ROBERT GRIFFITHS IN RUSSIA - Communist Party general secretary speech to the international meeting in St Petersburg (Leningrad), 2 November 2017.
When we Communists urge people to overthrow capitalism because it is unfair, unstable, wasteful, belligerent, exploitative and oppressive, many agree with us that capitalism is indeed most—if not all—of these things.
But what do we propose to put in its place?
Before the Great October Socialist Revolution, we could only offer people a set of values—liberty, equality, cooperation, comradeship, freedom—and the hope that a new type of society could be created in which these would be the ruling values.
Marx did not provide any model for the future communist society, although he pointed to the Paris Commune as an example of how power can be exercised by the mass of people through a system of direct democracy.
But he was reluctant to provide a blueprint because, as the very first rule of the International Working Men's Association put it, the emancipation of the working classes must be achieved by the working classes themselves'.
After 1917, Communists could point to the achievements of the Soviet Union in the teeth of civil war, imperialist intervention, sabotage and fascist invasion. It transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of workers and their families for the better. It played the leading role in rescuing Europe from Nazi-fascist barbarism. It proclaimed the equality of women, all races and nationalities and assisted the struggle for peace, progress, socialism and national liberation across the world.
Yet there were weaknesses, failures and severe violations of socialist democracy that eroded popular support for the Soviet Union, outside and within.
This does not mean that Communists should cease defending and promoting all that was liberating and transformational about the October Revolution and its outcome.
But how can we inspire workers and the mass of people today with the ideals of socialism and communism?