Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, general secretary of the Portuguese Communist party at a session evoking the Centennial of the October Revolution, Oporto.
December 9, 2017
We are closing here, in the city of Oporto, the celebrations of the Centennial of the October Socialist Revolution – the first victorious revolution that assumes the goal of building a new society, free from the exploitation of man by man – which the PCP has been holding throughout 2017.
This Revolution, this heroic enterprise that ushered in a new historical era – that of the transition from capitalism to socialism – which would not only profoundly change the life of the workers and people of the country of Soviets, but also promote and influence profound changes in the world in favour of workers and peoples.
This Revolution took in its hands the task of opening new paths, never before experienced, materializing the millenary dream of emancipation and liberation of exploited and oppressed generations.
This Revolution where, for the first time, the working class and its allies gained power, and with this new proletarian and peasant conquered power undertook a remarkable process of transformation and achievement, where millions of human beings formerly excluded and plundered from any political and social intervention became key players and builders of their own future.
This remarkable feat accomplished under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party and Lenin, confirming the political and ideological vision pointed out by the theoretical work of Marx and Engels.
We have come to the end of the celebrations, executing a wide programme of initiatives that we successfully carried all over the country. We held hundreds of debates, political and cultural sessions, exhibitions, film exhibitions, produced videos and editions of significant works.
We promoted an important Seminar with in-depth reflections and communications, addressing a wide and varied range of themes and which are a working tool for those who, like us, have not given up fighting and seek in past experiences, our own and from others, positive and negative, the lessons for the battles ahead.
We marked November 7 – the day of the Revolution – in an atmosphere of enthusiasm and great confidence in the future, confirming and reaffirming the validity of socialism and communism as a solution to address the great problems of peoples and humanity.
We have come to the end of the celebrations, but not of the struggle for the affirmation of the noble ideals and values of the October Revolution and its achievements. A struggle that will inevitably continue, because this heritage of the struggle of workers and peoples, this first experience of building a new and different world, freed from exploitation, remains at the centre of the ideological struggle in contemporary capitalist societies and regardless of the hardships it faced, the mistakes made or the setbacks that took place, continues to point the way for an alternative solution to capitalism. A way, certainly along new and different paths, with new and different solutions, because there is no single model of building socialism. And this is what the defenders of the system of exploitation – big capital and imperialism – fear.
This was particularly evident during this commemorative period, also here in our country with a fierce campaign of lies and deceptions that were and are promoted against the October Revolution.
They do so because they know how just and true the slogan of the Celebration of the Centennial of the Revolution is – “Socialism, a demand of the present and of the future.”
Yes, we celebrated the October Revolution more than turned to the past, but looking essentially to the present and to the future.
We celebrated for what it meant in terms of groundbreaking achievements in favour of workers and peoples – the most advanced in the process of liberating humanity from all types of exploitation and oppression – but also, and particularly, to affirm that another world is possible and that capitalism is not the terminal system of human history.
And it is not because we simply affirm it, but because capitalism has no solutions to the problems of the contemporary world. On the contrary, its action enhances all problems, and everywhere, is constantly in clash with the needs, interests, aspirations of workers and peoples.
Corroded by a deep crisis is its exploitative, oppressive, predatory and aggressive nature that surfaces increasingly to the top, with dramatic and brutal consequences for the lives of peoples and for the future of humanity.
Following the disintegration of the USSR, imperialism launched itself into a violent ideological offensive, presenting capitalism as a superior and insurmountable system, while at the same time it heralded a new world order, where democracy, peace and harmonious development would reign all over the planet. .
It was the realm of abundance for all peoples that was announced and proclaimed with globalized capitalism, now in a free-wheel and without any conditioning.
At that time the PCP used to say how deceitful such announcements and proclamations were, because capitalism would not change its nature as a system of exploitation. It would continue to be marked by injustices, inequalities and social scourges. And life has confirmed this.
In fact, the first socialist State ceased to exist, but neither exploitation nor class struggle, much less the contradictions of capitalism inherent to its class nature, have disappeared with the world exposed more dangerously to the exploitative and aggressive logic of big capital
And the consequences are there to see, more than two and a half decades after those events.
The proclaimed realm of democracy and abundance of globalized capitalism is there, in the deepening of social inequalities and between countries, in the increase of concentration of wealth in favour of transnational capital, worsening of exploitation, unemployment, precariousness, increase in injustice with brutal costs for workers and peoples.
The announced path of development has given way to a great regression that has long been under way, in permanent worsening with the offensive of great capital against labour and social rights, public services, sovereignty of peoples.
The Eden of plenty, progress and peace was soon denied in the former socialist countries where capitalist restoration brought great economic and social disaster. More than 100 million people were thrown into poverty in half a dozen years; a drastic decrease in average life expectancy; and a gigantic recession with contractions of GDP and industrial production of around 50%.
In global terms, the large numbers of the social situation speak for themselves. Between 1988 and 2011 the income of the 1% of the world’s richest population (which now holds 99% of the world’s wealth) grew at a rate 182 times higher than the incomes of the poorest 10%. Seven out of ten countries in the world have seen their income inequality rise in the last 30 years. This inequality has skyrocketed in the last five years, leading to this fact that reveals so much about the nature of capitalism: 8 people have the same wealth as three thousand six hundred million people, half of humanity.
It is this nature of the capitalist system that, despite existing resources to ensure food, health, employment and income for the entire world population, more than 800 million people go hungry and one in every three human beings officially lives below the poverty threshold defined by the UN.
But while this goes on, large multinational capital, big corporations, shamelessly evade taxes, as shown by the successive reports that come out about offshores, concentrating more and more wealth, while imposing shameful fiscal policies to favour the more powerful and rich, like the one that has just been adopted in the United States of America by Trump, under the same false pretext of encouraging investment that we have seen here in these years of troika and by the hand of the PSD and CDS.
Today we have a world marked by great instability and uncertainty as a result of imperialism’s violent and aggressive attack against all those whom it considers to be an obstacle to its purposes.
Big capital increases the attack on social and economic rights, democratic freedoms and rights, national sovereignty, promotes backward, reactionary and anti-communist values, and promotes and instrumentalizes far-right and fascist forces.
The aggressive escalation of imperialism assumes particular seriousness, particularly of US imperialism, which – in the framework of an immense and contradictory process of re-alignment of forces on a world scale – seeks to counter its relative decline and impose its hegemonic domination, promoting escalation of tension and provocation, operations of interference and wars of aggression all over the world – in a spiral of violence that, if unstopped, will lead Humanity to catastrophe.
All this evolution confirms that capitalism is everywhere in permanent confrontation with the needs, interests, aspirations of workers and peoples. That it is not reformable, humanizable or regulable!
There are many problems and difficulties to overcome, but it is in socialism and not in capitalism that workers and peoples will find an answer to their aspirations for freedom, equality, justice, social progress and peace.
Yes, the world needs socialism! It is a necessity that emerges with redoubled topicality to solve the problems of humanity. A necessity that demands taking into account a great diversity of solutions, stages and phases of the revolutionary struggle, certain that there are no “models” of revolutions, nor “models” of socialism, as the PCP always defended, but general laws of socialist construction: workers’ power, socialization of the main means of production, planning – and, above all, as a decisive element, the building of a democratic State that promotes and ensures the committed and creative participation of the masses in the construction of the new society.
And it is not that the enterprise of the construction of the new socialist society has proved to be more difficult, more complex, and bumpier than we Communists had foreseen, that its achievements, its justice, and its necessity can be called into question.
Under the conditions of Portugal, the socialist society that the PCP points to our people, goes through the stage we have characterized as an Advanced Democracy, a stage that being an integral part of the struggle for socialism, its realization is also inseparable from the struggle we are waging today for the materialization of a rupture with the right-wing policies and the implementation of a patriotic and left-wing policy that gives shape to this construction, in a process that does not separate, but coherently integrates the set of objectives of struggle.
Also in Portugal the change in the correlation of forces in the world situation resulting from the disappearance of socialism as a world system had profoundly negative impacts on a country that had carried out a Revolution with profound changes in the life of the Portuguese.
The agenda of dominating capitalism of liberalization, privatization and finantialization of the economy, reinforced and expanded by the right-wing policies of successive PS, PSD and CDS governments, led to the destruction of the achievements of the April Revolution and the heightening of all national problems, with the liquidation of the strategic sectors of the economy, of the main national productive sectors and of labour and social rights of workers and people.
A policy that would end up by handing the fate of the country to the foreign intervention of the IMF, European Union and European Central Bank, with ruinous results for the country and for the life of the Portuguese.
The consequences are now evident and persist in Portuguese society: a marked regression of the productive capacity of the country; a suffocating public debt; drastic regression of the living conditions of workers and people and of their rights; aggravated structural vulnerabilities that are expressed in the productive, food, energy, demographic, planning, infrastructure levels and in public services, which make Portugal a nation that is fully exposed to adverse changes in the international scene.
Vulnerabilities that are compounded by a number of strong constraints, particularly those resulting from the Euro, that seriously condition the development of the country.
Acute problems, whose solution demands its overcoming with a patriotic and left-wing policy, as the PCP defends for the country.
A policy that is not hostage to external impositions and to the interests of big capital as assumed by the current PS minority government.
A policy that has as decisive features, among others: the liberation of the country from submission to the Euro and the European Union; the renegotiation of public debt to free resources; the defence and promotion of national production and productive sectors, coupled with the valorisation of work and workers as the object and condition of development; the recovery for the public sector of the strategic basic sectors of the economy; a public administration and services to serve the people and the country.
The October Revolution has always been, from the very first moment, the object of the most insidious and vile smear campaigns. A hundred years later, and despite the enormous effort and commitment of the ideological centres of international capitalism and bourgeois historiography to demean its importance and present it in the eyes of the present generations as an insignificant event, the truth is that, denying themselves, as we have seen, in this time of passage of the Centenary, exceeding in means and resources, toiling themselves in an unfettered anticommunist crusade and against the October Revolution.
They keep repeating that October is dead, that it represents nothing, but for those who want to believe what they think, they could well do away with the tons of paper and prose they spend repeating lies and deceptions, the time spent to weave fanciful stories about the October Revolution.
We are well aware of what troubles them and makes them tick. And what bothers them and moves them is to know that the October Revolution is a major event in History and that even after the defeat of socialism in the USSR, as previously of the Paris Commune, remains as a seed of the future that the struggle of the peoples will germinate.
In fact, this time of the passing of the Centenary has been a pretext for the large-scale diffusion of the lowest and most vile anti-communism. Around here we have witnessed, particularly during the days of the anniversary of the October Revolution, the swell of the anti-communist militants’ chorus with regular presence of commentators and editorials in the media, hammering, one after the other, the commonplaces fabricated in the laboratories of anti-sovietism, in a task that had the voice of “famous” handpicked foreign historians, like Mr. Orlando Figes, whose works’ scientific neutrality can be deduced from the bias of the opinions uttered in the interviews he gave, in the silly relations they establish between the Revolution and the reality of the international life of our days.
We have seen them one after another spreading the most despicable and worn out lies not only to denigrate and demonize the October Revolution, but the communists and their project, and even to deliberately distort what the PCP is saying today about the significance of such a remarkable event.
There we had the worn out and repeated theses of the “coup” by conspirators, the Revolution as a product of “adventurers,” “a random event” and not a historical necessity, an accident and not the work of the workers themselves and of a people that with their struggle opened the doors of their own freedom. There we had a thousand-fold repeated thesis of the particular and local character of a non-repeatable Revolution.
But what stands out in the campaign of these past few days is the concentration of the tirades against Lenin and the early years of the Revolution in an attempt to kill the communist ideal in its cradle.
They speak of brutal violence, of hundreds of thousands killed, other tens of millions, blaming Lenin and the Revolution, including for a civil war (1918-21) triggered by foreigners and internal counterrevolution. They speak of violence, condemning the attacked and absolving the attacker, brazenly omitting the continuous foreign military invasion a few months after the birth of the Republic of the Soviets, supporting and inciting the internal counterrevolution and liquidating the Soviet power in various parts of the land.
In fact, the new revolutionary power, gained without a shot, was able to make as its first decision, a proposal to all the belligerents involved in World War I for negotiations to obtain peace, in a just and democratic way, but what was and is spread is the unbridled will of violence of this new power.
The Soviet power could aspire and Lenin theorize about the possibility of a peaceful development of the Revolution, but what imperialist propaganda and international reactionary forces spread, and today continue to spread, is the idea that the Revolution was intrinsically the bearer of chaos and violence, because it was inscribed in its DNA.
Yes, there were many victims and the country of the Soviets went through hard times, but it was not the responsibility of Lenin or the Revolution but of the governments of the main capitalist powers who organized the military intervention, in articulation with the internal reactionary forces.
Russia was martyred not due to the initiative of the Soviet power, but by the invasion of 14 countries, by the attacks, paid revolts, ruthless blockade by imperialism.
The scale of the campaigns against the October Revolution has a first explanation: it showed, for the first time, the possibility of snatching economic and political power from Capital and reorganizing society without being based on class exploitation. And such great audacity could not pass without a violent resistance from the ruling class. There are countless examples in history that show that the exploiting classes never refrained from any crime to defend their power.
Just look at the last published figures by the Norwegian John Galtung, founder of the chair of Peace Studies, on the action of American imperialism in the last two centuries: we have there more than two thousand military interventions, on its own and sole initiative. Counting only since 1945, the US has killed more than 20 million people in more than 47 countries.
But on this subject of reviling the Revolution and Lenin, Mr. Figes, the “acclaimed British author” thus classified by domestic anti-communism and raised as the ultimate exponent of knowledge on the October Revolution, is quite the prototype of the unsubstantiated and prejudiced research, based on fundamentally ideological judgments and capable of the most extravagant extrapolations. It is not just the biased thesis that the Civil War was a deliberate act of the Bolsheviks and a mechanism that became crucial in Revolutions around the world. It is what deliberately projects itself as an interpretation of today’s reality.
His raving conclusion that in our days the “Daesh (the Islamic State) is also Bolshevik” is not just the opinion of a “craftsman” of manipulation, has the deliberate purpose to promote the criminalization of communism and its identification with terrorism.
But the bias of this and other refined manipulators of memory are their statements that there is nothing in the Revolution that can be claimed as positive.
Only ideological blindness can justify not accepting the vast range of great political, economic, social, cultural, scientific, and civilizational achievements and accomplishments of socialism in the Soviet Union.
Only a deliberate ideological choice can conceal the undeniable fact that the Socialist Revolution transformed the backward Russia of the Czars, a country with colossal backwardness, where feudal relations persisted, into a highly developed, more industrialized and socially advanced country with remarkable effects on a planetary scale.
Only in a process of ideological intentions can one omit the fact that the Revolution and the Soviet power achieved in a short period of historical time, a significant industrial and agricultural development, ended unemployment, confirming the superiority of social property and economic planning. Eradicating illiteracy, with schooling and sports for all, and ensured and promoted the rights of women, children, youth and the elderly.
All this was done, despite the intervention of imperialist powers, civil war, economic blockade and sabotage, two great devastating wars.
Such abundant and profound analysis, and they manage to conceal the fact that it was the homeland of the «soviets», the first country in the world to implement or develop like no other, fundamental social rights, such as the right to work, maximum 8-hour day, paid leave, equal rights for men and women in the family, life and work, maternity rights and protection, housing rights, free medical care, free and universal social welfare and free education.
The bourgeois historiography and dominant media deliberately omit what imperialist propaganda at all costs hides: the huge contribution of the USSR and the Soviet people to the advance of the emancipatory struggle of workers and peoples, including support to the achievement of independence of numerous nations for centuries subject to the colonial yoke and its unquestionable role of a world power of progress and peace.
Victor Sebestyien, another acclaimed mind engaged in the rewriting of history, who also resorted to domestic anti-communism, followed in the same line of criminalization of the Revolution, proclaiming high from his chair that “the existence of Hitler and World War II were due to the Russian Revolution.”
No more, no less! And so the criminal role of great German capital and of Nazism itself, the most brutal expression of fascism, is whitewashed and laundered, and history is redrawn in the image of the dominant interests. Thus, is wiped out the complicity and support of great German capital in the rise of Nazism to power and its project, which saw in anti-communism and xenophobic Nazi nationalism and in its programme of liquidation of democratic freedoms and rights, militarism and expansion and world domination – the instrument to carry out its agenda of exploitation, oppression and aggression.
This insulting and slanderous connection between the Revolution and fascism, between communism and fascism has another aim – to also show that the communist project is intrinsically perverse and anti-democratic.
First of all, transforming that which was the most democratic of the forms of power that hitherto existed – the power of the workers, the soviets, the universal suffrage, the direct, active and creative participation of the masses in the process of constructing their own life – into “totalitarianism” similar to Nazi-fascism.
At a time when, in virtually no European or American capitalist country, the great masses had the right to vote, only the landowners and some minority strata of the population.
In this effort to distort the communist project that combines and equates fascism and communism, they try at all costs to prove an incompatibility between the October Revolution and democracy, between socialism and democracy, using it as a weapon against the communist and revolutionary parties. They blame the October Revolution for being the bearer and holder of the seeds of the disfigurements, errors and deviations we have pointed out in congresses, and not concealed, and led to the tragic defeat of the USSR.
But as we have said, it is not in the October Revolution – the most liberating of contemporary revolutions – that one can find the roots of the failure that the destruction of socialism in the USSR represented, but in a “model” of socialist construction which, as we have said, ended up by moving away from and going against the communist ideal and project on fundamental issues.
No! Socialism is not incompatible with democracy. Socialism needs democracy, the conscious participation of workers and people to affirm and develop. There is no socialism without the participation of the workers and the people, their contribution, their commitment, their decision, without an organization of society with a deeply democratic functioning.
That is why at the heart of the political project of the PCP and for all phases and stages of the development process of Portuguese society is the materialization of democracy in its political, economic, social and cultural aspects, in the framework of a political system based on a democratic State, representative and participatory.
A project guaranteed and anchored on the almost hundred year old history of this Portuguese Communist Party in defence of freedom and democracy and at the service of workers and our people.
The campaign and systematic attack on the communist ideal and project led by the centres of production and reproduction of the dominant ideology is only due, in the dimension we have seen, because the society that the October Revolution projected and built is a historical necessity.
And however much the proponents of the system of exploitation proclaim, the 20th century, as Álvaro Cunhal affirmed, “was not the century of the “end of communism”, but the century of the “beginning of communism” as the materialization and construction of a new society for the good of the human being”.
We are nearing the end of the celebrations of the Centennial of the October Socialist Revolution, of the Revolution that has opened the way for the construction of a new society hitherto unknown to mankind.
This Revolution of memories of struggles and dreams, of emancipation of the exploited and oppressed, bearing a keen desire for the future and that today continues to tell us that a fairer world is possible!
This Revolution remains a source of inspiration for the struggles we are waging today in the face of the onslaught of great capital, imperialism, side by side with the workers and peoples to achieve their social and national emancipation.
We celebrated October, honouring and paying homage to its builders and their huge contribution to the advancement of the emancipatory struggle of workers and peoples, and reaffirming its universal character.
We celebrated October showing the heritage of achievements, conquests and progressive transformations that with the action of the communists marked the last century, involving the whole planet.
We celebrated October reaffirming not only the validity of socialism as a solution to the great problems of peoples and humanity, but also demonstrating the necessity and possibility of the revolutionary overcoming of capitalism by socialism and communism.
We celebrated October and the society that emerged from it and affirmed itself as a world force of peace and friendship among peoples.
We celebrated October affirming and valuing the role of the working class, workers and peoples, their unity, organization and struggle in the process of social transformation, and particularly the historical role of the working class and its allies in this pioneering achievement and the future a new society, without conflicting social classes and free from the exploitation of man by another man.
We celebrated October having in mind its successes and defeats, reflecting, gathering and using the teachings of the complex processes of building a new society that developed while treading unknown and new terrain.
We celebrated October reaffirming PCP’s unwavering determination to fight for socialism to become tomorrow’s reality for the Portuguese people.
We have come out of these Celebrations stronger, more knowledgeable and more convinced of the righteousness of our struggle.
It is armed with the evaluation we make of the October Revolution and with the experiences of a hundred years of struggle by communists and revolutionaries from all over the world that we will continue in Portugal the struggle for the affirmation of the communist ideal and project.
It is armed with the experience gathered by the communist movement over a hundred years of struggle that we proudly affirm the independence and class identity of our Party, its Marxist-Leninist ideology, its patriotic and internationalist nature.
A Communist Party that does not give up being communist, determined, combative, aware of its role, firm in its ideal and in the affirmation of its transformative and revolutionary project, and which always has in the horizon of its action and intervention the construction of the new society – socialism, a condition of the future inseparable from full human liberation and fulfilment.
It is with the deep conviction that socialism and communism are the future of humanity that we continue our struggle, firmly aware that the future is built and conquered with the struggle of the workers and the people!