The Communist Parties facing the deepening of the capitalist systemic crisis. The consequences of the economic crisis and the intervention of Communist parties.
I. The deepening of the crisis of the system
1. The Declaration of the 2009 ICS made the following observation: The capitalist system is confronting the most serious crisis since the depression of 1929. We are not speaking of a transitory and cyclical recession but of a generalized crisis of the capitalist system, with its roots in the sphere of production. This crisis will be long and deep, and we are merely at the beginning of it. This prospect has been confirmed by facts. A crisis on all levels continues to hit the entire planet, the main imperialist centres (US, EU, Japan) as well as the majority of other countries, particularly the developing countries. This way, capitalist globalisation is showing its downside: it also brings about globalisation of capitalist crises, and in a much faster and more global way than in the 1930s.
2. It is a characteristic of capitalism to restore the rate of profit by cutting wages and boosting unemployment. We are in the midst of a period of restructuring, delocalisation, closures and lay-offs. By means of this restructuring, the industrial and banking monopolies reconstitute their funds and restore their profit margins. In times of crisis, more than ever, the larger monopolies strengthen themselves at the expense of the smaller ones. Millions of industrial and agricultural workers lose their job and salaries are slashed. On a global level, 50 million workers have been dismissed and the number of ‘working poor’ is rising very fast. In the OECD countries, the rise of unemployment particularly hits the youth that were employed in unstable, super-flexible jobs. In the Euro zone 20 percent of the youth under 25 years of age are looking for a job, with a record figure of 40 percent in Spain. The crisis and the offensive of capital particularly underscores the exploitation of women. Many single women, with or without children, live below the poverty threshold because of unstable, part-time or temporary jobs. Women workers are strongly represented in sectors with low-paying, contractual and feminized jobs.
3. Throughout the world, the crisis has deepened the gap between rich and poor. The countries from the South are the first victims of a crisis that is generated and managed by the imperialist centres. Most of these countries are dependent on the production of raw materials and agricultural products for export and only a few have some manufactures and semi-manufactures for export. IMF, WTO, US and EU dictates have destroyed their local industries and agriculture and brought their economies increasingly under the control of transnational corporations. This has made them dependent on the economic trend in the developed world. They are now in dire straits as demand for their exports has fallen drastically, export prices are plunging while prices of imported goods rise and the conditions of international creditors have tightened. Their vulnerability will push them once more in a cycle of borrowing, growing debt and new imperialist dictates. The workers and poor and middle peasants are confronted with rapidly worsening conditions of unemployment, poverty and exclusion. The Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015 is actually being reversed: for 2009 the United Nations report 90 million more human beings living in extreme poverty than before the crisis, and more than one billion people suffering from hunger (as against 840 million in 1990). In India, an "emerging economy", 77 percent of the population Â or 836 million people Â have to make do with a daily income of less than 20 rupees (0,5 Euro). In 2009, the number of India’s dollar billionaires has doubled. There are 52 of them, with a joint fortune of 276 billion dollar, or 1/4th of the country’s GDP.
4. The most devastating effects can be seen in most of the African countries. Due to the weakness of the progressive, popular and resistance forces, the imperialist powers are not in the least inhibited to impose their draconian measures. Whatever the imperialists had conceded to the compradore bourgeoisie in the 1960s has been eroded, and countries are once more put under tutelage. State subsidies for the prices of basic necessities are eliminated, prices are skyrocketing, education and health care are abandoned by the State and left to be privatized. Wars that are supposedly ethnic in character, are in reality wars of rape by imperialist transnational corporations, wanting to put their hand on the immense natural resources, particularly energetic resources.
5. A major difference with the financial collapse of 1929 is the immediate and massive state intervention. Almost 3,000 billion dollar has been disbursed by the states of the imperialist world in order to stop the disintegration of the financial system, and the same amount in state guarantees has been accorded to the banks. Equally dizzying amounts have been handed out to industrial monopolies in the form of recovery plans. This way, a downslide into a period of deflation has temporarily been avoided. As a consequence, the capitalist states are now in the eye of the storm of the economic and financial crisis. Several states show budgetary deficits surpassing 5 percent or even 10 percent of GDP, and the level of indebtedness of most capitalist states has grown rapidly.
6. The Greek crisis has developed to a global risk for the capitalist world because it can lead to a new widespread financial crisis. It might expand to other European states: Spain and Portugal in the first place; Ireland, Italy, Great Britain and Belgium may follow, and even France. If the contagion would spread, it can become a threat to the survival of the European currency.
The crisis has widened the gap between the strong and more powerful states of the EU and the weakest from Southern and Eastern Europe. A nationalist reflex is sharpening the contradictions. The German government was facing a dilemma: refusing any assistance to states in trouble would be tantamount to endangering the Euro, whose fall would also affect German domination in the EU. Germany finally accepted the founding of a 750 billion stabilisation fund, put together by the EU and IMF to support failing European states. It shows that the common interests of the European monopolies still prevail. They need the European Union and the euro for their struggle against American, Japanese and Chinese competitors. They need the euro as a straitjacket to impose restrictive discipline in the participating countries.
But the contradictions have not vanished. The German government refuses to review its extremely aggressive policy of pay cuts that benefits German monopolies and allows it to remain the world’s first or second largest exporter. Hence the Merkel government continues the policy of its social democratic predecessor, Schroeder, at the risk of causing the disintegration of the Euro zone or even the EU. To avoid this scenario, the German government imposes strict anti-social policies on the whole EU, demands that the Stability Pact and the Maastricht criteria would come into effect again, including sanctions for non-appliance.
Hardly two months after the Lisbon Treaty came into effect, has it become clear what the expanded powers of the European institutions are meant for. The Treaty was hailed by social democracy as a victory for democracy. Today, it proves to be an instrument to impose more discipline to member states and to impose austerity dictates upon the workers. It is the intensification of European policy’s realignment with the interests of financial capital in the name of rescuing the Euro.
7. Currently, Greece is the European Union’s anti-workers laboratory. The extremely severe attacks that have been launched against the Greek workers by the social democratic PASOK government mean, on average, a 30 percent loss of income for the workers. They include drastic cuts for government employees, the reduction of retirement benefits and extension of the retirement age, the increase of direct and indirect taxes, flexibility and new advantages for the employers in the name of unemployment, anti-people reforms with regard to financing of health care and education, and faster privatization of the public sector. The social democratic party (PASOK) is serving monopoly capital as the most suitable party to ensure that the draconian social setbacks will pass. If they will, they will make the Greek people suffer hard. The same range of anti-social measures is on the agenda in all countries. They aim to intensify exploitation and to rescue monopoly capital at the expense of the workers. While the people are suffering, speculative funds and financial institutions who are thanking their survival to the generous intervention by the states, are now unscrupulously speculating against these very states. This shows how these financial vultures are given absolute liberty, in spite of all the catastrophes they have already brought about. It clearly demonstrates the capitalist system is rotten to the core.
8. The worldwide crisis of overproduction is far from solved. The contradiction between the development of the productive capacity on the one hand, and the relative decrease in purchasing power of the masses on the other, is at the origin of the crisis of overproduction. This contradiction inevitably reproduces itself under capitalist relations of production, as it is a small minority that owns the means of production and enriches itself by exploiting the labour force of the big majority. The crisis lies in the nature of the system. Its root cause lies in the contradiction between the social character of production and the private appropriation of its products, due to the private ownership of the means of production.
For capital, the way out of the crisis lies in the massive destruction of the means of production and in the intensified exploitation of the labour force. That is what the workers all over the world are facing now. In a crisis as deep and global as the current one, this phase can take a long time, because the ‘solutions’ of capital create internal contradictions. The massive increase of unemployment, the wage cuts and the dismantling of social protection undermines any perspective of stimulating the purchasing power of the toiling masses. Most probably, the anti-social offensive will even worsen the crisis of overproduction and can still lead to deflation in the years to come. A switch to ‘Keynesian’ recipes of state investments would only have a very limited effect. Moreover, this room to manoeuvre is even more reduced than during the thirties because of the generalized crisis of public finance, due to the massive bailouts of the financial sector. Besides, it was not the ‘new deal’ that put an end to the crisis of the thirties but the war production and the Second World War.
9. There is a major political lesson to retain from the actual crisis. Massive state intervention has smashed the social-democratic myth that capitalist globalisation would have rendered the capitalist state ‘powerless’. The succession of liberal and interventionist policies responds to the objective needs of capitalist monopolies in a given period. According to need, the social democrats may become market prophets, as we have witnessed the last decades, or the liberal parties may become furious interventionists as we witness since 2008. Their common loyalty to the capitalist system dictates the orientation, in line with the needs of capital. Whether a social-democratic or liberal party is in power (or both), the aim of capital always remains the same: to remedy the fall of the rate of profit and to secure the extensive reproduction of capital. Marx and Lenin are proven right more than ever: the real centres of power in the bourgeois states are the big monopolies.
10. The economic crisis also provokes a political crisis among the ruling class. To impose the dictatorship of the monopolies, a fascisation of bourgeois regimes develops. Faced with the growing revolt of the working masses in Greece, Portugal, France,… the European Union is developing its plans for repression and surveillance. In order to impose this dictatorship of the monopolies, the bourgeois democratic regimes are continuously taking anti-democratic measures. It is now clear that the ‘war against terrorism’ has served primarily to fight the enemy within. The achievements of 1945 are systematically undermined and dismantled, while racism and nationalism are spreading. Therefore the capitalist state is focusing increasingly on its most essential role, its role as the last bulwark against popular revolt. Violations of the right to strike, emergency laws, and violations of basic democratic rights are becoming the rule. The anti-communist campaigns waged against several Communist Parties in Central and Eastern Europe and the attempts to rewrite history through a web of lies about the Second World War complement the anti-people policies pursued by imperialism. Rewriting history and claiming that communism and fascism share responsibility for the millions of deaths during war serves today as a pretext to legitimize anti-labour, xenophobic and militaristic policies, all of which had been expressed in their most extreme forms under fascism. These attacks come from the traditional parties, particularly the social democratic parties. On the other hand, provocative attacks by opportunistic groups of the right, but also of the ‘left’, are increasing.
11. The crisis sharpens the contradictions between major imperialist forces and accelerates long term changes in the correlation of forces of the international imperialist system. The imperialist powers are competing in a struggle for the re-division of the world. They compete to control the sources of raw materials and cheap labour, markets, investment opportunities, spheres of influence and strategic areas. The European exporting countries derive some temporary benefit from the weakening of the Euro, but this widens the contradictions with the United States. The main weakness of the US is the large trade deficit, a time bomb under the position of the dollar and global monetary relations. The crisis also leads to sharpening contradictions between the major centres of Western and Japanese imperialism on the one hand, and emerging powers on the other, such as China, Russia, Brazil, India and South Africa.
Nevertheless, where their fundamental common interests and the prevailing capitalist and imperialist world disorder are at stake, imperialist powers still find common ground. They are one in oppressing the peoples and nations of the world and in passing on the burden of the crisis to them. Moreover, the aggressive NATO block is aligning itself with Russia in their fight against national liberation movements under the pretext of the so-called ‘fight against international terrorism’.
The United States is struggling to keep its position as a superpower and make use of NATO to include its allies in its strategy of world domination. The NATO summit in November this year will formally approve the new strategy of extending the organization’s range of intervention to the entire planet. At the same time, member countries will be obliged to increase their military spending.
12. The crisis reinforces militarization; war factors accumulate. The US continues its military strategy in the Middle East, for total control of the largest oil reserves in the world – which also helps to control energy resources of major competitors, primarily China. The US administration and the Pentagon are concentrating more and more military equipment close to Iran, including the Island of Diego Garcia, where thousands of conventional bombs are stocked that can penetrate deep into the ground to destroy underground facilities. The scenario is similar to that which led to the attack on Iraq: Iran is accused of intending to produce nuclear weapons, without any evidence whatsoever. The US continues to support and protect the Zionist Israeli state and is putting strong pressure on Syria to abandon its anti-imperialist role in the region.
The Latin American countries are concerned because of the increasing number of military bases and US warships in the region. The US aims to control the economic resources and the markets. The US opposes the social development that results from anti-imperialist initiatives for regional integration, like ALBA. This way, it is a permanent threat for the peace and stability in the region.
Africa’s enormous wealth is still the object of the imperialist powers’ greed. The US is reinforcing its military presence and seeks to establish the AFRICOM command in Africa.
The US position on the denuclearisation is hypocritical from beginning to end. It got rid of a thousand obsolete ballistic missiles – yet it still has about 8,000 of them. Washington refuses to commit never to be the first to use nuclear weapons or never to use them against countries that do not possess nukes, because it makes exceptions (Iran, the DPRK, …). Meanwhile Obama allocates more funds to the modernization of the operational nuclear weapons, and the production of mini-nukes is continuing. His goal: to preserve US supremacy in military matters (45 percent of global military spending), especially when it comes to weapons of mass destruction. Weakened from the economic point of view, the United States – with its NATO allies – is strengthening its military capacity.
13. The depth of the generalized crisis we are living, is pushing the vast majority of the world population deeper in intolerable situations. Given the rapid deterioration of the imperialist system and the increasing misery of the peoples of the world, the only viable alternative is a socialist society. The capitalist system cannot be spruced up by some reforms, by a bogus regulation or by some other social democratic accents. The capitalist society knows only one law: that of maximum profit for capital. Its very foundations have to be turned upside down through revolution. This revolution involves the abolition of capitalist ownership through the socialization of the basic and most concentrated means of production, and the submission of the economy to central planning, run by a socialist state which is in the hands of the workers. The socialist economy takes care of distributing the wealth that is produced equitably and justly, and ensures that the services that meet people’s needs, such as public health, the education system, social security are free and exclusively public. This economy is based on another power which will overthrow the power of monopolies and build new popular institutions. On this basis can develop international cooperation.
14. The socialist countries in the world, who do not bear any responsibility for the worldwide crisis of the capitalist system, continue to grow at a steady pace. Even if they face complex and difficult conditions (like the US blockade) they are able to minimize the impact of the crisis on their population. This shows in a convincing way the superiority of socialism over capitalism. The progressive governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and other Latin American countries head the challenge of proving that their anti-imperialist policies and regional cooperation continue to generate a social surplus, even in this period of crisis.
15. The proletariat and peoples of the world are rising up to wage various forms of struggle in response to the worsening conditions of global economic and financial crisis and the escalation of imperialist plunder and wars of aggression.
In the imperialist countries, the monopoly bourgeoisie is waging a ferocious class struggle against the proletariat and is pushing the proletariat to fight back. The level of discontent and protest is rising because of the increasing rate of unemployment, the erosion of social benefits and the deterioration of the living conditions.
The peoples in the oppressed countries, subjected to ever rising levels of exploitation and oppression, are waging various forms of resistance against the imperialist powers and their local puppets.
The conditions of crisis, while also fraught with dangers and further attacks from reactionaries, create favourable objective conditions and opportunities that Communist Parties must seize in order to advance the cause of the proletariat and other toiling masses, to advance the struggle for a better world, free from oppression and exploitation.
II. The Communist Parties in action
1. The generalized crisis of the system forces Communist Parties to fully assume their role as vanguard of the working class. This means taking up their responsibility to mobilise, organise and orient the exploited masses. It also means unveiling the roots of the growing misery, and helping the masses advance on the road of socialist revolution.
2. In order to assume these tasks, communists must seize the opportunities that present themselves. For this, any spirit of routine needs to be cast away. There are opportunities to develop, consolidate or build Bolshevik parties. It is in the heat of class struggle that such parties accumulate experience and become steeled by fire.
3. Being fully submerged in class struggle offers an excellent opportunity to train new generations of cadres. A major part of today’s youth, and certainly the generation that has known the anticommunist wave since 1989, has never experienced a crisis of the current magnitude or seriousness. It is today that this generation is preparing itself to take up its revolutionary role for the coming decades.
4. Every Communist Party is faced with the challenge to acquire a profound knowledge and a Marxist analysis of the systemic crisis. The writings of Marx and Lenin are astonishingly relevant today to understand the profound origins of the current crisis and to formulate a socialist alternative.
5. Today, Communist and workers’ Parties have an excellent occasion to strengthen their links with the masses. Marxist-Leninist theory has to be a guide for practice. It depends on the work of the communists among the masses, particularly in the class struggle, to what extent the conscientisation of the masses broadens and deepens. This means that first and foremost, they have to be present and active in every struggle, to support the demands put forward by the workers themselves. Communists must propose a complete package of demands, based on the workers’ needs. The class in power has accumulated its wealth on the back of the workers and they continue to enrich themselves during this very crisis. For the struggle to advance, it is important to formulate demands that put the burden of the crisis on the side of the big fortunes and the big capitalists.
6. Throughout these struggles, the perspective of socialism must be made clear. Communists must bring forward demands for which the workers are willing to fight today, while orienting them towards socialism. The Communist Parties must advance demands that break with the logic of capitalism, that enhance political consciousness and that forge class unity. It is of the highest importance that this struggle is politicised, allowing people to understand that more fundamental changes in the balance of power are necessary in order to enjoy the wealth that they themselves produce. Every struggle must serve to broaden class solidarity, to build alliances, to counter division, racism, bourgeois nationalism and yellow trade unionism. The yellow trade unions accept the governments’ plans for social destruction in the name of the ‘salvation of the nation’. In reality, there is no common interest the working class and the bourgeoisie.
7. It is important to support the troops’ morale. We must have a feeling for the issues the masses are ready to mobilise for and to obtain small victories. We must continuously fight for immediate demands, for concrete measures that cushion the gravity of the problems and offer some relieve. They must be imposed through the power of the movement. Nevertheless, under capitalism these gains will be temporary and precarious. The militancy of the working class will be intensified as long as the struggle maintains the perspective of overcoming the capitalist framework and challenging the bourgeois power.
8. For the Communist Parties, parliamentary work serves to better develop the struggle. Any fundamental change depends on the mobilisation of the masses. In the capitalist system, there can only be victories through the development of class struggle. We should not count on parliaments but develop extra-parliamentary movements.
9. Strengthening the Parties as such deserves particular attention. We must recruit new members, convince and organise them. The role of the communist newspaper is irreplaceable and an important tool for the mass work. In addition, it is necessary to make better use of the new technologies for our propaganda work and to broaden the contacts.
10. The work among the masses requires a reinforced commitment in the trade unions and the other mass organisations of the working class.
11. An important task for the communist movement is to draw lessons from the experience of socialist construction in the Eastern European countries, defending socialist construction and its timeless necessity. Communists will not remain silent against the anti-communist campaigns that go hand in hand with the attempts to re-write history with lies. Communist Parties will defend the historical gains of the 20th century experiences of socialism by all means, while debunking the lies of imperialism to slander these experiences and to suppress the communist movement.
12. Communist Parties must launch themselves in all fronts against imperialist anti-people aggression. Particularly the expanding role of NATO should be challenged, and the increasing military threats that will be put in a more aggressive ‘strategic framework’ in this organization’s upcoming summit.
13. Time is ripe to advance in the development of international campaigns, which will require more collaboration of Communist Parties on an international level. In case of struggles, active solidarity must be developed. We must actively search for common slogans. We must actively participate in campaigns like those to free the Cuban five, for the withdrawal of the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Signatories of the General Conclusions
1. Afghanistan, United Party of Afghanistan
2. Albania, Communist Party of Albania
3. Algeria, Parti AlgÃ©rien pour la DÃ©mocratie et le Socialisme (PADS)
4. Bangladesh, Communist Party of Bangladesh
5. Belarus, For the Union and the Communist Party of the Union
6. Belgium, Workers’ Party of Belgium
7. Brazil, Partido Comunista do Brasil (PcdoB)
8. Brazil, Partido Comunista Brasileiro (PCB)
9. Brazil, Partido Patria Livre
10. Bulgaria, Party of Bulgarian Communists
11. Canada, Communist Party of Canada
12. Congo, Democratic Republic of, Congolese Communist Party
13. Costa Rica, Partido Vanguardia Popular
14. Cuba, Partido Comunista de Cuba
15. Denmark, Communist Party of Denmark
16. Denmark, Danish Communist Party
17. Denmark, Communist Party in Denmark
18. El Salvador, Partido Comunista de El Salvador (PCS)
19. France, PRCF – PÃ´le de Renaissance communiste en France
20. France, URCF – Union des RÃ©volutionnaires-Communistes de France
21. Greece, Communist Party of Greece
22. Hungary, Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party
23. Italy, Rete dei Comunisti
24. Lao, People’s Democratic Republic, Lao People’s Revolutionary Party
25. Latvia, Socialist Party of Latvia
26. Lebanon, Parti Communiste Libanais
27. Luxemburg, Parti Communiste du Luxembourg (KPL)
28. Malta, Communist Party of Malta
29. MÃ©xico, Partido Popular Socialista de MÃ©xico
30. Morocco, Voie DÃ©mocratique
31. Netherlands, New Communist Party Netherlands (NCPN)
32. Pakistan, Communist Party of Pakistan
33. Palestine, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)
34. Peru, Partido Comunista Peruano
35. Puerto Rico, RefundaciÃ³n Comunista
36. Russia, Communist Party of the Russian Federation
37. Russia, Russian Communist Workers’ Party Â Revolutionary Party of Communists
38. Russia, Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU)
39. South Africa, South African Communist Party
40. Spain, Partido Comunista de los Pueblos de EspaÃ±a
41. Sweden, Communist Party (KP)
42. Syria, Syrian Communist Party
43. Syria, Communist Party of Syria
44. Taiwan, Chinese Province of Taiwan, Lao Dong Dang (Labour Party)
45. Tunisia, Parti du Travail patriotique et dÃ©mocratique de Tunisie
46. Turkey, Communist Party of Turkey (TKP)
47. Ukraine, Union of Communists
48. United Kingdom, Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
49. USA, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO)
50. Venezuela, Partido Comunista de Venezuela
51. Vietnam, Socialist Republic of, Communist Party of Vietnam
As of June 17, 2010; open to further endorsements.
19th International Communist Seminar
Brussels, 14-16 May 2010
www.icsbrussels.org , firstname.lastname@example.org