Contribution of KKE at the ICW Meeting in Minsk, Belarus
Click here to see some photos from Minsk and Moscow
cde Aleka Paparigha
The timeliness and eternal value of its ideas.
Communists in the struggle against imperialism and for socialism.”
We are especially pleased that this year’s international meeting of our Communist and Workers’ Parties, on the subject of the 90th anniversary of the Great October Revolution, is being hosted in the capital of a former Socialist Republic, Belarus. We salute the events that will follow in Moscow.
The October Revolution was a momentous event, the greatest in the 20th century, and is still, to this day, setting its seal on the course of humankind. Since 1917, international capitalism has been obliged to put the existence of this “rival force“ as the first item on its political agenda.
The historic contribution of socialism to the 20th century has been inherited by the modern revolutionary movement, a valuable trust for the future, and as such we must study it and defend it against the class hatred it has aroused in the bourgeois class and its allies.
Thanks to the October Socialist Revolution, conditions were created for people’s rights to be put in practice, which was unknown to the working people in even the most developed capitalist countries.
The gains by workers and farmers, women and young people under the Soviet state acted in favour of the working people in the capitalist countries. It was a basic factor that obliged the bourgeois government parties, liberal and social democratic, to make concessions to the working class.
These gains under the Soviet government still constitute an unreachable dream for the working class, the workers and broad masses of the people in all the capitalist countries, even the most developed.
Our assessment is that the reversal of the socialist system was a counter-revolution that brought about a major social regression, not only in the USSR and the other socialist European countries, but also to any gains that the working people had achieved in the capitalist countries.
We reject the word “collapse” of the socialist system, since it attributes the nature of necessity to the counter-revolutionary process, hides the social clash and the prerequisites for its evolution into an open class struggle.
Some basic conclusions and lessons to be drawn from the October Revolution
1. The party of the Bolsheviks treated the economic, political and ideological struggle of the working class as a single indivisible whole.
The comprehensive theoretical preparation of the party of the Bolsheviks, under the leadership of Lenin, made it capable of assessing correctly the disposition and correlation of the social and political forces, of showing the appropriate political flexibility without losing sight of the strategic goal, of adapting constructively and working out slogans to suit every moment in a fluid, complex and rapidly changing situation.
The Communist Party alone, and no other party, however radical it may be, can transmit the socialist-communist ideology to the working class as its conscious and organised vanguard. It is precisely in this that the need for the Communist Party lies. It cannot be replaced by any other form of political party. There is a dire need for its ideological, political and organisational independence, which cannot be dispersed within forms of alliance. Independent CPs and the policy of alliances can be admirably combined. This independence is also a condition for strengthening the alliance itself, which is our obligation to promote, at least as far as it depends on us.
We must not forget that the class enemy does not hesitate to use the whip of violence against the labour and communist movement. As we must not forget that anti-communism strikes every radical movement, the entire popular movement and its class, popular organisations.
The class enemy never gives up its efforts to exert systematic and studied ideological pressure on communist parties, utilising the forces of reformism and opportunism. The bourgeois parties exploit to the utmost the decline of the revolutionary movement after 1989, as well as the serious problems of orientation and unity of the communist movement.
Therefore, it is our duty to be vigilant against ideological pressure, and not to underestimate the adversary.
When we say vigilance, we do not of course mean our entrenchment and falling back, or hesitation to join up with the popular masses and to seek alliances. However, we must not identify the questions or adverse judgements of working people about the socialism we knew with the systematic, corrosive anti-communist propaganda of the bourgeoisie and opportunists.
The fact that in the former socialist countries the reversal was led by party and state leaderships shows what the entire history of the labour movement confirms: as opportunism develops, especially under conditions of the sharpening of the class struggle, it becomes integrated into the counter-revolutionary forces.
It is an urgent duty for a communist party that remains correct, believes in the scientific theory of socialism and fights for socialism, to develop ideological armour. The CPG’s experience shows that the best armour is developed through the constant effort to raise the ideological level of the Party and communist young people: through the deepest possible knowledge of our theory, philosophy, political economy and theory of revolutionary policy, as well as the history of the communist movement. What is required is firm and unswerving attention to developments, the changes that appear, and new phenomena. We need to develop modern scientific studies so that our policy becomes more and more scientifically elaborated. We need to enrich our theory, to have the research front constantly open, avoiding subjectivism, superficiality, and easy conclusions. We need to work on political and theoretical issues in a spirit of internationalist collectivism.
2. The achievement of the October Revolution and the building of socialism in the USSR became reality because it was somehow preceded by another achievement, which was of course the birth of historical necessity: the birth of the scientific theory of socialism, which constitutes the proof that the material objective conditions had matured for the socialist revolution. Added to this was the great theoretical thinking done by Lenin, relying of course on the gigantic work of the classics. Lenin did not succumb to the temptation to take up only the acute and complex current problems. The Bolshevik party relied on an unprecedented volume of material that had been carefully thought out, not only in relation to the facts of the historical period they were going through, but also to the needs of the future.
Unfortunately we did not learn the lesson from this achievement of the Bolshevik party. Under the pressure of persecutions, adventures, illegality and war, many parties fell into pragmatism, into a formal study of our theory that was superficial in terms of the needs.
Today, if we may be allowed to say so, there is no excuse, especially after the experiences of the counter-revolution. However complex, pressing and unprecedented the problems we may be dealing with, we must not for a moment neglect the ideological and political fortification of our cadres and members, the promotion of the greatest possible number of party members to Marxist scholars from the working class who are capable of studying and investigating, but without being distracted from the class struggle and contact with the popular masses.
3. It is extremely important for us to have a comprehensive theoretical concept of the stage the capitalist system is going through, and the readjustments it is attempting as it encounters difficulties in reproducing social capital with the comparative ease it had in the past. These days, the strategy of capital is usually characterised by the term neo-liberalism, or neo-liberal policy. The term is not the issue; the main thing is for us to understand more broadly that privatisations, the changes in labour relations, the abolition of popular gains, the abolition of any limitations on the free movement of capital and commodities and the abolition of international agreements are not simply aspects of dogmatic conservative policy, or political deviation, but a profound internal need on the part of capitalism.
We are living through the sharpening of intra-imperialist conflicts and competition, in particular focused around the Euro-Asian energy issue and the battle taking place to control energy sources and routes. Realignments in the correlation of forces are being set in motion through the imperialist system, and conditions are being created for an abrupt sharpening of all the contradictions in the system. The imperialists, although they seem to be united in stifling any resistance to their policies, appear inevitably divided as regards the division of spoils, markets and spheres of influence.
On the grounds of these conflicts that are triggered by imperialist competition, new possibilities are created for rallying broader forces in the struggle against the imperialist system. Objectively this struggle is linked more organically with the prospect of the overthrow of capitalism. The class struggle is becoming deeper, and to be effective, it must be guided more and more in the direction of this solution of opposition. The role of the working class, its movement and parties, and the class orientation of the labour movement constitute factors of increasing importance in terms of the possibility of creating militant alliances in an anti-imperialist anti-monopoly democratic direction with socialism as the goal.
4. Speaking of the prospects and challenges in the struggle for socialism today, it is essential that we evaluate the historical contribution of the socialism we knew in the 20th century. The socialist system that was created in the 20th century, headed by the USSR, achieved the greatest feat in human history of abolishing the exploitation of man by man.
October shows the irreplaceable role of the leadership factor in the socialist revolution, i.e. the Communist Party, as a new type of party, in relation to the compromised social-democratic parties. It shows the power of proletarian internationalism.
After the party of the Bolsheviks was founded (1903), it was then followed for quite a few years by a tough ideological battle between those who expressed Leninist views and those who expressed opportunist views within the party. But for the first time in political history, an organised force came into being with the rights and obligation of party members enshrined in its statutes, with the fundamental operating principle of democratic centralism, i.e. the right to express an opinion and criticism, but united action and discipline as an individual after decisions were made, strong ties with the working and popular masses that became stronger when internal democracy and self-criticism developed in the party, supported by the paramount leading principle, collectivism.
5. One of the decisive factors in the victory of the revolution was the policy of the Bolsheviks in World War I: the Leninist position on transferring the imperialist war into a fight to overthrow capitalism.
This was the only road that could have led to a just peace by eliminating class exploitation and imperialist oppression.
The Leninist theory about the weak link in the imperialist chain was fully verified. Under conditions of disparate economic and political development, which is an absolute law of capitalism, the possibility exists of the victory of the socialist revolution in one or more countries separately.
The new state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, which was based on the Soviets, generated by the self-action of the masses in the fire of the revolution of 1905-07, replaced the old state mechanism that was crushed by the October Revolution.
The crushing of the bourgeois state and its mechanisms was necessary because “the modern state, whatever its form may be, is essentially a capitalist machine, a capitalist state, the ideal total capitalist,” as Engels wrote.
6. The effort of the fledgling Soviet state to build the economic foundations for socialism advanced under conditions of a hard battle with the forces of the foreign military intervention and the local bourgeois class, in the midst of imperialist encirclement and internal subversion with conspiracies, sabotage and murders of Bolsheviks.
The fact that the foundations of socialism were built constitutes an unprecedented feat in terms of what had existed up to then. We should not forget that in Russia, although capitalism had appeared and grown, pre-capitalist relations existed simultaneously, and the working class was a minority compared to the countless rural peasants.
It has also been proved that the national and historical particularities, which certainly exist and must be taken into serious account in working out strategy, cannot eliminate the laws of capitalism, the class struggle and finally the socialist revolution. Various political choices of an opportunistic nature have been periodically based on “national particularities”, such as the postwar current called “Eurocommunism”. It has been shown, however, that despite the particular features of each country, the line of “Eurocommunism” was the same in all: It was the line of denying revolutionary policy.
For the building of socialism there are general laws that apply in all countries. The starting point for the passage to socialism is the revolutionary seizure of power by the working class in collaboration with its allies, the socialisation of the basic means of production and socialist planning of the economy.
Irrespective of the form it will take, the socialist state, from the viewpoint of its class essence, will be the revolutionary power of the working class, the dictatorship of the proletariat.
The socialist economy presupposes the overthrow of private ownership of the main and centralised means of production, and consequently overturning the prevalence of capitalist relations. It means conversion of the centralised means of production and infrastructures into social state property particularly in energy, telecommunications, mineral resources, mining, water supply, transportation, basic manufacturing sectors, the banking system, the system for collecting, channelling and managing financial and material resources, foreign trade, the centralised network of domestic trade, the field of housing for the people, research and the media.
Alongside the socialised sector will be the production cooperative of owners of small holdings, according to the conditions of the particular country. It will preclude business activity in sectors crucial to the reproduction of the labour force – which can no longer be commoditised – such as education, health, welfare and social security where there will be exclusively public systems, unified and free of charge.
Socialist planning of the economy serves the basic law of building socialism: production with incentives and the ever broader and fuller satisfaction of social needs on the basis of better techniques and technology, and the modern achievements of science.
It is not accidental that socialisation and planning, but also the state run by workers’ power is treated with such rabid hatred by the middle class and opportunists. Even today, the flag of the “anti-Stalinist” crusade is flown hypocritically, in order totally to discredit the communist struggle and prospect.
7. We assess today that examining the course of building socialism and the factors that led to its weakening, backsliding and reversal affected its foundation, i.e. the economy, and the socio-economic causes that led to the restoration of capitalism.
Finally, despite the fact that theoretically the issue has been resolved, experience shows that it is worth discussing again the question of what socialism is in relation to the socio-economic formations of capitalism and communism, starting out with the developments in the 20th century, but also contemporary ideas and practices.
We do not regard socialism as a separate mode of production and an integrated socio-economic formation that exists independently between capitalism and communism, but as an immature, imperfect degree of the communist formation. The passage from capitalism to socialism is a conscious process and planned by the power of the working class under the guidance of the Communist Party. This is precisely why, in the course of building socialism, social contradictions must be resolved. If they are not dealt with then, they may lead to a form of an open social and political strife.
We believe that the crucial issue, irrespective of any national particularities that are of course taken into consideration, is to strengthen socialist relations, i.e. social ownership and central planning at the expense of what is still small-scale and cooperative commodity production. This course, one way and another, is complex but the problems that arise must not be addressed with the tools of the past and to the detriment of the constant development of socialist relations. Problems must be resolved by advancing towards the communist prospect.
8. The power of the socialist system was also visible in the decisive role played by the Soviet Union in the Antifascist Victory of the peoples during World War II. The Soviet Union sought, in every way, to apply a policy of peace and of eliminating the hotspots of tension and war triggered by imperialism, which was responsible for both world wars and for hundreds of local ones. The Soviet Union addressed dozens of proposals for the abolition and/or reduction of all nuclear weapons, and for agreements not to produce new ones. But its proposals ran contrary to the aggressive character of the capitalist states.
The imperialist encirclement of the socialist system constituted powerful reinforcement of internal problems and conflicts. It led to decisions that hindered the building of socialism. The arms race absorbed a large part of the Soviet Union’s resources. The line of peaceful co-existence, as it was developed during the postwar years, led to the development of utopian views and illusions that imperialism would stop undermining socialism or would give up its aggressive nature. This line was used by the opportunist group, which was even worse and more damaging. The struggle for peace is one thing and the idea of the possibility of peaceful co-existence between capitalism and socialism another.
9. A significant event in recent years has been the emergence and growth of movements, sources of resistance among the peoples, radical forces that, with their demands and goals of struggle, touch the entire spectrum of imperialist policy. We have seen significant class struggles taking place all over the world, including our own continent, with new reserves becoming active, masses with little experience that have not yet been emancipated from the dominant ideology and policy. Inside these movements, a tougher policy and ideological battle is developing between social democracy and the parties of the Socialist International, which are vehicles of assimilation and the management of the system, who rally around themselves forces with reformist and opportunist views, and forces who believe in the anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly struggle and in the struggle for profound changes in the direction of socialism and for upsets that will be expressed at the level of power. The fight is over fundamental issues.
The front against opportunism, in all its forms and expressions, against defeatism, anti-communism and anti-Sovietism is an essential prerequisite for a consistent anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly struggle that must not remain in the middle but must lead to socialism.
We reject views that believe the so-called “movement against globalisation” (which has been described as the “movement of movements”) marks the end of the labour and communist movement.
Views that are put forward regarding “socialism” with a capitalist market, which would leave monopoly ownership of the main means of production intact are in essence promoting a utopia of capitalism with a human face. Akin to these views are a number of ideas that contrast the social with the political, that underestimate, downgrade and even deny the need for the political struggle to gain power. Typical of this view is the title and content of a book by Prof. John Holloway called “Change the World without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution today.” The idea is earnestly promulgated by many different circles as the direction that should prevail in various “anti-globalism” movements. All we need now, with the experience that has been accumulated at the beginning of the 21st century, is another Eduard Bernstein!
Today despite the progress that has been made, the International Communist Movement remains organisationally and ideological fragmented, and is still in crisis. Pressures are still being brought to bear in the direction of assimilation into the imperialist system, dispersion of the Communist Parties and the communist identity into broader formations “of the left”, and abandonment of political and ideological independence. In the ranks of the communist movement, the fight between revolutionary communist views and reformist, opportunist ones continues.
The differences appear on various fronts and points, but irrespective of the breadth or depth of the differences, we believe that they are differences of strategy, i.e. in relation to the necessity and timeliness of socialism, with the character of the revolution, with the basic features of socialism as an imperfect stage in the communist society. From this, the various specific differences arise in terms of the main issue, regarding alliances, the relationship of the struggle on a national and international level, the capitalist crisis and intra-imperialist conflicts etc.
10. Issues related to building socialism and the strategy of the communist movement more generally must be discussed systematically with clear-headedly, with an exchange of all views, with comradely dialogue. It is necessary to shape a strong and distinct communist movement, capable of leading a strategic counterattack and of constituting a point of reference for broader popular forces, popular movements which are objectively more vulnerable to confusion, disorientation and pressure to assimilate.
We need to demonstrate the necessity of socialism in a more persistent and better-documented way as the only alternative to today’s imperialist system. It is necessary for the communist viewpoint, a communist pole to be put forward more distinctly, so as to deal effectively with the problems and difficulties of this struggle, as well as with the need for coordinated intervention in stepping up the anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly struggle internationally, in which different forces take part.
The problem for the labour movement in the capitalist countries today remains its mass entrapment in the structures of the system (parliamentary and trade union structures, control by government, management, local government and others). The powerful bourgeois ideological influence on the labour movement is expressed through revisionism and opportunism in a number of Communist Movements.
Today, more than ever before, it can be proved that the class struggle cannot be mainly defensive, in order to preserve some gains, at a time when immediate needs are changing on the part of both capital and the working class. The direct results and above all the prospect for the future can be given only by politicising action with claims which clash with the strategy of capital, which demand that the wealth produced be for the benefit of its direct producers, and at the same time prepare the subjective factor for the conquest of power.
The future of humanity that the communist movement represents cannot be imprisoned!
The canons of the “Aurora” have not been silenced. Their echo marks the future not the past. The “ghost of Communism” continues to walk on earth and to haunt imperialists and exploiters wherever they may be. They are well aware of the explosive and insurmountable contradictions generated by their grim exploitative system in all sectors of life, economic, social and political. They also know that “defeated armies” learn from their defeats and mistakes, that they regroup and become battle-worthy once again. Today, this is not 1989 or 1991. We are in the 21st century and have already lived its first seven years. The nature of our era has not changed. It demands the revolutionary passage to socialism even more urgently.
Socialism, whatever obstacles it meets, will finally triumph.
OCTOBER 1917 GUIDES US!