Speech by the Portuguese Communist Party in the 15th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties
Lisbon, November 9, 2013
We would like to greet all the parties present here and reaffirm the serious commitment of the PCP to contribute for the strengthening of the process of the International Meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties. Reality is here to show us that it is indispensible to combine the development of the struggle in each of our countries with the strengthening of the cooperation and internationalist solidarity.
We have just celebrated November 7, The October Revolution. A creation of the most advanced sectors of the Portuguese working class movement, the PCP was born under the international impact of the October Revolution and, under a harsh underground situation which lasted almost fifty tears, established itself as the vanguard force of the working class and a great national force. The Portuguese communists do not forget that the great progressive advances of the 20th century are inseparable from the enterprise of a new society freed from the exploitation of man by man. Two decades after the destruction of the Soviet Union it is increasingly clear that the world misses Lenin’s homeland and the socialist camp and that the communist project and ideal is more topical than ever.
We welcome you at a time when we celebrate the Centennial of Álvaro Cunhal, a militant and general secretary of the PCP, a leading figure of great events that took place in Portugal and in the world during the most part of the 20th century and in the beginning of the 21st century.
Álvaro Cunhal gave a valuable contribution to the theoretical formulation on the nature, project and identity of the Communist Party – born of practical experience and enriched by it – defining the fundamental characteristics of a communist party: to be a party completely independent from the interests, ideology, pressures and threats of the forces of capital; to be a party of the working class, of the workers in general, of the exploited and oppressed; with a democratic internal life and a single central leadership; simultaneously patriotic and internationalist; that defines, as its goal, the construction of a society without exploited nor explorers, a socialist society and bearing a revolutionary theory, not dogmatic and creative, Marxism-Leninism.
Álvaro Cunhal always had present that the struggle of the Portuguese workers and people is an integral part of the world process of social and national emancipation of the workers and peoples. In Álvaro Cunhal’s theoretical work and revolutionary action internationalism and patriotism are inseparable. The commitment for the strengthening and unity of the international communist and revolutionary movement and between it and other progressive and anti-imperialist forces, the internationalist solidarity with the national liberation movements and peoples subject to imperialist oppression and violence, was a constant in his intervention. Great is his contribution for the analysis of the revolutionary process, of the communist party and its identity, of capitalism, of the need and topicality of socialism, of the communist ideal and project.
The situation in Portugal – For a rupture with the right-wing policy and for a Patriotic and Left-wing Policy.
Portugal is experiencing a particularly serious period in its history. With the deepening of capitalism’s structural crisis, the severe crisis that the country faced as a result of more than three decades of right-wing policies, determined by the interests of big monopoly groups and subordinated to the European Union’s capitalist integration, deepened.
After two years of application of the so-called “memorandum of understanding”, signed by PS, PSD and CDS-PP with the European Union and IMF – and which we justly call a Pact of Aggression against the workers, the people and the country -, Portugal is being driven to a social and economic disaster.
A Pact of Aggression that, constituting a blow against the democratic regime, national sovereignty and independence, corresponded to the aim of big national and transnational capital of trying to ensure the materialisation of a leap forward in the exploitation, destruction of social rights, appropriation of vast public resources, liquidation of the public sector and foreign dependence and subordination.
The Portuguese workers and people are faced with the greatest and most serious offensive against their rights and achievements since the April Revolution, begun in 1974.
Unemployment reaches historic levels, especially among the youth, labour rights are challenged, labour precariousness is widespread, there is a real theft of the income of the workers and other popular strata, impoverishment of the population grows at a dizzy rate, the right to essential rights like healthcare, education or social security is made difficult. Public debt grows and the country is plunged into recession.
A policy that big business – with the support of PSD, CDS and of the President of the Republic and the involvement of PS – wishes to perpetuate with the imposition of a true reconfiguration of the State, with which it aims to transfer to the big monopolist groups its responsibility as provider of public services.
A policy that is at odds with the Portuguese Constitution which, despite having been reviewed several times, still establishes the essential lines of the programme of social and national emancipation achieved with the April Revolution, which remains susceptible to unite, besides the working class and the workers, broad sectors of Portuguese society.
The PCP intervenes actively to strengthen and broaden the struggle of the workers and people to reject the Pact of Aggression and a rupture with the right-wing policy, for the resignation of the government and holding of early legislative elections, for a patriotic and left-wing policy – that can free Portugal from foreign dependence and submission; that gives back to the country its resources, its strategic sectors and companies, essential to economic development, that hands back to the workers and people their rights, wages and incomes.
The patriotic and left-wing policy that the PCP proposes to the Portuguese workers and people fits with PCP’s programme «An advanced Democracy – the April values in Portugal’s future» which – in the historical continuity of the Programme of Democratic and National Revolution (adopted in 1965) and the ideals, gains and achievements of the April Revolution – represents the current historical stage of the struggle for socialism in Portugal.
It is by strengthening the unity of the working class and all workers and the development of the mass struggle – a proven motor of resistance and progressive and transforming change – that it will be possible to make a break with the right-wing policy and gain a different course for Portugal.
The PCP is committed to the broadening and strengthening of the mass struggle and in the creation of a broad front of struggle, constituted by the workers and other classes and anti-monopolist strata, for a rupture with the right-wing policy and the construction of a patriotic and left-wing alternative.
Resisting the ideological offensive and the attempts to curtail rights and liberties, the workers and the people have carried out an intense and continuing struggle, where the united class-oriented trade union movement and its confederation, CGTP-IN, assumes a central role, confirming itself as the driving force of the working class and the workers in the mass struggle and its capacity to bring to the struggle new social sectors and strata – examples of which are, at this moment, the great action «For April, against exploitation and impoverishment», the fortnight of strikes in transport and communications, the national strike of Public Administration, the national action of outrage, protest and struggle, among many others.
The strengthening of the Unitary Democratic Coalition (CDU) – an electoral coalition between PCP and the Green Ecologist Party, with the participation of many thousands of people without party affiliation – in the recent local government elections constituted an important contribution for the struggle for an alternative policy for Portugal.
The serious and complex national situation places great demands on the Portuguese communists. The PCP assumes as a permanent task the strengthening of its action and organisation and its connection with the masses, pointing as priority the organisation and intervention with the working class and the workers, in the companies and workplaces, but also with all strata and sectors hit by the monopolist policy, interlinking its institutional intervention with the mass struggle, a determining and decisive factor.
The crisis of the process of European capitalist integration and the struggle for a Europe of cooperation, progress and peace.
The European Union – together with the US and Japan – remains at the epicentre of the current explosion of the crisis which, given its depth and magnitude, hits the bases of the process of European capitalist integration.
More than a «crisis of the euro» or a crisis resulting from the so-called «sovereign debts», the EU is plunged into a crisis that falls within capitalism’s structural crisis, to which it tries to respond by accelerating the deepening of its neoliberal, federalist and militarist course, in an authentic rush ahead – determined by the directorate of its major powers, led by Germany, and dictated by its great monopolist groups, of affirmation of Europe as an imperialist bloc.
A process of integration that, due to its class nature, generates relationships of dependency, and even, colonial domination within it, at the cost of the sovereignty of the so-called «periphery», the living conditions of the workers, the right to development of the peoples and of democracy itself.
The safeguard of the Economic and Monetary Union – of the Euro -, and its enhancement, means for countries like Portugal, a framework of an absolute restraint on any sovereign project of development, which will eternalise exploitation and impoverishment of the working and popular masses, transferring to big business colossal resources, under the guise of cutting the budget deficit and the public debt.
However much European social-democracy and right, in concertation, claim for «more Europe», what is in fact needed is not an enhancement, but a rupture with the process of European capitalist integration.
The European Union is not reformable, it was and is designed and materialised as a tool of big business. The construction of a Europe of the workers and people must compulsorily entail the defeat of the process of European capitalist integration and its policies of exploitation and political and economic domination.
Decades of counter-revolutionary processes and European capitalist integration, interconnected, led to a situation in Portugal marked by the domination of monopolist groups, associated to and depending on foreign capital, by an attack on the democratic regime and a growing loss of national sovereignty, in a framework where the country is increasingly more subordinate, dominated and colonised within the European Union and, in general, by imperialism.
As in the times of fascism, big business does not hesitate in submitting Portugal to imperialism’s domination. That is why the defence of national sovereignty and independence is a fundamental issue of the Portuguese revolution.
It is based on the experience of the Portuguese revolution that we find that the imperialist stage of capitalism’s development determines the growing abandon of national interests by the dominating classes, increasingly more linked to the interests of foreign capital and often completely dependent on it, and where, inversely, capitalism’s evolution determines the increasing identification of the interests of the working class and of the working masses with the national interests – putting into evidence the need of struggle of each people to ensure the defence of their rights, the right to define their policy, their independence and national sovereignty – and it was not by chance that the April Revolution was a Democratic and National Revolution.
The patriotic and left-wing policy that the PCP points as the more immediate political objective of its struggle and the Advanced Democracy it defends, dialectically associate the class and national factor to achieve socialism.
The PCP rejects the European integration which is characterised by submission, domination and conditioning of Portugal’s development and fights for a sovereign and independent Portugal and for a project of cooperation among sovereign and equal in rights States in Europe, reaffirming the full right of the Portuguese people to decide on their own fate and find ensured the prevalence of national interests over any other projects contrary to this.
Another Europe of cooperation, progress and peace will be achieved through the struggle of the workers and peoples in their different countries.
Capitalism’s crisis and imperialism’s offensive in a changing world
The deepening of capitalism’s structural crisis marks the main developments of the international situation, which is characterised by great instability and insecurity and by the intensification of the class struggle, where great dangers coexist with real possibilities of progressive and revolutionary change.
The explosion of the crisis started in 2007/2008 remains with no end in sight, plunging the centres of the system – USA, EU and Japan – into a prolonged stagnation and economic recession, where new replicas of crisis appear latent.
A crisis which, as we characterised in previous International Meetings, is in its essence and fundamentally, a crisis of over-production and over-accumulation, resulting from capitalism’s main contradiction, that is, between the social character of production and the private appropriation of the means of production.
A crisis which confirms the fundamental laws of Marxist-Leninist political economy, that is, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall – a tendency that capital tries to counter, intensifying the exploitation of paid work and raising financial speculation to unprecedented levels – or the law of uneven development of capitalism.
A crisis which is sharpening the contradictions between the major capitalist powers, where rivalry coexists with class concertation aiming to set back and liquidate historic gains achieved by the workers and peoples throughout the 21st century.
In view of the deepening of capitalism’s structural crisis, imperialism launches a violent offensive, emphasising its exploitative, oppressive and aggressive nature.
An offensive which attacks social, economic and political rights, which worsens exploitation and sets a regression of civilizational dimension and which is, necessarily, accompanied by limitation of liberties and democracy, by the action of whitewashing fascism and by anti-communism.
An offensive which undertakes an authentic recolonising charge, aiming the control of raw materials, markets and geo-strategic positions, and which intensifies the confrontation with the peoples and countries that do not yield to imperialism’s aims nor give up their sovereignty and national independence.
An offensive which promotes the arms race and the militarisation of international relations, fostering interference and war and permanent sources of tension throughout the region of North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and even the Far East, which holds serious risks of widespread military confrontations.
NATO defines the world as its area of intervention and the European Union assumes itself as its European pillar. Imperialism foments UN’s manipulation in a process that, in violation of the United Nations Charter, aims to pervert and destroy international law – which brings to the forefront the crucial importance of the struggle for peace and the strengthening and broadening of the anti-imperialist front.
Particularly worrying remains the situation in the Middle East, where besides the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, the imperialist aggression against Syria continues, destabilising and feeding the danger of a conflict throughout the region.
It is in this context that grow the contradictions between the major imperialist powers and countries that choose paths for their development outside the framework of North American imperialism and that of other imperialist powers who insist on imposing their hegemony on the world. We are facing an important process of realignment of forces which, with its contradictory character, can open positive perspectives in the evolution of the correlation of forces. Let’s wish that the progressive processes can resist imperialism’s offensive, consolidate themselves, and follow the path of more advanced anti-monopolist and anti-capitalist changes and confirm and deepen the processes of building socialism.
The dangers resulting from imperialism’s offensive are great, but, at the same time, the development of the struggle and awareness of the real exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature of capitalism – reducing capitalism’s social base of support and the broadening of the disposition to struggle by other anti-monopolist strata, boosting the creation of broad alliances -, reveal the real possibilities of resistance to the offensive by big business and the development of the struggle for deep economic and social changes, for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism.
Everywhere, to a greater or lesser extent, the resistance and struggle of the peoples grow.
It is up to the communists, in close connection with the masses and the role of the class oriented trade union movement and other mass movements, to contribute to the understanding of the dimension of the great problems that the working class, the workers and the peoples today face and to organise the struggle of resistance to the violent attack by capitalism and profound anti-monopolist and anti-capitalist changes, in the perspective of socialism.
The current situation places great demands for the intervention of the communists and of the progressive and revolutionary forces of the whole world.
The alternative to capitalism – socialism
With the defeats of socialism at the end of the 20th century and the dramatic change in the correlation of forces that followed, meant a huge step back in the process of social transformation.
However, the reality is there to show that capitalism is not only incapable of solving the problems of the peoples, but rather tends to worsen them, making clearer its exploitative, oppressive, aggressive and predatory nature, laying bare its irresolvable contradictions and historical limits and revealing that nothing can set back the march of history towards social and human emancipation, of the just cause of a society without exploiters or exploited – socialism and communism.
Although the process of raising a new society has revealed to be more complex and delayed than foreseen, it does not question the fundamental direction of the contemporary times and the topicality of socialism as an alternative to capitalism.
In view of an increasingly parasitic and decadent system, capable of great injustice and crimes, it is imperative that it be succeeded by a superior economic and social system, able to develop the productive forces and place them at the service of solving the great problems of Mankind – socialism.
Certain that socialism is a historic necessity and that we live in a time of transition from capitalism to socialism that the October Revolution opened, this does not mean, however, that everywhere and at the same time the conditions are created to place socialism as an immediate objective, but that the daily struggle should be waged and having always present this perspective, without discourage when faced with delays and difficulties or give in to the temptation to skip stages.
We still dwell in times of resistance and gathering of forces and, globally, the subjective conditions are delayed regarding the maturation of the objective material conditions.
However, the historical experience shows that the struggle of the workers and peoples can withhold capitalism’s more violent exploitative and aggressive outbursts, can achieve important gains and impose democratic, popular, anti-monopolist and anti-imperialist transformations.
The existence of intermediate stages in the struggle for socialism, determining the corresponding objectives and alliances of the working class, is an inescapable reality. This does not mean that, between the different stages of the revolutionary process, there are rigid and insurmountable barriers, that there is no dialectic relation between them, or that socialism is not a goal of the processes of social transformation, an essential condition for the triumph of the liberating cause.
The PCP, while recognising the existence of the general laws of the revolutionary process – namely regarding the role of the working class and popular masses, of the Party, of people’s power and the ownership of the means of production -, considers that there are no, nor can there be, models of revolution and socialism, and that the ways to conquer power and the concrete solutions to build a new society are not exported or copied.
Every people will attain socialism through diverse paths and the new society will be built according to the concrete conditions of each country – history, traditions, culture, degree of development, revolutionary experience, rooting and role of a revolutionary vanguard force, international context – and learning from the positive and negative experiences of the processes of building socialism in the 20th century.
If there is a conclusion to emphasise PCP’s analysis on the new economic and social system, it is that the achievement, defence and consolidation of socialism demands not only the support of the masses but their commitment and conscious and creative participation.
Under Portugal’s conditions, that experienced a profound revolution, whose realities, experiences and values continue to mark the struggle of the Portuguese people for a better life, free from capitalist exploitation and imperialist oppression, such a process has to go through the present stage – an Advanced Democracy – in itself an integral part of the struggle for socialism in Portugal.
The PCP always connected its immediate tasks with its programmatic goals, defining at every historical moment the stage of the revolution, never separating the tasks of each stage from the following stage.
Paying special attention to the strengthening of the Party and its link with the masses, the PCP considers that the struggle for a patriotic and left-wing policy, for an advanced democracy and for the project of building in Portugal a socialist and communist society, are inseparable.
For the unity and strengthening of the international communist and revolutionary movement
To defeat the offensive against the rights and achievements of the workers and peoples and in view of the pressing need of processes of democratic and revolutionary transformations that have socialism as goal, the existence of organised parties, rooted in the working class and in the popular masses, with their ideology and class independence, their cooperation and internationalist solidarity, acquires extraordinary importance. Whatever the conditions, their role is irreplaceable be it for defensive battles or to gather forces or to guide the masses during a new period of revolutionary upsurge and advance.
PCP´s intervention in the international communist and revolutionary movement, as well as at the national level, is based on its characteristics as a party of the working class and of all workers, of a patriotic and internationalist party, because in our experience and conception the national and class factors are inseparable, are not opposed, but rather potentiate.
Internationalist solidarity is today more necessary than ever. Acting with full autonomy, with its own experience and according to the principles of proletarian internationalism, the PCP is committed to the unity and strengthening of the international communist and revolutionary movement, respecting the identity, autonomy, independence and history of every party.
To this effect, the PCP develops its bilateral relations and contributes at the multilateral level to deepen the cooperation, promoting unity in action based on the principles of equality in rights, mutual respect, including differences, autonomy of decision, non -interference in internal matters, frankness and reciprocal solidarity.
In this context and taking into account the diversity of situations, options and paths for the process of social transformation, we consider that conceptions that point towards ideological homogenisation, single models of social transformation or structuring of the communist model, do not contribute to strengthen unity in action by the communists.
The PCP also considers it is of particular importance to have cooperation between the communist parties and other progressive and revolutionary forces, without diluting their identity, but helping to raise a broad anti-imperialist front.
The importance of the process of the International Meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties
It is in this framework that the PCP values and pays special attention to the process of the International Meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties.
Their characteristics of non-structured fraternal cooperation, but stable and continuing, has helped to bring closer a large number of communist and workers’ parties, ensuring a space for exchange of experiences and seeking guidelines for a common and converging action, valorising and giving expression to all that unites us, beyond the diversity of situations where we act and the natural differences and even divergence of opinions, but which should not hinder our fraternal internationalist cooperation.
In this International Meeting we tried to give our contribution to advance our cooperation and solidarity for a convergence and common action, without losing sight of the different tasks that each of our parties defines given the concrete situation where they intervene.
A multilateral process of cooperation and solidarity which, regardless of shortcomings, has enabled a better mutual knowledge and wide collective debate on many aspects of the international situation, which is important to value and continue to strengthen.
You can continue to rely on PCP’s solidarity and commitment in unity and to strengthen the international communist and revolutionary movement.
Long live proletarian internationalism!