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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 New Communist Party of the Netherlands
After six years we are again in Athens, the city where it all started. Therefore we salute the KKE, especially now Capitalism tries to let the working class pay for their crisis. All over the world, in Europe and extremely hard in Greece.
Ever since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, the crisis of the capitalist system that had been lingering since the early seventies could not be covered up anymore. The extent and the depth of the crisis have surprised friend and foe.
Therefore the developments of the past three years required a thorough political economic reorientation from both the capi¬talist and the socialist side. This also required a lot of time and energy from the leaders¬hip of a small party like ours, the NCPN. Other daily tasks and activities like a solid preparation for the 6th Congress suffered under this pressure. The leadership of the Party will organize a conference later in December to discuss many recent developments with the party. How and by which means we can get in touch with the vanguard of the organi¬zed working class will be the central focus of this conference. We will have in mind the experiences of the KKE and Pame.
At a global level we see a general crisis of the capitalist system, caused by overproduction and a lack of purchasing power. This crisis emerged already in the early seventies of the last century. The direct consequences for the population could be covered up because they were spread over sever¬al decades. At a very large scale all kinds of financial constructions were invented that created several forms of purchasing power, not based on real productivity but on loans and mortgages. In this artificial way the purcha¬sing power of the western working class could be upheld for a reasonable part. This was done in favour of the producers of consumer goods and servi¬ces the capitalist class and to contain and postpone the social and economic consequences of the crisis.
Especially the populations of the richer western countries with their borrowed purchasing power were kept quiet politically and socially. More and more running into debt became a normal phenomenon. If you did not play along you were robbing your own purse.
The Dutch trade union movement joined this policy of 'borrowed purchasing power' by not claiming the rise of the production for a rise of the purcha¬sing power but, in contradiction with this, by agreeing with the large sca¬le speculation on the stock markets with pension money. In the collective labour agreements mainly secondary and for a large part specific sector demands were made. No political and general social and economic demands but demands that were in harmony with the system. This was and still is the domain of social democracy, where capitalism itself was and never is a subject for debate.
The policy of purchasing power based on consumptive credit went hand in hand with a serious dissolution of the social cohesion and the mutual solidarity in society. The Dutch trade union movement linked up with this, provi¬ding more and more individual services at the expense of taking care of the collective interests. The collective struggle was replaced by social part¬nership and a role as acting manager. Class struggle was replaced by class peace and consultation. In the Netherlands already since the Second World War there was a tendency to sort things out together and to resolve con¬flicts in harmony. Politics, employers' and workers' organisations wanted to take the wind out of communist sails, because communism had gained great prestige during the war.
Numerous consultative bodies were established. With the 'Agreement of Wassenaar' that was reached in 1982 between employers and employees this so called 'polderen' became a purpose in itself. Now the big capital groups in the Netherlands saw great opportunities to implement fundamental changes in the socio-economic order, with the approval of the trade union movement.
With the decline of really existing socialism in the eighties the global balance of power changed. This opportunity was seized with both hands and efforts were made to consign the conflict model of class struggle to the history books. During this period several communist parties among which the CPN reconciled themselves to the situation and threw the towel.
For us it is very instructive and meaningful that this happened at a time when 'Capital' prepared itself to implement major changes in the socio-eco¬nomic order. To revitalise capitalism that was stagnating at the time there was a need for new impulses and fundamental interventions:
The 'liberation' of large parts of the until then public sector, aiming at capitalist self expansion of the advanced value: the privatisation of energy companies, public transport, the telecommunications industry, the mail, national banks etc.
The reducing of many favourable working conditions that hindered the production increase (i.e. the degree of exploitation): the relaxation of dismissal rules; a shift from steady jobs to flexible and temporary con¬tracts; cutting benefits for the disabled; years of wage diminution while also the benefits remain low; the introduction of the own contributions and cutting down on social services; cutting the length of unemployment bene¬fits; the abolishment of most early retirement rules.
In short: the introduction of neo-liberal politics, in the US by Reagan and in Europe by Thatcher. Since the Treaty of Lisbon in 2000 this has become the official policy of the European Union. This policy depoliticises the responsibility for life and welfare by turning it into a personal problem instead of a collective and therefore political issue. The majority of the political parties and the bourgeois media are obedient to the ruling class. Since the introduction of neo-liberal politics they proclaim enthusiastical¬ly that solidarity, cooperation, planning and unity in action and the collective ownership of important means of production like the energy sector are old fashioned and out of date.
The consequence of this massive and continuous ideological campaign was, and is that large parts of the working class went to believe that capita¬lism was the only possible economic and social system. They swallow the ideological attacks on the possibility of a different social model, socia¬lism, a society that is based on equality, solidarity and planning. Large parts of the working class also were susceptible to anticommunist propagan¬da. They considered the bourgeois parliamentary democracy as the only acceptable social system. Efforts to equate communism with fascism caused, and still cause much confusion. The actual political relations in Europe developed, and still develop to the detriment of the left wing, progressive and communist forces. The past thirty years brought little to cheer for many of the communist parties in the western countries.
This was not the case in Latin America where based on its history with military dictatorships and the prevailing conditions a shift to the left was made. Also in the European countries where the populations recently fought for their freedom like Greece, Portugal and Cyprus, communist par-ties maintained and strengthened their relatively strong positions. Most communist parties however had, and have to deal with stagnation and decli¬ne. This is caused by the real social and economic developments and the ceaseless offensive of the ruling class. As a result of wrong political assumptions and decisions of these parties like not conducting a serious study on the problems that go along with the construction of a socialist society it was impossible to find an antidote to the twisting of and the sometimes justified criticism on the really existing socialism. In many countries the bourgeoisie and the collaborating media successfully overemp¬hasize national issues. Therefore right wing populist and nationa¬list parties like the Dutch Freedom Party get the wind behind them.
The capitalist ideologists pretend that the crisis is caused by a few capitalist looters and failing supervisors. The media, however, cannot prevent that the crisis exposes new contradictions and that it sharpens old discrepancies which force the labour movement to a new position and a renewed struggle. In the Netherlands this is manifested by growing contra¬dictions between the lea¬dership of the trade union movement an the cadres that are increasingly concerned and are of the opinion that now the forma¬tion of power is impera¬tive, in order to defend and expand their interests successfully. These days we see a real crisis in Dutch trade unions. It takes too much time to analyse all aspects of this crisis, but again at the time we need strong organisations to fight back the working class in the Netherlands becomes weakened. The communist party is still maintaining but very weak. Anyhow we will find ways to organize as many parts of the wor¬king class.
The budget deficits of the countries that were caused by the 'banking crisis' but that was partially manipulated have accelerated the systematic breakdown of the social services that had been going on for a long time already (healthcare, even for the elderly and the disabled, pensions, unemployment benefits etc. and the privatisation of public services like public transport, energy, telecommunication, education, day care centres etc.) This leads to a sharpening of old contradictions, the emerging of new ones and growing resistance. This is extremely visible in Greece.
The remaining social services in Western Europe slow down the continuous spread of the crisis especially in comparison with the United States, something that is acknowledged by friend and foe. Nevertheless the capita¬list policy makers consider a further breakdown of these social services as the only remedy. The fact that the leading capitalist circles lack the power and the will to find an alternative for the accelerated implementati¬on of a bankrupt policy constitutes a serious threat for mankind. Not only will large parts of the population be struck by unemployment, a sharp decrease of income, the disappearance of provisions and services; the capitalist class and its ideologists are less and less able to organize the developed capitalist societies and to solve the problems that confront the populations. In contrary: capital only increases these problems by destabi¬lizing societies, by stimulating the contradictions between countries and by shifting the global balance of power.
The threat of a violent catastrophe as the result of the crisis is immi¬nent. The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and the intervention in Libya are only a few examples of capitalism's cruel nature. The threat of attacks against Syria and Iran are very dangerous. As a consequence of the enormous military potential of the capitalist groups a new war would again be de¬vastating for the population and its social and cultural rich¬ness.
But all these developments also leads to new and great opportunities for the communist parties to develop its positions and to propagate these positions in an offensive way; positions that are based on the interest of the working people. Now is the time that notions such as peace, solidarity, coop¬eration, planning, unity in actions and the collective ownership of the essential means of production can and must be rendered, in a positive way. These notions fit the uncon-trollable sociali¬zation of the production and the service providing. The parties have the duty to seize these opportuni¬ties and to reinforce themselves with cadres from the new and old move-ments. But more than ever we also need cooperation and unity in our ranks.
New Communist Party of the Netherlands, December 2011.