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German Communists Answer Theses of CPUSA's Webb

German Communists Answer Theses of CPUSA's Webb

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Published by andrew taylor
Leading German Communist party official and editor of the party theoretical journal rejects CPUSA's Sam Webb's February 2011 Theses on Socialism
Leading German Communist party official and editor of the party theoretical journal rejects CPUSA's Sam Webb's February 2011 Theses on Socialism

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Published by: andrew taylor on Jul 21, 2011
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German Communists Answer theses of CPUSA's Sam Webb, by Dr. Hans-Peter Brenner writing in the Berlin socialist daily Junge Welt , July20, 2011
Coping with political defeat, July 20, 2011 by Hans-Peter Brenner 
Source: 21stcenturymanifesto
Certain Features of the Historical Development of Marxism is a work of Vladimir IlyichLenin. In it he dealt with the consequences of the defeat of the first Russian revolution of 1905. At that time, many party members (including many recently enrolled intellectuals)left the revolutionary party in droves. Soon after that, the farewell to Marxism, which wetoo experienced in 1989-1991, became the fashion.As a reflection of this change there occurred profound disintegration, confusion, shakingand swaying of all sorts – in a word, there appeared a very serious internal crisis of Marxism. The resolute defense against this decay, the determined and persistent strugglefor the basics of Marxism, again came on the agenda.That was Lenin’s diagnosis.It was — and still is — important for us German Communists to examine whatconclusions other Communist parties later drew from the defeat of socialism in Europeand the USSR.First of all, I think about the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba, which hadalready adjusted to this disaster before the shameful end of Mikhail Gorbachev whodrove to ruin Soviet socialism, his country, and his party. Cuba — the country and theCommunist Party – understood this: the harsh “drought” of the Special Period wouldgovern the 1990s and early 2000s. Without its revolutionary, Marxist-Leninist character,the Communist Party of Cuba would have given up its socialist goal.
Self-awareness or Self-doubt?
I recall one Communist leader, prominent but, unfortunately, less noted in Germany ,Alvaro Cunhal (1913-2005), the longtime general secretary of the Portuguese CommunistParty (PCP). At the time of the fascist Salazar dictatorship, Cunhal’s undergroundstruggle, his inspiring and mobilizing role during and after the 1974 victory of the“Carnation Revolution,” as well as his shrewd leadership, are legendary.The advance of the socialist stage of the revolutionary upheaval in Portugal was stopped by the united and coordinated actions of U.S. imperialism, NATO, the EU, the mainEuropean imperialist states, international social democracy, and domestic reaction.
Thanks to his personal resourcefulness, Cunhal embarked upon a strategic retreat. With a party united by a Marxist-Leninist program, he achieved the preservation of the PCP andits mass influence. He developed its clear profile, which it keeps today, as a revolutionary party of the working class, peasants and other working people.To this day, his conclusions about the character of a Communist Party at the beginning of the 21st century are well worth reading. In his 2001 work, As Seis de CaracteristicasFundamentais do Partido Comunista (The Six Basic Features of a Communist Party)Cunhal goes into the internal situation of the Communist movement at the beginning of the 21st century. He writes:The international Communist movement, and the parties from which it is made up, weresubject to profound changes as a the result of the collapse of the USSR and other socialistcountries and capitalism’s success in its rivalry with socialism. There were parties whodenied their militant past, their class nature, the goal of a socialist society, andrevolutionary theory. In some cases, they were transformed into system-integrated parties, and they eventually disappeared from the scene.In 2011 as well, this finding is relevant and correct.
Features of a Communist Party
The Communist movement as a whole – Cunhal went on – has achieved flexibility in itscomposition and reached new limits. Admittedly, though there is no model of aCommunist Party, nonetheless “six basic features can reveal a Communist party,regardless of whether the party bears that name or another.Briefly, their traits could include:1. To be a party completely independent of the interests, ideology, pressure and threats of capitalist forces;2. To be a party of the working class, the working people, in general, the exploited andoppressed;3. To be a party with a democratic internal life and a unified central leadership;4. To be a party which is both internationalist and which defends the interests of itscountry;5. To be a party that defines its goal as the building of a society which knows neither exploited nor exploiters, a socialist society;6. To be the bearer of a revolutionary theory, the theory of Marxism-Leninism, which notonly makes the explanation of the world possible, but also shows the way to change it.
In its simplicity and plainness, the last point sounds like it is of little interest, just as theother five points appear to include too little that is new. And yet these “self-evidenttruths” are not self-evident truths – not even for Communists. But more of that later.
Classics Taken at their Word
Cunhal made available to us the following explanation for his six points. It is cited here,in more detail, because of its uniqueness and distinctiveness:All the slanderous, punishing, anti-Communist campaigns are lies. Marxism-Leninism isa living, anti-dogmatic, dialectical, creative theory, which is further enriched by practiceand by its responses to new situations and phenomena, which is its job. It drives the practice of enrichment and development, dynamically and creatively using the lessons of  practice.Marx in Capital and Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto analyzed and definedthe basic elements and characteristics of capitalism.In the second half of the 19th century, however, the development of capitalism underwentan important amendment. Competition led to concentration and monopoly. We owe toLenin and his work Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism the definition of capitalism at the end of the 19th century. These theoretical developments are of exceptional value. And the value of research and systematization of theoreticalknowledge is rated as high.In a synthesis of extraordinary clarity and rigor, a famous article by Lenin, The ThreeSources and Three Component Parts of Marxism explains it. In the philosophy of dialectical materialism, historical materialism is its application to society. Politicaleconomy is the analysis and explanation of capitalism and exploitation, and the theory of surplus value is the cornerstone for understanding exploitation. The theory of socialism isthe definition of the new society, the abolition of exploitation of man by man.During the 20th century and the social transformations accompanying it, much newtheoretical thinking was added. However, there also was scattered and contradictorythinking which made it difficult to distinguish what is theoretical development and whereit is a question of revisionist deviation from principles. Hence the urgent need for debatewithout preconceptions and without making truths absolute. It’s not about the search for conclusions deemed to be final, but rather the intensification of joint reflection.” Quotedfrom: www.kommunisten.chCunhal is now dead six years. His party, the PCP, however, considers him not an idol ona pedestal, a “historical figure” whose thoughts and ideas slowly but gradually have beenforgotten. Today, his theoretical and programmatic conclusions determine the path andself-understanding of the PCP. But, unfortunately, it is quite different elsewhere.
On Slippery Ground

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