Capitalist Crisis, Inter-imperialist Rivalry and War

Capitalist Crisis, Inter-imperialist Rivalry and War. The Prospect and Duties of the Anti-imperialist Struggle.

On behalf of the CC of the KKE I welcome you to the headquarters of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece. Our party has been waging a tough and complex political struggle in this period, in particularly complicated socio-economic and political conditions, which have been caused by the capitalist crisis.

A crisis which has led to 1.5 million unemployed in a country of only 11 million and has provoked a very intense offensive by capital, its governments and the EU, which has reduced labour rights, salaries, pensions, has destroyed and is destroying urban and rural petty bourgeois strata, and is threatening the workers with the nightmare of unemployment, including public sector workers, who for many years harboured the illusion that no one could dismiss them.

The capitalist crisis will deepen even further in Greece and the EU. They already admit that the crisis will manifest itself in all the member-states of the EU which have not yet borne a similar brunt, while other countries around the globe show signs of a slowdown.

The capitalist crisis which is underway demonstrates the impasses of the capitalist development path: poverty, unemployment, destitution of the popular strata. But on the other hand, the bourgeois political system still has "reserves", it is capable of influencing the consciousness of the workers, youth, via television, the internet, films, school, the church, as well as through an entire "safety net" of the system, made up of parties which foster bourgeois and opportunist ideological constructs.

An example of this is the argument that in the conditions of the crisis today the workers should not struggle on the basis of their contemporary needs, but should lower their demands, because allegedly we are "all in the same boat of the national economy", which we must not allow to sink. The bourgeois political system has invented ways to manipulate the section of workers which in the previous period had participated in the major working class struggles that had broken out in Greece.

It knows that these are sections of the working class and intermediate strata which have not acquired the necessary political experience and are chiefly possessed by a desire for another form of management which will allegedly stop the downward spiral and will immediately solve their problems, without touching the bases of capitalist exploitation and Greece's membership of the imperialist unions of NATO and the EU.

Thus, in the previous period we saw the bourgeois media using the so-called "movement of the indignant citizens", which promoted in an often reactionary way its aversion to every form of organization (parties and trade unions), as well as the ideological confusion that the crisis is allegedly caused by the "corruption" of politicians, or by a "lack of democracy". It was no accident that they attempted to foster, something they achieved to a great extent, amongst the workers of our country the illusion that the capitalist crisis and the Memoranda are a result of ideological fixations (e.g. the neo-liberal thinking) or self-interested, incompetent and subservient forms of management and negotiations by the bourgeois political personnel. That if there was an "honest" negotiation based on "patriotic"-"social" positions by a "competent" government, then the people would be in a better situation.

This was the basis of the shallow anti-Memorandum rationale which was and is continually promoted by SYRIZA, a merger of the opportunist forces with worn-out forces from social-democratic PASOK, as well as by the Independent Greeks, a split from the rightwing party of ND, and even by the neo-nazi Golden Dawn.

That is to say the illusion regarding an immediate solution without conflict and rupture with capital and the EU. This is a "lifeline" for capital and the "bait" used to "trap" the working class and other popular strata in its strategy of safeguarding the socio-economic base of the capitalist system and of renewing its political personnel.

In conditions of relative or even absolute destitution and unemployment, insecurity, unfortunately large sections of the workers can fall into this trap, as was demonstrated by the results of the two recent elections in our country. In these conditions the Communist Party wages a tough struggle, ideological, political and organizational against the bourgeois and opportunist forces.

It is important that the CP enlightens the workers about the real dilemma, which is : with the monopolies and capital running the economy and possessing the political power or with the people masters of the economy and in power. The KKE argues that the capitalist crisis expresses the sharpening of the basic contradiction between the social character of production and labour and the private capitalist appropriation of its results. Positions which attribute the causes of the crisis to management policies, sometimes blaming neo-liberal management, other times the "subservient stance" of the bourgeois governments and the "incompetence" of the negotiators are unrealistic and dangerous!

Because they conceal the fact that the negotiations with the lenders and the implementation of the anti-people measures occurred after the outbreak of the crisis. They conceal the operation of the laws of the exploitative system and that the history of crises demonstrates that they manifest themselves overtime regardless of whether a social-democratic or liberal form of management is in place.

They occur due to the sharpening of the system's contradictions, as well as the anarchy and unevenness which characterize capitalist production, the over-accumulation of capital from the exploitation of labour power which has been concentrated in the phase of economy's growthand cannot find secure outlets with a high rate of profits, in an environment when the relative and absolute living conditions of the working class is deteriorating.

Both before and during the crisis, a systematic offensive was organized by the bourgeois class- a war against the working class and popular rights with the aim of reducing the price of labour power and increasing the competitiveness and profitability of capital.

So, it is of great importance that the workers understand the real causes of the crisis and the problems they experience which today are becoming more acute. Dear comrades, The economic crisis is not an independent phenomenon, as it emerges from the bowels of capitalist society and exacerbates the inter-state contradictions, the inter-imperialist rivalries, and causes realignments both within the EU and at a global level and of course strengthens the unequal relations of inter-dependence.

For example, inside the EU a very tough confrontation is taking place in this period over how the losses from the sharpening and deepening of the crisis will be distributed and over the future course of the Eurozone. On this ground some social democratic forces attempt to trap the workers into concepts which are used for their ideological-political manipulation proposing another form for managing the crisis via a "front of the countries of the South" against the "rich North".

Of course this is not the first time that the bourgeois class has sought to divide the workers along geographical, racial and religiouslines, blunting the class approach to issues. But here we are dealing with an attempt to "mobilize" popular strata around goals set by the bourgeois class of each country, in the tough inter-imperialist rivalries, inside and outside the EU.

The opportunist forces bear enormous responsibilities in relation to this. Specifically SYRIZA in our country, the European Left Party (ELP) in Europe, which actively participate in spreading illusions that after the election of Hollande in France "fresh air is blowing" from the South. These forces, despite their "left" phraseology" seek to sanctify the EU, humanize capitalism and do not hesitate to take sides with one or another imperialist block, sometimes praising [French President] Hollande and the governments of Italy and Spain regarding the way they negotiated within the framework of the EU and at other times Obama regarding his chosen way of managing the crisis.

They conceal from the people that the EU is a union of capital which cannot be reformed and that the only prospect which serves the workers' interests is to exit it, through the establishment of people's power in each country, which will ensure that the economy functions to satisfy the needs of the people and not the profitability of capital.

And on this point I would like to note the following: As you may be aware the possibility of forming a "left" government was a significant issue in the recent elections. And they persisted in calling on the KKE to participate in it. Our party refused from start to finish to participate in such a government as it is very well aware that no government which manages capitalism, the power of the monopolies and private ownership of the means of production, no government which implements a programme based on capitalist profits, on the competitiveness, productivity and profitability of the major business groups can follow a political line in favour of the working class and popular strata.

No such government, which operates within the framework of the EU and NATO, capitalist ownership and bourgeois power, can control the laws of the system, its contradictions, and prevent the outbreak of the capitalist crisis. Sooner or later the promises about "relieving" the people will be punctured, they will be proved to be empty words and the expectation and hopes of the people for something better will be replaced by the disillusionment and the retreat of the labour movement. Consequently, it is of great significance that the KKE maintained a principled position rejecting the rationale of participating in a government of bourgeois management if this government will be called "leftwing.

Our party chose to continue the class struggle,confronting the difficulties, aware that temporarily it might suffer some losses in the elections. But we are determined to intensify our struggle concerning every problem of the people, forming the conditions for the liberation from the chains of exploitation. Thus, we advanced forwards focussing more on the regroupment of the labour movement, on the strengthening of the class-oriented movement, PAME, and on the improvement of the activity and the militant orientation of the trade unions.

We place more emphasis on the alliance policy which we had elaborated at the 15th and our subsequent congresses regarding the construction of a socio-political alliance, the construction of the Anti-Monopoly Anti-imperialist Front of Struggle based on the alliance between the working class, small and medium-sized farmers and the urban petty bourgeois strata, with the participation of women and youth. We continue the effort for the creation of the socio-political preconditions which will lead to the escalation of the struggle for people's power, the disengagement from the European Union and NATO, the unilateral cancellation of the debt, the socialization of the concentrated means of production, the development in favour of the people.

Certain people ask: Why does the KKE pose the issue in this way? Does it not understand that the current correlation of forces on a global scale is negative? That the solution it proposes, rupture with the imperialist unions, requires sacrifices from the people? Of course we know that the path we propose to the people requires sacrifices! But the path of capitalist development requires sacrifices in any case.

But these are sacrifices which do not benefit the people, as we see in the new round of imperialist contradictions for the control and the redistribution of the markets, the territories, the energy sources and natural resources, which has begun in our region. A region which possesses important natural resources and includes central and compulsory lanes for maritime transport, important routes for the energy transportation from the energy sources in Caucasus, Caspian, Middle East and Northern Africa to the countries of Europe as well as to South-Eastern Asia.

These elements draw the imperialist powers like a magnet and make the region a significant arena for the manifestation of inter-imperialist contradictions and their strategic aims, with the direct participation and responsibility of the bourgeois classes and bourgeois political forces of the states in the region which are a part of the problem and take sides with the imperialist unions in order to serve their own interests. All the above entail wars, outside interventions in order to appoint governments which are controlled by the one or the other imperialist power in order to facilitate the redistribution and control of markets and resources.

Africa and the Middle East, amongst other regions, are at boiling point, and so imperialist war and the subsequent imperialist peace are not issues alien to the Greek people, taking into account that our country is a member of the EU and NATO, has US-NATO bases, and has an extremely important geo-strategic position for the conduct of imperialist wars. The major airforce-naval base, which the USA possess in our country in Suda, Crete, as well as the airspace and territorial watersof our country in general were used in the recent imperialist war against Libya.

After the imperialist intervention against Libya, which was followed by the division of the loot, the Turkish threats against Cyprus are intensifying, the relations between Turkey and Israel are sharpening, the aggressiveness of Israel against the Palestinian people, Lebanon and Egypt has been reinforced, while the plan for an imperialist intervention in Syria is underway, which also aims at an attack against Iran, using the pretext of its nuclear programme.

These developments are related to the general realignments in the region connected to the imperialist plan for a "New Middle East", with the changes underway in North Africa and the Middle East after the overthrow of the anti-people governments in Egypt and Tunisia, with the attempt to reorganize the bourgeois political system, so that it corresponds to the current needs of capitalist profitability.

This reality has been distorted by the position regarding the "Arab Spring", which is reproduced by bourgeois and opportunist forces, prettifying the bourgeois regimes which emerged after the popular mobilizations in Egypt and Tunisia, concealing that the regime of exploitation remains, that new harsh measures are being imposed on the people.

It is no secret that the imperialists are invoking on every occasion various pretexts, like in Syria now, where they started with the issue of "democracy" and now focus on chemical and biological weapons in order to justify an intervention. The developments inSyria are a result of the blatant imperialist intervention of the USA, EU, NATO, as well as of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Israel against this country.

It has become obvious that the USA, the EU, Israel are interested in the destabilization and weakening of the Syrian bourgeois regime, which opposes according to developments the imperialist positions and plans in the region and is an ally of forces in Palestine, Lebanon etc which are in conflict with the USA, NATO and Israel. Let us not forget that today Syrian territories are under foreign (Israeli) occupation!

The weakening of this regime or even its overthrow can whet the appetites for the imperialist plans for an attack on Iran, with the pretext of its nuclear programme. It can even lead to new dismemberment of states in the region and a domino effect of destabilization and bloodshed, something which will bring about new imperialist wars and interventions.

This is the reason why the workers should distinguish what is the main issue at every juncture! And the most important issue here is that the dangerous escalation of the imperialist intervention of the EU-USA-NATO in the region, which takes place on the terrain of tough competition with Russia and China, includes the danger of a generalized war, initially against Syria, but also against Iran, which will have disastrous consequences for the peoples in our region. The imperialist powers which intervene in every way (politically, economically, militarily) in the internal affairs of Syria, along with the media they possess, misinform the peoples in order to justify a new imperialist war.

These developments in Syria supplement the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The peoples need to resist in a mass way the interventions, to oppose the imperialist war and the capitalists system, which causes it. The developments in Syria are a matter for its people. They are responsible for deciding the course of their country. 

In these conditions of the sharpening of the capitalist crisis and the inter-imperialist contradictions, it is necessary that we are clear about who we are fighting against. Who is the enemy of the labour and popular movements? There are many who will answer that "there is one enemy, imperialism" but in practice each person may in essence answer differently.

This is because there exists a shallow "anti-imperialism", as we would say, which equates imperialism with its leading power, the USA. The USA is today becoming more aggressive in order to safeguard its hegemonic position in relation to rising global and regional powers. But the equation of imperialism with the USA, the view regarding "Empire", forgets the Leninist conception of imperialism, at the core of which is monopoly capitalism. This mistaken view is of course justifiably opposed to the USA, but has no front against, for example, the equally imperialist EU.

Indeed certain forces treat the EU in a mistaken way as a "counterweight" to the USA and seek the advancement of its political-military unification. Of course they are making a mistake! The EU, like other emerging economies today, and other regional inter-state unions which have been formed e.g. on the territory of former USSR or Latin America, cannot play a substantially positive role in global affairs in favour of the working class and popular strata because they have the capitalist monopoly in their DNA.

The so-called "multi-polar world" of the so-called "new architecture of international relations", is not a world of peace and security for the peoples, but a world of sharpening inter-imperialist contradictions.

In this world International law, as the peoples knew it when the USSR existed, no longer holds true, as it is formed and implemented not as a result of the correlation of forces between capitalist and socialist countries but as a result of the correlation of forces between the capitalist countries.

Certain other views also deal with imperialism in a mistaken way, as Kautsky did in the past, that is to say as a policy of the rulingclass and not as a level in the development of capitalism which is connected to the dominance of the monopoly in capitalist production, the fusion of industrial and banking capital, the export of capital and the economic character of imperialist wars (the division and redivision of markets).

It would be a serious mistake for the popular movement to base its hopes on the so-called rising powers, or to choose their side. And this is because as Lenin warned in his confrontation with Kautsky it would lead us to mistaken assessment that "monopolies in the economy are compatible with non-monopolistic, non-violent, non-annexationist methods in politics.[1]"

This is the way it is, comrades: There cannot exist powerful countries, where the capitalist relations ofproduction, the capitalist monopolies, are dominant and which are at the same time "doves of peace". This would be a serious illusion. Yes it is true that today, even if it is weaker than it was 10 years ago, the USA maintains the first position in the imperialist "pyramid". But as Lenin warned: "Half a century ago Germany was a miserable, insignificant country, if her capitalist strength is compared with that of the Britain of that time; Japan compared with Russia in the same way. Is it "conceivable" that in ten or twenty years' time the relative strength of the imperialist powers will have remained unchanged? It is out of the question"[2]. It is the case today!

The uneven capitalist development, which is a fundamental law of capitalist production, causes realignments, but these are within the framework of the imperialist system, between the imperialist powers and these changes can in no way safeguard peace and security. The imperialist peace for as long as it lasts prepares the ground for new imperialist wars!

In our opinion it is one thing for a people's socialist regime to seek to exploit inter-imperialist contradictions in order to develop the class struggle and to safeguard working class power, and quite another thing to mislead the workers, fostering false hopes regarding the role of the emerging imperialist powers and inter-state unions. This is why we call on the working class of our country not to choose imperialist camp. We persist with the slogan that : "The people are the only superpower!"

During the wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, more recently in Libya, as well as regarding the war being prepared against Syria-Iran, our party decisively refused to accept the arguments of the bourgeois governments and media, NATO and the EU which were to a great extent reproduced amongst the popular strata by various "left" forces, that is to say the forces of opportunism. The bourgeois forces having at their side the opportunist forces based the need for an imperialist intervention and war sometimes on the need "to stop ethnic cleansing", other times on allegedly "humanitarian reasons" or on the need "restore democracy", or " to stop the use of weapons of mass destruction" or even on "the support of the Arab Spring".

The party has opened and maintains a stable ideological-political front against these forces and does not forget for one moment the Leninist position of "the impossibility of unity with the opportunists in the epoch of imperialism." And even that "the fight against imperialism is a sham and humbug unless it is inseparably bound up with the fight against opportunism[3]."

This ideological struggle against the bourgeois and opportunist forces is a component of the anti-imperialist activity of our party. In addition, it is combined with the vanguard anti-imperialist activity of the communists in the trade unions, in the ranks of the All Workers' Militant Front (PAME), which is the class oriented pole of the Greek trade unions, as well as in the other mass organizations such as Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace (EEDYE).

The KKE appeals to the working class, to the peoples of our country and our region and stresses that their interests are identified with the common anti-imperialist-antimonopoly struggle, for the disengagement from the imperialist organizations, the closure of the foreign military bases and the removal of the nuclear weapons, the return of the troops from the imperialist missions, the solidarity with the Palestinian people who experience the Israeli barbarity as well as with all the peoples who struggle and try to chart their own path of development. The struggle for these goals today cannot be detached from the struggle for power.

And the reason is that the people can live peacefully and creatively and utilize the natural resources –which will be people's property- for their own benefit, for the satisfaction of their own needs only on the terrain of the workers' and people's power, on the terrain of socialism. We condemn the unjust, imperialist wars and struggle for the disengagement of the country from them!

Nevertheless, we know that the wars which constitute the continuation of politics by other, violent, means are inevitable as long as society is divided into classes as long as there is exploitation of man by man, as long as imperialism dominates. The replacement of war by peace to the benefit of the people cannot be achieved without the replacement of capitalism by socialism.

This truth makes our struggle today even more timely and necessary.

September 20, 2012

Elisseos Vagenas, Member of the CC; Director, International Relations Section of the CC

[1] VI Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/index.htm

[2] VI Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/index.htm

[3] VI Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/index.htm

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