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Joint Statement of the Communist and Workers’ Parties of the 5 Countries with Highest Levels of Unemployment in the EU February 28, 2012

Posted 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.”

Worker, Unemployed

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.

The Parties:

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


1. yourcousin - February 29, 2012

And people say the left doesn’t have a sense of humor…


2. FergusD - February 29, 2012

I find it curious that the Workers’ Party and the CPI are separate organisations. I know the WP’s history isn’t traditional communist (SF -> OSF -> WP) but are there any substantial ideological differences between them now? Given they are both small why not merge?


Dr. X - February 29, 2012

I’m not sure if the CPI was ever that keen on North Korea (NB, I mean this as a serious point). I don’t recall ever seeing the complete works of Kim Il-Sung in Connolly books, for example.


FergusD - February 29, 2012

OK, so the WP took the North Korea franchise, before or after the collapse of the USSR? The CPI was presumably the USSR franchise? A bit bizarre. Both irrelevant now surely so why do they not get together?


LeftAtTheCross - February 29, 2012

WbS, I invoke the Godwin Law ammendment here in relation to that comment, i.e. the irrelevant and out of context association of the WP with the DPRK, as was discussed last time this cropped up. This is just trolling.


WorldbyStorm - February 29, 2012

I don’t think it’s wrong to mention DPRK in the context of a discussion on differences between the CPI and WP, but fair enough, any further concentration on that as the defining difference between them is a bit much. Surely the real distinction has been the relationship with concepts of nationalism and republicanism? No?


LeftAtTheCross - March 1, 2012

That distinction on nationalism was certainly prominent in my mind when I was looking for an ideological home. Other than that difference I’m not sure there’s a lot of ideological separation, more a question of emphasis and approach. I’m sure Garibaldy and Eugene McCartan or Tom Redmond could expand on the differences from a WP and CP perspective, but what is there to be gained from itemising differences when clearly there’s a vastly larger body of agreement which unites communist and workers parties across the EU and beyond. Genuinely not sniping here but some of the public dialog between the SP and SWP is shocking stuff, really that sort of dirty linen is better off being washed and aired behind closed doors.


Mark P - March 1, 2012

How big is the difference on nationalism these days? I mean, the Workers Party appear to have readopted at least a fair bit of republican language in more recent times. It’s not like we are talking about the Harris/Smullen WP any more. What are the two groups strategic outlooks for the North and the national question?

From the perspective of an outsider, who mostly encounters the two groups through their publications, today’s Workers Party, in marked contrast to its 1980s incarnation, seems more open to collaboration with others on the left, while the CP retains a certain cranky hostility towards, ahem, the “ultraleft”. Is this an accurate reading?

Am I correct in thinking that the CP has a strategic plan not a million miles from the British Road to Socialism, involving a broad “anti-monopoly alliance” and the election of a socialist government based on that alliance? How does the WP see itself achieving its aims?

What’s the WP’s view on partnership agreements nowadays?

I mean all of these questions seriously by the way.


Garibaldy - March 1, 2012

Mark, I think you probably haven’t thought that remark about the WP and nationalism through properly. The WP’s attitude towards nationalism (in either its British or Irish form) in the north remains the same has it has been for decades, re: the sectarian nature of both blocs and the need to overcome them both by promoting anti-sectarianism and building class consciousness. Similarly, the WP’s understanding of republicanism has for decades been is that it is an internationalist and not a nationalist political philosophy (and once again I’ll remind people that the constitution of the Party has for decades outlined the Party’s goal as a democratic, secular, socialist, unitary state on the island of Ireland – a Republic).

As you note, the WP believes in the necessity for cooperation across the left, and is doing what it can to promote that aim, not only through its publications but also on the ground.


Mark P - March 1, 2012

Garibaldy, what you say is formally correct in terms of the WP’s position, but both you and I know that there has been a noticeable shift in the language of the WP since the days of Harris and Smullen.

Any chance of you answering some of the questions I raised above?


Garibaldy - March 1, 2012

I really do think Mark that there is no difference in formal position and actual position, and that there is decades worth of evidence of actual practice behind that. There has been stuff posted here from Smullen lambasting the provos for not being proper republicans, so I’m not entirely sure that the understanding of what the WP was saying in the late 1970s and 1980s is actually an accurate one when you go back and look at the historical record in the round. Look at Easter and Bodenstown speeches from the period, and you’ll see the same thing. The notion that the WP abandoned the language of republicanism is not true, but it was always the WP’s own understanding of republicanism that was being referred to. Clearly certain things that were going on in the 1980s have now stopped, the political climate has changed, and so has everybody’s language to reflect the end of the violence and the embrace of democratic politics all round. But the fundamental critique of nationalism and unionism remains the same. So do does the strategic vision of fighting sectarianism and forging class consciousness in the north as the means of solving the issues there. That’s answering your question, as was the remark about left cooperation. I see I missed your point about social partnership, which I’ll deal with when I have more time. As for the other stuff, I thought it best to let the CPI speak for itself if it wishes.


Mark P - March 1, 2012

Garibaldy, with all due respect that doesn’t really say very much.

I’m well aware that the WP, even in the 80s, used to make occasional nods towards Republicanism, and I’m also aware that when it did so the WP was using its own idiosyncratic definition of that term which included its own views and excluded most self-described Republicans. Nevertheless, the general public language of the WP has certainly changed since the 80s, as you seem to semi-acknowledge with your remark about “everybody’s language” changing with the context. Look Left, for instance, does not carry spittle-flecked rants in the Harris style about Provo-Trot crypto-fascists, and is certainly the better for it.

I’m not asking you for a polemical assault on the CPI, by the way. I’m just curious as to what you perceive the major differences to me along with the justification for continued separation. I know what the historical reasons were for first a period of close cooperation and then a marked falling out, but that was 40 years ago now.


Garibaldy - March 1, 2012

I don’t think the general public discourse of the party was ever of the provo-trot crypto fascist variety, although clearly those terms were sometimes used, and especially at times of split and tension. If we ran everything the WP said during a computer for content, I suspect that such terms would be a very small percentage. It no longer makes any sense, for example, to suggest that the nationalist and unionist former paramilitaries are engaged in an anti-democratic campaign of violence etc, and so of course no-one talks that way any more, including the WP. There’s no mystery about this, nor does it reflect some fundamental shift in ideology or attitudes towards that violence or towards nationalism.

I suppose when it comes to my own politics, I prefer the WP’s emphasis on what the problems of the north are to that of the CPI.


CL - March 1, 2012

Michael O’Riordan vehemently opposed the Harris/Smullen ‘Irish Industrial Revolution’ which he saw as pro-imperialism.


3. FergusD - February 29, 2012

“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.” There aren’t many people who will be impressed by this statement. Even if it is true the other glaring failures of the USSR turn most people right off.


4. Clive Sullish - February 29, 2012

What in the name of all that is sacred are the WP thinking about? Lining up with the ‘Communist’ parties of Lithuania and Latvia? The nearest equivalents here – certainly in the way they are perceived – would the Oirish units of the British Legion


5. Tel - February 29, 2012

Of course people in the Soviet Union had the “right to work” after their access to the means of subsistence/production was wrested from them in the “collectivisation” and “de-kulakisation” campaigns they had the “right to work”, similar in fact to what is described in Part VIII Volume I of Capital.

Being unemployed in the Republic of Ireland is a hundred thousand times preferable to being employed in a society based on the Soviet Union & holding the Soviet Union up as an example to be followed is beyond belief really in this day & age.

For full unemployment! For the right not to work!


LeftAtTheCross - February 29, 2012

“Being unemployed in the Republic of Ireland is a hundred thousand times preferable to being employed in a society based on the Soviet Union”

I work with a couple of Russians who wouldn’t agree with that statement, and they lived in the USSR, they’re not armchair commentators.


yourcousin - March 1, 2012

And I have a mother in law who was forced to work in an arms factory when she had trained in drafting so there you go. But if one thinks that making the mentally ill homeless clean statues such as went on behind the iron curtain is a way to counter unemployment then I would argue the forest is being lost for the trees.


LeftAtTheCross - March 2, 2012

YC, I’m curious about your thoughts on the following article in the Daily Star on the positive aspects of life in socialist Hungary in the 70s and 80s. The Daily Star isn’t known as a Left-sympathetic publication by the way, to say the least.


LeftAtTheCross - March 2, 2012
6. EamonnCork - February 29, 2012

I’m reminded of the Japanese soldiers who kept fighting the second world war decades after it had finished. The implication of the statement is that it was a sad day for the people of Lithuania and Latvia when Communism fell.


LeftAtTheCross - March 1, 2012

That’s an interpretation from a nationalist perspective though. An alternative reading is that it was a sad day for the international working class when communism fell.


EamonnCork - March 1, 2012

With all due respect I don’t think I’d agree with that reading. The reason I mentioned Lithuania and Latvia is less to do with nationalism than the fact that those countries actually had to live with a communist regime. Though surely Russian control of Lithuania and Latvia is imperialism, no matter what ideological mantle it’s cloaked under.
I do think the CPI come out with some good stuff but I think it’s bizarre to find people harking back to the days of Soviet communism as a kind of lost golden age.


CMK - March 1, 2012

There’s also the problem of perception of contemporary communist parties and their use of anachronistic symbols; the hammer and sickle, for instance.

When the KKE drape a banner across the walls of the Acropolis bearing that symbol it immediately irks, at best, or alienates completely, at worst, huge numbers of workers across Eastern Europe and particularly in the Baltic states. Images and perceptions matter and many workers in those parts of Europe would well reason that ‘struggles in Greek = possible return of Stalinist communism’ based on the visibility of Soviet era symbols. And you can be sure that the media and the political establishment in these states are not going to convey the subtlties or nuances of the KKE’s current role or the role of the Left in post-war Greek history. Many of these workers, for better or worse, view EU membership as an infinite improvement on Soviet rule and, consequently, are going to give their allegiance or the benefit of neutrality, in a fight, to the twelve gold stars and not the hammer and sickle.

That can’t be wished away by the communist parties who, if they want to have a productive role in contemporary struggles, will just have to recognise the limitations of their symbols and rhetoric in current struggles. Progress for the Left in Europe is being impeded by the experience and legacy of Stalinism, which was a lived experience for those in Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Invoking the Soviet Union as an ideal, in the current context, automatically loses you support and gains you, unnecessarily, enemies among workers.


7. Dr. X - February 29, 2012

“Our parties call you to struggle every day” – i.e. your struggle, your sacrifice, will bring us victory. Good luck with that, lads.


Garibaldy - March 1, 2012

I think Dr X that it’s obvious that is not what is being said, as reading the rest of the statement shows. Nor is that or has that been the attitudes of the parties involved as far as I know.


8. PfK - February 29, 2012

whilst some good material comes out of the cpi, they really should know better than signing up to this archaic lingo. it really belongs to another century and makes them look like relics of history. Harping on about the Soviet Union, despite its many great achievements, 20 years later…time get over it and move on.


FergusD - March 1, 2012

PfK – I agree about the language used – ancient. And tehre shoudl be some rule about how often tou can use “struggle”. You can end up a parody if you’re not careful.

As for “Harping on about the Soviet Union, despite its many great achievements, 20 years later…time get over it and move on.” I would argue that before you move on it behoves any left group that supported the USSR (at any time) to think deeply about the USSR and what it became and how. I just don’t feel these parties have done that, perhaps few have. Someone mentioned on another thread that that the KKE had examined the record of the USSR, but it seems they see the Krushev period as counter-revolution and by implication the Stalin period as revolutionary (perhaps they don’t, but it looks that way) which I find very disturbing.

LATC Re: references to N Korea, I wasn’t meaning to snipe with my “franchise” comment but rather to understand what the ideological differences are/were. Was/is the WP an admirer of Kim Il Jung thought? Apparently not? In truth many left groups over the years have sought out “socialist” countries they can admire (other than the USSR) e.g. China, Albania, Cuba. Maybe we all hanker after that – an actual existing socialist example to serve as an inspiration. Alas, personally I can’t see any. Which is something to think about.


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