The 21st International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties (IMCWP) kicked off today, Friday 18 October, in Izmir, with the participation of 75 Parties from 61 countries.
The hosting Parties are the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). The meeting takes place between 18 and 20 of October.
Below, you can read the full transcripts of the opening speeches delivered by the General Secretaries Dimitris Koutsoumbas and Kemal Okuyan.
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SPEECH OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE CC OF THE KKE DIMITRIS KOUTSOUMBAS
Dear Representatives of the Communist and Workers’ Parties,
We would like to warmly welcome you to this year's meeting, which, based on the decision of the Working Group, is co-organized by the CP of Turkey and the CP of Greece, here on the Asia Minor coast, on the Aegean coast, which should be a sea of peace and cooperation and not of aggression and provocation, of disputing of sovereign rights in the framework of the antagonisms of the bourgeois classes in the region.
The working class, our people, even more so the neighbouring peoples, the Greek and the Turkish people have the same interests. We all share the concerns and the will for peace, friendship, progress and socialism.
The KKE opposes the agreement of continuation and expansion of the US-NATO bases in Greece. We struggle against the country's involvement in imperialist plans against other peoples. We struggle for the disentanglement of the country from the imperialist unions of NATO and the EU.
The KKE denounces the latest invasion of Turkish troops in Syria and expresses its solidarity with the Syrian people, who experience the harsh consequences of the long imperialist war.
It should be emphasized that this year’s meeting in particular is taking place at a critical juncture, with the sharpening of imperialist antagonisms and contradictions, the continuation of local and regional imperialist wars and conflicts, the intensification of the exploitation of the working class and the popular strata, the capitalist economic crises, the intensifying concern about a new danger of an international and perhaps a deeper and synchronized crisis in the coming years, the sharpening of the environmental issues and climate change, of refugees and immigration, the restriction of people’s rights and freedoms, the rise of anti-communism, racism, nationalism, etc.
But this is also a highly symbolic year for our internationalist struggle and solidarity, because this year marks the 100 years since the foundation of the Communist International.
The CC of the KKE commemorates the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist International (CI) (2 - 6 March 1919).
Our Party has developed serious activity in the international movement. Besides, this expresses an urgent necessity today, after the counter-revolutionary overthrows of 1991 and also because of the economic crisis of capitalism, which imposes even greater coordination and organization of joint action, in order for the ICM to take quicker steps in the direction of formulating a single strategy against imperialist aggression and imperialist war, for peoples' peace, for socialism.
The labour movement since its birth, with the very emergence and spread of Marxist worldview and the foundation of the first political parties of the working class, embraced internationalism. has a common interest in overthrowing the bourgeoisie.
The Leninist analysis of imperialism, the position on uneven development and the weakest “link” in a country or group of countries and the tasks that derive from this position for each CP, the historical experience of the whole past century, unambiguously lead to the conclusion that the national field of struggle remains the dominant one, but this should not ultimately be interpreted as a resignation from the need to coordinate and elaborate a joint strategy and activity of the communists in every corner of the world. A need that is becoming even more important today, since capitalist internationalization has taken on higher forms, not only in the field of economics but also in politics, together with the establishment of international and regional transnational unions, such as NATO, the EU, the IMF etc.
Since its foundation, our Party has been committed to the principles of Proletarian Internationalism. For 100 years it has consistently struggled and did not back down from its principles. As a section of the Communist International (CI), it received a lot of support to be established as a Party of a New Type. At the same time, it suffered the negative consequences of the issues of theoretical immaturity or even opportunism that emerged in the ICM, but never rejected the need for a joint strategy of the communist movement against imperialism, for socialism.
It did not “theorize” any negative experience in a wrong direction. Even if international choices and decisions affected us negatively, too, we have never fallen into the mistake of justifying our own mistakes or failures, by blaming someone else apart from ourselves.
In particular, some issues related to aspects of the strategy of the ICM in the past decades provide valuable lessons for today and must be discussed within the communist movement, because wrong views and ideological constructs, which have often failed in practice and led to the defeat and retreat of the revolutionary movement, reaching inevitably their extreme counter-revolutionary expression, are repeatedly expressed by various sides.
I would like to approach this issue a little more specifically, in a codified way but non-hierarchical way.
A FIRST issue that also exists as a fundamental conclusion in the elaborations of the KKE and which deserves further analysis is the inability of the ICM to form a single revolutionary strategy, especially during and immediately after the end of World War II and the decades that followed. Even though they were proclaiming the necessity of socialism, some communist parties, especially those of the strong capitalist countries, while forming their political line, set goals that, regardless of intentions, did not serve a strategy of concentrating and organizing forces aiming to prepare for the conflict and total rupture with the bourgeoisie. Thus, the political line of that time did not function as a component of the strategy for socialism. It is a fact that there was an inability to elaborate a revolutionary strategy during and immediately after World War II, since the CI as a whole and most of the Communist Parties in the capitalist West were unable to form a strategy of turning the imperialist war or the liberation war against the foreign occupation and fascism into the struggle for the seizure of workers’ power, in conditions of intense sharpening of the social-class contradictions within the country in which they acted. At the same time, the ruling class timely showed the ability to form alliances to defend its power, but also to realign its international and domestic alliances.
A SECOND ISSUE is the fact that several parties used to set, and still set today, the formation of some “democratic governments”, in the form of a parliamentary reform or of an intermediate stage in the revolutionary process, as a political objective in their strategy. We insist that it is worth mentioning and reflecting on how our own Party and almost all the CPs raised, for example, the issue of their country's dependence in their programmes and how we linked this to the position of creating alliances and proposals of a “democratic governance”. Practical historical experience and theoretical elaborations and studies further prove to us that any kind of multi-faceted dependencies (economic - political, cultural, etc.) exist anyway within the international imperialist system, between the various capitalist countries, they are formed precisely because of the uneven development and of course they are dependencies that cannot be resolved in the framework of capitalism but only with the socialist revolution, with the transition to socialism. There is also, of course, the particular issue of dependence concerning the military-political occupation of one country by another, which can be resolved within capitalism, that is, to succeed in expelling, for example, the occupier from your country, but the system will remain a bourgeois democracy, capitalism. But this problem can also be resolved differently, taking a step forward, by establishing workers’ power, i.e. by overthrowing capitalism and constructing people’s power and economy, a task that is for the revolutionary communist movement to set.
A THIRD IMPORTANT ISSUE, in our view, is that historical experience has shown how utopian was and still is the perception of the transition to socialism through the so-called gradual “expansion of bourgeois democracy”. . Thus, the preconditions for the class-oriented emancipation of the workers’-peoples’ movements were not formed. This is a process that matures and broadens the revolutionary initiative and the ties with the popular masses until the emergence of new conditions, when the prolonged economic and political crises would objectively fuel mass popular revolutionary action. In Western Europe, mainly under the influence of Eurocommunism in the 1960s - 1970s and 1980s, the tactics of forming coalition governments with social democracy, that is, with bourgeois parties, and the participation of CPs in governments which essentially managed capitalist development, in the logic of stages, with the first stage being resolving the bourgeois-democratic and anti-monopoly demands and the issue of dependency, led almost all Western European countries only to a further strengthening of the capital’s power, in support of new mechanisms of repression and manipulation.
A FOURTH ISSUE The revival of revisionism and opportunism in the ranks of the communist movement came with a retreat to the reformist positions of social democracy and, in many cases in the capitalist West, led to a management program of cooperation with the forces of bourgeois democracy, while many Communist and Workers’ Parties were substantially transformed or are still transforming into social democratic ones. It is obvious that the experience of the October Revolution was completely ignored on this particular issue. At that time, the policy of alliance between social democracy and the bourgeoisie was viewed by the Bolsheviks as a betrayal of the working class. Most social democratic parties back then came to a complete rupture with the slogan of turning the imperialist war into struggle for workers’ power in every country. Lenin opened a front against social democracy at an international level. This front was first of all expressed in Russia, resulting in the non-entrapment of the revolutionary forces in the goals and manoeuvres of the domestic bourgeoisie, in the petty-bourgeois and opportunist pressures. Later on, the idea that the CPs would not be able to liberate the labour forces that followed social democracy and that they would be isolated if they did not pursue a policy of alliance with the social democratic parties prevailed, the distinction of “right-wing” and “left-wing” social democracy became a “doctrine” in order for the communist movement to take the “left-wing” on its side. This is something that was never been borne out since the biggest section of the popular base of the other parties, for decades now, as practice has shown, can be won over through the sharpening of the class struggle, with a strong ideological front against all variations of bourgeois policy and at the moments of the escalation of social-political conflicts.
After the dissolution of the Communist International and due to the strategic problems accumulated in the Communist Parties, it was not possible to achieve the formation of a new international organization of the Cps.
The ICM had to overcome strong negative factors, such as the numerous petty-bourgeois elements and the consolidated traditions of bourgeois parliamentarianism. Both of these factors became an alibi for many CPs to put forward the “national particularities” over the scientific laws of the socialist revolution.
The years that have passed since the 1989-1991 counter-revolution are already long enough. They offer new experience, both positive and negative. In a series of countries, the CPs have been regrouped or created from scratch. The international meetings of CPs have been systematized, regional and thematic meetings are regularly held and other initiatives are developed, that have more or less succeeded in obtaining a certain unity of action on some issues. These are steps that need to be consolidated and multiplied. However, all these dramatically fall behind the role that the communist movement must play in international developments.
At the same time, a number of problems continued or even worsened. The regroupment efforts brought older problems to the surface, alongside the difficulties arising by the counter-revolution and the temporary defeat of socialism. In parallel, state repression, the criminalization of communist ideology and action, of class struggle are intensifying. The signs that have emerged in recent years, especially in the EU, constitute more general warnings.
All constituents of the bourgeois political spectrum in the European Parliament including liberals, social democrats, “neo-leftists”, ecologists, greens, the far-right, nationalists and centre-left voted in favour of the recent EU decision. They reverse the historical truth, proceed to witch-hunting, equating fascism with communism, Hitlerism with Stalinism. Similar things happen on other continents as well.
Our Party believes that the international meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties are useful and must certainly continue, in the framework of the exchange of views and experiences within the Communist and anti-imperialist movement, of the effort for coordination. But, for a meaningful reconstruction or a far more successful counter-attack by the ICM, something more is needed. We need a joint effort of the CPs whose ideological and political views are based on Marxism-Leninism, which recognize the historical attempt of socialist construction in the 20th century and its contribution, regardless of the fact that it ended, as well as the necessity of the struggle for socialism.
The KKE is now more mature than ever to contribute in this direction.
The KKE is aware that the process of revolutionary reconstruction will be slow, torturous and vulnerable, it will be based on the Communist Parties’ ability to be ideologically and organizationally strengthened in their own countries in a multi-faceted way.
It combines revolutionary action with revolutionary theory, overcoming mistaken positions that dominated the International Communist Movement during the past decades and are reproduced in various forms today.
Every Communist Party will be strengthened by laying strong foundations in the working class, in strategic sectors of the economy, reinforcing its involvement in the workers’ – people’s movement.
The 100 years since the foundation of the CI should be a new starting point for the revolutionary reconstruction of the international labour and communist movement, against the counter-revolutionary action of today's dominant capitalist forces and backwardness.
The slogan of the “Communist Manifesto”, “Proletarians of all countries, unite!” remains timely.
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SPEECH OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE CC OF THE TKP KEMAL OKUYAN
Communist representatives of fraternal parties, comrades, I welcome you.
We were planning to host you next year, for the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of Turkey. However due to reasons you are all aware of, we undertook the obligation to organize our 21st Meeting, in co-responsibility with the Communist Party of Greece. In either case, it is a source of great honor for us to meet with you, to welcome you in İzmir. We believe this meeting will serve our common struggle.
Another point I need to raise at the start is related to the big gathering we had planned for Saturday evening. Due to the military operation launched by Turkey against Syria, we had to cancel a political and cultural activity that would have brought together over five thousand participants and to which we would have invited all of you as well. Our party's statements related to these latest developments have been sent to you, in addition to this, we prepared a briefing on the issue to share our detailed assessments and analysis. You are all invited to this meeting.
As I begin my speech, I would like to thank all the comrades of the Communist Party of Greece who contributed to the preparation of this meeting, to everyone from General Secretary Dimitris to young KKE militants who came for technical support, and of course to my TKP comrades. Thank you; I am confident that we will transform this region into a paradise where people live in friendship and in an egalitarian social order.
21st International Communist and Workers Parties meeting is convening at the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Communist International, an organization whose historical significance for the communist movement is indisputable.
Communist International was founded in an era when Bolsheviks thought that the process that commenced with the 1917 October Revolution would have continued in other countries and that the working class would have come to power in at least part of Europe. In that respect, the Communist International is not an organization of solidarity or recommendations. The Communist International was founded to establish the common will, a revolutionary center, which the proletariat needed to strike the lethal blow to capitalism. In this respect, there is no mistake in calling the Third International as a World Party.
Comrades, the power that the Communist International had attained in a short time may confuse us. However, while starting out in March 1919, let us not forget that the Communist International was founded with extremely scarce resources, that the delegations coming from different countries to the founding congress did not have much representation power, and that most of the member parties did not have much weight in their own countries. If we leave aside the Bolsheviks who took power in Russia just a year and a half ago, the Communist International was founded by highly ineffective parties or groups.
However, they acted with a great assertion, excitement, determination and optimism. The deep crisis into which capitalism was falling and the mobilization of millions of proletarians in the face of that crisis was sufficient for the communists. They focused on their historic mission and responsibility as opposed to their weaknesses and they were convinced that the bourgeoisie could and will be defeated. This way, not only did the communist parties which were founded with the help of Bolsheviks became a major force in a short time and struggled to carry the working class to power, in certain cases, they also achieved it, even if for a short time. Today, no one should accuse the revolutionary attempts in Hungary, Slovakia, Germany and other countries with adventurism. Those who fought for revolutionary power remained loyal to the founding philosophy of the Communist International and they failed for various reasons.
There is a reason for me to talk about all this. It is critically important to determine the balance of forces between classes and to stay away from an administrative political line. Revolutions do not happen only by the decisions we make. Our task is not to make revolution but to lead the revolution because a revolution is not something that can be made. However, it is also true that there is a dialectical relationship between the crises of capitalism and the increase of revolutionary opportunities and even the rise of the revolution. In this sense, it is very misleading to evaluate the balance of powers statically, especially in times of crisis.
In 1919, the communist parties were extremely weak, in both the quantitative and qualitative senses. When we look at the world today, we are understandably complaining about the weakness of the communist movement but in 1919 when the Communist International was established, it didn't have any greater power either.
So what was the difference? The mobility and organization of the toiling masses first come to mind. Even if the working class was under the umbrella of social democratic parties, it was widely engaged in the political struggle, in some countries the unions had serious potentials.
Another phenomenon that can be mentioned as a difference is the reaction to the destruction and poverty generated by the imperialist war and the fact that the war had not put an end to the deep economic crisis and even added new dimensions to it.
However, no one can claim that international capital today is stronger or more durable than 100 years ago. Imperialism is failing in every sense, it has nothing left to say to humanity economically, ideologically and politically. Nowhere.
Comrades, I am not trying to say that we are living in the same conditions as 100 years ago. This is not true. What we need to do is to analyze today's concrete conditions and based on this, to struggle with the right tools and methods.
However, it is impossible to determine today's tasks in a healthy way without pointing to a very, very important difference between 100 years ago and today.
Comrades, 100 years ago, starting from the working class 100 years ago, for large masses of people, hundreds of millions of people, socialism or an egalitarian order was a tangible, current demand. From the second half of the nineteenth century onwards, every working class struggle was permeated with the desire to overthrow capitalism, although primitive. I am not talking about political strategies and programs here. The desire to change order was a social reality. This desire did not emerge with the October Revolution of 1917. The October Revolution brought a new sense of energy and reality to this desire and spread it to a wider geography.
I need to repeat that capitalism today is not more durable and stable than 100 years ago. Maybe hundreds of millions are not in a struggle, but billions of people have given up on the current social order. This also has a role in the rise of racism and right-wing populist movements around the world. Although it is not the only reason why millions of people go after people they don't know, and at least support the new leader-centered formations in the elections, it is related to the people's search for a way out.
Yes, comrades, we have to admit that one of the most important differences from 100 years ago is that the idea that capitalism can be destroyed and that an egalitarian order can be established is largely out of the minds of humanity.
This cannot be explained by objective conditions alone. Keeping this idea alive and making it concrete in the minds and hearts of large masses of people, starting from the working class is the main task of the communists. This idea cannot be pushed back by referring to the balance of powers. On the contrary, it is the spread of this idea that will change the balance of forces.
Comrades, when we look at the last 100 years, we have to admit that we communists are also guilty of humanity's failure to state in a loud fashion that a more egalitarian order is possible and that capitalism must be destroyed.
And now I am moving on to Turkey and our region, I would like to show you, when facing the current developments, how one can lose direction and move without a compass that would point the right way, if one forgets the actuality of socialism.
Our meeting coincided with Turkey's new military offensive launched in Syrian territory. This is not the first time. The presence of the Turkish army in the territory of other countries started with Korea. It was part of an unjust war waged to protect the interests of US imperialism. In the following years, soldiers of Turkey participated in many operations of the international monopoly terrorist organization NATO. In Cyprus, the sovereignty, independence and integrity of the island has been violated for 45 years. There are countless cross-border operations in Iraq, as well as numerous bases, outposts and observation points belonging to the Turkish army, just as in Syria.
How do we evaluate this picture?
One point of view is to see Turkey as an obstacle to democracy and freedom.
Can any communist who struggles in Turkey object to this?
One can't object to this but comrades this expression, this formulation is wrong. It is wrong because the rule of capital is the enemy of democracy and freedoms everywhere in the world. This formulation means to empty the class content of the problems in Turkey and to link it to people or the army and that will lead one to mistakes.
A revolutionary political position is impossible without understanding that there is a strong capitalist class acting with ever increasing self-confidence and that in general Turkey's domestic and international policies are shaped in line with the interests of this class.
When one doesn't understand this, the following happens: One ends up siding with, becoming allies with powerful imperialist countries or Turkey's capitalist class for freedoms and democracy in Turkey or a larger region. What I am saying is not an exaggeration. This has happened in Turkey and many revolutionaries have unfortunately turned into actual collaborators with imperialism throughout this process.
Comrades, I have to remind you that Erdoğan, who in the news all over the world today and who is ascribed various adjectives, was supported by the so-called democratic and pro-freedom circles from the first periods of his rise to power till 2010. It wasn't only from European Union to the United States but from many different tendencies in the left to the Kurdish nationalist movement in Turkey that this support was provided by. On the other hand, those of us, TKP, who struggled against AKP’s rule right from the beginning, were even labelled as fascists because we confronted Erdoğan.
Later, when the rivalries and contradictions within the imperialist system deepened, and when Erdoğan, facing big problems in domestic politics, opened up space for himself by using these rivalries and contradictions and started having real issues with US, some fake some real, criticisms and accusations against Erdogan started. However, for many leftists, this did not result in taking the correct position because many looked to imperialists and the Turkish bourgeoisie against Erdoğan. Shameful.
I will not take your time by providing you with proof for all of these. I want to come to the other side of the coin.
Comrades, I mentioned that a quest for democracy and freedom that does not have class content, that does not place the socialist revolution objective in its core will mean an overt or covert collaboration with EU and NATO and that this approach will result in total surrender to the capitalist class.
What about the quest for independence? Comrades, when the concepts of independence and sovereignty are detached from their class basis, they become as dangerous as the concepts of freedom and democracy. We see that there is a split in many countries and in the progressive public in general. On the one hand, there is a tendency to cooperate with the bourgeoisie around the concepts of “freedom and democracy". On the other hand, there is a tendency to reconcile with one or another division of capital through the concept of "independence".
The situation in Turkey is exactly reflecting this split. We are told that we need an alliance of the largest powers for Erdoğan's decline. There is German imperialism in this alliance; there are the most powerful representatives of the Turkish bourgeoisie; there is the US government; there are social democrats, so-called leftists, liberals, some Islamists, and a fraction of fascism. Such an alliance could surely hold down Erdoğan, but it will never bring democracy and freedom.
Furthermore, they argue that the most important thing is to gain the ability to act independently of the US, by making an incomplete interpretation of imperialism and even by narrowing imperialism to the US. And they say that all kinds of oppression, bullying, reactionism, and war can be allowedfaced for this cause.
In almost every country in this geography, there is pressure on the communists to accept one of the two paradigms. Either you will cooperate with the imperialists-capitalists for the sake of democracy and freedom, or you will remain silent to all kinds of oppression and cruelty with other imperialists or capitalist groups for the sake of independence.
Can freedom, independence, sovereignty be worthless for communists? No, never. However, the random use of these concepts causes us great harm, as you can see. There's only one way out of this weird situation. It is to placeput the demand for an alternative social ordersocial order in the agenda of the working people, with the excitement coming from the foundation of Comintern 100 years ago. Isn't it a pity that the poor in my country is going after Erdoğan and bourgeoisie's greed for profit because of their rage against the US? Isn't it a pity that the working people, no matter they are Turks, Kurds or Arabs, expect freedom and democracy from the European imperialists or from one or the other fractions within the USA?
These are the results of our weaknesses, the gaps that we have left. Let's not take the disadvantageous circumstances or balances of powers as excuses. As I said at the beginning, when the Comintern first set off 100 years ago, there were fewer people than we have now in this room.
I believe that, in a short time and together, we will regain our claims and enthusiasm we had 100 years ago.
The Communist Party of Turkey is organizing its struggle with this perspective. It is not true that the goal of socialism, defending the contemporariness and timeliness of socialism, will inevitably lead to isolation. There is no rule that a revolutionary attitude will result in sloganism or sectarianism. On the contrary, today in the world, the goal of communism requires a high level of creativity and intellect. When this is coupled with courage and determination, defending the socialist revolution as an actual goal echoes in the working class. The opposite could not be possible in this era of crisis, when it is proved every day that capitalism has nothing left to give to humanity.
The Communist Party of Turkey said no to any alliance with the bourgeoisie or bourgeoisie's political representatives. Despite the heavy pressure, the party persistently defended the thesis saying "this social order must change”. Within the working class, we have developed our organization patiently; we have succeeded in doing what trade unions fail to do in many instances with a unique model called "We Breathe Down the Bosses' Neck". We succeeded in making those laid off to return to their jobs and we gained wage increases. While doing so, we said that the focus should be on the establishment of an egalitarian order, not on this or that bourgeois solution.
We said no to bourgeois alliances but we made the communists win the mayoral election in a city for the first time in the history of Turkey by making a revolutionary alliance. Our votes, for the first time, rose above 1 percent in some settlements in Turkey's largest cities.
The number of party members increased by more than 30 percent in one year. We are at the beginning of our task in a very big and challenging country. More important than quantities are qualitative characteristics. Doing our utmost, we are trying to make the Communist Party of Turkey the urban, modern, intellectual and revolutionary vanguard of the working class. We have a long way to go, but knowing that life can leave us with historical responsibilities at any moment, we persistently follow the path of revolution, the path of Lenin who marked an era 100 years ago. The important thing is what our comrades say, not what anti-communists overtly or covertly say.
TKP will make mistakes, will sometimes take steps back; these are in the nature of the struggle. But, dear comrades, what TKP will not do is to betray the revolutionary ideals, the goal of communism, the working people and their friends.
Glory to the common struggle of the communist parties...
Long live Marxism Leninism!
And until victory, always!