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Communist Party of Sweden Issue 2

Communist Party of Sweden – The European Union and the national question.

What is the European Union?

Fundamentally, the European Union is an expression of capitalism at its current stage of imperialism. The union is an expression of the needs of capital of western Europe, mainly, at this time and age. It is an imperialist union that primarily has three purposes:

  • To coordinate the offensive of European capital against the European peoples and workers. For example, this is seen in the coordinated attacks on the right to strike in various member states like Sweden, France, Belgium and Greece, where ongoing campaigns to limit the right to strike are waged.
  • To coordinate capitalists of Europe in competition with the rest of the world. The capital of European countries have joined forces to better compete on the world market and to increase efficiency of exploitation of the peoples of the world for the sake of profit maximization. This does not imply that there are no contradictions within European capital.
  • To coordinate the struggle of European capitalists against socialism. An important purpose of the predecessors of EU has been to coordinate the struggle against socialism. This battle is waged partly on an ideological level through repeated attempts to equate communism with fascism, and partly by economic means through blockades against socialist countries. A number of communist parties within EU have been banned or are in the process of being banned. In Poland, for example, there are ongoing attempts to criminalize communism itself.

Like all imperialist unions, the EU is a temporary one. In his pamphlet ”On the Slogan for a United States of Europe” Lenin argues that any inter-imperialist alliance must be temporary by nature. Apart from mutual interests, participating capital also has contradictory such, which could be seen clearly with the advent of Brexit. However, this does not preclude an extent of cooperation in dividing the world. As a result of the eastern expansion, the former socialist countries have been split between the imperialists of western Europe, where primarily German and French capital has had the opportunity to expand, but where also Swedish capital has been able to tap into and subsume the Baltic states, which would not have been possible without the EU and the coordinated actions to repel Russian capital.

Waging wars for new markets, resources and their transport routes has been and is an ongoing activity of all member states to the benefit of their own monopolies, with Iraq, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine as recent examples. While officially a so called peace project, the EU is being increasingly militarized through recent initiatives like PESCO. In this respect, tensions between emerging inter-imperialist alliances sharpen on all fronts as well as within.

Mechanisms that support anti-people measures in support of EU capital are being increasingly implemented, giving it new privileges in terms of tax subsidies and exemptions in the international competition with the US, China and Russia. Taking all this and the increasing military expenditures into consideration, the EU is a driving force, not for peace, but for escalated tensions and for greater risk of generalized military conflict.

This is what the European Union is today. An imperialist alliance, the purpose of which is to benefit participating monopolies. As such, we are opponents of the European Union in the same way we are opponents of any imperialist alliance.

Leaving the European Union

The view of the Communist Party of Sweden is that the peoples must have the right to decide their own path, which also includes the right to leave the European Union.

At the same time it must be noted that the imperialist system is subject to fundamental laws of development that cannot be avoided. These laws exist within the framework of the entire system, both within and outside the European Union. To stay competitive, capital of each country needs to act accordingly, notwithstanding membership or non-membership of any imperialist alliance. In times of sharpening inter-imperialist competition, each capitalist needs to improve their competitiveness, which naturally also implies worsening conditions for the workers of their respective countries. In order to survive, at any given moment, capital forms the alliances it requires. The dynamics and the conditions the working class faces will be the same no matter if our exploiters are a formal part of the European Union or not.

For that reason, we want to make it clear that a secession to the benefit of the working class cannot be made without emancipating the working class at the same time. Within the current system, as ruling class, capital will simply realign itself according to what configuration that momentarily benefits it the most, whether as part of the European Union or not. In the same way that the struggle for peace, against racism or against fascism cannot be made separate from the question of battling capitalism itself, the struggle against the European Union or any imperialist alliance cannot be made separate from the struggle against the ruling class and for socialism.

The only alternative to the EU and all imperialist alliances, therefore, is to organize society in a completely different manner, where monopoly capital is replaced by people’s power. It requires the abolition of the institutions of capitalism, including the state, and the foundation of a workers’ state. Only this way, the dynamics of capitalism can be replaced, and genuine international cooperation on equal terms, and in peace, can be fostered. Only this way, the inherent mass unemployment of capitalism can be eradicated and good living conditions for all working people established. For this reason, the struggle for leaving the European Union must at the same time be a struggle for socialism. Leaving the European Union without socialism is not a step toward socialism, but simply a step sideways to another configuration of capitalism.

The European Union and Sweden

In Sweden there are parties and organizations on the left and on the right who claim that if Sweden just withdrew from the EU then everything would be better. This is false. We note that Brexit, above all else, was a struggle between factions of British capital, where some positioned themselves toward a withdrawal while others did the opposite, and engaged themselves for continued membership in the union. From these two fundamental positions the campaigns for and against were organized. This also meant that the two standpoints were limited to continued participation in the imperialist system, but by different means. Thus, taking side for either, meant taking sides for both.

Slogans such as “Let’s take back control”, “We want our country back!” and “Believe in Britain” clearly show the ideological utilization of nationalism that characterized the leave-campaign. All seemingly classless slogans in one way or another aimed at strengthening the ”own nation”, which under capitalism by necessity becomes the strengthening of the existing capitalist nation. Thus, the nationalist slogans promote illusions. What control do the workers have in capitalist Britain, whether within or outside of the EU? The meaning of their ”independence” remains the same in either configuration, because their oppressors and the purpose of the oppression remain the same.

In fact, for the entire duration, Britain retained its independence as a voluntary member of the EU. A status which was not changed, but further validated by the Brexit process. In this context, the nations of Britain were never subject to the oppression of any new or external nations, only its own capital, which still remains the case. The same applies to Sweden, which is why the Communist Party of Sweden rejects any opposition to the EU founded in nationalism or the national question.

We find the same problem with a withdrawal from the “left”, the purpose of which would be to advance the peoples’ and workers’ positions in a capitalist Sweden outside of the EU. The rhetoric and the promises remain false.

The “left” that advocate an unconditional withdrawal create illusions about imperialism and about the possibilities that are at hand for the workers outside of the union. They mean that a withdrawal will improve the situation of working class in the individual country, as if the capitalists existed outside the context of imperialism, and were subject to a different set of rules outside the union than within. It is a dangerous game, because in the end the hopes will turn out to be the illusions they always were and all the promises that were given will turn out to be false.

Therefore it is crucial that the communists do not let themselves be used as tools for one capitalist faction or the other. It is of crucial importance that communists clearly present the only possible alternative to capitalism, the EU, and to all other imperialist congregations, which is socialism.

No to the EU and to capitalism, yes to socialism!

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Communist Party of Sweden Issue 1

Communist Party of Sweden – What will socialism look like?

In his book Poverty of Philosophy, Marx states that

“The hand-mill gives you society with the feudal lord; (and) the steam-mill society with the industrial capitalist.”

To know what socialism must look like, we have to identify the defining features of capitalism and how it produces its inherent and unavoidable contradictions, since socialism is their implied and only possible logical resolution, and contrast the differences.

In capitalism the vital need for profit maximization requires capitalists to constantly pursue greater efficiency in production. Mechanization and automation have increased industrial output, while increasing the share of constant capital (c) and reducing the need of human labor within their businesses, reducing the socially necessary labor time and thus the value of the products. A breakthrough in technology that reduces the human element initially provides a competitive advantage, but as other surviving producers adopt new or equivalent methods, the profit levels fall. The fraction of variable capital (v) diminishes throughout the production process, and thus the amount of labor available for exploitation falls, while simultaneously lowering purchasing power in society as a whole. With the tendency toward full automation, at which point no surplus value and thus no profits can be generated, capitalism gradually undermines itself. The prospect of further automation, e.g. through robots and new software that controls them, poses a challenge to the capitalist system, causes the average rate of profit to fall (r= m/(c+v)), and provides a seed for and an increasingly stronger material case for socialism.

Furthermore, the nature of information, as patterns in spacetime, is such that it can be easily copied and distributed with insignificant marginal cost, unlike matter itself. Innovation toward optimization of production to temporarily gain competitive advantages has grown increasingly important for the realization of profits and is reflected in the advent of patents and intellectual property that limit the spread of knowledge. Monopolization, or private appropriation, of information is the only measure that can keep its value from approaching zero. It is a clear example of how capitalist legislation through artificial means has come at odds with the progress of technology itself by attempting to limit it.

Marx famously wrote ”At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution.”

Technology can and must be designed and applied to further the interests of the working class, and not be monopolized to benefit the interests of a minority of capitalists. Given the increased productivity and stagnating real wages in large parts of the capitalist world, reducing daily work hours, lowering retirement ages while maintaining a high or higher standard of living is a real possibility of automation, if done at the expense of the evermore concentrating and accumulating profits of the current economic system. It can all become, and will become, a reality, in a socialist system, but remains an impossibility under capitalism. Waging wars for new markets is another defining activity of imperialism, that will be made redundant by socialism for the same reasons.

The difference between the liberating potential of the new technologies and its actual subjugating appliance under capitalism widens. Despite all advances in productivity, automation forces capitalist governments all over the world to constantly attempt to increase the rate of exploitation by e.g. increasing retirement ages and loosening legislation concerning working hours in an attempt to gain new or additional labor to exploit, that is momentarily cheaper than applying new labor saving technologies. So, while new technologies and automation have brought higher standards of living, class struggle remains the engine of prosperity, without which it would make less sense to employ new labor saving technologies such as machinery and automation in the first place.

Socialism, on the other hand, allows the economy and technology to be geared to channel resources to cover any priority of the working class. Furthermore, economic planning is the only viable and only organized resolution to the ”tragedy of the commons”-problem, i.e. the social and environmental crises of capitalism that have grown to threaten the conditions of life itself.

However, the viability of socialism in an imperialist world ultimately relies on it being able to advance technology and increase living standards in a more efficient way than the crisis ridden capitalist world does. And not only to withstand economic warfare and pressure by threats of military interventions, but also to simultaneously provide a rate of improving standards of living for its people that surpass that of the imperialist world. The specific planned economy of the USSR demonstrated that this was possible in practice, but ultimately was not enough. The current state of planned economies is likely not good enough for long term isolated survival of any kind of socialism in existing socialist style countries like Cuba. While the tendency to encourage private economic incentives may be an attractive short term solution to patch economic underdevelopment or shortages, relying on such solutions pose a great risk of reintroducing and strengthening petit bourgeois forces and plants the seed for the gradual material undoing of socialism. Market reforms that at some point reintroduce the profit maximization dynamics into the economy, simultaneously reintroduce the forces and the survival dynamics that presuppose participation in the imperialist system. They contribute to bringing back the inherent class struggle of capitalism, but this time with new private property relations protected by a supposed workers’ state diluted into a so called people’s state.

Any lingering market mechanics in early socialism, or reintroduction of short term market reforms, for whatever reason, should be compensated with advances in optimizing the planned economy itself, that make said market reforms redundant in the long term.

Experiments with planned control systems like Cybersyn, in Chile, were already carried out in the 70ies, but were cut short by forces of reaction. On a recent trip to China, while visiting the Alibaba company, foreign delegations were introduced to a map where all economic flows, down to the level of an individual, were displayed and could be monitored in real time. Modern technology, especially in terms of computing power and communications technology allows for dynamic planning that could widely surpass that of the USSR, and gather live feedback and adapt to changes in production and consumption alike.

The crucial task of our time is producing a socialism that is irreversible through consolidating the fundamental technological and economic incentives of its agents, at the base, that make it immune to capitalist rollbacks and counter-revolutionary tendencies, much like capitalism today no longer can be reversed to feudalism. Such an economy consolidates the genuine support of the working class, by letting the working class have a direct stake in the survival of socialism. For this to become a reality there has to be an existing framework for a planned economy that in all aspects, and on all time scales, is clearly superior to our current dangerous economic system.

All in all, socialism will imply that all currently available technology will be used to liberate and realize the full potential of man rather than to limit or ensnare it to serve a few. All super structures of socialism will reflect the newly attained and endless possibilities that science and technology brings.

In Grundrisse ”The Fragment on Machines” (p 692) Marx states:

“Once adopted into the production process of capital, the means of labour passes through different metamorphoses, whose culmination is the… automatic system of machinery… set in motion by an automaton, a moving power that moves itself; this automaton consisting of numerous mechanical and intellectual organs, so that the workers themselves are cast merely as its conscious linkages.”

And in Capital vol 1. Ch 15: Machinery and Modern Industry Marx delves further into robotics

”An organised system of machines, to which motion is communicated by the transmitting mechanism from a central automaton, is the most developed form of production by machinery. Here we have, in the place of the isolated machine, a mechanical monster whose body fills whole factories, and whose demon power, at first veiled under the slow and measured motions of his giant limbs, at length breaks out into the fast and furious whirl of his countless working organs. ”

Just like the hand mill gave society with the feudal lord, and just like the steam mill unlocked capitalism, it looks like Marx’ automaton will be the key that fits the lock of developed socialism.