Late last year the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a draft resolution introduced by Göran Lindblad of Sweden, a member of the European People’s Party, with the title "The need for international condemnation of crimes of totalitarian communist regimes." This will go to a full meeting on 23-27 January.
This individual is of the opinion that the French Revolution and the Paris Commune were major mistakes in the development of European history. He and his likes believe that the working class have their place and should know their place and not seek to get above their station. Clearly democracy is of little value to this particular grouping.
The resolution is part of a continuing campaign in several eastern European countries, with the connivance of the European Union and the US government. Many of the countries backing this resolution are client states of the United States. They have sold enough of their nations’ political and economic sovereignty to be strangers in their own land, while their people are scattered across the globe looking for a living. Since 1989 they have been pursuing a campaign for the outlawing of communists and the banning of their symbols. Instead of burning books (as many of them have done in the past) they want to rewrite them to vindicate their own actions. The government of Estonia has erected a statue to honour the Waffen SS right beside a statue built many decades ago to honour the 50,000 Red Army soldiers who gave their lives in liberating Estonia from both German and Estonian fascists.
The draft resolution states that "communist parties are legal and active in some countries, even if in some cases they have not distanced themselves from the crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes in the past." This approach shows the dark hand of the fascist era, when communist parties were banned and thousands of communists rounded up, many of whom never survived the torture and extermination camps.
The drafters of this resolution attempt to equate communists with fascists, to suggest that they are two sides of the same coin. This is a complete absurdity. The rise of fascism was aided and abetted by western governments in their efforts to smash the Bolsheviks of Russia. Fascist regimes have been supported and propped up by various US governments, of whatever hue, right across Latin America for many decades in their continuing campaign to isolate and stamp out left and progressive forces. Who trained and organised the fascist thugs of Latin America but the United States government in the School of the Americas in Columbus, Ohio?
The Soviet Union lost 20 million people in the struggle against fascism. Tens of thousands of German anti-fascists, including many thousands of communists, died at the hands of the Nazis. The first political and social organisations banned by the fascists were the communist party and other working-class organisations.
The ideas of communism are a direct descendant of the ideas and values of the Enlightenment period, and they express the noblest and highest aspirations of humanity: ending the exploitation of one human being by another; harnessing the resources of the world; using the advances in scientific knowledge to benefit all the people; bringing equality between men and women, putting an end to racism, sexism, and exploitation.
Our own party lost many of its best and brightest comrades on the battlefields of Spain fighting fascism. Many more died fighting fascism throughout Europe. Communists right across the globe have been to the fore in the fight for national liberation against colonialism and imperialism. Here in Ireland our party comrades stood shoulder to shoulder with those who fought for the Republic and against the Free-Staters. It was instrumental in building the unemployed groups in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. Our party succeeded in getting an unemployed worker elected to Dáil Éireann during the dark days of the Cold War; the party could have stood a candidate, but it was more important that the question of mass unemployment and mass emigration be emphasised. Our party brought dignity and fighting strength to the mass of poor and unemployed in Belfast and Dublin and in other towns and cities when no-one else cared or were too scared to stand up and be counted — or were lying along the Border blowing up RUC toilets.
Our party members were among the founders of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, which mobilised tens of thousands of working people, both Catholic and Protestant, to end discrimination, for "one person, one vote." Communists here in Ireland and right across the globe have been the backbone in the building and sustaining of trade unions and other workers’ organisations.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the Council of Europe, communists have contributed to the advancement of humanity. We have sought to give dignity and organised power to the working class, and we make no apologies, nor will we ever apologise to you or your likes. For us to apologise to you would be for us to disown our own history, to disown and forget our comrades who fell in the struggle against fascism, to those who died fighting for national freedom in Africa, India, Latin America, and Asia.
The international communist movement continues to evaluate our history, including the mistakes that were made in our attempt to build a new world in place of the one that was and still is dominated by the forces of oppression, violence, and exploitation — the system we call imperialism. Mistakes, yes, we have made. Our evaluations continue; so also does our struggle.
Judgement upon our actions and what we have done and what we achieved, and the mistakes we have made, we will leave to future generations of working people to adjudicate upon.
To Göran Lindblad: If "communism is dead," if we have been defeated, if "history has ended," why are you wasting your time on us?
We leave the final words to Karl Marx. His words from the opening lines of the Communist Manifesto still resonate down the decades: "A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies."
* You can sign the petition against the Lindblad proposal at: www.no2anticommunism.org.