First I would like to welcome you to Athens and to thank you for taking part in the international meeting that our Party has hosted every year since 1999. We note with satisfaction that, since the time when international meetings of this type were first established, the number of parties attending increases from one year to the next. There are also parties that have declared their desire to participate for the first time, which we have to discuss using the well-known procedure that has been established for these meetings. On this occasion, we would like to address our thanks to the CP of Vietnam for its comradely internationalist contribution to the publishing of the ?Information Bulletin?; to the CP of Cuba for its help with the Spanish edition; and to the CP of the Russian Federation and to the Communist Workers? Party of Russia ? Party of Russian Communists for translating and printing the texts in the Russian language.
We believe that the impact of these international meetings is based on objective needs that we in all parties are aware of. The even greater need for coordination and common action, the need to work out as far as possible a common strategy towards our common problems arising from contemporary imperialist barbarity. The need for internationalist solidarity is even more urgent today.
To describe the current problems, to paint them in the blackest colours is not nearly enough to achieve the mass mobilisation of all the peoples on earth. Without abandoning the policy of revealing all the crimes that are being committed today, we must expand our discussion and common action to include the issue of the communist alternative and the prospect of socialism. This does not mean in the least that we are abandoning action on urgent problems, especially when the people?s standard of living keeps dropping, when war and state repression, poverty and hunger are growing. Today?s major problems cannot be eased; and even less can they be solved without a movement that disputes the capitalist system as a whole.
We are, of course, well aware that there are particularities and special features from one region to another, from one country to another, and even on the same continent; and that movements and communist parties operate under different conditions from one country to another; that there are ideological and political differences; and that every party, every movement is responsible for studying its own national conditions in order to fine-tune its political line. But this does not eliminate the need for a united strategy, or the need to work out and project a common alternative, which can only be socialism. The more visible this alternative road to the development and progress of society is to the peoples, the better able the movement will be to extract concessions and gains today.
We start out from the basic position that all capitalist states, irrespective of the level of their economic development, irrespective of whether they still retain forms of pre-capitalist relations, or whether they are members of interstate imperialist associations owing to internal particularities, they are ultimately, in one form or another, part of the imperialist system. The modern imperialist system, despite the sharp conflicts that split it, has a single strategy in defending the system, in attacking the labour movement, in attacking the peoples.
We are fully aware of the accelerating rates of capitalist globalisation, of the rapid increase in the volume of global trade and in the export of capital, and the role played by interstate agreements in shaping domestic conditions in each country. We are fully conscious of the fact that there are greater possibilities today for exporting the counter-revolution, and for imperialist interventions and wars in order to prevent the emancipation of the labour and popular movement more generally. But all this does not eliminate the need for an international revolutionary strategy that will be specialised in each country: a single revolutionary strategy that will serve the cause of socialism.
This does not mean that rallying and alliance on a national and international level must take place everywhere in a uniform way, in one line of struggle for socialism, with exclusively socialist slogans. Because in this way we would be overlooking the fact that the need for and maturity of socialism is not identical with the maturity of the socialist revolution; we would be underestimating the need for alliances with the petit bourgeois poor strata of the people who, because of their position in the social class structure, regard the socialist economy with misgivings. Moreover, the history of social revolutions in the 20th century showed that the labour and revolutionary movement more generally opened the road, inspired the mobilisation of the popular masses, and their willingness to make sacrifices around a nexus of goals and demands that, at some particular phase or moment, reflected the dispositions and acute problems of the peoples. The demands and goals of the struggle at the same time helped people to acquire political experience and to desire change at the level of power.
In our opinion, the anti-imperialist, anti-monopolist struggle today is linked more organically than in the past with the struggle for socialism. The clash with the monopolies and imperialism can unite the working class with other strata of the people, according to the social class structure of the society. Behind this line, there is assimilation into a line of struggle that is insignificant for imperialism, and that can be easily exploited and manoeuvred.
In our opinion, the key to the alternative that communists must put forward is analysis of three basic issues:
FIRST, the nature and character of modern imperialist strategy, and of the measures taken by called neo-liberal policy or neo-liberalism.
SECOND, the imperialist nature of interstate associations such as the EU, and other unions with a less developed character.
THIRD, the attitude towards the socialism we knew, in conjunction with scientific study to arrive at a critical assessment of it, and the theoretical generalisation of new experience.
Today, it is not enough to criticise imperialism; what is required is a clear-cut answer on the following issues:
We believe that the combined measures that are being implemented today throughout the capitalist world, apart from their particularities from one country to another, irrespective of the rates at which they are being pushed forward, irrespective of whether they are being promoted by centre-right or centre-left governments, by liberal or social democratic parties, express something much more profound than an austerity policy and the reactionary redistribution of wealth. They are measures that are absolutely necessary to enable the capitalist system to deal with an internal and inherent problem, which is the difficulty of reproducing its social capital in the same way and with the same ease that it had before. Precisely because it knows or feels its contradictions and paradoxes, the capitalist system is seeking to consolidate and expand the victory it scored in the late 1980s with the reversal of the socialist system as we knew it in the 20th century. Its policy is thus simultaneously a policy of preventing a new cycle of social revolutions. And this is why it is becoming more barbarous. This is why capitalism everywhere has become rigid; it makes no manoeuvres or concessions to the working people, even when popular displeasure has flared up dangerously. It does not apply the policy of the carrot and stick in the same way that it used to in the past to gain time to spread delusions. The identification of liberal parties with social democracy and socialist parties in the policy of capitalist restructurings is, in our view, further strong and irrefutable testimony to the fact that the so-called neo-liberal policy, the contemporary policy of the new world order, is not just a political choice generated solely by the change in the correlation of forces, but a dire internal need of the capitalist system. This is why a number of political forces have been trying to turn the clock back, to return to the period when capitalism made some concessions under pressure from the people. These forces, irrespective of their intentions, are evolving into forces that support or, in the best possible case, tolerate the system.
We emphasised previously that capitalism cannot use the carrot and the stick in the same way it has in the past when faced with demands of the people and the working class.
However, it has not stopped using the carrot and stick on the political level, and in its stance towards parties and the movement.
We would like to share with you our experience of the European Union.
The EU, as an interstate grouping with institutions and executive bodies, is charting a very systematic policy in order to assimilate political and social forces. It does not hesitate to provide direct and indirect support to political forces and movements that confine themselves to demanding insignificant reforms and eventually a different management policy, but always within the capitalist system, as long as they do not dispute the course of European capitalist unification and enlargement. Using various political and economic methods, even extortion, it tries to shape a political system on the national and European level that will eventually serve its strategy with even greater stability and better prospects. The centre-left, for example, was an alternative choice for EU capital and still is today. It does not fear the multi-party system as it did in the past. The EU decision to impose European parties was part of its plan to control the political system in the member states. This is why we declared our position publicly and criticised the foundation of the Party of the European Left, especially when the initiative of doing so was taken by parties that regard coordination and common action by communist parties in negative terms. A centre has thus been created, based on structures and general principles that are provided for or tolerated by the EU, which objectively hinders parties? independence and unity of action in an anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly direction.
The EU must be perceived in the minds of the popular masses as an interstate capitalist association, in which there is no room for artificial separation as an objectively progressive phenomenon that takes on an anti-popular character owing to the political correlation of forces at the level of governance. The capitalist system cannot be transformed; it can only be overthrown. The prestige and credibility of the EU has declined greatly in relation to what it was early in the 1990s. The French and Dutch referendums are one proof. Despite this, a lot of work is still required for discontent to take on anti-capitalist content and not to be diffused by the various manoeuvres taking place.
This is why we criticise the political forces that present themselves as adversaries of neo-liberalism, but limit their criticism to the supposed prevalence of certain doctrinaire views that give priority to the market and do not combine the market with social policy. Or they attribute the modern strategy, e.g. of the EU, simply to slavish submission to US pressures, to the lack of desire or to the inability to be emancipated from the US. Our greatest difference with these views is that they see neo-liberalism as a deviation from a supposedly ?healthy and humanitarian capitalism?, which combines the laws of the market with policy for the people. For us, a critical issue is the enlargement of the EU. The more the EU expands, the greater will be the disparity and inequality, the stronger its relations of hegemony and oppression, and the more of an effort it will make to influence movements and transform them into supports for their own bourgeois class. This does not, of course, mean that the enlargement of the EU will inevitably lead to the death of movements. We believe that the line of breaking with EU policy, in conjunction with the experience gained by the peoples, will give the lie to all those who believe that the EU is invincible. But on one condition: that the line of breaking with this imperialist association gains ground within the movement and that any illusions about its progressive transformation are eliminated.
Our criticism of the creation of the various social forums was aimed at their general line, and at the fact that they established uniform, single structures for the incorporation of movements on the international and regional level in the name of unity and common action. Their structures in Europe, for example, are dominated by political forces and views that lead to the confrontation between the so-called new movements and the communist and workers? movement, plainly seeking to hinder in various ways, even to win over, a movement that is seeking the radical overthrow of the present conditions.
The use of reformism and opportunism, both right and ?left? one, is also an objective of state and management policy on a national level, as well as of overall EU policy, not solely to crush the movement, but for one additional reason as well: to manage the intra-imperialist conflicts within the EU and, above all, on the international stage.
The differences on international issues between European and North American imperialism are clearly dictated by intra-imperialist conflicts and not by the differing nature of the EU and the USA. Moreover, on matters related to economic and social policy, they move in precisely the same direction as they did on the policy of the distribution of markets, using war, pressure and other military, political and economic means of intervention as weapons.
Of course the working class movement, the anti-imperialist anti-monopoly movement on the national level, must take intra-imperialist conflicts into account and exploit them, for they are strong even where communist parties are in power. We must exploit these conflicts to strengthen the movement and not to support the policy of the bourgeois class in our country.
We likewise do not agree with the view that, from the moment socialism was overthrown, it would be unable to survive, it had to be abandoned or remain a dream for the distant future.
The necessity of the passage to socialism arises from objective conditions, from the historical limits of capitalism, and not from the correlation of forces that has come into being in recent years. The correlation of forces plays a role in the tactic of rallying and gathering forces together.
The restoration of capitalism, especially in Europe, certainly raises new problems. We cannot possibly speak of an alternative with the prospect of socialism without providing answers to the peoples about the building of socialism in the 20th century. We must incorporate into our theory of socialism and into the strategy of the socialist revolution and structure all our experience arising from the socialism we knew, both the undoubtedly positive experience of it as well as the problems that arose and led to the known developments.
To speak of socialism as though nothing had happened in the course of building it is a mistake. But it is also a tragic mistake to nullify it.
All parties every day are facing many problems in our own countries, and in the region our country is located in. It is our obligation to give everything in our power to strengthen the class struggle, to sharpen the class struggle, to disengage popular forces from defeatism, self-delusion, confusion and fear. However, at the same time we must step up our joint efforts to study the issues of socialism, to draw conclusions, and to speak the language of truth, in terms of examining the problem scientifically. On this basis, the peoples will gain confidence in communists; they will be better able to see the importance of struggles being linked to the prospect for change at the level of power. The issue is not how much we can criticise socialism or how much publicity we can give to its achievements, but to speak objectively, scientifically. We must give new thrust and development to the theory of scientific socialism, to the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
At this time, we are facing the US plan for the so-called democratisation of the Arab countries and the countries of the ?broader Middle East?, a plan which, despite the partial differentiations that exist, has in essence been adopted by G8, NATO and the EU, and is visible in the planned change of borders in the Balkans, focused on making Kosovo independent, in the offensive being prepared against Lebanon, Syria and Iran, and in the continuing criminal intervention of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people. There is also the multiple offensive of the US and the EU against Africa, the new US plan aimed at socialist Cuba that the EU has adopted, and the efforts to undermine President Chavez and the policies he is implementing in Venezuela. The initiatives developed by Cuba and Venezuela in creating ALBA in opposition to FTAA or ALCA, which is being promoted by the USA, has sharpened conflicts in the region and the efforts to destabilise it. It is particularly important to support the effort being made by Venezuela and other countries in Latin America to confront the aggressiveness of the US and the monopolies, which are seeking full domination of oil and other resources.
At this time, the anti-communist offensive has also been stepped up on the pretext of the Council of Europe?s proposal to denounce the so-called crimes of communism, which provoked opposition which must continue and be intensified. We include here the intention of closing the Lenin mausoleum, which is accompanied by increasing attacks against communists. And finally, there are very serious developments taking place in the UN, with the amendment of its Founding Charter in accordance with the new imperialist world order. It is a front of struggle that we can confront in a coordinated way and with common initiatives. Indicatively, I would like to mention a number of initiatives, which in our view, we can develop with coordinated intervention and action.
PROPOSED INITIATIVES 2005-6
1. Common resolution and coordinated global campaign for the liberation of the five Cuban patriots and for the Carilles case. To organise a mission of MPs, trade unionists and other public figures to visit the prison in Miami.
2. To send international brigades of members of our parties to Cuba and Venezuela.
3. Common resolution on the anti-communist memorandum issued at the Council of Europe. A signatures campaign and protests in our countries.
4. Campaign to promote the timeliness of socialism on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in 2007.
5. For May Day 2006, a campaign against poverty, unemployment, sackings, determination of working hours, and reform of the right to social security; and in favour of labour rights.
6. Meeting of communist teachers and educators from European countries to discuss the effects of capitalist restructuring and the Lisbon strategy on education. Creation of a group to monitor developments systematically.
7. European campaign against the EU anti-terrorist measures up to the summit meeting of 15.12.2005.
8. Systematic monitoring of issues related to persecutions of communist parties and other anti-imperialist forces, such as bans on communist parties for using the name; then regarding others that are illegal, keeping track of trials and imprisonments, and cases where people are persecuted and followed. Creation of a working group to follow these issues.
9. Active support for regional meetings of CPs, such as the Latin American meeting of CPs and in other regions.
10. Meeting of European parties in December on the occasion of the EU summit meeting to assess it and to evaluate the movements against the EU.
11. For the Balkans, meetings of CPs and movements against the change of borders, and against imperialist interventions by NATO, the US and the EU.
12. Campaigns against foreign military bases in our countries.
13. To send a joint solidarity delegation to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Israel, consisting of representatives of the CPs.
14. Initiatives around the situation in Africa and Asia.