Sunday, July 2, 2023

NCPN: On the honorary rehabilitation of Anton de Kom by the Dutch government

In a statement issued on June 23rd, the Commission of Antiracism and Antifascism of the CC of the New Communist Party of the Netherlands (NCPN) refers to the decision of the Dutch government to grant honorary rehabilitation to Surinamese resistance fighter and anti-colonialist author Anton de Kom. 

More specifically, the full statement (Over het eerherstel voor Anton de Kom) reads:

On June 19, it was announced that the Dutch government is granting honorary rehabilitation to Anton de Kom. The recognition of Anton de Kom is an important result of the struggle of the anti-imperialist and anti-racist movement. At the same time, however, it cannot go unnoticed that there is an enormous amount of hypocrisy behind this rehabilitation by the government.

Anton de Kom was imprisoned as a communist under the Dutch colonial regime in Suriname and exiled to the Netherlands because of his anti-imperialist, anti-colonial activity and his commitment to the development of the Surinamese labour movement. In the Netherlands, he joined the communist resistance against the fascist occupation, eventually dying in a concentration camp at Camp Neuengamme in then-Nazi Germany.

The government has now issued an apology and, as part of the rehabilitation, a research chair will be established at the Free University of Amsterdam (VU) that should focus on Anton de Kom’s legacy.

The government’s recognition of Anton de Kom as a hero is an achievement of the anti-imperialist and anti-racist movement, which is waging the necessary struggle in our country against the additional oppression experienced by the black population and population of colour of the Netherlands on top of capitalist exploitation, and drawing attention to the criminal colonial past of the Dutch capitalist class. The NCPN and CJB annually organize the Anton de Kom commemoration, highlighting his communist thought and his scientific analyses of colonialism, imperialism and other issues.

It is particularly appalling that the government apologizes for the fact that Anton de Kom was “hindered in his activities [and] imprisoned,” while the government promotes anti-communism in many ways. The ruling and opposition parties offering these apologies all voted together for the European Union's anti-communist resolutions approving and promoting the repression and persecution of communists, communist symbols and the communist press (to which Anton de Kom made a huge contribution).

Furthermore, it is hypocritical that with this rehabilitation and other gestures (such as the apology for the role of the Netherlands in the slave trade), the government condemns the criminal colonial policies of the past, while the Dutch state is still clinging to the colonial possessions in the Caribbean, which exist as remnants of the colonial system. Antipopular policies are implemented under pressure of the Dutch state and the government does not hesitate to even use the armed forces when people resist, such as in 2020 in Curaçao. More generally, the Dutch armed forces are interfering in the Caribbean to secure the interests of Dutch capital in the region.

Also, it is appalling that a chair is being established to supposedly contribute to “giving Anton de Kom and his thought a rightful place in history education and academia,” while communist thought is demonized in every possible way. The chair is supposed to deal with the historical processing of the Dutch history of slavery and how this affects the present, within which Anton de Kom’s thought should be central. But precisely the core of Anton de Kom’s analyses, based on dialectical and historical materialism, on the Marxist method, is concealed in the way the history of slavery and colonialism are approached by the state.

The government seems to abuse the apology and rehabilitation mainly to flatten and defuse Anton de Kom and his revolutionary ideas. Lenin, in his text State and Revolution, pointed out that revolutionaries, persecuted and vilified by the ruling class during their lifetime, are praised after their death in a way that flattens or conceals the revolutionary element: “After their death, attempts are made to turn them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the ‘consolation’ of the oppressed classes, and with the object of tricking the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it.”

None of this diminishes the importance of the rehabilitation of Anton de Kom, but rather shows the importance of continuing the struggle over the content of the rehabilitation. The NCPN and CJB continue to fight in memory of Anton de Kom against imperialism, against the remnants of colonialism, against racism and fascism, for a just society for which Anton de Kom fought, socialism-communism. After all, continuing that struggle is ultimately the only way we can truly honour Anton de Kom today.

Long live Anton de Kom! /