"Assimilation or Rupture?" Introductory Speech of the General Secretary the Central Committee of the KKE,Â Aleka Papariga, to the European Communist Meeting, Brussels, October 1-2, 2012 on the stance of the Communist Parties towards the capitalist crisis:Â
The tragic consequences of the economic crisis on the life of the working class and the working people are now well-known since the crisis has lasted for more than 5 years while in all the affected countries the barbaric measures have had the same direction and the same goal: to reduce the price of labour power to an extremely low level, to open up new avenues of profitability in the period of the crisis and chiefly after the expected recovery which will be weak and more or less short-term.
Today we have even more rich experience, not merely from Greece but also from the EU member-states, especially from the members of the Eurozone, from the crisis in the USA in 2008 and not only. In addition, we have the very fresh experience from the crisis in Russia, Argentina and the so called Asian tigers.
We believe that the labour movement, the communist parties in all countries should struggle in order for the people to clarify the character of the crisis and at the same time for the deterioration of people’s life to be halted, for a way out in favour of the people.
The fact that in 2008-2009 the crisis manifested itself in the financial system, in the sphere of capital’s circulation, or the fact that in Greece the crisis was connected to the debt and the deficits does not at all mean that we have a crisis of a new type. We clarified from the very beginning that it is a crisis of capital over-accumulation, the roots of which lie in the relationship of labour power’s exploitation by capital, i.e. the sphere of capitalist production.
The shrinkage of industrial production both in USA and the EU, as well as in countries which have not yet entered the cycle of crisis are pieces of irrefutable evidence. We see all the characteristics which are inherent in capitalism: anarchy, unevenness in the development of sectors and branches, the acute competition which is promoted by political-economic means as well as by arms.
All over the capitalist world the same measures are being taken and the same arguments are being used, regardless of whether the debt is smaller or larger, regardless of whether the deficit is inflated to a greater or lesser extent, regardless of whether the countries participate in the stabilization mechanism with the agreement of the EU-ECB-IMF.
In addition, it is characteristic that the zones of destitution do not appear merely in the less developed capitalist countries, in countries that have an intermediate position in the imperialist system but also in the more powerful and developed capitalist countries.
We assess that due to uneven development the crisis will break out in other countries of the Eurozone as even Germany is showing signs of fatigue while such signs are also starting to appear in China.
The issue of the character of the crisis is not merely a theoretical issue. It is clearly a practical issue because it determines the specialization of the political line of the communist parties in conditions of the crisis.
Therefore, any peculiarities in the manifestation, the intensity or the duration of the crisis from country to country do not determine the character of the crisis neither should they influence the strategy and the tactics of the communist party.
History has proven that when the capitalist states cannot manage the crisis and above all its consequences they also resort to the use of arms, that is the imperialist war, of course not in order to sell weapons, as several peaceniks and pacifists claim, but because at the specific juncture the use of weapons is more effective for the redistribution of the markets.
Crisis and imperialist war-imperialist peace are inextricably linked and this is how we should treat them. This is particularly true for us in Greece which is located in a region at boiling point, a region that includes both the Middle East and North Africa.
In addition, the prolonged capitalist crisis is showing something else which is very important for the strategy and the tactics of the communist parties. It shows that the bourgeois management policy has new difficulties, which it didn’t have in the previous periods, in managing the way-out from the crisis, entering into a new cycle of extended capitalist production, putting a brake on mass absolute and relative destitution, even making some maneuvers. Two recipes to manage the crisis have emerged while each one appears in several versions.
In essence we have to do with both the expansive and the restrictive bourgeois management with the aim of controlling the extent of capital’s depreciation and carrying out the necessary distribution of losses as well of accumulated capital. Both forms of management lead to the same barbaric results for the peoples and their rights.
The dispute over the one or the other formula of management, which appears especially acute in Europe, has nothing to do with the dispute in favor of or against the people’s interests. It is not a dispute between a conservative and progressive-left political line as the European Left Party is claiming today.
The defense of the one or the other type of management is based on the interests of the bourgeoisie of each member state, the alliances it wants to form in the framework of competition. The workers’ and people’s movement must not take the side of the one or the other rival, It will lose everything.
According to our assessment the view that the unified Europe and Eurozone must remain undisturbed has currently prevailed in the EU, despite the differences and the competition, while in the long term they do not exclude the possibility of a split.
For that reason, each government and chiefly sectors of capital are preparing for the possibility of a country returning to its national currency, according to which block of the imperialist coalition they wish to align with.
Even more so than before one can see in Greece as well that the bourgeois parties, old and new, the reformist-opportunist ones, like SYRIZA, are formulating odd positions, focusing on alliances even a transatlantic alliance or seeking alliances with Russia, China. This was particularly apparent in the dispute between the EU and the USA which manifested itself during the national elections with the aid of either the right-wing block or the Â«leftÂ»-wing. Today the inter-imperialist contradictions concern the bourgeois political system as a whole they even threat the unity of any party οn such a base.
In conclusion, we assess that the crisis is being prolonged and deepening and that it will affect other countries as well. Even if a country, for instance Greece, enters a phase of recovery, this recovery will be temporary, weak, with unbearable unemployment levels, with starvation salaries and wages, with barbaric labour relations that will bring us back at the end of 19th century.
A new cycle of crisis will break out before this recovery consolidates. This is not valid only concerning Greece but also other countries. Realignments will take place in the alliances while we have to take into account a new round of local wars and we should not rule out a generalized imperialist war.
Experience also confirms the position which our party formulated at the first signs of the crisis i.e. that destitution, economic crisis does not lead automatically to the development of the class struggle, of the organization, to the development of political consciousness.
There are two options both possible in this case: either the movement will retreat and be defeated for a shorter or longer period or it will move on to the offensive and its understanding of the necessity to overthrow the capitalist system will mature. Nothing has been resolved yet.
In Greece despite the fact that major and prolonged struggles took place, despite the fact that the Greek movement has developed into one of the strongest movements in the world and not merely in Europe, we see that after all these measures were not impeded.
Of course the movement imposed their delay but if something does not change immediately they will be passed altogether and in a short period. Of course you know very well that the struggles which do not bring any results tire out and disappoint the people.
Our party assesses that its deficiencies and weaknesses, which it has no intention of concealing, have had a certain impact on the delay of people’s and workers’ counterattack though they have not played a decisive role. Similarly, they did not play a decisive role in the reduction of its electoral strength. This does not mean that we should not place a particular emphasis on the development of the competence and the endurance of the party.
We have faced a unified front at a political and social level which, despite the differences in its ranks, had a common stance regarding the character of the way-out from the crisis, namely the change in the formula for the management of the system.
The policy of assimilation prevailed and of course had a negative impact on the orientation of the working class and its allies. Nevertheless, the class-oriented, radical current exists in the movement and in this phase it must overcome the consequences of the elections, come to the forefront and mobilize wider worker’s and peoples forces.
The struggles have caused tremors for the bourgeois political system in Greece and negated the possibility to serve the system with the succession of one-party governments, between the liberal party and social democracy.
But these tremors were not transformed into deep cracks. The parliamentary illusions that there can be a left, i.e reformist-opportunist, alternative governmental solution predominated. In this way it became clear that the bourgeois political system has also other tools in order to deal with these tremors.
Today in Greece the two pole system of the liberal ND and the social-democratic PASOK is being replaced by another two pole system system: On the one hand a centre-right Âright pole and on the other a "left" pole which has been formed with the opportunist Synaspismos at its core along with the mass transfer of leading officials and mechanisms of PASOK mainly from the middle strata, of workers from the narrow and broader public sector, from the ideological apparatus of the state etc.
Of course the processes have not finished. A new transitional political scene or a more permanent one is being prepared in order to prevent radicalization, to break the movement before it makes a recovery in a mass way, and certainly to strike against the KKE.
On the Golden Dawn
The two electoral battles elevated Golden Dawn to a parliamentary force with 19 MPs. This is a Nazi, racist, criminal formation which has as its main focus the persecution of immigrants, especially Asians, with beatings, murderous attacks, acts of violence, extortion and threats. Its electoral support particularly among younger age groups was formed by its false slogans, as it presents itself as an anti-system party.
Our assessment is that this formation is developing along the lines of the hit squads of the Hitler period and that the basic goal is for it to be used to break the labour and people’s movement and to strike a blow against the KKE. Behind the Golden Dawn there are secret services and sections of the state apparatus while it is likely to have international connections.
It is supported by cells of the system within the security forces and the army as well, while in political terms it is of great assistance to the system, as the most of the parties invoke the danger of the so-called two extremes, equating fascism with communism.
It cannot be dealt with on the basis of an anti-fascist front or a front against violence in general whatever its source, because such a stance will lead to an attack on the movement itself. Golden Dawn must be dealt with by the organized movement itself, in the workplaces, the sectors, in the popular organizations, by exposing its role as a supporter of the system, and dealing with the criminal offences they commit with their murderous attacks which they name as taking the law into their own hands.
The other parties treat the Golden Dawn from the standpoint of bourgeois legality and the condemnation of violence, which for them includes militant strikes and demonstrations.
The KKE has adjusted its positions and demands, its strategy and tactics to the conditions of the crisis.
In today’s conditions, not only because we choose to but because objectively the issue has ripened, we place before the people the line of counterattack which has as its starting point the struggle to prevent the measures, to fight for relief measures, as well as the way out via the struggle for working class people’s power.
The alliance policy which we propose to the people is related to the formation of the people’s alliance which has a clear anti-monopoly orientation (which of course in essence is anti-capitalist, as capitalism has developed into monopoly capitalism). In these conditions the people’s alliance organizes and coordinates the resistance, the struggle for survival, is directed in a line of rupture with the imperialist unions, the imperialist war, for the overthrow of capitalism, for working class people’s power.
We openly pose to the people the need to struggle for the unilateral cancellation of the debt, i.e., not to recognise it, because its recognition leads to negotiation which means new Memoranda [austerity measures]. At the same time, we highlight the need for the people to struggle for the disengagement from the European Union.
We explain the reasons why disengagement and cancellation of the debt entail the struggle for people’s power, with the socialization of the monopolies, planned development, which will utilize the country’s existing growth potential, withdrawal from imperialist wars and the agreements of the imperialist peace, withdrawal from NATO, the struggle for mutually beneficial international economic relations.
We pose the path of pro-people development against the path of capitalist development. We expose the real content of the so-called productive reconstruction which is being promoted by all the bourgeois parties including SYRIZA whose proposals are in the framework of the EU.
This path of development is attempting to transform Greece into a nexus for the transport of energy and commodities. It leads to the joint exploitation of the energy deposits in the Aegean, Ionian and Southern Crete with agreements of monopolies.
From this standpoint we assess and deal with the stance of the political forces and alliances at a national and European level. The formation of a minimum programme is not rooted in objective reality from the standpoint of the relationship between politics and economics as the way out from the crisis in favour of the people is a strategic issue.
The role of the ELP [European Left Party] is becoming even more negative and corrosive for the European movement as it clearly and unequivocally chooses one of the various forms of management, following formulas similar to those which are supported by the governments and generally systemic forces of the EU at a national and continental level. It is involved in the inter-bourgeois and inter-imperialist contradictions.
Today the priority is for the people to prevent even more destruction and to have better prospects in the future. These are the prerequisites:
First, to realize what kind of crisis we are experiencing, namely a crisis of the capitalist path of development and the assimilation in the EU, that is to say the importance of the struggle against the monopolies and their power.
Secondly, the organization of the workers in the workplaces, in the sectors, in the neighbourhoods.
Thirdly, the strengthening and consolidation of the people’s alliance between the working class and the social forces which have an interest in fighting against the monopolies and capital regardless of the differences between them, with the enhanced participation of women and young people from the aforementioned strata. The movement must be directed towards the overthrow of the power of the monopolies.
The KKE, with clarity and also with specific arguments, refused to participate in a government of bourgeois management which was proposed by the new pole of opportunism which is cooperating with a large part of PASOK. The proposal initially sought to exert political pressure on the KKE, and chiefly to steal votes from the sphere of the KKE’s influence. It did not even have an arithmetical basis as there was not a sufficient number of MPs to form a government.
Of course, as we have already stressed, we did not say NO because the number of MPs was not sufficient. However, the fact that this proposal did not have the necessary number of MPs proves its demagogic character and that it had as its target the strategy of the KKE.
We had losses in the elections, but we assess that the losses for the people would have been much greater and irreversible for a long period of time if the KKE had decided to support a government of bourgeois management and accept the assimilation of Greece in the EU and the power of the monopolies in the field of the economy.
In the period between the first and second elections SYRIZA abandoned certain radical slogans it had, and thus received a large number of votes, which brought it into the second position, chiefly from the popular masses which were afraid of being expelled from the euro, and that believed that it is possible to have a better negotiation to restrict the measures without breaking any eggs. Today Syriza is promoting itself as a better negotiator in comparison to the government of ND-PASOK-Democratic Left and is moving in the direction of a contemporary centrist party.
The governmental left will not change the general political line or strike a blow against the rotten political system. No government, no matter if it is called left, communist, even revolutionary, will respect its proclamations if the means of production and the wealth are in the hands of monopolies, if the people do not have the ownership and the state power in their hands.
The battle in Greece is not difficult in general due to the negative correlation of forces. It would be more correct to say that it has become more complex on the terrain of the negative correlation of forces. It requires a high level of competence and stability from the party, so that it is in a position to penetrate broader working class and popular masses, to handle the situation in a suitable way without altering its general political line or becoming estranged from those workers and employees who have illusions and have not yet acquired political experience.
In conclusion to this issue, what we would like to underline is that both our theory and historical experience demonstrate that however strong a CP may be electorally, if it takes on governmental positions in the framework of the bourgeois system it will inevitably become assimilated.
This issue must be a point of discussion in a timely fashion amongst the people, so that they understand that the margins of living a better life has desperately shrunk in comparison with the past, not only in the conditions of the crisis, but also in the recovery phase. Objectively the conditions for the radical overthrow have matured even further as the monopolies have penetrated very deeply both into the economy and every other aspect of social life.
Of course the subjective factor, that is to say the labour movement, the strength of the CP is far behind, and we must move in the direction of strengthening them.
We must not abandon the struggle against imperialist war and imperialist peace in the name of the economic crisis.
Consequently, we must highlight for what reasons and in what ways the imperialist intervention will be carried out based on the examples and evidence from the so-called Arab Spring, Libya, Syria. How an internal opposition is formed from outside the country, how it is armed, how the overthrow of even bourgeois governments is attempted due to inter-imperialist and inter-bourgeois contradictions.
We must systematically promote with arguments why the national arena of struggle remains crucial and decisive and at the same time the importance of internationalist cooperation and solidarity. It is also possible for a movement to utilise the inter-imperialist contradictions in two ways: to expose the basic element of capitalist internationalization and on the other hand to prepare the people so that they do not support their country’s bourgeois class in the inter-imperialist competition and in the war for the redistribution of markets.
The KKE is at the same time trying to study scientifically and through the experience of the movement the developments as a whole so that cracks in the bourgeois political system can be achieved, which will contribute to the greater emancipation of the movement.
It is even more the case today that the course of developments at a national level is determined by the international and regional correlation of forces as well as by the dynamism and revolutionary line of the labour and communist movement.
Every success in a country means an impact on other European developments, any sliding to compromise and retreat will place the movements of many countries in a difficult position. Of course the developments will be determined at the level of the struggles and social alliance, but today there must be an intense ideological struggle against the dominant bourgeois, reformist and opportunist views.
Without such a struggle at the ideological level it will be hard for the popular masses to be oriented towards both the struggle for relief measures and also for the cancellation and overthrow of worse measures. The struggles, even if they acquire a mass character, will not have the necessary level of organization and a well-aimed political orientation without the ideological confrontation within the movement.