Syrian communists uphold the banner of Leninism in the Middle East

A first-hand report from the recent congress of the Syrian Communist Party.

The Syrian Communist Party held its 11th Congress between 28-31 October 2010 under the following guiding slogans:

• Defence of the homeland and defence of the interests of the toiling masses;

• Struggle to build an international anti-imperialist front;

• Support for the struggle of the Syrian people against aggressive and expansionist plans of US imperialism and Israeli zionism;

• Courageous struggle for the rights of workers and all toiling masses;

• Firm adherence to the principles of proletarian internationalism and an abiding commitment to deepening cooperation and coordination among communist and progressive parties the world over by way of forging an international anti-capitalist front.

The congress hall was decorated with portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Khalid Bagdash, the historic leader of the Syrian Communist Party. The prominent slogans displayed on the walls included: ‘Workers of the world, unite!’, ‘Free country, happy people’ and ‘Defending the country, defending the interests of the people’.

Causes and cures for capitalist crisis

At the opening session, the appearance on the platform of the outgoing General Secretary, Comrade Wisal Bagdash, was greeted with prolonged and thunderous applause. The following day, Comrade Ammar Bagdash delivered the Central Committee’s report, the main points of which are summarised below.

The report emphasised the urgent necessity for the Syrian Communist Party to participate in the building of an international front against imperialism, while straining every sinew to defend Syrian national independence.

Referring to the latest economic crisis, the report pointed out that, like all cyclical crises inherent to capitalism, the present crisis has once again shown the bankruptcy of capitalism; that this crisis, like all other previous crises, is the product of the contradiction between labour and capital – the contradiction between the social nature of the productive forces and private appropriation, between productive forces and relations of production; in other words, it is a crisis of overproduction.

It is not a crisis that can be solved under the conditions of capitalism; it can only be solved through the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by socialism and the planned organisation of production to satisfy the needs of society.

The present crisis, said the report, serves to confirm the lasting validity of Marxism Leninism, which teaches that such crises are inherent to capitalism – not the products of ‘bad’ loans or other policy ‘mistakes’, as the capitalist tycoons and their ideologues would have us believe.

The continuing crisis of capitalism is forcing the imperialist bourgeoisie to resort to wars abroad and to attacking the working class at home, said the report. Capitalist civilisation has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths in the wars waged against the people of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan, while the working class in the centres of imperialism, as well as elsewhere, have come under fierce economic attacks in the wake of the collapse of the USSR and the east European socialist countries.

This, the biggest crisis since the 1929-1933 Great Depression, has discredited the market, economic liberalism and globalisation, preached with such enthusiasm by the robber barons of monopoly capitalism over the last two decades as the panacea for the world’s economic and social problems. It has furnished yet another proof of the correctness of Stalin’s observation that to eliminate crises of overproduction, capitalism itself must be eliminated.

The struggle for socialism has today become a fight not only for the future of humanity but also a struggle for its very survival.

Many people have been forced to return to Marx and Engels to gain an understanding of the latest cyclical crisis, such has been its devastating effect.

Just as in previous crises, the present crisis has led to further centralisation of capital, increased productivity, a jobless recovery and rising unemployment. With the sole aim of diverting the attention of the working class from the real cause of the crisis, and weakening its resistance to the consequent capitalist attacks on it, the bourgeoisie everywhere is busy inflaming racial conflicts and inciting hate campaigns against immigrants and minorities. In fact, bourgeois democracy is embarked on the road to fascism.

Fighting imperialism

US imperialism, underlined the report, is the most savage imperialist power known to history. It greeted the 21st century with predatory wars against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq – wars which are nothing short of crimes against humanity. While waged under the fraudulent slogans of ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’, these are wars for world domination. Such wars of aggression are the main foreign policy instrument of US imperialism, irrespective of which political party controls the US government, for it is the giant monopolies – not Obama or any other individual – which control the administration.

For all its economic and military might, US imperialism is losing in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan. The Iraqi resistance has so far successfully thwarted Plan Columbia, aimed by the US at the overthrow of progressive regimes in Latin America through armed intervention. The credit for the change in the tone of the US administration in that continent belongs to the heroic Iraqi resistance, not the Obama administration, which has intensified the war for domination in Afghanistan.

While US imperialism is busy sabotaging countries refusing to bow to the US diktat, and is waging predatory wars against them, the UN Security Council has adopted the unjust stance of looking the other way, for, said the report, since the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the Security Council has effectively been turned into a tool of US imperialism, which, since the attacks of 11 September 2001, and under the pretext of ‘war on terror’, has waged savage wars for domination against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. It is to the credit of the Iraqi and Afghan resistance movements that, notwithstanding these difficult circumstances, they are on the verge of defeating the US-led forces.

At the same time the crisis has prepared the ground for great social changes and is confronting communist parties with the urgent task of distinguishing themselves from opportunist elements and leading the masses in the struggle against imperialism. The communist parties are duty-bound to support all the forces fighting against imperialism, while safeguarding the teaching of Marx, Engels and Lenin, so faithfully defended by Stalin.

In the context of the Middle East, they are bound to struggle against zionism, for the struggle against the latter is an integral part of the struggle against imperialism – especially US imperialism. They are bound to support such resistance movements as Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and other resistance movements in Palestine, for in the struggle against imperialism, they are our allies, notwithstanding the ideological chasm that divides these movements from the communists.

The alliance between these movements and the communists is a political and not an ideological alliance. Since the Syrian steadfast stance is an obstacle to imperialist expansionism, the US and other imperialist powers are attempting to subjugate Syria, an attempt in which the reactionary Arab regimes are collaborating shamelessly.

Not confining themselves to military pressure, the imperialists are trying to achieve the same objective by the economic subjugation of Syria through the imposition of liberalisation, deregulation of the labour market to attract foreign capital, increased privatisation and elimination of the public sector, doing away with the provision of free education and healthcare.

If successful, such attempts will end up by weakening the Syrian people’s support for the National Steadfast Front, undermine Syrian sovereignty, and cause damage to the struggle for socialism. Precisely for this reason, the Syrian Communist Party is in the forefront of the struggle against imperialist attempts to subjugate Syria.

The Syrian Communist Party stands for land to the tiller as the surest means to guarantee the country’s food security and opposes increases in the prices of inputs such as fertilisers, diesel and electricity; it stands for an alliance with the national bourgeoisie and the toiling masses in the struggle against the comprador bourgeoisie; it stands for the maintenance of the state sector – all as a means of defending the homeland, safeguarding national sovereignty and fighting for the rights of the people in the course of the struggle for power and the emancipation of the working class.

Upholding scientific understanding

Towards the end, the report emphasised the necessity for communist parties to adhere firmly to the science of Marxism Leninism, and at the same time to wage uncompromising struggle against opportunism. In this context, it went on to observe that the enemies of our movement attacked J V Stalin as a prelude to attacking Leninism and thus sowed scepticism about the revolutionary aims of our movement and its world historic achievements, which were made under the banner of Leninism and collective ownership of the means of production as the basis for building socialism.

Stressing the need for struggle against opportunism, the report referred to Lenin’s well-known saying to the effect that the struggle against imperialism is a fraud unless accompanied by a struggle against opportunism.

In its internal life, said the report, the Syrian Communist Party adheres to the Leninist principle of democratic centralism, with all that this implies. In its external relations it strictly abides by the principles of proletarian internationalism.

Turning to the youth, the report frankly said that younger members of the party are weak in the sphere of theory, as well as in regard to the history of the party. There is, thus, a need for putting in place mechanisms and measures to spread among the youth the teachings of Marxism Leninism and the history of the Syrian Communist Party.

Finally, emphasised the report, the Syrian Communist Party stands for:

• Cooperation with all progressive forces;

• Struggle in defence of the rights of the working class and the broad masses of toiling people – for, in the words of Comrade Khalid Bagdash, the historic leader of the Syrian Communist Party, “the struggle for the demands and interests of the people is the fundamental reason for existence of any communist party, and this struggle should not be abandoned under any circumstances”;

• Struggle for the defence of Syria’s independence and sovereignty;

• Upholding the banner of Marxism Leninism in Syria and in other parts of the Arab world;

• An international front against imperialism and zionism as the bearers of the modern-day ideology of Hitlerite fascism.

Seventeen fraternal parties were represented at the congress, with each fraternal delegate allotted 10 minutes to deliver a message of greetings and solidarity. Among these delegates was CPGB-ML Chairman Harpal Brar, whose message is summarised below.

CPGB-ML’s message

Harpal Brar told the assembled delegates that the CPGB-ML consider it a great honour to be present at the congress of the Syrian Communist Party – the party of Comrade Khalid Bagdash.

“The CPGB-ML,” said Comrade Brar, “is a small but by no means insignificant party. It firmly adheres to the principles of Marxism Leninism and opposes social democracy as the enemy within the working-class movement. It wholeheartedly supports the national-liberation struggles of the oppressed people in the vast continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America, firmly believing that the successes of these struggles are of direct assistance to the proletariat in the centres of imperialism in the latter’s struggle for its social emancipation.

“It cherishes, holds dear, and proudly upholds the world-historic achievements of the Soviet Union in the economic, cultural, diplomatic and military fields and holds in the highest regard the man under whose leadership these achievements were made, namely, Abu Yakoob (Joseph Stalin).

“The Middle East,” he said, “is today playing an important role in the struggle against imperialism. Syria, Iran, Hizbollah, the Palestinian and Iraqi resistance, are leading the anti-imperialist struggle in this region. And your party, being an indispensable part of the Syrian Steadfast Front and the National Progressive Front, is playing a crucially important and honourable role for the liberation of humanity from the barbarism of imperialist war, imperialist economics and imperialist politics.”

Comrade Brar went on: “The Middle East, while being exceptionally dangerous, is an exciting place to be, for its people have the honour to confront, fight and defeat imperialism in this important corner of the world. Progressive humanity at large owes the people of this region a great debt of gratitude for their contribution and sacrifices towards the defeat of this monster which has for so long drowned humanity in blood.”

Continuing, Comrade Brar said that “while hypocritically blabbering on about human rights, democracy and the rule of law, imperialism is busy committing genocide at every step through its predatory wars for domination, as, for instance, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

War in Iraq

“The war against Iraq was commenced on the pretext of Iraqi possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It turned out, as was known to most people before the start of the war, that Iraq possessed no WMD. In our party, we maintain that even if Iraq had possessed WMD, that would have been no basis for waging an aggressive war against it, for those waging this war – the Anglo-American imperialists – have the largest stockpiles of WMD.

“What right, in law or justice, do they have to demand the nuclear disarmament of other countries, while continuing to arm themselves with the latest nuclear and conventional armaments? Besides, the only country in the Middle East which possesses nuclear weapons is the racist zionist state of Israel. If nuclear weapons are a matter of such concern to the imperialist powers, should they not be directing their wars against Israel?

“Once it was clear that Iraq possessed no WMD, Anglo-American imperialism shifted its ground and came up with the pretext that the war was waged to bring democracy and human rights to Iraq. What, it might be asked, are the results of this war waged allegedly in the name of democracy and human rights? The answer is:

• “1.2 million Iraqis dead and several hundred thousand injured;

• “2 million Iraqis displaced externally;

• “2.5 million Iraqis displaced internally;

• “Tens of thousands of Iraqis languishing in concentration camps set up by the occupation forces and their Iraqi puppets;

• “Iraq’s health and education systems, the best in the Arab world before the war began, and its infrastructure destroyed.

“While talking about genocide in places where there is none, US imperialism thinks it best to hide the real genocides it has been guilty of – from Korea (4 million dead), to Vietnam (3 million), Indonesia (1 million) and Iraq (1.2 million). If these horrific totals – the result of US imperialism’s predatory wars – are not genocides, what then is a genocide?”

Zionism: imperialism’s agent in the Middle East

Turning to the question of zionism and the theocratic state of Israel, Comrade Brar said: “Zionism and the state of Israel, far from being a project for a jewish national home, is, on the contrary, a colonial project conceived, brought into being and supported by imperialism. In addition to being an instrument for the colonisation of Palestine through expropriation and expulsion of its rightful owners, it is a dagger aimed at the heart of the Arab people’s struggle for national liberation – hence the ferocity, brutality and the crimes of zionism, all shamefully supported by imperialism.

“It is the firmly-held view of my party that Israel has no right to exist. The interests of peace, security and justice alike call for its destruction. And destroyed it shall be. Even according to a recent analysis by the CIA, Israel will not exist in 20 years’ time.

“The zionists have absolutely no historical claim to Palestine. Palestine belongs as little to the zionists as Britain belongs to Syria.

“The zionists are not only thieves who have stolen at gunpoint the Palestinian people’s land, they are also very stupid thieves. The victims of their theft, under the Oslo Peace Accords, agreed to accept a mere 22 percent of the historic land of Palestine, but, utterly demented as the zionist thieves are, they cannot bring themselves to accept such an amazing deal offered to them. They are instead busy with their settlement activity in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, consequently rendering impossible a two-state solution and thus leaving the Palestinian people with only the alternative of working for a non-racist single state of Palestine.”

A bright future for Marxism

Referring to bourgeois assertions that Marxism is dead, Comrade Brar stated: “Far from Marxism being dead, it is imperialism which is gasping its last breath. The latest crisis of overproduction, the near-collapse of the imperialist financial system, with scores of millions of workers being consigned to a life of forced idleness through unemployment, has furnished yet another proof of the bankruptcy of capitalism and its inability to run the economic affairs of society.

“It is increasingly forcing the working class and other sections of toiling humanity to come face to face with the choice: either submit to imperialism, eke out a miserable existence and sink lower and lower, or pick up the banner of Marxism and overthrow imperialism.

“My party, comrades, has no doubt as to the choice humanity will opt for. It will opt for the overthrow of imperialism, for humanity will not be broken.

“Marxism has a bright future, for it is the theoretical expression of the working-class movement; it can no more be destroyed than can the working class.”

Since the disappearance of the Soviet Union, the bourgeoisie and its well-rewarded ideologues have been asserting that socialism has collapsed, that socialism does not work in practice. “If the truth be known,” went on Comrade Brar, “socialism did not collapse in the USSR. What collapsed were the revisionist distortions of, and departures from, socialism – from Marxism Leninism.

“The working class and the toiling masses need to be told this truth – the working class needs to know about the glorious history of socialism and its earthshaking achievements before it can, and in order that it may, return to the attack.

“We must fight against the incessant attempts of the bourgeoisie to falsify the history of our movement.

“We must increase our efforts a hundred-fold in our fight against opportunism, which has brought such humiliating defeats upon the working class. Opportunism – revisionism, Trotskyism and social democracy – are the enemies within the working-class movement. Without waging a merciless struggle against opportunism, the working class will no more see victory in its fight to overthrow imperialism than it will see its ears.”

During the congress, Comrade Brar had the opportunity to hold bilateral discussions with Comrade Walid Faras, of the Syrian party’s politburo, on matters of mutual interest.

The congress elected a 32-strong Central Committee. Comrade Ammar Bagdash is to be the new General Secretary of the party, while Comrade Wisal Bagdash assumes the role of Chairperson.

The CPGB-ML wishes the new Central Committee every success in carrying out the tasks set by the 11th Congress and in its endeavours to lead the Syrian working class and the toiling masses in the struggle to establish socialism.