Tuesday, 01 July 2014 02:00

Contribution from PCPE to the 23rd International Communist Seminar (ICS) Brussels, 2014

 

From 1914 to 2014 . One hundred years of imperialism, one hundred years of valuable lessons.

 


There are years that should be marked in the memory of the working class and 1914 is one of them. The lessons that the international communist movement learnt at that time should not be forgotten.

 


There are moments in the history of the class struggle that make a qualitative difference to everything that happened before. 1914 is one of those key dates because it is loaded with political significance and lessons for theory and revolutionary practice.

 


Why the war of 1914?

 


The development of the productive forces brought by the Industrial Revolution reached a level that had no comparison with any previous moment. In the context of class societies, the byproduct of the development of the productive forces is the increasing contradiction between that development and the established forms of ownership of the means of production. Consequently, the level reached by the productive forces in the mid- nineteenth century did not result in an improvement in the living conditions of the working class, the peasantry and the popular strata. On the contrary, a colossal crisis of overproduction of capital appeared for the first time in the history of capitalism.

 


As we say, the capitalist crisis that had been brewing since the 50s and 60s of the XIX century, explodes around 1873, becoming the biggest crisis of overproduction of capital that capitaism had hitherto known. Although is is true that there had been such crises before, none had such depth and none would have such important consequences as the crisis of 1873-1895. That crisis (significantly called Great Depression) was a qualitative transformation of the capitalist system, as Lenin recalled in his work
Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism.

 


Indeed, with the Great Depression a whole stage of capitalism (the free trade one) gives way to a new stage of development marked by its eminently imperialist character. Gone is the relatively peaceful (only very relatively) development of capitalism and it enters a new stage in which the reaction at all levels will be the dominant trend of the bourgeoisie in power.

 


The emergence, development and consolidation of monopoly capitalism promised new rules of the game marked by a bourgeoisie clearly on the offenive, doubling the exploitation against the working class and emphasizing the confrontation within the ruling class itself. In other words, that section of the bourgeoisie that was able to exploit more and better the national and international working class would get the most important portion of the pie. The rest would be condemned to proletarianization and to lose its position within the ruling class: eventually, the bourgeoisie became clearly imperialist.

 


So much so, that in the years between the Berlin Conference (1885) and World War I (1914 ), the European imperialist bourgeoisie (especially the English and French one) accelerated the colonial division of the world. The African continent, for example, that until the 70s barely knew the European presence in African and Mediterranean coasts, saw how in 30 years every corner of the continent was shared out.

 


Rarely in history there was a more multi-polar world than the one existing in the aftermath of 1914 and rarely in history was a time where the coming war was so clearly palpated. That is precisely one of the most valuable lessons of that period, a lesson that the multipolar theory advocates are determined to forget.

 


In opposition to that theory, we say that the existence of different competing imperialist poles is not a guarantee of peace. Quite the contrary: this situation guarantess, sooner or later, a military confrontation. At the end of the day, war is one of the basic needs of capitalism in its imperialist stage as a form of resolving the inter-bourgeois conflicts, and even more in those phases when the system in in crisis.

 


And just at that moment in history in which traditional social-democracy should have played a vital role as the vanguard of the international working class, denouncing the imperialist war among different national bourgeoisies, just then, social-democracy came to the field of the class enemy.

 


As communist organizations had announced at the time, beginning with Lenin, the struggle between national bourgeoisies led to the first great imperialist war, 100 hundred ago. The bourgeoisie had the invaluable support of an important sector of social-democracy when boarding the international working class in a war where the working class had nothing to gain.

 


Indeed, in August 4, 1914, when two of the most important social-democratic parties, the French and the German ones, voted for the war budgets and came to participate in the governments of their bourgeoisie, they were not only putting the class working behind their "national" bourgeoisie, they were also giving the final blow to the Second International as a valuable framework for the interests of the working class. Then, 1914 marked the red line that separates revolutionary and opportunistic positions since then.

 


That was another of the great lessons learnt by the international communist movement. The danger that comes from staying behind the national bourgeoisie is the destruction of the ability of the working class to face, with any guarantee of success, the political and ideological struggle against the bourgeoisie.

 


The historical period in which we live.

 


Today, one hundred years after that war, those lessons are still tremendously valid today. Capitalism in its imperialist stage continues to develop with increasingly higher doses of violence.

 


For a long time imperialism has shown that it has nothing to offer the working class and popular sectors except more hunger, more misery, more exploitation and morewar, even if there are people determined to prolong the existence of this degenerate and rotten system.

 


The crisis of 2007, even deeper than the 1873 one, and probably more than that the one in 1929, continues the paths already announced by Lenin in 1917.

 


The PCPE has been proposing that the monopolist oligarchy has sparked open warfare against the working class and popular sectors that acquires different forms depending on the level of oppsition that the working class, together with its vanguard organizations, is able to raise.

 


The concentration and centralization of capital is advancing at growing rate, visibly liquidating the already residual layer of smallholders, who are trhown to proletarianization, thus emphasizing the trend towards polarization of society between those who own and those who do not won the means of production.

 


But the worst part of this struggle is for the working class. The destruction of the excess of productive forces in the form of mass unemployment has reached reached outrageous numbers in Spain (almost 6 million people, more than 25 %), overcoming the 50% in the case of the youth.

 


The rest of the class that finds a job does in unprecedented exploitation conditions with increases in working time without wage increases, suffering systematic attacks on collective bargaining, lowering of dismissal costs, training and apprenticeship contracts that are quasi slavery in practice.

 


To all this must be added the loss of purchasing power of pensions, the privatization of social services (health, education) and the use of predatory war anywhere in the world.

 


War and Ukraine.

 

 

 

War is not an exception nor a lesser evil for today's the monopoly oligarchy. War is today an indispensable resource for the ruling class without which it would be impossible to hold onto power as such ruling class one more day.

 


The case of Ukraine is just the latest example. In this country, three imperialisms are trying to cash in on the situation. U.S. and EU on the one hand try to place in power the sector of the Ukrainian oligarchy which is more inclined to their interests at the expense of another fraction of that bourgeoisie (personified by Yanukovych and others) who are closer to Russia.

 


In between, the Ukrainian working class and peasantry who are tired of a capitalist crisis that is condemning them to a misery and hunger that were unimaginable in Soviet times and are realizing, in the worst possible way, the price that the working men and women, especially from Eastern Europe, had to pay for the triumph of the counterrevolution in the Soviet Union.

 


Once the coup sponsored by the imperialist centers of the U.S. and EU failed thanks to the struggle of the heroic Ukrainian working class and its Communist Party, Western imperialist poles turn to one of their best weapons: fascism.

 


Fascist organizations such as
Pravi Sector and Svoboda, created, funded and protected by the EU and U.S., are responsible for the murder of over 40 communists and trade-unionists on May 2nd in the House of Unions of Odessa, exrpressing in such a bloody way the intensification of the class struggle in the country.

 


The tasks of the communist organizations today.

 


In the frame of the imperialist stage of capitalism, the constant war is the current and future scenario that oligarchy lies ahead of us. This scenario is underpinned by the opportunistic and reformist positions.

 


And here the Communist Parties can not waver. We must say loud and clear that a war perpetrated by an imperialist oligarchy is an imperialist war. Never mind the rhetorics it is disguised with; monopolist oligarchy only makes imperialist wars.

 


The Bolsheviks in 1914 were able to understand that behind patriotic slogans what was elucidating was an imperialist war between imperialist bourgeoisies. Today the Social-Democrats from the Socialist International, the reformists from EL Party, the Trotskyists and other opportunist trends in the labour movement are still in the field of oligarchy. They are not allies of the working class.

 


And today, like yesterday, the consistent Communist Parties are opposed to them. The Parties armed with Marxism-Leninism can understand the class character of imperialist wars and also the revolutionary potential of these imperialist wars.

 


In Lenin's words, part of our task is to "transform the imperialist war between peoples in the civil war of the oppressed against their oppressors": 1) denounciation of the imperialist character of the oligarchy and the wars it unleashes; 2) relentless denunciation of those who, in one or another way, justify imperialist wars; 3) explanation to the masses that only workers' power is capable of ending imperialist wars; 4) the culmination of a separate peace in case of war and 5) the conversion of each imperialist war into a civil war against the financial oligarchy and capitalism: that is one of our tasks.

 


As we reflect in the documents of our 9
th Congress, we live in the historical period of transition from capitalism to socialism in which there are no democratic tasks that depend on any sector of the bourgeoisie. Capitalism is in a state of historical death and it is a task of the communist organizations to accelerate that death. None alliance with bourgeoisie is possible because there is no sector of the bourgeoisie that is objectively interested in improving the living and working conditions of the working class and popular sectors.

 


Today, monopolistic oligarchy is at a historic crossroads: either they continuously increase the degree of exploitation of the working class and war becomes an everyday reality, either they disappear as the ruling class. History never saw that any ruling class disappeared peacefully. Consequently, the task of the Communist Party is preparing the working class and popular sectors for that battle that is already being waged.

 


That is why the only possible alliance of the working class today is the one forged with the peasantry and popular sectors in the frame of what the PCPE calls the Workers' and People's Front for Socialism. An alliance that , taking as its starting point the scientific analysis of the development of modern capitalism, does not contribute to change one government by another or try to manage capitalism, but to destroy the system itself and start building a socialist-communist society, the only society in which the interests of the social majority are guaranteed.

 


Putting an end to the prehistory of humanity, that is the synthesis of the the task of the communists.