Contribution of the Workers’ Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dear Comrades!

On behalf of the Workers’ Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina I warmly greet all participants of the Conference and express gratitude to the Portuguese Communist Party for its hospitality and comradely solidarity. I’m going to say a few words about the prospects of socialism in the light of the Latin American experience as well as experiences of workers’ movement in other countries.

Dangers of international situation, which is marked by predominance of neoliberal attacks on workers’ rights and democratic freedoms, carry in themselves possibilities for the reorganization of workers’ and wider democratic movements and the rethinking not only of methods of struggle but also of its ideological and political basis. Prospects for socialism depend on two inter-related fields of struggle of all revolutionary forces. The first one could be defined as the capability of revolutionary forces to manage to find their place in actual social struggles as defenders of existing workers’ rights and as those who are willing to push the movement ahead to their extension. The second one could be defined as the capability of revolutionary forces to understand what happened with social projects that have been marked as the socialist ones and to return to original Marxist thought which is today more actual than ever. On contrary to those who claim that Marxism should be abolished it could be said that it is necessary to return to Marx.This comeback to Marx can give us fresh answers not only to the question what happened to workers’ movement in past two decades but also to the dilemma of how to fight in new conditions and what the prospects for socialism are. We have always thought that what is needed for efficient struggle for socialism is organization. That is correct but it must be added that it is not any kind of organization that can be of help or even of necessity for this struggle. Sectarian or bureaucratic organization could lead nowhere but to mere defeat and collapse of the whole movement. Workers’ movement is a pluralist one. It is composed of different types of organizations and is conducted by many ideas about methods and aims of struggle. Differences should not necessarily lead to hostility and incapability for cooperation.

In the situation of great fragmentation of workers’ movement insistence on one’s unconditional superiority in all issues of political programme or tactical issues could only arise from one’s bureaucratic manners. Communists are the vanguard. That is correct, but not always and not necessarily. Marxism is a vanguard theory. But while Marxism is a vanguard theory it is not necessarily true that the communists are a vanguard political movement. They have to prove that they are the most progressive political force. And they can’t prove it once for all the times. They have to prove it again and again. The most advantageous situation for them to prove themselves and to become real leaders of workers’ movement is to act in a framework of a pluralist movement where all organizations enjoy their autonomy and where everyone can exert influence on the others in a democratic manner. Although the present state of workers’ movement brings some dangers in the sense that it is ideologically unstable, it also brings possibilities for communists to revitalize their movement because workers’ movement as a whole needs firm aims and dedicated organizations who are not willing to make compromises with the ruling class.Anti-war and anti-neoliberal movements that shoot here and there are of course unstable and ideologically incoherent. That doesn’t mean, however, that communists should not work in them. They are expression of people’s discontent with present social order. They are not revolutionary yet but their revolutionary potential or such potential of some of their components at least could not be underestimated. These movements do not pose the question of overcoming the present social order.

But they pose other very important issues such as the preservation of peace (in opposition to imperialist wars) or preservation of social rights (in opposition to neoliberal capitalist attacks on them). These issues have very high priority to working class and it is not irrelevant who is going to lead struggle for their achievement.Social struggles in some countries (Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, France, Greece) clearly show that the working class and huge sections of the student population possess a degree of consciousness which could not be defined as merely trade-unionist or a reformist one. Wherever social crisis is deep enough and wherever subjective revolutionary potential exists new forms of struggle and new social demands occur. These forms and demands are based on principles of self-activity and direct democracy. As Karl Marx wrote in the Statutes of the First International, “emancipation of working class has to be its own deed”. Workers and students in few countries, although without mutual connection, practice similar forms of struggle and have similar visions of society. These forms mean, as I have already said, self-activity of those in struggle, plurality of cooperating organizations, while the vision of society is based on anticapitalism, in some cases on a clear vision of socialism that is going to be run democratically by the whole population, especially by the workers in factories and through their delegates in the society as a whole. Most workers who occupied factories in Argentina or who manage enterprises in Venezuela have never read Marx but they have done exactly what was the basic feature of the Paris Commune and what has been advocated by Marx — they set up a basis for the association of producers and other forms of direct democracy. They mobilized the masses not in order to fulfil tasks put by some leading political body but by workers (and people) in struggle. Popular assemblies, occupied universities and enterprises managed by workers — those are prospects for socialism and its basic features in the future. And these are events that occurred in the present moment, which is not favourable to socialism at all.

Throughout 20º century workers have always tried to secure socialism through bodies of their self-activity and self-government. These fresh examples, especially those in Venezuela and to a lesser extent in Argentina and Mexico, show that workers following their class instinct and class interest understand that present capitalist social order can not solve their problems and therefore they put on the agenda the task of creating such organs which are a nucleus of a new society and which can fulfil their interests.If communists don’t understand the progressive character of these forms of struggle and especially of these first formations of the new social order, they will be isolated from the workers’ movement. Theoretically, the party is the vanguard. But it is not a vanguard in any individual case. Sometimes workers act independently of the party, which is unable to understand what is happening in society and whose hands are tied with its ideological dogmas. Communists’ vanguard role should be proven democratically on a daily basis in cooperation with other workers’ forces. The party should not be the subject that issues the orders which the others have to fulfil. On the contrary, it should be the subject which is able to understand the dynamic of social struggle, its potentialities and aims and to move the whole movement to the left, to socialism. Take for example Venezuela. It could not be said that it is a socialist society but 1 think it is presently the country with more elements of socialism than in any other country in the world. Venezuela has a leftist president and a leftist government. It also has militant trade unions which were created as a result of workers’ rejection of corrupted social democratic trade unions. It also has many social movements which act in all fields of social life. And what is most important, ithas new organs of power, genuinely democratic and anti-bureaucratic power, with some enterprises under control or even management of workers. Of course, the old bureaucratic state apparatus has not been destroyed yet. Capitalist social relations still prevail and there is a struggle between two worlds, between two orders. But Venezuelan workers doubtlessly showed that they have not been ready to fight for such a situation where one political elite would be replaced with the other. We still don’t know whether Venezuelan workers’ movement would win this battle. We wish it to win but whatever happens we have precious proof that prospects for socialism exist and we have a precious draft of a new society that workers can carry out by themselves despite great pressures and with a revolutionary movement that started to build itself almost from the beginning. The role of communists in building such a movement could be of invaluable significance but only if they manage to understand it correctly.

As the experiences showed prospects of socialism lie in wide social movements composed of different revolutionary and socialist currents, organizations and methods of struggle. This social movement has to be overall because social transformation has to comprise all aspects of social life. It would be impossible for only one organization, particularly a political party, to fulfil this transformation. And if there are plenty of organizations, the question of their mutual relationship will inevitably emerge. The communists should have political hegemony but only if they succeed to secure it through everyday struggles and thanks to their ideas armed with arguments originating from the interests of majority of working people. Only in that way could they be on the trace of Karl Marx’s theory. These ideas could be of decisive significance for the communist movement not only to lead immediate struggles but also to prepare for socialist perspectives in the future.

Contribution of Goran Markovic, President of the Main Board
of the Workers’ Communist Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina

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