Communist Party of Australia

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Issue #1538      7 March 2012

For social progress, peace and socialism

The 13th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties was held in Athens from December 9-11, 2011. Seventy-eight communist and workers parties from 61 countries, including the Communist Party of Australia, took part in the meeting which was hosted by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). The main theme was Socialism is the Future! Here are two of a selection of contributions being published in The Guardian. There will be more detailed coverage in the forthcoming issue of the Australian Marxist Review.

Contribution of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP)

We greet the Parties that are present here and confirm to them the PCP’s profound commitment to help strengthen the process of the International Meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties, highlighting the many things that unite us in the struggle against capital, for social progress, peace and socialism, despite the variety of situations and experiences and despite differences of opinion. The development of the struggle in each of our countries, which is on the rise, must necessarily be associated with a more intense joint or converging action, with stronger international cooperation and class solidarity. Our Meetings have become precious, and even irreplaceable, milestones for this goal.

The Portuguese situation

In Portugal, we face the most fierce offensive against the workers, the people and the country since the fascist period in Portugal, which the April 1974 revolution put to an end.

It is an offensive that severely affects all anti-monopoly classes and strata, but which has the working class and all workers in general, as its main target. It seeks to increase exploitation, to destroy achievements and rights that were won through many decades of harsh struggles; to reduce the unit costs of labour; to deal very serious blows against the national health service, public education, the social security system; to dismantle the state’s social functions and destroy what is left of the state entrepreneurial sector.

It is an offensive that is dramatically impoverishing the people and bankrupting the country, subverting the constitutional democratic regime and dangerously jeopardising national independence and sovereignty.

Portugal is a small country of little more than 10 million inhabitants and is now the European Union’s most unequal country. There are about one million unemployed (30 percent of which are young people between the ages of 15 and 30), 1.2 million workers with precarious jobs, over two million people living below the poverty line. And the situation is getting worse. On an economic level, it has a productive apparatus that has been weakened to an extraordinary degree, as a result of the country’s participation in the European Union and the euro. There is a recessionary situation, with a forecast drop in GDP of three percent next year [2012 – ed].

The country’s serious situation has become worse with the outbreak of capitalism’s cyclical crisis and its expression in the so-called debt crisis, and with the brutal impositions of the so-called “aggression pact” (as we call it in our struggle). It was signed by the Socialist Party (PS), Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Social Democratic Centre (CDS), with the European Union and the IMF, and which is today the target of very strong popular opposition. Taking advantage of the crisis, and in close liaison with foreign capital, the ruling class seeks to liquidate the state’s social functions and to fully reconfigure the state to serve its own interests.

To this end, it does not hesitate – just as during the fascist period – to submit Portugal to imperialism’s economic, political and military domination, in particular that of the EU imperialist bloc, of the US and NATO.

This raises once again the national question as a fundamental issue for the Portuguese people’s emancipation process. The patriotic and left-wing policy which the PCP identifies as the more immediate political goal of our struggle, is based on this reality – dialectically associating the class and national questions.

Defending the Constitution of the Republic, which actually still enshrines in its preamble the goal of socialism, and which defends anti-monopolist and anti-capitalist policies and national sovereignty, and continues to be able to unite, besides the working class, broad sectors of Portuguese society.

Meanwhile, the determining factor for building the necessary social alliances and political convergences which can break with 35 years of right-wing policies lies in the unity of the working class and of all workers, the people’s mass struggle, as a driving force of the resistance and of progressive and revolutionary transformation.

Besides a permanent attention to strengthening the Party itself and its roots among the masses, it is to this end that the PCP devotes most of its activity. The success of the November 24 General Strike, results of the undeniable influence and force of the CGTP-IN – the class trade union confederation of the Portuguese workers – which counted with the Communists’ active contribution, was preceded by many small and big struggles – amongst which we highlight large demonstrations by public employees, farmers, users of public services, professionals of the security forces and the military – and has already been followed by various demonstrations by students, pensioners and in defence of public services.

The crisis in, and of, the European Union

Our domestic situation is inseparable from recent developments in the European Union. This has proved rightly those who – like the PCP – always characterised the European Economic Community, and later the European Union, as a capitalist process of integration which was profoundly contrary to the interests of the workers and the peoples of Europe, and who always stood against their country’s association with that process.

Much has been said about the crisis in the European Union. But a correct assessment of this issue requires that we also speak of a crisis of the European Union. It is a crisis of the European Union’s foundations and of its economic, political and ideological pillars, that is, a crisis of the capitalist integration process as a whole. This assessment is essential in defining the paths, methods and stages of the struggle, as well as the alternatives and the overall alternative.

In the same way that the system as a whole is reacting to its crisis by enhancing its exploitative, oppressive and criminal nature, so too the European Union is reacting to its crisis by enhancing its neo-liberal, militarist, federalist and reactionary nature.

As the system is reacting to its own crisis with the deepening of its exploiting, oppressing, aggressive and predator character, also the European Union, as a central piece of the imperialist strategy, reacts to its own crisis with the deepening of its neo-liberal, militarist, federalist and reactionary character.

The recent events in Greece, Italy and Portugal, as well as the results of recent European Summits, very clearly show that the process of European capitalist integration does not serve the interests of the workers and the peoples. What is occurring in the so-called European response to the crisis is an increased jump in the capitalist centralisation and concentration and a dangerous leap forward, in the face of the very real risk of an implosion of the European Union’s current configuration. However, this is further aggravating its contradictions and its own foundations and exposing its limits.

But none of this is detached from the will of the big domestic bourgeoisies. There is a coincidence of class interests between those that unleash the attacks against the States and the peoples, and those who, in each country, support and implement these attacks. And those who see the crisis as an opportunity for a profoundly reactionary anti-social, political and ideological offensive, which can ensure them greater profits and more power, and which can pave the road to a reconfiguration of the States – as is the case in Portugal – and of the European Union itself.

The situation in the European continent reflects much of the complexity of the struggle that Communists are confronted with. There are many points of unity of struggle which are dialectically interrelated. Among them are: strong resistance against anti-social and anti-people policies; defence of national sovereignty and democracy; concrete proposals for each nation’s sovereign economic development; cooperation and solidarity in the resistance against the supranational measures; the exposure of the nature of the European Union and promoting a break with the process of capitalist integration; the construction of unity around the defence of social, labour and sovereignty rights.

At the same time, the situation requires an intense ideological struggle and an alternative affirmation, because an acute class struggle is always necessarily associated with a very intense ideological struggle. A struggle of ideas which, in the PCP’s opinion, is based on the fundamental premise that the European Union is not reformable and that a different Europe, a workers’ and peoples’ Europe, must necessarily be built through their struggle, defeating a process of a capitalist integration which has run its course and which profoundly counters workers’ and peoples’ interests.

This basic premise requires the wholesale rejection of a set of measures of a federalist nature, as the ones appointed by the European Council of December 8-9, which through the right wing and by the social democracy, deepen the imperialist nature of the European Union.

Imperialism’s crisis and offensive in a changing world

The situation in the European Union is but one of the expressions of capitalism’s profound structural crisis.

The attempt to focus attention on Europe, dramatising the so-called “sovereign debt crisis” is, in itself, an expression of the fact that inter-imperialist contradictions are growing at a breakneck speed, and seeks to achieve two central goals: to draw attention away from the serious situation in the USA and from the crisis’ systemic nature; and to test in Europe new forms of anti-social and anti-democratic aggression and of attack against the peoples’ sovereignty.

But the facts show that the tendency is towards a very quick worsening of the entire capitalist system’s structural crisis, with synchronised expressions of the crisis.

A crisis which, as we have stated in the International Meetings of the past three years is, in its essence and above all, an over-production and over-accumulation crisis, which results from capitalism’s main contradiction – between the social nature of production and its private capitalist appropriation – and not from any mistake in the management of capitalism or any regional problem.

It is in this framework that imperialism’s multi-faceted offensive is quickly being stepped up:

* Through an even greater concentration of power in the hands of big capital and the main imperialist powers, of new forms of colonial domination and a violent destruction of productive forces – attempting to counter the confirmed downward trend in the rate of profit and the associated decline of the main imperialist powers;

  • Through the promotion of openly reactionary and even fascist ideologies, attempting to contain and repress social revolt and, above all, the organised struggle which is developing all over the world, and specifically in Europe;
  • Through the brutal imposition of “austerity policies” and a renewed agenda of interference and war, with incalculable consequences, which raises the struggle for peace to a new threshold of crucial importance.

At the same time, this offensive also seeks to contain any expression of the struggle and of the peoples’ sovereign assertion which counter the hegemony of the capitalist triad and which may pave the way for alternatives of social progress.

It is in this overall context that the growing contradictions and even clashes between the main imperialist powers and the so-called emerging powers must be viewed. We are facing an important process of realignment of forces that, with its contradictory character, objectively challenges imperialism’s hegemonic domination. This may open up positive prospects for the world balance of forces if the national processes take the path of more advanced anti-monopoly and anti-capitalist transformations, and if the processes of building Socialism are confirmed and furthered.

Recent international Summits, and specifically the G20 Summit, illustrate this reality, as well as imperialism’s strategy to deal with the emerging powers in a dual way, between confrontation and the attempt to involve them in its strategy of domination. Also inseparable from this reality is the war agenda of the USA, NATO and the European Union in the entire region of North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and even the Far East, which entails extremely high risks of generalised military confrontations.

It is in this highly complex and demanding framework that we consider it essential to continue paying attention to all aspects of our struggle. If the matureness of objective factors for the developing of the process of revolutionary overcoming of capitalism is patently clear, there are, however, numerous elements and factors which reveal significant delays in the development of the subjective factor of the struggle – an essential element, as history clearly shows, for advancing the revolutionary struggle – and this forces a more rigorous and careful definition of the methods, goals, stages and forms of struggle.

For the second half of this contribution visit www.solidnet.org or see forthcoming Australian Marxist Review   

Next article – International Meeting – Contribution of the CP of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE)

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