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Issue #1852      December 12, 2018

The 20th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers Parties (IMCWP)

In November, 90 Communist and Worker’s parties from 73 countries met to discuss developments at the international, regional and national levels and the tasks of the communist and workers’ parties to strengthen their struggle, and the developments in the working class and other popular strata for workers’ and people’s rights.

Hosted by the Communist Party of Greece, KKE, the meeting issued an Appeal outlining areas of agreement that will provide the basis for stronger co-operation and common activity in the international communist movement in the next year.

It was repeatedly noted by delegates at the IMCWP, that the defeat of the USSR and the Eastern European socialist states in the counterrevolutions of the early 1990s, continues to have enormous negative consequences. The workers’ and peoples’ popular struggles for their rights, against militarisation of their economies and in preventing the outbreak of imperialist wars have been affected.

The negative realignment of forces which resulted from these defeats, continues to create enormous challenges for the Communist and Worker’s parties in every country, regionally and internationally.

For these reasons the 20th IMCWP underlined the urgent need to build international and regional co-operation. To unify actions that resist and ultimately defeat the capitalist offensive against workers, the people and ultimately humanity, with the goal of its replacement with socialism.

Many delegates pointed out that there was evidence of the sharpening of contradictions in the imperialist stage of capitalism and the resulting intensification of the capitalist crisis. This growing crisis is being reflected in growing competition between capitalist states and alliances for markets and control of wealth-producing resources and energy pipelines.

The exploitative and predatory nature of capitalism in its last stage was described clearly in the national realities of advanced and developing countries worldwide. Delegates reported on new levels of exploitation and oppression of workers and other sectors of society. The erosion of people’s social and democratic rights, the increasing danger and threats of the outbreak of imperialist wars, violations of sovereignty and national independence and irreversible damage to the environment.

The weakening of the communist and workers’ movements nationally and internationally and their slow recovery, in the face of the anti-communist onslaught that followed the victory of counter-revolution in the USSR, was a focus of the discussions. Many parties expressed their concern that ideological confusion and mistakes continue to be a major factor in the weakening of the anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist forces in the context of the sharpening contradictions of capitalism and the deepening crisis.

The need to address theoretical and ideological mistakes of the past and confront the ideological attacks by reactionary forces on the working class, the revolutionary role of the workers, its alliances and the necessity for a revolutionary vanguard, were identified as primary tasks in re-building and re-grouping the national and international communist and workers movements.

The theme of the 20th IMCWP, “The contemporary working class and its alliance. The tasks of the political vanguard – the Communist and Workers’ Parties, in the struggle against exploitation and imperialist wars, for the rights of the workers and the peoples, for peace, for socialism”, highlighted the urgent ideological issues confronting the worldwide communist movement.

The working class and class struggle

The ideological attack that sprung off the back of the victory of the 1991 counter-revolutions in the USSR and Eastern Europe expressed itself in the idea that, in modern society and with technological developments, the working class and its movements have lost all relevance. In advanced capitalist countries, the traditional industrial and manufacturing base had shrunk and a new “neutral” non-class stratum of workers arose. The services, IT, telecommunications and managerial roles had supplanted the working class. As a result, the necessity of class struggle against exploitation of the workers’ through the extraction of surplus value was denied.

This view was soundly rejected by the communist and workers’ parties and exposed as an attempt to deny the ongoing exploitation of workers and hide the class nature of society in the interests of the capitalist class. The changing composition of the working class, as a consequence of the development of the productive forces in advanced capitalist countries, has not changed the exploitative and predatory nature of the class system.

In the experience of the members of the IMCWP, class collaboration through social contracts and the denial of the necessity of class struggle in the last decades has led to greater inequality, not less. This has been accompanied by the loss of industrial, social and democratic rights and the increasing domination of the monopolies across the capitalist world.

The question of intermediate stages

A second major ideological question that came to the fore was the idea that intermediate stages could exist between capitalism and socialism. Many delegates argued this was an illusion, that socialism could not be won through parliamentary reforms and gradual improvement of the electoral correlation of forces, through a “left” governmental management of capitalism.

Once again, many parties argued that this was an incorrect analysis developed in the international communist movement in the specific difficult conditions in the struggle against fascism. The need for parties to review national and international experiences on “stage theory” and assess its usefulness in developing their strategic direction was discussed.

The KKE argued in their contribution to the IMCWP that this idea, “… still remains as the main issue of the ideological-political struggle in the ranks of the labour movement.” They referred to their experience in refusing to join a Syriza-led government to manage capitalism in Greece in 2013. This decision has since been clearly demonstrated as correct. Today the Syriza-ANEL government in Greece, has taken on the key role of managing capitalism in the interests of the big international monopolies and the Greek bourgeois class. It is doing this despite its promises to the Greek people and in the false name of the left.

Social Alliances

The question of how communist and workers parties approach the building of social alliances in the struggle for social progress and peace has always been centrally important in our theory and practice. The IMCWP reflected differences between parties in different countries.

The overthrow of capitalism, led by the working class, serves the interests not only of that class, but also the interests of the majority of society whose rights and interests are limited and denied by the growing power of the monopolies and finance capital. The anti-monopoly and anti-imperialist direction of social alliances was underlined as essential as was the need for Communist parties to understand and build alliances in a dynamic and non-linear way according to the needs and changing conditions in the struggle.

A strong view expressed by many parties is that within the alliances and through their activity, the ideological struggle will occur. The question of which political line provides a real answer to the problems of the people will inevitably need to be answered. A line in favour of the monopolies or the line against the domination of the monopolies? How the vanguard role of the Communist Party can be realised in the pre-revolutionary phases is an associated question.

The tasks of the communist parties

Communist and Workers’ Parties in each country must elaborate their own programmatic and strategic direction based on their theoretical and objective analysis of the conditions that prevail.

The IMCWP comes together every year on the basis of mutual respect of parties and non-interference. The 20th IMCWP, despite some different opinions on ideological, theoretical and strategic issues, was able to successfully agree on a united Appeal because it insisted on compliance with these pre-conditions for the parties’ discussions and co-operation within the IMCWP framework.

At the same time differences over some questions, including the character of developments in China, were not hidden but were expressed openly and in a principled way. Some parties expressed the opinion that the development of “socialism with Chinese characteristics” was in fact hiding the basic fact that China’s economy had moved away from the development of the social relations of production.

Delegates raised their concerns that Chinese multinational companies were exploiting workers in countries around the world. One example of this was the operation of the Chinese multinational Costco in the Athens port of Pireas where aggressive anti-worker tactics have been applied by Cosco against the port workers.

One major task that was identified across the movement was the need for Communist and Workers parties to deal with the widespread and negative influence of social democracy on workers politically and ideologically.

Many parties referred to the history and the relationship of the Communist movement with social democracy as a major cause in the defeat of the socialist countries at the end of the 20th century. This view holds that this problem remains a central political and ideological obstacle to the ability of Communist and Workers’ Parties to combat opportunism and decisively, take up their vanguard role in the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and for socialism.

The Communist Party of Australia took part in the 20th IMCWP with a four-person delegation, led by Bob Briton, General secretary of the CPA. Contributions to the 20th IMCWP and more information from Solidnet on member parties can be found on the Solidnet site – solidnet.org

Next article – Yellow Vest movement strikes a victory for working people

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