Saturday, July 16, 2022

Ástor García: "To deny the imperialist nature of Russia today is to deny reality"

The following speech was delivered by Ástor García, General Secretary of Communist party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE) at the quadripartite meeting held on 8th of July 2022 in Athens:


We are holding this important meeting in an especially difficult moment for class struggle. The imperialist war being waged in Ukraine is the key element that determines all the other issues and, from our viewpoint, it is a turning point in the international scene with important outcomes in the domestic spheres of our countries.

The recent holding of the NATO Summit in Madrid is one step further in the military escalation, and the results of the agreements made there, along with the new “strategic concept”, are going to cause larger suffering for the working class and the peoples of the world.

I would like to convey some thoughts on the essential points suggested for this discussion.

1) The war in Ukraine is an imperialist war. This is a war for the dispute of spheres of influence and the control of markets, transport routes, and raw materials. Several decades after the triumph of counter-revolution in the USSR and after the EU and NATO hurried in enlarging their influence towards the former Soviet republics and the people’s democracies, Russian capitalists are now in a position to reclaim their influence on some of these territories. The correlation of forces has changed and thus the monopolies and the capitalist powers are heading to a new division of the world. In Ukraine, like in Kazakhstan before, or in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, or in Georgia, what is at stake is essentially the preservation of the prevailing Russian influence or the other powers’ one.

The war in Ukraine is on the other side proving the validity of a stance that communists had been asserting for years: the need of maintaining the European borders after the triumph of counter-revolution. More than one month after the start of war in Ukraine, nationalist tensions began to agitate in other nearby countries like Poland, Hungary, or Romania, which could have very dire results according to what will be the end of the current war and the agreements made. The ethnic, linguistic, and national problems in Eastern Europe were dealt with from the prospect of proletarian internationalism during the time of construction of socialism and people's democracies, modifying whatever borders were required under totally different interests to the ones ruling today the relations between powers. Such issues can burst uncontrollably in a moment of clashes between imperialist powers when nationalism and irredentism are encouraged.

To deny the imperialist nature of Russia today is to deny reality. By using the information between 1999 and 2019 offered by Rosstat (Russian Federal Service of State Statistics) itself, the way the process of capital concentration, merging of bank and industrial capital, and creation of a financial oligarchy has been carried out can be verified. The fact it is still not as developed as in other powers, or that the Russian economy is partly based on the export of raw materials, does not deny that there is a process of expansion abroad by Russian monopolies.

Despite the data, many Communist and Workers' Parties are resisting to define Russia as imperialist. Some even think that both Russia and China play an “anti-imperialist” role because they are “facing” the USA, the EU, and NATO. They are the same people who defend the theory of the multipolar world, who forget that such discussion is a discussion in terms of imperialist clash, of models of capitalist development, based on the thesis that an “unipolar” world benefits the Western powers while a “multipolar” world would benefit other powers at the expense of the Western ones, not altering in any case the capitalist productive relations existing in the different powers. This is actually being used to promote that countries like Cuba, Vietnam or Laos speed up in the process of introduction of capitalist mechanisms in their economies.

2) The main outcomes of the war in Ukraine are two: growth in war escalation and clashes between powers, and reorganization of the alliances around the two main imperialist powers — USA and China.

Every conflict and contradiction solved more or less violently in the previous years resulted in the accumulation of explosive material capable of unleashing a new world war which the main powers and their respective blocs would engage in. This scene is closer after the developments in Ukraine, as one of the main decisions made by the European countries is the increase in military expenditures and the reinforcement of NATO. The new NATO strategic concept —which will regretfully be known as the “Madrid concept”— is characterized by considering Russia and China as “strategic competitors and potential foes whose strategic alliance subvert the values and interests” of NATO. The path to greater and direr inter-imperialist clashes is fully paved.

The war in Ukraine is also clearing another issue —the larger submission of Russia and the EU to respectively China and the USA. It should be borne in mind that, according to 2020 data, the main trade partner of Russia is China, which counts with 14% of Russian exports and which Russia gets 23% of its imports from. Nevertheless, the European countries and USA comprise together 26% of its exports and 24.7% of its imports. If we take into consideration that 42.1% of Russia exports are fuels, minerals and mineral oils, everything suggests a growth in trade relations with China in the future because of the sanctions and the lesser consumption of Russian raw materials in Europe, as will also happen in the financial sphere. In short, Russia will become more dependent on the economic and trade relations with China, and thereby on the military and strategic relations.

Likewise, the EU has just signed up with the USA to buy 50,000 millions of cubic meters of liquefied natural gas per year until 2030 for €140 billions. The declared goal is to replace up to a third of the natural gas imported from Russia, which in practice means to change the dependence from one power to another. On the other side, recovering the idea of establishing an EU army (Euroarmy) would essentially mean the reinforcement of the European arms industry and greater abilities for intervention, but not a larger strategic autonomy for the EU, as the NATO Allied Command Operation is able to lead the missions of the EU forces.

The militarization of economy and society as an ensemble is being sped up, with evident results in the limit of fundamental rights in Western European countries, with the redoubling of the anti-communist campaign and the increasing limit on press and expression freedoms. Wars and imperialist aggressions also lead to the multiplication of forcible displacements of population and migration flows. We have recently witnessed in the Melilla border the outcomes of such drama and the game played by the imperialists with human lives.

3) The increase of military expenditures, the arms race, and the larger linking of countries with NATO and the EU is being made in Spain in an already highly worrying context before the outbreak of war. The Spanish bourgeoisie, and the Government with it, does not ignore the effects of the operativeness of capitalist laws, and this is why it is enthusiastically joining the measures aiming to obtain a larger profitability of capital. The decreasing trend of the rate of profit is operating, and the measures that capitalists are attempting to take are evident:

  1. Increase in the level of exploitation of labor: where the last measures of inner flexibility rapidly introduced during the last crisis —teleworking, temporary layoffs— are included. They are joining the irregular distribution of working time already foreseen in the previous laws.
  2. The decrease of purchase power of salaries is undisputed. Today in Spain more workers are working more hours for the same many and the wages of less workers have been increased after the rise of prices, which means a general lowering of work value.
  3. The increasing role of foreign trade. The Spanish monopolies and the Government are obsessed by the so-called “internationalization”, the improvement of positions in foreign markets, and the increase in the size of Spanish companies, which have negative effects on the petty bourgeoisie. The enlargement of the scale of production cheapens constant capital, but furthermore attempts of increasing profitability of capital are being made.

These elements, contained already in the general lines of the Plan of Recovery submitted to the EU for obtaining the NextGenerationEU funds, are aligned with the stances fostered by institutions like the International Monetary Fund.

If the situation was until February highly worrying, war has come to make it worse. It has introduced new elements in the class struggle in Spain. The so-called National Response Plan to War, around which the Government intends the different pro-capitalist political force to gather, expresses quite clearly what the monopolistic State capitalism is. The State intervenes in the economic sphere in order to safeguard the interests of monopolists. If the measures included in such plan are carefully looked into, they are mainly headed to big companies that makes an intensive use of gas and electricity in their productive process, with direct aids and new tax cuts, as well as other sectors strongly affected by the rise in the price of fuels. It can be easily verified that we are witnessing a new example of how the measures aiming to favor mainly the bourgeoisie are labeled as measures favorable “for the ensemble of the society”, particularly if we take into consideration that the measures allegedly favoring the toiling strata are specified in new transfers of public resources to companies through the electric social bond.

Moreover, the Government is also promoting the so-called “income pact” within the Response Plan to War, aiming to curb wages under the excuse of avoiding an inflationary spiral. This pursues a new blow to the working-class majority by taking advantage of war, because the overall rise of prices is not a result of the strife in Ukraine, but its causes are other factors already operating since the second quarter of 2021, connected to the exit from the crisis catalyzed by the pandemic. The expression “income pact” —which aims to curb salaries and company profits— is furthermore deceitful, because a devaluation of salaries basically means a larger profitability for capitalists.

4) The PCTE is intervening in this context pursuing the mobilization and organization of masses against the imperialist war and the outcomes of the capitalist crisis in both workplaces and neighborhoods. First, we are making an important effort to explain the causes of war, the causes of the capitalist crisis, and the causes of the measures adopted by the Government of social democratic coalition in order to prevent new deceptions for the class and the people. In September, we called some mobilizations against the rise of electricity prises, aiming to organize popular strata in the struggle against shortage. We have later called numerous mobilizations against the imperialist war and started up the Committees for Solidarity between the Peoples and for Peace (CosPAZ) as a mass organization for continuing the struggle against NATO and the EU after the Summit. Our abilities are still limited, but we are trying to play a vanguard role among the working class, also expressed in the steadfast and argued opposition to the labor measures adopted by the Government, a work we are conducting particularly towards trade unions, most of them still under a social democratic dominance, but in which our efforts are starting to be fruitful.

5) In our political work in Spain, we must face several difficulties. In our work against the imperialist war, we are finding that the so-called “anti-imperialist movements” are deeply ideologically misguided and are supporting increasingly more openly pro-Russian and pro-Chinese stances. The joint work with these sections is increasingly harder for this reason, and in some cases it is already impossible. We are also finding a remarkable increase in pro-NATO stances among sections of the new social democracy, well accommodated to their institutional role once they are in Government.

On the other side, in the political and organizational work against the outcomes of the crisis, the workers' and union movement is to be found under a reflux position, accepting the measures promoted by the Government. Our Party is one of the main true opponents, from a class-oriented position, to the Government propaganda, conducting an important explanatory work, a not easy one because of the involvement of a good part of the union movement with the current Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz.

In short, we are finding in our work for the organization of the working class and the people the same problems we are finding in the international sphere.

6) The war in Ukraine has forced all the Communist and Workers' Parties to portray themselves. It is not surprising to observe how alien ideological stances have entered in them —something we have been exposing for years—, especially those that mean the submission to the interests of the different imperialist powers. The assumption of the theory of multipolarity is politically expressed in the break with internationalism, and the erroneous analysis on imperialism and fascism lead to the justification of the imperialist war under the same arguments that capitalists are using. We are witnessing embarrassing examples of social chauvinism.

This reality has been generating serious distorts in the political practice of many Communist and Workers' Parties that we are regretfully paying dearly in the form of a quite significant political setback for the communist forces, because of the increasing inability to articulate a consistent and united political proposal enabling to suitably and simultaneously answer to the problems and threats that are hanging over the world working class in our era.

The social democratic mutation of a significant part of the Communist and Workers' Parties is not only just the result of the developments in the last decades, even though we have been witnessing how it was strengthening and gaining ground since the triumph of counter-revolution in the USSR and the people's democracies in Eastern Europe. The social democratic mutation that has turned a part of the International Communist Movement into an inoperative tool for several sections of the international working class is rooted in old ideological diversions that come back cyclically, in some occasions under new clothes, but always expressing the same essential keys.

All these diversions fulfill a fundamental goal, which is none other than keeping the working class handcuffed, unable to formulate an independent politics for the promotion of its own interests. Such stances distort the sight of reality the working class suffers under capitalism in its imperialist stage. Such positions, in short, always result in a larger submission of the working class to the bourgeoisie and should therefore be constantly identified, exposed, and fought. Thus the need to regroup the communist movement on a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist base. We consider it to be an urgent need.


We are convinced that a more thorough cooperation between our four Parties will result in a clear advance of the revolutionary stances in the International Communist Movement.

Thank you very much.

Ástor García

General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE)