Where the KKE (see other article) perhaps hoped to get good discussions and ideological struggle and so to come to one unified revolutionary strategy in which the coming revolutionary struggle for change in Greece could be placed and where the struggle of the rest of the European workers could be defined (seeing the European workers as one and the Greek workers as a part of them... and the revolutionary change in Greece just as the begin and as a part of the revolutionary struggle of all European workers for the change of power in whole Europe.... the most parties did not went into discussion and just presented their views and programs of activities.
And so was placed beside the revolutionary ambition of the KKE (and not in any way in discussion with it) a promotion of a REFORMIST line.... as did Jo Cottenier of the WPB( PVDA/PTB). Although he started with a firm Marxist- and revolutionary SOUNDING “analysis”:
“With the concentration and centralization of capital at the European level, the European big bourgeoisie is fighting to build a European State. An imperialist State, better capable than the current patchwork of nations to defend the interests of capital on a world scale. The appearance, next to its old competitors, the USA and Japan, of the emerging countries, headed by China, has doubled the EU's fervour to save the Euro and the European construction. The mere fact that the old Europe has to beg for financial help from China is revealing for the new correlation of forces. The European Union is a competitive war machine against the peoples and for world domination. This imperialist character of the European construction is supported by all bourgeois parties -- which does not withhold several of them to play the card of nationalism to divide the working class and the masses.1”
In fact you would now expect a discussion about what is to conceive as the actual state as instrument to impose the power of the actual capitalists: NOT anymore the “nation-state” (Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Greece, and neither France or Germany....) but the EU as imperialist (capitalism in the stage of imperialism) state. This would be a critic on one point in the proposed strategy of the KKE: “disengagement out of the EU””: No mobilising and organising the EUROPEAN workers disregarding the nation-(member-)state to expropriate the monopoly-capitalists on EUROPEAN level and to install EUROPEAN public enterprises under control of that workers-organisation which took the power.
For the rest there could be an agreement on the other proposed strategical points of the KKE as there are:
“-The intensity or the duration of the crisis from country to country do not determine the character of the crisis neither should they influence the strategy and the tactics of the communist party.(...)
-The crisis is being prolonged and deepening and that it will affect other countries as well. Even if a country, for instance Greece, enters a phase of recovery, this recovery will be temporary, weak, with unbearable unemployment levels, with starvation salaries and wages, with barbaric labour relations that will bring us back at the end of 19th century. A new cycle of crisis will break out before this recovery consolidates. This is not valid only concerning Greece but also other countries. Realignments will take place in the alliances while we have to take into account a new round of local wars and we should not rule out a generalized imperialist war. (...)
-The alliance policy which we propose to the people is related to the formation of the people’s alliance which has a clear anti-monopoly orientation (which of course in essence is anti-capitalist as capitalism has developed into monopoly capitalism). In these conditions the people’s alliance organizes and coordinates the resistance, the struggle for survival, is directed in a line of rupture with the imperialist unions, the imperialist war, for the overthrow of capitalism, for working class people’s power.(...)
-To realize what kind of crisis we are experiencing, namely a crisis of the capitalist path of development and the assimilation in the EU, that is to say the importance of the struggle against the monopolies and their power.
-The organization of the workers in the workplaces, in the sectors, in the neighbourhoods.
- The strengthening and consolidation of the people’s alliance between the working class and the social forces which have an interest in fighting against the monopolies and capital regardless of the differences between them, with the enhanced participation of women and young people from the aforementioned strata. The movement must be directed towards the overthrow of the power of the monopolies.(...)
-There must be an intense ideological struggle against the dominant bourgeois, reformist and opportunist views. Without such a struggle at the ideological level it will be hard for the popular masses to be oriented towards both the struggle for relief measures and also for the cancellation and overthrow of worse measures.2”
But no, as a schooled and conscious “renegade” (similar to how Lenin called Kautsky...) Jo begins with strong, revolutionary and Marxist-sounding statements to come to the defense of a strategy of “propagating reforms to take as objectives in the class-struggle”. He says continually that is is “not the same strategy as the Party of the European Left, but what is the real difference, we will never know.....
“(W)e have to ask ourselves the question of which strategy for the communist parties. The communist parties are at the vanguard of the mobilization to defend the social achievements, the collective services and the purchasing power of the workers, those receiving social allowances and their families. Everywhere we put our finger on the deeper source of this crisis, the capitalist system, and we explain that the only way out of this barbarity is socialism. However, we are forced to observe that there are three different strategies – outside of the one proposed by the Party of the European Left – that co-exist among us regarding the attitude to adopt vis-à-vis the European Union, notably on the slogan of national sovereignty. There are those parties that defend a return or a strengthening of national sovereignty as an intermediate demand, in order to create better conditions for socialist revolution. There are those parties that reject national sovereignty as a slogan under capitalism but who conceive the revolution at a national level, as a way to leave the European Union and build another Europe. I want to clarify the third position, undoubtedly in the minority, which is ours.
I will tackle it using an example. Our party has been waging, for several years already, a campaign against austerity and budget cuts by propagating as a direct alternative a tax on fortunes that could yield 8 billion Euro, or 2% of Belgium's GDP. To stress that such a tax would only touch the 2% richest Belgians, we baptized it the 'millionaires' tax'. The campaign pops up every time anti-people measures are decided, in a way that the word 'millionaires' tax' has already become a concept in the national press. It was at the heart of the discussions among the masses and in the media when mister Bernard Arnault, the first fortune of France, demanded Belgian citizenship to evade taxes and plan for his heritage without the French State's interference. You should know that Belgium is considered by the OECD just like the Cayman Islands, because of its fiscal benefits for the capitalists and the wealthy.
The bourgeois parties often reply to us: yes, but over the past twenty years all other European countries have progressively liquidated a tax on fortunes. The only exception is France, and see what happens: all the wealthy French flee with their fortune. We have always responded to them: the only way to remedy this is to reintroduce such a tax everywhere in Europe, and it is for us, in Belgium, to set the example. So why not, and I address myself to the parties present here, why not launch such a campaign in the whole of Europe? You can count for yourself how much 2% of the GDP, now amassed in the coffers of the wealthy, could do to greatly diminish the suffering of the popular masses. Until now, there is even nothing in the Lisbon Treaty, the European constitution, that goes against imposing such a measure at a national level. But our party wants to go beyond that. Why not counterpose such a measure at a European level to the memoranda, the budgetary dictates, the privatization orders and the attacks on the pensions?3”
Where everybody agree that a struggle, which begin spontaneously to safeguard certain achievements (“reforms”) which are made in history, has to be explained as correct and necessary but where during collaborating IN that struggle the discussion has to be done about "the only corrrect struggle to safeguard (and to expand) achievements in the interest of the working class is to abolish the system which is continually trying to increase the level of exploitation and so destroy every once achieved advantage in the interest of the workers and install the workers power". A good method is to concreticise this in a formulation of a “reform” but one that will touch the interests of the capitalists. And THAT the WPB is refusing to do! Misleading Jo Cottenier of the WPB is talking about “a campaign in the whole of Europe” ....while proposing a European tax on fortunes to take as objective in the struggle of the European workers!
So expanding one point of her program of reforms in Belgium to a point of a program of reforms in.....Europe.
Now is another point of her program( of reforms): decreasing the TVA on electricity-prices from 21% to 6%. What would the WPB now propose as point of struggle for the European workers in the case of energy and the increasing cost for energy (gas or electricity) which the workers have to pay?
In different countries of Europe the TVA on electricity-prices IS already 6%.... and even there much householdings have difficulties to pay the energy (gas, electricity) beside all other difficulties of payments (loans, housing, education, even for meals.....)
The only “reform” that you can propose as subject for the struggle of the European workers is: while the electricity-web is connecting all European countries to which all over Europe, private mutual competing enterprises are adding electricity TO that web for which a price had to been paid (disregarding if you have an income or not) and so surplus-value is won, the only solution is struggling for expropriation of ALL the energy-enterprises AND the whole electricity-web and the formation of ONE European public energy-enterprise under control of the European organisation of workers which did the struggle.
It is the discussion about this realistic “reform” and about how the struggle has to be organised which will facilitate the discussion about the necessary OVERALL expropriation of capitalists and about which power has to be installed.
Jo Cottenier about the "difference" between his reformism and that of the Party of the European Left:
“Some may formulate objections.
Is it not the reformist way of the Party of the European Left to propose 'another Europe'? Let's be clear, comrades, we don't have any illusions that the European State in construction can be reformed. We don't believe in 'another Europe' under capitalism, not any more than that we believe in 'another Belgium' under capitalism. But we think that there is no qualitative difference between the bourgeois and imperialist character of the national State and the character of the European State under construction. Let's not forget that the construction of this European State can take place only thanks to and because of the political will of all bourgeois parties, social-democrats, nationalists and ecologists.
No, this is not the reformist road of a “democratic and social” capitalist European Union. But from a strategic point of view, we exclude that the socialist revolution will take place only in Belgium or in any other isolated country of the European continent. We think that socialist revolution will be made at the level of at least part of the continent. We think that socialist revolution will face an enemy that is organized at the level of the entire continent or of parts of the continent. We defend the point of view that we should orient ourselves towards this future and not go backwards towards the national sovereignty of the 19th century.
Is formulating demands toward the European Union not tantamount to accepting the EU as a reactionary State? No, it is not accepting it, but departing from the fact that it exists and that it will not really disappear without socialist revolution, without its replacement by a European federation of socialist countries. And even if there are breaches, they will not serve to return to the nation-states as they existed before the Rome Treaty. So why not get used to thinking and acting at the level of the continent, as the employers, the bourgeoisies,... and up to the Party of the European Left are doing? It is to our advantage to unify the objectives of the struggle against the European State under construction.
Any immediate demand can always go in two directions: either to conscienticize and organize the masses, to make them advance and to accompany them in the struggle, with the perspective of socialist revolution; or to sow illusions and try to mitigate the contradictions of capitalism. As on the national level, we do not believe that we should stop putting forward immediate demands – not just defensive ones but also offensive ones – just by fear of them leading to a reformist road.4”
So an “immediate demand” for a “European tax on fortunes” will “sow illusions and try to mitigate the contradictions of capitalism”.and “lead the masses to a reformist road”.
Would “to unify the objectives of the struggle against the European State under construction" not be better done with taking as objective of struggle (AGAINST the privatisation policy of the "European state under construction") “the expropriation of all energy-monopolies (as all telecommunication-monopolies, all monopolies in the sector of personal and package-transport or postal deliverage,.....) and bringing them in ONE energy( transport, post, telecommunication-...) public enterprise under control of the organised workers who did the struggle, and dissolving all NOT democratically chosen nut INSTALLED European ruling-organisms”?
For the rest is Jo Cottenier as a (as Lenin would call him...!) “economist” just observing and commenting and in any case not leading any struggle : "We exclude that the socialist revolution will take place only in Belgium or in any other isolated country of the European continent. We think that socialist revolution will be made at the level of at least part of the continent."
So NO discussion about one EUROPEAN organisation of the working-class-vanguard ....only of one European party in the light of the coming 2014 European elections!
"Of course the privileged terrain and the responsibility of each communist party is to be found in its own country in the first place. That is where it has struck roots, that it knows the particularities and that it has the power to act and to organize the vanguard and the masses. But wouldn't we be farther yet in the development of our practical collaboration on a European level if we would have the conviction that the final battle will not only take place in our own country but on the level of at least part of the continent?(...)
We can ask ourselves if the international impact of the struggles and demonstrations in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and France would not be much greater if the workers could unite on common European slogans.
Even if differences on the road and the tactics to be followed for socialist revolution will remain, we think that it would be beneficial for us to advance to more practical work together, to develop common campaigns, and, why not, to already reflect about a common approach for the 2014 European elections.
These are some issues we wanted to submit to you.5”
My remark to the point of the KKE “disengagement out of the EU”.
I think indeed that the revolution in EUROPE will BEGIN with a revolutionary change in Greece.( and will be a stimulation to the Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian workers to join immediately...) This has to be supported (for example in the way of strikes by all European workers on the moment that sanctions are imposed by European authorities, or the Troïka, on “the rebellious Greek”).
Or an military, economic and political intervention will be organised on Greece to keep Greece in the European Union in obedience, or Greece WILL be excluded out of the “Eurozone” or even the European Union in order to marginallise Greece (and keep Greece in “colonial-like” state). So “disengagement” as strategy is I think is not correct in order to MAINTAIN the unity of the European workers as one. AS it will happen it will be the European Union authority itself who will “disengage” Greece.
It is important that the whole European working-class sees the “Greek” revolution as a part of THEIR revolution. Because as the Greek will refuse from now on, any imposed increase of the level of exploitation by the imperialist state of Europe, the wanted increase shall be imposed faster on other parts of the European workers. For example in France,Germany, Belgium where the imposed increase of the level of exploitation was “still” “moderate”, will now be of the level of what they wanted impose on the Greek workers. Ideologically the workers could then also been placed AGAINST the “rebellious Greek”, because now they have to pay more! This has to be countered by a correct political education by the European organised van-guard of the working-class ( a European Communist Party?...)
1http://inter.kke.gr/IntAct/int-meet/ecm2012/ecm2012-belgiumwp-enhttp://inter.kke.gr/IntAct/int-meet/ecm2012/ecm2012-belgiumwp-en,ECM 2012, “Contribution of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB) on the European Conference of Communist Parties, by Jo Cottenier, member of the Party Bureau of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB), Brussels, 1-2 October 2012
2http://inter.kke.gr/News/news2012/2012-10-01-ecm-omilia-kke, “Introductory Speech of the GS of the CC of KKE A. Papariga to the European Communist Meeting, Brussels 1-2 October - Subject: The stance of the Communist Parties towards the capitalist crisis: Assimilation or Rupture”
3http://inter.kke.gr/IntAct/int-meet/ecm2012/ecm2012-belgiumwp-enhttp://inter.kke.gr/IntAct/int-meet/ecm2012/ecm2012-belgiumwp-en,ECM 2012, “Contribution of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB) on the European Conference of Communist Parties, by Jo Cottenier, member of the Party Bureau of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB), Brussels, 1-2 October 2012
4http://inter.kke.gr/IntAct/int-meet/ecm2012/ecm2012-belgiumwp-enhttp://inter.kke.gr/IntAct/int-meet/ecm2012/ecm2012-belgiumwp-en,ECM 2012, “Contribution of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB) on the European Conference of Communist Parties, by Jo Cottenier, member of the Party Bureau of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB), Brussels, 1-2 October 2012
5http://inter.kke.gr/IntAct/int-meet/ecm2012/ecm2012-belgiumwp-enhttp://inter.kke.gr/IntAct/int-meet/ecm2012/ecm2012-belgiumwp-en, ECM 2012, “Contribution of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB) on the European Conference of Communist Parties, by Jo Cottenier, member of the Party Bureau of the Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB), Brussels, 1-2 October 2012http://inter.kke.gr/IntAct/int-meet/ecm2012/ecm2012-belgiumwp-en