The following article was published in "Rizospastis", the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), on 23 May 2020.
By Elisaios Vagenas*.
The recent successful tele-conference held by the Communist and Workers’ Parties that cooperate within the framework of the European Communist Initiative, in which 24 parties from many European countries participate, constituted a new form of exchanging opinions and coordination of their efforts.
It demonstrated that the CPs can successfully utilize various forms when under pandemic conditions, direct contact between members, invitations to congresses and conferences were impossible. The class struggle does not cease, which makes it vitally necessary for the CPs to exchange views, to clarify their positions, to coordinate their action and to pursue a revolutionary strategy. In none of this can we back down under pandemic conditions when a new global economic crisis of capitalism is building momentum. Of course, the CPs must adapt their style of work as International, regional , and bilateral meetings are not feasible with a physical presence.
The form of Joint Statements by the CPs
One tried and true form of cooperation and coordination among the CPs are the Joint Statements. The formulation of the texts of Joint Statements clarifies the assessments which each CP has decided upon, as well as the goals of struggle each party has set for the development of joint action.
This process remains important, despite the fact that many Communist and Workers’ Parties today are weak, either functioning under semi-illegal conditions or severe persecution or not having all of the means available that the KKE has today along with some other parties, to struggle for the common goals that are formulated.
In order for the international communist movement to emerge from the ideological-political and organizational crisis it has been in over recent decades, it is necessary to comprehensively strengthen it in every country and region, as well as to coordinate the joint struggle and to formulate a revolutionary strategy at the international level. The process of exchanging viewpoints and the related struggle around serious issues within the context of the preparation and publication of Joint Statements can contribute to the above direction.
The KKE and the recent Joint Statements
During the recent period of the Pandemic, the Party signed 5 Joint Statements of the Communist and Workers’ Parties, some of which were approved after an initiative of the KKE, while others on the initiative of other parties which were supported by our Party, which sought whenever necessary to contribute to improving their content. All of the statements were published in “Rizospastis”. These were:
1/ On “Immediate measures to protect the health and the rights of the peoples”, which referred to the global situation that had been created by the pandemic and the emerging capitalist crisis. The initiative was taken by the KKE and was signed by 87 Communist and Workers’ Parties.
2/ On “Solidarity with Cuba”, where the CPs denounced the criminal US blockade of Cuba Communist and Workers’ Parties. The initiative was taken by AKEL and signed by 73 Communist and Workers’ Parties.
3/ On the “150 Anniversary of the birth of V.I. Lenin”, where on the occasion of this anniversary, important positions on Lenin’s leadership were outlined, accompanied by serious ideological and political issues of the communist movement. The initiative was taken by the KKE and signed by 93 communist and workers’ parties.
4/ “On the occasion of the First of May, International Labor Day” which was published on this year’s Workers’ May Day. The initiative was taken by the CP Kurdistan and was signed by 41 Communist and Workers’ Parties.
5/ “In the name of freedom, peace and truth – Against Fascism and War” that was published on the 75th anniversary of the Anti-Fascist Victory. The initiative was taken by the Portuguese CP and signed by 86 Communist and Workers’ Parties.
Whatever glitters isn’t gold
We could say that Lenin’s quote that “before we can unite and in order that we may unite, we must first of all, draw firm and definite lines of demarcation” (*) suits today’s situation and the issues of the joint statements of the parties. The period of the pandemic turned out to be very ‘dense’ in terms of initiatives taken for the publication of Joint Statements. In addition to the 5 listed above, other parties took related initiatives. This doesn’t mean that all could be accepted and supported by our Party, in the name of a superficial “unity” of the international communist movement. Such a unity is not only unnecessary, but actually is detrimental to the communist movement as it doesn’t clarify important issues.
The discussion of different viewpoints, agreement or disagreement, comradely disagreement over serious ideological-political issues of strategic importance is necessary and will continue over the next period. Through this process and the utilization of the experience derived from the class struggle, incentives will be provided for a more substantial mastering of the principles of our worldview and Marxist-Leninist methodology, the elaborations of the CPs will be enriched and this requires great perseverance.
Some parties who took initiatives for joint statements, outright rejected the contribution of other parties in formulating the texts they presented. Conversely, the KKE, as well as other parties that undertook the above initiatives and which were supported by our Party, asked for comments on the initial texts that were submitted. They gave great attention to the many proposals from other parties. They accepted substantial comments that improved the original content. Some parties did not allow such a process to take place for their own texts, while very problematic positions persisted within the texts, such as positions that vindicate the social democratic management of the capitalist system, attributing all of the problems to neo-liberal management.
Nor, could the KKE of course, agree to gratuitous and detrimental requests from parties who call upon the USA “to comply with” international law as the CP of Spain did, as if we aren’t dealing with the most powerful imperialist power on our planet, but with a “young girl” who “strayed from the path” and is awaiting the CPs to put her on the “correct path” of “adherence to international law”. That “law” that today legitimizes imperialist interventions and charges the imperialist body NATO to enforce it in different situations. Of course, it would be difficult to expect anything different from a party that has been immersed in the opportunist current of euro-communism for decades, a party that has abandoned revolutionary principles, who views the state and the law as being classless, that has slipped into the management of capitalism in its country.
There were also attempts for Joint Statements to be signed not only by Communist and Workers’ Parties, but also by other self-proclaimed “left” forces that appear, e.g. in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and against the designs of the USA, but who at the same time support similar plans, especially those of the imperialist EU.
There have also been efforts for CPs to co-sign texts not only with bourgeois “left” forces, but even with right-wing political forces. In the name of “saving humanity”, or the observance of “international law”. One such effort on the issue of the pandemic was made by the CP China. According to Andrei Klimov, senator and member of the Presidium of the center-right party “United Russia”, it was a joint initiative between the two governing parties of China and Russia, which was said to have been signed by more than 200 parties from all over the world. While the entire list has never been officially released, reports say that among those parties were many bourgeois parties from Asia, Africa, the Americas, policy makers that serve the interests of capital and that are responsible for the commodification of Healthcare, under-funding of the Public systems and so on. In any case, the specific joint statement makes no reference to capitalist barbarism, which is the cause of the situation that bears grave consequences for the peoples, nor of course does it refer to struggle aims for the development of joint action. How could it? Capitalist relations of production have prevailed in China for years, and Russia today is a product of counter-revolution and capitalist restoration
Among the parties that signed such a text were also some communist parties which of course, take responsibility for their choices. However, its very important that many CPs have taken a position on today’s China and Russia which now play an important role in the global imperialist “pyramid”, as the intra-imperialist contradictions with the USA are intensifying.
All of the above show that not all of the efforts to issue Joint Statements had the necessary prerequisites to be considered a contribution to the strengthening of the international communist movement. As we often say in analogous situations, “Not all that glitters is gold”.
The importance of recording joint struggle goals.
Communists of different countries and regions may wage a struggle in every single country. There may be different approaches to issues of strategic importance. However, the collective effort has its own importance and the fact that in joint statements the same goal is put forward: the overthrow of capitalist barbarism, the construction of a new socialist-communist society. Therefore, every possible form of cooperation and coordination must be attempted under pandemic conditions, much more the tried and true form of Joint Statements that reflect common assessments and goals of struggle, that contribute to coordinated action at the international level towards the benefit of the working class, of the peoples.
(*) V.I. Lenin Collected Works, “What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement”, “Synchroni Epochi”, Volumne 6, pg. 22.
Eliseos Vagenas is a member of the CC of the KKE and Head of the International Section of the CC of the KKE.