Communists confront global capitalism

ATHENS, Greece — Representatives of 73 communist and workers’ parties from 61 countries met here last month to review the current status of global capitalism and the role of communist parties.

The communists noted the new imperialist aggressiveness of capitalism and its global assault on social and democratic rights and living standards. Many emphasized the particularly dangerous role of the Bush administration in world affairs.

Communists from the Middle East stressed the aggressive, destabilizing role of the U.S. in their region.

“The orchestrated attack against the sovereignty and independence of countries is the main identifier of the current developments in the world,” Navid Shomali of the Tudeh Party of Iran said. The U.S. war on Iraq and efforts to control Iran are part of a plan to control the “Greater Middle East” because of its vast energy resources and strategic location bridging three continents, Shomali and others from the region noted.

Mohamad Bakri of the Communist Party of Israel called the U.S. policy “official state terrorism,” replacing international law with the “law of the jungle.”

John Foster of the Communist Party of Britain noted that the Bush administration’s policy of “unilateral, military solutions” to its problems has been costly not only to Americans but to the entire world.

Heinz Stehr of the German Communist Party said other imperialist countries pursue similar aims but lack “comparable instruments of power, which means they often resort to different tactics.” He said capitalism today is “characterized by common interests, antagonisms and rivalries between the imperialist centers of power.” With a different emphasis, Aleka Papariga of the Communist Party of Greece said, “The modern imperialist system, despite the sharp conflicts that split it, has a single strategy in defending the system, in attacking the labor movement, in attacking the peoples.”

Representatives from advanced capitalist countries and developing nations alike spoke of attacks on public services and privatization drives. Teuvo Junka of the Communist Party of Finland said unemployment is a “mass phenomenon” in Finland today. Many parties described the demise of the “welfare state” on which the working class and middle strata have relied for decades.

Emily Naffa of the Jordanian Communist Party said, “World capitalism dominated by U.S. imperialism” has “turned back to the unfettered operation of market forces, a reversion to a more brutal form of 19th century capitalism.”

Communists from the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the USSR described how their countries, under the thumb of capitalist globalization, are reverting to the bleak economic backwater status of their pre-socialist past. Yuri Mishin of the Communist Party of Estonia noted that since the end of socialism, Estonia’s population has dropped, with about 50 percent fewer children under the age of four. The country has experienced “savage capitalist exploitation,” where “freedom means the government doesn’t have an obligation to defend workers’ rights.”

By contrast, Cuban and Vietnamese communists described their socialist societies’ commitment to raising “the quality of life of people, in material, cultural and spiritual terms,” as the Vietnamese representatives put it. Fernando Remirez de Estenoz of the Communist Party of Cuba said, “In spite of the [U.S.] blockade, the worst drought in 100 years and six hurricanes in four years, Cuba today continues in her struggle to improve the people’s standard of living.”

Differences were expressed by European parties around tactics in dealing with the European Union and the recently formed European Left Party, reflecting differing views of the alliances needed to advance toward socialism. Another contentious issue was whether to include a condemnation of terrorism in the meeting’s final declaration. Some parties argued the terrorist label had been applied to them or others on the left, and therefore were unwilling to join in condemning terrorism. Others wanted to condemn terrorist actions against civilians, emphasizing that these actions play into the hands of imperialism. In particular, parties from the Middle East pleaded for inclusion of such a condemnation. Consensus was not reached, and the issue was not mentioned in the final statement.

The final statement summarized the general agreement favoring increased international solidarity and cooperation among communist and workers’ parties. More than a dozen joint actions were proposed.

Parties in attendance represented nearly every country in Europe, much of the Middle East and North Africa, several countries of Asia and the Americas, and Australia. The sole party from sub-Saharan Africa was the Party of the Congress for the Independence of Madagascar. Some parties that did not attend sent written remarks.

Fathi el Fadi of the Sudanese Communist Party urged steps to improve the participation of parties from Africa and other regions. The final statement proposed initiatives to promote cooperation and joint action with African communist and workers’ parties. Documents from the meeting are available at www.solidnet.org.