13th International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties
Athens, December 9-11, 2011
SOCIALISM IS THE FUTURE!
The international situation and the experience of the communists 20 years after the counterrevolution in the USSR. The tasks for the development of the class struggle in conditions of capitalist crisis, imperialist wars, of the current popular struggles and uprisings, for working class-popular rights, the strengthening of proletarian internationalism and the anti-imperialist front, for the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of socialism.
Contribution of the Workers' Party of Belgium
Let me first express in this city of Athens our solidarity with the working people of Greece, with PAME, and with KKE. They are fighting with great courage, perseverance and determination the attacks that the bourgeois class in Greece, its government, with the support of the EU, the IMF and the ECB, want to impose in order increase the immense profits of the big financial and industrial capital by bankrupting the people. Their struggles give us precious experience. What happens now in Greece will be extended to all countries of the European Union. In Portugal and Spain, our comrades are already engaged in massive and hard struggles. We salute them also.
In all of Europe the question is being raised: Who has to pay for the crisis of capitalism?
In our country, Belgium, the bourgeois parties have taken 535 days to form a government. A world record. But today they want to pass the harshest anti-workers law in Belgian post-war history in two weeks time. The worker's movement has already responded with two massive demonstrations,the first one counting more than 80,000 workers last week.
We are in the midst of a systemic crisis, a capitalist crisis where all contradictions are quickly building up. We witness an economic and financial crisis but also a crisis of democracy, international relations and ideology.
At the core of the present crisis is an economic crisis of overproduction, of overaccumulation. Post war growth in USA, EU and Japan, had already stopped in 1973. Bourgeoisie then adopted neoliberal managment impoverishing drastically the working masses all over the world. Artificial stimulation of credit demand , including the so called debt of the Third World countries, and speculation have only postponed but not avoided the crisis.
In order to prevent the banking system from collapsing, the most massive state intervention ever was required. This led to the crisis of public finances in most capitalist countries. There is no money left for a keynesian type policy to overcome the crisis. The double-dip, the new recession, is already underway. We are on the verge of a long period of economic stagnation, huge restructuring ans severe austerity plans. In our country crisis up till today has mainly hurt those who live off social security incomes (pensioners, unemployed and ill people). But already those who still have a job are under fire as wages and working conditions are attacked. The German social-democrat-green model of Schröder-Hartz with the suppression of minimum wage, inhumane pressure on unemployed to accept any job at any condition, generalisation of temporary jobs and total flexibility is imposed on all.
We witness a crisis of bourgeois democracy. In the European Union and in the Eurozone. Authoritarian trends of the bourgeois state are on the rise and more and more democratic achievements are under threat. At the European level, we witness a silent «coup d’État » of Business Europe who imposes on all the so-called German model, the export world champion based on compression of direct and indirect wages. The decrees on so-called 'economic governance' express the growing autocratic tendencies to impose on the eurozone countries by force and technocratic governments wage cuts, attacks on public services, on pensions, on labour laws. Everybody knows that the development of the EU is steered by strong monopolies organised among others in the European Round Table of Industrialists. Already in 2002, they called for this economic governance. Eight years later this concept is on the tongue of all European heads of State.
Criminalisation of workers resistance is increasing : picket lines are condemned to huge fines by courts, union organisers are fired. Anticommunism is on the rise.
On a planetary scale the present crisis is leading to escalating international tensions and a change in the global balance of power. The US and its allies undertake wars and foment civil war s to retake the control of the whole of the Middle East. Contradictions with China, Russia and other emerging countries are growing. A currency war is not out of agenda.
In the upcoming years, this crisis will be aggravated by the environmental crisis, another intractable problem inherent to capitalist production.
The ideologists of capitalism no longer have any consistent explanation or theory to offer. Their view of society is falling to pieces and they cling onto evermore reactionary conceptions of the world to justify the absolute power of capital. Acting on multiple axes : the Titanic « we are all in the same boat » theories, xenophobia, culturalism, drugs and alcohol, irrationalism , anti-trade-unionism and anticommunism. Doing so.they intend to smother the growing awakening of class consciousness.
Put the party in a class struggle mode
We all know this crisis has just begun. For the working class in Europe, the crisis brings about growing misery, poverty, unemployment and loss of purchasing power. The companies’ restructuring and the State's plans join in a common aggression against the workers' rights and past conquests. Everything is done to protect capitalist interests.
But this is giving a boost to class consciousness. The social-democratic illusions to 'reform' the system and to 'revitalise' capitalism through Keynesian politics are countered by the daily experience of the toiling masses. What they see is that profits are growing again and that polarisation is increasing.
We are on the verge of a transition towards another stage of the class struggle. In the beginning of this year, the National Council of the Workers' Party of Belgium brought together 320 delegates of the party at a National Conference. The aim was to strengthen political and ideological unity in order to fully take on our duties in the ongoing crisis. At this Conference a resolution was adopted that stated : « The new situation gives our Party great responsibilities. If handled properly, immense opportunities await us ». In Europe, like elsewhere in the world, the year 2011 was a year of growing resistance and deepening class struggle. In places where resistance is vastly and strongly building up, we can see the vanguard role of communist parties, the revolutionary role of the broad workers’ movement and the dynamism of youth in the resistance.
As communists, we endeavour to internationalise the resistance as much as we can and to organise active solidarity with the working class over the whole of the continent and with the people struggling all around the world. More concretely for some years now, we are building strong cooperation between communists of the Benelux countries and Germany. Organising joint conferences, discussing our political analysis and staging common actions, such as press conferences, common interventions in international demonstrations and mutual cooperation during political campaigns.
In our country, class consciousness is not as developed as in European Mediterranean countries. This results from both objective and subjective factors. As communists, it is our duty to identify the seeds of the overthrow and to help them grow strong. The mission of the WPB is to further develop class consciousness through struggles in all areas.
That means at a social level against attacks on pensions, social security and purchasing power; against those who intend to break the solidarity of the working class by splitting up our country; against those who have voted unanimously in favour of intervening in Libya , Syria, Iran and Afghanistan; against those who destroy our democratic rights and our environment. As communists, it is our duty to build as many bridges as possible and to try and bind the struggles together in order to achieve greater political consciousness and to mobilise more numerous forces.
During the upcoming period we will continue to pay particular attention to the struggle against nationalism. The nationalist poison has strongly infiltrated all the reformist political tendencies who have split themselves in two parts (North and South, Dutch and French speaking), but also the media and even trade unions. While the government crisis is pursuing a reactionary institutional reform of our country we must raise workers' consciousness in order to maintain both the unity of the working class and that of its trade union movement. We also have to bolster national unity in the Party.
We are putting our party in a class struggle modus. The new situation means that in the forthcoming period each of our cadres and each militant must redefine his or her duties (a notch higher) in order to be able to cope collectively as a revolutionary party with new challenges. This demands an active communist ideology, a sharp political attitude and a capacity for action in terms of Party build-up.
Each and every cadre and militant, whatever his or her area of work may be, shares the responsibility for developing the Party in the working class. In order to fully assume our leading role, we must first build up an autonomous force within the workers’ movement. If we do not possess a material force for change, we will not change anything at all. We want to educate our party about the strategic role of the working class in the struggle for socialism. We want to focus on recruiting union organisers and workers from the main factories. We want to multiply and reinforce our party goups in the factories.We want to create a new generation of communist working class organisers. We want to put in the centre of attention at alle levels the question of strenghtening the ties between the party and the working class.
This runs counter to a certain spontaneous electoralism and a spontaneous focus mainly on municipal work, or not relating municipal work to what we do in work-places or to class struggle.
Since our 8th Party Congress, three years ago, our external communication has greatly improved, we have succeeded to reach a lot more people and we are approaching the figure of 5 000 members.
Our National Council has decided that it is now the time to create a strong political unity in our larger party on our socialist perspective, on the leading role of the working class and the leninist character of our party in order to be able to resist social-democratic pressure and neo-reformist pressure form the Eurpean Left. We have taken the strategic decision that our next Party Congress shall have « our socialist future » as its main topic .
The system crisis means that there exists no sustainable solution within the capitalist system. There is no third way between capitalist barbarism and socialism. In order to achieve social progress, democracy, equality, peace, international solidarity and a responsible and ecological production, socialism is essential. The propaganda for socialism is not a far-off matter. It is a task that we must assume now. In the upcoming period, the WPB shall both immediately put forward claims in various areas of struggle and spread socialism as an indispensable alternative society. Only in this way can we give class-consciousness its real substance. Our congress must help us to reinforce our internal unity, but also to improve our capacity to link our daily struggle for the interest of the working people to our strategic aim. We must be able to restore the confidence of large sections of the workers movement in the socialist alternative as the only solution and alternative for the capitalist disaster that is coming upon the workers and peoples of the world.
In this period where the democratic legitimity of bourgeois parliamentary democracy is largely questioned by an ever increasing part of the working classes, we must improve our capacity to convince them of the revolutionary way strategy to overcome this suffocating capitalist domination.
If we do this properly, there are immense possibilities in a world where oppression but also resistance is growing.