Below you can read the introductory speech delivered by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Dimitris Koutsoumbas:
We continue our struggle under difficult circumstances, where the new outbreak of the pandemic in many countries —including Greece— has tragic consequences for the peoples, who are faced with the anti-popular policy of the bourgeois states and governments and the deplorable condition of the dismantled, commercialized Public Health Systems.
The danger of new variants proves that as long as the vaccine remains a lucrative commodity serving the profits and competition of big business groups and capitalist states, the vaccination will be delayed and the fatal course of the pandemic will continue. The peoples, especially of the poorest countries whose vaccination rate accounts for 6% of their population, fall victims to this competition.
That is why, together with the need to take the necessary protective measures against the pandemic, particularly the reinforcement of the public health system, the demand to waive patents on vaccines and medicine, which is directly linked to parasitic and dangerous capitalist ownership, becomes even more timely.
We express our internationalist solidarity and convey our comradely wishes of the CC of the KKE to all the Parties of the European Communist Initiative for health and strength in the struggle for the interests and the needs of our peoples.
Allow me to begin my contribution by underscoring tomorrow’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people. We reiterate our firm solidarity with the ongoing just struggle of the Palestinian people for the end of Israeli occupation. Its long-lasting struggle inspires our own just struggle across the world.
We denounce the crimes and the occupation of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people, which has been continuing for decades with the support of the USA and the EU.
The struggle of the Palestinian people can be justified through the strengthening of the struggle against imperialist interventions and plans of the bourgeois classes in the region, through the strengthening of internationalist solidarity and activity.
We continue the struggle for:
- The end of the Israeli occupation and its consequences.
- The creation of a united, independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the borders of 1967, with the people masters in their own land.
- The right of all Palestinian refugees to return home, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.
- The immediate freeing of all Palestinian and other political prisoners held in Israeli prisons.
Today’s teleconference of the Full Plenum of the European Communist Initiative provides us with the opportunity to exchange opinions and experience about the struggle of our Parties against two fundamental strategies, two basic profitability paths of big capital, at a European and international level, the so-called “green growth” and digital transition.
The confrontations which arose in the recent Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow are taking place in the framework of acute imperialist competition and contradictions over the distribution and control of the markets.
Shedding crocodile tears for the climate, the EU and the governments of member states, as well as their competitors i.e. the USA, China, Russia, and India, who bear heavy responsibility for the destruction of the environment by the monopolies, seek to pull the wool over the people’s eyes. To disorientate the people from their joint direction to shift the new economic burden to the people in order to promote the “green” profitability of the monopolies. All the above are taking place in conditions where the business war over the utilization of older and new technologies and the implementation of the corresponding industrial requirements is escalating.
The joint statement by the USA–China on climate is a temporary compromise to drum up their green business despite their competition that is escalating in the Indo-Pacific.
Besides, the pursuit of the big capital, of the unions and governments that serve it, is the utilization of the so-called “Green New Deal” to address the problem of the large amount of over-accumulated capital that has been created from the exploitation of the working class.
They are aware that the recovery of the capitalist economy after the deep capitalist economic crisis, which was precipitated by the pandemic, is unstable and improbable.
They count on an extended controlled depreciation of fixed capital, such as the shutdown of lignite-fired power plants, the recall of conventional vehicles, the replacement of energy networks, etc.
The attention of the monopolies and the governments that serve them is focused on energy resources, mineral wealth, transport, the generalized utilization of digitalization, the so-called “4th industrial revolution”, the extension of teleworking, the dominance in the competition over the 5th generation networks and the preparation of the 6th generation ones, to gain advantage in cyber warfare and the weapons powered by artificial intelligence, always targeting the peoples.
A tool and mainstay for these “green” and digital plans of the monopolies is the Super-memorandum of the EU Recovery Fund, revealing the need for greater state intervention in the capitalist economy.
Powers that have fallen behind in terms of the so-called “green” technologies and investments, such as Russia and India, follow the developments with great concern and demand that the “transition to green technologies should not become a tool of unfair competition or deterrent or constraint to the development of countries”.
The consequences of this development are heavy for the peoples. They are already paying dearly for the investment plans. These plans are drawn up by the corresponding national staffs and later are adopted by the EU, currently amidst fierce confrontations, as well as by the USA, China, and powers that have taken the lead in these technologies.
We are talking about a huge amount of money that the people will be forced to pay for the decades to come.
The objectives set by the capitalists to limit the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane have nothing to do with environmental destruction and degradation.
The results of climate change and environmental destruction are deliberately being promoted as the cause of the problem in order to conceal the true cause, the true culprit, i.e. the capitalist mode of production, the activities of business groups, and the race for profit.
It is indicative that while large EU, US, Russian, and Chinese enterprises have “invested” billions in deforestation, at the same time they promote the “policies for deforestation prevention”.
The confrontations during the recent “Climate Summit” among the USA–EU and China-Russia-Australia-India concern the time schedules and the pace of the so-called green energy transition.
They concern the time schedules in the interest of the powerful capitalist states and each imperialist center to secure the profitability of its own business groups at the expense of its competitors and they do not dispute their anti-popular and environmentally harmful direction.
We insist on the following issue, which today has significant importance and is purposely deceptive:
The various “climate goals” set by the EU, the bourgeois governments, and their competitors reflect compromises as regards the competition between them over the new lucrative fields of profitability, achieving a double goal: to liberate accumulated capital through profitable capitalist investments and at the same time to depreciate and destroy a part of the existing capital. This is the essence of the issue.
In this regard, they promote the shut-down of lignite-fired power plants, the withdrawal of traditional networks of electric power transmission, airplanes and vehicles using traditional fuels, i.e. petrol and diesel.
Mechanisms such as the pollution exchange market, which turns cheap forms of energy production such as lignite into expensive ones by imposing fines and penalties constitute a tool to achieve this withdrawal.
The “green” new taxes for coal emissions in electricity, as well as the subsidies for Renewable Energy Sources (RES) are eventually included in the electricity bills that the working-class households are unable to pay.
The same happens with the more expensive imported natural gas which, in addition to the pollution of the environment during its extraction, has great losses during its transportation.
As regards the promotion of the extremely expensive and unstable “monoculture” of Renewable Energy Sources, about which the EU and all bourgeois forces such as ND, SYRIZA, and KINAL in Greece are of the same mind, it already has severe consequences for forests, mountains, and areas of rare natural beauty.
The sensitivity of the big capital and the managers of capitalist exploitation is highly hypocritical. We would like to raise some crucial questions:
- How “green” are the NATO, EU, and US bombardments that kill and poison the peoples and destroy the environment?
- How “green” are the nuclear tests for the modern nuclear weapons?
- How “green” is the pollution of rivers in Siberia by Russian monopolies?
- How “green” is the new Istanbul Canal planned by the Turkish leadership?
- How “green” is the extraction of shale gas in the USA?
- How “green” is the construction of dozens of man-made islands by China in the East Sea?
- How “green” is waste burning? Or the assignment of reforestation to individuals in exchange for the expropriation and commercialization of forests for their own interests?
- How “green” is the fact that, in the name of fast-track investments, environmental impact studies are considered to be an “obstacle” and “bureaucracy”, with the ND government taking the baton from SYRIZA in implementing EU practices so that business groups grow rich without any hindrance?
- How “green” is the policy that leaves the people, the forests, the natural environment exposed; that turns the lack of precautionary measures to deal with fires, earthquakes and floods into a premeditated crime of the capitalist system and its governments, leading to thousands of casualties, to damaged houses and infrastructure, to a life full of unemployment and insecurity, to huge environmental destruction?
- And all this while setting up mechanisms such as the so-called RESC-EU that perpetuates the lack of staff, infrastructure, and means of rescue in the member states?
Climate change is also used here as a pretext to whitewash the real culprit, i.e. the capitalist system, to blame the people through the so-called individual responsibility, which exonerates the big monopolies that are responsible for the destruction of the environment.
- Why is the EU excluding hydroelectric projects, which could tackle the energy problem in a much cheaper way while also tackling carbon dioxide emissions, from the Renewable Energy Sources?
- Why do they not prefer the lignite-fired power stations of combined cycle, which can equally reduce carbon dioxide emissions and use modern technological equipment?
The answer to all the above questions is the following: because the criterion is capitalist profit and not popular interests and the protection of the environment.
The peoples are suffering from an unbearable wave of increasing prices. The soaring prices are not a temporary phenomenon.
The so-called green transition and the energy liberalization cause the energy prices to skyrocket and cause soaring prices for basic consumer goods.
The “green” taxes, the green commodities and services that are imposed either by the “stick” of over-taxation of old fuels or the “carrot” of subsidies for the purchase of e.g. extremely expensive electric cars and devices, lead to new unbearable burdens.
The EU arsenal and the governments’ recovery measures do not make up for the huge losses of the working class households, which have quadrupled in the case of electricity.
It is no coincidence that the concerns of governments and bourgeois staffs are growing: “The Green Deal could have enormous social, economic, political, and geopolitical costs; costs that could cause high tension in society and among the allies, that could open the paths for radical militants”!!!
The Artificial Intelligence systems and digital technologies constitute a field of huge profitability for the European business groups and at the same time of fierce competition with their opponents, particularly with the USA and China.
With these objectives they seek to use state and EU funds to reduce the business risk of capital and to burden the (state and EU) budgets, which are paid by the people through heavy taxation.
The Recovery Fund and the “Digital Europe”, “Horizon Europe”, “Connecting Europe Facility” programmes etc. require that their funds are directed to support the business groups for investments.
The EU seeks to promote itself as “leading” in setting standards in the supposed “regulation” of risks by the use of Artificial Intelligence regarding:
- the generalization of e-commerce
- personal data issues
- the application of so-called algorithms
with an open war of US, Chinese, and European platforms and search engines.
The upcoming French EU Presidency is preparing a law on digital markets, seeking to secure a scope for European monopolies amidst the struggle between US and Chinese business groups for supremacy.
The struggle between business groups for the control over the 5G networks or the adequacy of microchips for their own industry to the detriment of their competitors is quite revealing.
The declarations about “the protection of citizens”, their rights, and their personal data to present the EU as an allegedly “moral” force on the issues of technology through the reactionary General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) attempt to deceive the people.
The ownership of digital technologies and Artificial Intelligence by capital is a factor that determines their use for its own benefit, to the detriment of the peoples.
This is reaffirmed by the life of the workers in all EU member states, who see that the great technological potential is utilized for the intensification of their exploitation, the generalization of extortionate taxes, while the big capital digitally multiplies its ability to evade taxes.
Teleworking and work through on-line platforms exacerbates work intensification, abolishes the limits between work and free time, and seeks to crash any remaining labour rights.
The discussion about the “right to disconnect” from digital teleworking devices holds pitfalls.
In practice, it is understood that “disconnection” first of all legitimizes the “connection” of the workers and the implementation of the most state-of-the-art technological methods of work intensification and employer intimidation to their detriment.
Such are keyboard sensors, algorithms, geolocation systems, face recognition and emotion detection cameras. These experiments are already taking place, with postgraduate students being subjected, among other things, to this humiliation of human personality. Such examples are reported by Greek second-year postgraduate students who are studying at the University of Cyprus concerning the conduction of their exams in January.
The EU plans to incorporate this nightmarish reality of digital teleworking into its legislation with the blessing of the Confederation of European Business (“BusinessEurope”) and the corrupt labour aristocracy of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
Artificial Intelligence and digital technologies are also utilized by repression mechanisms for mass surveillance, employer intimidation, systematic censorship of any radical voice of resistance against anti-popular policy, intensification of repression with the use of technologies such as face recognition against demonstrators, biometric data, profiling, and the so-called lethal weapons.
The ever-expanding application of Artificial Intelligence and modern warfare technologies, the cyber warfare among capitalist states and business groups over drones and the so-called “lethal weapons” are at the epicentre.
Thus, the EU’s calls for “rational use of Artificial Intelligence” in the field of military operations have multiple aims: to whitewash the EU’s dirty role in imperialist plans while seeking to obstruct its competitors’ armaments, under the guise of its so-called “humanitarian sensitivities”, so that itself and its member states gain advantage from the production of “lethal weapons” that utilize Artificial Intelligence.
The character of the bourgeois state, its anti-popular orientation, its nature, are not the result of the political will of one or the other government.
Its role and mission is to support capital in the struggle for ever-increasing profits.
The safeguarding of profitability of “green” and digital investments of the monopoly groups requires the intensification of the degree of exploitation of the workers, the extension of flexible working relations, a cheap and manipulated labour power.
Capitalist growth, either “green” or not, either digital or conventional, presupposes the crushing of workers’–people’s rights and needs.
The “green” and digital version of capitalism does not constitute a progressive turn for the peoples.
It cannot tackle the expanding inherent contradictions of the capitalist system.
The notion that there can be a “just transition” or “climate justice”, as claimed by social democratic and opportunist forces, with a different formula of bourgeois management, with another choice of energy formula, without the overthrow of the power of capital, constitutes a dangerous illusion.
The KKE is at the forefront, organizing the people’s struggle in Greece and revealing the barbarism of “green capitalism”, demanding:
The protection of forests and the handing over of public spaces to the people, without any business activity.
The adoption of measures against accidents of major industrial pollution.
Infrastructure and staffing of the competent services for the protection of the people and the environment from fires, floods, and earthquakes.
Measures for the health and safety of workers in workplaces, the importance of which was highlighted by the recent victorious and heroic struggle of the dock workers in Piraeus port against the COSCO monopoly.
Contrary to capitalist digital transition, we strengthen the struggle against the establishment of teleworking, for work with rights, Collective Agreements, and the abolition of any kind of “flexible” form of work.
The example of the strike of the workers at the multinational on-line platform “e-food” is emblematic; they did not yield to the threats posed by the employers calling them to “become freelancers or be dismissed”, and with their struggle and the solidarity shown by workers and the people, they managed to sign permanent contracts and now, following the founding of their trade union, are fighting for a Collective Agreement.
This organized struggle points the way. It reveals the true opponent of the working class and the people, the incentive of profit, capitalist power, the bourgeois policy and its spokesmen.
It illuminates the essence of the KKE’s slogan: Only the people can save the people, their rights, the environment, and the planet!
Capitalism impedes the balanced relationship that can exist between human industrial activity and nature, in favour of people’s needs.
The culprits cannot be turned into “saviours”!
Only socialism, based on the social ownership over the concentrated means of production and land, the central scientific planning of the economy, and social services can guarantee the meeting of people’s needs, the rising living standards, the improvement of working conditions, and the minimization of the impact on natural environment.
Socialist production can calculate all the effects on the environment because it organizes production in a planned way, as a whole.
Based on the social ownership on land, it can aptly organize spatial planning and decide which activities, and to what extent, are useful and necessary or unnecessary and detrimental to the people and social welfare.
This radically different character of socialist production enables it to respond to the people’s problems as regards the environment as well.
Similarly, the digital transformation of the society could take place in favour of people’s interests if the real problem of all problems, the criterion of profit, capitalist exploitation was resolved.
Using digital technologies as an asset, the workers would work less, they would be paid more, and they would enjoy more free time to participate in social life.
This can take place through the overthrow of the barbaric exploitative system, the conquest of workers’ power, socialist society, aiming to meet the totality of the contemporary workers’–people’s needs.