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The working class needs a strong Communist Party
At the invitation of the New Communist Party of the Netherlands, Kostas Papadakis, member of the CC and MEP of the KKE, attended the international seminar on the Great October Revolution, organized by the NCP of the Netherlands. The theme of the seminar was "The Great October Revolution, the working class needs a strong Communist Party".
The speech of K.Papadakis was as follows:
First of all, allow us to thank you for the invitation. We are holding this discussion on an extremely important day, the 98th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution that launched a new historical epoch, the epoch marking the passage from capitalism to socialism in revolutionary Russia, which became the weak link for the capitalist system. Until then, no social system had yet been implemented where the working class controlled the means of production, thus paving the way for new relations of production, socialist ones with the working class in political power, abolishing capitalist ownership and replacing it with social ownership. It was proven in practice in 1917 with the experience of the Paris Commune also that a single Communist Party, guided by the world theory of Marxism-Leninism and having a correct strategy, can lead the working class to fulfill its historic mission and within a social alliance with other poor popular strata can abolish the exploitation of man by man. A CP that struggles daily, in a unified way to promote its strategic goal, that is a powerful Party with strong Party Organizations in workplaces, in trade union branches, in working class neighbourhoods.
What the Bolshevik party first established was to have worker’s power as a goal of struggle - the dictatorship of the proletariat in order to build socialism, within its program it acted consistently to fulfill this goal, to promote its strategy and its program. The realization of the October Revolution as a historical event conclusively confirmed that the era of imperialism is the highest stage, it is the epoch marking the end of the capitalist system. A system that is historically obsolete, that has rotted and is one and the same with exploitation, poverty, unemployment, wars, bloodshed and refugees.
Today it is more obvious than ever that this system cannot solve the basic problems of the people, to provide even the bare essentials for the people. Therefore, there is no other choice for the Communist Party but to become more capable in the struggle for the organization of the working class, in the development of essential ideological and political bonds with it. These bonds are developed through the struggle to achieve the necessary concentration of forces to build the alliance of the working class with the other poor popular strata, the self-employed of the city and the countryside, the poor middle farmers, youth and women of the working class, with the goal of escalating the conflict with the forces of capital, to overthrow capitalist barbarism, to build socialism.
The completion of this mission is certainly not an easy task. However, what we have achieved to date is very important. Unlike the parties of classical and newly-minted social democracy, and of opportunism that irrevocably abandoned Marxism-Leninism and is wallowing in the mire of managing capitalist barbarism, of servicing capitalist interests, of actively supporting the EU and NATO, of class collaboration, there is the very opposite, the power that safeguards and promotes the only real way out. That is the Communist Parties which believe in the historical necessity of the struggle for the overthrow of the capitalist system, in the vanguard of the working class, the driving force of history, the class struggle, the need to build a superior type of power and economy, socialism - communism.
The challenge now is which strategy will achieve these objectives which constitute the raison d'être of a Communist Party.
Over time, bourgeois ideology has sought to disorient claiming that the working class has either been reduced or mutated or is nearing extinction. It is no accident that the bourgeoisie have targeted the subject of revolution in order to ensure its power, to prevent the inevitability of a socialist revolution. The distortions of the bourgeoisie cannot alter the fact that all modern wage workers who sell their labor power to capitalists in order to live belong to the working class and as stated by the Manifesto “who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital”. To enable the working class not only to struggle with consistency and effectiveness for economic demands, but above all to realize the great final objectives, a comprehensive ideological-political struggle must be carried out that only the Communist Party can organize, orient and guide .
One example to understand the importance of the vanguard of the working class in shaping the revolutionary strategy for a CP is to examine the positions of the social-democratic and other opportunist forces, i.e.; the SYRIZA forces, the joint appeal "Plan B", the PEL forces and the Popular Unity party of former minister Lafazanis, the previous government SYRIZA ANEL that was finally left out of parliament, all reproduce the same bankrupt illusions that there can be a pro-people government inside the capitalist system, inside the EU with another national currency. They raise the issue of exit from the EU or the Eurozone, disconnected from workers’-people’s power disguising it supposedly as a stepping stone to socialism. Often such positions are projected as a stage between capitalism and socialism.
What are they saying? That a section of the bourgeoisie that best serves their own interests with a national currency and/or outside the EU could impose the country's exit from the EU and that the people would prosper without taking power in their hands. This is impossible. Positions such as this negate the vanguard role of the working class and lead to the working class becoming the tail of the bourgeoisie that continues to stay in power. In Greece the KKE sets as a goal disengagement from the EU with the prerequisite to realize this goal being the achievement of workers’ people’s power. Because this goal, along with the unilateral cancellation of debt, can only be achieved with the working class in power to implement it and to benefit from it. Workers’ people’s power is the prerequisite for people's prosperity. The slogans about struggling for “sovereignty” and “independence” that are invoked by these forces are mainly aimed at dealing with the unequal relations with and dependencies on Germany. In essence they are lending impetus to one side of the intra-capitalist competition (the USA, France and Italy) and they are asking the people to choose between bosses. They cannot conceal the fact the various “plan Bs” are pure capitalism, as they are all based on the fact that the means of production will remain in the hands of big capital. The economy will still function on the basis of capitalist profit. The anarchy of production, capital accumulation by the capitalists, the quest for profits will be the factors that bring new crises. All the laws of capitalist exploitation will be in force and are incompatible with the satisfaction of the people’s needs.
This is the main issue, whatever party or coalition becomes the government, whatever management formula is applied, it is capitalist barbarity that will be managed and labour power will remain a commodity. As the example of Latin America has demonstrated, as has Greece, with the governmental programmes to deal with extreme poverty, this barbarity can not be reversed.
In the framework of nationalizations and state ownership as a whole, with the state as the collective capitalist, the exploitative nature of the capitalist system is not altered. In a liberalized market, state investments also function on the basis of profit and the laws of the market
This is why people’s sovereignty is inextricably linked not only with disengagement from the EU and NATO and every imperialist organization, but also with the rupture with capital’s power itself. This reality cannot be bypassed because it is an expression of the very laws of the capitalist economy itself. And this conclusion arises even more clearly when we examine the situation in countries that are today outside the EU and NATO. And in these countries, as long as the capitalist relations of production exist, there are thousands of threads that keep these countries in relations of unequal interdependence inside the rest of the global capitalist economy. So there can be no talk about “sovereignty” if the foundations of capitalist society are not overthrown. Also in our estimation, communists must struggle for the overthrow of bourgeois power and in this way break the relations of unequal interdependence, and not to achieve some “equality” in the framework of imperialism or one of its unions, like the EU.
On this basis, we determined in the proceedings for our 19th Congress that the anti-capitalist, anti-monopoly line of rallying and struggle is the essential tool for gathering forces. The alliance policy of KKE and its action in the workers’-popular movement is based on this, with the goal being the resolution of the central problem of our country, that of power.
We estimate today that the conception of “stages” that characterized previous strategic formulations of the international communist movement are detrimental to the development of the class struggle.
Historical experience as well as objective reality demonstrates that there is no intermediate social-economic system between capitalism and socialism. That is to say, no intermediate form of power exists.
What we want to emphasize is that if bourgeois power is not overturned, if the means of production do not become workers’-people’s property, then people’s needs cannot be satisfied. It is a condition and prerequisite for developments that benefit the people. In any case, any CP to date that has violated this condition of paramount importance, that has shown willingness to participate in bourgeois governments, in the context of the domination of the monopolies within the framework of the EU and NATO has been exposed. This exposing is irreparable and destroys the validity and reliability of a CP for decades to follow. This becomes imprinted in the workers’ people’s consciousness that a CP sowing illusions was assimilated into the bourgeois political system of management, taking part in the implementation of barbaric policies in favor of the monopolies that regardless of intent, are deeply anti-people with inevitable consequences.
Our position is based on the fact that the capitalist economy has its own unrelenting laws. These are based on the exploitation of man by man, the extraction of the greatest possible surplus value by the capitalists, securing as much cheap labour power as possible for capital for unhindered profitability, which is the foundation of the capitalist mode of production. Governments of bourgeois management change, however what doesn’t change is who holds the wealth in his hands, who holds the keys to the economy.
There are examples of Communist Workers’ Parties in France, Italy, and more recently in Cyprus that participated in bourgeois management with painful results for the people.
Thus, it is completely logical for communists in Greece and other countries to be concerned about the developments in Portugal.
We can agree that, that without agreement on these criteria of strategic importance amongst the CPs, ideological-political unity cannot be achieved. The problem is very big and constitutes a basic element of the crisis that the communist movement is experiencing.
The KKE, with all its international activity and the initiatives it has undertaken, aims to contribute to dealing with this situation. If these issues are not resolved, if conclusions are not reached leading in a revolutionary direction, the fragmented situation in the international Communist Movement will remain and will deepen. The calls for unity will remain simple wishes as long as a unified revolutionary strategy for the international CPs is not formulated, one that will provide an answer to the strategies of the bourgeois class and that will move in the direction of overthrowing bourgeois power.
We want to be honest with you. A characteristic example of what we’re talking about is shown by the position of various CPs towards the developments in Greece. Within the International Communist Movement, in the workers’ movement, great illusions were cultivated about new social democracy and Tsipras. The character of SYRIZA as a bourgeois party with a social democratic course was greatly underestimated. The support of certain CPs and the mobilizations abroad served as an alibi in Greece for the anti-people SYRIZA government.
SYRIZA has been a key choice of capital in Greece for bourgeois management under the conditions of capitalist crisis. SYRIZA is party with an opportunist background, which was formed by forces that left the communist movement along with other social democratic and Trotskyite forces. It has systematically fostered the illusion that a management of the bourgeois system in favour of the people is allegedly possible within the framework of the capitalist system, within the EU and NATO; that a bourgeois government can relieve the people from the harsh anti-worker measures of PASOK and ND.
Powerful sections of capital in Greece supported SYRIZA, assessing that it can offer its services to the system, promoting anti-people policies with the least possible popular protests.
Thus, after the elections in January SYRIZA formed a coalition government with the nationalist party “Independent Greeks” (ANEL). The attractive slogans about the “end of austerity” were not related to the people and the end of anti-worker policies, as the people thought. They were related to the aim of the Greek plutocracy to obtain state capital and capital from the EU so as to lend impetus to its profitability, demanding as a precondition more favourable conditions and reductions regarding debt repayment. This effort of the Greek bourgeois class coincided with the aims of the USA, as well as France and Italy at the level of the Eurozone, that demanded , each one for its own interests, a similar relaxation of the restrictive policy in order to support their business groups at the expense of Germany which has been accruing more benefits all these years for the German monopolies. This confrontation which was presented as a negotiation of the Greek government with the EU, the IMF in favour of the people, however, had nothing to do with the people’s interests, it was part of the general competition between the USA and Germany.
In this framework the appeal of the Greek government for “solidarity with the Greek people against austerity” was misleading: those who responded to this appeal were transformed into the audience of an anti-people negotiation which was bound to lead to new barbaric measures at the expense of the people, which was shown in practice with the imposition of the 3rd, harsher Memorandum.
Here, we must mention that the SYRIZA-ANEL government, in addition to the anti-people measures, took part in imperialist interventions in the wider region of the South Eastern Mediterranean, supporting with all means available to it the murderous plans of the USA, the EU and NATO. We are talking about practical support for joint military exercises Greece – USA- Israel, for the maintenance and use of the American NATO bases in Greece for the implementation of imperialist plans at the expense of the peoples of the Middle East, of Northern African and the Palestinian people.
This so-called government of the Left agreed to install a NATO military base in the Aegean Sea on the island of Karpathos, to develop a multi-national NATO force on the island of Crete, to create a base for drones also on Crete.
It constitutes a dangerous policy that is being implemented in the name of a geo-strategic upgrading of Greece for the benefit of the monopoly groups, entangling our country in the knot of inter-imperialist rivalries.
Many pretexts are being used by the NATO command, the EU command, that talk about confronting “terrorism”, the so-called war against ISIS which the USA, the EU and their allies created, trained and armed.
This is the reality comrades and we want in addition to note that the “first time leftwing” government is hypocritically, together with the EU, stating its concern about the drama of the refugees and immigrants. A phenomenon that is being caused by the interventions of the USA-NATO-EU and is being exacerbated by the repressive policies of the EU, the Schengen agreement, Frontex, and the reactionary Dublin Regulations.
It is a well-known fact that a confrontation with capitalism, with capital, the bourgeois state, the governments and the parties of the system, as well as with every type of ideological and repressive mechanism is a difficult task. This is true as a general rule but we must also note that the situation becomes even more complex when within the government there are forces that speak in the name of the left and try to manipulate working people with every means.
The experience of Greece is important. In our country, the methodical attempt to deceive the people on the pretext of the “lesser evil” and the search for easy solutions without a confrontation with capital, the EU and their power, the dissipation of hopes fostered by the anti-people policies of SYRIZA, all constitute elements for the further retreat of the labour and people’s movement; a retreat that is caused by insecurity resulting from the destructive consequences of the capitalist crisis, the high rate of unemployment, the attack by the bosses in the workplaces, the fear of being fired.
Forces that had fought in previous years against the anti-worker measures and memorandums, compromised based on the deceptive promise of an allegedly ‘gentler’ implementation.
The negative balance of forces in Greece and internationally caused by the effect of counter-revolution, the attack of capital and the role of the political and trade union forces that support its interests, the current of opportunism and the level of the class struggle that develops based on this, are factors that play a significant role in the developments and demand that the CPs study them carefully and fight to change the situation, fight against the sense of fatalism.
These features were reflected in the recent election result on 20th September, a result which is generally at the expense of the people. It was marked by a high abstention rate as well as the logic of giving SYRIZA a second chance, in view of a possible return of ND. Both the criminal Nazi “Golden Dawn” party, which stabilized its electoral influence supported by the capitalists, setting up “slave-trading” employment mechanisms in workplaces with the openly declared aim of impeding the growing strength of PAME and the influence of KKE, and other parties, like the “Centre Union” that has recently entered Parliament and has reactionary liberal views, utilize targeted anti-communism, thus demonstrating the aims of the system.
Despite the difficulties, the KKE exposed and demonstrated in good time the anti-people character of the SYRIZA-ANEL government, decisively proving that within the capitalist road and the EU there is no such thing as people-friendly policies. In these conditions the KKE received more than 300.000 votes , i.e. 5.5%, and maintained its 15 MPs and its militant parliamentary group. It won over new forces, it rallied forces that left SYRIZA, amongst others unemployed people, young people, employees from private sector. We lost some forces due to the high abstention rate, which does not reflect a stance of active confrontation against the system and the bourgeois policies.
The most important thing is that the prestige and the role of the KKE is being recognized by wider popular forces, even by those that did not manage to overcome their dilemmas and hesitations. However, a basis has been formed in order to build more substantial, solid and above all militant bonds with those people, so as to achieve a deep agreement with the policy of the KKE, through the common struggle in the mass movement.
On this occasion we would like to highlight a key issue, an issue that we constantly emphasize, irrespective of our results in each election.
A communist revolutionary party cannot expect the constant increase of its percentage in the elections until the overthrow of capitalism. This dangerous view leads to parliamentary illusions that sooner or later lead to the compromise with the system and its management.
The KKE struggles for socialism and for the maturation of the subjective factor, for the achievement of the appropriate organization and preparation so that the people, with the communists in the frontline, fight for power when the revolutionary situation emerges.
It is obvious that we do not set socialism-communism as an immediate (electoral) goal, we do not foster the illusion that it can be achieved through parliamentary elections. The allegation that KKE sets the goal of socialism in the elections is a distortion of the party’s theses.
The truth is different. The KKE, everyday, in every political battle (including the elections) has the duty to promote the only real way out, its political proposal, contributing to the maturation of the subjective factor, the preparation of the workers’ – people’s forces.
We promoted the need to develop the class struggle, for confrontation with capitalist power and ownership. We utilized this electoral battle in the framework of the effort to concentrate forces in order to strengthen the anti-monopoly anti-capitalist struggle. What we encountered is that the people were more willing to discuss our political proposal, the criteria and the character of the socialized economy, central planning, workers’ control, to discuss how we can overcome the obstacles of the enemy in order to realize this strategy.
This is why the KKE’s strength can not just be measured in terms of the election results. Its strength flows from its relationship with the working class in the workplaces, sectors, working class and popular neighbourhoods, trade unions and other mass movement organizations. Despite the difficulties in the development of the class struggle, the strength of the KKE is apparent in the strikes, the demonstrations, the support communists provide to PAME’s struggles, which we should note is not some “red” or “communist” union, nor a “rally of left unions” as we read in the distorted bourgeois media reports. PAME is the class pole in the labour movement, which rallies on the basis of its own independent class line, through a framework of demands and the joint action of local unions, federation, labour centres and trade unionists. The forces that participate in PAME are active in the trade unions and through their activity expose and isolate the compromised leaderships and participate in the elections of these unions in order to change the correlation of forces. Even where they are in a minority they develop independent activity through initiatives for the better organization of the mobilizations in a class direction. Similar grass roots work is carried out in PASY, the rally for poor farmers and in PASEVE, the rally for the self-employed. We should note that in the trade union elections, the workers give the lists supported by the communists the majority, as in the labour centres of Athens, Piraeus, Larisa etc. and federations in crucial sectors like construction, the pharmaceutical industry, food processing as well as in mass sectoral unions with militant activity like that in the telecommunications sector, metal, local government etc..
This is a much deeper and more multifaceted reality than a simple electoral percentage, which we of course struggle to increase in the specific conditions characterized by the dominance of the monopolies and bourgeois ideology, in the conditions of the deep capitalist crisis. Understanding this well and weighing up the activity of the KKE in Greece, the country’s bourgeois class takes this into account and adjusts its activity, constantly using new methods and constantly adjusting them in order to unleash anti-communism and dirty attacks against the KKE. This all occurs at a time when the SYRIZA-ANEL government, utilizing the anti-worker prerequisite measures, is imposing sweeping changes that demolish what is left of the social-security system, increasing the retirement age, reducing pensions, suffocating the social-security funds, freeing the employers and state from making their contributions to the funds. At the same time, the taxes are being increased yet again, privatizations and benefit cuts are being planned as well as new reactionary changes to labour relations. On the 16th and then the 22nd of October, mass demonstrations were held by PAME all over the country which gave a decisive response and will climax in the nationwide strike on the 12th of November called for by hundreds of unions, federations and labour centres, supported by hundreds of other mass movement organizations.
Within this course of the development of the class struggle, we strive for important steps to be taken for the regoupment of the workers’ movement, to strengthen the organization of the working class and the class-based orientation of the labour movement, to strengthen the social-people’s alliance between the working class, the poor farmers, the urban self-employed, the youth and women of working class families and the popular strata, so that this alliance not only struggles daily around every problem faced by the people but also becomes a force for rupture with capitalism.
It is on this road that we proceed resolutely and once again, we would like to thank you for allowing us this opportunity to share our experience with you.