21st International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties, Izmir 2019
Intervention by the
Communist Party of Denmark (DKP)
Henrik Stamer Hedin
A hundred years ago, the third, Communist International was born. All over the world, Communist parties mushroomed in the wake of the Great October, and they felt a natural need for international cooperation. The very same year, on November 9, my own party, the Communist Party of Denmark, was founded, and within a year it was a member of the Communist International. Some Communist parties are older, but most, I think, are younger. Next month, we shall be celebrating our centenary in Copenhagen.
Two heroic epochs are towering over everything else in the long history of our party. The first is our share in the Danish resistance against Nazi-German occupation during the Second World War. Denmark was occupied a year before the German attack on the Soviet Union; thus, we had a year to prepare for illegality, which came with the attack – actually in the very same night, as a nacht-und-nebel operation, vigorously supported by the Danish police. Several hundred Danish Communists were arrested that night, but as the Party was prepared, many leading cadres escaped arrest, and the clandestine apparatus was in place. The Party was able to resume its activities right away, and the very same autumn of ’41, the first illegal newspapers appeared, soon followed by the first sabotage actions. The contribution of the Communists was crucial to the victory of the resistance in Denmark. We had to pay a very high price, though: Hundreds of our comrades were killed, either in action or in German captivity, hundreds more languished for years in prisons and concentration camps; but the Party emerged from illegality in 1945 stronger than ever.
The second heroic epoch in our Party’s history was our leading role in the resistance against the so-called European Communities – what is now the European Union. I use the term “heroic”, although it was not heroic in the sense of the anti-Nazi resistance; no lives were at stake. But it was heroic in the sense that once again we challenged an overwhelmingly powerful adversary, powerful not in armaments this time (though of course it was), but powerful in terms of propaganda capabilities. We were up against the combined might of state and media, all advocating that we join the Communities. And worse. I will tell you a striking example.
In the referendum of ’72 about Denmark’s adhesion to the Communities, all the big newspapers were campaigning for a “yes”, as were radio and television; only the small Communist newspaper said “no”. One of the big newspapers, however, changed its stand at the last moment. This newspaper, actually the widest read in the country, catered primarily to Copenhagen workers, and it dawned on the editors that their readers were inclined towards a “no”. So, the newspaper began campaigning for a “no”. On the morning of referendum day, the newspaper appeared with only three letters on its front page: N – E – J, Danish for “no”. But inside the paper, every single right hand page was a full page advertisement advocating a “yes”, all ordered by big, primarily German, monopolies – Krupp, Thyssen, I.G.Farben and all the rest of those which a mere generation ago had supported Hitler. There was no need for profound analysis here: It was obvious to everybody with an open eye, just who wanted Denmark to join the Communities.
We lost the referendum, but narrowly. And later on, we won several of the referenda on extension of the Communities towards the European Union, most importantly the crucial Maastricht treaty. So, though Denmark is an EU member state, we have kept our independence in relation to important parts of the EU system – most visibly the Monetary Union, i.e. the Euro.
One cannot fail to notice that these two highs in the century-long life of our Party both had to do with safeguarding national independence – not with class struggle in the more restricted sense of an immediate clash of class forces on a national level, nor was socialism as such on the agenda. Or so it would seem. Why is this so?
The key to understanding this seeming contradiction lies in the fact of imperialism – rather in what we learned from our theory and analysis of the system of imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism and as the framework of global class struggle in the modern age. The fight for socialism, for peace and socialism today is not possible without confronting the forces of imperialism – the strong imperialist powers, the international relations marked by domination of the periphery by the centre, or metropolis, the predominance of big transnational monopolies. All these are obstacles to peace; they are obstacles to the fight for socialism. So imperialism has to be defeated, before peace and socialism can prevail.
We, as Communists, know this because Lenin and other great Communist thinkers understood and described it a hundred years ago. We know that the fight against imperialism is of paramount importance. Many others know this too. But in general, it is not understood by the Left of imperialist metropolis countries. Instead of talking of imperialism they talk about “the West”. They tend to focus on the fight for democracy and human rights and thus very often fall victim to imperialist propaganda, which exploits – and abuses – these very concepts. Thus, it is difficult in my own country, e.g., to mobilize for solidarity with the Syrian struggle for independence, for as everybody knows – so we are told – there is no democracy in Syria, and the forces allegedly fighting for democracy there are the terrorist gangs created and employed by imperialism. Likewise, public support for Ukrainian patriots fighting the EU-installed regime is almost unachievable because of alleged Russian aggression and annexation of the Crimea in “violation” of International Law.
Yet, these struggles, this solidarity and this public support are crucial; for the road towards peace and socialism runs through defeat of imperialism also in its less palpable disguises. It is a hard and complicated task for Communists in imperialist metropolis countries to win over even part of the public for this struggle.
So yes – the struggle for peace and socialism goes on, today more than ever. The founding of the Communist International was an important step in the history of working humanity; but it was only a first step.