Conference on the Centenary of the Comintern: Anti-imperialist fury! Internationalist enthusiasm! Working class determination!
The conference titled “Centenary of the Communist International: From the Comintern to the World Party of the Future”, organized by the web network RedMed and the Christian Rakovsky Balkan Socialist Center and hosted by DIP (Revolutionary Workers Party),was held with a crowd filling Beyoglu Ses theater in an enthusiastic atmosphere. The conference brought together socialists from Argentina, Greece, Russia, France, Bulgaria, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Finland, Iran, and of course Turkey. HT Solar and Cargill workers left their marks at the very beginning of the conference.
HT Solar workers: “Workers of the world, unite!”
The meeting opened with proletarian delegations from two factories, one in Gebze, an industrial basin near Istanbul, and the other in Bursa, the fourth largest city of Turkey, an industrial hub, some hundreds of kilometers from Istanbul. These two factories are among the many workplaces where DIP carries on work within the working class. These two delegations symbolized the support of the advanced layers of the Turkish working class for internationalism.
Last year, HT Solar workers were unable to attend the conference dedicated to the centenary of the October Revolution held at the same meeting hall because of their initiation of a strike and an occupation of the factory in their struggle for unionization in Tuzla. HT Solar workers attended the conference this year as union members and with self-confidence of being a vanguard of a successful workers’ struggle. HT workers went on the stage all together with the slogans “occupation, strike, resistance”. The speech on behalf of the HT workers was a manifesto of the workers' struggle. The words “we won the unionization right by striking and resisting” were interrupted by the slogans “occupation, strike, resistance”. Our comrade who is the union representative of workers at HT Solar factory stated that the Chinese company backed by Turkish government and the yellow Turkish Metal Union attacked Turkish workers. She later explained that the attack of the bosses is international, and when she finished her words with “Workers of the world, unite!” the hall was resonating once more with applause and slogans.
Cargill workers in resistance for 299 days: “We resist for the future of our kids”
Cargill workers also went on the stage with the slogan “unity of workers will overcome capital” and with a banner that said “the fathers resist to let the children live well” where they have pictures of their children. Suat Karlıkaya on behalf of workers sacked by American food monopoly Cargill after a unionization attempt stated that they were on the 299th day of the resistance in front of their factory and continued this struggle not only to get their rights, but also to leave an honorable future for their children. Karlıkaya said that “if Cargill workers win, the whole working class will win” and went on his speech by telling their efforts to explain their struggle to the people in villages and districts around. This enthusiastic and meaningful speech ended with the slogans “Cargill workers are not alone” and “victory will come through those workers resisting”.
Internationalism against NATO and imperialism
The event continued with the speeches by international guests greeting the conference. From the lands of the Young Turk Revolution, Macedonia, Liliana Istatova, representative of Levica, shared the struggles of her party and the political situation in her country. She took a decisive stance against Macedonia’s accession to NATO, criticized both the government and the opposition for their pro-NATO stance and called for international solidarity. Daniela Penkova and Ilian Stanchev from Bulgaria indicated that the rising nationalism in Bulgaria went hand in hand with attacks on the rights of the working class. Comrades working in the trade union movement in Bulgaria stressed that the attacks were across Europe and Bulgaria was taking their share of it and also that, struggle must produce an international response in the same way. Pavle Ilich, from Marks21 organization in Serbia, went on stage with the slogan “Balkans will become a graveyard for NATO”. With a strong internationalist perspective, he called for an internationalist and anti-imperialist conference in Belgrade on the 20thanniversary of NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Çingiz Topçiyev speaking on behalf of the Heqiqat group from Azerbaijan expressed that the two nations of Turkey and Azerbaijan are very close and brotherly despite the demagoguery of chauvinism as "two states, one nation" and stressed the importance of The Congress of the Peoples of the East organized by the Comintern in Baku in the development of the communist movement in Turkey. Topçiyev, while fighting against the power of oligarchs in Azerbaijan, underlined the importance of an organization independent of the pro-American and pro-NATO liberal opposition. Speaking on behalf of the Marxist Workers' League from Finland, Dimitris Mizaras talked about the historical development of the revolution and the role of the Comintern in this process in Finland, a country neighboring the land of the October Revolution.
Speakers with yellow vests
On the part of ROR (Renaissance Ouvrière Révolutionnaire) militants who took part within the Yellow Vests movement of France, Guy Hesser, explained the progress of the process, gave information about the lies of the mainstream media. He explained that ROR had previously analyzed the capitalist crisis which could re-stimulate the popular rebellions and therefore, as opposed to other factions of the left, ROR was not late to participate in the Yellow Vests movement and in interfering with it. Our comrade from ROR's student activity shared with the participants how the university struggle increased in interaction with the Yellow Vests and the attitude of ROR in this process. During the speeches of the French comrades, slogans were shouted as “this is just a beginning, continue to struggle”, which was the slogan of May 1968 in France (“ce n’est que le début, la lutte continue”) and also became synonymous with the Gezi rebellion in Turkey.
Message from Venezuela: “The working class of Venezuela is not defeated”
The message of Opcion Obrera from Venezuela, the sister party of DIP in Venezuela, which calls for the struggle against the American coup and imperialist siege, and saluting the conference with a revolutionary internationalist perspective, was read. The message contained the following statements: “We should take lessons from the Comintern’s theses on the East, on the national question and the question of the colonies, and we should be able to enrich them with the pages we can write on Venezuela at the present time. Overcoming the bourgeois nationalism depends on breaking of the masses off it. Today we face the military occupation of imperialists and the threat of a civil war. However, the working class of Venezuela is not defeated. Our struggle continues despite all difficulties here”.
Also, Iosif Abramson, on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Party of Russian Communists (RPK), Tamás Krausz, on behalf of the Marxist Eszmélet journal from Hungary, and the Japan Revolutionary Communist League (Revolutionary Marxist Faction), greeted the conference.
In the international session, Savas Michael-Matsas from Greece the general secretary of EEK (Workers Revolutionary Party), Jorge Altamira from Argentina, the historic leader of Partido Obrero (Workers Party), Darya Mitina from Russia, the secretary of international relations and member of the central committee of OKP (the United Communist Party of Russia), and Sungur Savran, the chairperson of DIP (Revolutionary Workers Party), spoke.
General Secretary of EEK Savas Michael-Matsas: “Trump fears socialism”
In his opening speech, Savas Michael, commented on the global situation from an economic and political perspective. He indicated that the economic crisis of capitalism is surfacing via political crisis. Likening the Middle East to an active volcano of war, he emphasized the importance of revolutionary politics of war against war as opposed to a pacifist stance. He also stated that EU is in a process of disintegration, Brexit chaos is following the Greek bankruptcy, and the EU project in the axis of France-Germany is collapsing. He defended that this is in parallel to the low-density civil war within political superstructure in the USA -a country becoming increasingly harder to govern- which is not limited to a conflict among the ruling classes but is in fact rooted deep in the society. On this very basis, he underlined Trump's speech declaring a socialist threat (“America will never be a socialist country”) reflects the fact that the USA, after a century of seeing the red threat coming abroad from the Soviet Union and allies, now sees the threat of socialism emerging from within its borders.
Partido Obrero leader Jorge Altamira: “Proletarian dictatorship cannot be defended without the International”
In his speech Jorge Altamira emphasized that the Third International (the Comintern) represented a leap forward for international revolutionary workers’ movement. He pointed to the fact that what was previously a movement active only in Europe, finally met with the oppressed nations and colonies to truly create a world party, with the Comintern, as a significant moment. Emphasizing the importance of Lenin's analysis of capitalism in decay as a foundational idea of the Comintern, Altamira stated that the basis of a revolutionary politics against variants of reformism lies in this understanding. In assessing the situation in Latin America, a continent under severe bourgeois attack from Venezuela and Brazil to Argentina, he stated the fact that the continent cannot be ruled in the hands of bourgeoisie and imperialism as further proofs of Lenin's idea. Altamira reminded that under Stalinist bureaucracy, Comintern degenerated from being a vanguard of the revolutions to one that obstructs them, what was once a creator of revolutionary parties turned into a mechanism of destroying them. He told even though Stalinism claimed to protect the proletarian revolution, history proved Trotsky's foresight that defense of the Soviet state (dictatorship of proletariat) was impossible without the International and that the abolition of it would only lead to capitalist restoration.
Darya Mitina from OKP: “Comintern was the largest and strongest organization in history”
United Communist Party Central Committee member and Secretary for International Relations Darya Mitina from Russia focused on the process leading to the Third International from Second International. She underlined the idea that the role of the propagation of revolution into Europe through Comintern as a necessity for the success of the Russian revolution, an idea shared by Lenin and Trotsky. Later she emphasized the role of the Soviet state in the development of the Comintern, how step by step Comintern grew into a giant organization housing 300 thousand employees and created a huge network throughout the world. In this sense, Darya Mitina, in her speech, also described Comintern from a different perspective as a peak for world proletariat.
Sungur Savran: “Working class internationalism against hypocritical bourgeois cosmopolitism”
Sungur Savran started his speech by hailing the struggles of HT Solar and Cargill workers. He exposed the hypocritical character of bourgeois cosmopolitism, saying that the international collaboration of the bourgeois is nothing to be glorified and that this pseudo-internationalism is, in essence, animosity towards the working class and oppressed peoples. He noted that the very same holds for the “national and home-grown” rhetoric of Erdogan, a politician whose career started under the wings of imperialism. He reminded that class struggle is authentic, yet on the other hand the working class is international and oppressed people from all nations can truly unite under class struggle.
Hostility between Communism and Muslims is a lie!
Sungur Savran reminded that Comintern did reach out to oppressed peoples and in particular the Muslims and that the widespread idea of communism and Muslims being enemies is a lie and propaganda. He pointed to the importance of Congress of the Peoples of the East in Baku. He told that Communist Party of Turkey was founded after this congress by Mustafa Suphi and his comrades, and it was founded as a section of the world party of Comintern; a crucial aspect of the party that is forgotten by many who claim to follow this tradition but is upheld as our heritage by DIP.
Message to Venezuela: We are with you against any kind of imperialism!
Sungur Savran put a special emphasis on Venezuela in his speech. He made a part of his speech in Spanish and, pointing to the poster hung on the wall that read “¡Abajo el golpe imperialista en Venezuela! ¡Fuera Yanquis de América Latina!” (“Down with the imperialist coup in Venezuela! Yanquis out of Latin America!”) said: “Hermanos y hermanas! Somos con ustedes en contra todo imperialismo, yanki o europeo! Que ustedes resistan! Los proletarios y los pobres de todo el mundo están con ustedes! Es el mismo combate en cada país por el pan y la libertad!”Translated into English this meant: “Brothers and sisters! Against all forms of imperialism, be it American or European, we are always with you! Resist! Workers and the poor in all countries are with you! The struggle everywhere is that of bread and freedom!”
Tamás Krausz from Hungary: “The social revolution is not behind us, but lies ahead”
Some of the speakers invited for the meeting were not able to attend because of other responsibilities, but sent presentations to the conference, which were summarized by the chairpersons of the two sessions. One such speaker was Tamás Krausz, editor of the Marxist journal Eszmélet form Hungary. In his paper, summarized by the chairperson of the first session, Krausz focused on the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919. He defended its achievements in the face of the all-out attack of Hungarian right-wing ideologues of our day. He also said: “The cause of Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht, Lenin and Trotsky, Bela Kun and Tibor Szamuely, György Lukács and Antonio Gramsci has not failed, no matter what the bourgeois ideological apparatuses say. What really failed was the first great experiment of socialism since it had deformed and become state socialism; and the upper layers of bureaucracy had betrayed the cause. The social revolution as Marx meant it, dear comrades, friends, is not behind us, it is in front of us!”
100 years later Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht continue to live in revolutions: “I was, I am, I shall be!”
The last session began with a presentation by the chairperson of the session on behalf of the Revolutionary Workers Party on the life and struggle of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht on the centenary of their death. The presentation put forward the theoretical and political power and oratory skills of Rosa Luxemburg complementing Liebknecht as a leader strong on agitation and a man of action. She reminded that Rosa and Karl were killed by the will and order of Social Democrat leader Ebert and his Defense Minister Noske, today’s foundation established in Ebert’s name continued to serve insidiously imperialism as enemies of working class within the trade union movement. The presentation ended with:
“Rosa Luxemburg's slogan “Socialism or Barbarism” stands before us with all its concreteness today. But at the same time, with the revolts of the masses, with the popular rebellions all over the world, “I was, I am and I shall be!” says the revolution; looking for its leadership, waiting for its day. That is why today, a hundred years later, we claim the legacy of Rosa and Liebknecht, and we recognize as a mission to commemorate them on the centenary of the Comintern.”
Pablo Heller: We must build revolutionary parties at the national and international levels with the proletarian dictatorship program for the victory of the working class!
Pablo Heller, member of the National Committee of Partido Obrero, with reference to Lenin, emphasized that the distinction between the Comintern within the historical development of the Internationals lies in the realization of the “proletarian dictatorship”, the central slogan of Marx. In his presentation, Pablo Heller focused on the following analysis: The Comintern was established primarily on a basis of a clear and an explicit program and this program was concretized by discussing and demarcating with the opportunist line of the Second International. Internationalism does not rely on a purely moral solidarity principle, finds its material in the basis of the international character of productive forces, capitalist nation states have become an obstacle and the crises that lead to the destruction of the productive forces reveal the question of power in a direct manner. The struggle against capitalism is a struggle for power, as clearly seen in the establishment of the Comintern and the establishment of revolutionary parties at both national and international levels stands as a historical and a current task.
Fikret Başkaya: Capitalism has reached its limits!
Fikret Başkaya contributed to our conference as one of Turkey's leading Marxist intellectuals and a fighter of ideas who has made internationalism an important part of his intellectual struggle, was never afraid to pay the price for his settlement with the official ideology. In his speech, he said that capitalism has reached the limits of the development of the productive forces and the natural resources, and that the idea capitalism can always renew itself is based on a great illusion. He stated that capitalism must be overcome for the emancipation of humanity and this would never be possible within national borders. Başkaya continued as follows: “It is therefore meaningless to discuss whether an international is necessary or not. What we have discuss is what kind of International organization is needed.” Fikret Başkaya said his idea was that the future International could resemble the First International which included many parties and different ideologies. He criticized the Comintern's principle of a single communist party in each country and defended a federative tendency rather than a world party.
Sungur Savran: Let's unite the program of the Fourth International with the organization of the Comintern!
In the last session, Sungur Savran said that he agreed with Başkaya concerning the proletarian dictatorship that it should be multi-party, but that as a world party the International should not be federative but democratic centralist. Sungur Savran stated that the Comintern as a world party is a manifestation of Leninist party model in the international arena. He said that the formula to be followed for the future international is to unite the program of the Fourth International with the Comintern's organization.
Iosif Abramson: “Future International a new organization borrowing from programs of Comintern and the Fourth International”
Apart from Tamás Krausz of Eszmélet from Hungary, there was a second speaker who was invited but could not attend. This was Iosif G. Abramson, who sent a presentation on behalf of his party RPK (Russian Party of Communists), of which he is a member of the Executive Committee. Having spoken in the previous meeting held in Istanbul on the Centenary of the October Revolution in 2017, Abramson was someone greatly admired by the audience. In his paper, summarized by the chairperson of the session, he recounted the development of the Comintern from the Second International onwards, praising Comintern under Lenin during its first four congresses. As for the later period, his assessment was clear and concise: “It is necessary also to pay attention to the negative moments in the history of the Comintern. They stem from individual dogmatic attitudes characteristic for the Stalinist retreat from Marxist dialectics, which prevailed, after the death of Lenin, in the CPSU (b), the natural base of the Comintern.” Looking to the future at the end of his paper, Abramson stressed the importance of a new International, which, in his own words, should be “a new organization with a program that meets current realities. Certain provisions of the Third and Fourth Internationals programs can also enter this program if they have passed the test of time.”
Levent Dölek: The International is the party, its program is the dictatorship of the proletariat!
Levent Dölek, who gave the closing speech, said the conference fulfilled its aim in discussing the construction of a world party for the revolution, not a historical commemoration for the Comintern. The conference has identified the Comintern in almost every speech as a pinnacle in the organization of the international workers’ movement and of the revolutionary party. “The dictatorship of the proletariat” has been defended today as it was yesterday as the most concise expression of the program of the working class, not as a historical definition mentioned ashamedly against democratic public opinion. For many years, Levent Dölek said that those who accused revolutionary Marxists of class reductionism imposed identity reductionism and even reduced socialism to an identity. Criticizing the recent attempts to legitimize the collaborations with imperialism and the bourgeoisie under the socialist identity, Dölek stated that identities did not mean anything and what matters is the program and the party. He said that we do not call anyone to be gathered under an identity, we call on a revolutionary program aiming at workers' power and to build a world party equipped with this program. He stated: We are aiming to climb the climax represented by the Comintern by setting our foot on the programmatic peak of the Fourth International. Dölek finished his speech by saying that "We will fight with the International and we will win".
The Internationale shall be the human race!
Following the closing speech, the international delegation went on stage together, holding a banner in Spanish saying “Down with the imperialist coup in Venezuela! Yankees out of Latin America!”, and chanted together with everyone in the theater the Internationale in their own languages, 11 in total. The conference ended with great enthusiasm with the slogan chanted: “Long live the socialist world revolution!”