.
In the capitalist West, Communist Parties could not elaborate a strategy for the transformation of the imperialist war or the liberation struggle into a struggle for the conquering of working-class power. They postponed the goal of socialism for the future and set tasks that limited the struggle to the front against fascism. The view prevailed that it was possible for some intermediate form of power to exist, between the bourgeois and the revolutionary working-class power, with the possibility that it would evolve into a working-class power.
After World War II, there was an obvious lack of an organisational link between the Communist Parties so as to shape an independent united strategy against the united strategy of international imperialism. The Communist Parties’ Information Bureau, that was set up in 1947 and dissolved itself in 1956, and the international conferences of Communist Parties that were held from then on, did not succeed in contributing to the ideological unity and to the charting of a revolutionary strategy.
In the analyses conducted by the international communist movement, the flexible tactics of capitalism were not evaluated properly. The contradictions between capitalist states, which of course contained the element of dependency, as is the case in the imperialist pyramid, were not analysed in this way, a fact that led to choices of alliances with sections of the bourgeoisie that were described as “national”, against the so-called foreign-dominated ones. In addition, correct and comprehensive conclusions were not drawn by communist leaderships with regard to the open, counter-revolutionary activities of imperialism, initially in the German Democratic Republic and then in Hungary, Poland and the Czechoslovakia.
The policy pursued by a number of Communist Parties of collaborating with social democracy was part of the strategy of “anti-monopoly governance”, a sort of stage between capitalism and socialism, that was also expressed through governments that tried to administer the capitalist system.
On the other hand, right after the end of the war, under the leadership of the USA, imperialism launched the “cold war”.
The “cold war” included the organisation of a psychological war against the socialist countries, the escalation of the arms race, networks of subversion and sabotage of the socialist system, open provocations by imperialism, the fomenting of counter-revolutionary developments, and a differentiated economic and diplomatic policy against the new workers’ regimes, aimed at breaking their alliance with the USSR. At the same time, the imperialist system set up military, civil and economic coalitions and international lending organisations, such as NATO, the European Community, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and transnational trade agreements that ensured coordination between the capitalist states.
Both sections of the Communist movement, in power and not, failed to assess correctly the world correlation of forces, while they underestimated the potential of the postwar reorganisation of capitalism.
At the same time, the crisis deepened in the international communist movement, initially manifested in the total severance of relations between the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Communist parties of China and Albania. Then difficulties increased with the formation of rightwing opportunism in the communist movement of Western Europe into the current of the so-called “Eurocommunism”, that openly converged with social democracy.
From both these sides, anti-Sovietism was manifested and became a component element of their policies. On the part of the CP of China it attained even more raw manifestations. At that time, the reciprocal influence of opportunism in the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries and in the Communist Parties in power was reinforced under conditions where a nuclear strike was threatened against the socialist countries.
It should be pointed out that: the fundamental difference between capitalism and socialism-communism is that capitalist relations of production were born in the womb of feudalism, while the socialist-communist ones cannot be born in the womb of capitalism, because they come into conflict with all forms of exploitation.
The revolutionary workers’ power must radically overthrow and remold all social relations inherited from capitalism, it must consciously build the new mode of production, resolving social contradictions to the benefit of socialist construction. That is why it encounters great difficulties in the construction, extension and full development and domination of the new relations of production and distribution. Capitalism did not encounter such difficulties. The socialist society bears strong marks of the capitalist society that engendered it at all levels. In socialism, class exploitation is abolished, but not every form of social inequity and stratification that is reflected in people’s consience and in their attitude toward life can be abolished. During socialist construction, the differences between town and country, between manual and mental labour must also be eliminated,. Only then will we be able to say that we hammered the “last nail in the coffin of the capitalist society that we are burying,” as Lenin wrote.
The struggle to establish and develop the new society is being led by the revolutionary workers’ power whose nucleus is the Communist Party, which acts consciously on the basis of the laws of movement of the socialist society. Therefore, the scientific and class-oriented nature of Communist Party policy, the development of the theory of scientific socialism-communism by the Communist Party above all, is an absolute prerequisite of socialist construction.
The parties in power did not carry out this task successfully. And to the degree that the policies of socialist power failed to resolve these contradictions to the benefit of socialist construction, these evolved into competitive ones. The opportunist theory that non-competitive contradictions cannot evolve into competitive ones was not confirmed. After the war, as noted by the 19th Congress of the CPSU, despite the successes achieved in the fullfillement of the 4th five-year plan (1946-1950), there were problems regarding the modernisation and development of the means of production, the management of the enterprises and the level of social welfare.
Starting with the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956 and on, erroneous theoretical approaches were gradually adopted to resolve such problems and opportunist policies were implemented in the economy, which extended to the socialist power and to international relations. At the same time, on the pretext of combating the “personality cult”, a unrestrained campaign was unleashed against the policy of the Soviet state under Stalin, and the way was paved for the great rightwing opportunist shift of the international Communist Movement.
Instead of strengthening the socialist relations of production/distribution, the commodity, potentially capitalist, relations were reinforced. Central planning began to retreat and social ownership was eroded. A significant part of the agricultural produce of private and cooperative production was sold freely on the market, i.e. at the highest point in the fluctuation of prices. The social differentiation in industry was even stronger. Illegal enrichment, the so-called “shadow capital”, sought to operate legally as capital in production, i.e. it sought the restoration of capitalism. This affected the Party, reinforcing the opportunist erosion and the social-democratic degeneration.
Subjectivism in assessing the course of socialist construction as “developed socialism” and the development of opportunism were recorded in the assessments of the 21st Congress of the CPSU in 1959: “Socialism in the USSR has won conclusively, definitively (…) it entered the period of the broad construction of the socialist society.” While the 22nd Congress in 1961 adopted the “Program of building communism”. In the changes that were formulated in the Constitution of 1977, the “state of the whole people” and the “party of the people” were instituted.
The theory of the “state of the whole people” had a further effect in altering the characteristics of the state, and in downgrading the role of the working class. It also altered the nature of socialist democracy. At the same time, the definition of the party as a “party of the whole people” signified a change in its working class character.
In the Documents of the National Conference of the KKE in July of 1995, on “The causes for the overthrow of the socialist system in Europe”, mention is made of the fact that “the vanguard role of the Party became progressively weaker (…). In the period of perestroika, the state of the Party reached the point of degeneration.” Forces in the communist parties who had not consciously slipped towards opportunism regarded the leading role of the party in society as given and undisputable.
Control of the party by working class forces gradually weakened and eventually disappeared. The principle of equality between communists was violated. Conditions were created for the growth of careerism among cadres.
The working class, and the masses of the people in general, did not reject socialism. It is typical that the slogans used by perestroika were “revolution within the revolution” and “more socialism”.
The fact that the working class did not react against the counter-revolution can be explained by this and other factors.
To the degree that the leaderships of the communist parties adopted choices that eroded the social nature of ownership and strengthened narrow private interests, feelings of alienation from social ownership were created and at the same time consience was eroded. Passivity and indifference were fostered.
The opportunist erosion of the international Communist Movement was a long-term process, with profound roots in the capitalist development of the 20th century, which was not analysed promptly and objectively. The interaction between the opportunism in the communist parties of the developed capitalist countries and that in the CPSU and the other communist parties in government requires further historical investigation, and is necessary for the ideological and political strengthening and unity of the communist movement in the 21st century.
It is equally necessary to draw and assimilate conclusions from the development and growth of the class struggle during the socialist construction of the 20th century. The future socialist construction will certainly begin and evolve at a superior level compated to that of the 20th century. It is however also certain that it will come into an equally harsh confrontation with the capitalist heritage on the economic, political and ideological level.
For the working-class movement in the capitalist countries today, there remains the problem of a mass entrapment in the structures of the system (parliament, government and employer control, trade union, local government and others). The powerful bourgeois ideological influence on the workers’ movement is also expressed through revisionism and opportunism in a number of communist parties.
Today, more than ever before, it can be proven that the class struggle cannot be mainly defensive, for safeguarding certain gains, when the immediate needs are changing, both on the part of capital and the working class. Immediate, and particularly long-term, results can only be achieved by politicising action, by putting forward demands that clash with the strategy of capital, that claim the wealth that is being produced for the benefit of its direct producers, while at the same time preparing for the subjective factor for the conquest of power. Such struggles can create correlations of forces in favour of the working class and its potential allies, the popular masses.
One of the principal duties of the communist ideological front is to restore in the eyes of the working people the truth about socialism in the 20th century, without idealisations, objectively, free of bourgeois slander. The defence of the laws of development of socialism and, at the same time, the defence of the contribution of socialism in the 20th century provide a response to the opportunist theories regarding “models” of socialism adapted to “national” peculiarities, but also to the defeatist discussion of mistakes. The defence of this contribution is, for the KKE, a criterion in the relations with other Communist and Workers’ Parties, for the creation of the communist pole in the international movement. Slander and the anti-communist crusade cannot hide the truth for long. Anti-communism, one element of which is the re-writing of history, is an indication of fear by the bourgeois class.
It has been confirmed that there is no classless or third road to development. It will either serve imperialism, i.e. the management of the capitalist system, or it will serve the people. All the old and contemporary myths are being brought down and revealed in practice: the myth of the “free economy” and “competitiveness”, of “modernisation”, “consensus”, “social dialogue”, the “democracy of institutions”, “one-way streets” and security and respect for sovereign rights and frontiers. The question is: who is in power, who dominates, for whose benefit, and to what end.
The working class and the poor strata of the people will not remain stuck to the past. The working class, particularly its younger generations, as well as the younger generations of the popular masses, deserve only one future, the one imperialism fears: a socialist-communist one. As stressed in the Programme of the KKE that was adopted at the 15th Congress: “The 21st century will be the century when the revolutionary forces will regroup, the offensive of international capital will be repelled, and the decisive counter-offensive will be mounted. It will be the century of a new growth in the world revolutionary movement and a new series of social revolutions.”
25 May 2007
The Central Committee of the KKE