2016 International meeting of Communist and Workers Parties

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ROBERT GRIFFITHS reports on the 18th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties

THIS year’s international meeting of Communist and Workers Parties at the end of October took place in Hanoi, Vietnam against a global background of economic slowdown, political upheaval, rising military tension, forced mass migrations and growing climate instability.

Recovery from the 2008-9 crash has been long, sluggish and uneven. In the advanced capitalist countries, where the financial meltdown began, the average annual growth rate is constant but low at 1.8 per cent.

The slump in wholesale oil prices has hit major Third World producers such as Brazil, Venezuela and Nigeria hard as well as Russia. The fall in non-commodity prices is threatening a new recession in developing countries across Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa.

China’s growth is slowing to an annual rate of 6.6 per cent. While more than three times higher than the US and Western Europe, including Britain, that means less demand for fuel and raw materials for commodity producers.

All this made it possible for more than 100 representatives from 59 parties to agree unanimously to an appeal issued at the close of the three-day conference.

It noted the “worsening socio-economic and environmental crises and the increasing insecurity and instability in many parts of the world caused by capitalism, deepened capitalist crisis, imperialist interventions, interference and machinations.” These had “fostered the emergence of so-called ‘Islamic State’ and other extremist criminal forces, as well as refugee crises.”

The parties of the international communist movement reaffirmed their view that “socialism is the only real alternative to the ongoing economic, social and ecological crises, to capitalist exploitation and barbarity.”

Therefore, the representatives of the international communist movement called for action by its parties in the coming period to:

- Defend democratic freedoms and rights, against anti-communism and all forms of discrimination.
- Express solidarity with communists in Ukraine — where the party has been declared illegal — and in other countries who face bans and persecution.
- Organise activities in the week of May 5-11, 2017, against fascism and neonazism on the 72nd anniversary of the victory over nazi Germany and its allies.
- Broaden the anti-imperialist front against imperialist occupation, intervention and interference in the internal affairs of other countries; against Nato and its expansion; against nuclear weapons, militarisation and foreign military bases and for the peaceful and just settlement of all conflicts based on international law.
- Demand an end to the US blockade of Cuba and support the right of the Palestinian people to a free, sovereign and independent state.
- Commemorate the 150th anniversary next year of the publication of Karl Marx’s Capital.

In particular, the world’s communists were eager to organise events next year to mark the centenary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, which “paved the way for a new period in human history.” Such celebrations would highlight the contribution of socialism to “advance the struggle of workers and peoples for their emancipation and the need to step up the struggle for peace, social progress and socialism.”

At least 25 parties also signed a solidarity statement calling for an end to “war, terror and human catastrophe” in Syria.

It condemned the imperialist powers and their reactionary allies in the Middle East for creating a major crisis of war and destruction in the region. Their aim is to consolidate imperialist hegemony, ensuring unrivalled control over the flow of oil and free access to natural resources and markets.

“The US and EU powers are considering altering the existing borders of Syria and Iraq and creating new statelets in their place based along ethnic and sectarian fault lines,” the statement continued. “The New Middle East Plan is speedily taking shape.”

Making a distinction between foreign forces in Syria invited in by the Assad government and those not — who are in breach of the UN Charter — the signatories declared that there could be no military solution to the conflict.

Instead, communists called for all key non-terrorist players to return to the negotiating table without preconditions, respecting the independence and territorial integrity of the country. The arming and funding of terrorist organisations inside Syria should cease.

“The future of Syria and its government should be decided by the Syrian people alone, by their own free will,” the statement demanded.

Communist and workers’ parties from Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Iran and Turkey were among those warning that “without the people’s struggle and mass solidarity campaigns for the peaceful resolution of existing conflicts […] the tragedies will only continue to grow.”

Other solidarity statements signed by many parties at the international meeting demanded the reunification of Cyprus and the establishment of a Palestinian state in line with the pre-1967 borders.

The strongest condemnation of Israel’s “brutal and ugly oppression” of the Palestinian people came from that country’s communist party. General secretary Adel Amar reiterated its commitment to uniting and organising workers of every nationality and securing a two-state solution in accordance with international law.

Most of the parties from Europe condemned the austerity, privatisation and militaristic policies of the European Union.
“The Brexit vote of the British working class was a blow to the EU imperialists, and important support for our fight against the EU and the EU-EEA Agreement,” declared Svend Jacobsen of the Communist Party of Norway.

Eddie Glackin from the Irish CP said that the referendum result had “caused panic in the Irish ruling class and its subservience to London, Brussels and Washington DC.”

Danish communists pointed out that people in their country had voted against their own rulers and the EU in a referendum last December, to retain national and democratic control over home affairs. Bo Moeller, the international secretary of the Communist Party in Denmark, told the meeting that “a break with the EU will be a major step towards our goal of socialist revolution.”

The German Communist Party (DKP) condemned the “unreformable” EU and its recent anti-refugee deal with Turkey.

“Europe does not need a European Union as a capitalist construction guided by imperialist ideas and practice,” insisted DPK secretary of international relations Gunter Pohl.

Vera Polycarpou of the Progressive Working People’s Party of Cyprus (AKEL) attacked the militarism and expansionism of the “EU-Nato bloc” in eastern Europe, the Caucasus and the greater Middle East region. She recognised the “democratic and pro-worker” dimension of Britain’s anti-EU vote and urged Europe’s communist parties to co-operate more closely to defend national sovereignty against EU centralisation.

Many parties emphasised the vital role being played by democratic people’s movements against TTIP and similar pro-big business, anti-worker trade and investment agreements.

Dmitri Novikov of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, chair of the Duma’s foreign relations committee, shared these anti-Nato, anti-EU positions. But he also pointed to the erosion of democratic rights, incomes and living standards under President Vladimir Putin and his austerity regime.

Speakers from Latin America highlighted the efforts by US-backed local business and media elites to roll back social and political gains there. As well as denouncing the unconstitutional coup against President Dilma Rousseff, Jose Reinaldo from the CP of Brazil listed 20 countries across the region where the US retains military bases.Leading Venezuelan communist Carolus Wimmer drew an important lesson from the reactionary campaign to derail President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution — the need for a strong communist party, with a revolutionary perspective for socialism, in every country.

The meeting agreed that the parties should intensify their relations at regional and international levels. A proposal to meet next in Russia in 2017, the centenary year of the Great October Socialist Revolution, was met with universal acclaim.

  • Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain.