Communist Party of Greece: Criticism of certain contemporary opportunist views on the state
worker | April 20, 2017 | 8:50 pm | Analysis, class struggle, Communist Party Greece (KKE), Ecuador, Frederick Engels, Greece, Hugo Chavez, Karl Marx, political struggle, socialism, Syriza, USSR, V.I. Lenin, Venezuela
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Communist Party of Greece: Criticism of certain contemporary opportunist views on the state
POSITION OF THE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS SECTION OF THE CC OF THE KKE AT THE 11th ANNUAL CONFERENCE “V.I.LENIN, THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION AND THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD”.
The importance and timeliness of Lenin’s work on the state.
100 years ago, a few months before the Great October Socialist Revolution and in particularly difficult and complex political conditions, V.I. Lenin wrote a fundamentally important work, “The State and Revolution”, which, of course, was published for the first time after the October Revolution in 1918.
In this work, Lenin highlighted the essence and analyzed the class nature of the state: “The state is a product and a manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms. The state arises where, when and insofar as class antagonisms objectively cannot be reconciled. And, conversely, the existence of the state proves that the class antagonisms are irreconcilable.”
Lenin in this work also establishes the need and timeliness of the socialist revolution and workers’ state.
It was based on the views of K. Marx and F. Engels regarding the issue of the state, which were formulated in several works, such as the “Communist Manifesto”, “the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”, “the Civil War in France”, the “Critique of the Gotha Programme”, Engels’ letter to Bebel on 18-18 of March 1875, Engels’ introduction to the third editions of the Marx’ “Civil war in France” etc in relation to the dictatorship of the proletariat. The conclusions Marx and Engels drew from the study and generalization of the experience and lessons of the revolutions was that the working class can acquire political power and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat only through socialist revolution, which destroys the bourgeois state apparatus and creates a new state apparatus. So, we can characteristically refer to the fact that Marx in his work “Critique of the Gotha Programme” stressed that: “Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”
Lenin highlighted the fundamental importance of this issue for those that understand the existence and determining role of the class struggle in social progress, noting that “particular attention should be paid to Marx’s extremely profound remark that the destruction of the bureaucratic-military state machine is “the precondition for every real people’s revolution”” and stressing that “Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”
In addition, Lenin sought to describe the characteristics of the communist social-political formation, basic aspects of the socialist state, while severely criticizing right opportunist and anarchist views in relation to the state.
Of course, this specific work of Lenin, and this is true for the rest of the entire titanic collection of his works, cannot be detached from his other works, such as, for example, “The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky”, and always must be approached in a dialectical relationship with the historical developments. In any case, however, the Leninist approach to the state is an enormous legacy for the international communist movement, which must be utilized in a suitable way in order to repel social-democratic and opportunist views about the state, which have penetrated and continue to penetrate the international communist movement. Consequently, the goal of this intervention is not to present the Leninist positions or appropriate quotations from Lenin, but to provide a response based on the Marxist-Leninist understanding of the state to contemporary opportunist views. This is even more relevant today, when many views that Lenin fought against in his era are re-emerging in old and new forms.
The “neutral” non-class understanding of the state.
The forces of European opportunism constitute the basic tool for the further watering down of the communist characteristics of the communist and workers’ parties. These are forces that are vehicles for bourgeois ideology inside the labour movement. In Europe, they have established their own ideological-political and organizational centre; the Party of the European Left (PEL), which some CPs that in the past were deeply influenced by eurocommunism have joined, such as the CPs of France and Spain. SYRIZA participates in it from Greece. This is a party that is contains forces influenced by the eurocommunist current that split from the KKE in 1968, and also forces that split from the KKE in 1991, under the influence of Gorbachev’s “New Thinking”. This party later merged with forces that came from social-democratic PASOK.
This party argues that:”The state, however, is not a fortress but a network, relationship and strategic arena for political struggle. It does not change from one day to the next, but on the contrary its necessary transformation presupposes constant and continuous battles, the involvement of the people, continuous democratization.”
As is apparent from the above, the bourgeois state is not considered by them to constitute by its very nature an organ for the domination of the bourgeois class, but a collection of institutions that can be transformed in a pro-people direction. On the basis of this view, it is argued that the character of the institutions of the bourgeois state, the bourgeois state as a whole, can be suitable shaped as long as “leftwing governments” hold sway.
This is clearly a misleading view, because in practice it detaches the state from its economic base, from the dominant economic relations. It creates illusions amongst the workers that the role of the bourgeois state and its institutions (e.g. parliament, government, army, police) depends on which political force (“left” or “right”) is dominant in them.
Similarly dangerous views are being cultivated today in a number of Latin American countries, through the concept of “progressivism”, through the various “progressive” and “left” governments, which after their electoral victories attempt to sow illusions among the people that the system can change via bourgeois elections and referenda.
In reality, however, there is no class “neutrality” on the part of the bourgeois state and its institutions. The state, as Marxism-Leninism has demonstrated, has a clear class content, which cannot be used via electoral processes and bourgeois governmental solutions in favour of the working class and social change.
On the view concerning the “Deep State”.
The emergence of SYRIZA as a governing party in Greece led to the celebrations of many opportunist forces all over the world. Indeed, its cooperation with the nationalist ANEL party in government was interpreted by some as an attempt to control the deep state of Greece via this political governmental alliance. Similarly, some presented the statements of made by A. Tsipras even before the elections, when he directly stated that Greece “belongs to the West” and that Greece’s withdrawal from NATO was not on the agenda, as being a smart move.
What is the aim of this view that separates the functions of the bourgeois state from each other like “salami slices”? Of course, inside the state apparatus of the bourgeois state, there are structures with different functions and tasks. However this does not support the view that separates the state into «hard” and “soft” sections. So, for example, the municipalities, the local services are an integral part of bourgeois administration, as local government is also tasked with implementing the reactionary, anti-people legal framework that is approved by each bourgeois government and parliamentary majority. The communists in our country are active in local government, seek to win the majority in the municipalities and today have achieved this in 5 of the country’s municipalities, which include the 3rd largest city in Greece, Patras. However they do not foster illusions amongst the workers about the character of this section of the bourgeois state. They seek as an opposition or as majority in the administration of the municipalities to utilize their position to develop the class struggle and not to “cleanse” capitalism which is what SYRIZA and other opportunist forces argue for.
These opportunist forces find the separation of the bourgeois state into sections convenient. First of all, because this can conceal that the entire state apparatus, regardless of the different functions of its sections, is in the service of the bourgeois class. Secondly, because in this way they sow the illusion amongst the workers that gradually, beginning from the “periphery” of the bourgeois state and marching to the “centre”, to its “depths”, they can “cleanse” it, transform it into a state that will be pro-people.
Opportunist forces foster similarly utopian views even about the inter-state capitalist unions, such as the imperialist EU. Indeed, they propagandize that via referenda or the emergence of left, social-democratic governments, allegedly a “democratic structure for the continent” can be created with “respect for the democratic, sovereign rights of the peoples». In reality, these claims deliberately bypass the class character of this inter-state union, which arises from the class character of the bourgeois states that constitute it, and which from its birth, as the “European Community for Coal and Steel” in 1952, had been created for the interests of capital.
The expansion of democracy in the bourgeois state as a “step” to socialism.
Lenin came into sharp conflict with those, like Bernstein, who argued that the reform of capitalism and the gradual reformist transformation of society are possible.
Later, the views of Eurocommunism gained a lot of ground, views which argued that communists can transform the state in a pro-people direction via the parliamentary road and the expansion of democracy.
The KKE, which fought and continues today to fight against these views, has estimated that the similar assessments made by the CPSU did a great deal of damage to the international communist movement. These views came to hold sway in the international communist movement mainly after the 20th Congress of the CPSU and spoke of a “parliamentary transition”. Consequently, we consider views that developed on this basis and argue for the violation of basic principles of socialist revolution and construction to be problematic, e.g. the talk about “a variety of forms of transition to socialism” or the so-called “non-capitalist development path.”
The KKE has drawn conclusions and has rejected the “stages to socialism”, which tormented and continue today to torment the communist movement, as due to these “stages” they on the one hand negate the role of the CP as a force to overthrow capitalism in the name of the “current” tasks in the framework of the system (e.g. the aim of restoring bourgeois democracy in the conditions of dictatorship) and on the other hand they sow illusions about the “parliamentary transition” to socialism.
The KKE studies its history, draws valuable conclusions from the heroic struggles of the communists in the past decades. The CC of the KKE noted amongst other things in its recent statement on the 50th anniversary of the Junta in Greece:”The KKE and the labour-people’s movement seek and struggle to be able to function in the best possible conditions, which will facilitate their struggle and more generally expand their interventions against capital and its power. They struggle for freedoms and rights, in order to remove obstacles to their activity, in order to restrict-as far as possible-state repression.” Nevertheless our party, studying its history, assesses that:”The dictatorship provided new experience that demonstrates the baseless character of the assessment that held sway in the International Communist Movement and the KKE, that the path of struggle for an advanced bourgeois democracy is fertile terrain for the concentration of forces and for approaching the revolutionary process, that the struggle for democracy is dialectically connected to the struggle for socialism. This assessment impeded the party from highlighting the military dictatorship as a form of the dictatorship of capital, impeded the orientation of the people’s struggle as a whole against the enemy-the dictatorship of the bourgeois class and its imperialist alliances, like NATO.”
Today, similar mistaken views are being fostered within the ranks of the communist movement. These are views that either talk of “stages” on the road to socialism or of communists “penetrating” power, with the aim in both cases of expanding democracy, as a first stage to socialism.
In practice, such views postpone the struggle to overthrow of capitalist exploitation to the distant future, trap and restrict the labour movement inside the framework of only struggling for better conditions for the sale of labour power, negating the orientation of the struggle to radicalize the labour movement, to regroup it, to concentrate social forces, which have an interest in confronting the monopolies and can struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of the new socialist-communist society.
The nationalization of capitalist businesses as a step to change the nature of the state.
Similar confusion exists regarding issues related to the economy. For many years, the international communist movement, which was and to a great extent continues to be trapped in the rationale of stages to socialism, saw the reinforcement of the state sector of the bourgeois state as a step to socialism.
Indeed, today some misunderstand the Leninist position that “state-monopoly capitalism is a complete material preparation for socialism, the threshold of socialism, a rung on the ladder of history between which and the rung called socialism there are no intermediate rungs,” in order to justify the active support and participation of communists in bourgeois management with an expanded state sector of the economy. But in this way they mistakenly understand state-monopoly capitalism as being the existence of a strong state sector in the economy and not as imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism, as described by Lenin.
Life has demonstrated that capitalism, in line with its needs, can aim for a large section of a country’s economy to be state-managed. So, for example, in the 1970s and 1980s the largest part of the Greek economy was in the hands of the state, however this did not at all change the character of the bourgeois state. Nor, of course, does it mean that a policy of gradually nationalizing private businesses, which usually means capitalists simply passing on their debts to the state, can lead to a change of its character. As long as power is in the hands of the bourgeois class, the state (with a stronger or weaker state sector) will be bourgeois, and the ruling class will act as the “collective capitalist” of state ownership.
The name of the state as a reflection on how its nature is viewed.
Lenin described the basic aspects of the workers’ state. We cannot close our eyes to Lenin’s analysis and just orient ourselves to the adjectives that accompany the name of a state. Today, for example, the “People’s Republic of Lugansk” and the “People’s Republic of Donetsk” have emerged. What is the character of these self-proclaimed “People’s Republics”? And as an aside to this discussion, we could bear in mind the existence, for example, of the so-called “People’s Republic of Congo”, where small children work in the mines in terrible conditions so that the foreign monopolies can acquire valuable minerals like cobalt and copper.
We assess that we cannot judge a state and our stance towards it exclusively on the basis of how it defines itself and its proclamations. A basic criterion must be which class owns the means production and holds power in the specific state, what kinds of relations of production are predominant in the specific country. And this is because the state for Marxist-Leninists is a “repressive machine”, which in our era objectively, in the 21st century, in the era of the passage from capitalism to socialism, ushered in by the October Revolution, will either be in the hands of the bourgeois class or the working class. There is no middle way!
We must not forget that as always, and today is no exception, the bourgeois classes seek to conceal their goals, to conceal the class character of their state. So, for example, a classic method that the bourgeois class uses to camouflage the state is the projection of its “national” character, presenting its state as a “weapon” to defend the entire nation. Today the bourgeois do not hesitate to also utilize other propaganda “weapons” in order to subordinate the labour movement “under their banners». The communists, the labour movement as a whole, must demonstrate a high level of vigilance when bourgeois politicians, who contributed to capitalist restoration in the former USSR, today utilize the anti-fascist “card”.
Today, when the bourgeois class is also reinforcing fascist forces, some of which even seek to play a role in government, such as, for example, in Ukraine, the appeals for new “anti-fascist fronts” and for alliances even with bourgeois political forces, and even bourgeois states that appear with an anti-fascist mantle, are intensifying. However, as the KKE assessed in the Declaration of the CC of the KKE on the 70 years since the end of the 2nd World Imperialist War and the great anti-fascist victory of the peoples:”The reactionary bourgeois state is neither willing nor able to tackle Nazism root and branch; neither can the so called “antifascist fronts”, an alliance of the labour-people’s movement in cooperation with bourgeois political forces. Only the people’s alliance, the development of the class struggle with the aim of overthrowing the monopolies’ power, the capitalist system can deal with Nazism.”
In addition, the KKE assesses that today the goal of workers’ power must not be pushed aside by another governmental goal on the terrain of capitalism, in the name of the deterioration of the situation of the working class and popular strata, due to the deep and prolonged economic crisis, imperialist war, open terror against the CP and the labour movement by Nazi-fascist organizations, provocations, the intensification of state violence.
Socialist construction and the state under socialism.
For decades, social-democrats and opportunists have been carrying out, amongst other things, a systematic effort to negate every scientific approach to socialism and its state. We read, for example, in the material of the opportunist centre of Europe, the PEL, that it defends the “perspective of a democratic socialism». And this “socialist perspective” is defined by the PEL as “a society of justice founded on the pooling of wealth and the means of production, and on the sovereignty of democratic choice, in harmony with the planet’s limited resources.”Similar confusion and anti-Marxist approaches of the socialist society have multiplied in recent years with the various “socialisms” of Latin America. From the “Socialism of the 21st Century” of Chavez to the “socialism of buen vivir” in Ecuador, where the US dollar is used as the national currency.
They aim for us to ignore the fact that at the base of every socio-economic formation is a specific mode of production, which is the dialectical unity of the forces of production and the relations of production. The relations of production as whole in every phase of the process of reproduction-production, distribution, exchange, consumption- constitute the economic base of society. Approaching this issue scientifically, Lenin underscored that:”In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness.“
J.V. Stalin noted: “There are two types of production: the capitalist, including the state-capitalist, type, where there are two classes, where production is carried on for the profit of the capitalist; and there is the other type, the socialist type of production, where there is no exploitation, where the means of production belong to the working class, and where the enterprises are run not for the profit of an alien class, but for the expansion of industry in the interests of the workers as a whole.”
This is why the KKE rejects various interpretations of socialism, which have nothing to do with the Marxist-Leninist view, and as it has often stressed in relation to the views of the PEL, or the various “socialisms” of Latin America, that what we have in essence is the promotion of opportunist positions about the “humanization” of capitalism, “ the utopia about the democratization of the bourgeois state, while the “mixed” capitalist economy is being presented as being a new model of socialism. “The logic of national specificities constituted the instrument of “eurocommunism” in order to deny the scientific laws of socialist revolution and construction and today the problem manifests itself with the same or similar arguments.(…) in order to substantiate the substitution of the revolutionary path with parliamentarianism, the relegation of socialism into governmental changes which will manage bourgeois society, as, for example, the Sao Paolo Forum and other forces do. The construction of socialism is a unified process, which begins with the conquest of power by the working class in order to form the new mode of production, which will prevail with the complete abolition of capitalist relations, the capital-wage labour relations. The socialization of the means of production and central planning are laws of socialist construction, necessary conditions for the satisfaction of the people’s needs.”
The KKE, studying the experience of socialist construction assessed the 1965 economic reforms in the USSR as being mistaken. These were reforms that gave priority to “market reforms” and brought back the role of profit to the socialist economy. As a result vested interests emerged in the enterprises, which were not always in harmony with the interests of society. The mistaken reforms in the economy were combined with similar mistaken directions in the political superstructure (e.g. the All-people’s state) and in the strategy of the international communist movement (e.g. policy of “peaceful coexistence”).Of course, our party disagrees with the assessments of CPs, which were pulled into the damaging current of “Maoism” and which considered that from one moment to the next, immediately after the 20th Congress, the workers’ state ceased to exist or indeed that it was allegedly transformed into “social-imperialism” and in this way they participated in the anti-soviet propaganda. In contrast, our party, which defends the contribution of the USSR as the international communist and workers’ movement did, considers that socialism was constructed in the USSR. However, it also considers that the 20th Congress of the CPSU was a turning point, because a number of opportunist positions were adopted on issues related to the economy, the strategy of the communist movement and international relations.
Today, we evaluate that 30 years after the counterrevolution in the USSR, Central and Eastern Europe, the capitalization of China has advanced. Capitalist relations of production hold sway there. At the same time we observe the continuing reinforcement of capitalist relations in countries that sought socialist construction, such as Vietnam and Cuba.
Some comrades from other CPs argue that the developments in these countries are reminiscent of the NEP in Lenin’s era. In other texts, we have highlighted the differences between the NEP and the changes taking place in these countries and the results of which our party is concerned about, based in its long study of the experience of the USSR. And this is because the socialization of the concentrated means of production, central planning in the distribution of labour power and the means of production, the eradication of the exploitation of man by man for the majority of workers are basic and necessary conditions, not only for the beginning of socialist construction, but also for its continuation.
In addition, as Lenin had noted that:”the dictatorship of the proletariat is not only the use of force against the exploiters, and not even mainly the use of force. The economic foundation of this use of revolutionary force, the guarantee of its effectiveness and success is the fact that the proletariat represents and creates a higher type of social organization of labour compared with capitalism. This is what is important, this is the source of the strength and the guarantee that the final triumph of communism is inevitable.” It is clear that this “higher type of social organization” can have nothing to do with nepotism. As was noted in the Report of the CC of the KKE to the 20th Congress of the party “North Korea has proceeded to reinforcing the so-called “free economic zones”, the “market». The Workers’ Party of Korea has for some years relinquished Marxism-Leninism and promotes the idealist “Juche” theory, speaks of “Kimilsungism-Kimjongunism”, violating every concept of socialist democracy, workers’-people’s control, in a regime of nepotism.”
Instead of an epilogue: We must close the “loopholes” of the 2nd International.
The KKE carried out a deep study of the causes that led to the overthrow of socialism in the USSR, following the path of many years of inner-party study and discussion and devoting its 18th Congress (in 2009) in order to provide comprehensive answers on this issue, drawing valuable conclusions for the future. On the basis of this effort, grounded in Marxism-Leninism, our party enriched its programmatic understanding of socialism, something that is reflected in the new Programme adopted at the 19th Congress (2013).
The Programme of the KKE notes amongst other things:“The socialist power is the revolutionary power of the working class, the dictatorship of the proletariat. The working class power will replace all the bourgeois institutions, which will be smashed by the revolutionary activity, with new institutions that will be created by the people.”
In addition, the Programme of the KKE describes in detail:
- The material basis of the necessity of socialism in Greece
- The duties of the KKE for the socialist revolution
- Its duties more specifically on the revolutionary situation
- The leading role of the Party in the revolution
- Socialism as the first, lowest phase of communism
- The issue of the satisfaction of the social needs
- Fundamental principles of the formation of the socialist power
The 20th Congress of the KKE, which was held this year, on the 30th of March-2nd April 2017, posed the task of the comprehensive ideological-political-organizational steeling of the party and its youth as a party for the revolutionary overthrow.
100 years ago, at the end of his work “State of Revolution”, V. I. Lenin noted that the 2nd International had spiraled into opportunism, that the experience of the Commune was forgotten and distorted and he added that:” Far from inculcating in the workers’ minds the idea that the time is nearing when they must act to smash the old state machine, replace it by a new one, and in this way make their political rule the foundation for the socialist reorganization of society, they have actually preached to the masses the very opposite and have depicted the “conquest of power” in a way that has left thousands of loopholes for opportunism.”
Today, 100 years after the Great October Revolution and a year before the 100th anniversary of the founding of our party, the KKE seeks with its positions and activity to bar the “doors and windows” to opportunism. This is a precondition for the realization of the ideals of a society without the exploitation of man by man.
 “State and Revolution”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V. 25
 “Critique of the Gotha Programme”, K. Marx
 “State and Revolution”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V.25
 “State and Revolution”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V.25
From SYRIZA’s governmental programme.
 The Real News Network, Interview (28/1/2015) with Leo Panitch, Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto, Canada. http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13071&updaterx=2015-01-28+01%3A16%3A04
 Article of Paul Mason (1/9/2015), former BBC journalist and former economics editor for Channel 4 News.http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/paul-mason-what-unites-the-new-movements-of-the-left-1.2335322
 5th Congress of the PEL. Political Document: “Refound Europe, create new progressive convergence”
 “Statement of the CC of the KKE on the Military Coup of the 21st of April 1967. “Rizospastis”, 5 March 2017.
 “The impending catastrophe and how to combat it”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V.25
 “Karl Marx”, V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, V.21
J.V. Stalin, Works, V. 7
 “A great beginning”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V. 29
Report of the CC of the KKE to the 20th Congress of the party, March 2017.
 «State and Revolution”, V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, V. 25.
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