By KKE (Communist Party of Greece)
September 22, 2023
On September 22, the delegations of Communist youth and anti-imperialist organizations that visited Athens in the framework of the 49th KNE-Odigitis Festival had the opportunity to meet with a delegation of the leadership of the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) in order to be informed about the developments in Greece and the action of the KKE. Eliseos Vagenas, member of the CC of the KKE and head of the International Relations Section of the CC of the KKE, delivered a speech, which reads as follows:
We would like to welcome you to the headquarters of the Central Committee of the KKE.
We are glad that so many Communist youth organizations from all over the world are taking part in the 49th festival of KNE, the revolutionary youth organization of the KKE that struggles with the asset of its world view, i.e. Marxism-Leninism, with the Programme and the Strategy of the KKE.
In this meeting, I would like to inform you and discuss with you about basic developments in Greece and internationally as well as about the assessments of the KKE.
You have visited Greece at a complex political moment. On the one hand, the country has just come out of two parliamentary elections and is heading for local elections (in October) and European elections (at the end of the first half of 2024), and on the other hand our people are suffering the consequences of the disastrous wildfires that broke out this summer and the devastating floods that followed. At the same time, they are strengthening their struggle against the anti-labour and anti-popular policies of the New Democracy government, as shown by yesterday’s nationwide strike.
The political situation in every bourgeois country, including ours, is certainly a composite of many factors that affect the lives of millions of people and the ability of the bourgeoisie to impose its power.
Let us consider that this year and by early September over 172,600 hectares had been reduced to ashes, causing the death of 28 people, as well as major ecological and economic disaster. This was followed by the devastating floods in the region of Thessaly, where over 70,000 hectares were turned into a vast lake, causing the death of 17 people and of over 200,000 animals, destroying dozens of homes and businesses.
Under these circumstances, it is very important that the communists are on the front line of the people’s struggle, both in extinguishing the fires and in dealing with the consequences of the floods. They demand full compensation for those affected. The members and friends of the KKE and KNE are at the forefront of organizing the struggle.
At the same time we have to ask ourselves: Is there a common denominator in these major disasters? Our party believes that there is! It is the barbarous exploitative system, the bourgeois state and the anti-popular policies of all the bourgeois governments in our country, both the right-wing governments of New Democracy and the previous “left-wing” and “centre” governments that were formed by the social-democratic parties of SYRIZA and PASOK. All these bourgeois governments concerned with “economic growth”, measure this growth in terms of improving the position and increasing the profits of the ruling bourgeois class and are oriented towards increasing the profits of the business groups. Thus, they treat fire, flood and earthquake protection as an unnecessary burden and cost. This is also the basis of the EU guidelines, which reject such projects as ineligible. As a result, there is no comprehensive plan in our country to protect the lives of the popular strata based on the achievements of science and technology. The relevant services of the bourgeois state are merely operating and take inadequate measures that cannot alleviate the pain and misery of the people, while any works are limited and often poorly executed, with the stench of decay and corruption that goes hand in hand with capitalist profitability, hanging in the air.
Through their action, the Communists show the people the way of struggle; that the people are not meant to drown when it rains and burn when wildfires break out. The slogan “It is either their profits or our lives”, which has emerged in the past months from the struggles of the people against the criminal policy of the governments, also applies to the situation in the workplaces, since labour rights are being slaughtered on the altar of capitalist profitability.
With the new anti-labour bill, the government legislates for a 13-hour workday and 78-hour week by allowing work for more than one employer, and promotes the indirect extension of work until the age of 74 in combination with zero-hour contracts. The bill also contains provisions against the right to strike. In practice, workers are being turned into a flexible production machine with no rights, working into old age. It is no coincidence that the title of the bill refers to the implementation of Directive 2019/1152 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019. All this is decided jointly by the representatives of the European bourgeois classes and parties in their transnational union, the EU, which is a union of capital that cannot be changed or humanized, as some opportunist and social democratic forces in our country claim.
These opportunist and social democratic forces in Greece and all over the world, claim that they can tame capital and its insatiable thirst for profit and humanize capitalism. They put forward the concept of a better management of the system, by changing the “formula” of the economic policy through increased state intervention and expansionist measures. In practice, both in our country and in other countries where social democratic parties have ruled, it has been shown that their policies not only did not solve the people’s problems, but often aggravated them, e.g. by increasing inflation, while their policies were accompanied by measures of repression against the workers’ and people’s movement and the right to strike.
All these issues concerning the joint strategic alignment of the bourgeois parties (ND, SYRIZA, PASOK, etc.); their commitments to capital, the EU, NATO, the USA; the continuation of the imperialist war in Ukraine, etc. were highlighted by the KKE in the recent parliamentary elections held in May and June, from which our party emerged stronger, gaining 7.7% (+2.4%) and electing 21 MPs (out of 15). Our Party put forward the need for a strong opposition from the point of view of the people’s interests, which would fight inside but mainly outside the parliament against the anti-labour measures and would strengthen the path for the overthrow of the barbaric exploitative capitalist system.
This electoral increase achieved by the KKE in the parliamentary elections was preceded by a significant strengthening of the communists in trade unions in the private and the public sectors. The forces supported by the KKE took second place with over 20% in the executive boards of confederations in the private and the public sectors, while they took first place in important sectoral and regional trade unions, including the Labour Centres of Athens, Piraeus, Patras, Larissa, etc. This was the result of the workers’ struggle to strengthen and revitalize the trade unions, and the contribution of the All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME), which was founded on the initiative of the communists and brings together other militant trade unionists who believe in the class struggle. Another indicator was that the list supported by KNE in universities came first for the 2nd year in the row, gaining 35%. The local elections will be held on 8/10/23 and the forces of the KKE all over the country will wage the battle with the ballot papers of the “People’s Rallying” in 13 regions of the country and in 261 municipalities. A total of 23,000 candidates are listed on these ballot papers, including cadres and members of the KKE, but also many people who had other political origins, but today have joined forces with the KKE.
We call upon the workers to strengthen the forces of the KKE even more, in order to elect more militant mayors, municipal and regional councillors, who will stand by the people and their struggles and will not applaud the anti-popular policies of the government!
We enlighten the workers that only through struggle can the conditions be created to reverse the current negative political correlation of forces, to give some relief to the people, and to strike a blow to the unjust barbaric capitalist system.
The strengthening of the KKE everywhere is a basic condition for the revival of the class struggle, the regroupment of the labour movement and the social alliance of the working class with the urban and rural popular strata, which will fight for achievements, gather forces and give them mass character in order to strengthen the struggle for the real overthrow, for the workers’ power. Of course, as our Party has made clear for many years, this is “not a one-act play or a process that will unfold smoothly”. It will have its ups and downs, each of which will be reflected in the consciousness of the majority of the working class, in the detaching of the semi-proletarians, poor farmers and other self-employed from the influence of the bourgeois class, the petty bourgeoisie and the opportunists. We know very well that the deep social changes that our people need will not come through bourgeois elections or through the so-called left or anti-imperialist governments or through some transitional stages with governments created under capitalism, but through a revolutionary process. Today, however, we are working within a negative international and domestic correlation of forces and under non-revolutionary conditions, in the direction of preparing the subjective factor for the prospect of the socialist revolution, whose period of manifestation will of course be determined by objective conditions, by the revolutionary situation. Then the alliance of the working class with the oppressed popular strata will be transformed into a revolutionary workers’-people’s front. Revolutionary action will smash all bourgeois institutions and new institutions created by the people will take their place. It goes without saying that socialist construction, with the socialization of the means of production, the central planning of the economy and the workers’ and people’s control is incompatible with our country’s participation in imperialist unions, such as NATO and the EU.
NATO and the EU are not a “safe haven”, as propagated by all the political forces waving the flag of Euro-Atlanticism in our country; they give rise to anti-popular decisions, directions and wars. They are alliances of capital. NATO, the EU and the USA bear huge responsibility for the imperialist war that is being waged on the territory of Ukraine.
We are talking about a war in which the Ukrainian bourgeoisie, allied with NATO, the EU and the USA clashes with Russia, a powerful capitalist country, the second largest military power on the planet, with its own allies. It is an unjust war on both sides because it is being waged by the bourgeois classes and for interests that are alien to those of the peoples – for raw materials, geopolitical supports, the exploitation of labour power, the transport routes of commodities, market shares, etc. NATO is using Ukraine as its spearhead, and capitalist Russia objectively works to cushion China in its great conflict with the USA for supremacy in the international imperialist system.
The preconditions for this war were set by the historical regression of the counter-revolution in 1989–1991, when the counter-revolutionary process of overthrowing socialism was completed, the USSR was dismantled, the means of production, the factories, the mineral wealth, the labour power were again turned into a commodity and capitalism and class exploitation prevailed.
Of course, each side dresses up its stance with various pretexts. The NATO side claims that the war is supposedly being waged for the “homeland” and for “democracy” and the other side, i.e. capitalist Russia, claims that it is an “anti-fascist” war waged for the “salvation of the Russian world”…
This war has cost the lives of tens of thousands of young people on both sides, especially poor young people who either volunteered for the various mercenary armies and corps or could not escape conscription, unlike, of course, the children of the rich.
NATO, of which our country is a member and which, together with the USA and the EU, bears a huge responsibility for this bloodshed, is using the Ukrainian people as a cannon fodder for its plans. Thus, it is arming Ukraine with modern weapons and ammunition, training tens of thousands of men and sending informal military advisers.
Greece alone has sent at least 3,870 tons of military equipment, 60 Stinger missiles, over 1,100 RPGs, over 2,000 rockets, 17,000 valuable 155 mm artillery shells, over 3 million 7.62 mm cartridges, and 20 BMP1 infantry fighting vehicles. In addition, it provides experienced military instructors in areas such as Special Operations Forces and Leopard tank operation.
The New Democracy government, with the support of SYRIZA, PASOK and the other Euro-Atlantic parties, co-signed the dangerous decisions of the NATO Summit in Vilnius. It escalates Greece’s participation and involvement in the imperialist war in Ukraine and increases the danger for our people. The plans to send more Greek weapons and ammunition and to send Greek Armed Forces to the battlefield with Russia constitute an escalation of the Greek involvement.
The utilization of Greece and its ports, such as in Souda, Alexandroupolis and Volos, for the transport of weapons and troops to the area of conflict, the utilization of Greek military airports, such as the 110 Battle Wing in Larissa for the missions of spy planes and other aircrafts involved in the conflict, as well as the deployment of US-NATO ships in the Greek seas and the support provided by our country, get our people bogged down in the morass of inter-imperialist military confrontation, making them a target for retaliation.
Discussions on the use of nuclear weapons, conducted by both sides of the conflict, either with the use of tactical nuclear weapons or with so-called dirty nuclear bombs, are preparing the ground for a further generalization of the war.
Of course, comrades, all this is not happening because the Greek political leadership or even the EU is subservient to the USA as some people claim, trying to interpret in a very simplistic but completely erroneous way the stance of alignment with the USA in a war that is being waged on European territory and that affects a section of European capitalists. Those who claim this studiously ignore the huge profits made by other sections of European capital, such as the Greek shipowners, who today have the most powerful merchant fleet on the planet, have earned huge sums during the war, as have the European “green growth” monopolies. But the main thing that such simplistic analyses fail to see is the close economic and political ties between the US and the EU, the most powerful capitalist countries in the EU; ties that coexist with their inter-bourgeois competition, but so far do not negate the bourgeoisie’ s strategic decision to join NATO.
And all this is happening in a world where the capitalist states build their relations in an international system of unequal interdependence, in an imperialist world, which according to the Leninist conception is monopoly capitalism. The participation of all capitalist countries in the imperialist system does not mean – nor has the KKE ever assessed, as some of our political opponents claim – that all capitalist countries are the same, that for example the USA, Greece and Burkina Faso, are the same. We always underline that the position of each country in the international imperialist system is determined based on its economic, political and military power and that clearly not all capitalist countries play the same role in the imperialist system.
Some are at the top of this imperialist “pyramid”, such as the USA, China, Germany, Japan, the UK, Russia, India, etc. Others, such as Greece, occupy an intermediate position, and others an even lower one. However, the working class and other popular strata all over the world experience class exploitation and injustice and have a common interest in forming a joint front against the bourgeoisie of their countries and their alliances. They also have an interest in not being subjected to various nationalist aspirations, narratives and pretexts used by the bourgeoisie sometimes to drag the peoples into imperialist wars and sometimes into “social dialogues”, aiming at restricting labour rights and reducing the value of labour power. In both cases, i.e. in both imperialist war and imperialist peace, the aim of the bourgeoisie and the monopolies is to increase their profits and enhance their position in the international imperialist system.
The KKE in our country is at the forefront of the struggle against imperialist war, against our country’s participation in it and other imperialist missions. Every year the KKE and KNE organize hundreds of events against NATO, the EU, the agreements of the bourgeoisie with the USA, France and Israel. Both on the streets and in the Greek and the European parliaments, the KKE demands an end to any involvement; the return of the Greek armed forces on missions abroad; the disengagement of Greece from the imperialist alliances of NATO and the EU. And only workers’ power can guarantee that such a disengagement will be in the interests of the people and final.
Comrades, when the bourgeois parties promise to the Greek people “avenues of peace and prosperity”, through the alliances of NATO, the EU, the USA, Israel etc., we inform our people about the dangers, the pitfalls of the capitalist system, which gives rise to economic crises and imperialist wars. We explain to the people that they should not have any illusions about a peaceful “multipolar world”, which will supposedly be formed by the strengthening of the influence of China and the other countries that have formed the BRICS in the world affairs, through the reform of international law and its democratization, as the social democrats and opportunists claim.
All these notions ignore the reality, i.e. that within capitalism there are the intra-capitalist contradictions and competition between monopolies, which ultimately lead to unjust wars.
Within the framework of capitalism and the international imperialist system, there can be neither a just and equitable international relations, which will always be characterized by unevenness, nor a “peaceful world” as it is preached by various people, e.g. with the G77, or through a new emerging international alliance between China, Russia, etc.
Unfortunately, such views are also held by some CPs, which believe that “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is being built in China, that a NEP is still implemented there, like the one that existed in the historical course of Soviet Russia. Just as there is a widespread misconception that Russia is not an imperialist power, but a capitalist country on the “periphery” of the imperialist system, which, together with “socialist China”, has a “positive” influence on the international correlation of forces.
The above approach is not grounded in reality, it detaches policy from economy, it downplays the aggressive role of the monopolies and the big economic groups and it goes against the Leninist conception of imperialism.
The truth is that today capitalist relations of production prevail in China, despite the fact that a party under the name of “Communist Party” is in power. From 2012 to the present day, more than 60% of China’s GDP has consistently been produced by the private sector. The Chinese state has created a comprehensive “arsenal” to support Chinese capitalists, including measures similar to those in place in the rest of the capitalist world. It is, therefore, no coincidence that in 2020, in conditions of the ongoing capitalist crisis for which the pandemic has acted as a catalyst, the number of Chinese billionaires reached some hundreds, topping for the first time the USA. The most powerful Chinese capitalists have at their disposal colossal e-commerce business groups, banks, factories, hotels, shopping malls, movie theaters, social media, mobile phone companies, etc. At the same time, tens of millions of people are excluded from modern social services, such as technical and higher education and health care services due to their commodification and low incomes. There is no comparison between the lives of these and the opulence of Chinese billionaires and millionaires. This fact clearly shows the enormous social injustice and exploitation that characterizes the capitalist mode of production in China as well.
Arguments that China, like the Soviet Union, is following a NEP policy, working with private capital to develop its productive forces, are unfounded. There are huge differences between the NEP and the current situation in China, such as its duration or the fact that the NEP had the character of a “retreat”, as Lenin repeatedly emphasized, and was not conceptualized as an element of socialist construction, as is the case with the prevalence of capitalist relations in China, with the ideological construct of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Moreover, during the NEP period not only were businessmen not allowed to be members of the Bolshevik Party, but under the two Soviet Constitutions (1918 and 1925), which were adopted during that period, they were deprived of their political rights, in contrast to today’s China, where dozens of businessmen occupy seats in parliament and the Communist Party.
Thus, the new “bipolar scheme” has nothing to do with the confrontation between the USA and the USSR, since today the US and China clash on the basis of the prevailing capitalist relations of production, which dominate in their economies and lead to the struggle for raw materials, transport routes of commodities, market shares, geopolitical influence, something which cannot hide the fact that we are facing an inter-imperialist struggle for supremacy in the imperialist system.
Let us also look at what some people say about Russia. Some people claim that Russia is a capitalist country but not an imperialist one. Some others describe Russia as a “small predator”, a “weak” and “dependent” imperialist state, which the other “stronger imperialist countries” refuse to see as an “equal partner”. These are said as if the relations between the other imperialist countries were not characterized by inequality and interdependence between the countries and the only country that is not treated as an “equal partner” is capitalist Russia. These are said about Russia, the second largest military power in the world, the only capitalist country that can threaten today the greatest imperialist power in the world, the United States, with nuclear catastrophe. A country with very powerful monopolies, with international reach, with capital export, which ranks 5th in the world in the number of billionaires, 11th in the nominal share of world GDP, and 6th in the real world GDP as well as in the world industrial production. A country that is able to promote its foreign policy by exercising the right of veto in the UN Security Council.
These, comrades, are particularly crucial questions that the CPs and the CYOs must clarify, as suspicious international organizations are appearing, such as the so-called “World Anti-Imperialist Platform”, which in fact urges support for one side of the imperialist competition and war. It even claims that China and Russia “that do not live by superexploiting or looting the world”.
It is as if China and Russia do not participate in the G20 summits, the meetings of the 20 most powerful capitalist states of the world, together with the USA, Germany, the UK, France, etc. It is as if the Chinese and Russian monopolies do not export their capital to other countries, seeking the profit that comes from exploiting the labour power not only of the workers of their own country, but also of many other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, wherever their monopolies develop. It is as if the Russian “Wagner” private army were being deployed in Africa for charitable reasons and not to defend the interests of the Russian monopolies operating there. It is as if China is no longer moving in a similar direction to safeguard the Belt and Road Initiative by military means. It is noteworthy that this initiative includes the small but geographically very important state of Djibouti —whose debt to China amounts to 43% of its Gross National Income— where China’s first military base outside its borders was inaugurated in 2017.
The statements about countries “that do not put other countries in military, technological or debt slavery” refer to states that play a special role in the arms trade and are currently creditor countries, such as China, which is one of the world’s leading creditors in the world.
They refer to Russia, where giant monopolies (Gazprom, Rosneft, Lukoil, Rosatom, Sberbank, Norilsk Nickel, Rosvooruzhenie, Rostec, Rusal, etc.) exploit millions of workers, not only in Russia but also in the former Soviet Republics, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Africa, South America, Europe, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, etc. It is also well known that the export of capital, as opposed to the export of commodities, means the production of surplus value extracted by the capital-exporting country from the capital-importing country.
Concluding this presentation we want to assure you that the KKE will continue raising the banner of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism. It will continue seeking to build strong communist ideological–political ties, to express communist solidarity, to mutually contribute in the elaboration of positions and to develop joint actions. We will continue to actively express our solidarity with communists, people’s militants and movements that are targeted by state repression, whether in Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Iran or Venezuela, where the CP and the CY of Venezuela are being persecuted at the behest of the ruling United Socialist Party (PSUV), the government and the bourgeois state.
We will continue our efforts to build both bilateral and multilateral relations and develop joint actions.
In our latest 21st Congress, we highlighted that we seek closer cooperation with the CPs that can contribute to the revolutionary regroupment of the International Communist Movement to varying degrees, according to the following criteria:
a) They defend Marxism–Leninism and proletarian internationalism, the need to form a communist pole internationally.
b) They fight against opportunism and reformism, they reject the centre–left management and any variation of the strategy of stages.
c) They defend the scientific laws of the socialist revolution. Based on those laws they assess the course of socialist construction; they seek to examine and draw lessons from the problems and mistakes.
d) They have opened an ideological front against erroneous perceptions on imperialism, particularly those that detach its military aggression from its economic content, and against all imperialist alliances.
e) They establish ties with the working class, they try to act within the trade union movement and the movements of the popular sections of the middle strata, they seek to integrate the daily struggle for workers’–people’s rights to a contemporary revolutionary strategy for workers’ power.
Thank you for your attention. We wish you a pleasant stay in Athens and a fruitful participation in the 49th Festival of KNE–Odigitis.”