Communist and workers’ parties meet in Cuba
Advancing in our understanding of world socialism
Some 145 delegates of 78 communist and workers’ parties from 60 countries met from the October 27 to October 29, 2022, in Havana, Cuba.
In welcoming the delegates, Roberto Morales Ojeda, Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, asked: What unites us? He responded: anti-imperialism and the common determination to attain a world of peace and greater social justice.
The Final Declaration of the 22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties declared that “imperialism imposes an unjust and unsustainable international order. It intensifies exploitation and worsens the conditions of the working class and the peoples. It generates increasing conflicts and wars, and it makes difficult the solution of global problems.”
As a consequence of the increasing aggressiveness of imperialism, we confront today, the Declaration asserts, the intensification of the arms race, the expansion of NATO, the heightening of tensions and military conflicts, the reemergence of the Cold War, and the threat of a nuclear conflagration.
These dynamics are consequences of “the predatory nature of capitalism,” which leads to “an increase in inequality, the polarization of wealth, exclusion and migratory flows, the deepening of the food crisis, and an aggravation of the ecological crisis.” And they are consequences of “the bourgeois political system that defends the interests of the monopolies and corporations.”
At the same time, the document ties the increasing aggression of imperialism to the economic decline of the United States and other imperialist powers. “The gradual decline of the power of the United States and its allies has increased the indiscriminate use of blockades and illegal coercive measures, ‘double standards,’ military threats and interventions, and interference in the internal affairs of states.” Moreover, imperialism in its current aggressive stage unleashes a vast arsenal of subversive actions in an unconventional war.
The communists envision a better future for humanity. “We communists defend a new world order based on the abolition of the exploitation of humans by humans, beneficial mutual relations among states and peoples, peace, sustainable development for the satisfaction of social needs, social justice, and solidarity.” To this end, the participants in the meeting agreed to “reinforce the struggle against imperialism, to contribute to the transformation of the present unjust and antidemocratic international order, in which capitalist interests prevail, into an international order based on sustainable development, social justice, and peace, in order to smooth the road for the construction of socialist society.” They agreed “to demand respect for the principles of self-determination of peoples, independence, sovereign equality, and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.” They further agreed to reject imperialist wars and to mobilize the masses in the denunciation of the arms race, foreign military bases, and the expansionism of NATO; and to oppose blockades, sanctions, and unilateral coercive measures.
In its Plan of Action, the Meeting announced its support for commemorative activities in relations to the founding of the USSR, the death of Karl Marx, the publication of The Communist Manifesto, the fascist coup d’état against the government of Salvador Allende in Chile, International Woman’s Day, and International Workers’ Day. And it called for participation in acts of solidarity with the people of Cuba, Palestine, Sahara, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico in their struggles for independence and sovereignty.
The science of Marxism-Leninism
A curious thing about the Final Declaration and the Plan of Action is that they make no mention of key countries constructing socialism today, utilizing post-bourgeois political systems of people’s democracy under the leadership of vanguard communist political parties. This oversight was rectified by Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in his closing address to the Meeting, when he declared: “We salute the efforts in the construction of socialism of the communist parties of the People’s Republic of China, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. We especially congratulate the Chinese communists for the success of their recent Twentieth Congress,” a comment that was greeted with applause by the delegates.
Díaz-Canel may have gotten to the heart of the oversight when he described Marxism-Leninism as a science, which requires us to constantly confirm theory in practice. In my view, in reflecting upon communism as a world movement, we are compelled to look at real socialism in the world, and to take their experiences into account in our theoretical reflections. Are the communist and workers’ parties giving sufficient attention to this duty?
To be sure, each country of necessity has its own road to socialism, in accordance with the conditions in each. Nonetheless, are there not lessons to be learned from the experiences of each country, with respect to the taking of political power and the construction of socialism, especially those countries that have advanced far in the socialist project?
Díaz-Canel noted that Cuba does not invite the delegates to praise its model. “Cuba represents one concrete experience of the construction of socialism in a small country in development, under the brutal harassment of history’s strongest world power.” He maintained, however, that based on the Cuban experience, two essential aspects can be affirmed. First, the need for an organized vanguard with scientific, political, and ideological formation that understands the transformations of imperialism and the new forms of struggle. Secondly, the need for a critical Marxism as the ideology of socialist transformation, that is, a Marxism that in its essence subverts reality with a scientific method.
On this foundation, Díaz-Canel maintained, Cuba has arrived to understand the socialist transition in its particular case as essentially characterized by the centrality of work and the centrality of example. That is to say, it is a question of the transformation of the human being.
As we observe the systemic crisis of capitalism, we see that it deepens alienation, exclusion, social inequality, and egoism; and that it is giving rise to the resurgence of extremist and fascist ideas. Before this reality, Díaz-Canel observes, the unity of the communist and workers’ movement is required. Alliances must be constructed with labor organizations and revolutionary and people’s social movements that are opposed to imperialist domination. Programs must be put forth that include the social demands of intellectual workers, students, youth, farmers, and excluded minorities, among others.
Our principal adversary is imperialism, Díaz-Canel observed; and our principal weapon is unity, first among ourselves, and then with other political parties. Therefore, “we respect the different forms of organizations of struggle that each country and each region has defined, according to its concrete reality.” We must bury division and sectarianism, which always will favor the interests of international finance capital, the counterrevolution, and imperialism.
An unfinished reformulation of the classic works of Marxism-Leninism
The 22nd International Meeting of the Communist and Workers Parties grounds its analysis in empirical observation of unfolding historical and social dynamics from the perspective of movements of the workers and peoples of the world. With this perspective, it sees imperialism and anti-imperialist struggles as the primary reality. It suggests a modern epistemological viewpoint, which seeks to uncover objective reality from the vantage point of the exploited and oppressed peoples, seeing through the ideological distortions of capitalism and imperialism.
The premises of the communist and workers’ parties are not grounded in personal affronts that emerge in concrete lived experiences, like post-modern leftism in the USA. They are grounded in the structures of superexploitation and domination in the long march of history. Accordingly, the Final Declaration and the Plan of Action make no mention of systemic racism, white supremacy, white privilege, or LBTG rights. By implication, they pronounce the irrelevance of U.S. leftism to the struggles of the world’s peoples for social justice.
The communist and workers’ parties have advanced to a reformulation of Marxism-Leninism from a class frame of reference to an anti-imperialist perspective, from which it is seen that the principal actors are states seeking sovereignty and a just world-system, and that class struggles express themselves within each nation, in the context of national struggles for sovereignty. This advancement in understanding is rooted in empirical observation of revolutions in practice since the era of Marx, Engels, and Lenin.
However, on the basis of world revolutionary practices today, it is possible for the communist parties to advance further in their reformulation. The parties correctly discern that the anti-imperialist movements are establishing conditions that will facilitate the construction of socialism in the nations of the world. But it could be further formulated that China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia as well as regional associations in Latin America and Asia are playing leading roles in the process of world structural change from a Euro-centered world-system to a pluripolar system with several regional centers.
In addition, the parties could advance further in the formulation of the essential characteristics of socialism, in three ways. First, observing the people’s democracies that have emerged in China, Cuba, DPRK, and Vietnam, the communist and workers’ parties could name the development of post-bourgeois political systems as an essential characteristic of socialism. Post-bourgeois structures that are designed to eliminate the dominating role of money in electoral campaigns, in accordance with conditions in each country. And post-bourgeois political processes in which political parties educate the people rather than manipulate social and political issues for electoral ends.
A second essential characteristic of socialism, defined on the basis of existing socialist practices, is that the state directs and regulates the economy, which includes multiple forms of property, in accordance with a long-term comprehensive plan that emphasizes increasing the productivity of the national economy and providing universal health care, free education at all levels, healthy nutrition, and comfortable housing.
A third essential characteristic of socialism, based on observation of existing socialist practices, is that nations constructing socialism seek to develop an ideological consensus on an empirical and scientific foundation, through the ample participation of scientists, academics, intellectuals, political and community leaders, and artists. They seek to disseminate the scientifically informed consensus through the education of the people, with a strong public media and through effective use of social media, discrediting erroneous voices rather than silencing them.
Thus, the communist and workers’ parties have not gone far enough in grounding their theoretical reflections in the concrete experiences and practices of countries constructing socialism. But they have taken important steps in this road, as is illustrated by the priority that the Final Declaration gives to imperialism and anti-imperialist struggles; and by its reiterated call, not merely to workers, but to workers and peoples. They have moved toward reframing the question of capitalism and socialism from the vantage point of the global South. In doing so, they have left aside the cynical and nihilist premises of the confused Western left, increasingly allied with the Western elite and with fascism.
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