Contribution of the Portuguese Communist Party to the 18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
The Portuguese Communist Party expresses its fraternal greetings to the parties participating in the 18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties and particularly to the Communist Party of Vietnam, reaffirming its everlasting solidarity and friendship to the heroic Vietnamese people and wishing the best success to the CPV in the important tasks it is engaged in, in the economic and social development of their homeland, to answer the aspirations of the Vietnamese workers and people, to build socialism.
The PCP participates in this International Meeting reaffirming its commitment to contribute to the strengthening of the international communist and revolutionary movement, its cooperation and internationalist solidarity, with the conviction that it will contribute to the exchange of information and experiences among our parties, for better mutual understanding, for the development of our common or convergent action for peace, for the rights of the workers and peoples, for socialism – exchange and action all the more important when the current international situation is characterised by the structural crisis of capitalism and the violent imperialist offensive.
In PCP’s view, the international situation remains marked by the deepening of the structural crisis of capitalism and the continuation of a complex and contradictory process of rearrangement of forces on a world scale, a context where imperialism intensifies a violent and all-round offensive which increasingly meets the resistance and struggle of the workers and peoples in defence of their rights and sovereignty and of States in defence of their independence and development.
A situation where, among other expressions of the worsening of the more negative traits of capitalism, stand out the domination of financial and speculative capital on the economy and the heightening of centralisation and concentration of capital, monopolistic appropriation of wealth and raw materials, exploitation, assault on social rights, attack on freedoms, democratic rights and national sovereignty and independence, the liberalisation of world trade as a tool for economic and political domination or the centralisation of power in supranational bodies dominated by the major imperialist powers.
The world continues to face a cyclical crisis that started in 2007/8. A crisis centred on the Triad (US, EU, Japan) – where the situation is of stagnation or anaemic growth – whose effects spread to the entire planet. A cyclical crisis that is inseparable from a deeper reality, the structural crisis of capitalism, reflected in the inability of the dominant system to find solutions to overcome it. Determined by big financial and speculative capital and without tackling the real causes, the measures that are taken to overcome the crisis only protract it and turn even more violent the peak of the explosion of the next crisis.
Although, in the context of inter-imperialist concentration-rivalry, class concentration continues to dominate against the workers and against the people, with the deepening of the crisis the contradictions among the great imperialist powers will tend to sharpen.
The complex and dangerous situation in Europe is the consequence of the deepening structural crisis of capitalism and, simultaneously, of the development of the European capitalist integration. The EU’s class nature – an instrument of domination at the service of big capital and of major powers in Europe, deeply contrary to the rights, interests and aspirations of the peoples – intensifies the contradictions around the class issue, the national question and inter-imperialist rivalries. These contradictions are present in recent and major developments such as the referendum in Britain.
The response of big capital to the crisis in and of the European Union is itself a deepening factor of these contradictions. The fact that today the possibility of deep reconfiguration, or end, of the euro and even of the European Union is openly considered is an example of these deepening contradictions.
Faced with the violent offensive against social, labour, democratic and sovereign rights the peoples of Europe increasingly look towards the European Union not as a solution to their problems but as a problem. The militarist and securitarian drift, the deepening reactionary character of the European Union policies – of which the EU policy regarding the refugee humanitarian crisis is a clear example – deepen further the imperialist character of the European Union.
Big capital, the major powers and the forces that have driven the capitalist integration process – right-wing and social democracy – are now trying to launch a new leap forward based on the idea of saving Europe from the threat of the extreme right. But the question is exactly the opposite. To save Europe from this and other dangers passes by defeating the European Union.
The question posed to people, to communist parties and other progressive forces in Europe, is how to deepen the struggle leading to the defeat of the European capitalist integration. In our opinion the path to build another Europe of workers and peoples, of sovereign states equal in rights, of peace, progress and cooperation, depends on the convergence of several factors that are interrelated: the development of the workers’ and peoples’ struggle defending their rights and sovereignty and political awareness of the class nature of the European Union; the affirmation of the right to sovereign economic development; changing the correlation of forces in different countries, including through the strengthening of the communist and workers’ parties; the coordination and cooperation of progressive and left forces, especially the communists, based on a clear position of breaking with the process of European capitalist integration, rejecting illusions about the refounding and the so called democratisation of the European Union.
In view of the exploitative and oppressive offensive, the class struggle sharpens and narrows the social base of support for capitalism, adding to the struggle of the working class and workers other classes and social strata who fight to defend their specific interests.
In a situation where there are setbacks, but also significant advances by the progressive and revolutionary forces, the struggle of the workers and peoples is characterised by a persistent and determined resistance. Various struggles are taking place all over the world. Struggles for the right to work and other labour rights, trade union rights, social rights, implementation of the social functions of the State, like healthcare, education and Social Security; struggles against the privatisation of strategic sectors and in defence of public services, the right to water, the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources; fights for the right to land and food sovereignty and safety; struggles against all types of exploitation and discrimination; struggles in defence of freedoms, guarantees and democratic rights, against anti-communism, against the rise of fascism; struggles in defence of national sovereignty, for democracy, against blackmail and supranational impositions dictated by the interests of big business and the major powers, against free trade and services agreements.
Imperialism, particularly US imperialism – the great hegemonic power of the capitalist world – tries to counter the decline of its relative economic weight by intensifying exploitation, asserting its supremacy in economic relations and sharpening its aggressive escalation, aiming to destroy those who in one way or another resist it, like forces and countries (and various articulations among countries) which, affirming and defending their sovereignty and national independence, choose paths for their development outside the hegemonic rule of imperialism, in particular of US imperialism.
In this context, imperialism seeks to deny the right to self-determination of the peoples and condemns several countries to underdevelopment, is bent on disregarding the principles of the United Nations Charter and of International Law and under the umbrella of the UN, promotes militarism and war, reinforces NATO and a multitude of alliances and offensive military partnerships, intensifies the arms race and the installation of new and sophisticated weapons, fosters terrorism, including State terrorism, interference, destabilisation and aggression against sovereign States, practically on every continent, with the danger, and even the threat of an escalation and spreading of military conflicts around the world of incalculable proportions.
The US, NATO and their allies are responsible for all of today’s major military conflicts, with their offensive constituting the great threat that the peoples face.
Expressions of the escalation of imperialist confrontation include the wars of aggression in the Middle East – as in Syria, Iraq, Yemen or the occupation of Palestine by Israel – and in Central Asia; the destabilising offensive in Latin America – as in Brazil, Venezuela and other member countries of ALBA, including the blockade against Cuba; the processes of destabilisation and re-colonisation in Africa; the advance of NATO towards Eastern Europe and the instrumentalisation and fascissation of Ukraine, aimed at the Russian Federation; or the growing militarisation in Asia and the Pacific promoted by the US and Japan, aimed at China.
A reality that brings urgency to the strengthening of solidarity with the victims of imperialist destabilisation and war and to the struggle for peace, against militarism and war, against NATO and the militarisation of the European Union.
Imperialism’s aggressive offensive aimed at the sovereignty of the peoples and the independence of States extends and diversifies the forces that objectively converge for the anti-imperialist struggle.
The international situation makes clear the interconnection between the defence of national sovereignty and independence, the struggle for peace and the struggle for social progress and emancipation, highlighting the intrinsic relationship between the class issue and the national issue in the process of emancipation of the workers and peoples.
In this context, the PCP considers of utmost importance the strengthening, unity and increase in the capacity for action of the international communist and revolutionary movement. A goal that necessarily involves the strengthening of every Communist Party or other revolutionary force – their connection with the masses and their national reality, their ability to define their program and tasks – and the strengthening of solidarity and cooperation.
To this effect, the PCP is committed to the strengthening of mutual solidarity and cooperation between communist parties, contributing to further debate, valorising at every moment what favours unity in action and asserting the communist identity, ideal and project, be it in the context of their bilateral relations or in a multilateral framework – like the process of the International Meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP).
The PCP considers that what harms the strengthening of the communist movement is both the growth of liquidationist and social democratising trends and the dogmatic and sectarian concepts and practices which, in the opinion of the PCP, do not contribute to strengthen the communist movement and its unity in action, bringing about factors of division, distancing and misunderstanding that hamper the necessary progress in their internationalist solidarity, and their relation with other progressive and left-wing forces.
Based on its own experience and the historical experience of the communist movement, the PCP considers essential in the relationship between communist parties the observance of principles, such as equal rights, independence, mutual respect, non-interference in internal affairs, openness and mutual solidarity. Similarly, the PCP considers that natural differences, and even divergences, in the analysis of the international situation and the strategy and tactics in the struggle for socialism, should not preclude frank and fraternal discussion in order to examine common problems and approximation of positions, and prevent the unity and intervening capacity of the international communist and revolutionary movement, including their cooperation, their common or convergent action in the fight against the common enemy and for the emancipation of workers and peoples.
To the PCP, these are teachings all the more important and topical when the present international situation places such large and complex demands on the communist parties and other revolutionary forces, and when they, having differentiated paths and fighting in different conditions, face different immediate tasks and are at different stages of the struggle for socialism.
Similarly, the PCP considers that the communist and revolutionary movement has a special responsibility (and a unique experience and heritage) in the construction of social and political alliances, to hold back and place under retreat imperialism’s offensive.
To the PCP, the current international situation poses with particular urgency the need of approximation, the strengthening of the ties of solidarity and the development of cooperation among the communist parties and other revolutionary forces – with the statement of their own objectives and without diluting their identity – with other forces of peace, patriotic, democratic, progressive and anti-imperialist, contributing to the exchange of experiences and for unity in action around immediate objectives of struggle corresponding to the defence of the rights of workers and peoples.
Solidarity which does not mean, requires or is conditioned to a total identification with the forces which carry out resistance and struggle, not necessarily with all the options and solutions that they take, but places at the forefront the defence of principles and objectives, namely the fundamental rights of the peoples, which is a condition for the advance of the struggle towards social and national emancipation.
In this context, particularly important is the strengthening of international broad-united bodies, such as the World Peace Council (WPC), the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF), the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the International Federation of Resistance Fighters (FIR), ensuring their broad-united and anti-imperialist character.
At the European level, the PCP has been acting to bring the communist parties and progressive forces closer together, taking into account differences of situation, reflection and proposal and respecting their independence, placing at the forefront the most heartfelt issues of the workers and the peoples and the fight against the European Union and for a Europe of cooperation among sovereign States with equal rights, of progress and peace. To this effect, the PCP has integrated the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) in the European Parliament, a position it assumes on the basis of respect and safeguard of its confederal nature, its own identity – alternative to social democracy – and its independence in relation to other spaces or structures – like the European Left Party, a structure of a supranational and reformist nature.
Around the world, in a situation characterised by resistance and gathering of forces, even in the toughest conditions, the workers and the peoples resist and fight for their rights, for freedom from oppression, including national oppression, to achieve freedom, democracy, in defence of national sovereignty and independence, for justice and social progress, for democratic changes, anti-monopolist and anti-imperialist changes, for socialism – resistance and struggles, converging in the struggle against imperialism, are interconnected in the same liberated universal ideal and process.
To the PCP, the structural crisis of capitalism and the violent offensive by imperialism brings the need to strengthen a broad anti-imperialist front that holds back imperialism’s offensive and opens the way for the construction of a new international order, of peace, sovereignty and social progress. Similarly, reality shows the need for a strong and vigorous international communist and revolutionary movement and the existence of strong communist and revolutionary parties that promote resistance and struggle of the workers and peoples to defend their rights, the advancement of social change and the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.
Portugal faces problems accumulated as a result of four decades of right-wing policies and thirty years of capitalist integration in the EEC/EU, which PS, PSD and CDS-PP implemented including: A policy at the service of big business and of repealing the achievements of the April revolution. A counter-revolutionary process which, interlinked with the process of European capitalist integration, led the country into a situation of characteristics typical of state monopoly capitalism, in a framework in which the Portuguese State is increasingly sidelined and dominated within the European Union, and broadly by imperialism. A process which promoted economic decline, increased exploitation, social regression, cultural regression, perversion of the democratic regime, a marked dependence that threatens national sovereignty and independence and jeopardises the present and future of the country.
The four and a half years of the previous PSD/CDS-PP government and the enforcement of the “memorandum” – an authentic pact of aggression – signed by PS, PSD and CDS-PP with the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, were marked by an attack on the rights of the workers and Portuguese people, enhancement of concentration of wealth and the worsening of exploitation, social inequalities and impoverishment, by a severe economic and social crisis, the deterioration of the democratic regime and the reconfiguration of the State at the service of monopoly capital.
The workers and the Portuguese people responded to this violent attack with a persistent and intense struggle – where the broad-united trade union movement, the CGTP-IN, the great trade union central of the Portuguese workers assumed a key role – against the right-wing policy and to defend their rights, interests and aspirations.
The October 4, 2015 legislative elections reflected the condemnation of the PSD/CDS-PP government, expressing the political and social isolation determined by the struggle of the masses and the desire to prevent the continuation of its policy of worsening exploitation and impoverishment, of deepening national decline and dependence.
It was this demand for change that the PCP echoed by taking the initiative, in the context of a new correlation of forces resulting from the elections, to help cease the destructive action of the PSD/CDS-PP government and not squander the opportunity to respond to the problems and pressing needs and achieve progress, albeit limited, giving political expression to the struggle and the important immediate claims of the workers and the Portuguese people in defence of their rights and interests.
Although not fulfilling the essential goal of a rupture with right-wing policy and the implementation of a patriotic and left-wing policy, which the PCP advocates, the new correlation of forces has resulted: not in the constitution of a “left-wing government” but the formation and coming into office of a minority PS government with its own program; not in the existence of a parliamentary “left-wing majority”, but the existence of a relationship of forces where PSD and CDS-PP are in the minority, and at the same time, the parliamentary groups of the PCP and PEV [parties that are part of the Broad-united Democratic Coalition – CDU], influence decisions and are crucial and indispensable for the restoration and achievement of rights and incomes; not in a situation where the PCP is a supporting force to the government by means of any “agreement of parliamentary incidence”, but a situation where, having contributed to the government taking office, the PCP maintains full political freedom and independence, all the while guiding its analysis and decisions based on what best serves the interests of the workers, the people and the country.
A political solution, in which the PCP fully assumes its independence and identity, reaffirms its Program and project and holds as objectives its intervention to achieve a rupture with the right-wing policy and a patriotic and left-wing policy.
The new phase of political life in Portugal portrays the contradictory context of the possibilities and limitations that are inherent to it. On the one hand, the implementation of a set of advances, albeit limited, resulting from the struggle of the workers and the people and the intervention of the PCP expressed: in the interruption and reversal of the continuation and intensification of the PSD/CDS-PP government’s offensive; in the progress achieved on a return of rights, wages and income; in witnessing, even though circumstantially, the existence of a course other than the one which the PSD/CDS-PP government and the European Union presented as inevitable and as the one and only. On the other hand, the confirmation of the limitations, of more crucial and indispensable advances resulting from the PS government’s options of submission to the policies, impositions and conditions of the European Union and the interests of monopoly capital.
Notwithstanding, the replacement of wages which were cut and the 35-hour week in Public Administration, the elimination of the surcharge on the income tax, the replacement of the holidays that were dropped, the reversal of the process of privatisation of public transport, the increase in the national minimum wage, increased child benefits and solidarity supplement for the elderly, the cut in healthcare user fees, the protection of the family residence resulting from tax foreclosures, the introduction of free school textbooks, the extra support for unemployed workers, the cut in VAT in restaurant bills, are examples of measures that meet important claims of the struggle of the workers and the Portuguese people that need to be consolidated and are necessary to continue to go further in the defence, replacement and achievement of rights, restoring hope and confidence that a better life is possible.
The PCP does not ignore the complexity and demands of the current phase of political life in Portugal and is fully aware of its deep divergences with the PS, of the different programmatic options of the PS, its path and its assumed attitude of not breaking with external constraints, whether in relation to the impositions of the Unions European, of submission to the Euro or to the debt, or not breaking with the interests of big business. These options of the PS remain in its government action, being structural options associated to a right-wing policy.
The removal of PSD and CDS-PP corresponded not only to the pressing need to stop their destructive work but also to the legitimate expectations of the electoral defeat of those parties portraying the defeat of their policy – a policy that it is necessary to prevent from returning, either by the hand of these parties or that of the PS.
The possibility now open, although in a limited way, to address the most pressing problems and the need to ensure the continuity and consolidation of this path, face not only the conditions and the constraints arising from the process of European capitalist integration, but also pressures and blackmail from big business.
Without denying the political significance of the current situation in Portugal which shows that there can be another course other than just more exploration, destruction of rights and impoverishment, this situation also shows the increasingly irreconcilable nature of the impositions of the European Union and the Euro and a policy which effectively answers the economic and social development that the country needs.
The reaction of transnational capital centres is here is to prove that, however feeble the affirmations of sovereignty or questioning of their interests, they spare no means to preserve their aims, and it is necessary to combat any illusion about the possibility of consolidating a path of affirmation of the right to a sovereign development submitted to the impositions and rules of the European Union.
The effective answer to the country’s problems continues to be affected by the suffocation of the burden of public debt, by the constraints of the mechanisms and blackmail of the Euro and the European Union, by the succession of scandals in banking, which consume thousands of millions of Euros of public funds, or the domination of monopoly groups of the national economy.
Notwithstanding the value and important significance of the defeat of the PSD/CDS-PP government and the most immediate projects of big business, made possible by the persistent struggle of the workers and the people and the action of the PCP, the reality of the country increasingly shows the need and urgency of a break with the right-wing policy, break with the power of monopoly capital and with the limitations and constraints stemming from the capitalist integration of the European Union and the Euro and their instruments of domination.
The defence of all the positive measures meanwhile obtained and the fight against all negative measures, aspects and guidelines of the right-wing policy that still remain, are part of the struggle for a break with the right-wing policy and an alternative patriotic and left-wing policy proposed by PCP.
A policy which, due to its patriotic dimension, inscribes national sovereignty and independence as a central goal, affirming the inalienable right of the Portuguese people to decide their present and future and the prevalence of this sovereign will on any and all constraints and external impositions.
A left-wing policy that assumes a break with the right-wing policy and inscribes the aim of valorisation of the rights and incomes of the workers and people, raising the living conditions of other anti-monopoly classes and strata, the promotion of justice and social progress.
PCP’s immediate political proposal, with anti-monopolistic and anti-imperialist character, holds eight priority aspects:
- the liberation of the country from submission to the Euro and from the impositions and constraints of the European Union which, with other expressions of a sovereign foreign policy, of peace and cooperation, affirms a free and sovereign Portugal;
- the renegotiation of the public debt, in its terms, interest and amounts, to ensure a debt service consistent with public investment needs, development and creation of jobs;
- the valorisation of work and workers, based on full employment, on wage increases, shorter working hours, in defence of work with rights, fight against unemployment and precariousness and higher pensions and retirement pays;
- the defence and promotion of domestic production and of productive sectors, with the development of a policy in defence of manufacturing and mining, agriculture and fisheries, placing national resources to serve the people and the country and reduce structural deficits;
- ensure public control of banking, return to the public sector of strategic basic sectors of the economy, creating a strong and dynamic State Business Sector, support to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and to the cooperative sector;
- the guarantee of Public Administration and services to serve the people and the country, valuing the National Health Service as a general, universal and free service; public schooling, free and of quality;
- a public and universal Social Security system; the defence of a fair fiscal policy to ease the tax burden on the income of workers and the people and cut down the scandalous favouring of big business;
- the defence of the democratic regime and compliance with the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, furthering rights, freedoms and guarantees, fight against corruption and implementation of an independent judiciary accessible to all.
The materialisation of an alternative patriotic and left-wing policy requires: the broadening of the organisation, unity and struggle of the working class and workers; the increasing intervention of all anti-monopoly classes, strata and sectors, of all those affected by the right-wing policy, of democrats and patriots interested in reversing the course of national politics, in a large anti-monopolist social front; the strengthening of the PCP and its political and ideological, social and electoral influence.
The development of the mass struggle around concrete objectives, for labour, social, economic and political claims is a determining factor for enhancing social and political awareness and extending the social front of struggle to make a break with the right-wing policy and for a patriotic and left-wing alternative.
A patriotic and left-wing policy based on the principles and values of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic and which falls within the PCP’s programme “An Advanced Democracy – The values of the April Revolution in the Future of Portugal”, would be a constituent part of the construction of socialism.
It is in times of great political challenges in national and international political life that the PCP holds its 20th Congress this coming December 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
Aware of the complexity of the situation and the demands it entails, the PCP sets as an essential aim its organic strengthening, deepening its roots among the workers and the people, its connection to the Portuguese reality, articulating the struggle for immediate goals with the struggle for its wider goals, reaffirming its communist identity and its revolutionary project.
Organic strengthening of the Party which, among other important aspects, entails: strengthening of leadership work; increasing the number of comrades with permanent responsibilities; recruitment and integration of new members; creation and promotion of company and workplace cells; structuring of local organisations; development work with the newer generations, with retirees, pensioners and other strata and priority sectors; increasing political initiative; improving propaganda work and of the Party press; ensuring its financial independence.
A Party that assumes and affirms with its practice, guidelines and concepts the essential characteristics of its communist identity: a party of the working class and of all workers, which upholds the interests of the anti-monopoly classes and strata, free from the influence, interests, ideology and policies of the forces of capital and whose characteristics and concern is a close bond with the working class, the workers and the people; a party whose supreme goal is the construction of socialism and communism, a society free from capitalist exploitation and oppression; a party that has Marxism-Leninism as its theoretical basis, a materialist and dialectical concept as tool for analysis, a guide for action, critical and transforming ideology; a party which has working principles arising from the creative development of democratic centralism, based on a deep internal democracy, a single general guideline and a single central leadership; a patriotic and internationalist party.
The PCP, the party of anti-fascist resistance and the April revolution, affirms itself as a force for action and transformation, of hope and confidence, with its identity and project, with a determined and decisive intervention, always faithful to its internationalist duties, always at the service of the workers, the people and the Portuguese homeland.
In the times we live, 100 years after the October Socialist Revolution and following the developments that took place in the twentieth century, in which the capitalist system, with its exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature, with the destructive and tragic consequences it holds, undergoes structural crisis, it becomes even clearer the importance and achievements of the aims of this major event in the history of Humankind and the affirmation of socialism as a requirement of the present and of the future.
After millennia where societies in which the socio-economic systems were based on the exploitation of people by people, the October Revolution began a new era in the history of Humankind, an era of transition from capitalism to socialism.
To mark this centennial we keep in mind the teachings of the processes of building socialism in the Soviet Union and other countries, the successes and defeats, the setbacks and advances, the long struggle that preceded it, as important experiences that enrich and enliven the continuing struggle for socialism and communism. The twentieth century was not the “death of communism”, but the century in which communism was born as a new and superior form of society.
The disappearance of the USSR and the defeats of socialism in Eastern Europe had an undeniable and profoundly negative impact on the world balance of forces, on the social and political awareness of the masses and in the development of the struggle for socialism. But this fact does not change the fundamental content of our time, or call into question the direction of historical development. Capitalism has not changed its nature; its revolutionary overthrow becomes a necessity.
The working class, the workers and the peoples, with their unity, organisation and struggle, have in their hands the success of the resistance to the current attack by big business, imperialism, and the achievement of social and national emancipation.
The PCP puts the aim before the Portuguese people of building a socialist society, based on the reality and experience of the Portuguese Revolution, critically absorbing the world revolutionary experience. In proposing its programme “An advanced democracy – The April values in the future of Portugal”, the PCP believes that the realisation of this process of profound transformation and development of the Portuguese society is, in itself, an integral part of building socialism in Portugal. The struggle that the PCP undertakes for the defence, restoration and achievement of rights, for a break with the right-wing policy and the implementation of a patriotic and left-wing policy begins with the struggle for an advanced democracy, and it is part of the struggle for socialism.
Socialism, by different paths and stages, affirms itself as the goal of the struggle of peoples, as prospect and future condition inseparable from the full liberation of humanity.
It is with confidence that the PCP believes that, in a more or less prolonged historical period, through the struggle for social and national emancipation of the workers and peoples, the replacement of capitalism by socialism, in the twenty-first century, remains inscribed as a real possibility and as the most solid prospect of the evolution of Humankind.
It is to this process of struggle and construction that the Portuguese communists commit themselves with unwavering determination.