Thoughts before the meeting of communist parties in Lisbon
The meeting of the Working Group which prepares the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties (IMCWP) is going to be held in Lisbon on March 5, following the initiative of the Portuguese Communist Party.
The importance of this meeting is highlighted that by the fact that since the meeting in Izmir in October 2019, the parties haven’t met in person because of the coronavirus.
In December 2021 the Greek CP and the Turkish CP organised the Extraordinary Teleconference of the IMCWP. The two-day online meeting gave opportunity for exchanging opinions, but it was also proved that no teleconference can replace live direct dialogue, live debate and in person meetings.
Debate is necessary
The communist movement is divided by a number of questions. The differences are so great that the IMCWP has been unable to accept joint declarations for years, and nowadays even a joint press statement is problematic.
There are different opinions on China in the communist movement today. A part of the parties thinks China is a capitalist country, part of the international struggle of imperialist forces. Others think that socialism is being built in the People’s Republic of China and even though the theory and practice of socialism with Chinese characteristics differs from previous socialist experiences, it definitely cannot be called capitalist.
There is a deeper, theoretical discussion about what socialism is behind the different opinions on China. Some parties imagine socialism as a closed, finally formed model which is effective for everyone. Other parties believe that socialism is created subject to certain basic criteria, but in accordance with national characteristics.
There’s a debate on the question to whom we communists can express solidarity. There are parties who constantly emphasise their solidarity with Cuba and the Palestinian people. Others think we should show solidarity to every force which fights against capitalism.
From the events of recent times we should mention the case of Belarus. Some of the parties think the Belarusian system is inherently capitalist, and it’s dependent on Russian capitalism. On this basis, they don’t think it’s necessary to support the politics of Belarus which fights against Western intervention, regardless of the fact that the CP of Belarus and several other parties support the struggle led by President Lukashenko.
There are different opinions about migration too. Some parties welcome the acceptance of migrants to Europe, show solidarity to them and consider them their allies in the fight against capital. Other parties think the current migration is not the same as the earlier migration inside Europe and we can’t expect that the newcomers want to fight together with the communist parties to topple capitalism.
Among the parties there are various opinions on the forms and means of international cooperation, moreover, even about the need for it in general. There are parties who don’t pay much attention to multilateral international cooperation. Other parties would like to make the cooperation more effective, but these proposals don’t make it through the already existing mechanisms.
Let’s search for what connects us!
We often say it would be so much better to have a stronger party, younger and more skilled members. Yes, it would be good but we have to work and fight with what we actually have.
This is true for the international cooperation too. Many say, how good it would be, if the international cooperation was as strong and comprehensive as the Komintern in Lenin’s time. The Komintern was a product of its historical era and we can’t bring it back. We can wish for a stronger and more united communist movement, but currently our movement is as it is. We should be happy that it still exists and the capitalists haven’t been able to completely demolish it. Let’s be happy for it and make it stronger!
Debate is a natural phenomenon of the communist movement. The parties are functioning among different conditions and their historical background is also different.
Our ideology, Marxism is not a collection of truths carved into stone. The task of the parties is to analyze the changing situation on the basis of Marxism, to determine their tasks on the basis of a concrete analysis of concrete reality.
Cooperation is possible only when the parties trust each other and respect each other’s experiences.
The current communist movement is not centered around one big party, as in the Komintern. Sovereign and independent parties cooperate with the aim that cooperation makes them stronger.
All parties must be able to use the invaluable compass of Marxism themselves. Defending Marxism is not the right of only one party, but the duty of us all.To the same extent, our duty is the creative application and further development of Marxism.
One of the negative features of our today’s disputes is that we are not discussing what we should be discussing, and often these disputes are not led by those who should have discussed it.
We want to work together because we want to draw strength from the experiences of others. How does a party manage to get into parliament? How to win over young people? What do we say to today’s intelligentsia? How to join unions? What and how should we teach party members? How to use the tools of modern technology?
These are questions to which each side has some kind of answer, but it is quite obvious that each side needs reinforcement and new experience. Let’s focus on these issues.
Who should participate in the discussion? At the meetings of the IMCWP , most of the participants are responsible for international relations. Let’s attract those who work in factories, in schools, let’s get acquainted with their specific experience!
It would be right to agree on the level of participation. It is very important that number one leaders of the parties meet.
Often there are disputes over a single statement or document for hours. Do we ask ourselves, for whom are we writing these documents? Who will read them? Whom, apart from a narrow circle of party activists, will this reach?
It would be more correct to proceed from the fact that the main result of this or that meeting is not a piece of paper, not a statement. The main thing is to demonstrate to the members of our parties, our friends and our opponents that the communist movement is alive and that we are together!
Complicating the situation is the fact that the communist movement as a whole has not yet gotten rid of the atmosphere of crisis that has persisted since 1990, which has been exacerbated by the setbacks experienced since then. Not many successes have been achieved by our parties.
We will be able to overcome the crisis situation only if we show possible solutions and real ways. And at the same time, we will demonstrate our responsibility, and with it the prospects that may open up in the future.
If we want to work together, we must start not with differences, but with what unites us. This does not mean giving up principles. It is an acknowledgment of the fact that we have already gone too far in divisive discussions.
We come together not to argue, but to become stronger. Let’s focus on what we agree on and put aside what we disagree on. Let’s first have a professional discussion on complex contentious issues, and then draw political conclusions. There is nothing worse than passing a political verdict without scientific and professional discussion.
There is no revolutionary situation, but a revolutionary situation is possible
The position of the communist movement is contradictory. On the one hand, it is true that there is no revolutionary situation, so the parties cannot launch a strategic offensive. If they can achieve success, then those are mostly tactical in nature.
On the other hand, it is a fact that capitalism is in such a serious crisis that a revolutionary situation could emerge at any moment. The collapse of the EU, a war in Europe, an exacerbation of the migrant problem or even another mass epidemic could lead to an emergency. If this happens, the communist parties will have to provide strategic answers to strategic questions.
The responsibility of the communist party leaders is therefore enormous. A misjudgment of the revolutionary situation, an overestimation of the potential of the revolutionary forces could endanger the entire movement.
But it would also have serious consequences if we did not notice the approach of the revolutionary situation in time and if our parties were not prepared for the new task.
If we keep this in mind and approach international cooperation on this basis, then there will be success, there will be progress. If partial interests come to the fore, if we fail to distinguish the important from the less important, if we do not realise that the world has changed radically in two years of the coronavirus, we can only lose.
We want to move forward!
We consider the Lisbon meeting of the Working Group particularly important. The Portuguese CP organised the Avante festival last September, and despite the coronavirus, several foreign parties attended, and this proved that we can and should meet in person.
The Workers’ Party, as a member of the Working Group, will take part in the Lisbon meeting and would like to contribute to the development of modern and effective international cooperation. We want to move forward.
Hungarian Workers’ Party