By Andy Brooks
The New Communist Party contribution to the European communist conference in Brussels in January 2017
The 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution is time for reflection as well as celebration. In one form or another the 1917 Russian Revolution will be celebrated in every country of the world and it is fitting that we should be here not just to honour the generations that have gone before us, but to look to the future with confidence and determination.
Confidence because we know as Marxist-Leninists that socialism will prevail in the 21st century and steadfast because we also know that only through iron discipline, a firm grasp of theory and a determination to build a mass communist movement can the revolutionary movement succeed.
In the opening words of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, Marx and Engels said: “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism.” That spectre is still there, despite the fall of the Soviet Union, and now it haunts the entire globe.
The ruling class, the industrialists, the capitalists and the big landowners rejoiced when the counter-revolutions that they had worked so long to achieve took place in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
They told us that socialism was finished and that history was dead. They preached about the superiority of the capitalist system. But now they cannot point to a single country where it works apart from People’s China, which is not a capitalist country.
They say that socialism means dictatorship and that capitalism stands for freedom. But it is freedom only for the exploiters to continue to rob and plunder working people across the globe to ensure that a tiny handful of parasites can live the lives of Roman emperors on the backs of the millions upon millions of working people.
They claim that they stand for intellectual freedom, but it is the freedom of the straitjacket and the dungeon. They preach this freedom with their bombers and drones, their special forces and blockades against all those who dare to stand up for themselves. We see what the ruling class mean by freedom in occupied Palestine, Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria and Ukraine.
They say we have free speech and democracy, but it’s democracy and freedom only for them. If we really lived in a democracy we would expect to see the majority of representatives in the bourgeois parliaments drawn from the majority of the population – the working class. In fact, outside the ranks of the communists, you could count the number of workers in parliament on your fingers.
In fact bourgeois democracy is democracy only for the exploiters. It’s dictatorship in all but the formal sense for the exploited. Bourgeois elections are used so that the smallest number of people can manipulate the maximum number of votes. Parliaments may reflect the divisions in the ruling class but ultimately all these assemblies are a fraud to mask the fact that bourgeois government rests on the bourgeois state, which exists solely to serve the interests of the ruling class. Whether it’s bogus bourgeois democracy or open bourgeois dictatorship depends on the economic situation and the balance of forces in any given country.
All states are a dictatorship of one class over another, and all ultimately rely on violence to carry out that function. But it is clear that Germany under Hitler in 1933 was different to that of, say 1927, just as the Italian state of the mid 1920s was different to that of 1919, before Mussolini took power. The difference, however, is one of degree only. The dictatorship of the bourgeoisie takes many forms. ranging from “liberal democracies” to naked, open fascist dictatorship. For Left social democrats and communists, murdered in their thousands in Germany from 1919 to 1923, it can have been of little comfort that they were living in a liberal democracy rather than a fascist dictatorship.
Fascism, in a form that Hitler or Mussolini would recognise, is unlikely to return. The process that gave rise to it, however, is only too likely to happen again and a good examples of such situations would be the events during the anti-communist hysteria in America following World War Two, the current revival of racist and fascist movements whose ideas are being openly legitimised by the traditional bourgeois parties in Europe and the United States and the phenomena of creeping fascism – the incremental erosion of civil rights and the growth of authoritarianism in Britain and the rest of Europe that began in the 1980s and rapidly accelerated following the 1990 counter-revolutions that swept away Soviet power in the USSR and people’s democracy in eastern Europe.
The global capitalist economy is in the depths of the world-wide slump that began in 2008, and throughout Europe all the bourgeois and social-democratic parties have closed ranks around austerity programmes designed to put the entire burden of the crisis of capitalism on the backs of working people.
From the start the Greek communists (KKE) led the fight-back across Europe against the austerity programme demanded by the European Union. The militant stand of the Greek communist movement was an inspiration to communists and everyone else campaigning against austerity and the EU. The fight-back grew within the labour movement across the continent but the communists, as a whole, were unable to stop it being headed off and diverted by the traditional social-democratic movements and the “European Party of the Left”, along with new Left social-democratic platforms such as Syriza that were created and ultimately supported by the hidden hand of the ruling class precisely for that purpose.
Whilst millions of people scrabble to earn a living just to keep a roof over their heads, a tiny elite live lives beyond the reach and often beyond the imagination of most workers. We say “make the rich pay” and call for increased state welfare as short-term counters to the anti-people budgets of our bourgeois governments. But what we all want is to get rid of the rich once and for all.
Now it’s a fact that all the wealth of Europe and all the wealth of the world is produced by workers slaving away in fields, mines and factories. What is also true is that, outside the remaining socialist countries, working people receive only a miserably fraction of the wealth that they produce every day of their lives.
Only socialism can end this. Only through socialism can the will of the masses, the overwhelming majority of the people, be carried out. Only socialism and mass democracy – not the sham parliaments of the bourgeoisie or the myths of social democracy – can end the class system and free working people from their slavery.
Under socialism there will be no exploitation. Everyone will have decent housing, a job, good education, a truly free national health service and a decent pension when the time comes to retire.
There will be no more slums. No more poverty, racism, discrimination or bigotry. There will be culture, sports, arts and entertainment for all, by the masses and for the masses. The old decadent culture of selfishness, individuality and competition that pits worker against worker will go. Workers in their plant, office or collective will have an important role to play.
The destruction of the environment by capitalism will be replaced by planned sustained production for use, not profit.
There will be no more white-collar and blue-collar divisions and no more dead-end jobs, because every job will have a value for society. Hours will be less and workers will have more recreational time; time to appreciate life, to discover and debate, to play or travel, time to ponder, time to create.
Socialism will unleash the great potential of working people to build a new and better society for themselves and the generations yet to come.
Marx and Engels spent much of their creative lives in Britain as practical revolutionaries as well as great thinkers. They knew they would never see socialism in their own lifetimes but they never doubted the inevitability or the necessity for change. And the torch of freedom that fanned the fires of the Paris Commune and blazed in Chicago lit the flames of the 1917 Russian Revolution that continues to blaze in Democratic Korea and Cuba and the other people’s democracies in China, Laos and Vietnam.
The lesson of those epic struggles is that socialism can only be won through revolution and that revolution can only be led by a revolutionary party. It can’t be done through elections because when the bourgeoisie is threatened it reaches for its gun and abandons all trappings of democracy. It can’t be done through general strikes alone because they can so easily be defeated or diverted by our rulers.
It can only be achieved through the mobilisation of the masses – the working class who have still to realise their strength – and there must be a leading Marxist-Leninist Party around which the class can close ranks.
This is the meaning of 1917 for us and together we are starting the march forward again. Whether we live to see the day of victory is not important. What we can be certain of is that that day will surely come and that future generations will thank us for laying the foundations of the new era in the 21st century.