World Communist Conference in Athens 22-24 May 1998
New Worker report of the conference and speech by Andy Brooks.

World Communist Conference in Athens 22-24 May 1998.

COMMUNIST Parties from all over the world were represented at an international meeting in Athens called by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). The conference, held on 22-24 May was organised in to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto and the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Greece on the theme of "The Communist Parties under the current situation".

 Fifty-seven communist and workers' parties from 50 countries took part in the sessions last weekend including the ruling parties of China, Cuba, Democratic Korea and Vietnam; Parties from Russia and the former Soviet republics, India and the Middle East, Europe, Japan and north America.

 Greek Communist leader ALeka Papariga opened the meeting, at the conference hall of the KKE Centre, with a call for an international communist conference next year to counter the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and "globalisation".

 She also called for the widest distribution of the Manifesto, solidarity with workers in struggle and the establishment of a joint international communist review to enhance the exchange of views and experiences of parties throughout the world.

 The accumulated impasses and contradictions of capitalist society, the extreme growth of the economic, political and military power of big finance capital and transnational corporations, and the major offensive against the basic social and democratic rights of the working people all demonstrate the exceptional timeliness of the analysis of capitalism as well as the need and the way to overcome it which were elaborated by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto.

 Some parties stressed the need for a broad distribution of the Manifesto and its basic message of exploitation together with solidarity between the workers of the world.

 The creation and rapid growth of international imperialist agencies like G-8, Nato and the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the theories and even more reactionary policies which are being implemented in the name of "globalisation" and the lowering of labour costs are making the rich richer and the poor poorer. Billions of people are being plunged into poverty, ignorance, sickness, hunger and underdevelopment. The exploitation of the working class is being stepped up and the ecological crisis is deepening.

 Many speakers pointed out the dangers to peace and security from the strengthening of Nato, the militarisation of international relations, regional wars, the interventions of the Big Powers and the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, racism and xenophobia.

 The ever increasing distance between the possibilities opened out by new technology and the way that capitalism uses them to the detriment of peoples' rights -- their right to work and a decent life -- was also noted.

 These developments pose new and complex challenges to the communist movement and the broad spectrum of forces opposed to neo-conservatism and multinational capitalism.

 They demonstrate the need for new initiatives for joint action by communist parties on a regional and global level, and for the rallying of all progressive anti-imperialist left forces.

 The critical nature of the situation, the serious processes taking place within a growing working class, mean we have to step up efforts to ensure the widest distribution of the Communist Manifesto and the experience of the world communist movement.

 During the conference, the parties briefed the delegates about their thoughts and work.

 A number of speakers expressed their concern over the continuing bans, persecutions and discrimination against communist parties, communists and all those opposed to capitalist barbarity.

 Other delegates spoke of the need to uphold Marxism-Leninism and combat social-democratic and revisionist ideas within the working-class movement including NCP General Secretary Andy Brooks who said: "Social-Democracy has never led to socialism, and revisionism has led to the destruction of communist parties and, indeed, socialist states. Our opposition to social-democracy and revisionism is not a dogmatic creed. It is a practical application of Marxism-Leninism. We must continue to combat these ideas, just as we continue to combat the pie-in-the-sky ideas of the utopian socialists or the anti-communist theories of the Trotskyite groups."

 "But in combating ideas we believe are fundamentally wrong, we must uphold the communist alternative and seek to win people away from these erroneous and ultimately futile theories".

 The NCP leader also said that the ruling parties in Asia and Cuba should be allies and all communist parties should be friends to build world-wide communist solidarity.

The timeliness of the slogan "Workers of all countries. unite!" makes it more necessary than ever before to work out jointly questions of the ideological and political identity of communists, of parallel and joint actions, as was noted by a number of communist parties in their interventions.

 During the proceedings, there was an exchange of views on a number of new initiatives, such as the campaign to distribute the Manifesto widely, the further strengthening of solidarity with the people of Cuba and Democratic Korea, Palestine and all other peoples resisting imperialist blockades and military pressure. A call was also made for a new meeting of communist and workers' parties on the theme of confronting the new situation created by the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI), Nato expantion, and in support for security, democracy and political rights in Europe.

 A number of initiatives were also discussed on re-inforcing solidarity with communists suffering under persecution and discrimination and the need was stressed to promote ways of ensuring fuller and prompter information exchanges between communist parties around the world.

  The KKE is among the strongest communist parties in Western Europe. It has organised two international meetings in 1996 and 1997 in Greece. The KKE is the third biggest political party in Greece, gaining 5.6 percent of the vote and 11 seats in the September 1996 general election.

 The Athens conference is the largest gathering of communist parties since the collapse of communism in eastern Europe. Orestes Kolozov, a KKE MPand senior party official said: "There has been no meeting of anti-imperialist forces on this scale since the collapse of the Soviet Union".

 The NCP was represented by General Secretary Andy Brooks and Richard Bos from the Central Committee. In Athens they held talks with the Workers' Party of Korea delegation and had discussions with the representatives of many other friendly parties.

Speech by Andy Brooks to the conference


 We are meeting at a time of developing economic crisis accompanied by political instability, social insecurity, deteriorating living and social standards, and extreme poverty for millions upon millions of working people.

 It's a world in conflict. The counter-revolutionary wave of 1990 led to the break-up of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The imperialists claimed this would usher in a "new world order" and a new era of global peace under their control.

 The UN Security Council, was, until recently, manipulated as a rubber stamp for acts of aggression against Iraq, Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. The wishes of the majority of the UN membership, as expressed in the votes of the General Assemblies, are routinely ignored by the United States and Britain. UN machinery is ignored by American imperialism in the pursuit of its blockade against Cuba.

 But wherever there is oppression, there is resistance. The imperialists failed to spread the counter-revolutionary process to China or Cuba despite the best efforts of their agents.

 Today communists are leading the fight-back in the former Soviet Union and above all in Albania, where the masses took up the gun and drove out the Berisha dan last year.

international communist co-operation

 The counter-revolutionary setback of 1990 was followed by a worldwide rallying of communist and workers' parties. And in fact immense progress has been made in the past eight years.

 Initially many of us believed that our first task was working towards establishing a new international communist information service. In essence that has now been achieved through the rapid development of information technology. Now virtually every Party, workers' journal or national liberation movement is accessible through the Internet.

 The second idea which emerged soon after 1990 was the argument that communists should strive for complete ideological unity as the basis for international organisational unity.

 While this would be an ideal situation we do not believe that it is a practical proposition. Now it is certainly possible for parties to develop a common understanding and opposition to modern revisionism and social-democracy. The lessons of the downfall of the USSR and the socialist countries of Eastern Europe together with the analysis of the genuine communist resistance in the former Soviet Union has led to considerable re-assessments by many communist parties in Europe and beyond.

 It is clear that the basis of post-war revisionism was laid down at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The vicious personal attack on Stalin by Nikita Krushchov had two main effects within the world communist movement. In Western Europe it opened the door to Trotskyite ideas, which until then, were confined to small groups drawn from the middle strata. In the socialist camp it encouraged the retreat from the socialist standards laid down by Lenin and Stalin. It reflected a lack of confidence in the masses and it rejected in practice, the leading role of the working class. It created a climate of compromise and defeat and led to the conditions which counter-revolutionary traitors successfully exploited in the end.

 In the socialist camp it encouraged a retreat from Leninist standards, which led to the downplaying of the role of the working class in society. In the international communist movement, especially in Western Europe, it re-inforced the tendency towards accepting social-democratic strategies and attitudes. It was gaining more and more support at that time, by virtue of the illusions that existed in the working class -- reflected within by many communist parties in the West -- that capitalism was, after-all, now a better society.

 This was the false creed of Gorbachov and his followers East and West. The counter-revolutions in the former Soviet Union and the socialist countries in Eastern Europe were in some cases directed initially by the communist leaderships in those countries. In others, like Romania, Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic, attempts to stop the counter-revolutionary drive were thwarted through the direct or indirect intervention of the revisionist and treacherous leadership of the Gorbachov clique.

 Today former ruling parties with memberships once millions-strong, have vanished or totally embraced social-democracy and bourgeois democracy -- collaborating with local exploiters to plunder their country's resources and people while at the same time acting as the willing tools of American and European imperialism.

 Social-Democracy has never led to socialism, and revisionism has led to the destruction of communist parties and, indeed, socialist states.

 Our opposition to social-democracy and revisionism is not a dogmatic creed. It is a practical application of of Marxism-Leninism. We must continue to combat these ideas, just as we continue to combat the pie-in-the-sky ideas of the utopian socialists or the anti-communist theories of the Trotskyite groups.

 But in combating ideas we believe are fundamentally wrong, we must uphold the communist alternative and seek to win people away from these erroneous and ultimately futile theories.

new world order

 Anglo-American imperialism worked for decades to destroy the Soviet Union and its allies. Their victory was followed by the "New World Order" which intended to set the seal on a globe dominated by the entire capitalist world under American leadership. The fact that it has failed -- in Serbia, Iraq, Somalia and the Congo -- reflects the determination of people in struggle and the other fact -- that over a quarter of the world remains socialist and outside the direct control of the imperialist camp.

 ruling parties should be allies -- all communist parties should be friends

 We believe that the ruling communist parties in Asia and Cuba should be allies and that all communist parties should be friends. Though it seems a straight-forward position it hasn't been achieved yet -- though considerable progress has been made since 1990.

 We welcome the growing ties between the socialist countries of Asia and Cuba. We also welcome and support the initiatives taken by other parties to bring the movement together and focus it on the problems of the day.

proletarian internationalism

 Over 240 parties and progressive movements have signed the 1992 Pyongyang Declaration including the New Communist Party.

 Many communist parties have taken part in forums held in various parts of the world since 1990 including the 1993 Calcutta Conference in West Bengal hosted by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Damascus Conference organised by the Syrian Communist Party in 1994. The Brussels May Day festival and seminar programme organised by the Belgian Workers Party has become a regular focus for the exchange of views throughout the communist movement since they were launched on an annual basis in 1992.

 We have supported many of these events. World-wide contacts between communist parties have grown and exchanges of views and experience can only strengthen the world movement.

 But other moves, aimed at building a new communist international, have foundered because they have been launched by small sectarian groups and because the move is premature.

 A new international can only succeed, firstly if it includes and has the agreement of the ruling parties of People's China, Cuba, Democratic Korea, Laos and Vietnam. It should be based on Marxism-Leninism and the principle of equality between big parties and small parties. It must recognise the principle of a collective secretariat which reflects the views of the co-operating parties and not that of one big party. And it must recognise that in countries where there is more than one communist party -- the case in most countries these days -- the differences between them are a matter for those parties alone to resolve.

immediate tasks

 What we need to do can already be accomplished with the resources to hand if the political will to do it exists.

 The communist movement must maintain and expand its international exchanges. The movement must build solidarity with Cuba and the socialist countries of Asia immediately focusing on:

 * the campaign to raise relief funds for the distressed areas in Democratic Korea

 * the demand to end the US-imposed blockade of Cuba

and the longer-term objectives for the peaceful re-unification of Korea on a confederal basis and the re-unification of China based in the "One country -- Two Systems" principle.

The international communist movement has already in the main rallied around the demand for an end to the brutal imperialist blockade of Iraq and for the restoration of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian Arabs including their right to statehood and their right to return. But more needs to be done to forge firm links with national liberation movements in the Middle East and wherever people are struggling against imperialism and oppression.

the world crisis

 As the century ends capitalism is in deep crisis. But it will not collapse of its own accord. It must be overthrown. The objective conditions for building socialism have existed in Britain, for example, for over a century. But the strength of the ruling class and its ability to split and divide the working class movement by buying off some sections in the past with the crumbs from imperialist plunder has thwarted all past moves for change.

 The British ruling class has nurtured the class-collaborationist theories of social-democracy and revisionism, which still retain a strong grip on the labour movement. The European ruling class as a whole fosters the bogus theory of "globalisation" to encourage defeatism and fatalism within the working class movement.

 But the way forward is clear. Working people need a strong communist movement based on Marxism-Leninism. And we must build the communist movement around the tried and tested principles of democratic centralism, iron discipline, regular self-sacrificing work in a Party organisation and an unyielding hatred of the capitalist system.

 Every comrade must work to build the Party and take part in the day-to-day struggles in the trade union movement, the community and the struggle for peace. We want militant trade unionism with genuine militant working class leadership to take on the bosses and fight for the communist alternative.

 We must continue to build solidarity with the struggling peoples of the world fighting against neo-colonialism and imperialist aggression. We must continue to forge strong links within the international communist movement.

 Throughout the world the communist movement has been built on sacrifice and hardship. Our Party is no exception. We have survived for two decades thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of our members. Future generations will thank them for laying the foundations of the mighty movement which will bring the whole rotten edifice of capitalism to an end in Britain once and for all.

A Better Tomorrow

 Workers will not unite and fight for things they believe to be impossible. They will fight for what they consider just, fair and reasonable, and in doing so they will win victories in their day-to-day struggles and pave the way for the socialist revolution.

 What does socialism mean? Firstly, it means that the ownership of the means of production -- the factories, mines, transport, land and the machinery to till it -- is taken from the hands of the capitalists into state and collective ownership on behalf of the working class.

 The people will own the banks, insurance companies and finance houses. They will be the masters of their own destiny and the age of classes and exploitation will be over. The greed, speculation and corruption of the bourgeoisie will end and a new era, a better tommorrow will dawn.

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