People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 48

November 28, 2010



Onto the Twelfth IMCWP in Johannesburg, Dec 3-5


R Arun Kumar



THE twelfth International Meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties (IMCWP) is going to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from December 3-5,  2010. The meeting, being held for the first time in the African continent is hosted by the South African Communist Party (SACP). This is a decision taken during the eleventh IMCWP held in New Delhi in November 2009. The working group decided the theme for the twelfth IMCWP as 'The deepening systemic crisis of capitalism, the tasks of Communists in defence of sovereignty, deepening social alliances, strengthening the anti-imperialist front in the struggle for peace, progress and Socialism'. The developments world over indicate the relevance of the theme.

In spite of the claims, the global financial crisis has not yet abated and its affects are still felt. The ruling classes who have benefited from the bailout/stimulus packages are trying to increase their profits by burdening the common people. Unemployment, accentuated by the job losses remains a major concern. So do rising inequalities and hunger.


The IMF sponsored 'austerity' packages introduced in many of the European countries have resulted in drastic cuts in the social welfare budgets. Retirement ages are increased, pension schemes 'reformed' by cutting the state share, bonuses cut, spending on healthcare and education reduced and indirect taxes are increased. IMF, which has given loans to many countries, imposed several conditions. It had urged the governments not to succumb to the protests demanding the reversal of austerity measures and for an increase of the minimum wages. IMF feels this as necessary to meet its dictates to the governments. It had directed the governments to rein in their fiscal deficit and ensure that it is within the EU limit – less than 3 per cent. Moreover, it had asked them to get the annual budget approved by it before introducing it in their respective parliaments. Accordingly, last month, the unelected EU commission presented a set of proposals to impose sanctions on member states which breached the 1997 Stability and Growth Pact. The commission said States whose deficit exceeds 3 per cent or whose debts hit 60 per cent of gross domestic product should be fined up to 0.2 per cent of their GDP.




For the past few months many countries in Europe are witnessing sustained struggles against these measures. Huge demonstrations are organised, particularly in France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and England. A distinctive feature of the protests in many countries is, rank and file workers are forcing the union leaders to call for militant protest demonstrations. The communist parties have campaigned extensively among the people condemning the 'austerity' measures introduced by the governments of various political hues – either it be the right-wing Sarkozy government in France or the Social Democrat PASOK government in Greece. In countries like Greece and Portugal where they are having considerable influence, communists are playing an active part in these protests.


The ruling classes in order to ensure that the communist parties do not gain in strength, are initiating many measures to curtail their activities. Recently a resolution was proposed for approval by the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe. Under the pretext of 'war against extremism' it proposes to increase assaults on the workers’ and people’s movement to dangerous levels. The resolution labels workers' struggles as 'extremism' and the people, movements and organisations who stand by the workers as 'extremists'. The resolution contains provisions to initiate action against parties and organisations which challenge the regime and power of finance capital. This resolution contributes to the creation of an even more reactionary legislative framework in Europe. Amongst the measures which are proposed concerning parties which fight the capitalist system are: prevention from participating in elections, banning state-funding to these parties and even banning their functioning. These are intended to threaten and stop people from taking part in the communists led anti-government protest demonstrations.




Taking this one step further, the government of Greece has passed a legislation asking all the political parties to submit the lists of their members and the lists of the donors to party funds. This is intended to persecute the sympathisers of the communist party and its members. All these slew of new measures are apart from the ideological offensive it had launched equating communism with fascism and banning communist symbols and parties.


These measures to stifle the voices of protest are not confined to Europe alone. In the US, FBI conducted a series of raids on the homes of peace activists during which computers and photographs were seized. The Communist Party of USA (CPUSA) said that these raids had nothing to do with protecting the US people against terrorism and “everything to do with chilling the long-cherished tradition of the right to dissent”. It drew a parallel with the McCarthy period when CPUSA leaders and members were jailed or fired from their jobs and blacklisted. Noteworthy is, these raids are happening during the presidency of Nobel laureate Barack Obama, who rode to victory on the shoulders of the anti-war movement.


The failure of Democrats like Obama and various social-democratic governments in Europe who had promised many measures to alleviate the people from the burdens of the economic crisis, is further increasing the discontent among the people. In fact, many of them (Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc) are following the same 'austerity' packages. The right-wing reactionary forces are trying to use this discontent to further their divisive agenda. Racial expulsions of Romas, contrary to the stated principles of the EU are carried out in France. Islamophobia is on the rise, with many leaders in government like Angela Merkel sinisterly fanning it. Extreme right groups like the groups of the Tea Party in the US, English Defence League in UK are on the rise. Many right-wing parties are able to win considerable votes in the recently held elections in various countries in Europe and US and influence government formation. Another alarming factor is that they are developing extensive links between them – not only among themselves in Europe but also across the Atlantic.


The economic agenda of the right-wing groups is for zero interference of the government in economic affairs – except for bailing out the bankrupt financial institutions. They are unabashedly for free trade and against state support to the social welfare measures. In this way they perfectly stand by interests of the finance capital. The ruling classes hence are not much bothered by the growth of these right-wing groups and fascist tendencies. In fact these trends are more of a threat to the working class and their struggles than the ruling classes now, as they disrupt the unity of class actions. Given the historical experiences, the people of the world and particularly the communists have to be sensitive to these threats and act to prevent their growth.


The US made its intentions clear that in order to come out of the current economic crisis, it is not averse to use even the military option. It had increased its defence budget even during this crisis, though dithering to allocate money for job creation. It has directed NATO's European members to increase their defence expenditure and not cut it. Through the NATO, it has plans to erect the missile defence shield from Vancouver to Vladivostok. Across the world, the US is increasing its military bases, as in Colombia, reactivating its navy fleets, the fourth fleet and increasing its arms sales. It refused to heed to the mediations of Brazil and Turkey (which it had encouraged in the first place but backed out when Iran expressed its willingness) for diplomatic engagement with Iran on its nuclear enrichment programmes. It continues to flex its military muscle in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and threaten North Korea. The sword of Damocles thus continues to hang over world peace.


A positive feature today is, people are seeing through the neo-liberal ideology and are not taking things lying down, but coming out in struggles. Most of these struggles are of course defensive in nature and to safeguard their hard won benefits. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) which played a prominent role in these struggles was able to increase their vote share by 3.3 per cent in the recently held elections to local bodies.


It is in this background that the twelfth IMCWP is being held in Johannesburg. Along with sharing these kinds of experiences, the meeting would provide a platform for the communist and workers' parties to deliberate upon converting these defensive struggles into offensive struggles and thus ensure a systemic change – from capitalism to socialism.