Communist Party of Armenia
by Norik Petrosyan
Already in the first years of Soviet rule V.I.Lenin set the
task of merging trade unions with state bodies. This meant
the strengthening of the nationwide struggle to establish
the socialist system in the country. This role was to be
deepened and expanded to such an extent in the future that
the trade unions were thenceforth called schools of
All this, unfortunately, now belongs to the past.
Today the principles governing attitudes towards trade
unions have changed. Here I am thinking of our little
country - Armenia, which during the years of Soviet rule
flourished as never before, and this was thanks to the
trade unions as well. In the last decade, however, the
country has been reduced to ruins.
As you know, a most heavy earthquake that took place in
Armenia took the lives of more than twenty-five thousand
people. But the consequences of the change to capitalism
and privatization have proven to be yet more destructive.
Today in Armenia thousands of factories and scientific and
cultural centres have ceased to operate, nearly sixty
percent of the farmland lies uncultivated and more than
half of the population has emigrated. But worst of all is
the fact that the birthrate has dropped from one hundred
thousand per year to just thirty to thirty-five thousand
births. In the past ten years the approximate number of not
born infants already equals the population of Soviet
Armenia in 1920 - six hundred and forty thousand people.
Along with privatization of the industrial and agricultural
enterprises, the authorities in fact wrecked the workers'
collectives and, naturally, destroyed the old trade unions.
In Armenia trade unions exist only formally, on paper, and
serve only to provide an illusion of democracy and not of
its factor thereof. There can be no talk of defending the
rights of workers, in the classical sense of the word, as
long as unemployment prevails everywhere. And the
insignificant employed part of the population, which
formally belongs to the trade unions, in reality has no
chance of defending its own rights.
Thus, in the trade and service sectors people work for
sixteen to eighteen hours without days off or holidays.
According to the law on trade unions, students have no
right to found their own associations, although their
rights are violated at every turn.
And one more serious problem for our people: a few years
ago the Communist Party of Armenia, at the request of the
overwhelming majority of the Armenian people both within
the country and beyond its borders, headed the national
movement for Armenia to join the Belorussian-Russian Union,
organizing mass rallies. But the trade union leaders
refused to even participate in these activities, fearing
persecution by the authorities.
In a country where the number of trade union members is so
small they cannot play a somewhat significant role.
Workers, to a large degree, are more worried about keeping
their jobs than about improving their working conditions.
All this is due precisely to the weakness of the communist
movement. I maintain that despite the protracted period of
time that has passed since the defeat of the socialist
camp, the communist movement has not managed to stand on
its own two feet again. In the best case it is seeing to
its self-defense: "In our time the people lived well and
now they live badly".
The majority of the people has understood there are no
alternatives to socialism as a truly popular and democratic
system. Unfortunately, we communists have not managed to
penetrate the popular masses profoundly and to lead them.
The popular masses hold our heroic past in high esteem and
are proud of our revolutionary forbears but dissatisfied
with our anemic activity today, which lacks revolutionary
character. We are wavering between our splendid past and a
dreary present, between boldness and caution and, last,
between rebelliousness and submission. This lengthy period
of oscillation and disturbance could be called, precisely,
tricky, elusive and slow-acting betrayal.
We faintheartedly removed the militant slogan "Workers of
the world, unite!" from our official newspapers and then
imperceptibly reinstated it, but it did not help our common
struggle become that force known as the "international
We are glad that the prediction that the last nail has been
driven into the coffin of communism has not come true,
although the present situation does not yet guarantee that
our adversaries are mistaken. They will be proved wrong
when we bury them without a nail or a coffin.
We can and must do this if we are to become true heirs of
the revolutionary character of the previous generations.
Over the last decade we Soviet communists have, on various
occasions, evaluated our work as being satisfactory and
applauded each other when our common sacred task suffered
defeat. Our countries have been turned into semi-colonies
and our peoples are living in destitution.
We constantly talk about the parliamentary form of
struggle. And we talk about it so much that we have really
forgotten about the mass struggle of the people. We have
forgotten that there are such revolutionary forms of
struggle which have not run dry; we have forgotten that the
constitutional and parliamentary struggles are, themselves,
struggles of the people for their rights.
In Parliament we often wage a hard struggle against our
political opponents to defend the people's interests even
to the point of fisticuffs, but for some strange reason we
do not agree that the people themselves should defend their
rights as they wish. We refuse this, fearing civil war. But
what is to be done when the last remaining means of
struggle is civil war? Why is such a war not feared by a
handful of the wealthy, but the people are supposed to be
The former Soviet republics are going through an economic,
social and political crisis which is growing deeper by the
day. If we are not able to stop it now and save our
countries from failing definitively, there may be no chance
at all to do so tomorrow.
The international communist movement should be truly
international - with a common centre and joint tasks.
I am not speaking as a political figure, but I do have
doubts as a political fighter. For example, last year over
one hundred communist and socialist parties were
represented as participants in the Fourth Congress of the
Yugoslavian Socialist Party. They stood and applauded
Milosevic as a bold leader and national hero and mustered
forces against NATO and the USA. Today the life of
Milosevic is endangered. Where are these parties and
leaders now? Where is the international movement to defend
Today Alexander Lukashenko serves as an example of boldness
in the struggle against imperialism. One of the Belorussian
communist parties supports his candidacy, while another has
proposed its own candidate. Who should put an end to this
communist wilfulness if the international communist
movement has no centre?
I cannot understand how a hundred years ago every issue of
the newspaper "Iskra" was able to reach mountain
settlements of Armenia by an underground way, but not even
one copy of "Pravda" can reach our republic today. It
doesn't matter who is to blame; what does matter is that
Despite the importance of national particularities, we
should jointly decide what to do, in what way and when to
I am of the opinion that if at one time the communist
movement suffered from the infantile disorder of
"leftishness", today the international communist movement
is suffering from the disorder of indecisiveness, an
indistinct notion of tasks and a lack of Bolshevik
If we are a bit Bolsheviks we will be more communists and
will not avoid difficulties but will, on the contrary, face
I cannot understand why the word "revolution" appears ever
more rarely in communist literature. To fight for socialism
through revolution does not at all mean taking up arms. We
must make our demand for socialism to be built through the
popular masses, opposing the authorities by means of
people's will. This is the most just and revolutionary form
of struggle. The most powerful or, if you wish, the most
formidable weapon is the will of the people, which we
unfortunately are not making use of as we have the right
Coming back to the subject under discussion, I should like
to note that communists should, of course, work with all
social organizations, including trade unions. But on an
equal footing with this, it would be desirable for
communist parties to concern themselves with the problem of
increasing their own fighting spirit. Meanwhile we are
writing books, holding conferences, delivering speeches and
comparing our past and present our political opponents are
strengthening their position in practice.
But we must be strong and ensure that the struggle for
socialism is indeed an international movement.
Thank you for your attention.