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22nd Theoretical-Political Conference in Prague: Speech of KKE

22nd Theoretical-Political Conference
Prague, 21.04.2007

“The crimes of capitalism and the prospects for humanity”

Dear comrades

We were delighted to accept the invitation to participate in such an interesting discussion on a theme that keeps taking on new dimensions. We will try to focus our remarks on the most important points, based on international experience and our own experience in Greece.

From this podium, we would like once more to deplore the continuing anti-communist attacks against Communists in your country by the “democratic” state and to express our Party’s solidarity with the Communists and in particular with our younger comrades in the Communist Youth Union (KSM) of the Czech Republic.

When talking about the crimes of capitalism, we cannot judge them on the criteria of bourgeois law and bourgeois justice. Crimes cannot be imputed to capitalism only in the name of “freedom”, “democracy” and “human rights”, as proclaimed in bourgeois democratic revolutions. Moreover, these proclamations contained an objective contradiction. On the political level, they expressed the progressive role of the middle class at the time it was fighting to overthrow feudalism, but on the economic level, by recognising the right to private ownership of the means of production as sacred, they signified domination by capitalist relations of production. Based on this domination and the extension of capitalist relations, capitalism in the late 19th century objectively and inevitably passed into its imperialist stage, and to reaction all along the line at the political level. That was when the class character of these proclamations was largely revealed: i.e. anything concerning democracy, freedom, justice and human rights was for the bourgeoisie and not for the workers. This truth was also the objective instrument by which the illusion that these proclamations had a universal, humane nature was overcome, as this illusion had been cultivated during the historic period when the bourgeoisie appeared as the representative of the entire nation of all oppressed classes against feudalism.

It is, of course, a fact that capitalism in its imperialist stage, revealing its reactionary nature, takes us even further back than these bourgeois republican proclamations of the 18th and 19th centuries, as a very natural and integral part of its evolution.

Where should we look for the source of the “crimes” of capitalism?
  • In the very nature of capitalism, which lies in the exploitation of man by man, and in the fact that the means of production and the wealth produced by the labour of millions of people are owned by a small minority.
  • In the fact that the criterion of capitalist profit is what determines whether or not and the extent to which the needs of the people are met, this criterion overrules every step forward by science and technology.
  • In the tough competition among capitalists and particularly now, among monopolies, over the control of markets on the national and international level.
  • In the fact that in order to deal with the objective inevitable rise of the class struggle, the bourgeois state is taking various measures against the labour and popular movement and against Communist Parties.
  • In the fact that the bourgeois ideology is a reactionary excuse for exploitation, oppression and anti-communism.

Let us look at some typical examples from the history of the 20th century, but also from recent developments at the dawn of the 21st century:

A. Capitalism in its imperialist stage generated two imperialist world wars with deaths numbering 19.769.102 and 72.724.200 respectively. Between these two wars, the rise of Fascism-Nazism in a number of countries, as a general preparation for the new war that was targeted in particular to strike the USSR and to break the Communist movement, revealed the full extent of what is called “reaction all along the line”.

B.A number of factors such as conflicts between segments of the bourgeois class, intra-imperialist conflicts, the need to deal with the popular movement, and the decisive advancement of capitalist restructuring led to a number of cruel bourgeois dictatorships being established in various countries in the world: Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and other countries in Latin America, as well as countries in Asia and Africa. We in Greece had the experience of a 7-year military dictatorship (1967-74) that was supported by some of the bourgeois class and by major imperialist centres such as the US; it contributed to the development of monopoly capitalism in Greece, and committed pitiless crimes against our people.

C.Interventions by powerful imperialist centres of an openly military nature or through the action of secret services, both in the context of the 70 years of struggle between capitalism and socialism after the October Revolution, as well as today as part of intra-imperialist competition to control energy markets and transport routes together with natural resources. We have direct experience of armed imperialist intervention (Britain and the US) in 1944-1949 against the popular movement. During this Civil War, the Greek bourgeois class. with the support of the British and Americans, committed great crimes against the Greek people. There were , 150.000 people killed , 5.000 people executed, 40.000 exiled, 1 million peoples uprooted from their villages and 65.000 political refugees who fled the country.

At the same time, owing to our geographical location, we are also exposed to imperialist crimes against other peoples, the peoples of the Middle East in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq; those Cypriot people who, because of imperialist planning, are now under Turkish occupation and face the possibility that their country will be partitioned; the peoples of former Yugoslavia who a few years ago suffered the imperialist NATO aggression, and who are now plagued by the revival of nationalist and chauvinist conflicts fomented by US and EU imperialist centres. Today we are witnessing preparations for a new cycle of imperialist interventions after those of Iraq, Afghanistan and the war in Lebanon; now they have set their sights on several other countries (e.g. Syria, Iran, the PR of Korea, Cuba, etc.).

D.Throughout the history of capitalism there have been significant examples of the bourgeoisie’s harsh oppression of the popular movement, from the 3,000 dead workers in the revolution of June 1848 and the 15,000 slaughtered communards in 1871, to the thousands of people killed by military and fascist dictatorships in the 20th century. But oppression and the restriction of democratic rights for the working class and the movement do not apply solely to bourgeois dictatorships; they have been a common feature of all 20th-century bourgeois democracies. Today this oppression is being updated; it is taking on many forms and incorporating features that have been tested in a few countries (e.g. private armies and police forces modelled on the paramilitary death squads in Latin America). The operation of international regional imperialist organisations such as the EU, NATO, etc. contribute to coordinating oppression-related policies, so that there is a uniform policy on the pretext of the “terrorism” of the so-called “asymmetrical threats”. The main features of this policy, as we have experienced it in Greece, are:

a) Strengthening of the police state

“Citizen security” and “combating crime” have become the argument put forward by governments for reinforcing their police forces. The Greek people find themselves more and more frequently being faced with police high-handedness that stems from the implementation of anti-democratic legislation and the directives provided to the machinery of repression. In recent years, the special state services for surveillance and repression have been strengthened. There has been an increase in the number of cases in which secret police agents have taken action at rallies. The behaviour of these agents has become much more violent, and dangerous chemicals are more frequently used against demonstrators.

b) Establishment of repressive machinery and networks of informers

Municipal Police

This is a new force with many police competencies on the local level. These competencies, the content of training and administration and the relations of this force with the state police make it part of the more general state machinery of repression against the people. The trend is to extend its object, jurisdictions and means of repression.

Private policing companies
Private security services have flourished in recent years. In the workplace they function as machinery for terrorising and informing on workers. They hinder trade unionists from entering the workplace and trade union activity more generally; they also terrorise by imposing body searches on the working people.

Effort to ensnare people in networks of police informers
At the local government level and on the pretext of “combating crime”, Crime Prevention Boards and “volunteer police” have been set up and are being promoted. This is an effort to create agents who will discuss and act locally, in collaboration with the police, to deal with crime. This effort aims to monitor every social initiative and militant activity in the neighbourhoods and to create networks of informers.

c) The people are surrounded by cameras

On the pretext of security during the Olympic Games, the C4i system (command, control, communication, coordination and information system) was installed, which consists of many cameras, air and land facilities and a large amount of other equipment that cost hundreds of millions of euros. Now an effort is being made to extend it everywhere invoking alleged traffic control and crime prevention.

E. The “invisible” crimes of capitalism that are directly related to the operation of the capitalist economy, private ownership of the means of production and capitalist profitability are the most difficult to identify but also the most numerous. These are crimes against social development, against the very life of the working class and the poor working strata. The EU’s Lisbon strategy and the capitalist restructuring that is being promoted in recent years in all sectors deepen these crimes.
  • Intensifying exploitation in all its forms, abolishing a number of older gains (related to e.g. working hours, collective agreements, etc.), job insecurity, and prolonging the working time, especially when conditions are appropriate for reducing working time, are all crimes against the working class.
  • The intensification of labour results in grinding down the labour force and in labour accidents, which have cost Greece 4,000 lives since 1974 and which, in recent years, number 100-150 deaths annually.
  • Destruction of the basic productive strength of the working person by condemning millions of working people, and especially young people all over the world, to unemployment or to drifting from one low-paid job to another and the social problems that arise from it, such as the great difficulty of young couples to have a family.
  • The widening of the gap between rich and poor, which is taking on provocative dimensions and has a direct effect on undermining the rights and underestimating the increased needs of the working class and the poor strata of the people. In Greece, 20% of the population live below the official poverty line.
  • The increasing commercialisation of the people’s needs for education, health, social security and welfare.
  • The ruination of poor and middle-class farmers within the context of the so-called Common Agricultural Policy.
  • The asymmetrical economic development that condemns so many regions, countries and zones on the planet to poverty, misery and marginalisation.
  • The modern slave trade that, at least in Greece, began operating fairly recently through the establishment of companies that rent out workers.
  • The destruction of the environment in conjunction with monopoly control over food supplies, and the physical grinding down of the labour force owing to the exhausting intensification of labour lead to the spread of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
  • It is a capitalist crime when capabilities exist for treating a number of diseases (e.g. cancer, AIDS) but the pharmaceutical monopolies and multinationals slow down this capability to protect their profits.
Let us consider the role of the capitalist socio-economic foundation – without of course suggesting that this is the sole cause – of a number of other social phenomena and problems such as the crime rate, which is associated both with increased poverty but also directly with the organised crime that constitutes a feature of the capitalist economy and is linked with drug trafficking, prostitution, and the “illegal” armaments trade. In addition, capitalist ideological models influence the formation of young people’s personalities and the growing use of narcotics among young people, etc.

The discussion of the “criminal” nature of capitalism is, in our opinion, directly linked with the fight to overthrow it, in contrast to those forces, mainly of social democracy and the new left, such as the Synaspismos in Greece, that are looking for ways to blunt its sharpest corners and to cultivate the illusion that there is some chance of reconciling capitalist profit with the interests of the working people.

To counter the anti-communist propaganda and policy that strive to make communism look like a criminal system, we must publicise the superiority of socialism both through the experience of building socialism in the USSR and Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th century, despite the weaknesses and mistakes that were made, as well as through current affairs and the realistic potential of socialism today as the only response to the on-going economic and political capitalist crimes against the working class.

What they present as communist crime is the revolutionary class struggle of the working people and their allies against their exploiters, a struggle to abolish the exploitation of man by man and not to perpetuate it.

We believe that the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution, which we shall be celebrating in just a few months, should be the occasion for a great campaign by communists all over Europe to refute the anti-communist campaign, project the necessity and realist prospects of socialism, and mark the 21st century as the century of socialist revolutions.


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