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1914-2014: Imperialism means war
Written speech of the KKE at the International Communist Seminar (ICS) Brussels, 27-29 June 2014
The written contribution of the KKE on the questions of the outline that the organizers posed
The characteristics of imperialism today
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), which remains faithful to Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism, through their prism deals with the issue of imperialism and war.
Lenin defined in his majestic work the basic characteristics of imperialism, as monopoly capitalism, the highest and final stage of this exploitative system, before the socialist revolution.
Any changes that have occurred over the last 100 years are related to increases in scale (e.g. the scale of the indexes of the global capitalist market, the scale of the speculating and parasitic functioning of capital etc.) can not negate the Leninist view, as various types of opportunists claim, but confirms it.
Of course in conditions of the intensification of capitalist internationalization, interdependence of the economies, the merger of sections of capital from different states, we have a plethora of inter-state monopoly regulations and agreements (political-military and economic) between states or international and regional unions (e.g. OECD, IMF, EU, NATO, Eurasian Economic Community, Collective Security Treaty Organization, Shanghai Cooperation Organization, BRICS, Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the alliance of countries of Latin America (ALBA) etc.). They are all constructed on the terrain of the capitalist economy and its laws. They are connected to the aims of the bourgeois classes regarding their alliances and to the aims of the monopoly groups in order to expand their activities and gain markets.
Views are developing in these conditions about “supranational states” , “the elimination of national sovereignty of states”, that recycle Kautsky and approach in a distorted and mistaken way the issue of the relationship between the economy and politics and the formation of the relationship of the bourgeois national states with the imperialist unions.
Certain political forces identify imperialism with the military aggression against a country, with the policy of military interventions, blockades, with the effort to revive the old colonial policy. In Europe the opportunists identify imperialism with Germany and what they call the dogmatic authoritarian liberal viewpoint. The policy of the USA under the Obama administration is considered to be progressive due to its partial differences with its competitor Germany regarding the management of the crisis or it is considered to be imperialist only in relation to Latin America. The effort of the bourgeois class of France for instance or Italy to deal with the competition with German capitalism is regarded as progressive. The basic position of opportunism in Greece is that the country is under German occupation, that it is being transformed or has been transformed into a colony and is being plundered primarily by Mrs. Merkel, the creditors. They accuse the bourgeois class of the country and the governmental parties as being treacherous, unpatriotic, subordinate and subservient towards Germany, the creditors or the bankers.
However, in this way, they conceal that imperialism, i.e. monopoly capitalism, is related to every capitalist country today. The bourgeois class of every country participates in the various imperialist unions and in the nexus of international relations amongst the capitalist states in order to advance their interests and on the basis of the strength (economic, political and military) of each bourgeois state.
The assessment of Lenin that a handful, a very small number of states plunder the vast majority of the states across the globe can not be used in an arbitrary way. As a consequence imperialism is being identified with a very small number of countries, which can be counted on the fingers of one hand while all the others are subordinate, oppressed, colonies, occupied.
Today there are countries which are at the summit , in the first positions of the international imperialist system (it is illustrated with the schema of a pyramid in order to show the various levels occupied by the capitalist countries) a handful of countries one could say according to the Leninist expression. But this does not mean that all the other capitalist countries are victims of the powerful capitalist states, that the bourgeois class of most countries has submitted to the pressure, despite its general interest that it has been corrupted. This viewpoint does not take into account that it is the conscious obvious choice of the bourgeois classes for their countries to participate in this nexus of uneven interdependence and consequently it leads the struggle of the peoples in mistaken directions, like the anti-German direction in Europe and in the American continent only the anti-USA direction.
In contrast, the KKE assesses that the contemporary struggle must have an anti-monopoly, anti-capitalist direction, in no instance can it only be “anti-imperialist” with the content the opportunists give to this term, who identify imperialism with an aggressive foreign policy, with unequal relations, with war, with the so-called national question – detached from class exploitation, from the relations of ownership and power.
The changes in the correlation of forces after the October Revolution
The October Revolution began a new historical era, the era of the victorious socialist revolutions. It assisted the rapid development of the labour and communist movement all over the world, as well as the collapse of the colonial system. In particular, it demonstrated the enormous potential and advantages of socialism, through industrialization, collectivization and the Anti-fascist victory in World War 2. It was able to form a more favourable international correlation of forces for a time, e.g. International law that was the result of the balance of forces between the capitalist and the socialist system. However, this was something that was overestimated by the forces of socialism.
The overthrow of socialism in the USSR and in the other socialist countries due the mistakes (economic, political) of the CPSU and of the international communist movement as a whole, does not change the character of our era.
The emergence of new powers. Inter-imperialist contradictions
The overthrow of socialism in the USSR led to the deterioration of the correlation of forces at the expense of the peoples, as well as to the sharpening of the inter-imperialist contradictions. Amongst other things, International Law stopped being determined by the correlation of forces between capitalism and socialism and is entirely governed by the correlation of forces amongst the capitalist states.
Historical experience shows that both the 1st and 2nd World Wars were the result of the major sharpening of inter-imperialist contradictions for the re-division of the world.
The KKE assesses that “with the deep crisis of capital over-accumulation in 2008-2009 which in several capitalist economies has in reality not been overcome. This process occurs under the impact of the law of uneven capitalist development. This tendency concerns the higher levels of the imperialist pyramid as well. The USA remains the first economic power, but with a significant reduction of its share in the Gross World Product. Until 2008, the Eurozone as a whole maintained the second position in the international capitalist market, a position which it lost after the crisis. China has already emerged as the second economic power, the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) has been strengthened in the international capitalist unions, such as the IMF and the G20. The change in the correlation of forces among the capitalist states brings about changes in their alliances, as the inter-imperialist contradictions over the control and re-division of the territories and markets, zones of economic influence are sharpening, chiefly of the energy and natural resources, the transport routes of the commodities.
The inter-imperialist contradictions, which in the past led to dozens of local, regional wars and to two World Wars, continue to lead to tough economic, political and military confrontations, irrespective of the composition or recomposition, the changes in the structure and the framework of goals of the international imperialist unions, their so-called new "architecture". In any case, "war is the continuation of politics by other means", especially in the conditions of a deep crisis of capital's over-accumulation and important changes in the correlation of forces of the international imperialist system, in which the re-division of the markets rarely occurs without bloodshed.”
The relationship capitalism-crisis-war leads to the increase of armaments, the creation of new military alliances, the modernization of older ones, like NATO.
Certain forces that see imperialism only as the “empire” of the USA and on this basis salute the emergence of new rising capitalist powers in global affairs, as well as the emergence of new inter-state unions. These developments are welcomed as the beginning of the emergence of a “multi-polar world”, which will “recompose” and give “new life” to the UN and other international organizations, which will escape from American “hegemony”. These approaches end up discussing how peace will be ensured in the framework of capitalism.
In fact, several political forces of different ideological orientation recognize the new intra-imperialist contradictions and the realignment in the world system and describe as “democratisation” of international relations, as a “multi-polar world” the tendency of the correlation of forces to change, as they had been shaped after the overthrow of the socialist countries and the enlargement and intensification of the activities of the NATO and EU over the last 20 years. This new balance of forces includes the reinforcement of Germany, Russia, China, Brazil and other states as well.
Their various proposals, such as the enlargement of the UN Security Council with other countries, or the upgrading of the role of the EU in the world or even that of Russia and China in international affairs, cannot align these developments on another basis. Because they cannot stop the intra-imperialist contradictions, which manifest themselves in the fields of natural resources, energy and transport networks, as well as in the conflict over the market shares. Competition between monopolies leads to localized or generalized military interventions and wars. This competition unfolds with all means that are possessed by the monopolies and the capitalist states which express their interests; it is reflected in interstate agreements, which are constantly disputed because of uneven development. That is imperialism, the source of war aggression of a smaller or wider scale.
What is being said about the “new democratic world governance”, with “transparency”, “participationism” and “social solidarity” which are fostered by social democratic and opportunist forces as the European Left Party (ELP) and its constituent parties seek to ideologically beautify the new correlation of forces in the framework of the capitalist imperialist barbarity in order to mislead the working people.
The workers have no interests in believing that it is possible to “democratize” capitalism and international relations and to choose an imperialist that will allegedly implement something like that.
It is worth mentioning how Lenin defined the issue with a very specific example: “The former country, let us say, possesses three-fourths of Africa, whereas the latter possesses one-fourth. A repartition of Africa is the objective content of their war. To which side should we wish success? It would be absurd to state the problem in its previous form, since we do not possess the old criteria of appraisal: there is neither a bourgeois liberation movement running into decades, nor a long process of the decay of feudalism. It is not the business of present-day democracy either to help the former country to assert its “right” to three-fourths of Africa, or to help the latter country (even if it is developing economically more rapidly than the former) to take over those three-fourths.
Present-day democracy will remain true to itself only if it joins neither one nor the other imperialist bourgeoisie, only if it says that the two sides are equally bad, and if it wishes the defeat of the imperialist bourgeoisie in every country. Any other decision will, in reality, be national-liberal and have nothing in common with genuine internationalism.”
And he concluded in relation to this: “In reality, there can now be no talk of present-day democracy following in the wake of the reactionary imperialist bourgeoisie, no matter of what “shade” the latter may be…”
On the revival of nationalism and chauvinism
The bourgeois classes are trying to deceive and persuade the working masses that participation of the country in imperialist interventions, in the preparation and conduct of the imperialist war serves the interests of the “fatherland”, is a “national duty”. This is what they do in conditions of peace as well, seeking “social consensus” and “national unity” so that the “fatherland” can become stronger, as well as in conditions of war. In reality in both instances -war and peace- the bourgeois class is demanding that the workers assist it to improve its position in the imperialist pyramid, and promote its own interests.
In addition, according to the phase capitalism is in (capitalist growth or crisis) the slogans are adjusted. For example, in Brazil, which has seen high rates of capitalist growth, (even if they have slowed down recently), the call of the bourgeois class is for the country to become stronger and to “free itself from dependency on North American imperialism”, while in Greece which is undergoing the capitalist crisis, it is demanding that the workers swallow one by one its poisonous measures, so that the country can enter the international markets to borrow and in this way “recover” its “sovereignty”. However, particularly in conditions of the imperialist war slogans are fostered such as a “united patriotic organization”, “national reconciliation”, “the benefit of the nation”, the “specificity” or the “superiority of the nation” are promoted in relation to other nations etc. Here it utilises the revival of fascist forces in this direction, in Greece we have the criminal organization of “Golden Dawn”, as its spearhead against the labour and communist movement.
The bourgeoisie sometimes uses bourgeois cosmopolitanism and other times nationalism and chauvinism with the aim of promoting its interests.
The contemporary conflicts through the prism of the Marxist analysis
The race of the emerging capitalist powers in their effort to gain ground at the expense of older ones is being carried out in many regions, which have a crucial significance for the division of the plunder of the enormous wealth and energy deposits, market shares, the transport routes for commodities.
Of course, in every instance, these contradictions which are accompanied by imperialist interventions can be hidden under various pretexts, like the war “against the weapons of mass destructions”, ”for the promotion of democracy”, “against extremism and religious sectarianism”, ”against piracy”, for the “colour revolutions” etc.
These pretexts can not change the essence…
We would like to note in a codified way our basic assessments on the recent developments.
i) The dangerous developments in Ukraine manifested themselves on the terrain of the capitalist development path that this country is following.
ii) The bloody events in Kiev are connected to the intervention of the EU and the USA-NATO in the Ukrainian developments, are the result of the fierce competition of these powers with Russia over the control of the markets, the raw materials and the country’s transport networks.
iii) The overthrow of the Yanukovych government does not constitute a “democratic change”, as reactionary and even fascist forces emerged with the support of the EU and the USA-NATO and are being used by these powers to advance their geopolitical goals in the region of Eurasia.
iv) The KKE denounced the foreign interventions in the internal affairs of Ukraine, as well as the activity of fascist forces, anticommunism, the aim to outlaw the CP and communist ideology as well the acts of vandalism at the expense of the Lenin monument and other anti-fascist monuments. It highlighted these issues with its statements in the Parliament, the EU Parliament, the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, with protests at the Ukrainian embassy in Athens, as well as with the Joint Statement that the DKP and KKE drafted together and which was signed by 50 communist parties from all over the world.
v) It noted that the attachment of Ukraine to today’s capitalist Russia is not a solution for the people of Ukraine. The attempts to divide the people of Ukraine so that it chooses the one or the other inter-state capitalist union along the basis of nationality or language will lead to a bloodbath and incalculably tragic consequences for the country itself. This is entirely alien to the interests of the workers.
vi) It expressed the conviction that the working people of Ukraine must organize their own independent struggle based on the criterion of their own interests and not according to which imperialist is chosen by the one or the other section of the Ukrainian plutocracy. They must chart the course for socialism which is the only alternative solution to the impasses of the capitalist development path. In any case, the people of Ukraine have experienced socialism. To a great extent they fondly recall the enormous social gains that it entailed for the working class and other popular strata.
vii) The KKE demanded that our country have no involvement, no entanglement in the imperialist plans of NATO, the USA and the EU in Ukraine. It underlined that the capitalist crisis and imperialist wars go hand in hand and our people have no interests in Greece participating in these plans.
The role of social-democracy
At the outbreak of the 1st World War the social-democratic-reformist parties openly betrayed the working class, were transformed into social-chauvinist parties, supporting the bourgeoisies of their countries, voting for the war credits and calling on the working class of their countries to sacrifice themselves for capital in the name of defending the fatherland. In this way they violated the decisions of previous international socialist congresses regarding the activity to transform the imperialist war into the struggle for the conquest of workers’ power, a line which had been formed due to the intervention of Lenin and other consistent Marxist revolutionaries
Today, official social-democracy has abandoned every “fig-leaf” in relation to 100 years ago, and has been transformed all over Europe into one of the two pillars of the bourgeois political system. However, opportunism is seeking to take the position of traditional social-democracy and has formed its own pole in Europe via the ELP, a party based on the laws of the EU, and is the “left” defender of the imperialist barbarity and a support and propagandist for the predatory alliance of the EU.
These forces of the “new” social-democracy participated in recent years in “centre-left” governments in France and Italy, which waged NATO’s imperialist war against Yugoslavia. They supported the imperialist pretexts and interventions in the war against Libya, Syria and the intervention against the Central African Republic.
SYRIZA, which is an amalgam of opportunist and social-democratic forces, promotes in Greece the demand for the “dissolution of NATO”. However, how can this imperialist organization be dismantled if it is not weakened by the withdrawal of each country from it? This withdrawal in order for the country to be truly disentangled from every imperialist union, as the KKE stresses, can only be guaranteed by workers’ power. In reality, the stance of SYRIZA is generally pacifist and only “anti-NATO” in words, but in practice it does not in the slightest target the existence and activity of the imperialist organization of NATO, as well as the participation of each country in the imperialist plans.
The danger of a wider and more significant war and the tasks of the communists
The confrontation might to various extents embrace the entire region that extends from the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and North Africa, to the Persian Gulf, the Caucasus, the Balkans, and the Caspian Sea. However, it may also break out in other regions as well, such as Africa, the region of Central and Eastern Asia, the Korean Peninsula, the Arctic etc.
The KKE also with the decisions of the 19th Congress is preparing and orienting the working class-popular masses regarding the possible involvement of our country in an imperialist war. The Programme of the KKE, which was adopted at the 19th Congress, notes that: «The dangers in the wider region are increasing, from the Balkans to the Middle East, for a generalized imperialist war and the involvement of Greece in it.
The struggle for the defense of the borders, the sovereign rights of Greece, from the standpoint of the working class and the popular strata is integral to the struggle for the overthrow of the power of capital. It does not have any relation with the defense of the plans of one or the other imperialist pole and the profitability of one or the other monopoly group.»
On this basis we see that the KKE deals with the issue of defending the country (borders, more general sovereign rights) using class criteria, i.e. from the standpoint of the working class and popular strata. It links this issue with the struggle for the disentanglement form the imperialist plans and unions, for the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of the socialist society.
Besides , history has taught us that even in conditions of occupation, the dissolution of the nation-state formation, the working class can not fight against occupation from the same standpoint as the bourgeois class and can not ally with any section of it. War and occupation are the extension of capitalist exploitation for the working class and poor popular strata, creations of the economic and political sovereignty of capital. The working class struggles against destitution, the oppression and violence of the occupier, the intensification of exploitation, against the international imperialist agreements. Its “homeland” is a homeland freed from the capitalists, outside of the imperialist coalitions, a fatherland where it will be the owner of the wealth it produces, where it will be in power. The war of the bourgeoisie for its own “homeland” – regardless of whether it allies with the foreign occupation or resists it- and will be waged for the interests of the monopoly groups once again, for the restoration of an agreement regarding the division of the markets which will be in the interests of the domestic monopolies and not in the interests of the working class and popular strata.
The ΚΚΕ has drawn the necessary conclusions from the armed struggle carried out during the Second World War against the fascist triple (German , Italian , Bulgarian ) foreign occupation of the country . Despite the preponderance of the armed sections of EAM - ELAS , which was led by the KKE, our Party, unfortunately, was unable to link the anti-fascist struggle , the struggle against foreign occupation with the struggle to overthrow the rule of capital in the country. That was because there was not a unified strategy within our ranks. Today, drawing valuable conclusions from the history of our party , we develop such a strategy, having before us the dangers of engagement of our country in new , local, regional , or more generalized imperialist wars .
The Political Resolution of the 19th Congress notes that:” In the instance of Greece's involvement in an imperialist war, either in a defensive or aggressive war, the Party must lead the independent organization of the workers'-people's struggle in all its forms, so as to lead to the complete defeat of the bourgeois class, both the domestic one and the foreign invader.”
In the conditions of a new imperialist war, the political vanguard of the working class, its party has the task of highlighting the need for the class unity of the workers, the alliance with popular forces, the internationalist dimension of the working class and the tasks that flow from this. The stance towards the war is the stance towards the class struggle and the socialist revolution, a struggle for the transformation of this war into an armed class struggle, the “only war of liberation”, as Lenin characterized it. The analysis of Lenin is valuable which, developing the theory of the weakest link, i.e. seeing the possibility of a major sharpening of the contradictions happening previously, the creation of a revolution situation in a country or group of countries, scientifically grounded the possibility of the revolution initially prevailing in one country of a group of countries. Consequently the consultation, the common slogans and common activity with the revolutionary movement of other countries in such a war constitutes an important precondition for the prospect of the outbreak and victory of the socialist revolution in more countries, the possibility of another kind of cooperation or union of states, on the basis of social ownership, central planning with proletarian internationalism.
At the same time the KKE strengthens its struggle against opportunism, because as Lenin noted the “the fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism”
We communists, who base our analyses on the theory of scientific socialism, know very well that war is continuation of politics by other specifically violent means. War arises on the terrain of the conflict of different economic interests, which permeate the entire system of capitalism. This is the reason why, even if war in the conditions of capitalism is inevitable (like economic crises, unemployment, poverty etc); it is not a natural phenomenon. It is a social phenomenon, as it is connected to the nature of the society we live in. This is the society which has the profitability of those who possess the means of production as its “corner-stone”. The monopolies and their power give rise to the imperialist war. In conclusion, our struggle for a society where the means of production will be the property of the people (and not the property of the very few), where the economy will operate planned centrally and controlled by the workers themselves, with the aim of satisfying the needs of the people (and not the increase of the capitalists’ profits) is integrally connected to the struggle against the imperialist war and the "peace" imposed by the imperialists with the gun to the people's head, which prepares the new imperialist wars.
Nevertheless, this formulation of ours, that as long as capitalism exists, the conditions will exist which give rise to war, does not mean fatalism and defeatism! Quite the opposite. We address ourselves to the working class of the country, to the peoples of our region and we stress that their interests are identified with the common anti-capitalist-anti-monopoly struggle, for the disengagement from the imperialist organizations, the removal of the foreign military bases and nuclear weapons, the return home of the military forces from the imperialist missions, the expression of solidarity with every people which is struggling and seeks to chart its own development path. So that our country is disentangled from the imperialist plans and wars. So that slogan becomes a reality: “No land, no water for the murderers of the peoples.” This is a daily struggle. A struggle with specific goals, which the communists wage in a way which is united with the struggle for power and not detached from it.
Because Lenin’s theses continue to be relevant which note that “In such conditions, the slogans of pacifism, of international disarmament under capitalism, of arbitration, etc., are not only a reactionary utopia but the downright deception of the toilers, intended to disarm the proletariat and to divert it from the task of disarming the exploiters.
Only a proletarian communist revolution can lead humanity out of the deadlock created by imperialism and imperialist wars. No matter what difficulties the revolution may have to encounter and in spite of temporary failure of waves of counter-revolution the final victory of the proletariat is inevitable.”
 Programme of the KKE. Adopted at the 19th Congress (11-14/4/2013)
 V.I. Lenin. «Under a False Flag”.
 Programme of the KKE.
 Political Resolution of the 19th Congress of the KKE
 V.I. Lenin . “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.”
 V.I. Lenin. “Programme of the Russian Communist Party (B)”