Communist Manifesto 165 years old today February 21, 2013Posted by doctorfive in Communism.
How will the Manifesto strike the reader who comes to it today for the first time? The new reader can hardly fail to be swept away by the passionate conviction, the concentrated brevity, the intellectual and stylistic force, of this astonishing pamphlet. It is written, as though in a single creative burst, in lapidary sentences almost naturally transforming themselves into the memorable aphorisms which have become known far beyond the world of political debate: from the opening ‘A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of Communism’ to the final ‘The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.’ Equally uncommon in nineteenth-century German writing: it is written in short, apodictic paragraphs, mainly of one to five lines — in only five cases, out of more than two hundred, of fifteen or more lines. Whatever else it is, The Communist Manifesto as political rhetoric has an almost biblical force. In short, it is impossible to deny its compelling power as literature.
But then, the Manifesto — and this is not the least of its remarkable qualities — is a document which envisaged failure. It hoped that the outcome of capitalist development would be ‘A revolutionary reconstitution of society at large’ but, as we have already seen, it did not exclude the alternative: ‘common ruin’. Many years later, another Marxian rephrased this as the choice between socialism and barbarity. Which of these will prevail is a question which the twenty-first century must be left to answer.
70th Anniversary of the Soviet Victory at Stalingrad February 2, 2013Posted by Garibaldy in Communism, History.
Economic systems December 28, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Capitalism, Communism, Economics.
Around the time of the Soviet collapse, the economist Peter Murrell published an article in the Journal of Economic Perspectives reviewing empirical studies of efficiency in the socialist planned economies. These studies consistently failed to support the neoclassical analysis: virtually all of them found that by standard neoclassical measures of efficiency, the planned economies performed as well or better than market economies.
First he reviewed eighteen studies of technical efficiency: the degree to which a firm produces at its own maximum technological level. Matching studies of centrally planned firms with studies that examined capitalist firms using the same methodologies, he compared the results. One paper, for example, found a 90% level of technical efficiency in capitalist firms; another using the same method found a 93% level in Soviet firms. The results continued in the same way: 84% versus 86%, 87% versus 95%, and so on.
In 1989, the dissident Polish reform economists Włodzimierz Brus and Kazimierz Łaski — both convinced socialists and disciples of the distinguished Marxist-Keynesian Michał Kalecki — published a book examining the prospects for East European reform. Both had been influential proponents of democratic reforms and socialist market mechanisms since the 1950s.
Their conclusion now was that in order to have a rational market socialism, publicly-owned firms would have to be made autonomous — and this would require a socialized capital market. The authors made it clear that this would entail a fundamental reordering of the political economy of East European systems – and indeed of traditional notions of socialism. Writing on the eve of the upheavals that would bring down Communism, they set out their vision: “the role of the owner-state should be separated from the state as an authority in charge of administration….[E]nterprises…have to become separated not only from the state in its wider role but also from each other.”
Parties of the working class, acutely vulnerable to pressure from below, were in government more than 40% of the time in the postwar decades – compared to about 10% in the interwar years, and almost never before that – and “contagion from the Left” forced parties of the right into defensive acquiescence. Schooling, medical treatment, housing, retirement, leisure, child care, subsistence itself, but most importantly, wage-labor: these were to be gradually removed from the sphere of market pressure, transformed from goods requiring money, or articles bought and sold on the basis of supply and demand, into social rights and objects of democratic decision.
This, at least, was the maximal social-democratic program — and in certain times and places in the postwar era its achievements were dramatic.
But the social democratic solution is unstable — and this is where the Marxist conception comes in, with its stress on pursuit of profit as the motor of the capitalist system.
Fascist Barbarians October 28, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Communism, Film and Television, History.
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So I’m using part of the extra hour to watch a fantastic documentary narrated by Alexei Sayle called Fascist Barbarians about Soviet propaganda cartoons I spotted yesterday on Sky Arts. There’s another one that I haven’t watched yet called American Imperialists. I don’t know if there are more. I suspect but I’m not sure that they come from the DVD collection Animated Soviet Propaganda, of which there seems to be a lot on Youtube. Here’s a couple of examples picked at random (both of which are in the documentary)
The visual imagery is stunning, and you can’t beat a title like Fascist Jackboots Shall Not Trample Our Motherland. The cartoon images showing Moscow after the victory over the Nazis are particularly good, with the air defences turned into instruments of celebration. All in all great stuff.
Gramsci: Everything that Concerns People July 24, 2012Posted by irishelectionliterature in Communism, International Politics, The Left.
Thought this might be of interest, a documentary on Antonio Gramsci that I came across on Twitter.
“Gramsci: Everything that Concerns People” (1987), made for Channel4 (Scotland) by Mike Alexander and Douglas Eadie, with Tom Nairn as script consultant.
The KKE has published in English an important article by Giorgos Marinos, a member of the Political Bureau of its Central Committee. The article is addressed in part to those who expressed their solidarity with the KKE in advance of the recent elections (see the statement signed by many Communist and Workers’ parties here and the WP message here for examples), in part it seeks to respond to the attitude adopted towards the KKE by forces at home and abroad, and in part it seeks to inform those who have questions caused by the debate internationally before the June election. The article is a very clear restatement of the principles and positions of the KKE, in terms of what is needed in Greece now, in terms of what social democracy represents, and in terms of broader ideological and organisational questions facing Communist and Workers’ parties worldwide.
In other words, it’s a clear restatement of the fundamentals, and how they should be applied in today’s world in Greece.
It’s a fairly long article, so I’m extracting a few key quotes, and then pasting the whole thing after the break.
We call on the communist men and women, the workers who follow the developments in Greece and are interested in the course of the class struggle to come to a better understanding regarding the strategy and tactics of the KKE, its history and struggles. They should judge its positions based on specific ideological-political criteria and not on rumours and baseless slander. They will then be able to discern that the attack on the strategy of the KKE and its alliance policy and the various laughable claims regarding sectarianism and isolationism have been initiated by bourgeois forces or forces which have in reality rejected Marxist-Leninist principles, the need for socialism, the essence of the class struggle which is meaningful when it is linked to working class-popular power.
They will be able to discern that these forces follow a political line of bourgeois management which is concealed behind talk of a “left solution”, sowing illusions about the “humanization of capitalism”, with very negative consequences for the struggle of the workers.
The conclusion is that the election result as a whole reflects the tendency of the containment of the class oriented radicalism that developed during the period of crisis, under the pressure of the current of the rising petty-bourgeois radicalism, guided by the bourgeois ideology and propaganda.
The strategy that promises a better future for the working people and the unemployed through a so-called left or progressive government, while the power of capital and the capitalist ownership of the means of production remain intact, is dangerous. This strategy has been tested and been proven to be bankrupt. It led Communist parties into assimilation and even dissolution.
This strategy conceals the fundamental issue. It conceals that the problem of unemployment, which is sharpening in an uncontrolled fashion, cannot be solved as long as the power and the wealth that the working class produces remain in the hands of capitalists, as long as capitalist anarchy and the profit motive exist.
The principled stance of the KKE stresses that a revolutionary party cannot have two faces, cannot not negate its strategy, its struggle for working class-people’s power, for socialism in order to snatch votes in parliamentary elections by supporting “management” formations which facilitate the system.
The reduction of the electoral strength of the KKE does not negate the decisive advantages that our party has achieved with a great effort. It does not negate the power it has within the trade unions, the mass organizations, the workers’ and people’s movement its prestige in the working class, the confidence that the people have in it in the every day struggles regardless of whether it was expressed in the elections.
There are more than enough forces to manage the system. What the people need are real communist parties that will not manage the capitalist barbarity in the name of the “governmental left” and in the name of “realistically” accepting the negative correlation of forces. In this way you pave the way for the forces of capital and precious time is wasted, for which the working class and the popular strata will pay a high price.
Iraqi CP Statement on Recent Murders of Several Members June 22, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Communism, Iraq.
Iraq has slipped way down the media’s list of priorities, and we don’t hear a lot of what’s going on there. So posting this statement from the Iraqi Communist Party via the Iraqi Letter blog as a reminder.
“The Political Bureau of the Iraqi Communist Party strongly condemned yet another heinous crime committed by terrorists, the enemies of the Iraqi people, targeting a gathering of mourners at a funeral in the town of Shufta, east of the city of Baqouba, in Diyala province, on 18th June 2012.
The cowardly bombing killed 22 people and left more than 35 injured. The victims included several members and supporters of the Iraqi Communist Party.
A statement issued by the Political Bureau said: “We have stressed repeatedly that narrow partisan and selfish conflicts among the dominant political blocs, and the state of impasse in the political situation, that have nothing to do with the interests of the people and the country, will have a negative impact on the already fragile security situation. This situation results in significant and serious loopholes through which terrorists and militia thugs would easily penetrate, leading to the loss of more victims and innocent lives. It is as if Iraqi blood has become cheap, not only to the terrorist murderers, but also to those who are supposed to protect the lives of people and maintain their security and property.”
“We strongly condemn this barbaric criminal act. And once again we call upon the ruling forces and parties to put an end to their unprincipled conflicts, and demand that the government and its military and security organs assume their responsibilities fully and strike hard at the criminals, the enemies of life and humanity, regardless of whatever cover they have! Full protection must be provided to the Iraqi people, of all social strata, religions, sects and ethnicities.”
The Political Bureau statement expressed deepest condolences to the families of martyrs, and wished the wounded speedy recovery.
“Words” and “Fail” and “Me” June 19, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Art, Business, Communism, Imagery, Uncategorized.
KKE and PCPE Joint Statement March 17, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Communism, KKE.
A joint statement from the KKE and the Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain. Might be of interest to people here, especially given the Spanish angle.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Communist Party of the People’s of Spain (PCPE) have taken the initiative to make a joint statement in the face of the complex developments of the capitalist crisis and the savage offensive of capital against the working class and the poor popular strata both in Greece and Spain as well as in Europe as a whole.
Capitalism cannot solve the problems of the people
The causes of the crisis which is a crisis of the capitalist mode of production itself, a crisis of capital over-accumulation, highlight the boundaries of the capitalist system and the need for its overthrow as well as the timeliness of socialism.
The bourgeois and opportunist forces are being exposed on a daily basis, particularly the “European Left Party”, which have for some time been making assessments: regarding casino-capitalism, a crisis caused by neo-liberalism, a crisis of the financial system as well as a debt crisis. Theses forces have been exposed by the development of the crisis itself. The proposals of the ELP concerning “a pro-people capitalist development” and concerning multi-facetted borrowing via the ECB, which the working class and poor popular strata will be called on to pay for, are tailored for big capital and its interests.
Those forces, bourgeois and opportunist, which saluted and supported the EU, voting for the Maastricht Treaty and the EMU, have also been exposed by the developments themselves. Today those forces which fostered and systematically continue to foster illusions about a “pro-people architecture” of the EU, about its alleged re-establishment, have been refuted. The anti-worker barbarity, which is being promoted by the EU and the bourgeois governments –liberal or social democratic or centre-right or centre-left– serves capital by creating incredible profits and by bankrupting the workers. They promote this permanent state of barbarity through savage cuts in salaries, pensions, dismissals, with unpaid workers and the plundering of the social security funds, through harsh taxation and privatizations. The massive expansion of poverty and the dramatic increase in unemployment reveal the aggressiveness of capital and its aim to devalue the price of labour power, to destroy productive forces in a mass way in order to salvage its profitability in the conditions of the crisis.
In the face of this goal the inter-imperialist competition is sharpening and deepening, demonstrating that the EU is not a union of the peoples but was and is a union of the imperialists which cannot become pro-people. The anxiety which the ELP and other opportunist forces are exhibiting regarding the salvation of the EU, their propaganda to prettify it highlight that they faithfully serve the perpetuation of capitalism and class exploitation.
The EU serves the strategy of capital for cheaper labour power in the competition with the other imperialist states and unions. This strategy explains why there is a general tendency, not only in Greece and Spain but in the whole of Europe, for savage measures to be taken which attack the people and increase the profits of the monopolies. The ELP submits to this strategy with its Statutes and the acceptance of “the EU’s principles” which are in the service of capital. The EU is not a counterweight to the USA nor should the peoples choose imperialism, as the opportunists and the ELP do. Objectively the capitalist crisis, the realignment of the imperialist powers and their intensified competition stoke new flashpoints of war and the massacre of the peoples. The peoples must decisively refuse to shed their blood for the interests of the bourgeois class.
The overthrow of capitalism is the way out and not its management
The developments underline that there can be no return to the past. No expanded state ownership on the terrain of the dominance of the monopolies can have a positive outcome for the peoples in the conditions of the liberalized capitalist market. No “pole of state banks” or an allegedly pro-people transformation of the ECB, no allegedly pro-people “social fund” can constitute a way out for the working class and the poor popular strata.
Sovereignty and democracy, without the disengagement of every country from the EU together with the overthrow of capital’s power, cannot exist. The need today is for class-oriented rallying, the regroupment of the labour movement, the popular alliance of the workers and the poor popular strata to fight for working class power. The formation of a class pole in the labour movement is a pre-condition for the correct orientation of the struggles.
Hope lies in the class struggle
We salute the great struggles of the workers in Greece, Spain and many other countries with the communists and class-oriented forces in the front line. Such struggles will multiply. We particularly salute the magnificent strike of the steelworkers in Greece. This struggle, like the general strikes, demonstrates in practice that the crucial battle will not be waged in the squares with the “indignant citizens”, or at the social dialogues of the compromised representatives of the ITUC/ETUC. The anger and indignation in order to have a prospect must be expressed in the workplaces, where the class struggle is judged, in opposition to the so-called “social cohesion” and the social dialogues which are promoted and supported by the social-democrats, the ELP and the compromised confederations of trade unions, the ITUC and ETUC.
In our countries the existence and activity of a discrete class-oriented pole is a resource and legacy for the struggle of the working class and popular strata. The All-workers Militant Front (PAME) in Greece, as well as the incipient Committees of Workers Unity (CUO) in Spain, constitute a valuable support because they promote the class struggle and expose the undermining role of the compromised leaderships of the trade union movement, and organize the struggle of the working class against capital.
The KKE and the PCPE will strengthen their joint initiatives both in their countries and in the International Communist Movement in order to invigorate the perspective in the working class and the popular strata which is forged by the revolutionary strategy for an implacable class struggle for working class power. The International Communist Review plays a particular role and has a special contribution to this cause. This is an initiative of the theoretical journals of communist parties which aims at reinforcing the Marxist-Leninist direction in the international communist movement as a pre-condition for its necessary regroupment.
Socialism is necessary, timely and the only way out
The bourgeois and opportunists who saluted the overthrow of socialism, who spoke of the “period of freedom, prosperity and peace”, have been completely refuted. Today the ELP bears a particular responsibility for the anti-communist hysteria because it accepted the core of the offensive of the bourgeois class by denying and slandering the socialism we knew, promoting the “21st century socialism” which is nothing other than capitalism with a “human face”, something that cannot exist. The nostalgia for socialism in the countries where it had been constructed is increasing today. The peoples who experienced socialism do not forget it. The CPs can today draw conclusions regarding the laws of socialist construction which were violated and the mistakes which were made. The new socialist revolutions will have a legacy before them, the socialism we knew, the superiority of the socialised and centrally planned economy, without capitalists and exploitation, without crises and unemployment, with disengagement from NATO and the EU, without insecurity about the future, where the working class will be in charge and in control, the class which will take the reins of power into its hands.
March 16, 2012
Joint Statement of the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the 5 Countries with Highest Levels of Unemployment in the EU February 28, 2012Posted by Garibaldy in Communism, Communist Party of Ireland, European Politics, European Union, KKE, Workers' Party.
“Organization and struggle for stable work with rights. Immediate measures for the unemployed. Struggle for a society without unemployment, exploitation, capitalists. The answer is socialism.”
The Communist and Workers Parties of the countries of Europe which have been most affected by unemployment Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia and Ireland call on you to struggle and organize.
We address the 24 million “officially” unemployed people in the European Union, particularly the long term unemployed, the unemployed young people and women who are most badly affected.
We address all those who are not recorded in the official statistics, but experience the same nightmare of unemployment.
We address the semi-employed, the agency workers, the workers without social security, those who work in a state of employment by rotation with flexible shifts, with individual contracts, with piece-work contracts, who experience employer intimidation, who face the danger of dismissal and unemployment.
We address those who are forced into unpaid labour under the pretence of opportunities to return to work; those who are deprived of their entitlements to redundancy payments by employers’ pleading “inability to pay”; workers who are on strike and engaged in occupations and sit-ins to protect their jobs and rights.
We also address the farmers who are being wiped out, the small professional and self-employed who have been led to closure by the assault of the monopolies, the anti-people political line of austerity which attacks the working class-popular families.
All of you, as well as every worker today, better understands that this labour “jungle” is spreading and is becoming a general law which, slowly or quickly, big capital, its governments, and the EU seek to impose in every workplace. There is no time to lose.
In the countries where our parties operate, Spain, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia and Ireland unemployment has reached very dangerous levels. The bourgeois class in each country and the predatory alliance of the EU as a whole, have declared war on the working class and the poor popular strata. The capitalist economic crisis brings new measures which smash whatever the anti-people offensive in the previous period had left upright, especially after the Maastricht Treaty.
In this harsh reality, a handful of plutocrats have made fabulous profits. And yet they demand further measures. Their crisis is not a debt crisis, it is a capitalist crisis which came about due to the over-accumulation of capital.
In order to overcome the crisis in favour of capital, the industrialists, the bankers and the other sections of the plutocracy along with their political representatives impose hard measures in order to further reduce the price of labour power and force more people into unemployment.
In this situation the people’s resistance to these harsh measures has been hindered by those elements in the trade union and labour movement who, having long ago accepted the logic and the ideology of capitalism, now plead that there is no alternative but to succumb to the offensive of capital.
The way forward is to win the majority of workers and their families for class based popular struggles on the strategy which promotes their interests. The Communist and Workers parties must be at the heart of this process.
Struggle together with the class-oriented forces, together with the Communist and Workers parties.
Organize in your unions and workplaces. Contribute to the development of activity. In this direction the strength of the working class can be reinforced.
Demand immediate measures for the protection of the unemployed:
Decent unemployment benefit for all the unemployed.
Comprehensive medical pharmaceutical healthcare and social security protection.
Freezing of their loans and mortgages.
Unemployment is not a natural phenomenon. It is bred by the capitalist system which is characterized by the anarchy in production, by exploitation.
Only a socialist economy, that is to say a centrally planned economy that will be based on workers’ power and the socialized means of production can guarantee the right to work for all.
This is what happened in the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries and it is a historical achievement and one of the many accomplishments of the socialist countries.
Our parties call you to struggle every day, to struggle for the abolition of the exploitation of man by man, for a society without unemployment, for socialism which can satisfy the needs of the people.
Communist Party of Greece
Communist Party of Ireland
Workers Party of Ireland
Socialist Party of Latvia
Socialist People’s Front of Lithuania
Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain