|Photo: Aris Oikonomou/SOOC.
The beginning of the works of the 20th International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties, which took place on Friday 23 November in Athens, was marked by a major speech delivered by the General Secretary of CC of the Communist Party of Greece Dimitris Koutsoumbas. Below you can read the full transcript of his speech:
"We welcome you to the 20th International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties, here in Athens, the city where the International Meetings first began 20 years ago at the initiative of our Party.
We are here today before you, having completed a century of life and action. We feel justifiably proud of the 100 honorable and heroic years of the KKE.
This is because we continue on dynamically, with determination, in the footsteps of the heroic and honored dead of our Party, who gave the most precious posses ion of all humankind, their very lives, in the struggle for life to triumph.
The Party withstood all the turns of the class struggle with great determination.
During the stone years of illegality, of persecution, of executions, of imprisonment and oppression and during the years of bourgeois legality over the last 44 years.
It remained standing during the great historic reversals of the counter-revolution of 1991, up until today. It found the strength to pull itself up.
Climbing step by step up the steep path of regroupment.
Tracing the causes that led to the victory of counter-revolution, studying and discussing from the very first deliberations in 1996, until the collective documentation of this effort at the 18th Congress on the overall causes of the overthrow of the course of socialist construction in the 20th century, based mainly on the experience of the USSR.
Poring over Party documents of the historical archives, page by page, in order to put together this magnificent course, with its victories and defeats, the leaps and the reversals, the mistakes and the weaknesses, but also the unmatched heroism of 100 entire years.
As much as the sirens of reaction and opportunism sing about the end of history, the end of the working class and its movement, life itself proves them wrong.
The working class will rise to the challenge of its historic role, its historic mission, sooner or later. The final abolition of exploitation of man by man and the construction of a socialist – communist society.
This is because it has the strength that is related to concentrated industrial production. From this stem its virtues, such as collectiveness, conscious discipline, unbeatable endurance facing difficulties, proven during great class battles.
The Paris Commune and the October Revolution are the shining examples that inspire our struggles. Just as the thousands of working men and women of our country who gave their lives do, who marched forth and endured a myriad of difficulties during these 100 years up until our days.
Battles, that left their indelible mark on the body of the Greek labor movement, over the course of the class struggle.
With teachings, positive ones and with weaknesses of course, which we must study from the standpoint of the workers' vanguard, the development of a harsh class struggle.
The working class does not achieve this position spontaneously, but with the revolutionary theory and action of the Communist Party, that is to say its conscious and organized vanguard.
The existence of a revolutionary program, adherence to the worldview of Marxism – Leninism and proletarian internationalism, the principles of the formation of a Party of a New Type, the elaborated study of our historical experience, undeniably constitute contemporary weapons, they give us the advantage; the issue, however, is how we use them creatively and in a correct way in our daily action and efforts.
It's not enough to estimate the value of workers' struggle for immediate demands and the role of the Party in these. A criteria of evaluation would be how much these help in the progress of building political consciousness. A criteria of progress is the furthering of party building in workplaces and in the social composition of the ranks of the party, the age composition and the participation of women. A criteria would be steady progress in raising the theoretical, political and organizational benchmarks of the Party, as well as an improvement in its capabilities in terms of providing political guidance and connection with the working class beginning from the CC, and reaching the PBO.
The complex daily duties must not pull us away from the main and basic one, to do work at the base so that the party is prepared, so that it is not taken by surprise during the turns and sudden twists, so that it always has the capacity for timely predictions and adaptations without losing sight of its main goal.
It's impossible for us to fully monitor the course of our work, to judge it in a demanding way, to observe and to correct mistakes and omissions in a timely manner, if we have not gained individually the ability to judge the subjective factor, estimating the specific objective conditions, the conditions that exist independently of our own will and desire, of our own intervention.
The Greek and the international experience as well, confirm that except where the conditions of a revolutionary situation were created and the working class took and held - as long as it held – power, the ideological-political influence and power of the party was not consistent with its vanguard militant action in the struggle, with its responsible action, its unselfishness and its contribution and uncountable sacrifices, with the fact that generally speaking, its predictions and warnings towards the people have been confirmed.
This is not strange. Only when the working class achieves political power and in the course of socialist construction will the pre-conditions be created in order for socialist ideology to prevail.
This does not mean that the KKE passively views its own responsibility in contributing to the development of the political consciousness of the working class. It is one thing for the Party to struggle and to free itself as quickly as possible from its own weaknesses, shortcomings and potential mistakes, and quite another to harbor the illusion that socialist consciousness can prevail under conditions of capitalism. The demands the Party places upon itself, the criticism and self-critical examination of the results of its actions cannot take place with the same criteria, from the same viewpoint as the bourgeois parties, the parties that have chosen to struggle within the limitations of the capitalist system or who proclaim to the masses that capitalism can be reformed into socialism.
What has great importance for the KKE is to what extent the bonds are widening and deepening with concentration in factories, in the large urban centers, in areas of strategic importance.
We reject characterizations and ideological inventions that cover up the class essence, that hide the dividing line between the two basic classes, the bourgeois class and working class.
The KKE struggles for the class struggle to take the direction of overthrowing the capitalist system and in that direction, it attempts to link the struggle of all the sections of the working class as well as the popular middle strata, in order to improve working and living conditions.
The aim of our daily efforts is the practical promoting of the working class as the revolutionary vanguard and not narrowly as a vanguard in the trade union-popular struggles. To push as much as possible the popular sections of the middle strata into joint action and alliance with the working class to express the social alliance in mass terms as much as possible.
We are aware that the labor movement and its allies in Europe and in Greece are in a phase of relative retreat, disillusionment but also relative immobility, despite the frequent manifestations of the economic crisis.
The tendency towards demassification and corruption of the class orientation has been under development for many years now, well before the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and in the other countries of socialist construction, mainly due to social-democratic management.
Eurocommunism constituted the basic channel through which western European capitalism with social democracy at its right hand, managed to strike severe blows against the trade union movement, resulting in its gradual retreat, even its degradation. Struggles took place, however they were not able to positively make a difference concerning the correlation of forces; the exact opposite occurred at the European level.
In Greece, a significant section of working men and women, popular masses “became tired” or disappointed because the trade union struggles did not bring immediate results.
Another section keeps waiting, waiting in vain of course, that at some point an end will come to the barbaric measures, hoping that some change will take place from high up.
The position of reduced demands prevails. These bonds “are tied” around the worker, the employee, the poor self-employed person, the farmer, from the first steps of their lives, and of course are decisively reinforced in the workplace, while consciousness has been prepared to consider the capitalist as he who supplies work, distributes incomes.
It is in fear and in illusions, in apathy and in disappointment that the inability to understand the relationship between the economy and politics is expressed, as well as the class character of the parties. This ignorance is expressed through a lack of knowledge about what the capitalist system is and how it functions, about the revolutionary role of the working class. The established parliamentary illusions are expressed. Certainly the international communist movement bears a responsibility as does our Party which could not become disengaged in a timely way, over time from the bourgeois network of assimilation, with the participation in or support for bourgeois parliamentary majorities and governments.
Ideological work and enlightenment cannot not take place only based on current issues, in the form of repeating general slogans and positions of revolutionary strategy, without liveliness, militancy, without enriching them based around the developments.
The presentation of our positions in the form of a stance or general criticism towards the other parties like a lesson from the pulpit does not attract anyone because it loses ground in a situation where the other parties are moving along a one-way path while we are heading along a completely different path that demands voluntary commitment and the offering of sacrifices and what's more, all this during a period of the victory of counter-revolution in the socialist countries.
Everything seems to be against us, while the course of capitalism today provides much more evidence of the necessity of the strategic aims of the KKE for socialism, history itself has proven how necessary the correction of the mistakes of the past was, not only in terms of the strategy of the KKE but also at an international level.
The elaboration of a strategy demands unity of theory and practice. For this to be advanced by the communist vanguard, as aguide for the action and the development of the broader workers' popular masses, is not easy work.
That we managed to overcome the Scylla of bourgeioism and the Charybdis of reformism, opportunism and to keep our Party upright with continual action, a daily presence in the struggle and in the political developments, does not allow us to relax our guard, as today the conditions of activity and the demands are particularly difficult, complex.
Our programmatic elaborations and our political stance in particular, provoked a systematic attack against the Party not only by the class opponent but also from opportunism. It is devious and well-elaborated because its promoters cannot use the blunt, provocational argumentation that was used during the period of 1990-91, when they believed that the victory of counter-revolution was the golden opportunity to “get rid of” the communist movement, Marxism-Leninism or to maintain some Marxist ideas that have been stripped of their revolutionary socialist essence.
From 2012 and on, opportunism chose to deal with us using as their main weapon, the concern and anxiety around the negative electoral result and the sudden rise of SYRIZA. With the line of a false hope that mainly SYRIZA would be able to put the brakes on the anti-people attack, they tried to drag the KKE into the line of political governmental collaboration, reforms and a supposed exit from the Eurozone, with a government of supposedly “left” political forces. It blamed the Party line and the Party Constitution for the lack of such a move towards cooperation, during a period where the Party had recorded electoral losses that had a political ideological character. Opportunism projected that such a choice was called for due to the negative correlation of forces, that it would constitute a springboard to change this, accusing the KKE of lacking tactics. At that point, of course, the close relations SYRIZA had established with the imperialist centers had not been fully revealed.
Opportunism of course has a social base, the formation of an expanded labor aristocracy and due to the expansion of state enterprises, the broader inclusion of salaried scientists, artists, educators, workers in the mass media, etc. All this shapes a tendency towards compromise with the class enemy, the search for political solutions within the system, opportunism within the labor movement, within the party of the working class. For this reason, the battle against opportunism is a pre-requisite to preserve the revolutionary working class character of the party, in every period and in every phase of the class struggle of the correlation of forces.
It is from this struggle, from it ideological – political consistency and its capacity, through its organizational consistency, that the prevention of the decommunization of the communist parties depends.
The experience of capitalist Europe, Latin America, has shown that when a CP decides to take part in a government of management in the name of a transitional option, it has already tied its hands, even when not bound by a formal agreement or when it has proclaimed that it maintains its independence. Whether there is a written commitment or not is no guarantee. The laws of the capitalist market do not depend on political agreements. There is negative experience from the brief participation of the party in bourgeois governments in 1944 and in 1989.
If we haven't managed to think, to judge every social problem based on the relationship between economics and politics, every economic and political phenomenon, e.g. the emergence of a scandal, of a new party, etc., then a distinction is drawn between the problem and the necessity of the struggle against capitalism, which cannot be understood (and this is explicable) by a large section of the working class today.
The basic criteria for the position of the competing social forces is found in the sharpening of the basic contradiction of capital: on the one side, there is the socialization of production, of labor, man as the most important productive force, and on the other side, the individual appropriation of the product based on private ownership of the means of production. This contradiction is the root of all the contradictions and conflicts of the system. This is an axis that must define the Party's Programme.
Certainly, this contradiction of the capitalist system is not comprehended by the working class in its entirety. On the contrary, it adopts bourgeois ideology, i.e that the capitalist mode of production and organization of the whole of society is historically superior, thus irreplaceable.
It is an aspect of capitalist power that is imposed not only through employer and state violence, but also through ideological – political manipulation (education, mass media, the church, mechanisms of bourgeois parties, state mechanisms that connect up with the masses, such as Local Government, semi-state organizations (e.g. NGOs), even through the trade union organizations which are assimilated into the system (e.g. GSEE, ADEDY). The ideological manipulation of the working class is reflected in its distorted political consciousness, in its political attachment to bourgeois parties or parties which initially arise from their ranks, but in the process become bourgeois parties.
In this way, the political correlation of forces reflects at all points the dominance of the bourgeois class, expressing it in the organs of its authority– among them parliament – determining the electoral process, for example, cosntitute its own organs.
A real change in the correlation of forces means that an important section of the working class, also due to a weakness in bourgeois power, has broken the bonds of bourgeois ideological manipulation.
The issue of the correlation of forces is determined by the course of maturation of the political consciousness of the working class, under non-revolutionary conditions, at least for the CP, but also the working class-popular forces rallied around it it that does not stop uncovering and clashing with capital, the monopolies, the bourgeois political system, the legislature, the legal, oppressive structures, the prevailing educational, religious and moral conceptions, the imperialist international unions of the EU and NATO.
The requisite critical and self-critical examination of the results, of the course and the effectiveness of the subjective factor, our Party, cannot take place detached from the international correlation of forces of the class struggle that took a dramatic negative turn with the victory of counter-revolution in the countries of socialist construction. Of course, breaches in the dominance of capitalism, with its crises, wars, competitions, are amassed and create the prospect for new conditions, possibilities, that require readiness on the part of the communist movement.
The progress of the class struggle, the driving force of positive developments, does not depend on tricks, nor on "tactical" moves, nor on the alleged realism of fatalism, nor on anxiety around electoral percentages or the replacement of the movement by supposed revolutionary “moments” and “happenings”. It depends on the organized, directed intervention to organize the vanguard workers' popular forces.
The goal is the expansion of the ranks of the party with the most vanguard working men and women, its renewal in terms of age, the increase in number of women organized in it. In addition, recruitment of the leading militants from the popular strata and the farmers, self-employed, salaried scientists and artists. It demands systematic specialized work, independently of whether we are in a period of struggle or stagnancy. Neither does an increase in party ranks automatically bring about more powerful struggles. There is connection between the two but this is promoted systematically and in an organized way, with combined tasks, criteria and means, and not spontaneously nor mechanistically.
An actual change in the correlation of forces between the two opposing classes can only be manifested with the mass alignment with the party of the working class in a clash and with the visible weakening, inability to function of the part of the bourgeois mechanisms, the bourgeois institutions and their governments.
The negative international correlation of forces will begin to come under attack to the extent that at the national level the class struggle is developed, taking on an anti-capitalist, anti-monopoly direction, clashing directly with the political way-out of the crisis that is based on the strategic choices of the EU.
It is our responsibility to limit – as much as it depends on us – the reserve forces of capital, to restrict its opportunities, to manage to inflict damage, to concentrate forces for the counter-attack and its overthrow.
The building of the power of the party is determined by a combination of criteria, some of which play a more decisive role in comparison to others, is related to the need to regroup the labor movement, the promotion of the anti-monopoly, anti-capitalist Social Alliance, the struggle for socialism – communism.
The working class bears primary responsibility for the level of joint direction and action with its allies. The level and the extent of the alliance will be judged in each phase, by the ability of the labor movement to withstand the pressure placed upon it by the petty-bourgeois strata, their vacillations.
Another criteria is the capacity for endurance under conditions of employer and state intimidation, violence, capitalist economic crisis, imperialist war. The steady militancy of the daily struggle that is determined by the strategy of the Party is capable of becoming a good seed that will bear fruit sooner or later.
Facing electoral battles, the next ones and the following, our own aggressive slogan is that which we have already promoted, the need to strengthen the KKE in order to strengthen the workers' popular opposition against bourgeois policies, the Euro one-way road, either under conditions of capitalist economic crisis or under during an upturn in Greek capitalism, under conditions either of the greater or lesser cohesion of the EU.
The regroupment of the workers' trade union moment concerns the further strengthening of the class movement, of PAME that is the greatest achievement of the past decades for the working class and its movement, that leads the way in workers' battles, in the promotion of the social alliance. The regroupment concerns as well the change in the correlation of forces in leadership and in the organization of the struggle around the acute problems, so that the consistent class forces become the majority, just as at the same time it is connected to the issue of understanding the necessity for mass organization and participation in trade union bodies, in the movement, as well as the issue as to which line of struggle prevails in the labor movement.
We firmly believe that the viewpoint that the labor movement, generally the popular movement, should not take a position on the issue of governance, power, because it is a mass movement and thus must maintain a neutral stance is mistaken and dictated by bourgeois and opportunist forces. Neutrality for them means class collaboration, social partnership, the recognition of the superiority of capital over labor, the logic of the EU one-way street. The capitalists, the politicians and their technocratic representatives condemn the struggles as being politically directed and dangerous, divisive because supposedly they don't take into account that workers belong to many or to all the parties. However, the content of the meaning “politicization” is related to the goal of politicization which at its core is the overthrow of the power of capital.
The issue of whether working people must choose to unite over their immediate problems or for workers' popular power is a misleading dilemma, which purposefully divides the struggle in order to undermine and defeat it. The higher the political consciousness of the working class in its majority, the better the chances are for the struggle around the immediate problems to prevent something worse, or to achieve something better.
It is a matter of strategy and tactics that are not detached from one another, while the latter is determined by the former in terms of its flexibility.
Today we can state with confidence: The mood for resistance and counter-attack has not been universally defeated. This mood exists; it was not destroyed despite the systematic efforts that took place. And, it will not be destroyed thanks to the KKE and the radical forces that exist and that stand alongside us in the movement. Even though the correlation of forces is negative, the forward momentum of the KKE that is associated with its long years of experience, with the lessons it has learnt, but also with its capacity to withstand the traps of assimilation continues.
It is this pledge of faith in our people, in the peoples of the world, in the international working class, which in every country, on every continent, wages the same battles, in order finally to realize this time definitively and irreversibly the possibility of a truly superior socialist – communist society."