Monday, 02 December 2013 01:00

Contribution from PCPE to the 15th International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties.

Capitalism in crisis brutally hits the working class and popular strata

Lisbon, November 2013

Dear Comrades, first of all I would like to thank the Portuguese CP for organizing this 15th International Meeting. At the same time, I fraternally salute all parties present and send warm internationalist and proletarian greetings to all those who have not been able to be at this year's International Meeting.


I would like to begin my speech by pointing to two elements that I believe each and every one of the parties present agrees with: capitalism is in a very deep crisis which is unlikely to be overcome, while capitalists seek to surmount their rate of profit by increasing the levels of exploitation of the working class.


We always speak about the cuts in social and labour rights, about how public services are threatened by monopoly capital who pretends to obtain new spaces for its reproduction but, what does this mean in the concrete? What is the situation of the working class in our countries and how is it reflected in the policy of our Parties?


In Spain the living and working conditions of the working class have severely worsened since the outbreak of the crisis, as a result of the systematic and accelerated implementation of adjustment policies applied by different governments to benefit the big monopoly capital mainly. These policies, which are nothing else than the most brutal and direct expression of those that were announced and applied by the various European and Spanish capitalist management agencies until 2008, have a very direct and practical translation in the life of our class and the popular strata.

As a consequence of the destruction of productive forces, unemployment has grown exponentially, reaching six million according to official figures. This has had an effect not only on increasing poverty rates, but also in the number of evictions, in the steady increase of the number of families who have virtually no income or in the growing rates of malnutrition among children, just to name a few. The despair at the impossibility of feeding the children has already led several people to suicide. The offensive of capital clearly results in hunger, poverty, homelessness and death.

 

Moreover, workers who still have their jobs are subjected to unprecedented levels of employers' terrorism: the real fear of losing the only source of income on which, in many cases, the whole family depends, involves accepting the increasingly enslaving working conditions established by the successive labour reforms passed by the Governments of the Socialist Party and the Popular Party. The widespread collective lay offs in practice leave large sections of the working class with no rights, while trade union rights are on the wane. In face of this we witness the inability of the trade-union leaderships to raise a struggle aimed directly at recovering those rights. The employers have the ability to violate any labour laws since it is cheaper than ever to lay off workers and there are no legal consequences whatsoever when that happens. The offensive of capital is clearly translated in the fact that our rights are worthless in the hands of the capitalists.


Job security conditions worsen despite official discourses. Very recently, six miners died in northern Spain in the worst accident in the last twenty years in this sector. It was an accident that could have been avoided. There was information that revealed the danger of gas leaks days before the accident. A gas leak eventually caused the death of these workers. Will someone pay for that? We doubt it. But there are people paying with their life for the employer to keep getting benefits, not only in this sector but in all other sectors of production where we regret ever most serious accidents day after day. The offensive of capital is clearly translated in the fact that our lives are worth little compared to obtaining more profit.

 

We sepak a lot about public services, but the cuts and privatization are mean, for instance, that people are dying at the door of hospitals. Treatments that until recently were free or inexpensive for patients are increasingly difficult to obtain by working families today. Entire floors of hospitals are staying closed while the waiting lists increase, forcing those who can afford it to go to  private hospitals. These are not merely words, they are facts showing that the offensive of capital is crearly translated in the fact that public services are destroyed to become mere subordinates to private healthcare systems dominated by big capital.


Spanish society is increasingly polarized. And in the world we can see that, too. It is increasingly evident that the gap between rich and poor, between bourgeois and proletarians, and there is increasingly less room for small owners who are quickly proletarianized while the ideological offensive, at least in Spain, focuses in trying to promote entrepreneurship among our youth.

 

In this climate, some people tell us that the serious problems that stifle the working class and popular strata are solved with more democracy. Only with more democracy. In face of a brutal intensification of the contradictions in all fields, they say: “fight for more democracy”. Of course the communists have to struggle to keep democratic rights, it is an essential part of our overall struggle against capitalism, but talking about democracy in the abstract, without linking it to the issue of ownership of the means of production and the class in power leads the working class to be  trapped in the rules and covenants of bourgeois democracy, where the rights are worthless for capital when it concerns their benefit rate.

 

Others tell us that we have to fight to maintain the welfare state. That is, we should fight for a more humane capitalism, for a less aggressive capitalism. Is it possible that the participation in the parliamentary game can make so much damage that it leads some communist parties to forget the horizon of Socialism? Is it not time to recognize that our movement has been paralyzed for too many years with the overemphasis on the parliamentary struggle at the expense of the mass struggle?

 

Others tell us that we should get to agreements with the national bourgeoisie. What national bourgeoisie has a progressive role to play in the imperialist capitalism today? What national bourgeoisie has today a clearly antimonopolist character and what national bourgeoisie is not playing today to be monopolistic?

 

Comrades, the partial struggles, the resistance struggles are not our end, they are the means and we should only understand them as such. They are a means for the development of the ability to fight, but we must not fall into the mistake of absolutizing them and lose the horizon of the struggle for the overthrow of bourgeois power and the construction of Socialism, which is the stated objective of the communists. In these struggles which are in the frame of the general struggle for socialism, we must know well who are our allies. Not anyone can be our ally. Our allies are the layers who are objectively threatened by the dominance of monopoly capital. The working class, along with the smallholders and the poor peasants, must forge an alliance that will lead to the overthrow of bourgeois power .