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?
As the general crisis of capitalism—economically, ecologically, socially, culturally, politically—reasserts itself, we need to show how our communist values would shape a modern, humane and democratic society which can meet the needs and aspirations of the mass of people.
Our vision of socialism—the lower stage of communism—has to explain how the economy and society might be reorganised on a new basis for the benefit of all.
Challenging the economic and political power of the capitalist monopolies must be an essential part of the communist solution. Public ownership and economic planning—enhanced by the application of modern information and communications technology—are the antidotes to market anarchy, plunder and waste.
We need to provide modern, concrete examples of how capitalist relations of production obstruct the full and beneficial development of society's productive forces. For example, capitalist ownership ensures that medical technology, robotics and automation are not developed and applied in order to benefit the mass of humanity.
How will socialism secure the future of the planet's eco-system, bearing in mind that—as the most recent IMF World Economic Outlook report confirms—the chief victims of global warming and climate change are the poorest layers of the working class in the tropical Third World?
How will socialism usher in an epoch of peace and international solidarity?
The Communist response must include a relentless struggle against imperialist super-exploitation, the military-industrial complex and wars of aggression. Social progress is impossible in times of war. Communist and workers' parties everywhere need to strengthen and project the World Peace Council and its national affiliated organisations.
In the advanced bourgeois democratic countries, in particular, many people equate communism with dictatorship and the abolition of democratic rights.
More must be done to explain how and why socialism and communism will expand and transform democracy, drawing the mass of people into the self-government of their workplaces and communities, abolishing monopoly power and repressive legislation, opening up the mass media to social ownership and participation, and subordinating elected representatives to the needs and aspirations of those who elect them.
What will socialism mean for women, racial and religious minorities and young people?
The benefits to them of social ownership, public sector investment and economic planning have to be spelt out if we are not to appear irrelevant to wide sections of the working class and the people.
Inspired by the Great October Socialist Revolution, these are questions that Communists need to answer if the 21st century is to mark the final victory of socialism.
Long live the inspiration of the October Socialist Revolution!
Long live the international communist movement!"