Political Resolution - XV PCP's CONGRESS [Chapter 1 and 4]

I - The International Situation

In a world where economic and social relations, and their contradictions, acquire new forms and dimensions, the international situation is characterised by large-scale instability and uncertainty. It is marked by the changed balance of forces which arose from the disappearance of the USSR and of socialism as a world system, and by imperialism’s USA-spearheaded offensive to re-establish its domination over the planet and impose a "new world order".

Human labour, scientific and technological advances and the major social achievements won throughout the twentieth century (to a decisive extent, as a result of the struggle for social progress and of socialism’s achievements) created the conditions for unprecedented economic development and for the elevation of great masses to hitherto unknown living standards. But capitalism’s development at the end of this century is leading to blatant throwbacks in social, democratic and cultural terms, thus confronting Humanity with the threat of serious civilisational retrogressions.

Such a course, however, is not inevitable.

The workers’ and peoples’ resistance and struggle, which is mounting amidst a fierce class struggle, with very diverse forms and demands, is the essential element in opening the road to the necessary progressive restructuring of Human society.

The necessary alternative lies in the revolutionary overhaul of capitalism. In this respect, communists’ organised activity, with the participation of the workers and the masses, continues to play an irreplaceable role. Socialism – renewed and enriched in terms of its project and solutions by the lessons drawn from the vast experience accumulated so far – has become even more a requirement and a prospect for our times.

1. Present-day Capitalism

Identifying the current features and characteristics of capitalism’s world system is of the utmost importance in establishing the tasks which today face communists and other revolutionary and progressive forces.

Only a few years ago, with the pretence "death of communism", imperialism’s ideologues proclaimed capitalism’s ultimate and global triumph. Certainly, with the disappearance of the USSR and of socialism in the East of Europe, new domains were opened up for the expansion of capitalism. But that fact did not solve, nor could it solve, the contradictions that undermine it. Today – in spite of the immense resources at its disposal and the capacity for recovery that it has exhibited, the capitalist system’s growing intrinsic contradictions are clearly revealing its historical limitations.

Capitalism’s economic development and transformations in the past two decades reveal some traits and characteristics which should be highlighted.

The growing use of new technologies arising out of advances in science and technique have allowed for the development of productive forces (albeit unevenly, non-comprehensively, and with contradictory results). However, the ever-growing and enormous potential for developing productive forces which was opened up by the scientific and technological revolution is being distorted and limited by the logic of capitalist production relations and their quest for maximum profits. Vast strata of the main productive force – working people – are being devalued, cast aside and even destroyed. And instead of the possible and necessary accelerating growth of production, rates of growth – particularly but not only in the areas of developed capitalism – are stagnant or decreasing. At the same time there is further polarisation between rich and poor, as much on a world level as within each capitalist country. And Nature continues to suffer very serious blows, jeopardising this essential pre-condition for life and for the future of Humanity.

Capitalist application of new technologies makes huge capital accumulation possible. But it has also resulted – especially in the last two decades – in a rapid increase in constant capital’s share relative to variable capital, the creator of surplus value. This has resulted in a stronger tendency toward a lower rate of profit from productive activity and in phenomena of over-accumulation of capital. In search of higher rates of profit, capital has shifted – especially in low-technology industries – to regions and countries where labour is cheaper and more deprived of social rights.

The demand for research, development and the use of new technologies requires huge resources. With growing competition, this has led to even greater capital concentration and centralisation, bringing in its wake a growing wave of corporate take-overs, mergers and mega-mergers. The process of destroying rivals, swallowing up other companies or making them dependent, and restructuring the major social and economic domains, has created gigantic conglomerates that operate at a world level. Whole branches of the planet’s economy are dominated by a small number of giant corporations, oligopolies that rule, carve up, and struggle among themselves for markets. A few hundred of the largest transnational corporations (TNCs) struggle to subordinate the power and policies of States to their interests, both through regional supra-national structures to which they belong and through international institutions (IMF, World Bank, WTO, OECD and others).

The growing internationalisation of productive processes and of economic activity as a whole is both a cause and a consequence of these TNCs’ colossal size, of their requirement to profit from the enormous volume of capital which they have concentrated, and to take advantage (according to their own needs and interests) of the new technologies’ potential. Foreign investment, in its various forms (more than the growth in international trade induced by it) is the essential driving force behind the growing globalisation of economic life. This globalisation has acquired a world dimension in the financial sphere with the current, practically unhindered, circulation of transnational capital (especially for speculation) in a process helped on by developments in computer and telecommunications technology. Capital’s growing globalisation and mobility requires and induces increasingly precarious working conditions, as much in developed capitalist countries as in dependent countries.

Various types of alliances between the large TNCs do not eliminate competition between them, rather they too are an expression and instrument of a brutal economic war for domination over natural resources, technologies and markets. The processes of regional integration, with differing characteristics and degrees, are dominated by the respective TNCs in the three world imperialist centres (or Triad): North America, Western Europe and East Asia, where the decisive roles are played, respectively, by the USA, Germany and Japan. Apart from competition within each area of integration, intense competition is mounting between the Triad’s various poles. The USA’s dominant world role continues to diminish in the economic field. This has led the main imperialist power to resort to its extra-economic might (diplomatic, military, ideological, etc.) to attempt to maintain and impose its hegemony. The struggle for "zones of influence" between the different imperialist powers is mounting, as is the struggle to gain positions inside rival imperialist countries.

The so-called Third World, with its heterogeneity, on the whole continues to have a much lower level of development of productive forces than the zones of so-called developed capitalism, and remains subordinated by the web of neo-colonial relations. With the exception of some areas and countries, the gap between North and South is widening intolerably. However, a growing differentiation can be found. There are countries and zones with fast economic growth, specifically the so-called "newly industrialised countries" which find themselves practically integrated – although still in a dependent condition – into the capitalist mode of production, and where incipient regional integration processes can be found. There are extensive and highly populated zones and countries where the process of extending the capitalist mode of production continues to coexist alongside strong pre- or para-capitalist situations. Other countries and even almost entire continents, such as sub-Saharan Africa, are increasingly cast aside in terms of economic and social development. The imposition of "structural adjustment" programmes, the over-exploitation of labour, the system of unequal trade, the continuing and heightened foreign debt haemorrhage, the plunder of natural resources, all continue to be the unbearable burden imposed upon these peoples by the imperialist powers and their TNCs, with tragic social consequences.

The predatory and Nature-polluting character of capitalism’s current economic development, as well as the consequences induced by it, seriously undermines environmental balances, natural resources, Humankind and the Biosphere itself. This kind of development is ecologically unsustainable. Capitalism’s fierce competition in the quest for maximum profits does not favour the use of scientific and technological potential in choosing systems of production and consumption of goods and services which respect the environment, makes appropriate action in high-risk situations (nuclear and toxic wastes) more difficult and does not reduce the possibility of ecological catastrophes. A different logic of social organisation and a different kind of development are today urgent if Nature is to be preserved and Humanity’s present and future defended.

Given the difficulty of obtaining a satisfactory rate of profit from the productive sector, enormous sums of money are diverted to the non-productive sphere, to be applied particularly in rentier and speculative activities, the stock-exchange, the currency markets, real estate, and illicit trafficking of various kinds such as drugs and arms dealing. This growing "financialisation" of capital – which is one of the most prominent features of present-day capitalism – in turn continually drains the surplus-value created in the productive sphere. The colossal mass of money retained and moved around in speculative activities not only stifles the necessary and possible development of the productive sphere but also subordinates the latter to its own parasitic profitability interests. Due to its huge volume, its tendency to swell up, and the unpredictability of its haphazard movement, this fictitious, speculative, finance capital casts the shadow of monetary instability and the danger of devastating stock-exchange collapses over the economy of countries and of the world.

The wave of privatisation of large public enterprises and services, which is sweeping through practically all capitalist countries, both developed and dependent, is brought about by large-scale finance capital in its search for new sources of surplus-value, privately appropriating – with the help of the State’s power and almost always at a fraction of its real value – an enormous mass of wealth accumulated by society over a number of generations, and which had partially escaped the logic of capitalist profitability. The social function of enterprises and public services, economic regulation and the satisfaction of the community’s basic needs are thus placed in jeopardy.

State intervention in the service of large-scale capital has been reinforced, as much at the national as at the supra-national level. Disguised under the fallacious "Less Government" slogan, the wave of privatisation, the cuts in the social-interest public sector, the imposition of policies advocating "flexibility" in labour legislation, trade "liberalisation", financial "deregulation", actually represent a deployment of State power to benefit the large monopoly groups to the detriment of the broad masses of the population.

Profoundly unfair taxation policies reduce the amount of tax paid by big business and the wealthiest, while over-burdening the workers and the poor. Both State income and expenditure are placed in the service of policies that enable accumulation by big business – which on top of that carries on massive tax evasion and tax fraud with the complacency of the State, including the widespread use of the so-called tax havens. Massive transfers of resources to big business have resulted from multiple tax exemptions, reductions and amnesties, as well as from generous subsidies, both direct and indirect (such as the taking up by the State of enormous debts of bankrupted companies, particularly in the financial sphere). This too, has reduced the State’s capacity to fulfill its social and economic regulation functions.

The enormous public debt which resulted from such policies and practices has today become a crucial issue for the sound development of economic life and the satisfaction of social needs. It holds States, including the USA (the world’s largest debtor) hostage to their creditors, the great national and international financial magnates.

The bulging services sphere which – with the exception of important sectors that are necessary or even indispensable for production – ever less assists the productive sphere and relevant social interests, has become an excessive cost for capital which has here too introduced new technologies to save on labour costs. For this reason the services sphere can no longer function as a safety valve which absorbs "surplus" workers from the productive sphere.

The contradiction between the possibilities offered by scientific and technological development and the current social retrogression, is growing. The capitalist application of new technologies to increase productivity and maximise profits has worsened the working masses’ living conditions. During the last 20 years, it has on the one hand, led to constantly rising unemployment – which has become extensive, chronic and truly structural in the developed capitalist countries – on the other hand, jobs have become increasingly precarious, working conditions have deteriorated, and the rate of exploitation has increased. Efforts to lower labour costs, both directly and indirectly, have become widespread as a way of making capital more profitable. However, this reduction – apart from relatively poor results given the growing weight of non-labour costs – has objective and subjective limits, and counters the pressing need to increase demand.

The extension of the capitalist mode of production to the ex-socialist countries and the so-called Third World has led to an increase in the mass of wage-earners subjected to capital. But this is a small-scale extension with objective limits, and cannot annul the serious problems which the more developed capitalist countries face, given their decisive weight in the world economy.

Unemployment in the developed capitalist world has reached a level only comparable to that of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Nevertheless, qualitatively it is much more serious, for within the framework of present-day capitalism there is no significant growth in investment on the horizon to create employment. At the moment, the capitalist application of new technologies is aimed fundamentally at abolishing jobs and increasing exploitation, as opposed to reducing working hours with equal or higher pay.

Extensive and growing unemployment and under-employment, as well as the relative and absolute drop in incomes for ever-wider sections of the population, coupled with the brutal concentration of wealth in a small finance capital oligarchy, are all determining factors in the rise of poverty and social exclusion. These are growing also within the most developed capitalist countries, while in the countries of the so-called Third World, they plunge more than a fifth of the planet’s population to levels where human subsistence cannot be guaranteed.

These factors mean that in spite of the enlargement of the arena for capitalist relations of production, there is a relative contraction in the market for the realisation of surplus value. Following a prolonged return to economic growth in the first three post-war decades – in which the cyclical over-production crises were considerably diminished through state regulation – during the last 20 years there have been greater and new difficulties in regulation with three serious crises in 1974-76, 1980-82 and 1990-9 During the latter, the depression phase was longer and the recovery weaker. Early signs of a new cyclical crisis are accumulating.

The neo-liberal policies that have become widespread during the last 20 years do not correspond to inevitable requirements for economic and social development. They are rather policies of big business, in particular finance capital, that correspond to its own interests and to the difficulties it faces in the present phase. They lead, not to social progress, but to civilisational retrogression. The anti-labour and anti-people nature of neo-liberal policies; social retrogression; the debasement of democracy; the drift toward cultural obscurantism; greater militarisation; imperialist interference and aggressiveness arising from imperialism’s attempt to impose a "New Order" at this end of the 20th century; all of these realities cannot provide a solution to the immense and serious problems that Humanity faces. They deepen the contradictions of contemporary capitalism and encourage anew the struggle of workers and peoples that is indispensable to open up the road to a progressive alternative.

Capitalism’s current economic evolution, the financial oligarchies and the governments that impose their neo-liberal policies are to blame for the social retrogression that in the last decades – notwithstanding the improvement in some indicators – has characterised the life of a sizeable part of Humanity. This has created an ever more inhumane contrast between prosperity, opulence, lavish consumerism for a privileged minority who set up a paradise on Earth for themselves, and the debased condition of hundreds of millions for whom the Earth has become a living hell.

This has brought about a clear and growing polarisation between rich and poor.

In the last 30 years, the fifth of the planet’s population who live in the poorest countries have seen their share of world income fall from 3% to 4%, while the fifth who live in the richest countries increased their share from 70% to 85%. The gap between them, increased from 1/30 to 1/6 Today, the world’s 358 richest multi-millionaires possess a fortune that matches the annual income of 45% of the world’s population, that is, some 2,300,000,000 people.

It is because of this that, in the so-called "developing" world, more than 1300 million human beings live in poverty, 800 million go hungry, 500 million suffer from chronic malnutrition, one third of all children struggle to survive food deprivation, and infant mortality is still six times higher than in the industrialised countries.

It is not only between the rich "North" and the poor "South" that such disparities and scourges are to be found. They also exist within some of the "South’s" biggest countries such as Brazil, among others, where privileged cliques join in the unbridled exploitation of their own peoples. They can also be seen in the most developed capitalist countries: in the rich OECD countries over 100 million people live below the poverty line. In the European Union today there are some 55 million poor. In Great Britain, between 1979 and 1993, the real income of the poor fell by nearly 20% while the richest reaped 61% more, thus trebling the number of beggars during the Thatcher era. In the USA, between 1975 and 1990 under the Reagan and Bush administrations, the richest 1% increased their assets from 20 to 36 percent of total national wealth.

It is the workers who, with their socially productive work, create wealth. And it is upon them that capitalist exploitation directly falls, insatiable in its private appropriation of the new wealth created.

New forms of exploitation accompany the return of old forms: widespread reversion to child labour, the spread of work at home, piecework and seasonal work, speed-ups, longer working hours, even the ignominious return to pockets of slave labour.

Work and employment, inseparable from the right to a humane and creative life, are intolerably placed in jeopardy, thus endangering the very existence of workers and their families: work without rights, work without job-security, part-time or immeasurably long working hours, "flexible working practices" for the convenience of capital, disrespect for labour safety regulations, the gradual dismantling of social security systems, all threaten the workers’ present and jeopardize their future. Illegal labour, unqualified employment and menial occupations, are all proliferating.

According to the ILO, mass chronic unemployment and under-employment affects more than 820 million workers (120 million registered unemployed, 700 million workers who do not earn enough to guarantee a living). In the European Union, the unemployed already total around 20 million. In the OECD countries, officially registered unemployment is rising ceaselessly, from around 10 million in 1970 to more than 35 million in 199

Workers’ rights are also the target of constant attacks and restrictions. The right to strike is limited or even denied. Trade Union organisation and activity is persecuted, with leaders and activists subjected to discrimination, repression, and even to assassination.

A prolonged and violent offensive against workers and their most basic rights, the squeeze put on the majority of workers’ real wage levels, the devaluation of work – these are essential aspects of neo-liberalism’s anti-social policies that have prevailed in the last decades.

Fundamental social rights – to health care, housing, education, a just pension in old-age – are curtailed and subjected to the greed of private profit through the destruction of public services and systems. Women’s living conditions deteriorate, the future of their children is jeopardised. Young and old people, peasant farmers, masses of outcasts are abandoned to their fate.

Sanitary conditions and health-care services are deteriorating in many countries, with dramatic consequences. More than one thousand million human beings have no access to basic health-care and education; they do not even have clean drinking water. Every year more than 17 million people, most of them children, die from infectious diseases and parasites that are easily curable today – while the pharmaceutical industry, one of the most powerful and profitable, rakes in fabulous profits.

While desertification affects 200 million people, deforestation continues, particularly to extend large-scale capitalist property into the countryside. Rural migration to the cities anarchically creates gigantic mega-cities lacking minimal living conditions, with the mushrooming of shanty-towns and illegal suburbs: true ghettoes where the system’s outcasts are piled up. The lack of minimally decent housing affects over 1000 million people in the world – while real-estate speculation prospers like a cancer.

Women, who through their struggle have won important social gains, continue to suffer from sexist abuse and to be massively discriminated against in all areas. It is they who bear a disproportionate amount of domestic chores. Prostitution continues to spread and running it generates huge profits for powerful mafias.

Children, especially in the poorest families, are the most exposed and defenceless victims of poverty, hunger, illness, violence and hideous exploitation, both labour and sexual.

More than 500 million disabled persons in the world struggle to survive against obstacles placed in the way of their recovery and the fulfilment of their capacities.

Drug-trafficking, one of the biggest businesses in the world, continues to claim hundreds of millions of victims, human beings whose physical and spiritual health is destroyed. Spending on drugs is higher than the combined income (GDP) of 80 so-called "developing" countries.

Military spending equals the income of almost half the world’s population.

Crime, between the mid-70s and mid-80s, rose in the world at a rate of 5% a year, reaching the highest echelons of society and undermining the social fabric, spreading insecurity and fear in communities.

The situation of social retrogression that today chastises a large part of Humanity is itself the most tragic indictment against the barbaric logic that underlies the functioning of contemporary capitalism.

The retrogression of democracy, with the debasement of political democracy and attacks on fundamental liberties, constitutes a disquieting expression of big capital’s exploitation offensive.

The capitalist system from very early on revealed its inability to respond to the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of citizens, because it is founded on class exploitation.

Thanks to the struggle of workers and peoples, and the influence of socialism’s ideals and achievements, it became possible, particularly after the defeat of nazi-fascism, to gain important advances in the social and political spheres, providing an important heritage of human rights. Today, with the disappearance of socialism as a world system, the weakening of progressive forces, and the monopolies’ growing power, the forces of big business feel freer to carry out and step up a powerful offensive to limit the participation of peoples and citizens in political life.

In the developed capitalist countries, finance capital’s economic power is becoming more and more intertwined with the political power structure, intensifying the anti-democratic character of State monopoly capitalism. Limitations are placed on the representativeness of elected bodies (violations of proportional representation, percentage thresholds, fake voter registration, high levels of abstention, etc.); anti-people policies; corruption and media virtualisation of politics, replacing the debate of ideas with show-business; all this distances citizens from civic participation turning them into mere spectators. Huge percentages of voter non-registration and of electoral abstention, as in the USA, reveal this distancing of citizens from political life. The "multi-party system" is reduced to a rotating system of perpetuating in power parties that are only formally different, given that they have essentially the same policies. There are contrivances designed to obstruct the election of communists and other progressives and to assist the election of those who serve, or at least do not oppose, the aims of big capital. This tendency is made worse by debased cultural standards and a decline in the community’s critical capacity, by the militarisation of States with liberty-curbing measures, by the manipulation of every-day life and of voting processes. The ruling classes reply to popular reaction against right-wing policies with greater State centralisation and authoritarianism, countering the democratically expressed will whenever it does not coincide with their interests. Vital decisions about the future of each country are transferred to supra-national, non-elected bodies that evade popular control.

To the extent that democracy based on popular vote and participation dwindles, other de facto powers take hold, such as churches and religious sects, the Freemasons, covertly funded foundations and institutions and other lobbies. So too the organised mafias and drug cartels, which (with their current importance in the economy and their links with the financial institutions) already in some cases constitute veritable parallel governments, often covert, but nevertheless real and directly linked to the armed and paramilitary forces and to governments that are formed from elections, but are increasingly subservient and virtual.

In the capitalist world, its leaders’ calls for human rights increasingly turn out to be an exercise in hypocritical demagoguery, particularly in the United States, where there are serious violations of fundamental human rights.

The capitalist system has failed to address social problems. The State’s coercive and repressive component is strengthened. State and private police forces are strengthened. Imperialist aggressions are carried out. Political repression of progressive forces and trade unions is intensified. Further restrictions are imposed on the free movement of people and on asylum rights. Abuse of information systems, of electronic surveillance and phone tapping systems and of data bases is carried out to spy upon citizens’ private lives. There is increased secret police control over the legitimate exercise of citizenship, particularly participation in social and political organisations.

The economic crisis; the expansion of the great powers and the multinationals, together with economic integration; the imposition of raw material prices and the "structural adjustment" of economies; the debt burden and supranationality; have all generated reactions of progressive national assertion, but also of backward world views as is the case with reactionary nationalism, racism and fundamentalism, which is affecting all major religions. In several countries, Islamic fundamentalism – nourished by imperialist oppression and exploitation policies, promoted by the failure of the neo-liberal policies implemented by the bourgeoisie which emerged with the national liberation processes, and manipulated against the progressive forces – has cleared the way for "holy wars" and the establishment of theocratic states, which trample on fundamental freedoms and human rights.

Neo-liberal policies, which intolerably aggravate the social situation, have cleared the way for the rise of fascist, racist and xenophobic forces. The ruling classes, while silencing left-wing opposition activities, enhance the political visibility of those forces, gambling on them to benefit from the inevitable popular discontentment and as a tool to contain the progressive forces.

Often supported by great powers, which exploit negative feelings in order to broaden their influence, those forces lie at the root of violence, of a growing number of crimes against foreign workers and ethnic "cleansings" in some regions.

The obvious cultural throwback we witness today constitutes one of the particularly negative aspects of present-day capitalism.

The dogmas of neo-liberalism, "globalisation" and "market economy", absolutise fragments of objective reality, in a process of obscurantist manipulation and falsehood. They are an ideological basis, a cultural expression and instrument of capitalism’s socio-economic domination and of monopoly power’s transnational expansion.

Markets are depicted as impersonal entities which, by some "invisible hand", automatically assure the balance of economic and social life. The much-heralded stimulating virtues of social inequalities, and of the concentration and centralisation of capital and wealth, are propagandised. Competition is idolised, aggressiveness and selfishness are promoted. Competitiveness is presented as the main factor of economic and social development. All values and forms of human activity are commercialised. Capitalist exploitation is proclaimed a natural way of life. The existence of social classes and class struggle, and their role in the evolution of society, is denied and concealed.

Appearing as defenders of the individual’s supremacy over society, the ideologues of capitalism try to destroy the progress that has been attained – particularly through the struggle for socialism – toward the creation of superior forms of human socialisation and co-operation.

The State and its functions, on the national and international level, are yet another target of this offensive. The "failure of the Welfare State" is proclaimed and a "Minimal State" is propagandised, with the main aim of amputating the State of its social duties, which resulted from the democratic gains of the past century. But its repressive functions are strengthened, to confront the growing conflicts caused by social polarisation, as is its economic intervention to serve big business.

At the same time, the scope of political life is reduced, with the argument that decisions on key subjects are strictly technical. This would supposedly result in a natural general political consensus. And since politics is also deprived of its role of representing different social interests, this favours a mere rotation of the implementors of the same dominant policy. It restricts the field of possible options, and enhances the loss of ethical values, whilst increasing corruption within the institutions of power themselves.

At the same time, the theories of supranationality seek to depict the existence of nations and the functions of national sovereignty as a thing of the past, which is now exhausted. Under the pretext of adapting to the "globalisation" process they advocate the transfer of sovereignty to supranational structures, thus helping to destroy the national productive apparatus. As part of this process, national cultures and identities are crushed and wiped out, through cultural colonialism and by subordinating them to world market laws.

Another front of big business’ obscurantist offensive consists in falsifying and rewriting recent history.

This aims at misrepresenting the main events of this century. At wiping out the role played by the socialist revolutions, beginning with the 1917 Russian Revolution, and the endeavour of building a new society free from capitalist exploitation. At ignoring the role of the workers’ and peoples’ struggles for their social and national emancipation, for socialism, for democracy, and to broaden the concept of human rights. At belittling the struggles against colonialism, fascism and imperialism. At wiping out from the peoples’ memory the facts, events, experiences, lessons and victories which confirm the feasibility and prospect of their struggle for a better and fairer society, free from capitalist exploitation.

The creation and advertising of a "single thought" – crowning vague and empty concepts, such as "global village", "end of history" and "end of ideologies" – seeks to impose neo-liberal catechisms and formulas as absolute and universal truths. This is an attempt to exclude, disqualify and deny alternative forms of social development, presenting them as subversive threats or irrational and invalid utopias.

In the all-out assault on democracy, human rights and social and cultural development, an essential role is played by the major mass media, which are increasingly concentrated into the hands of big business, both nationally and internationally.

Perversely using sophisticated technologies and resources, unrelentingly silencing or distorting anything that challenges capitalism’s political and economic structures, they try to condition social behaviour and manipulate values, depriving culture of its social function as an instrument of progress. They attempt to impose an alienated and alienating infra-culture, which promotes apathy, uproots the individual from his/her social condition and acts as a factor of obscurantism upon mentalities.

At the same time, we witness a methodical sowing of lines of propaganda which spread confusion, anguish and fear, which trivialise and glorify violence. Superstitions are nourished and catastrophic visions of humanity’s future are propagated, creating states of mind which are a brew for the spread of integralism, racism, xenophobia, and fascistic forces, and for the curtailment of democratic freedoms.

The development of militarism and the intensificationof imperialism’s interventions and aggressions, seek to consolidate, strengthen and extend to the whole world the domination of the capitalist system and, in particular, of the main imperialist powers.

Militarism, the expansion of the military industrial complex, of aggressive military blocs and alliances, the arms race, the interventions and wars of aggression, were for decades justified with the "Soviet threat". But the USSR’s disappearance, the Warsaw Treaty’s dissolution, the so-called "end of the cold war", have not led to a more peaceful and safer world. The international situation’s instability, the continuation and outbreak of new areas of tension, the military aggressions and interferences, the continuation of the arms race, with the production of increasingly sophisticated weapons, all prove it. With the brutal lop-sidedness of the international balance of forces, imperialism’s aggressiveness and inherent militarist tendencies are blatantly and dangerously displayed.

In this respect, the following may be singled out:

- The USA’s arrogant claim to the role of world policeman, with the ensuing initiatives in that direction;- The strengthening of US-hegemonised NATO, reformulating its strategies and doctrines and extending its sphere of political influence, its area of military intervention and its efforts to bring in new members;- The militarisation of the European Union, with its transformation, in a process that is not devoid of contradictions, into a political/military bloc, where the WEU, co-ordinated or even integrated into the EU, would simultaneously be transformed into the "armed wing" of the EU and the "European pillar" of NATO;

- The creation in Europe of a system of multinational forces through the integration of military units of different countries (including Portugal) such as Euroforce, Euromarforce and Amphibian Force;

- The profound changes in the Armed Forces, particularly through the creation of offensive professional armies and the abolition of compulsory military service;

- The militarisation of Germany and Japan and the elimination of constitutional barriers to the intervention of their armed forces outside their territories;

- The process of reintegrating France’s armed forces into NATO’s military structure and the extension of this country’s interventionist role (particularly in Africa), as well as the process towards Spain’s full membership in NATO;

- Disputing the traditional neutrality and non-alignment of several countries, namely of Europe (Austria, Sweden, Finland), pressured into joining the policy of blocs;

- The refusal by the USA and other capitalist powers to destroy nuclear weapons, while working on their improvement, the persistence of the "nuclear deterrence" theory and the aim of ensuring a monopoly on such weapons.

Militarism is thus confirmed as a trait and an intrinsic characteristic of imperialism, harbouring great dangers for peace, the independence and sovereignty of peoples and for the very future of Humanity. It also means the dilapidation of colossal material and human resources, which could, and should, be set aside to improve living standards and for development programmes, a decisive factor for international security.

In their aggressive policy, the USA and other imperialist powers use the pretext of what they call "new threats", they use the struggle against "terrorism", drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime (in which, incidentally, they also participate) as a smokescreen: They cynically invoke the safeguard of "human rights", the alleged "right of humanitarian intervention" and "peace-making".

In truth, they try to secure economic and strategic positions, to kill off any resistance to their imperial policies, to block the road to any national liberation, progressive and revolutionary processes, to impose puppet regimes, to weaken the sovereignty of States, to pave the way for unbridled exploitation by the transnational corporations.

In this path, they exacerbate ethnic, religious and border conflicts, instigate wars of extermination, breed extremely reactionary and obscurantist forces, support repressive and bloody dictatorships, slaughter civilians and cause the mass exodus of populations, taking entire peoples hostage by famine, and in many cases carrying out a true policy of state terrorism.

The US invasion of Somalia and its intervention in Haiti, the French intervention in Rwanda and other African countries, the imperialist interference in the Balkans, with direct NATO intervention and imposing the Dayton "pax americana", the US blockade of Cuba, Israel’s crimes in Palestine and Lebanon, the genocide of the Kurdish people, the occupation of East Timor by Indonesia and Western Sahara by Morocco, the carnage in Afghanistan, the blockade against the Iraqi people and the US bombardments in Iraq, the provocations against Libya, the drama of the people of Angola, the pressures and threats against the DPR of Korea, the dangerous rekindling of Taiwan’s ambitions, are all glaring examples of the aggressive policy of imperialism and its tools and allies at a regional level. Dangerous situations, as in Northern Ireland and Cyprus continue unresolved.

The growing number of tension and war zones, as well as the spreading of situations of economic, social, demographic and environmental catastrophe are essentially an outcome of the capitalist system of exploitation and oppression.

It is an untenable situation which will inevitably lead to huge explosions of discontentment and popular protest. Their character – anti-imperialist and democratic, or reactionary and even fascistic – will depend on the ability of communists and other patriotic and progressive forces to lead the struggle.

In this perspective, imperialism basically acts in two directions. On one side, intensifying persecution against revolutionary and progressive forces and enabling the most reactionary and obscurantist forces to capitalise on popular discontentment. On the other, developing international and supranational instruments of concertation and intervention – economic, political, ideological, military – with an aim of assuring undisputed planetary domination by big business and imposing a totalitarian "new order" against workers and peoples.

The mechanisms of the imperialist "New Order" are being created at the level of States, areas of integration and at a world level.

Through a dense network of political and diplomatic relations, where the G-7 stands prominent, the great powers try to harmonise their respective positions on major issues of the international situation and define a common planetary strategy. The formal and subordinate association of Russia is part of an attempt to control any developments and neutralise any resistance.

The OECD, the IMF and the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation map out economic, financial and commercial policies which suit the great powers and the multinationals. They define the lines of combat against workers’ social gains and rights, and administer their implementation.

NATO, imperialism’s main military alliance, intervenes as the armed wing of the "new order". Instead of deactivating its military structure and dissolving itself, NATO is restructuring, strengthening itself, enlarging its area of influence by associating new countries, and extending its area of military intervention. It defines new "enemies" and "threats" and endows itself with new and overtly offensive strategic concepts. It creates military mechanisms, operational forces, sophisticated arms with a view to intervening wherever the USA and its allies consider their interests to be threatened, particularly in "low intensity" conflicts and in suppressing popular revolts and revolutions.

NATO’s expansion to Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as the activation of WEU, viewed as the "European pillar" of NATO, and the creation of the Joint Combined Forces, significantly enhance the role of this aggressive military alliance. The US-led bombardments and military intervention in Bosnia are a very serious precedent.

At the same time, the prospects opened up by the Helsinki Agreement and the creation of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe were blocked or distorted in relation to their original goals of respecting the sovereignty of States, mutually beneficial co-operation and collective security on the Continent.

The UN, instead of promoting peaceful solutions to conflicts, disarmament, development and international co-operation, tends to become an instrument of the hegemonistic policies of the US and its allies.

The IMF/WB, WTO, NATO, a UN manipulated by the US and other great imperialist powers, constitute the main pillars of the "new order", whose construction contains many other aspects such as: revision of principles enshrined in international law; resort to special politically-motivated "Tribunals"; enhanced Secret Services and their close co-operation, with the creation of supranational intelligence services; control over information technologies and domination of the media, massively used as an instrument of misinformation and mass manipulation; creation of sophisticated instruments to neutralise and take over social organisations and movements, or integrate them into the system; creation of allegedly "humanitarian" organisations to cushion the devastating effects of neo-liberal policies and imperialist aggressions.

The necessary international co-operation between peoples and States, sovereign and equal in rights, is being quickly substituted by supranational guidance and decisions, imposed by the great imperialist powers through the formation of a complex – and increasingly co-ordinated and centralised – system of organisations and institutions. Although still evolving, this process is a reality in many aspects. Its consolidation would create a qualitatively new obstacle, in terms of power, to the workers’ and peoples’ liberation process.

The strengthening of imperialism’s national and supranational structures (formal and informal, public and private) aims at harmonising a common planetary strategy on the economic, political, military and ideological levels and is driven by capitalism’s globalisation process and its need for transnational monopolist regulation.

It is a process which highlights big business’ class solidarity, but does not abolish or tame the contradictions within the imperialist camp. On the contrary, the rivalries, conflicts and contradictions among the great powers and the great poles of imperialism have not abated. They even exhibit a tendency to grow and become exacerbated.

This is due to: capitalism’s uneven development, with brutal US pressures to impose its hegemony world-wide and assure at all costs its supremacy within the imperialist camp; the creation of great areas of economic integration and free trade with an increasingly bitter struggle for raw materials (particularly oil), markets, spheres of influence, positions of geo-strategic importance; a new imperialist carve-up of the world in a framework that they themselves call "filling the strategic void" caused by the disappearance of the USSR and socialism as a world system.

It is thus that in relation to Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and even Latin America, there are multiple areas of considerable conflict among the great powers, frequently involving – by "proxy" or otherwise – other countries aspiring to be regional powers.

The US aim of imposing its world hegemony increasingly clashes with the expansionism of "greater Germany" (particularly towards Eastern Europe and the Balkans), with France (namely in Africa) and Japan (especially in Asia). Influence in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region is becoming an arena for serious dispute, specifically between the US and the great powers of the European Union.

The economic war among the three great poles of imperialism – the USA, European Union/Germany and Japan – is marked by arrogant unilateral US impositions, and tends to escalate. The danger that the economic war may make political conflicts more acute and, in various ways, drift into a military dispute cannot be ruled out.

As we said in our 14th Congress, with the disappearance of the USSR and socialism as a world-wide system, the world became more dangerously exposed to the dynamics of inter-imperialist contradictions and to the expansionist thrusts of imperialism’s exploitative, oppressive and aggressive nature.

The process of subverting principles and basic rules of relationship among peoples and sovereign States and the reactionary restructuring of the international relations system, is neither consolidated nor completed. The establishment of an imperialist "new order" faces the peoples’ resistance and struggle as well as the rivalries within the imperialist camp itself.

In spite of the powerful offensive by "single thought" ideologues and propagandists and the illusions of a world "government" and other forms of supranational "global" regulation, there is growing awareness as to the nefarious consequences of the policies dictated by organisations dominated and manipulated by imperialism, particularly US imperialism. Notwithstanding the weaknesses that still exist, actions denouncing and protesting against imperialism’s exploitative, oppressive and aggressive policies have proliferated, gaining a growing mass expression and international dimension.

Communists and other democratic and progressive forces oppose the imperialist "new order" with the struggle for a new international economic and political order based on co-operation among sovereign peoples and countries, equal in rights. and guided by the values of peace, democracy, social progress and friendship among peoples. A new order committed to abolishing nuclear arms and to comprehensive disarmament; to combating racism and xenophobia, neo-fascist populism, aggressive nationalism and religious fanaticism; to effectively helping underdeveloped countries; to ending unemployment, poverty, hunger, disease, drug-addiction, illiteracy and other scourges of Humanity; to spreading culture and objective information; to preserving natural resources and protecting the environment. A new order which will respect and assure the right of every people to freely choose their own path.

The forces that oppose, or are capable of opposing, the policies and mechanisms of the imperialist "new order" are very broad and diverse. It is in their struggle that lies the possibility of progressive and revolutionary changes which, by changing the present unfavourable balance of forces, will make it possible to establish a new order of peace, co-operation and friendship among peoples.

2. The worker's and peoples' resistance and struggle

Imperialism’s economic, political, ideological and military offensive, together with – and facilitated by – the defeats of socialism and the global weakening of progressive forces, has led to severe drawbacks in the process of social and national emancipation.

However, this offensive is not a fatality which workers and peoples must accept. On the contrary. It develops in the inevitable context of an intense class struggle which – with very diverse forms and immediate demands – objectively converges into a widespread and growing rejection and condemnation of the imperialist "new order" and its consequences: brutal worsening of exploitation, injustice and social inequalities, national oppression, aggressions, conflicts and wars. With it grows the demand for profound anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist change.

In the developed capitalist countries the neo-liberal offensive against the social and democratic gains achieved through decades of hard struggles faces the workers’ growing resistance and has led to great popular struggles, particularly in Europe, but also in the USA and Japan. In the latter, together with important social struggles, there have been particularly significant mass protests against Japanese militarism, for nuclear disarmament and for the closure of US military bases.

In the forefront stand the struggles to defend jobs and against casualised labour relations, for better pay, against the dismantling of public services, the attacks on social security and the privatisations. Even though big business has the overt collaboration of reformist union bureaucracies and of most socialist and social-democratic parties, important struggles have been waged, including general strikes and days of action with great mass protests. Among these, because of their particular political significance, we can point out strikes and protests in Italy in late 1994, the powerful November/December 1995 movement in France, the great 1996 protests in Germany against Kohl's "austerity plan". But also to be stressed are hundreds upon hundreds of strikes, marches and protests by industrial workers (against dismissals, for pay increases, reduction of working hours, against privatisations), by service workers (public administration, health professionals, teachers, etc.), by farmers (particularly in Greece, against the serious consequences of the CAP [European Union Common Agricultural Policy]), by small and medium-scale shopkeepers and industrialists.

Beyond their immediate demands, these movements objectively represent an unmistakable indictment of the anti-people neo-liberal policies inherent in the Maastricht Treaty. They give a new dimension to the growing opposition in all European Community countries against the current "European construction" process. This reality, which was clearly visible in the referenda held in Denmark, France and Norway in 1993 and 1994, is acquiring a new dimension with the clear rise of workers’ struggles – and of people’s struggles generally – in many countries, against the painful social consequences of the austerity programmes which are imposed by the forced march towards the single currency.

Equally significant are other very diverse important popular movements which express deep democratic feelings: of the youth in protest against the school system and for jobs; for women’s rights; in defence of public education; against racism, xenophobia and restrictions on asylum rights; against nuclear arms and tests, imperialist aggression in the Balkans; in defence of the environment and many others. Due to its broad scope and important political significance, the extraordinary movement of popular indignation and protest which shook Belgium is particularly worthy of mention.

It is a fact that although the people’s resistance and struggle has imposed important setbacks on big business and its power structure, it has not lived up to the seriousness of the offensive, particularly due to the lack of a clear alternative policy, credible to the masses. But this reality, curtained and silenced by the media, has to be stressed, because the struggle of the popular masses is a determining factor in achieving progressive political change.

The counter-revolutionary capitalism-restoration process in the countries of the former USSR and Eastern Europe, quickly generated a huge drop in production and a degradation of the productive apparatus, and has entailed a brutal deterioration in the living conditions of the majority of its peoples, with an explosion of poverty, unemployment, crime, violent ethnic conflicts, wars between nations which belonged to multinational States, and other scourges.

A voracious capitalist class in swift formation, constituted and supported by a wide tier of corrupt bureaucrats and various mafias, represented at the highest echelons of the State, has joined hands with imperialism in order to dismantle economic structures, social achievements and rights, moral values, historical memory and everything positive created by successive generations during socialism, in spite of the severe perversions that took place.

This has been the fundamental strategic objective of the major imperialist powers, in particular Germany and the USA, both directly and through their economic, political and military structures, which range from the IMF to NATO, and include the European Union. Busily plundering the enormous wealth that was accumulated throughout decades, the imperialist powers seek, on the one hand, to conquer new territories for capitalist exploitation (cheap and highly skilled labour force, natural resources, markets), and on the other hand to steer the current processes and ensure their irreversibility. Gross interference in the internal affairs of these countries is accompanied by the most cynical disrespect and subversion of the proclaimed values of "democracy" and "human rights", as is particularly blatant in the former USSR or in former Yugoslavia.

However, despite the traumatic events and the ideological pounding to which they have been subjected, the workers and peoples of the former USSR and of Eastern Europe are rebelling through numerous struggles against the disastrous consequences of capitalist restoration. They seek to defend achievements of socialism and, in various forms and with varying degrees of success in each country, to safeguard their independence and chart out their own future. Several countries are courageously fighting – in the adverse conditions of the prevailing world context – to preserve their sovereignty and ensure a development that is in accordance with the wishes of their people. Communist parties and forces were reconstituted and have achieved considerable influence in various countries. The electoral results in Russia have shown, despite the particularly adverse conditions under which they were achieved, that the Communists are a great force which, in alliance with other democratic and patriotic forces, has a real impact on the political life of that immense country.

The overwhelming majority of our planet’s population lives in the so-called Third World. But it is in this vast area of the world that the greatest poverty is concentrated. Many hundreds of millions live in sub-human conditions. In the last ten years the gap which separates the developed capitalist countries from the underdeveloped countries has widened. Imperialism’s offensive towards the Third World often represents a real attempt to re-colonise peoples and countries which, through harsh struggles, had achieved their independence, built sovereign states and in many cases undertaken progressive paths of development.

A policy of threats, boycotts, embargoes and enormous economic pressure has been undertaken against countries which, regardless of their political regime, refuse to submit.

The Third World peoples’ struggle for their national emancipation has suffered a severe setback, deeply affected as it was by the crises and the defeat of socialism. The Non-Aligned Movement, as well as the Organisation of African Unity, the Arab League and other objectively anti-imperialist organisations have become weaker and, although there are indications of a certain recovery, their future is uncertain.

Merging the imposition of an artificial and false "multi-party system" with pressures and interferences of the most diverse nature (including military pressure) progressive regimes have been overthrown; new dictatorships and governments have been imposed, submissive to the diktats of the IMF and World Bank’s disastrous structural adjustment programmes; the foreign debt haemorrhage has increased; the barriers against the "free circulation" of capital and against the transnational corporations’ plundering have been lifted; the destruction of both the State’s economic sector and of pre-capitalist subsistence structures has been speeded up, thus preventing the foundations of independent development from taking roots. Bloody ethnic and tribal conflicts and colossal displacements of populations have been provoked. The social, cultural and health situation of many Third World peoples has suffered a dramatic retrogression, and this represents one of capitalism’s most inhumane crimes of modern times.

In the meantime, the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America continue the struggle for their vital interests, against the impositions of imperialism and of transnational capital, for freedom, democracy, for national independence.

The apartheid regime’s defeat and the ANC’s victory in South Africa; the progress achieved in the political and electoral influence of Communists and other left-wing forces in India and other countries; the survival, as in Southern Africa, of countries led by the political forces that achieved independence and which fight against foreign impositions; the resistance by sovereign States against the impositions of imperialism; the continued national liberation struggle by the Palestinian, Saharaui, Maubere (East Timorese), Kurdish and other peoples; the armed resistance movements as in Guatemala, Colombia and the Sudan; the struggle by the indigenous peoples of Latin America for their rights, as in Chiapas, Mexico; the struggle against the big landed estates, as is the case of the Landless Peasants’ Movement (Movimento dos Sem Terra) in Brazil; the major mass actions for democracy and for the respect of human rights, against dictatorships and corrupt governments in countries like Brazil, Venezuela, Burma, Bangladesh, South Korea, Turkey, Indonesia; the strikes and demonstrations against neo-liberal policies and the activities of TNCs, against privatisations and even against the GATT/WTO, as in India, Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina and other countries – all of this shows that the workers and peoples do not give up and that major explosions of popular discontentment and struggle are inevitable.

Like many others, the continued and courageous resistance by the people of East Timor against the Indonesian occupiers, and their struggle for self-determination and independence – which imposes a particular duty of solidarity upon Portugal and the Portuguese people – confirms that not even the most powerful oppressor can destroy a people’s yearning for their liberation.

Imperialism’s pretensions to channelling the masses’ discontentment and despair in a reactionary direction are clear – particularly in its encouragement of religious fundamentalism of a fascist nature. Equally clear is its determination to crush through military force any actions that endanger its domination. The "Rapid Deployment Forces" are a tool for this. But everything will depend upon the progressive and national liberation forces’ ability to win over the masses’ support and to organise them for a clear alternative of democratic and progressive development.

Countries which define the construction of socialism as their policy and goal – China, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea, Laos – are a reality of great significance for the development of the world situation. With specific national traits, with very diverse experiences and solutions, they represent an important factor of resistance and containment against capitalism’s intentions of world domination.

Important progress made in the field of economic development and in enhancing the masses’ living standards must be stressed in the cases of China and Vietnam, countries where almost a quarter of the world’s population lives and whose initial level of development was extremely low.

In relation to Cuba, which has been brutally struck by US imperialism and has been forced to completely reorganise its foreign economic relations, the survival of fundamental social achievements and of the regime’s socialist orientation is a heroic feat, only possible thanks to the Cuban Communists’ profound identification with their people, to the Cuban people’s high patriotic and revolutionary awareness and to the broad international solidarity movement, which must continue, particularly against the blockade and the Helms-Burton act.

The PCP has its own view of socialism and its own project for building a socialist society in Portugal, which in various important aspects is different and distant from the views, solutions, practice and experiences which exist today. And it is seriously concerned with the existence of negative factors in those countries, particularly considering the experience of other undertakings in the construction of socialism. But this does not prevent the PCP from valuing the existence of countries which define building socialist societies as their goal. We follow these experiences with great attention and stand in solidarity with their struggle to defend the right to freely choose their own course.

There are tremendous foreign constraints imposed by big business’ hegemony over international economic relations. Imperialism and international reaction make no secret of their hope and intention of – by taking advantage of problems, mistakes, difficulties and contradictions and through interference, boycotts and threats of aggression – dumping Communists from power and (or) provoking a capitalist degeneration of the complex ongoing processes (which they would call "peaceful evolution"). It is in the interests of those peoples and of all peoples fighting for their liberation that such intentions be foiled.

In assessing the prospects for the world situation, it is particularly important to consider the major social forces which are affected by the policies of big business and imperialism. Great social and demographic changes which have a strong impact on societies’ class structure, composition and alignments, have taken place under the impact of the growing globalisation of capitalist relations of production, of the scientific and technological revolution, and of the profound transformations in the production and exchange systems. These are unstable times, in which many hundreds of millions of human beings are being economically dispossessed, cast aside from the productive processes, socially uprooted and outcast, displaced by hunger or by war. They desperately seek a new place in the system of social relations. It is a situation that makes the progress of political awareness and of organised struggle extremely difficult, and which favours the growth of reactionary, obscurantist and fascistic forces.

In the meantime, one of the objective traits in the current international situation is the shrinking social basis of support for the capitalist exploitation and oppression system.

The working class and wage workers (whose ranks are swelling in absolute and relative terms on a world scale, representing the main social force even in underdeveloped countries); the peasant masses (who are often landless and still predominate in vast regions of the Third World); the intellectuals and the forces of culture (whose creativity is restricted); the small and medium-scale shopkeepers and industrialists (who are overwhelmed by the monopolies’ power); the youth (which sees its horizons blocked by a class-based education system, by unemployment and poverty); women (who are the first victims of the system’s injustice and inequalities) – these are the main social classes and strata whose interests and yearnings are directly hit by the policies of big capital and imperialism.

It is with this social base that lies the possibility and the need for a vast anti-imperialist front, which also includes those countries that define building a socialist society as their goal, the national liberation movements, those States that defend their sovereignty against foreign impositions.

The prospects for the world situation crucially depend upon the ability of Communists and other democratic, patriotic and progressive forces to give organised political expression to the enormous existing potential for liberation struggle.

Imperialism’s on-going brutal offensive was made possible by the defeats of socialism, the general weakening and dispersion of the Communist parties and of other progressive and revolutionary forces, by the growth of reformist political views and the weakening of class-based trade-unionism, by social-democracy’s further shift to the right. But it would be wrong not to value the existence and activity of a vast set of broad unity organisations and movements such as: trade unions; class organisations of small and medium-scale farmers, shopkeepers and industrialists; youth movements; women’s rights movements; environmental organisations and movements; peace and solidarity movements; anti-racist movements; organisations of intellectuals, scientists, artists; specific movements to defend civil rights or to promote community interests; numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

This is a reality which, with its great diversity, reflects a growing readiness for democratic participation and activism. It represents a real obstacle to the implementation of big business’ policy. But it is necessary to preserve the democratic and broad nature of such organisations and movements, without which their mass appeal will wither away, they will jeopardize their popular nature, become politically harmless and may even be integrated into the system’s logic and operation, as tools to contain the struggle and for class collaboration. Social-democracy continues to be particularly engaged in this direction. The bureaucratic and collaborationist degeneration of many trade union leaderships is the most negative example of this evolution.

On a political level, a vast spectrum of democratic, left-wing, progressive, revolutionary and national-liberating forces continues to be active in all continents. The situation in each country is very different. While in some there are forces with a great mass backing and with the prospect of leading political alternatives attuned to workers’ interests, in many other countries this is not so. But experience shows that in the course of the struggle itself, whatever the difficulties, the forces necessary to solve the problems posed by social development are arising and being strengthened.

Particular reference must be made in Europe to the significant number of left-wing parties and forces which, while not defining themselves as Communists, do not recognise themselves in social-democracy either. These are parties and forces of different origins, programmes and social backing, with fluid borders and which are in the process of defining their own identity. They oscillate between reformism and alliances with social-democracy, and relationships of co-operation with the Communist parties. There are known attempts to create a "new left", a sort of third force which is "neither Communist nor social-democratic", but which is in practice marked by prejudice against the Communists. But reality is showing that it is necessary and possible to identify common goals and, based on mutual respect and casting away any hegemonistic pretensions, to develop the co-operation of Communists and other left-wing forces in the struggle against the disastrous consequences of neo-liberalism, in defence of democracy, against militarism and, in particular, against the Maastricht Treaty and for a Europe of peace, progress and co-operation. This is the case with the co-operation within the Confederal Group of the United European Left/Nordic Green Left in the European Parliament. The rally "Against unemployment, for a Europe of the peoples, of employment and social progress" held on May 11 [1996] in Paris, was a new and positive step.

The PCP will continue striving to realise the potential for bilateral and multilateral co-operation, not just on a European, but also on a world level. It is in this sense that it takes an active part in the São Paulo Forum which encompasses a broad spectrum of progressive parties and organisations in Latin America.

The evolution of social-democracy, with its adoption of neo-liberalism’s main concepts, its identification with the right in many countries and its implementation, when in power, of big business policies, has led many socialist and social-democratic parties to discredit and to a crisis, particularly in Europe. Within a context of "bi-polarisation" and of "a system of alternation" between the right and social-democracy, social-democratic parties are being directly incorporated into big business’ system of political domination. The consequences of this development are contradictory. On the one hand it opens up new possibilities for a greater influence of Communists among these parties’ working-class and popular electoral social base, which is increasingly disillusioned with the social-democratic leaders’ political and ideological capitulation. But on the other hand it may lead – and is leading at the moment – to a strengthening of the right-wing and even of populist and fascistic far-right forces.

Overall – even though they still have left-wing sectors and trends in their midst – social-democracy, the Socialist International, the "European socialist party" are today tools in the big business and imperialist offensive. But, in the concrete conditions that may exist in this or that country, it can be correct to have a policy which seeks the common action of Communists, Socialists and Social-democrats, in order to confront and defeat right-wing forces, particularly the more reactionary and aggressive ones. Co-operation with the progressive forces affiliated to the Socialist International must naturally continue.

Struck by one of the most serious crises in its history, the Communist and revolutionary movement is continuing to undergo great difficulties. But the much-heralded "death of communism" and the communist parties' "irreversible decline" has not been borne out in practice. In all continents there are communists who – under that name, or under other names – continue to fight for the ideals of socialism and communism.

There are countries where communists continue in power. In many others, even if weakened, communist parties are major national forces playing a key role in working people's and mass struggles, and with a significant presence in institutions, including governmental institutions. In other countries, communist parties with a limited influence continue the struggle to extend it. In other countries still, courageously facing repression and even underground, they carry forth the struggle with determination. There are particularly significant cases of communist parties rebuilt where they had been destroyed (such as in Russia) or degenerated into social-democracy (such as in Italy).

Undoubtedly, great problems and difficulties remain. The pressure to isolate and divide communists is very strong and sophisticated. In numerous cases, an intense ideological and political struggle continues, around the communist movement's history, the party's class nature, its programme, its goal of building a socialist society, its international relations policies. But in several communist parties signs of recovery (and even strengthening) are already visible, and there is growing awareness of the need for internationalist co-operation.

The PCP's international relations policy is constantly geared toward strengthening internationalist solidarity ties among communists, progressive and democratic forces, workers and peoples.

Within its wide range of bilateral and multilateral relations with other democratic and left-wing forces, the PCP attaches prime importance to relations with other communist and revolutionary parties, in Europe and world-wide. For the PCP, co-operation between communist and revolutionary parties does not run counter to – in fact it is an essential component of – a wider co-operation among democratic, progressive and national liberation forces which oppose big business' offensive and the imperialist "new order".

It is a fact that world developments currently determine a wider scope for internationalism. It extends to all forces fighting exploitation and oppression. It extends not just to the working class and working people, but to all social and political forces fighting for freedom, democracy, social progress, national independence and socialism. Communists cannot close themselves off or attempt to establish rigid boundaries in their relations. But internationalism continues to have – as its deepest and strongest root – its class nature and ensuing anti-capitalist traits.

Since its foundation by Marx and Engels the communist and workers' movement has undergone various stages. It had periods of impetuous advance, of stagnation and retreat, it achieved major victories in terms of unity and experienced dramatic conflicts, splits and defeats. It set up highly diverse structures and types of relations, in accordance with objective and subjective conditions.

Currently – together with dispersion, fragmentation and a continuation of a tendency to dilute relations between communist parties into wider democratic alliances – several parties are undergoing complex identity-definition processes, making it even more difficult than in the past to precisely establish components, define boundaries and implement stable forms of multilateral and international relations (which must necessarily be flexible) within the communist and revolutionary movement.

The PCP will continue to work toward recovering, renewing and strengthening the international communist and revolutionary movement. It is convinced that strengthening the ties of friendship, co-operation and solidarity between communists and all revolutionaries is a need determined by basically common interests and goals: liberating the working class and all working people.

While respecting others' independence and autonomy, it is of prime importance for the struggle of each and of all, that information and experiences be exchanged, that problems be collectively examined, common or convergent action undertaken and mutual solidarity practised.

The processes of internationalisation and globalisation of capital, the strengthening of supranational power mechanisms, the close co-operation between bourgeois monopoly forces, have all made co-operation among communists and other revolutionaries necessary and urgent.

3. The Alternative

With the pretence ultimate triumph of capitalism, realities and contradictions arise revealing its historical limitations and the fact that it cannot provide answers to Human beings’ yearnings and to the contemporary world’s major problems. It is the very requirements of social development and of safeguarding civilisational achievements won through the labour and the struggles of many generations that demand that profound anti-monopolist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist transformations be placed on the agenda.

New opportunities and possibilities are emerging for the workers’ and peoples’ liberation struggle and for the activity of communists and other progressive and revolutionary forces. This activity is essential to develop and bring together vast social and political forces for a progressive alternative.

The dramatic problems affecting today's world – with increased exploitation, heightened economic, social and regional injustice and inequality, genocides, peoples decimated by hunger, military interventions and wars, and the threat of veritable civilisational retrogressions and of global ecological catastrophes – constitute an indictment of capitalism and its inhumane and oppressive nature.

Capitalism has long since become an obstacle for Humanity's progress. The growing acuteness of its contradictions and the liberation struggles of the working class, of the workers and peoples, have long since opened up the possibility of overcoming it through revolution.

It is a fact that during the 20th century capitalism maintained its hegemonic power in the economic and ideological spheres and displayed an unforeseen ability to develop, adapt and recover. It is also true that in the USSR and Eastern Europe, in spite of the great progress made, the construction of a new socialist-based society suffered a dramatic defeat, making it obvious how difficult and complex the undertaking was. There was the failure of a "model" that, in many respects, distanced itself from essential traits always proclaimed for a socialist society.

But capitalism has not changed its essence: exploitation, oppression and aggression. It has not done away with its internal contradictions, which have become even more acute. It has neither eliminated nor prevented the renewal and strengthening of those social forces which oppose and fight against the very essence of capitalism. It has neither neutralised the deeply-rooted yearning for freedom, democracy and social justice, nor paralysed the peoples’ resistance and struggle.

It is a well-known fact that under capitalism – through human intelligence and creativity and with the peoples' struggles – major democratic gains and civilisational advances have been possible, thus opening up new prospects for Humanity’s struggle.

Events in 20th century history – in particular nazi-fascism, two destructive world wars, and today's neo-liberal offensive – have shown that those gains and advances are constantly threatened by the continuation of big business' economic and political power. Upholding and consolidating these gains and advances can only be possible by moving toward thorough anti-monopoly democratic changes, with a view to breaking out of the capitalist exploitation system. Social ownership over the means of production and the establishment of effective people's power continue to be basic elements in the communists' revolutionary programme, together with the irreplaceable role of conscious and organised participation by the masses of the people.

The immense possibilities of enhancing human beings' material and spiritual well-being – opened up by the great achievements in science and technology – stand in stark contrast with the wholesale worsening of people's living and working conditions and the plunging of hundreds of millions into the most dire poverty. More than any other, it is this outstanding contradiction in today's world that exposes capitalism's irrational, predatory and inhumane nature. The capitalist system has become not merely an obstacle to social progress, but a threat to Humanity as a whole. It is urgent to overcome it, and to reorganise society on new foundations, with human requirements and aspirations and creative labour as both component parts and goals. Socialism or capitalism, that is the great alternative of our time.

The process of overcoming capitalism through revolution on a world scale began with the October 1917 Russian revolution, with other victorious revolutions, and with the first thrust at building a new society. That was what marked an historic step forward for the progress of liberation in the 20th century and will extend into the 21st century.

This process turned out to be rougher, more complex and lengthier than anticipated. It is impossible to anticipate the mode and pace of its development. But historical experience has shown that it is in the masses of the people, in their organisation and in the strength of their liberation struggle that lies the real possibility of having a world finally freed from class exploitation, from social and national oppression and from the scourges of war and ecological disaster.

The road to revolution is the road of the masses and their mobilisation for the struggle.

The struggle – in each country – for the masses’ basic interests, to protect and extend democracy, for policies of economic development and social progress, to build alliances that can isolate the most reactionary and aggressive forces, defend national sovereignty and fight the imperialist "new order". Each country lives its own reality, faces its own contradictions and problems, harbours its own potential for progressive development. There are not, and there cannot be, universally applicable "models" or universally valid "platforms".

However, the processes of internationalisation, co-operation and integration, of international division of labour, have led to a closer interdependence among peoples. The dialectic between national and international factors has gained in importance. External conditions weigh more and more on the domestic order of States. In their struggle, working people confront the national power structure and – at the same time, and increasingly so – supra-national economic and political power structures.

This reality does not "render obsolete" the nation's importance as an unavoidable arena of class struggle, and does not foreclose the possibility of winning democratic gains and revolutionary changes at the level of each country. Protection of national sovereignty, coupled with a struggle for international relations freed from the big powers' impositions, has even become more important. At the same time, internationalist solidarity and co-operation, common or convergent action by communists, progressives, workers and peoples, have become essential for the struggle of each and every one, for the world-wide liberation process to move ahead.

Big business' all-out offensive, and the attempts to impose upon the world a totalitarian-type "new order", require that communists and all progressive forces make great efforts to merge the struggles of workers and peoples into a broad anti-imperialist front.

Considering the diverse political, economic, and social situations, and therefore the diverse tasks confronting each people in its struggle against imperialism, at this time the following are of special importance:

- struggle against monopolies and finance capital: against liberalisation in the circulation of capital, against speculation, for the channelling of resources into productive investment, against privatisations and the imposition of powerful countries' domination and exploitation over less developed countries;

- struggle against exploitation, poverty and underdevelopment, for jobs, for the value of labour and wages, for labour and social rights, for less working hours with no loss in pay or benefits, for the protection and enhancement of public services;

- struggle for political, social, economic and cultural democracy, against all manifestations of fascist, racist, xenophobic or obscurantist forces, for the protection of national sovereignty and independence against attacks from transnational corporations and imperialism or their economic and political institutions;

- struggle for peace, against militarism, against imperialism's aggressive interventions, for the dissolution of political-military blocs, for the banning of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and for their total eradication, to defend the UN as an organisation geared toward promoting peaceful co-operation between peoples;

- internationalist solidarity, particularly with peoples fighting for freedom and self-determination or suffering foreign aggression;

- struggle to conserve nature, for an ecologically sustainable development, against environmental pollution and desertification, for the preservation of natural resources and ecological balances, for harmonious development of towns and cities.

Of particular importance is the ideological struggle. First of all against the "single thought" ideology which, in preaching the "end of ideologies" and the "end of history", is an expression of the interests served by neo-liberal policies, with their reverence for capital and markets, their fostering of individualism and unbridled competition; appealing to irrationalism, to obscurantism, to religious and ethnical fanaticism; inducing feelings of fatalism, powerlessness and disbelief in the struggle for progressive and revolutionary change in society.

Also in the democratic and progressive camp itself, where idealist and reformist conceptions have gained new breath, in particular: underestimating or even denying the central role played, in the evolution of societies, by classes and their struggle, by the ownership of the major means of production, by the State, by social revolution; with "democracy" seen as independent from historical evolution and from society's class structure, with curbs and economic, social and political discriminations objectively allowing the forces of capital to remain in power; with a "humanism" that isolates and uproots the individual from his/her class condition and social status; with "solidarity" seen as charity to attenuate the impact of greater injustice and inequality; with a gradualistic and evolutionistic strategy that tends to identify the democratic and social gains possible under capitalism with the very notion of overcoming capitalism (which in reality implies a revolutionary break). These conceptions, under very diverse forms and expressions, emerged within the framework of a search for answers to problems of social change. They signify – in the same line as the so-called "strong reformism" that preceded the Italian Communist Party's degeneration – a rekindling of reformist conceptions that determined the historic split between communists and social-democrats in the working class movement.

Explicitly or implicitly, it is a constant goal of capitalism's ideological offensive to present marxism-leninism as an outdated, historically dead, world view. But marxism-leninism has not just explained and inspired the march toward struggles and gains by the world’s workers and peoples throughout the 20th century. Enriched with the experience available and with creative responses to new situations and phenomena, it continues to be a guide for action and a central value and element in the ideological battle.

The PCP, while monitoring the new realities of a fast-changing world, and taking into account the lessons of experience – both positive and negative, both its own and others' – views its own renewal as a permanent requirement, intrinsic to its vanguard role in the liberation struggle of Portugal's working class and working people.

This implies preserving and critically and creatively developing dialectical and historical materialism, the fundamentals of political economy and the theory of scientific socialism, as the theoretical foundations of its communist identity. That grand achievement of human thought – with the prominent historic contributions of Marx, Engels and Lenin – is of prime importance to analyse and understand today's world and the ways to change it. The relevance of Marx, which even non-marxist democratic circles recognise (often seeking to hide marxism's revolutionary essence and opposing Marx to Lenin) signifies in effect marxism-leninism's relevance and modernness. Marxism-leninism is by nature anti-dogmatic, creative and revolutionary.

It is with this strong conviction – and confident in the liberating force of working-class, workers’ and peoples’ struggles and internationalist solidarity – that Portuguese communists pursue, in Portugal, the struggle for the values and ideals of socialism and communism.

From its 75 years of existence and from the working class and communist movement's history in this century that is drawing to a close, the PCP draws confirmation of the fact that what has been and still is a basic goal of its struggle is correct and feasible: building a freer, fairer, more fraternal and humane society in Portugal, a socialist society; building a world finally freed from exploitation, alienation and imperialist oppression, a world of peace, friendship and co-operation among all peoples.

4 - A Communist Party in the transition to the 21st Century

1. Brief assessment of activity

Since the Fourteenth Congress the PCP – despite the unfavourable conditions it had to face – has worked hard to overcome difficulties and shortcomings, with significant militancy and effectiveness. The activity in mass struggles, in social, political and electoral battles and the specialised work within national institutions represent valuable elements in the Party’s political activity. In addition, there have been many thousands of meetings, plenaries, festivals and recreational events, as well as scores of Organisational Assemblies involving practically all Party organisations.

Also worthy of mention are the National Conferences on "Party organisation and work among working people" and "local government and local elections"; the National Meetings on "the general elections", "education and teaching", "health-care matters", "social security", "science and technology", "problems of agriculture", "the fisheries situation", "the Party and working women", "the Party and pensioners", "the Party and intellectuals", "youth and local government", "tourism policy" and "the movement of popular clubs and associations".

The 1995 Fund-raising campaign to collect 150 million escudos [approximately one million US dollars] was a remarkable success.

The Party staged thousands of local, regional, sectoral and national events on burning issues of national life, on the problems of important economic, social and cultural sectors, "X-raying" the situation and offering solutions for problems. Particularly significant was the cycle of "Debates with the Nation" which included 250 events where some 20,000 people took part.

The Party carried out a significant number of initiatives to oppose the right-wing ideological offensive, particularly events celebrating the 25th April [1974 Revolution’s] 20th Anniversary and the 50 years of the end of World War II, countering the forgery of history, the white-washing of fascism and the adulteration of the April Revolution’s nature and meaning.

The regular celebration of the Party’s anniversary, through thousands of initiatives, has been very important in spreading and asserting our project, principles and ideals. The [1996] celebrations of the [PCP’s] 75th Anniversary were particularly meaningful in this respect.

The "Avante!" Festival, held in 1996 for the twentieth time, remains the main political-cultural event in the country and the expression of the Party organisations’ creative and militant work.

2. Leadership Work

Following guidelines and decisions of previous Congresses, the Fourteenth Party Congress implemented changes in the leadership structure. In a very demanding and complex political situation, this has in general ensured a prompt and dynamic intervention, as well as Party unity in terms of guidelines and action. But the interdependence, co-ordination and complementarity of the various bodies’ activity has proved to be a complex matter.

In order to strengthen the Party’s overall work and its impact on the country's life, it is essential to improve leadership work. And it is equally essential to preserve and enrich such important features as collective work, inner-Party democracy, a single Party line and leadership, the close links between the Party’s leaders and the Party organisations and their members; a more attentive preparation of Central Committee meetings and activity, a greater co-ordination between the executive bodies, as well as their closer connection to the regional leaderships.

To achieve those goals, and taking into account the assessment and experience of present structures, a leaner and reorganised central leadership structure is considered necessary. While assessing the resources, cadres and the political tasks that the Party will have to face, this structure must strengthen and perfect leadership work, improve efficiency, effectiveness and operationality, enhance the understanding of problems and decision-making, ensure a close bond to Party organisations and sectors. All this, within the context of strengthening collective work and pursuing the necessary renewal.

Within the context of a simpler central leadership structure, the survival of the National Council, and therefore of the post of Chairman of the National Council, is not justified. As a result, it is proposed that articles 34, 35 and 36 of the Party Constitution be amended accordingly.

Since the Fourteenth Congress, the Central Committee has held 22 plenary meetings thus ensuring its regular activity, the fulfilment of its role and the definition of the Party’s major guidelines. Nevertheless, in order to enable the Central Committee to fully assume its constitutional prerogatives – that is, "to lead the Party activity between Congresses, undertaking overall responsibility for the Party’s political, ideological and organisational work" – it is necessary to better plan and organise its meetings and the information conveyed to the various central bodies and areas of leadership.

Considering the Central Committee’s prerogatives, the present state of the Party and of the country, and the assessment of the experience it has acquired through its activity, it appears advisable – whilst bearing the need for renewal in mind – to preserve the Central Committee’s current characteristics, namely size (the number of its members should not increase) and the nature of its composition. The following criteria should be observed when preparing the proposal for a new Central Committee: participation of Party cadres, both full-time Party workers and others; the presence of comrades who are responsible for major sectors of Party activity or who play a prominent role in important social and national fields; a diversity of knowledge and experiences; a large majority of industrial and office workers, with a strong industrial working class presence; a careful geographical distribution; a larger number of women and young people.

The practical experience of Central Committee plenary meetings has been one of a gradual disappearance in the distinction between the role of full and alternate members. It is therefore considered that this distinction no longer exists and that articles 32, 34, 36 and 66 of the Party Constitution (where the role of alternate members of the Central Committee is addressed) should be correspondingly amended.

Regional Committees have continued playing a major role in Party activities and initiatives, as well as in linking the central leadership structures to the Party as a whole.

It is necessary to assess the regional leadership and co-ordination bodies in order to find solutions that – possibly in different ways and taking experience into account – may make them stronger and more effective in their activity and in their decisive role of linking the Party to the workers and the people. This assessment should take into account the following aspects: the differences between the regional organisations’ organisational strength, capability and means for action, cadres, political and social influence; the country’s administrative subdivision – which, however, should not be taken as an absolute restriction on the regional leaderships’ area of activity (currently, areas correspond, in all cases, to existing districts and autonomous regions); the assessment of existing experience with inter-regional bodies; the definition by the Fifteenth Congress of the future central leadership’s structure.

It is considered, however, that district-based Regional Committees should be maintained, although in some cases multi-district Regional Organisations can be envisaged. It is also considered necessary that inter-regional bodies be maintained and developed, based on an assessment of their experience, although diverse solutions are possible in terms of their scope and powers.

Other intermediate leadership structures (municipal, sector, trade or area committees, etc.) must also be assessed in terms of their organisational and political role.

The central leadership support structures, such as: central services and departments; working groups for certain fields of work; advisory committees to the Political Committee, the Secretariat and the Central Committee; co-ordination committees and study groups; all continue to play a role of the utmost importance for a more in-depth analysis of problems and contribute to draw up guidelines and to increase the effectiveness of the Party’s political activity. A large number of Party cadres are involved in this work.

In the meantime, difficulties and shortcomings, already detected at the time of the Fourteenth Congress – the inadequate and irregular activity of some of these bodies – have grown due to the lack of cadres, to an inadequate response to changes in the central leadership’s organisation and to an inadequate definition of priorities.

The size and characteristics of the central support structures must fit in with the central leadership structure to be voted by the Fifteenth Congress, always taking into consideration past experience, the assessment of needs and possibilities, a rational use of the existing resources and cadres and the definition of priorities.

Assessing co-ordination work in national or multi-district companies and sectors (a task decided by the Fourteenth Congress) it is considered that despite the progress made – greater attention by the Party; responsibilities given to comrades in the executive bodies for this task; more harmony and unification of the guidelines in some sectors – shortcomings and indefinitions remain, which must be overcome. Regional Committees continue to have responsibility for Party organisation and leadership work in the units or shopfloors of those companies and sectors at a regional level. But it is necessary to increase the resources available, to improve co-ordination (which is still mainly focused on trade union and sectoral issues and on conflict management), to ensure regular meetings and to overcome the difficulties existing in some sectors and companies.

Since the Fourteenth Congress, several nation-wide initiatives and a large number of meetings of cadres from different regions and sectors were held to debate issues concerning the Party and the country. This line of work proved to be of great importance in exchanging experiences and in drawing up political guidelines; for a better understanding of the reality in which the Party acts; to help Party cadres in their work; and to achieve the unity of thought and action of Party organisations.

This experience should be further developed, paying more attention to the choice of dates, to these events’ political effectiveness and planning – in particular to prior debate in the various organisations and bodies concerned with the topic under discussion – always considering the real potential to hold them and to mobilise around them.

3. Cadres Policy

Successes obtained by the Party are inseparable from the activity of thousands of cadres and other activists who carry out the numerous and diverse tasks which the struggle demands.

In the period since the 14th Congress, and in implementing the decisions taken there, the Party has had three main concerns in relation to cadres: to know and follow them better; to prepare and train them; and to give them greater responsibilities. But, overall, it can be said that together with objective difficulties there is still underestimation and routine when dealing with this fundamental Party matter.

Knowing and assessing cadres is a complex matter. Together with real progress, there continue to be cases of great superficiality, subjectivism and surprising oscillations in the judgement of cadres, such as an inclination to stress only positive or only negative aspects, to judge a cadre on only one of his/her facets or based only on a short period of his/her activity. On the other hand, there is still some lack of fraternal understanding of the difficulties which cadres face in carrying out their Party tasks or the problems affecting their personal lives.

A correct formation and development of cadres cannot be separated from their proper integration within the dynamics of Party work, specifically their regular participation in meetings and structures, the assignment of tasks and the monitoring of how they were carried out, with accountability for the results.

The incitement to initiative and creativity must be articulated with the fulfilment of tasks, with a natural accountability, discipline, the practice of criticism and self-criticism and assistance, whenever necessary. A timely, fraternal and bold discussion of cadres’ problems is also necessary.

The formation and development of cadres also requires political and ideological formation at a theoretical level. Work in this field has been insufficient. However, despite not living up to expectations, formation initiatives with the participation of over 300 comrades took place, namely lectures and 20 courses. The positive results of courses for new Party members should also be underlined.

Also worthy of reference is the importance, in the formation of cadres, of meetings on general or specific topics; of Regional Committee meetings extended to other cadres; of debates and conferences such as the ones held during the celebration of the PCP’s 75th Anniversary.

Despite progress since the Fourteenth Congress, with a large number of cadres at different levels being given greater responsibilities – including the leadership of large party organisations – many shortcomings which need to be overcome still persist.

It must be taken seriously into consideration at all levels of leadership that delays in forming and giving greater responsibility to cadres may smother the Party’s development. In order to preserve and enhance the political and ideological steadfastness, the readiness and capability for leadership and the activity of the present core of cadres, and to prepare future cadres – particularly full-time Party workers – cadre policy must be viewed as one of the key Party tasks.

Very pressing is the need to give greater responsibilities to working-class, young and women cadres (necessarily taking into account the conditions which make women’s political participation difficult), in many different organisations and at all levels. This requires programming the necessary steps, setting of realistic targets and a great commitment to achieving this aim.

Full-time Party workers continue playing a fundamental role in the dynamics of the Party’s activity and give an important contribution to strengthening the Party’s class nature and revolutionary role.

Increasing the core of full-time Party workers is at present a particularly important pre-condition to strengthen the Party. It is not just a matter of a desirable (and in some cases even necessary and urgent) increase in numbers, but also a matter of their renewal and rejuvenation, giving priority to industrial workers and young people who have been prominent in the struggle and in their dedication to the Party.

As for improving the living and working conditions of full-time Party cadres, some steps were taken to improve their material status. Central financial aid for the recruitment of new full-time Party workers was also considered. But, on the whole, shortcomings and difficulties pointed out during the Fourteenth Congress remain: there is a decrease in their numbers; insufficient renewal; overburdening with work and responsibilities; problems relating to political and ideological preparation. In order to cover specific needs, the Party continued resorting to paying other cadres, whose situation and status, different from that of full-time Party workers, requires a global assessment.

The situation demands a comprehensive consideration of the conditions and situation of full-time Party workers, in order to determine what measures are necessary to overcome the problems that exist and to preserve the intrinsic revolutionary characteristics which a full-time Party worker must have in today’s circumstances.

4. Assessment, evolution and analysis of organisational work (1992/96)

When assessing the PCP's organisational situation, it has to be underlined that in spite of a continued context of unfavourable objective conditions, the Party organisation responded as a large and strong collective, in a capable and lively manner, to the many demands, tasks and challenges posed by a difficult political and social situation. Facing an enormous political and ideological offensive, the Party organisation had enough strength and energy to make progress in several domains, albeit with regional and sectoral differences, implementing guidelines and initiatives decided by the 14th Congress.

The analysis of the organisational indicators of the General Organisational Assessment (May, 1996) and the assessments carried out at central level by the Regional Committees and by other bodies, also allow us to declare that since 1994 the negative organisational trend which had arisen after the 12th Congress in 1988 and still continued after the 14th Congress, was halted. This is the summary conclusion to be drawn from the assessment and analysis of the organisational situation.

The set of organisational indicators resulting from the Assessments should be viewed more on the basis of trends than on their absolute value. It is these trends that give rise to the above-mentioned summary conclusion, and at the same time highlight a significant regional and sectoral diversity. Among the twenty regional organisations there are some which already show a trend for growth, while others still have decreasing indicators.

Compared with the data of the October 1994 Assessment, there is now a consolidation of the Party's more active nucleus and of the organisational structure. The total number of Party bodies went up and the number of organised Party members has stabilised, with seven Regional Organisations showing a positive evolution.

The number of Party members who are organised or who are in touch with the organisation has, compared with 1994, evolved favourably in the majority of the Regional Organisations (thirteen) although there is a negative evolution at a national level. That number of Party members is slightly more than half the total membership.

The membership as assessed by the Regional Party Committees, on the basis of their files, during last May's General Organisational Assessment indicates a stabilisation, in the last few years, around an average number of 140 thousand members. The PCP is a large living body, cut across not just by the political state of affairs but also by the deep economic and social changes which affect Portuguese society: closure of companies, dismissals, job insecurity, emigration and immigration, desertification of the inner North and Centre and of the Alentejo, concentration of the population in urban areas. Membership therefore suffers from significant changes which affect the tally from one year to another.

The Assessment figures should be understood as an average value which is meaningful to detect the average evolution in Party membership (there was a strong growth of membership from the 25th of April 1974 until the mid-80's – 12th Congress –, followed by a decrease until the end of 1994, and now by a trend towards stabilisation due to a positive process of membership renewal).

We must add that the majority of members which are not considered in an Assessment due to organisational difficulties (loss of contact with the organisation, incomplete inter-organisation transfers, etc.), once contacted, declare their will to remain Party members, even paying their membership dues in arrears. On the other hand the number of those that explicitly resigned membership or left the Party is small.

Continuing the efforts carried out since the 12th Congress to update Party files and ensure that the registered figures match the real number of Party members, we must counter any sort of "administrative cleansing" of Party files. To this end, we must continue identifying and routinely contacting Party members who have lost touch with the Party’s organisational activity (through brigades and other means).

The social, gender and age composition of the PCP membership resulting from the Assessment indicates small differences when compared with the two previous Assessments (1994 and 1992). Those differences go hand in hand with the evolution in the Portuguese society’s composition.

The Party continues to be an organisation with a working-class majority, despite the slight drop in its numbers and percentage, which now stands at 53.4% of the membership. Office workers represent 20.9%, with working-class and office workers together representing 74.3% of the membership. It is worth stressing the growth in absolute value of the number of office workers since 1994. The number and percentage of intellectuals and technical workers (5.4%) is roughly the same as in the previous Assessment.

Equally significant is the growth, in absolute terms, of the number of small and medium entrepreneurs, more than 3% of the total membership. This growth is certainly much more due to Party members previously classified in other areas having joined this sector and/or due to an updating of their professional situation, and much less to recruitment. But figures show the potential for growth in the Party’s influence among these middle strata.

In so far as the gender composition is concerned, the percentage of women keeps increasing but its present value (24.4%) is still insufficient.

As for the age composition there is a slight increase in the absolute numbers and percentage of Party members who are under 21 but this is not sufficient to reverse the trend for a reduction in the under-30 category. There is therefore a very insufficient renewal of the Party membership, also considering the natural growth in the over-40 category.

The number of Party bodies had a favourable overall evolution (as compared with 1994), but with different changes for different types of bodies. There is growth in the number of bodies corresponding to place of residence or administrative areas, Municipal Committees, Neighbourhood Committees and local cells. There are contradictory figures for bodies related to workplace/professional sector, with a slight reduction in the overall number of Cell Secretariats and with clear regional differences, while the number of bodies in professional sectors is growing. Although the number of bodies linked to local government work has gone down, the number of bodies linked to popular clubs, information and propaganda, Party headquarters and other workfronts, has gone up.

The circulation of the Party press in the organisation remained stagnant, and the changes that existed were not very meaningful since they were the result of a subscription campaign that affected above all those that already bought their newspapers through the organisation.

The holding of Organisation Assemblies and the election of their respective leading bodies became more frequent in the last couple of years. The situation in the Regional Organisations and in many of the municipal organisations as well as in other sectoral and grassroots organisations is normal, but there are still misunderstandings and shortcomings concerning the need and possibility of holding assemblies in many other organisations.

The main 14th Congress organisational guidelines were implemented, although sometimes with strong regional differences.

Considering the first established priority – work among the working class and the workers in general and the activity of the communists in the trade union movement, workers councils and other broad mass movements – the Conference "To Renew and Strengthen the Party's Organisation and Intervention Among the Workers" took place on November 26, 1994. That Conference allowed for a revealing assessment of problems, greater awareness and mobilisation of cadres and Party bodies towards this decisive aspect of our organisational work.

Confirming and systematising guidelines and organisational efforts underway in some of the Regional Organisations where these issues are most acute, the Conference, which was understood both as a point of arrival and of departure, seems to have halted a very negative evolution in this sphere of work. Some organisations also carried out successful efforts to find dynamic organisational solutions to the situations arising from the destruction of the country’s productive apparatus. In spite of that, the Assessment equally shows a reduction in the number of Cell Secretariats, although with strong regional variations, as previously mentioned. And if other aspects of this work show some progress, such as the organisation of professional sectors, it is obvious that there are still many unsatisfactory situations, including the attention given to new labour sectors and large industrial units with a high concentration of workers.

A complex set of interdependent factors have stifled the development and the strengthening of organisations and bodies. The assessment and debate allow us to highlight the following issues:

— the drop in militancy, with ups and downs depending on the political situation – and with positive signs in 1995 and 96 – emerges as a strong obstacle to materialising Party tasks and initiatives;

— lack of cadres in general and of full-time Party officers, together with difficulties in the proper utilisation of the currently active nucleus of the Party. The progress made in giving responsibilities to many Party members (an effort which is to be continued) is insufficient, considering the existing organisational needs;

— financial difficulties of many regional organisations and particularly of those with less organisational strength and electoral influence, where the very important political task of fund-raising requires a huge amount of effort and time;

— weakness and frailty of many grassroots organisations and bodies, and particularly insufficient self-initiative and capacity to implement guidelines and to link up with the masses and respond to the workers' and peoples' problems;

— shortcomings in the knowledge of the environment in which each organisation works, a poor monitoring of the organisation and a lack of contact with existing problems;

— underestimation of the crucial role of organisational structuring and of a regular functioning in a Communist Party and the weakening of collective work in some organisations and bodies.

The implementation of the 15th Congress guidelines aims at overcoming these bottlenecks, and at strengthening and developing the Party organisation. This is an indispensable step for the PCP to meet its responsibilities.

5. A Communist Party in the transition to the 21st century

While it is true that the communists' struggle has to face several and burdensome difficulties, it is also true that there are symptoms of a growing revolt and indignation in several social sectors towards the persistence of the right-wing policy and the attempts to curtail political choices. There are several, and increasing, signs of concern with the threats to social and cultural rights. Many people see this as a civilisational crisis. Such symptoms and signs indicate the possibility of profound changes in the social and political struggle. In order to bring about, and make the most of, such a possibility, communists must redouble and renew the assertion of their identity, project and proposals, as well as develop the PCP’s political intervention in the Portuguese society.

The Portuguese Communist Party is necessary, indispensable and irreplaceable for the workers, for democracy, for the Portuguese people, and for Portugal. No other Party can replace it in its consistent, firm and dedicated defence of the workers' interests, of the people, of the citizens' freedom and rights, of democracy and national independence.

The PCP’s Programme and Constitution state, as goals and characteristics of its emergence and struggle: to establish in Portugal a society freed from capitalist exploitation and oppression; to deepen democracy; to build socialism and communism. To free society from the capitalist system’s gross inequalities, social injustice and scourges. To set up truly democratic socio-economic structures and a political regime which can ensure economic, social and cultural development and progress, and the gradual improvement in material and spiritual living conditions for the Portuguese people and for Portugal. In its project for a socialist society, the PCP embodies the teachings and lessons of the April revolution and of its accomplishments and gains, as well as the historical experience of the October Revolution and the positive and negative experiences, victories and defeats in the building of socialism throughout the 20th century.

The PCP's identity is also formed by core elements, confirmed in its practice, such as: its nature as the Party and vanguard of the working class and of all workers, independent from the capitalist forces’ interests, policies and ideologies; an organisational structure and functioning that are based on principles deriving from the creative development of democratic centralism (which has as basic characteristics a profound inner-Party democracy, a single general line and a single central leadership); a theoretical basis and guide for action, marxism-leninism (which, without dogmatising theories and concepts, is constantly being enriched and renewed); the complementarity and co-ordination of national tasks with international duties, that makes the PCP a patriotic and internationalist Party.

The close relationship with the working class, with all workers and the masses is a constituent element of its identity, the reason for its strength, influence and capacity of struggle.

The current struggle against right-wing policies, in defence of the democratic regime and for new, left-wing, policies is the way forward to an advanced democracy with all its inseparable components (political, economic, social and cultural) and for national sovereignty and independence. A road of struggle which is, in turn, part and parcel of the struggle for socialism.

6. For better work, in keeping with the communist identity and project

The PCP asserts itself as the party of the working class and of all workers. It is not enough, however, to have a class nature. It is necessary that the Party’s life and the communists’ political and social activity be imbued with that nature, which results from its identity and which is stated in the PCP’s goals and priorities. Wage earners are the main, the most numerous and the decisive social force for transformation and progress that exists in Portuguese society. The just solution to national problems is inseparable from the satisfaction of the workers' interests and yearnings. The awareness of their strength and decisive role for the political and social life of the country, as well as the active participation of the workers and their representative organisations are essential to secure a true democratic alternative.

By virtue of the PCP’s composition, political theory and practice, social and electoral base, mobilising and organising the workers and the people in the struggle to defend their interests and rights lies at the core of all its activity,

Organisation and work among working people plays a crucial role in the struggle for immediate goals and in the action for medium and long term goals. This requires that the regional and sectoral distribution of the working class and working people be taken into account when deploying the available forces, cadres and funds.

Assigning priority to strengthening the Party's organisation and intervention among the workers is also the way to oppose reformist and right-wing views which try to shape and mould workers’ attitudes and values into capitalism’s ideological framework.

Contrary to those Parties that claim to have no ideology or to be inter-classist (so as to better conceal their class nature and ideological identification with big capital and imperialism), the communist struggle, goals and project have their own ideology and theoretical basis: marxism-leninism. This theoretical basis is not confined to dogmas or abstract formulations, detached from a political practice and from the movement and history of class struggle. The core and essential theses of this theoretical basis (themselves subject to reflection) require renewal and development, to keep up with the profound changes in human societies, the amazing progress in science and technology at the end of the 20th century, the need to seek ways and solutions to overcome the capitalist system.

This view of the theoretical basis and ideology is an essential element in the study of objective reality and a guide for action. It is also indispensable to assert the independence of the political and social reflections, analyses, proposals and solutions put forward by the Communist Party, as opposed to the theories and answers presented by the parties and ideologists of the bourgeoisie and the financial oligarchy.

The class character should be present in the PCP’s principles and criteria of leadership, organisation and in its political and social intervention, seeing to it that workers attain the highest responsibilities in the Party leadership as well as in institutional posts.

Due to their direct bonds to the masses, the Party cells and other working-class bodies and organisations must be highlighted as an essential and decisive weapon in ensuring working people’s autonomous political participation and organisation in society. To this, we must add their role in raising the workers' social awareness and class solidarity, in integrating the new strata and generations of workers, in promoting the transformation of social awareness into a more advanced political awareness and into support for the PCP.

In the PCP's political, social, parliamentary and local government work, the goal of asserting and defending workers' rights and yearnings must always remain present.

The PCP's class nature represents a solid basis for the development of social and political alliances, as opposed to the other parties, that conceal real alliances and convergence in the defence of big business interests under a pretence inter-classist nature, focusing instead on secondary and circumstantial differences.

The PCP is committed to extending the alliances of the working class and of all workers with all sectors whose interests have been hurt by big monopoly capital. The PCP does not seek to instrumentalise close allies and sectors, but rather to defend their interests in the struggle against a common opponent: big capital. Thus, in the struggle to defend and strengthen democracy, the PCP has committed itself to establishing a vast social front, encompassing industrial workers, office workers, intellectuals, technical workers, small and medium-scale farmers, small and medium-scale entrepreneurs in trade, industry and services, as well as women, young people, retired people and pensioners, the disabled, all those social forces taking part in national life with specific aspirations and goals. It also seeks a political expression for the system of social alliances and for the social front, which may result in convergence and unity among democratic and patriotic forces.

From this view of the social support base for a democratic alternative, the PCP infers the scope of political alliances, always keeping in mind the goals of the struggle which must be fought. They are alliances in which the Party, taking into account the different concrete historical conditions and short-term goals, does not renounce its own individuality and identity, nor does it sacrifice core principles of its nature and its supreme goal of fighting for a socialist society. They are always alliances and convergences that reinforce and respect its strategy of transforming society and its revolutionary project for Portugal.

It is the PCP's identity that determines and explains the specific democratic way in which the communists exercise power. In spite of the deep variety of situations in which it is exercised, be it within the Party, in social organisations or in the institutions and sovereign bodies, there are common traits which give it its specificity:

a) power exercisedto serve the workers and the community, the people and the country, regardless of personal interests or electoralism;

b) a concept of power as something which results from, and is required by, the democratic organisation and functioning of institutions. In particular, the notion of a participatory liaison between power and democracy, where the represented "voters" do not confine themselves to electing people now and then, but regularly take part in, and control throughout the mandate, decision-making and the exercise of power;

c) an understanding of elected bodies (with the obvious exception of individual posts) as collective bodies that should work on a democratic basis, without any personalism or presidentialism which distorts their collective nature, and where upholding the Party's views is harmonised with respect for each institution’s initiative, scope and specificity, autonomy and democratic life.

d) an attitude towards the exercise of power which considers that those in power should not, for that reason, either benefit or lose financially and that the responsibility assumed before the voters should be harmonised with the availability of their mandates and their political responsibility towards the Party.

Communists elected to public office do not use power outside or above the class nature and the associated ideological battle which exists in the social and political movement. They should understand their activity within that context.

To develop a class policy coherent with the communist identity and project for the democratic institutions, the PCP must:

— draw up and elaborate political programmes and a practice geared to the workers and the people, to defending the interests and aspirations of the social strata and sectors encompassed in the policy of alliances which has been defined;

— improve and intensify assistance to Party members so that power is exercised in keeping with the PCP's identity and features;

— maintain and reinforce the policy of ensuring the presence of working-class people and of other workers in the institutions, thus countering the "natural" removal of these strata from this role in current Portuguese society;

— see the exercise of power as a means toward developing a participatory democracy and, therefore, intensify efforts to open up spaces for the social movements and to recognise their role in the participation and management of community affairs;

Efforts should be made so that the exercise of power by the communists, in any position to which they have been elected or appointed, is exemplary and arrogance-free, thus preserving our legacy of prestige and honesty, and contributing to the Party’s assertion and strength.

7. Developing inner-Party democracy

Developing inner-Party democracy means to creatively deepen democratic centralism – the foundation of unity within the framework of collective leadership and work. The Party is a huge collective of militants, with a high regard for the value of members’ contribution towards the development of political activity.

Fundamental pillars of inner-Party democracy are: Party members’ participation and contribution towards the analysis of problems and the definition of the Party line; the accountability of Party bodies and members; the election of leading bodies; giving due importance to Party bodies and organisations; Party cohesion and the rejection of sectoralism.

Inner-Party democracy is the most solid basis for a correct appraisal by statutorily competent bodies; for a regular assessment of leadership work at all levels and for the commitment of all organisations and members to implementing guidelines and decisions, particularly those of national relevance.

One of the key issues to raise militancy and reinforce democracy is creating conditions for an effective participation of Party members in the discussion and definition of the Party line. With this objective in mind we need to: improve the content of meetings and their preparation, guaranteeing a space for debate; respect the natural differences in points of view that are also a factor of enrichment for the Party; value each member as a vital element in the Party’s activity and intervention; improve cadres’ style of work, so as to ensure individual responsibility and the broadest expression and consideration of members’ opinions, within the framework of collective leadership; ensure that any existing diversity of opinions is conveyed to the higher-ranking levels of assessment and decision-making.

An important aspect for greater inner-Party democracy and members' participation, is the holding of Organisation Assemblies and the election of their leading bodies. The Central Committee will determine, within the framework of the Party Constitution, the steps needed for a more regular and frequent convening of such meetings.

A Party body is formed by a group of members who can and should, with their individual contribution, enrich the Party's analysis and proposals and help find the concrete decisions which are necessary for the Party’s activity, within the framework of the general Party line and policies.

Developing the initiative and life of Party bodies and organisations is a necessary pre-condition for the Party’s link to the masses; it contributes towards a higher commitment of Party members and to consolidate the organisational structure which, in turn, is a decisive factor towards the development of inner-Party democracy and of the Party’s activity and intervention.

8. Strengthening Party organisation

The arena on which the political struggle is being waged today requires a stronger PCP. Given the profound changes which have occurred in the economic and social structures, the mass media’s powerful and qualitatively new role, the development of "show-business politics" and "personality politics", the fierce ideological battle, etc., organisation is taking on a new and decisive role for the PCP.

In spite of the – both objective and subjective – difficulties and obstacles, there are many factors for renewed confidence in our organisational work. The data from the General Organisation Assessment; the growing number of young people who seek out the Party and JCP [Communist Youth]; the success of many political initiatives undertaken in the past few years; the fact that many women and men are drawing closer to the Party, including comrades who had kept a distance for quite some time; the heritage of prestige and honesty which the Party enjoys among working people, among intellectuals, among many important sections of Portugal's population – are all factors which, along with others, make better organisation possible.

In this respect, the Party organisations’ decisive commitment to organising and mobilising for the struggle the working people, other anti-monopoly strata, and the communities, will continue to be the safest road toward strengthening and expanding the Party, organisationally, socially, politically and electorally.

Another central issue is how to organise and give proper importance to the social, cultural, political and Party work of the more active comrades – the Party’s active core – involved in organisational tasks, elected to institutions, and of activists in mass organisations and movements.

Diverse and specific organisational solutions must be found – within the general organisational framework as defined in the Party Constitution and in accordance with experience – to respond to the different objective situations under which we work and to the Party's diversified strength, both regionally and sectorally: number of Party members, political and ideological influence, social backgrounds of members, etc. It can even be said that the more the organisational solution is adequate to the specific nature, characteristics and conditions of each organisation and the environment in which it operates, the better it reflects the reality of its local community or workplace and the diversity of its organised expressions, the more efficient will be the Party's activity and ability to mobilise.

The intermediate leadership structure, including many Municipal Committees and other bodies, plays a very important role in implementing these organisational solutions. Strengthening this structure (in terms of number of bodies, of a more adequate and renewed composition, of a regular activity, etc.) is a necessary condition to improve its leadership, organisation and effectiveness, for a more efficient contact between the regional leadership committees and the Party’s grassroots organisations and vast membership.

Always keeping in mind the diversity of concrete situations when seeking the most effective organisational solutions for the Party's work, three main directions should be considered:

- continuing to renew and rejuvenate Party organisations and structures, with the recruitment of new members playing a decisive role;

- heightening the Party members’ militancy and role, as the essential basis for an organisationally stronger Party;

- working to strengthen and create new grassroots organisations – the Party cells – and other forms of participation of Party members in the organisation.

More new members are needed for the PCP, as is continued work in rejuvenating and renewing the Party.

A central goal in this respect is the recruitment of new members for PCP and JCP. The PCP National Membership Campaign, the assessment of recruitment in 1995, the significant number of young people who have joined JCP and the Party, are all examples of the existing potential.

We must continue to work with confidence, perseverance and in an organised way in this direction. We must overcome inertia, establishing targets and work plans, assigning responsibility for contacts and debate when seeking new members, especially among workers, young people, women.

Particular attention must be paid to those who are prominent in social and political struggles, and to those belonging to mass organisations. This should continue to be a task for the whole Party, and very specifically for each member and grassroots organisation.

Rejuvenating the Party implies seeking a more numerous, a more responsible and authoritative, a more active participation of young cadres at all levels of the Party collective.

This is a central issue for a Party that wants to secure the present and guarantee the future. The potential is obvious, but objective barriers must be overcome. Above all, we must overcome the hesitations and prejudice that continues to prevent Party members and organisations from assigning responsibilities to young cadres, giving them the role which they rightly deserve.

Attaching greater importance and strengthening JCP’s work is a priority, but that is not enough. There cannot be adequate work with the youth and for the youth, nor will the PCP’s political work develop adequately, if the Party as a whole does not acquire a significantly rejuvenated membership. Steps are therefore needed to – in co-ordination with, and without weakening, JCP – boldly organise and assign responsibilities to young people, and in particular, to young workers.

Renewing Party structures, modes of operation and work requires recruitment, development of militancy and rejuvenation. But that is not all. Renewal requires new assignment of responsibilities to comrades, changing tasks and responsibilities whenever signs of routine or fatigue crop up. And at the same time it requires that we do not lose existing experience or militancy. But renewal does not mean that comrades with many years of membership, who show through their work that they are fully capable of handling responsibilities, should not continue to bear responsibilities.

Renewing means boldly proposing new organisational structures, types and styles of Party work, and new approaches to problems. This should be done, not out of fetishism for novelty, but to live up to new situations and requirements. Particular attention must be paid to renewing the substance and procedure of meetings, always keeping in mind their purpose and usefulness.

Renewing means opposing routine and inward-looking work, which always falls on the same Party members. It means gearing our organisations and work to reality, to working people, to the masses, through lively, creative, confident work that addresses people’s problems, concerns and wishes.

It is a fundamental duty for PCP members to "be active in one of its organisations" (Party Constitution, Art. 9). Fulfilling this duty is a key issue in strengthening the Party’s democratic inner life and outward activity. Developments in the social and economic situation, a given context, the outcome of struggles, the credibility of our proposals and alternatives, the (professional, family, etc.) limitations which life today imposes upon people, are all factors that condition political activism and militancy. Politics’ loss of prestige as a result of the well-known phenomena of corruption, nepotism, patronage, a movie-star-type "politician class", has also served to seriously affect the image of political activism. But the strength of the PCP’s ideal and project, the justness of its proposals and the honesty in its political attitude and work, are a powerful contribution for the growth of political militancy. The causes for which we fight, the principles and values that underlie the PCP’s work, are factors capable of rekindling militancy and very particularly of politically involving and exciting many thousands of young people.

Increasing militancy is a necessary and feasible goal, if militancy is viewed as activism (political, social, cultural, etc.) plus a regular organisational link to the Party structure. When considering militancy in general terms, we must recognise that there is a whole spectrum of possible types of involvement and situations. There may be low-key or sporadic activism during an election campaign or other event. There may be a regular presence – as a leader or otherwise – in a social organisation. There may be more regular work in a Party organisation. There may even be greater involvement, such as that of many non-full-time cadres, and generally speaking, of full-time Party workers and of many comrades who work full-time in mass movements and institutions. It is important that this activism should have links with – and correspond to – the Party’s organisational work. Party organisations and cadres should try to determine and define adequate tasks, in dialogue with the Party members involved, and monitor their work, helping to discover political motivation and spurring on the growth of militancy.

It is necessary to discover new types of involvement and to rediscover old ones, to assign responsibilities to Party members and strengthen democratic, lively, outward-looking work, geared toward working people, toward the community, toward "every-day and everybody’s" problems, capable of arousing strong political motivation and engagement.

Great attention must be paid to welcoming new members into the Party, so that they may feel useful, and so that their political option may be meaningful. It should also be our goal to bring back to regular work those comrades who, for various reasons, have drifted away from it.

The Party activist is the essential component of the Party’s organisation. Without casting aside or questioning the Party membership of those who, for various reasons, are at one time or another not available for greater and more regular activism, we must value those who fully exercise their Party membership. Without activists there is no Communist Party, and it is not possible to implement the profound inner-Party democracy and participatory spirit envisaged in the Party Constitution.

The "activist" is what contributes to differentiate the PCP from other parties. The Party springs from, and lives through, each of its activists, through their social and political, mass and institutional participation.

Activism must be gratifying, it must develop the Party member’s responsibility and initiative, and constitute the strategic bridge liaising the Party with the working people and masses. Politics is made up of relationships with people and between people.

Increasing the number of members and their quality (through work in an organisation and by helping their political and ideological formation), thoroughly renewing the Party’s active core membership, enhancing it through new members, is the surest path to developing and creating more new cadres, including full-timers, which the Party needs.

The Party member who recognises in her/himself "the Party" through her/his militant work, acquires an understanding of the responsibility and importance of her/his personal choice. This counters an abstract or distant view of the Party ("the Party is the others"); it counters an identification of the Party just with its leadership; it also counters the search for "miracle" solutions to obtain good electoral results (the mass media behaving differently, the image of leaders, organisational "recipes"). Equally, it counters the idea that the Party’s success implies giving up its identity or its way of working in politics, that it implies copying the bourgeoisie’s parties, rather than strengthening the militant and dedicated work of communists and informing and mobilising the masses, within the framework of guidelines, tactics and strategies laid down by the Party.

It is necessary to value grassroots Party organisations. As it says in the Party Constitution "The cell is the Party’s basic organisation, its foundation and main link with the working class, with the working people, with the masses, it is the basic pillar on which to promote, guide and develop the masses’ struggle and activity".

The Fifteenth Congress hereby decides to wage the battle, throughout the whole of the Party organisation, for the fullest implementation of what is set out in this Art. 47 of the Party Constitution. The cells, whose structure and operation may be diverse, are essential in order to link in to Party work thousands of members who have no links or have just irregular contacts, to heighten their militancy and extend and intensify their ties with the workers and the masses of the people.

This line of work must be co-ordinated with a continuous development of other types of organisational involvement for Party members, through general meetings, regular convening of assemblies, and frequent cultural or other collective events.

When faced with a situation characterised by weaknesses in organisations and cells at the grassroots level, we must begin by identifying them and somewhat precisely establishing their extent.

A cell is any organisation that directly organises all Party members in a given company or group of companies, in a workplace, a school or a hospital, in a profession or branch of activity, in a neighbourhood or a village, in a sub-municipal ward or group of wards, or even in a municipality.

The Party’s grassroots organisations – the cells – by working within the full scope provided for them in the Party Constitution, should be preferential forums for debate among all Party members belonging to them, on all political problems that may interest them, be they local, national or international; forums for decision-making and initiative-launching, in accordance with prior debate and with the guidelines established by higher-ranking bodies, in order to confront specific problems faced by working people and communities, to contribute to their organisation and struggle in defence of their rights and yearnings.

We must strive for a more motivating Party cell life, which can make the cell operate also as a learning place for militant work. This requires more flexible functioning, in accordance with contemporary life and working conditions, with the concerns and ideas of the men and women that make it up. The cell must seek to encompass all the various situations, levels of involvement and other interests among its members.

In enhancing the value of grassroots organisations, it is considered important to:

- Foster democratic functioning, creating an active and lively Party life, holding their Assemblies regularly (possibly annually), electing their leadership and developing their political initiative.

- Ensure that higher-ranking bodies, as per Articles 16, 19 and 25 of the Party Constitution, make every effort to develop and foster the grassroots organisations’ initiative and work. In this respect they shall provide any kind of political and ideological assistance and resources necessary, within the Party’s possibilities.

The Central Committee shall – as part of this line to strengthen the organisation – consider the involvement of Party cadres who, by virtue of their Party work, do not participate regularly in a grassroots organisation. It shall also consider the role of Party body co-ordinators.

9. For a more effective communication of the Party with society

Communists carry out their work of information, propaganda and explanation of their ideas, projects and proposals for Portugal within the framework of: a severe disproportion of resources and means compared with other political forces who benefit from the support of big capital; the concentration and control of the media and new information technologies by powerful economic groups, which reduce communication to a commodity and citizens to mere consumers; a media predominance of political show-business, which impoverishes democracy and subordinates the debate of ideas; a false and artificial bi-polarisation; the manipulation and abuse of opinion polls, which are used as tools to condition the minds of citizens; an effort to ideologically hegemonise Portuguese society with the "single thought" values that hail capitalism as the present and future of Humankind.

Facing a disproportion of means and a near-ban or systematic distortion of Party stances and activities by the media, the PCP has not folded its arms. Analysing the activities carried out in the field of communication since the 14th. Congress, we can highlight the following traits:

a) an intense and continuous activity of information and propaganda, supported by the Department of Propaganda (DEP), the central Press Office and regional organisations, with an organised and persistent work among the media to convey Party policies and initiatives; producing several specific, topical or general documents; staging various National Campaigns of Propaganda and topical campaigns (like the campaign against flexible working hours and practices); criss-crossing the country with exhibitions; producing Party political broadcasts for radio and television; continually and more carefully managing our image in Party events and public appearances; ensuring greater technical means of support and the use of large-scale panels of visual propaganda; the beginning (on the occasion of the PCP’s 75th Anniversary) of a permanent Internet presence of the PCP and its central press [http://www.pcp.pt]; a significant decentralised production of information and propaganda documents, with a noticeable increase in bulletins, leaflets and other publications.

b) regular publication and the efforts made to diversify and improve the contents and graphical presentation of the Party press - "Avante!" and "O Militante" - as well as the measures taken centrally to monitor and increase their circulation, albeit without yet achieving meaningful results;

c) the election campaigns, which were essential means of communication of our ideas, the "Avante!" Festival, the many debates and political information initiatives, the rallies, public meetings and other events, the celebrations of the PCP’s 75th Anniversary and the April Revolution’s 20th Anniversary, etc..

The experience acquired in the complex and diverse field of communication, explanation and dialogue with society which the Party carries out in the context of an acute ideological struggle, proves the need to give special attention to the following issues and problems:

a) ways and means of fighting the restrictive and/or distorted view of what the PCP is, does or thinks, as conveyed by the media in general to PCP members and supporters and to other citizens. This requires a more critical or attentive attitude towards the media’s interpretation of reality (not a rejectionist or isolationist attitude); a more effective, timely and wider internal information; striving for a better relationship with the media and fighting for its impartiality and pluralism; and even improving direct dialogue with the community;

b) imaginative and profound Party action to overcome the barriers to understanding our message. These result from the sedimentation, in people’s minds and social behaviour, of the values and representations of reality of the capitalist-serving so-called "single thought", which promote a distorted view of reality: individualism, selfishness, superficiality, loss of historical memory, a cult of the ephemeral, conformism and passiveness towards right-wing policies and towards exploitation and domination mechanisms;

c) the contradiction between the country’s reality, the aspirations and problems of working people, youth and communities, and the way in which this reality is presented, selected and fragmented by the media. This warrants from the Party and the communists a firm and coherent attitude in order to ensure autonomy in their political action and oppose the setting of the political agenda by the media. It also requires guaranteeing the capacity to communicate in a more demanding framework where new information technologies have profoundly changed the concepts of time and space in information and the perception of events.

Without ignoring difficulties, communists must become more aware of the fact that the Party itself is a great and unique network of militant communication. The Party is a vast current of convictions and wills which, when organised and on the move, can live up to the disadvantage of resources and move decisively to win over the minds and hearts of more workers, youth and citizens, and their support for our political proposals and our project: by valuing our own communication and information media; by making better use of the Party press, publications, documents and means of information and better conveying them to the public; by always asserting the difference between our concept of information and political propaganda (which is characterised by coherence between image and content and by appealing to intelligence in the communication of ideas and proposals) and the concepts of other political forces, which are increasingly indistinguishable from advertising and marketing (treating citizens as mere passive consumers and ideas as commodities, where it is the packaging that matters most).

Other guidelines and directions in the field of communication are:

a) to work for stronger central information and propaganda structures, in terms of resources, cadres and their training and capability to assist the Party as a whole in this area; to try to create or strengthen these structures in the main regional organisations; to make progress in the use of language and communication codes which can contribute to greater clarity and effectiveness of the message;

b) to value information and propaganda work, by promoting decentralisation and the initiative of all organisations. This is essential for an effective and timely communication and liaison between the Party and the workers and community;

c) to strengthen and extend an active and easy relationship between the Party organisations and the mass media, with a view to ensuring a greater exposure of the Party’s points of view, initiatives and proposals, and a greater communist presence in political debate through the media;

d) to promote campaigns of information, mobilisation and explanation on social and political issues and causes which are considered particularly relevant; to continue the positive experience of national (as well as sectoral or regional) days of propaganda, the edition and distribution of information material and publications on single-issues, general or more specific topics;

e) to promote a greater and more skilled use of modern information technologies in the Party’s communication activity, without underestimating cheaper processes and technical solutions;

f) to carefully prepare Party events and their image, aware of the fact that the message forms a whole with the participants and local recipients of these events, and with their media coverage and national expression;

g) to ensure, in co-ordination with measures for a stronger organisation, quicker and more effective information for cadres and members, so as to equip them and make them responsible for spreading the Party’s stands among their acquaintances and workmates; to promote a greater activity and initiative of communist cadres, particularly of intellectuals, in the movement and debate of ideas;

h) to proceed with efforts to make the contents and the graphical presentation of the Party press - [the newspaper] "Avante!" and [the organisational magazine] "O Militante" - more attractive, and to strengthen its links with the various Party organisations. It is essential to expand and support a broader circulation - mainly of "Avante!". This is a task and a responsibility for every Party member. The understanding of its role as a precious instrument for formation and information in the struggle of ideas must be increased, and its reading encouraged. Comrades must be made responsible for its propaganda and circulation in the regional organisations and in other intermediate structures and grassroots organisms. Committees must be created to assist in this work, monitor the distribution network and encourage the organisation of correspondents and distributors and a network of subscribers. More stalls and an active and organised presence of our press in the Party’s initiatives must be ensured;

i) to foment the Party’s publishing activity, particularly by creating conditions to regularly issue documents on key topics of the ideological and political battle, which may contribute to form cadres and activists and to effectively promote the Party’s links with society.

10. Strengthening the Party's financial position

The daily experience of all Party members and their organisations shows that Party resources are clearly insufficient for its development and activities. The Financial Report to be presented to the 15th Congress will make an assessment of the overall results and a detailed analysis of income and expenditure for the period since the 14th Congress, based on accounts presented annually to the Constitutional Court and published in "Avante!". It will confirm a balanced financial situation.

But while overall there has been a positive evolution of the balance of accounts, this fact is fundamentally due to saving and to restrictive management criteria and decisions.

The results presented in the annual accounts are encouraging in a generally positive sense but, given the economic and financial situation faced by the Party, such balances do not change real difficulties resulting from financial limitations. An obvious example is the low expenditure on information and propaganda, especially when we take into account the mass media’s political attitude of premeditatedly silencing the struggle of the workers and the PCP. Equally, spending on personnel, which is the most important Party expenditure, is clearly insufficient considering the needs and nature of the Party.

A deeper analysis of the accounts shows that we are very close to the limits in terms of saving and cutting costs, which means that an increase in income has become a central aim for the whole Party. Such an aim should be based above all on self-financing the Party, as has been the case so far.

The Party’s stance that corporate financing of political activities "is unacceptable and must be banned" should be upheld. We must continue to demand that steps be taken to limit the power of financial concerns in political life (exercised largely through corporate donations), especially by restricting spending on election campaigns.

Based on this principled position, it is indispensable to schedule targets for an overall increase in self-financing. Therefore, the aims and directions of work as far as fund raising is concerned are:

a) in relation to dues, to further the trend toward more income which marked the period between the 14th and 15th Congresses; to work to both increase the number of dues-paying Party members and the average amount paid; together with setting a target for growth with an aim to increasing ordinary income, as well as strengthening Party members’ militancy and connection to the Party.

b) As a special source of income, the contributions of Party members, friends and supporters represent, for most Party organisations, the only way to reduce or balance the traditional deficit. Thought should be given, however, to winning a new attitude in many organisations towards requests for money, seeing these not as a way to overcome momentary financial pressures and difficulties, but as a regular, guided and planned activity. Setting and achieving yearly growth targets will greatly assist in the overall evolution of income.

c) It is right to emphasise the great capacity for initiative shown by Party organisations, mirrored in numerous, diverse and creative forms of fund-raising. A periodic exchange of experiences between organisations could, with appropriate adaptations according to each region, enable a programmed increase of income.

d) Contributions from PCP representatives and elected officers form the second most important source of income. Stemming from the Party’s institutional role, their importance depends above all on the degree of compliance with the principle that PCP members who are elected or appointed should not benefit nor be hindered in financial terms. While it is certain that many of our elected members comply honourably with this established principle, it has to be borne in mind that the issue of contributions from elected members involves various aspects which require permanent political attention, and above all providing a better framework for their tasks and responsibilities.

Achieving the goal of increasing income – together with adjustment measures for financial assistance to the organisational structure – would make new development and investment targets possible (in accordance with a clear, priority-based plan), even despite the greater expenditure arising from the forthcoming political calendar, specifically the election campaigns.

Adjustment measures means: updating arrangements to assist organisations that are not yet self-financing (in accordance with indicators, priorities and criteria of political importance that have to be considered); assessing future measures of assistance from the centre to recruit new full-timers; setting targets for organisations with the greatest difficulties, so as to raise the level of expenditure covered by income; setting goals and deadlines for the self-financing of stronger organisations that still have a deficit; encouraging organisations with positive balance sheets to hand over contributions to the central Party coffers so as to assist the Party’s overall activity.

In the investment programme, it is important to take into account the following needs: restoration of neglected property; building indispensable infrastructures; cautiously renewing the vehicle fleet; further advancing the ongoing process for a sound and rational use of equipment and new technologies in technical and administrative support procedures.

It is necessary to develop financial controls, so as to monitor the evolution of Party funds and their management, and to assist and seek with the regional leaderships the best solutions to problems. It is important to mobilise more efforts and comrades for the various fund-related tasks, for dues-collection, to circulate the Party press, for funds committees. All this must ensure that accounts are carefully presented and that the Party’s funds and property are effectively monitored.

The size and value of Party assets, namely the aggregate of Party headquarters, bought or built with the contributions of thousands of communists and friends of the Party, requires management, protection and maintenance policies.

Correct property management naturally implies a constant assessment of its effective use and need, or of the need for its extension and improvement.

In the period between Congresses a new legal framework was established for the financing of political parties. The PCP, which has always been able to show its accounts, easily adapted the Party’s accounting process to this new legal framework.

Accounts presented to the Constitutional Court respect the Official Accountancy Plan and the new legal requirements, making the PCP the only major Party to have complied with the obligation that accounts encompass the entire Party organisation and not merely central finances.

This requirement, however, presents some difficulties since such accounts are influenced in many aspects by the involvement of many thousands of Party members and many hundreds of organisations, the vast majority of which lack any professional structure. The problem is compounded by the fact that the PCP’s activity and nature raises very specific problems.

It is therefore indispensable to guarantee assistance in overcoming problems and difficulties, such as the correct and timely preparation of accounts and ensuring that all transactions are covered by legal and fiscally valid documents.

11. Ensuring and developing the nation-wide character of the Party and its project

Within the framework of priorities and guidelines for organisational work, for the distribution of resources and for rationalisation, which result from the PCP’s identity, class character and (always limited) available resources, it is necessary to ensure and develop the nation-wide character of the Party’s project and organisation. This requirement does not contradict the continuing need to preserve and extend the Party’s influence and organisation in areas where it already has great organisational and political strength.

The existing inequalities in Party influence and work must not, however, lead to a reductionist and negative view of the Party’s presence in regions and sectors where the Party’s overall influence and the communists’ social and political role are much greater than their showing in election results.

The PCP cannot allow the growth of tendencies favouring a reduction of its geographical or sectoral presence, or which might go beyond critical thresholds and set up vicious circles (we do not get elected because we are not strong enough and we are not strong enough because we do not get elected), which would present obstacles for any return to satisfactory levels of political, social and electoral influence.

To overcome such situations, the first condition is awareness that the problem exists and that, without adequate measures being taken, the situation could become worse. Then, there is a potential in factors such as: the Party’s national strength and its capacity to lead and direct political and organisational efforts wherever they may be needed; the existence, in the regions and sectors, of an important organisational base and of experienced and knowledgeable cadres who are, in many cases, deeply connected to the masses; the strength of many social organisations; a relatively higher presence of young people among Party members; and the seriousness of the existing social and economic problems in these regions and sectors, which help and stimulate the Party’s presence.

Also, the legacy of prestige already referred to, on a level far greater than the number of votes obtained, is an important point of departure for the work to overcome existing inequalities and problems.

Three points of departure: we begin with what we have and try to define a strategy that relies on our own strength; the strengths, which must be not only consolidated, but reinforced, assist the weaknesses within a framework of mutual help between Party organisations and of national solidarity; in each region or sector, priority should be given to the areas, places or sub-sectors where there is predictably more growth potential.

A combination of policies and guidelines to ensure and develop the nation-wide character of the Party’s project are:

a) The Party’s national activity must strongly embody the Portuguese society’s regional and sectoral diversity, which must also be voiced through regional and sectoral political projects and programmes, with their own autonomy and logic, integrated within the Party’s national guidelines.

b) Leadership work and cadre and financial policies must:

— At a leadership level, establish regional structures which can preserve and strengthen the important contribution of many non-full-time activists and the specific nature of their political activity, while at the same time ensure that regional leaderships are collectives where cadres can flourish and which can ensure the necessary Party and political activity.

— In cadre policy (including full-time Party workers), continue giving responsibilities to local activists from each region (or sector), create or maintain economic assistance and specific training. For many leading Party cadres this will be a worthwhile experience in a different political environment from that in which they were born and grew up as Party cadres. The return to their home towns of Party, trade union and retired cadres, with experience of struggle, as a result of changes in the productive apparatus and Portuguese society, should also be considered a potential contribution for the development of local work.

— In financial policies, maintain and improve aid-distribution criteria promoting the aim of a nation-wide Party.

c) In organisational matters, it falls to the leading organisations of each region and sector, together with the Party leadership and in accordance with the Party Constitution, to establish adequate structures and the main organisational and activity guidelines.

d) The organisation and activity of particular areas of work must fit in with the organisational and cadre weaknesses of many regional organisations, so that a real nation-wide dimension can be achieved. At the same time, their efforts must be encouraged, given the important complement to regional work that these areas of activity represent. Specific areas of work and the national co-ordination of sectors and enterprises favour the organisational integration of activists and cadres who, without such work, would not contribute as much as they could.

e) To consider holding nation-wide events and, in particular, to decide their number and frequency.

f) To better plan, in close association with all regional organisations, the national activity of Party leadership cadres, so as to cover the whole country.

g) To improve links between the parliamentary groups in the National and European Parliaments and those regions that do not usually elect them, or sectors whose problems may have less political visibility. To continue ensuring a distribution of MPs by regions and sectors, when organising parliamentary work.

h) To creatively develop the experience and potential opened up by the "Avante!" Festival for groups of visitors and for the political and cultural involvement of those regions where our influence is still small. Introducing the Party through one of its most popular and impressive initiatives is to open doors to a stronger Party on a national level.

12. Strengthening internationalist co-operation and solidarity

The struggle of the Portuguese workers and people is objectively part of the world process of workers’ and peoples’ liberation. While firmly upholding national independence and sovereignty, considering that its first and foremost responsibility is towards the Portuguese people and their struggle, the PCP stands in active solidarity with the struggle of other peoples and believes that solidarity among communists, progressives, workers and peoples is of paramount importance to advance the liberation struggle in each country and world-wide. For the PCP, patriotism and internationalism are inseparable.

In the past four years, the PCP has maintained a broad and diverse international activity. Considering the information, experience and opinions of other parties as necessary for its own analysis, the PCP has directed its international activity toward present-day battles; toward joint or convergent action by communist parties and other left-wing forces against the world-wide offensive of big capital and imperialism; toward the renewed influence of communists and their ideals of liberation. Our essential aim was to put forth our own positions in the sharp political and ideological battle that has swept the progressive forces’ camp – in particular around the need for communist parties and their internationalist co-operation – strongly resisting defeatist and liquidationist tendencies, showing that communists are not only necessary to the workers and their struggle, but also, that co-operation between them is indispensable for a wider and more effective co-operation among all left-wing, democratic and progressive forces.

Giving great attention to developing bilateral relations, the PCP hosted visits to Portugal by numerous parties, particularly on the occasion of the "Avante!" Festival(between 30 and 40 delegations each year), and itself sent abroad a large number of delegations on official or working visits, that took part in numerous congresses, festivals, anniversaries, conferences and other events.

Due their importance, we highlight the visits by the Party’s General Secretary at the invitation of the following Communist parties: Spain, France, Greece, Italy (October-November 1994), China, Vietnam and DPR Korea (January-February 1996) and Cuba (July 1996); as well as the National Council President’s visits to Cuba (October 1993), Italy (December 1992) and Brazil (April 1995).

Within the sphere of multilateral co-operation with communist parties and other left-wing forces, the PCP has given special attention to Europe. It was deeply involved in the formation and activity of the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left in the European Parliament. It promoted and participated in meetings on the European Union that involved the PDS (Germany), PCE (Spain), PCF (France), KKE (Greece) and PRC (Italy). It actively contributed to the success of the May 11, 1996, Rally in Paris. It took part in various other conferences and seminars organised by communist parties and other left-wing and progressive forces. Outside Europe, it participated in the Sao Paulo Forum, in the Calcutta Seminar promoted by the CP of India (M), in the Solidarity Conference with the People of South Africa, as well as in other international conferences and meetings.

The PCP maintained and strengthened its traditional relationships, re-established relations with other Parties that had been interrupted as a consequence of the events in Eastern Europe, and also extended them to new political forces. The PCP will continue to pursue a policy of extending its relations, not only with communist parties but with other left and progressive forces.

The following are directions for the development of the Party’s international activity:

a) To follow and study more thoroughly the major issues of international life.

b) To promote relations with other communist parties and help strengthen the communist and revolutionary movement;

c) To set up and/or develop relations with other left progressive and national liberation parties;

d) To develop relations with parties in power which, in their respective countries, define building a socialist society as their aim, as well as with parties that in the former USSR and countries of Eastern Europe seek ways of returning to the socialist path;

e) Without prejudicing relations with other continents, to give special attention to relations with the communist parties and other left forces in Europe, strengthening their multilateral solidarity and co-operation, developing common or convergent actions, in particular in the struggle against the Maastricht Treaty and for a different Europe, a Europe of peace, progress and co-operation;

f) Contribute to strengthen the structures and re-launch the mass initiative of the Portuguese movement of struggle for peace and international solidarity;

g) To better co-ordinate and enhance communists’ international work (particularly in the European Parliament and in the Portuguese Parliament), including that of JCP, in line with its own dynamics;

h) To better internationally publicise the Party’s activities and stances;

i) To provide prompt Party information, solidarity and/or protest actions involving workers and communities, in relation to major international events.

  • PCP
  • Central
  • Cuba
  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • European Union
  • Lebanon
  • Nato
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Yugoslavia