The following interview with Josef Skála, vice-chairman of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) and the party’s candidate for the upcoming presidential election in the Czech Republic, was given to Greek anti-imperialist journalist Panagiotis Papadomanolakis.
We are seeing huge demonstrations in the Czech Republic. Could you explain the people’s demands?
People are protesting against the Czech Republic’s involvement in the war in Ukraine – and against the policies of the government, which are dramatically worsening the living conditions of most of our compatriots.
The very logic of both issues highlights the submissive, vassal role of the Czech elites vis-a-vis the ‘eurocrats’, as well as towards Washington and its Nato instruments.
How are the economic and energy crises impacting people in the Czech Republic?
We are suffering from even more severe effects than most other European Union member states. This is partly owing to the industrial nature of our economy, which depends on export sales and on imports of competitively-priced energy and other raw materials. Partly, it is owing to other governmental policies, which have completely subordinated our country to foreign capital and to the interests of western ‘strategic partners’.
During the socialist past, we were able to substantially boost our dignified sovereign position within the ‘Champions’ League’ of global industrial markets. Let me give just one example: as one of only five countries with such a capability worldwide, we built 24 nuclear power plants, installing them not only at home but also in other Comecon countries and even in Finland.
Today, most of our productive capacities are owned by foreign capital, which is ‘milking’ us to the utmost and using our manpower as Gastarbeiters (guest workers), playing the role of completely subordinated ‘subcontractors’.
How are the economic and energy crises in your country related to the sanctions against Russia?
These ‘sanctions’ have been causing much bigger troubles to our own country than to the Russian Federation. From the late 1960s, socialist Czechoslovakia was the first European country to benefit from an unlimited supply of Siberian gas at very cheap prices – and, moreover, from the transit income earned by assisting in the passage of gas to the Federal Republic of Germany and to Austria.
Nowadays, we buy the self-same gas from Germany, paying the highest prices within the EU, and are right now facing the very real risk of a severe gas deficit during the coming winter.
Socialist Czechoslovakia built a very powerful and competitive system of electricity self-supply. Thanks to that system, we produced much more power than we needed for our own purposes, at a cost of just 2-4 cents/kWh. Within the neocolonial scheme of the Leipzig energy stock market, we have now been forced to buy the self-same Czech electricity for €0.50.
This tremendous robbery has nothing to do with Russia.
What is the Czech government’s role in the war in Ukraine?
Our present government is striving for a leading position amongst those who intend to ‘defeat’ the eastern nuclear superpower. This is really a historical first.
There were much bigger bloodsheds in the past – eg, the war in Vietnam with 4 million Vietnamese victims and 60,000 US soldiers returned home in coffins. Even at that time, however, nobody would have shouted about ‘winning over’ the involved nuclear superpower.
Such policies are extremely dangerous both to our economic and security interests.
The corporate media dismiss the demonstrations in your country as being made up of extremists and ‘far-right Kremlin agents’, describing the leadership as a ‘red-brown alliance’. How do you respond to these accusations?
These media and politicians are extremely nervous, facing massive and growingly powerful protests. Wenceslas Square, the very centre of Prague, was filled by more than 100,000 participants at anti-government rallies on 3 and 28 September, and again on 28 October.
Those of us who had the honour to address these gatherings do indeed represent an extremely wide political and professional spectrum, ranging from communists on the left wing to a patriotic and democratic right. The government and its foreign bosses received a more than convincing ‘red card’ against the policies they are pursuing, which are threatening the core interests of our country and the safety of our people.
The demagogy you refer to is a cowardly and nasty attempt to ‘rewrite’ the real story. We are neither ‘far right’ nor ‘Kremlin agents’. It is those who are doing everything in their power to slander the demonstrators who are the real mercenaries of foreign capital and imperialist power. They are totally hostile to the Czech Republic’s vital interests.
The far right is taking advantage of the political crisis in Europe by stealing the slogans of the left. But when they come to power, most right-wing extremists end up following Nato policies. How do you think there could be a left-wing response to the crisis?
In general terms, you are obviously correct. The situation in our country is, however, a bit different. An extremism – of unprecedented dimensions and repercussion – has already been imposed by the government, as well as by its key media and various ‘non-profit’ creatures – all of them commanded by the ‘deep state’ beyond the Atlantic [ie, by US imperialism].
We can thus see quite a rare panorama: that today, key national as well as many endangered social interests, are being defended against the present power by numerous patriotic and democratic right-wing forces.
This is actually helping our efforts to overcome anticommunist stereotypes and psychological barriers among a growing range of Czech workers.
None of these forces is, however, capable of giving a genuine solution of any of the problems that are caused by the immense crisis of contemporary capitalism. The Czech left has accumulated a horrible debt in this respect over recent decades.
To overcome it promptly and in a convincing manner must be our top priority. Either we succeed, and restore our vanguard role – or the crisis may become a playground of empty illusions and give birth to a genuine far-right movement.
Fifty-four years have passed since the so-called ‘Prague Spring’. Can you comment on the impact of the counter-revolution in the Czech Republic?
The drama at the end of the 1960s has been systematically used for spreading anticommunism and chauvinist hostilities ever since. Today, however, this demagogy has been harvesting growingly counterproductive crops.
When a broad spectrum of people, activated into opposing policies that threaten their core interests, are universally slandered as ‘Russian agents’, it helps to open their eyes to the lies told about our country’s history, too. This has even led to some of our long-term opponents to apologise for their previously hostile attitude towards us [the communists] and to their proclaiming a sincere willingness to work together with us for a sovereign homeland – one which would once again be far more prosperous and just.