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Central Committee's political report to the Communist Party Congress

28.05.2010 - 19:32
(updated: 06.06.2016 - 13:48)
Not long ago, the National Conservative Coalition Party declared that the "period of confrontation was over". The free market was the way to solve problems, the European Union was to guarantee a stable development and after the Cold War the world was to enter into a new era of peace. But what happened?

We see not only increased inequality and uncertainty, but also protests, strikes and demonstrations. Demonstrators in Greece, Iceland and many other countries demand that banks and large investors be made responsible for the financial crisis. In Finland, the food workers, dock workers, the white collar workers of the machine industry, retailers, security guards, and many municipal employees took strike action. Citizens’ movements have risen across the country to oppose the cutting of public services and privatization. Universities are protesting in defence of free education and against the commercialization of science. Thousands are on the move to demand the reduction of climate emissions and to protest against new nuclear power plants. Opposition to the war in Afghanistan has increased, and the peace movement is gaining strength in its opposition to NATO.

* * *

When the financial crisis broke three years ago, the government asserted that it was of no concern to us. They promised that the crisis would be soon over, as long as employees agreed to be flexible and remain satisfied with less. In return for supporting the banks they promised to increase the financial control and transparency of financial markets. The Euro and the Lisbon Treaty were to guarantee stable economic development.

Stock prices have just had time to increase and now we are already in the middle of a new crisis, which has shaken the entire euro system. Major international investors and banks have poured billions into casino-style speculation, using state debts for chips. They have accumulated profits, hidden them in tax havens, and have taken great risks. And now they blackmail governments by demanding supportive measures, even dictating the conditions of these measures. Big business is urging the European Union and governments to cut wages, pensions and government spending and expand privatization. And again we talk about financial regulation without really addressing investment schemes, stock exchanges or currency speculation.

Euro countries are facing a shock therapy and are becoming the victims of disaster capitalism in the same way as in many developing countries prior to this. At the same time the EU is being given greater powers. Capital and right-wing forces prepare for tougher times in Finland too. They have resorted to measures used in the 1930s by recruiting scabs to break strikes and setting up bogus trade unions. The Confederation of Finnish Industries has demanded a restriction on the right to strike. Control is reinforced in the workplace and in society as a whole. Decision-making is increasingly concentrated among smaller circles of people and the rise of alternatives during the elections is curtailed by establishing voting thresholds. The national Broadcasting Company and commercial media see their power being harnessed increasingly and unilaterally to serve as mouthpiece for the employers and the Conservative Coalition Party.

* * *

The crisis has revealed more than ever the class nature of capitalism and the irrationality of the capitalist system. The crisis is not just about some mistakes and failures that market self-regulation mechanism will fix. This is an unsound system, capitalism in crisis. The contradiction between the development of productive forces and the concentration of ownership in a few hands continues to grow.

Capitalists' desire to produce more and at ever lower costs generates situations where there is simultaneously too much capital, too much production and too few jobs and too little purchasing power. There is work that cannot be done, and yet the unemployed are not allowed to do it.

The current crisis is not just a normal cyclical crisis. Karl Marx already drew attention to the fact that the fictional, speculative economy "is creating a whole system of fraud and deception in the field of developers, the issuing and trading of shares." Today, this financial capital, which has separated itself from productive activities has reached astronomical figures and seeks to increase profits by all sorts of imaginary expectation values and derivative products.

A small number of money magnates rob the results of the work of the working-class, destroying entire industries and subduing the rest of society. This means that financial capital is having a prevailing role over other forms of capital, that the financial oligarchy has a dominant position and also that some states are separating themselves from the great majority of states thanks to their financial might, as Lenin described when writing about imperialism. Not only Greece but also the entire EU is connected to this system of financial speculation. Instead of seriously addressing this financial speculation, the EU will ensure, together with the IMF the super interest rates and the super profits of banks and investors.

The current crisis is the crisis of this model of accumulation of capital based on financial derivates. At the same time, the way in which big investors and corporate leaders can by means of their decisions shake the rest of society indicates that this is a crisis of democracy. One proof of this is the sidelining of citizens when the EU and governments are elaborating crisis programs and subordination of countries to ever-greater control by the EU and international financial institutions.

The economic and financial crisis is also linked to the ecological, energy and food crisis. In addition to its exploitation of human beings, capitalism is reducing nature to a means for profit making, which is based on continuous quantitative growth. Again, this model of production and consumption is a very unequal. It can be seen, for example in the levels of climate emissions. The richest part of the world population, that is to say 7% of the global population, generates almost 50% of the emissions, while the poorest three billion people generate only 6%. The absurdity of capitalism can be illustrated by the fact that six times more money is spent in advertising profit-making activities than the amount needed to solve the worst global environmental problems. Nearly 1,500 billion dollars were used last year in military expenditures. It is estimated that less than one tenth of that sum each year would be sufficient to achieve a 50% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in about 25 years.

It is more important for the U.S. and other imperialist countries' economic and political elites to assert their own supremacy, if needed by using armed force, than to consider the overall future of mankind. This relates to the struggle in the Middle East over energy resources and the concern of imperialist countries about the rise of developing countries, especially China, India and Latin America. Hegemony based on the U.S dollar the U.S military and the ’unipolar’ world is crumbling.

These numerous intertwined and interrelated crises exacerbate the crisis of the capitalist system and make the current system ever more dangerous and destructive. This threatens the entire future of humanity. Thus it is also a crisis of civilization. Rosa Luxemburg's challenge of socialism or barbarism is now more topical than ever.

* * *

The Left will not be able to open ways out of crisis - or even overcome its own crisis - if it does not step outside the logic of neo-liberalism and capitalism. The capitalist power and ownership relations must be the object of debates and struggles, as an alternative to the current power of capital and to the unequal and devastating production model and way of life. The crisis challenges us to look for an answer to the question of what should the "new generation coproduction" look like, ideal that Pate Teikka a hero of Pentti Haanpää’s novel was dreaming about during the depression of the 30ies.

At the same time we must take into account the state of crisis as a whole. For example, the economic crisis will not be resolved in a sustainable way, if we do not take into account the social, ecological and democratic crises. Therefore, the mere change of ownership and of the relations of power is not enough. Instead of a continuous quantitative economic growth we must develop such a model of economic development, based on renewable energy and energy saving as well as on immaterial growth in the field of services, culture and leisure.

* * *

As communists we aspire to fundamental changes in the relationship between the human beings and the economy. Ultimately, it is the question of whether human beings exist for the economy or vice versa, and whether the ownership of the means of production by some confers the right to disposes others.

The labour movement has through struggle achieved the eight-hour working days and five-day working week, universal binding collective agreements, and many social reforms. In Finland, employers are now looking with the help of their lead organization and with the support of the bourgeois government to scrap these achievements. The Confederation of Finnish Industries, EK, is pushing for the extension of working hours and an increase in the retirement age, although more and more workers are exhausted at work and the country has hundreds of thousands of unemployed. Working conditions are being violated by means of labour hiring agencies, casual work and competition between workers. The labour market is characterized by increasing uncertainty.

Large companies are making workers redundant and close down even good profit-making entities to increase their profits and raise stock prices. Meanwhile, Herlin, Wahlroos and other big owners collect even higher dividends than in previous years. Income distribution has changed to the great advantage of the rich minority that benefits from large capital gains.

While the real income of about 700,000 Finns who live in poverty has declined in recent times, the income of the one percent of wealthiest Finns has tripled since the 1990s. Governments have accelerated the income gap through high income tax relief, and in particular the low taxation of capital income. The basis for this exponential growth of capital income has been created with the help of moderated salary agreements approved by the leaders of the trade unions. Such wage settlements have not brought the promised creation of jobs, but instead fuelled the current recession that has led to the casino economy.

As communists we want to set as starting point for the trade union movement the change in the distribution of wealth between capital and labour to the advantage of workers, and thus replace the bourgeois doctrines of competitiveness and efficiency. This is particularly true for women in the low pay sectors. At the same time we want to balance the distribution of the fruits of growth in labour productivity by shortening overall working time without a reduction in pay. Such radical reforms are also needed to combat unemployment. We support the proposal of the president of SAK (the Central Organization of Trade Unions) for a EUR 1,500 monthly minimum wage, which if voted into law would help to combat the exploitation of cheap labour.

We do not accept that basic security reform is confined to the Sata-Committee (the government committee on the reform of the social security system) and to official speeches in the framework of the EU anti-poverty Year. We will continue to campaign for a basic security of at least 900 Euros net per month tax-free for each adult who has not otherwise the possibility of secure livelihoods. We are opposed to the plans to cut pensions following the elections. We call for the reverse of taxation so as to reduce the taxation burden of people on small incomes and tighten the taxation of large incomes and capital gains.

* * *

The Left cannot succeed if it joins the employers and their attempts to make workers from different countries compete among each other. The Left has its place and purpose there where companies speculating with cheap labour are in struggle and where equal basic rights for every human being are being promoted. Immigrants are not to blame for unemployment, the degradation of the social security system, poverty and wars. Displacement and migration are not problems that were created elsewhere. They are the result of the same global capitalism that deprives people and stifles the natural environment also here in Finland.

As communists we assess the state of immigration from a class point of view, and not as a separate issue. Our starting point is the working class common interests independently of nationality, the international solidarity of the working class and every human’s fundamental rights. We do not accept xenophobia and we do not play with racist prejudices. It remains a challenge to us to "integrate" people within a multi-cultural Finland and to develop cooperation with migrants, inter alia, in the trade union movement and local communities.

* * *

Capital aims to capture new areas of deployment for its huge profits and increased added value. The programs of the Confederation of Industries and Chambers of Commerce for improving the conditions for business growth illustrate this. They openly assert that public services must be opened up to competition and privatization in order to create new markets for business. More opportunities for this are offered by the conservative government’s policies regarding cuts in spending by local government and the expanding trend to transform public services into business entities and to expose them to competitive bidding.

The economic and financial crisis is a warning that shows where the development of public services and of social security envisaged according to market needs and privatization will lead. Billions in stock market adventures have already consumed the money of Finnish pensioners and local government. The crisis also underlines the need to give the public sector a new and broader role as an alternative to the instability, inequality and outright destructive effects of the capitalist market.

As communists we defend public services. We want to secure basic services such as child day care, schools, health centres and libraries, as basic rights and neighbourhood services for everybody. At the same time we want to extend the content of basic rights and of basic services to meet the new needs generated by development. This means, for example, the right to a good old age, access to information networks and safeguarding the rights of minorities.

When private capital is unable to secure employment and prosperity, state and municipal activities, including energy production, environmental technology development, housing construction and new services must be expanded. It is good that efforts are being made to restrict speculative capital movements by the imposition of a financial market tax. But we must also address the financial system as a whole and expand social ownership and the democratic control of banking and similar strategically important sectors.

While we are opposed to privatization, we demand that public sector principles be separated from the market logic dominated by capital. This means, inter alia, the extension of basic services without charges, investment in prevention and evaluation activities, instead of quarterly economic indicators, so as to constantly consider social, gender equality, environmental protection and other longer-term effects. It also means employee empowerment and the development of democratic governance so that the starting point for action, are in fact people's needs instead of the stock option of Lilius and stock market speculators.

The government's granting of permission for two new nuclear plants - and behind the scenes a third permit is already under preparation - are an example of how the government is guided by large corporate interests. In this case, it is above all an attempt to make Finland an exporter of electricity produced by nuclear power and a nuclear waste burial ground. Minister "Joke" Pekkarinen is trying to conceal its role as spokesman of the nuclear industry by explaining that it is supposedly safeguarding jobs - as if previous nuclear power plants would have secured jobs. In fact it only secures cheap energy for the forest and metal industries.

Investing in nuclear power will only delay the necessary future transition to renewable energy and to energy-saving solutions, which are not only safer, but also less expensive, job intensive and a more democratic alternative.

* * *

This spring, 65 years had passed since the Second World War ended. Thanks to the decisive contribution of the Soviet Union and communists humankind was saved from fascism. In Finland, we still have not openly assessed our role in siding with Hitler’s Germany. On the contrary efforts to distort history continue. This is to create and maintain an enemy image, to justify the right-wing move towards NATO membership.

Finland is being tied to NATO, through growing armaments purchases, preparing for NATO's rapid battle groups, military exercises and involving Finland into NATO air surveillance system as well as Baltic Sea and Arctic sea activities. The Treaty of Lisbon also connects non-aligned EU member countries to NATO by developing EU military action in close cooperation with NATO and as its European pillar.

The new strategy prepared for the autumn NATO summit stresses the danger of NATO membership. NATO is to be developed as the global fist of imperialism, broadening its area of operations worldwide, extending it to energy supplies and internal security of states and it is prepared to defend the interests of the military alliance, even using a first nuclear strike. For Finland, the danger increases because of NATO's attempt to encircle Russia with military bases.

In addition to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, the U.S. and many NATO countries conspire against many Latin American and African states. In the name of the war against terror, cultural intolerance, xenophobia and anti-communist campaigns are being fomented.

The continued occupation and civil war over eight years in Afghanistan shows that war and NATO are not the solution to conflicts. If Finland does not wish to be a part of the problem but part of the solution, Finnish troops must be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Finland can and should play a peace-building role. This requires that Finland is not a party to the war itself but can act as a nonaligned actor in the promotion of negotiations, of civil crisis management and traditional UN peacekeeping operations.

We are not satisfied with the talk that NATO membership is "not an issue just now." This leaves the field open to right-wing NATO propaganda. The majority of Finns oppose joining NATO. But this is still a "silent majority". Only if this majority becomes an active political factor will we ensure that we are not taken into NATO once President Tarja Halonen's term in office ends. It means that during the next parliamentary elections and presidential elections parties that oppose NATO and candidates must come forward.

In our attitude towards NATO we also give our answer to the question whether our prosperity should be based on global inequality, might is right, militarism and war. This is also a matter of solidarity with the Palestinian people's struggle against Israeli occupation and violence.

Developments in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and in the wider Latin America are an encouraging example of the opportunities to develop alternatives to exploitation and violence-based imperialism. It is shameful that the EU countries stand alongside the US in exerting pressure on Cuba and other Latin American countries. President Evo Morales' visit to Finland must not remain only a symbolically important event, but it should be made into an opening of a new kind of global responsibility and solidarity based co-operation.

Finland and the European Left have much to learn from Latin American countries, inter alia, the experience of grassroots activities to increase participatory democracy and community development, the broad left-wing alliances and the formation of a different of integration based on equality and justice.

* * *

The successive election funding scandals have exposed the connections of the Centre Party in Finland and of other parties in power with financial circles and shown a political corruption to an greater extend that it was known previously. The large companies, business trusts and business people have bought themselves a comfortable government and parliamentary majority. In particular, the Conservative Party’s publicity campaign shows that this money is still in plentiful use.

This corruption money has been used to buy billions of tax exemptions for big corporations and high-income groups, to exempt employers from their basic contribution to the national basic pension scheme and to alleviate the equity requirements of pension funds. The money was given to purchase licenses for new nuclear power stations, for the broad-based privatization of public services, the replacement of the state subsidized Arava system by a system dominated by interest rates dictated by banks and speculative developers, to weaken occupational health and safety and environmental governance, among other things.

It is no coincidence that the President of the National Conservative Coalition Party, as Minister of Finance, resists energetic measures against tax havens and economic crime. After all, he himself received money during the electoral campaign from tax haven companies and economic criminals. The government's moral decadence is also shown by the fact that the Greens are willing to abandon their principles in order to remain part of the government.

But a mere face wash is not enough. Indeed we shall not get rid of structural political corruption unless a new kind of relationship between citizens and political decision-making starts to be created. Next to merely representative democracy, we need participatory democracy, whereby citizens will guided and controlled the decision-makers between elections, so that working people and poor people's needs will take preference over business profits and greedy self-interest. Many different measures will be needed from citizens’ initiatives to participatory budgeting and referendums. And this is not just a question of good will, but also a matter of class struggle, in which democracy is extended to where now money dominates - not just to representative institutions but also to the economic sector.

The CPF has proposed to build a radical leftist and a red-green coalition for the next parliamentary elections. The basis for co-operation is offered by many common goals and cooperative experiences in many mass actions. Experience in many other European countries and Latin America, for example, show that this can break the domination of right-wing and open the road to the left.

This is not just about elections. Above all, it is our responsibility to all those badly affected by the current policy and who wish for a change of direction. Without a strong left-wing and red-green alternative there is a risk that discontent will be directed more to the right and feed the xenophobia of the right-wing populist True Finns’ Party.

Unfortunately, some narrow partisan interests have still trampled our initiative. A new kind of coalition of radical left-wing and Red-Green forces, however, is a strategically important target, therefore we have all the reasons to try - even if it is in a longer time frame.

Under the leadership of the Minister of Justice from the Green Party, preparations are underway for a change of the electoral law and party funding rules, which makes it more difficult for new alternatives to enter parliament. The government proposes a three per cent electoral threshold and a ban on electoral alliances starting from the 2015 elections. The Communist Party opposes such efforts to turn the current parliament into a Foundation for the present major parties and to exclude part of the electorate as second-class citizens whose voices do not have the same value. Genuine democracy requires that the opposition and new forces can express themselves, and advertise their options on an equal footing.

The April parliamentary elections next year are a challenge to assemble for the Communist Party broad candidate lists throughout the country and to start campaigning immediately after this congress. We carry with our electoral campaign the demands of the trade unions and civil movements, which the rightwing government has continuously ignored. At the same time the election campaign is our way of developing a participatory democracy where the people are themselves setting objectives and opening up new avenues of influence.

During the preparations for the elections particular attention should be paid to women's participation. Women are in many cases on average more progressive than men. They play a significant role in popular movements, and in particular trade union activities. In previous elections, women's share on Communist Party's lists, however, remained well below the mean. All this underlines the need to strengthen the female perspective in establishing our candidate lists and in all other activities as well.

* * *

Crises are turning points of struggle around the directions of new concepts and during which new forces and alliances often emerge. The right wing and big business try to solve the crisis by restricting the rights acquired by the labour movement, imposing authoritarian control and through the strengthening of militarism. Finland currently lacks is a strong resistance and an alternative to right-wing and big business. How can this power be reinforced?

There is a need for a radical left-wing and red-green policy which refuses to accept the right-wing hegemony and does not remain a prisoner of parliamentary power relations. CPF has an important role to play as a revolutionary party for which policy making is above all mass action and which brings the Marxist class perspective into the struggles.

* * *

As communists we are needed everywhere where there is injustice, where the human rights of working people and of the poor are violated.

Experience in civic activities - be it for local services in Helsinki, for health centres in Vantaa, for libraries in Turku, social help desks in Tampere, or for example for the safeguarding of schools in Joensuu and Oulu, show that Communist initiative is important. Thanks to this mass action it has been possible to question the absence of alternative to the right-wing policy, to break the agreements made by other parties on a consensual basis and rescued many services. At the same we moved from the defence of services to demands for their improvement. The importance of this has come to the front for the status of women, equality, community and ecologically sustainable development. Nearly 30,000 Helsinki Facebook users protested on line against the list of cuts presented by the conservative mayor. This shows the new opportunities offered by social media to build resistance. These struggles have also seen greater cooperation among Communists, the Left Alliance, Social Democrats and Greens.

These popular movements are the ground that generates activity and momentum for change, which can open up more opportunities for the battle waged around the political direction. Even small gains in these struggles are important in encouraging the activities and bringing up confidence in the power of the masses. At the same time networking and cooperation between mass movements are needed, in particular, cooperation between dwellers, municipal employees and trade union movement.

* * *

In developing resistance and alternatives the working class and trade union movement have a crucial role to play. Where the trade union movement has this spring defended the interests of members by means of strikes, it obtained better agreements compared to other areas. As communists we demand that government keep its hands off the right to strike.

In many workplaces overcoming the current resignation and climate of fear is a prerequisite for the workers and employees to see their own chances to start dealing with the main contradictions regarding the entire economic and social development: In particular, the conflict between the development of their own work and investor interests, the conflict between important public services for workers' well-being and neo-liberal policies to fund these services, and the conflict between workers' creative activity on the one hand and undemocratic management by companies and institutions on the other hand.

The network of critical trade unionists is an important initiative to develop militant trade unionism class consciousness. Such co-operation among unions is also needed locally and internationally. It is necessary for the development of solidarity and cooperation, for example, now that the employers' unions seek to scrap the labour law and general application of collective agreements. Ultimately, this is a question of how awareness and organization of workers will increase, which can build a new type of democracy, where workers are in control of their own working conditions, results and impacts.

* * *

To develop an effective and credible alternative it is necessary to question the now prevailing bourgeois mentality, many things that are taken for granted. It cannot happen without analyzing the contradictions of capitalism and the search for opportunities of change. Communist theories are not based on ideas invented by this or that guru or from books gathering dust on shelves. "They are the expression of the ongoing class struggle" as the Communist Manifesto says, which means that we have to expand Marxist studies, to make the connection between research and experience of struggles.

To break the bourgeois hegemony does not succeed alone through educational work - without the people's personal experiences and struggles in which they will have to "call things by their names" (Berthold Brecht). On the workplaces, neighborhoods, trade union and civic movements we also learn ourselves, get information and find more companions.

Communism is not practiced only in our own meetings. Party work is before any other thing an activity where people are on the move and where battle organizers are needed. It requires rapid grasp, division of labour and party cells involvement, but also a variety of working groups. It requires proactive participation in the debates that for the most part are others than our own forums. And we do not practice cooperation only with like-minded people. Cooperation includes common objectives, but also diversity, competition, and sometimes controversy.

Tiedonantaja, our weekly and the new electronic version www.tiedonantaja.fi provide a good platform and tool to address issues, discuss and develop initiatives. They should allow a broader approach of new people. The Communist Party's homepage is being rebuilt so that it offers more opportunities for rapid communication, data banks, discussion and exchange of experiences between party members. All this implies also the strengthening of the Communist Party's resources.

Radical youth section has recently moved more to the left. In the students elections radical left-wing and green groups in red have progressed. Among young people has risen to a new anti-capitalist movements and online publications have emerged. Young people have new ideas, knowledge, skills and enthusiasm that our party needs. Similarly, the party organization must be developed, its visibility and public image so that it reaches a wider number of young people interested in struggle against capitalism and the 2000s socialism. This is also a challenge in terms of the development and support for the Communist Youth League.

* * *

The nature of the communist movement can be described by the fact that our party congress and our celebration end with the song the "International". We do not have any interests that differ from the entire workers movement. Using the words of the Manifesto in the struggles of the workers movement we want to bring forward common interests, regardless of nationality, and promote at various stages of the struggle always the interests of the entire movement.

This is not just a matter of principle, but increasingly and more broadly also a practical thing. The necessity of cooperation between Communist and other anti-capitalist left-wing parties is emphasized by the current financial crisis, transnational corporations, the EU, climate change, the aggressiveness of imperialism and international media. The CPF wants to be more active in developing the co-operation of communist, left and progressive parties.

Our goal is that the preparations for the Congress of the European Left this autumn will lead to an expansion of this network of European cooperation. We attach great importance to the International Meetings of the Communist and Workers parties and the development of joint international campaigns. We want to intensify cooperation both here in the Nordic region North, with Russia and the Baltic states as well as with other continents, such as the Latin American, Asian and African left-wing forces.

The current crisis has shown that capitalism is not capable of solving burning issues that require a solution, such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, climate change and wars. It is more and more unstable, unequal and dangerous. Capitalism is an outdated system, on the way towards destruction, much like the Titanic.

Therefore, the ghost, of which Marx and Engels wrote in the foreword of the Manifesto, is haunting Europe today, "the spectre of communism". And consequently the central committee report to congress ends with the words "Proletarians of all countries, unite!"

(unofficial translation of the report)

Yrjö Hakanen, chairman of the Communist Party of Finland 15.5.2010