Strengthening Communist Parties in the worsening global capitalist crisis
Contribution of the Communist Party of the Philippines
to the 20th Brussels Communist Seminar, May 13-15, 2011
On a global scale, the objective conditions for strengthening Communist Parties are favorable. The crisis of the world capitalist system keeps on worsening. And the broad masses of the people are rising up simultaneously in many countries in various continents to resist the dire consequences of the global crisis.
Communist Parties have the opportunity to strengthen themselves in an all-round way: ideologically, politically and organizationally. The ever worsening crisis exposes the bankruptcy and rottenness of the entire world capitalist system and points to the necessity of revolutionary struggles for national liberation, democracy and socialism under the leadership of the proletariat and its revolutionary party.
1. Worsening Crisis and Aggressiveness of Imperialism
The economic and financial crisis that burst out in the US and spread throughout the world in 2008 has persisted and become aggravated as a global depression. That is because the imperialist states have continued to cling to the US-dictated policy of neoliberal globalization. Under the auspices of this policy, the financial oligarchy and the rest of the monopoly bourgeoisie have continued to make profits in the real economy by pressing down the incomes and social benefits of the working people and in the financial markets by generating and manipulating speculative capital.
Public money has been used to bail out the big banks and corporations, improve their balance sheets and revive the stock market. Even the much touted stimulus packages doled out to the favored corporations are subject to their labor-cost saving and profit-making decisions. Thus, there is no real economic recovery. The general trend is for production and employment to stagnate and decline. Underconsumption and poverty are increasing as more people suffer unemployment, lower income and rising prices of basic commodities and services.
Public deficits and the public debt have soared because of tax cuts, subsidies, overpriced contracts and bailouts for the big bourgeoisie and quite conspicuously because of the mounting debt service and the rising expenditures for military production and for military intervention and aggression. But the public sector employees and the rest of the working people and even the decreasing level of government social spending are blamed for the soaring public deficits and publicly. They are all scapegoated for the adoption of austerity measures which pass further the burden of crisis to the working people.
The imperialist powers are united in applying the anti-worker, anti-social and anti-environment bias of the neoliberal economic policy. But among them there are increasing contradictions regarding economic, financial and trade policies. There are growing trends of protectionism and the use of fiscal measures to stimulate demand and rebuild the infrastructure. Amidst the growing indecisiveness of the G-8 and the G-20 and such multilateral agencies as the IMF, World Bank and the WTO, China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa are combining to develop their own position relative to the crisis of the world capitalist system.
In more than three decades of neoliberal economic policy, the chronic crisis of overproduction in the world capitalist system was accelerated, deepened and aggravated. But it was made to appear that the crisis was always being solved or overcome by limitless debt financing at the level of the households, the corporations and the states. The constant creation of money, credit and derivatives was supposed to perpetuate a happy world of expanding production, upvaluation of assets and speculative bubbles.
While the big bourgeois railed against supposed wage inflation and big social spending by government, they had no compunction about pouring public funds into military production and deployment of military forces abroad. The military industrial complex profited from the overpriced contracts with the state. These are considered to have buoyed up the US economy since the high speed spending by Reagan for high tech military production in the 1980s, down to the military Keynesianism of Bush junior and the continuing rising military expenditures for military production and wars of aggression.
The ever worsening crisis of the world capitalist system is driving the imperialist powers headed by the US to increase military production and launch wars of aggression. The end of the Cold War upon the implosion of the Soviet Union has served to embolden the US and its NATO allies to engage in wars of aggression such as those against Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. The increasing aggressiveness of the imperialist powers is driven by the domestic profit-seeking of the monopoly bourgeoisie and its scheme to expand economic territory abroad, as cheap sources of labor, oil and other raw materials, as markets and fields of investment and as spheres of influence.
The imperialist powers are united against the oppressed peoples and nations and underdeveloped countries that assert national independence. But among themselves they are increasingly beset by contradictions as they struggle for a redivision of the world. Certain countries that collaborated with the US and NATO in the aggression against Iraq subsequently became wary and formed the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Most recently, China, Russia, India, Brazil and even Germany would not support the aggression on Libya.
2. Growing peoples´ resistance
In the imperialist countries, there is widespread discontent among the people because of the high rate of unemployment, the erosion of hard-won social benefits, the curtailment of trade union and other democratic rights and the austerity measures being adopted against the working class and the people in general. There are outbursts of general strikes and militant mass protests by the workers, youth and students, women and other sectors of society. The public sector workers, the migrant workers, the youth and women are often in the forefront of mass protests in the streets.
The strikes and mass protests break out in countries more often where crisis conditions and austerity measures are most severe, where the authorities are most reactionary and repressive and where there are Communist Parties, mass organizations or coordinating centers that call for concerted actions on the burning issues. In most imperialist countries, there is still political inertia due to the absence of a strong communist party and a strong mass movement of the working class, youth, women and other sectors.
At the same time, the monopoly bourgeoisie has been quite adept at using the mass media, the political parties and the schools in propagating anti-communist ideas and prejudices and playing up chauvinism, anti-migrants, racism, religious bigotry, war hysteria and fascism to divide the people, to divert public sentiment and to obscure the roots of the crisis in the world capitalist system. Elections are being used to absorb the swings of political moods from Right to Left and from Left to Right and to keep them within the frame of the capitalist ruling system.
Nevertheless, the crisis conditions persist and provide the opportunities for the subjective forces of the revolution to arise and grow in strength. The communist parties and mass organizations under their leadership are manifesting various degrees of success in developing their strength. They are conscious that a principled and effective communist party generates a strong mass movement and in turn the latter provides the base for increasing the ranks of communists.
In the underdeveloped countries, the people are carrying out and intensifying various forms of resistance against the imperialist powers and the local reactionary forces. The people wage armed resistance against imperialist aggression and occupation as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine. They do likewise in civil wars against repressive ruling systems as in India, the Philippines, Colombia, Peru, Turkey and elsewhere. Whether they wage armed resistance or not, the people engage in mass movements for national and social liberation and intensify these against the ever rising level of oppression and exploitation.
The people who wage armed revolutions for new democracy and wars of national liberation against foreign aggression and occupation have the best chances of seizing political power and establishing a state with an anti-imperialist and democratic character.
Legal mass movements and mass uprisings without arms, as in North Africa and the Middle East recently, cannot by themselves change the reactionary ruling system even if they succeed, with the direct or indirect support of the reactionary military, in overthrowing autocrats or authoritarian regimes. But they can assist existing armed revolutions or engender these as a subsequent development.
The protraction of the global depression since 2008 has set the stage for great disorder and upheavals in the second decade of the 21st century. The rise of new democratic revolutions through people's wars in the underdeveloped countries can inspire and stimulate revolutionary mass movements in the developed countries. The more imperialist countries engage in military intervention or aggression against other countries the more they take the risk of undermining political and economic stability in their home grounds.
The growing contradictions among imperialist countries can result in the general weakening of the hold of the most repulsive imperialist powers like the US on the underdeveloped countries and in wider room for underdeveloped countries in asserting national independence and anti-imperialist and democratic mass movements to surge forward. The inter-imperialist contradictions involve imperialist powers backing different governments in underdeveloped countries and in exchanging provocations and threats of igniting national, regional or global wars.
3. Strengthening the CPs in the Worsening Global Crisis
In the last three decades, the imperialist powers headed by the US have blamed the working class and government social spending for the phenomenon of stagflation in the 1970s and have relentlessly pursued a ruthless class war to press down wage levels and attack the rights of the working class in order to enable the monopoly bourgeoisie to accumulate more capital and enjoy the widest opportunities for profit-making under the policy of neoliberal globalization.
And in the last more than two decades, the imperialist powers have also gloated over the revisionist betrayal of socialism, the fall of revisionist regimes and the full restoration of capitalism in revisionist-ruled countries and described these as proof that the history of mankind does not go farther than capitalism and liberal democracy. With the obvious intention of perpetuating capitalism and further burying socialism, the monopoly bourgeoisie has intensified ideological, political, economic and military offensives against the working class and all anti-imperialist forces.
But the evils of capitalism and imperialism are once more totally exposed upon the bankruptcy of the imperialist policy of neoliberal globalization. This is inflicting horrendous conditions of exploitation and oppression on the broad masses of the people and is inciting them to engage in various forms of resistance. The conditions are favorable for waging revolutionary struggles and demand that the Communist Parties take the lead in the struggles of the people and to strengthen themselves for the purpose.
Ideological strengthening of CPs
Communist Parties must strengthen themselves ideologically. They must uphold Marxism-Leninism as the universal theory of the proletariat and apply it on the history and current circumstances of the people's struggle for national and social liberation against imperialism and all reaction. Ideological building is the first requisite in building the revolutionary party of the proletariat. Without theory, there can be no revolutionary party and no revolutionary movement.
We now hear from an increasing number of seriously minded people, who are not even communists, that there is need to read and study Marx in the face of the grave crisis and depression of the world capitalist system. They are disgusted with the bourgeois subjectivism and the dogma of personal greed that have been pushed by the monopoly bourgeoisie in its anti-communist and anti-socialist ideological offensive and that have resulted in grave harm to the broad masses of the people under the policy of neoliberal globalization.
To make a living and useful study of Marxism-Leninism, we must focus on the current dire circumstances as a result of the laws of motion and internal contradictions of the capitalist system. We must apply the theory not only to critique and interpret the decadent system but more importantly to adopt an outlook, methodology and plan for overthrowing it and replacing it with a new system through the revolutionary process.
We must reaffirm the fundamental principles of Marxism-Leninism and the historical victories in their application. But we must avoid dogmatism by going into the concrete analysis of concrete conditions in accordance with materialist dialectics. We must also shun empiricism, which deprives us of revolutionary direction in the welter of facts and impressions. We must continue to be most vigilant and active against reformism and revisionism, which have been the most lethal to communist parties that have been in power or not yet in power.
Communist Parties must strengthen their ranks ideologically through definite courses of study and through the revolutionary application of the principles and lessons learned. A general level of understanding materialist dialectics and class struggle must be ensured among the rank and file. They must be able to carry out a resolute and vigorous ideological offensive against the ideological trends generated by imperialism and all reaction.
The propagation of Marxist-Leninist ideas among the Party rank and file and among the mass activists should be faster than ever before, with the use of various electronic media.
The monopoly bourgeoisie still owns and control the major mass media. But the reality reflected in the electronic media used by the proletarian revolutionaries can in the long run speak louder than the false ideas and claims of the imperialists and reactionaries.
The Communist Parties must grasp the new factors in the new situation. At the first instance, the monopoly bourgeois own and control the high technology for production, distribution and communications. But this accelerates the profit making, the concentration of capital, the crisis of overproduction, the abuse of finance capital, the global depression and the people's resistance. In fact, high technology is suitable to socialism and not to capitalism in terms of knowing and satisfying human needs and demands.
Political strengthening of CPs
The Communist Parties must strengthen themselves politically by drawing correctly the general line of the people´s revolutionary struggle on the basis of concrete conditions and steadfastly pursuing this line until complete victory is obtained with the seizure of political power and establishment of the new revolutionary state system. In semicolonial and semifeudal conditions, the Communist Parties must pursue the line of bourgeois democratic revolution of the new type. In industrial capitalist conditions, they must pursue the line of socialist revolution, taking into account the necessity of democratic struggle against the threat or reality of fascism.
The revolutionary struggle of the people must be led by the working class through the Communist Party as its advanced detachment. The working class must be the leading class because it is the most productive and most progressive force. It is the agency for supplanting the bourgeois ownership and management of the means of production and for bringing about socialism. It has the vantage point of recognizing the need for the liberation of all working people and for leading the process of overthrowing the reactionary state and establishing the revolutionary state.
In political struggle, the Communist Parties must avoid the pitfalls of Right and “Left” opportunism. Right opportunism usually takes the form of reformism and revisionism, keeping the struggle for reforms always within the confines of the reactionary state and going so far as to revise and depart from the fundamental principle of overthrowing the reactionary state. “Left¨ opportunism means calling for violent actions that are not yet justified by the ongoing conditions and putting the revolutionary forces and people in a losing position. Adventurism is ¨Left” in form but Rightist in content because it spells defeat for the revolution.
What principal form of struggle to pursue, whether violent or nonviolent, depends on the concrete conditions. In certain semi-colonial and semi-feudal countries, where the peasants are the most numerous class, it is possible to wage a protracted people's war in order to accumulate armed strength for the ultimate overthrow of the reactionary state. But in industrial capitalist countries, it is impossible to wage such a protracted people's war in which a people's army and its areas of operation grow in stages in the countryside. Under conditions when it is not yet possible to transform an imperialist war into a civil war, it is possible to learn the teachings of the great communist leaders on state and revolution, to build self-defense units against the fascist disrupters of strikes and protest mass actions and to arouse, organize and mobilize the people to engage in giant marches and rallies.
In any given period, a Communist Party can only have a certain number of members, always limited in relation to the total number of the exploited and oppressed people. It cannot make revolution or any kind of political progress without leading a mass movement. It must build the mass organizations of various classes and sectors: workers (trade unions), peasants, fishermen, urban poor, women, youth, professionals, cultural activists, and so on. It must also build mass organizations focused on important issues of popular or multisectoral interest.
The Communist Parties must have a united front policy, engage in united front work and build various types of united front or alliances formally and informally in order to amplify, extend and maximize the strength and influence of communists and the masses that they have organized. The Communist Parties must constantly seek to reach the masses that are unorganized or that belong to other parties, mass organizations and institutions. They can do so through multisectoral, sectoral and issue-based alliances. Success in united front can verify whether the general line of the Party is valid and acceptable to the people.
The Communist Parties must avail of both the traditional and new methods for arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people. The traditional forms of communications, such as speaking without any amplifier, handwriting and printing on hard copy, are indispensable and basic. But the new forms of communications made available by high technology should be used in order to accelerate, intensify and expand the agitation and education, mass organizing and mobilization of the people.
We are confronted by the forces of imperialism which exploit and oppress the working class and the people on a global and use all sorts of instruments, including the multinational firms and banks, agencies of political and cultural subversion and military forces. It is absolutely necessary to uphold the principle of proletarian internationalism among communist and workers' parties and to build solidarity movement of the proletariat and people of the world for national liberation, democracy and socialism against imperialism and all reaction.
Organizational strengthening of CPs
Communist Parties must strengthen themselves organizationally by following the principle of democratic centralism. This means centralism based on democracy and democracy under centralized leadership. Leading organs of the Party at all levels are elected and responsible to the Party organization or conference that elected them. After free and thorough discussion of issues, decisions are taken and implemented, giving due respect to the following: the individual is subordinate to the organization, the minority is subordinate to the majority, the lower level is subordinate to the higher level and the entire membership is subordinate to the Central Committee and the National Congress.
The Party should combat the opposite extremes of bureaucratism or top-down commandism and ultra-democracy or anarchism. Leading organs should always pay close attention to the reports and views of lower Party organizations and the masses of Party members and constantly study concrete experiences and give prompt guidance and assistance in the solution of problems. Lower Party organizations should give regular and timely reports about their work to the organization above them and request instructions concerning problems that require the decision of a higher Party organization. All Party organizations must follow the principle of collective leadership and all important decisions must be decided collectively.
At the beginning, a Communist Party may be built by recruiting a few Party members from Marxist study circles and from the ranks of trade unions and other forms of mass organizations. But no matter how still small in size, the Party strives to build a nationwide structure and take deeper roots among the toiling masses. The opportunities for building a Party that is nationwide and deeply-rooted among the masses become wider when the crisis of the ruling system worsens and the Party leads a growing mass movement. From this the Party can recruit a far greater number of Party members than before.
Under the present conditions of global capitalist crisis and depression, it should be easier than ever before in building communist parties where there are none, rebuilding those previously destroyed by the enemy or degenerated by revisionism or strengthening those that have persevered under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism. The Communist Parties must lead the mass movement to protest and make demands against the worsening conditions of oppression and exploitation. From this growing mass movement, the Party can and must recruit an increasing number of Party members.
In living up to its character as the revolutionary party of the proletariat, the Party in an industrial capitalist country or in an underdeveloped country must have as top priority the recruitment of members from the ranks of the workers. The period of candidature for workers may be as short as six months in order to ensure the predominance of workers in the Party and one year for those for those coming from the petty bourgeoisie. In the underdeveloped countries, where the bourgeois democratic revolution is going on, the poor peasants and farm workers may have a six-month period of candidature like the workers.
It is best for Communist Parties to have in their ranks cadres and ordinary members. Cadres are those capable of leading a committee or any other collective unit of work. They are trained and developed within the Party in the course of struggle. They may also be previously leaders in the mass organizations from which they are recruited. Limiting the Party membership to cadres slows the growth of the Party. The Party must have a fast growing number of ordinary members in order to carry out tasks that require mass strength and in order to have within the Party a wide base for developing cadres.
Communist Parties must build and strengthen themselves self-reliantly. To do so, they must learn from their own study of Marxism-Leninism and their experiences and set the tasks for advancing and winning greater victories. They must also learn from the teachings and successful experiences of communist leaders and parties on an international scale. In this regard, they can benefit from exchanges of ideas and experiences with other parties through publications, bilateral meetings, multilateral meetings and practical cooperation.
At the moment, several international conferences of communist and workers´ parties wish to establish and develop a new Communist International. The Communist Parties can contribute their ideas and proposals and learn a lot that is helpful from the debates and documentary output of conferences that uphold Marxism-Leninism and oppose revisionism. But it is still too difficult or even impossible to single out which of these conferences is already on the way to being the new Communist International or the new center of the world proletarian revolution.
The advance of a communist party in any country does not depend on the claims of any international conference as the new center of the world revolution. It depends on the line that the party correctly adopts and implements. It is better to hope that the Communist Parties victorious in revolution will initiate the new Communist International than to expect that soon any of the current international conferences would lead directly to the new Communist International or enable specific parties to win revolution in their respective countries.