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Journal of the Communist Party of Australia

ISSUE 55March 2012

Communist Party of Greece

Aleka Papariga, General Secretary, Communist Party of Greece

Opening remarks to 13th International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties, Athens, December 9-11, 2011

We again extend a warm welcome to you in Athens. As you are aware, on the initiative of our party, the first meeting of the communist and workers’ parties began here in 1998 for the coordination and joint activity, as well as for the regrouping of the International Communist Movement which faces an ideological-political and organisational crisis.

In 2005 we collectively decided here in Athens for this international meeting to travel to other states and continents, to Europe, to Latin America, to the Middle East, to Asia and Africa. We find ourselves back in Athens today, to study the experience, to draw conclusions from this important course, to intensify our efforts in the new conditions of the deep capitalist crisis, of the old and new flashpoints of wars for the redistribution of the markets.

With the first signs of the crisis in our country, we found ourselves ideologically and politically prepared to face, with a very rapid adjustment, our heightened duties, to specialise our strategy and tactics, to contribute to the rallying and increase of the militancy of the working class and popular forces with radical demands and advanced forms of struggle. This readiness of ours was due to, in our opinion, two interrelated reasons, if we may say, the importance of which goes beyond the national level.

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) defended socialism and the contribution of the USSR to the struggle of the peoples from the furious anti-communist offensive even in the most difficult conditions. But it did not limit itself to this. Even from the beginning of the 1990s we prioritised the necessarily long-term scientific investigation, based on the archival material, of the causes of the victory of the counter-revolution in the USSR as well as in the other socialist countries.

After eighteen years of study, we came to the decision of the 18th Congress, while we continue the deeper research on questions of the political superstructure, the organs of power, workers’ control. It is a fact that the experience which was acquired stresses the necessity of working class power, the socialisation of the means of production and central planning in opposition to the view concerning “21st Century socialism” or “market socialism”, which has nothing to do with scientific socialism and the experience of socialist construction. When the laws of the market were promoted in socialist construction and socialist production relations were weakened, workers’ control began the countdown to the counterrevolution.

At the same time we gave particular importance to the study of the economic and political developments in the EU, in the imperialist system, of the contradictions and rivalries, and of course of the economic developments in Greece, focussing on the consequences we had and which we chiefly face as an EU member-state, while the centrifugal tendencies are apparent today.

The 20-year study of the history of the party and the movement in Greece, for the period 1949-1968, has also proved very beneficial for the situation today. This period is suitable for the critical examination and evaluation of the strategy of the party in a period of development for Greek capitalism and its adjustment to the European Community. We looked at the issue with a critical and self-critical eye and also taking into consideration the influences from the course of the international communist movement, of which we were an integral part.

In the same period there was no political issue of greater or lesser importance, and especially no working class, popular socio-economic problem on which we did not try, through work at the base, to rally forces on a social-class basis, to widely enlighten the people concerning the crisis, its character and the way out, to organise and escalate the class struggle in all its forms from top to bottom and inversely so as to draw in new working class and popular masses.

There was a relatively unprecedented attempt to organise the resistance collectively with new forms of struggle and slogans of disobedience and defiance so that the people do not pay tolls on the summer weekends, the tickets to enter privatised beaches and recently the property tax included in the electricity bill which is accompanied by the unacceptable and unprecedented threat to cut the electricity, regardless of whether the amount that corresponds to the electricity consumption has been paid.

The main front of struggle is directed, of course, against unemployment, against the reduction of wages and pensions, dismissals in the public and private sector, against the abolition of collective bargaining agreements, against temporary and flexible forms of labour, against the overwhelming reduction of funding of the social-security funds, education, health, prevention and welfare, against the serious cuts at the expense of people with disabilities, against the reduction and abolition of maternity provisions, the funding of nurseries etc.

In the same period we carried out extensive ideological-political work with discussions and lectures on the major issues, such as socialism, the history of the party, the topic of the capitalist economic crisis, and the regrouping of the labour movement.

The participation in the discussion was organised inside the party to the level of the party base organisations, it was extended to the organs of KNE, and to its base organisations in various forms.

Today we place emphasis on and monitor very closely the danger of a relatively more generalised military conflict in the geostrategic area of the Black Sea, the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean, and of course we elaborate the specific position against imperialist war, regardless of the pretexts which will be used, and we especially elaborate the strategy of transforming the war into a struggle for power. The bourgeois class of our country will be found at the side of the one or the other imperialist axis or pole with the aim of taking part in the re-distribution of markets, so that it does not find itself marginalised. The people must not shed their blood for the interests of the imperialists, for their own one or others. The same is true for other peoples.

This is an issue which demands the common stance of the communist parties and labour movements, an issue where unity is of crucial importance. We must have the opportunity, perhaps at the next regional or local meeting, to exchange opinions on this serious issue, strengthening in any case the front against the so-called “multi-polar world” which constitutes an attempt to manipulate the peoples and assimilate them into the imperialist system and its contradictions.

It is even more apparent today that there is an impasse in the bourgeois management of the crisis, the classic recipes cannot be implemented even as they were implemented with difficulty in the past; the management of the consequences of the crisis is impossible particularly of unemployment and poverty. We assess that the recovery when it comes will be anaemic and perhaps there will be a new crisis cycle before it arrives.

The labour movement and its allies, particularly the self-employed without staff, and the other poor small businessmen who face bankruptcy, the poor farmers with small holdings must demonstrate endurance in the face of the toughness and complexity of the struggle, in the face of the intransigence of the enemy. The defensive stance today has no result, because we are in conditions of an assault which aims to abolish gains won in the 20th Century, particularly after the Second World War in Europe.

What is required today is the planning and escalation of the class struggle, to erect obstacles — as far as possible — in the way of the worst measures which are on the horizon, to delay new decisions and to buy time for the counter-attack, the outcome of which must be directed at the overthrow of the power of the monopolies, the bourgeois political system, for working class-people’s power, socialism.

The measures which are taken in the name of the crisis or for the regulation of the crisis in favour of the monopolies, go beyond the crisis itself, are measures which aim at the restarting of the profitability in the recovery period, as the capitalists states themselves do not predict that it will be stable and dynamic.

Greece is on course for a controlled bankruptcy, while an uncontrolled bankruptcy is very possible, as well as its exit from the Eurozone, or the use of a double Euro, an internally depreciated one and an external one which will be determined by the EU and IMF so that the creditors will be secured as far as possible.

No bourgeois political proposal, liberal, social-democratic, left, no “renewal”, can constitute a pro-people way out, protect the people from destitution even in the short-term, even less so in the long-term, unless it poses, as a question of principle, the rupture with the monopolies — industrial, banking, ship-owning, trade — that is to say rupture with capitalist ownership, its state institutions, its international alliances.

What is important today in our country and more generally in Europe is that the following are repelled from a class standpoint: the universal deception (which the people are on the receiving end of) that we are experiencing a debt crisis, a crisis of fiscal indicators, that the crisis came about due to bad management, the waste of money on social services instead of productive and other investments; that the productive model of development and the low level of competitiveness is to blame, that everyone, that is to say all the classes and social strata consume more than their income; that the bad architecture of the European structure is responsible, something that is promoted with small differences by bourgeois, reformist and opportunist parties.

All the above-mentioned versions distort reality, conceal that it is a crisis of over-accumulated capital which expresses the sharpening of the basic contradiction in capitalism. They detach the economy from politics; they impede the development of radical anti-monopoly, anti-capitalist consciousness.

The workers in Greece, in the Eurozone must reject the theory that makes the protection of the state from bankruptcy a national goal, and therefore that sacrifices are needed for such a goal which is indeed baptised modern patriotism. The workers are not responsible and should not pay for the public debt.

The people’s anger is not enough to bring about the people’s counter-attack, if it does not acquire an anti-monopoly in essence anti-capitalist content. The experience of the bourgeois class and its parties in defusing and diverting the people’s discontent, something which was apparent in the instance of the so-called “Arab Spring” given the specific characteristics in the various countries, must not be underestimated at all. Consequently the question “rupture or subjugation”is absolutely timely.

The so-called “anti-memorandum front”

In our country even bourgeois political forces, as well as the opportunists and particularly intellectual apologists of the capitalist system and its renovation, criticise the Memorandum, denounce it as ineffective as the way out of the crisis, argue that it imposes one-sided sacrifices. They denounce the Memorandum which was created by the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the IMF, because as they claim, it breaks “social cohesion”, it brings closer the threat — as they say characteristically — of social explosion, proving their hostility to the class struggle.

They promote various versions of bourgeois management which will allegedly bring balance and cohesion so that the capitalists, monopolies on the one hand and the workers and people on the other, can live in consensus with each other, and all together serve capitalist development, a strong Greece in the Eurozone, in the hard core of the EU.

They foster the illusion that there can be unified interests in the way out of the crisis. The greatest service which opportunism provides in the attempt to stabilise the bourgeois political system is its position that the way out of crisis and the relief of the people must not be fought for at the level of the nation state, but at a European level, considering that no rupture can be achieved at a national level with a rise in class struggle and the resolution of the question of power.

In the face of the impasses of the management of the system, something absolutely natural and predictable for the defenders of the capitalist system happened: a coalition government was formed, through the procedures of parliament and with the dynamic intervention of the EU, between the two basic bourgeois parties and a small far-right party [LAOS] which in recent years has carried out the dirty work of provocation and anti-communism on behalf of PASOK [social democrats] above all but also of ND [conservatives].

The rallying of the bourgeois parties, in face of the emerging movement, intensified the questions and the thinking over whether the bourgeois political system will be able to manage the situation through direct cooperation of the bourgeois parties or whether they must form two poles of centre-right and centre-left cooperation. The bourgeois class of course desires that the core of the cooperation consists of the two bourgeois parties, the liberal and the social-democratic.

At the same time it is concerned that perhaps such a cooperation facilitates the extrication of working class and popular forces from the two parties, especially from the social-democratic PASOK. In the recent period it is openly said that there must be a wider front to impose popular consent and with the goal of blocking the wider dissemination and impact of the political proposal of the KKE.

The adventurist agility of the opportunist current is interesting as far as the alliance policy is concerned, as it amends it from day to day.

Sometimes it talks about the unity of the left forces, sometimes about progressive and left forces, sometimes about patriotic and progressive forces, sometimes about democratic forces in an attempt to approach forces from the spectrum of a liberal bourgeois party.

Where it remains stable is that it promotes as an alternative political solution, proposals which have been adopted within the framework of the competition of the leading capitalist powers. A characteristic proposal is the so-called solution of the Eurobond, of the exclusive borrowing from the ECB, of the partial cancellation of the debt with negotiation between the governments.

They insist that the unity and salvation of the Eurozone is in the people’s interest, they adopt aspects of or even the entire economic governance itself, they promote as a crucial issue the strengthening of competitiveness, the nationalisation of banks, while they are sometimes attracted by the example of Argentina, sometimes they extol the example of Hungary, sometimes they consider that another government in the EU managed matters better, demonstrating that they are reliable managers of the system. This is valid for the European Left Party which projects similar views.

The progressive front against the Memorandum, proposed by the opportunist forces, does not represent any threat to the system and is another version of the bourgeois negotiation. At the same time, they promote the issue of a patriotic stance in relation to Germany and France.

They turn a blind eye to the fact that regional or international interstate capitalist unions as well as every kind of cooperation are governed by the law of uneven development which entails unevenness in political relations. They pretend not to see the competition between the capitalist states, between the monopolies within the same sector.

Today in Greece a lot of taboos and myths, which had influenced the people, collapse and we believe that this is valid for other capitalist countries, especially in the old capitalist world of Europe. Their main core is that the EU constitutes an inevitability, that it is inconceivable for a people not to seek accession to the EU or seek the disengagement from it, or that the EU can be transformed into a Europe of the peoples through the emergence of left governments or coalitions of left and progressive forces. Myths that have been literally unveiled today are:

First: that the EU is a family, an alliance with social solidarity and permanent unity that beyond the EU there can only be chaos.

The bourgeois states are absolutely united and in solidarity with each other as regards class exploitation and the attack on the movement. They are divided and compete with each other for the distribution of the profits in periods of heightened rates of development, for the distribution of any losses in periods of crisis.

Second: the period from 2008 till today is sufficient to demolish what they have been saying all these years using the bourgeois and opportunist theories, namely that states can control capital, the monopolies and their dominance in the economy. This experience demolishes the slogan concerning the control of the markets by political power, concerning the precedence of politics over the markets and the allegedly innovative opportunist slogan “people before profits”.

Third: that so-called globalisation, namely the world capitalist economy, strengthens cooperation, ensures the same pace and convergence between capitalist countries. In the early 90s they were even telling us that war had been abolished and that peaceful settlement of disputes had taken precedence.

War has never been abolished from the very first moment that World War II ended. It has evolved in the form of tens, hundreds of local wars while today a new round for the redistribution of markets is in progress. The deep crisis that we experience foreshadows new war flashpoints but possibly a generalised conflict between the powerful imperialist powers in the near future. The involvement of Greece will become even more dangerous for the people. The involvement is already a fact due to the participation of Greece in local wars through military bases, the transit of troops, the participation in occupation forces.

It is possible that the so-called obedience to bourgeois legitimacy, discipline and submission to the barbaric class laws which are adopted by the bourgeois parliament in Greece, the bodies of the EU lose their value to a significant extent. There are several instances, as the characteristic case of the seamen, the tanker-lorry and taxi drivers who continued the strike despite the fact that the courts declared it illegal, despite the orders for civil mobilisation.

Only the people’s power can ensure the people’s sovereignty and the real disengagement from the imperialist alliances such as the EU and NATO.

We promote the following platform with three axes: people’s power, disengagement, unilateral cancellation of the debt. The disengagement without socialisation will also be destructive for the people, while socialisation is impossible without disengagement.

Today the people can see, more than ever, that capital, the monopolies and their power do not share the same homeland with the people. They place profit over national language and cultural heritage. They form their alliances according to profit and sacrifice everything for it.

For that reason the term “homeland” acquires a substantial content for the people only in people’s power, with the institutions of workers’ and people’s participation, defense and protection.

The policy of alliances is restricted to agreements from above on a minimum program, while it regards the movement merely as a lever for the realignment of the political forces, for alliances of the centre-left type and a political line for the management of the system.

We talk openly to the people about a socio-political alliance of the working class with the poor petit-bourgeois popular strata in the city and the countryside; about the regrouping of the workers’ and people’s movement with a clear anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly orientation, anti-capitalist in the final analysis. It should have a clear orientation to utilise every rift, every crack in bourgeois governance for its weakening, for its overthrow.

The policy of alliances has objectively two aspects irrespective of the variety of the forms it can take on: it will either aim at the preservation and the longevity of bourgeois political power or there will be a basic agreement for the conquest of people’s power.

Every rift in the political system, in the mechanisms of capitalist power, everything that weakens the bourgeois government and generally the bourgeois parties contributes to the strengthening of the forces of the people’s alliance for the radical overthrow of the system of capitalist exploitation, of the dictatorship of the monopolies.

We systematically confront views like “the problem of the Greek economy was the super profits accumulated in the banking system or in the stock exchanges in opposition to the profit in industry, in production”; views that separate profits into “legitimate” and “illegitimate”, views that claim that an allegedly healthy capitalism developed into “casino capitalism”.

The reduction of imperialism to a foreign policy and to a type of interstate relations instead of a socio-economic system, i.e. monopoly capitalism needs to be dealt with specifically.

Another version of the social-democratic perception adopts the position on the need for the “rehabilitation” of capitalism, for its humanisation by means of controlling the most parasitic functions of the financial system. They do not want and they cannot acknowledge that there is no company, no monopoly group, which does not activate the greater part of its capital as foreign, i.e. borrowed capital and not its own, its shareholders’.

In conditions that the average rate of profit has the tendency to fall, these businesses have difficulties in borrowing and thus expansion of production becomes difficult and a recession appears. In addition, they do not want to recognise that banks do not merely lend, do not merely invest in the money market but they also buy or participate in industrial capital. They do not accept the cohesion of industrial with banking capital.

It is clear for us that in conditions of a crisis there are definitely possibilities for a sudden sharpening of the class struggle, for a sudden entrance of broader popular forces without the necessary social and political experience. We are conscious of the danger for the movement to find itself in a state of retreat since it experiences the barbarity of unemployment, impoverishment, destitution, the consequences of the state and employers’ violence but also the ideological influence of bourgeois ideology, of reformism and opportunism, under the impact of anti-communism which is officially adopted by the state bodies and its ideological mechanisms.

Despite these difficulties, the campaign to intimidate the people in the name of the crisis, despite the intimidation in the workplaces, the impatience of the masses especially of those who come from the petit-bourgeois popular strata, which so far have had a relatively good living standard, the KKE has remained firmly oriented to the necessity and timeliness of socialism.

The sharpening of the economic crisis, the contradictions within the EU, the rising anti-capitalist consciousness contribute so that the people understand more easily that a radical fundamental change is necessary. Of course these processes do not lead automatically to the choice of confrontation, to a firm participation in the organisation of the class struggle.

Nevertheless, today there is a relatively more fertile ground for a deeper ideological-political confrontation in comparison to previous years when the deterioration of the position of the working people was evolving more slowly compared to the current storm.

The KKE calls on the people to fight so that the concentrated means of production in industry become the people’s property, for the socialisation of land, of the big enterprises in agriculture and the concentrated trade. On the basis of these relations agriculture must be reorganised according to incentives for its concentration, initially, in productive cooperatives.

The socialisation of the means of production and central national planning, based on scientific instruments, will liberate great unutilised productive capabilities, it will ensure the scientific combined prioritisation and satisfaction of social needs provided that it activates extensive workers’ people’s control for the complete satisfaction of basic social needs e.g. food, people’s housing, education, healthcare, welfare, construction of infrastructure.

The expansion of free time for workers will contribute to their substantial participation in the control. The workers’ and people’s control will start from productive units with elected and recallable representatives and will extend to each sector and region. The elected bodies will be comprised of workers from the productive units while at the same time the participation of members of the cooperatives, of students and pensioners will also be ensured. The elected representatives in the highest national body will not be permanent but recallable.

At the same time people’s power, which for the KKE is socialism and not an intermediate stage between capitalism and socialism, will save significant resources through the abolition of military expenditure for the imperialist-aggressive plans of NATO, through the real and complete cancellation of the debt, through the abolition of the multifaceted packages for the support of monopoly groups and the banks. This is the overwhelming superiority of the people’s power which can ensure social prosperity against the aged monopoly capitalism, which realises the plans of the various groups and sections of big capital that compete for the greatest possible profitability.

Only central planning can overcome unevenness in the development of regions within a country. Only people’s power can realise mutually beneficial trade agreements with other peoples, other economies and eradicate the phenomenon of imperialist competition for the utilisation of natural resources in sea and land.

Only this struggle that targets the real enemy — the power of the monopolies — and incorporates initiatives for the obstruction of the anti-people offensive into the organisation of the counterattack of the people’s movement can ensure the continuance, the duration of the struggle, and constantly alternates forms of struggle, as well as a victorious prospect for the working class and its social allies.

Every reflection, all slogans and positions that come into conflict with capitalist relations of ownership and power, face the attack of all the parties which use the argument that socialism failed and therefore there is no other solution but the management of the problems within capitalism. Consequently, the issue of drawing conclusions from the victory of the counter-revolution is a crucial issue, it does not concern merely the period of construction but also the period of concentration of forces.

Of course there is no revolutionary situation in Greece so as to pose in practice the overthrow of the capitalist system as an immediate duty, but all things show that if the workers’ movement, the most radical section of the people, does not direct the struggle towards workers’ power it will be trapped in the various versions of bourgeois management and it will lose every opportunity of escalation and having such a prospect.

Before the crisis the issue of workers’ power seemed like an issue of discussion for many people. Today however, as reality shows, it has proved to be a mandatory aim of action, it gives a meaning to the daily struggle in conditions of a deep crisis, in conditions where the bourgeois class does not make any concessions and manoeuvres. The problem of power today affects the forms of struggle, it gives priority to the organisation and the development of the workers’ and people’s initiative from the bottom up, to the refusal to obey and comply with bourgeois laws, to the creation of the seeds of tomorrow’s power and the organs of workers’ control.

The solution for the people is not to align with a section of the domestic bourgeois class, with one of the imperialist centres abandoning another one at a time when their contradictions have sharpened. Neither is it a solution to support new bourgeois parties against the old ones, coalition governments instead of one-party governments.

The solution lies in the organised struggle which will have at its core the workplaces, the trade unions, and will be oriented towards challenging, towards conflict and rupture with the monopolies, the parties, their governments and their imperialist alliances in the prospect of their overthrow. This is the only realistic line of struggle.

This is not a one-act play, therefore all the movements, all steps, all phases should not be detached from the goal.

In the next months, in the next year, mass participation in the assemblies in every large workplace, in the people’s meetings in the workers’ and people’s neighbourhoods, in organised resistance and counterattack against the consequences of the anti-people laws, against taxes and cuts in salaries and pensions, in the struggle for unemployment benefits and the operation of medical, educational welfare units, for the protection of families [from popular strata] must be multiplied.

The conflict with the economic dominance of the monopolies and their political power is determined above all where surplus value is being produced and appropriated, in the place where capitalist profit is created, namely in capitalist industrial units, shopping centres, private hospitals, banks, in enterprises where many salaried workers are concentrated irrespective of the specialisation of labour.

The struggle is judged in these places, not in a partial way but against the entire anti-people political line. The only criterion for the reliability of any trade union or political organisation is its stance towards the above-mentioned necessity, towards the organisation and success of the strike in each workplace. Declarations are not sufficient if they are not followed by corresponding activities for the organisation and protection of strike mobilisations.

Unified class struggle can and must be forged in these places according to the criterion of the vanguard struggle against the capitalists, the government and employer-led trade unionism, the parties and the power of the monopolies. The continuance, the prospect of the weakening of the anti-people policy until its radical overthrow, will be judged in these places.

It is obvious that the current developments, the capitalist crisis and the imperialist aggressiveness, impose on us the strengthening of the struggle of the international communist movement for the interests of the working class, the popular strata, for the overthrow of the capitalist barbarity, intensifying our efforts for a unified revolutionary strategy. The KKE deploys its forces in this direction.

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