Chapter I - International Situacion
Chapter IV - The PCP, asserting its identity, increasing its influence
- 1. A brief account od party activity
- 2. Essential principles and goals
- 3. Leadership work
- 4. Cadre policy
- 5. Strengthening the organisation
- 6. Press, information and propaganda
- 7. Improving the party's financial capacity in otder to strengthen its activity and influence
- 8. The PCP's international activity
- 9. PCP - a Party for the 21st Century
In the years elapsed since the 15th Congress, life has confirmed that what were indicated at the time as the main traits, contradictions and trends of contemporary capitalist economy in the last quarter of the century, were basically correct and valid. Some of the more relevant events which marked these past few years have confirmed our analyses, including the outbreak of the serious 1997-1999 economic and financial crisis which deeply affected, although to varying degrees, the whole of the world economy.
Capitalism has enormous resources, sophisticated means to manage its crises and potential areas of expansion, is constantly taking advantage of the progress of science and the revolutions in technology, which it globally conditions, and of their applications. What became more obvious and dangerous was the instability and uncertainty in the functioning of the global capitalist economy and the fact that it is obviously incapable of responding to the serious problems of economic and social development which Humankind faces on the threshold of the 21st century.
The slowing down in the growth rates of the world's product, which has occurred decade after decade, after the period of quick and widespread growth that followed the enormous destruction caused by World War II, was confirmed in the 90's. This phenomenon is all the more serious because, despite the special dynamism in recent decades, in some regions of the world - regions which are now actually more affected by the recent crisis - clamorous inequalities are growing or becoming entrenched in the world, between the more and the less developed areas and also between the richest and the poorest strata of the population in both areas.
In a decade where the world's capitalist globalisation strongly expanded, its growing faultline also grew deeper. And the much boasted thrust of progress which contemporary capitalism would supposedly bring to world development, is crashing against the wall of capitalism's contradictions and its own limitations.
In the 90's, particularly in their second half, there was an increase in the concentration and centralisation of capital, with a new wave of mega-mergers and acquisitions of already large companies, some of which in turn resulted from other similar operations. Those mega-mergers, often of truly gigantic proportions, occur not only on a national level, but increasingly on a regional (especially in Europe) and trans-continental level, especially of Europe over the USA, and also on a world level. Monopolies and oligopolies, in practically all economic sectors, are created, strengthened or recomposed, with big companies controlling huge networks of contract companies and making sub-contract companies even more dependent.
As a rule, these mergers do not create jobs; quite on the contrary, they drastically reduce employment. They do not create any added productive capacity, given the over-capacity situation already existing in multiple sectors. What this is all about, in a context of fierce competition is, first and foremost, the re-division of control over capital, markets and resources; productive restructuring in view of the enormous sums required by investment in new technology and in research and development; financial speculation; as well as ensuring monopoly profits - the growth in FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) has been strongly influenced by this wave of mergers and acquisitions, particularly located in the North Atlantic axis, but also spreading to Latin America and Asia. Speculation, linked to the exuberance of the stock markets, which it in turn feeds, threatens many operations and increases financial instability. At the same time, it reflects the growing competition between imperialist poles and powers on a regional and world levels.
The economic and financial crisis, which broke out halfway through 1997 in Southeast Asia, was revived by the Russian collapse in the middle of 1998 and was prolonged in Brazil in 1998-99, affected practically the whole world, leading to a recession in nearly half of the world economy.
This was not just a monetary, stock market or speculative crisis. Being all that, on the trail of many other financial "accidents" occurred since the end of the 80's and in the first half of the 90's, it has much deeper roots and consequences in a very widespread situation of latent surplus production, which drags across the cyclical crises of 1974-75, 1980-82 and 1991-93. It is for this reason that their causes are not circumscribed to the regions where they took place.
After some irregular signs of revival, which followed the brutal destruction of productive forces in Southeast Asia, Japan and Latin America, and with a recovery finally being rehearsed in Europe, which emerged later and slower from the 1993 recession - the greatest threat is now located in the United States. Its prolonged, though uneven period of expansion, after living through the 1991 recession, is clearly threatened, at the end of a cycle, by the growing deficit in the balance of current transactions, by a record-breaking foreign debt, by the unbearable domestic debts of both families and companies, and by the brutal stock market speculative bubble already hitting companies of the so-called "new economy". The slower pace of their growth is already a reality. Only a few believe that a "soft landing" is guaranteed. The possibility of a "hard landing", especially due to the bursting of the stock market bubble, would have very serious and recessive world-wide consequences.
There was a further growth in the "financialisation" of capital, which is becoming increasingly rentist and speculative, alongside a tendency for production to stagnate and the inherent difficulty in reaping profit rates viewed as satisfactory for the enormous sums of accumulated capital. Feeding and sucking like a parasite from the surplus value generated by the real economy, whilst imposing its own criteria for maximum profit in the shortest possible run, this brutal hypertrophy of the financial sphere, with a strong component of fictitious capital, is creating its own dynamic, aided by the liberalisation of capital flows, multiple innovations and financial entities, as well as by the utilisation of new information and communication technologies.
The constant flows of capital-money, especially those of short-term and high risk, create an added instability in the functioning of the international financial and monetary system, deeply affecting the real economy and the lives of vast masses of people in many countries, regions and the world over. Irrationally inflated stock markets and real estate markets are nourished by an unsustainable expansion of credit, thus enhancing potential threats and disasters. As a result of the overvalued and dominating strength of the dollar and of the differential in interest rates, the USA continues to attract a lion's share of the world's available savings. The dominance of this finance capital, which also includes enormous sums resulting from illicit trafficking and corruption, has a negative impact upon the balanced, equitable and sustained development of the world's real productive economy.
The world is entering a new century with the strongest ever disparity in incomes. Despite the much boasted benefits of the so-called "globalisation", the concentration of an immense mass of wealth and development capacity in a small number of powers who represent a small minority, at the expense of the vast majority of Humankind, continues. Blood-sucking foreign debt payments continue and actually get worse for the majority of the highly indebted Third World countries. An enormous reserve of labour-force which is unemployed or has highly precarious working conditions persists, and facilitates the "delocation" of companies and greater exploitation, in an even more unjust international division of labour. Poverty and income inequalities are growing, both within the more developed powers and in many underdeveloped countries.
Along with this growing polarisation, capitalism's uneven development continues, provoking new unbalances. If Japan has grown weaker in the last decade, it still has sizeable resources and continues to foster a greater integration of the Asian Region, where, despite the 1997-98 crisis, the Southeast Asian countries do not give up striving for greater independent regional co-operation. In that region, and with its own specific traits, China's dynamism and potential also have a growing influence. The European Union, where Germany is in the lead, is trying to broaden its area of influence towards the East and by adopting the Euro has confronted the might of the USA, penetrates its territory and increases competition, namely in Latin America itself. In fighting to preserve its world hegemony, the US resorts to its military, diplomatic, scientific and technological, as well as ideological, supremacy, and seeks to extend it, but is permanently confronted by the rivalry of its more powerful competitors and by the growing resistance and concertation of the dependent countries. It was essentially these contradictions, added to the growing resistance and protest of workers and peoples, of different social strata, that explain the, albeit not final, defeat of the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment) in Geneva and the failure of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) in Seattle (despite the dangers which remain), as well as the efforts at re-grouping by the so-called "Third World" countries and by their different integration structures.
The myth of a rationalised and peaceful "ultra-imperialism" under the rule of a "world government" is as false at the end of the 20th century, as it was in its beginning. Inter-imperialist concertations and partnerships, translated into compromises, will always be relative and temporary, because unequal development and competition are intrinsic to the system itself.
In the 90's, the constant references to the ongoing "globalisation" process in order to justify and impose the acceptance and expansion of the capitalist relations of production and the neo-liberal dogmas, seek to, above all, disguise their imperialistic nature, the key driving forces behind their functioning and the powerful interests which drive and benefit from them. A special reference must go to the concealment of a real strengthening of the State's role in the major world powers (notoriously so in the US), at the service of the big transnational corporations and finance capital, whilst utilising their power over supra-national bodies to further their interests. Their aim is to disarm the other States' sovereign capacity and the workers' and peoples' struggle, trying to make absolute a real growing interdependence which, under imperialism, always means real and growing relations of domination and plunder of the weaker by the stronger.
The development of international relations and of the world market is part and parcel of the capitalist system. It went through a remarkable and decisive development immediately at its outset, five centuries ago. It had a new remarkable thrust with the birth of imperialism, at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th centuries; in its present stage, with the disappearance of the USSR and of the world socialist system, it gains new momentum, in accordance with the features of contemporary capitalism and the surge of new technology. In all the successive waves of capitalism's universalisation, it always appropriated important scientific and technological achievements, which enabled the development of productive forces. And developments in transport and communications made the world's different regions grow nearer and more integrated. The current globalisation process is therefore deeply inserted in History and cannot be correctly assessed within the rigid framework of comparing the last few decades with the period which immediately preceded them.
On the other hand, misleading generalisations must be rejected, that consider as a fact for the whole "globe" what is basically limited to a central core of more developed powers and when - quite to the contrary - the present process of capitalist globalisation is leading to enormous world faultlines, and when diverse processes of regional integration are multiplying in number.
In its present stage, and under the impact of the dominant neo-liberal policies and the use of new technologies, in particular in the realms of communication and information, the so-called "globalisation" is marked by an even greater integration of productive processes, the growing mobility of financial flows and the acceleration and diversification of international trade exchanges. The attempt to privatize Humankind's common heritage, including plant, animal and even human life (genome), must be stressed.
The growing instability and the "failures" and perversions of the present international regulation system, (as was developed in the early 70's, in the aftermath of the failure of the Bretton Woods System, established after World War II), have became obvious, with the succession of monetary and stock market crises, as well with other "accidents", especially since the end of the 80's and during the last decade. The World Bank and IMF interventions proved to be harmful and were in themselves an added essential cause for those crises that originate immense losses of material wealth and acute social regression. For these reasons, there has been an intense debate waged within and outside those institutions, demanding their "reform" and a new "architecture" for the global international regulation system.
However, the different proposals made, do not go much beyond a sort of partial patchwork job and are no more than palliatives for the serious problems, distortions, risks and consequences of a system dominated by the more powerful imperialist State powers and by the big transnationals, always protecting their basic interests and hurting the weaker economies, their States and their peoples.
The crisis in the system of imperialist regulation is also an expression of the crisis of neo-liberal policies and recipes, increasingly questioned for not leading to progress and to the social equity of development, but rather to brutal social regression, uneven development and a true civilisational regression.
Political democracy is being strongly hit. The neo-liberal offensive represents a true "anti-State" crusade, purporting to defend the "individual", "human rights", "civil society", "pluralism" and "democracy". But the facts, namely in the developed capitalist countries, are the loss of gains and rights, the tendency to impose upon society and the individual a totalitarian uniformisation of thinking and of attitudes, the destruction of the indispensable conditions to develop a participating citizenship and the voiding of political democracy in itself. People clearly show no affection for the institutions, indeed they are turning away from them. More than speaking of "lack of interest in politics" or "the crisis of politics", it seems appropriate to speak of a crisis in the system of demo-liberal representation, in the context of the great changes that are taking place in the national State and in the overall system of capitalist power.
Power is increasingly subordinate to the interests of the big economic and financial groups and to the strategies of the big powers, with the decision-making centres increasingly concealed, centralised and distant from the citizens. The merger of economic and political power, a feature of State monopoly capital, is increasingly becoming a fact at regional and even world level. The new information and communication techniques powerfully intervene to spread the ruling ideology. Corruption and all types of connections with organised crime and different sorts of trafficking are inherent to the system's functioning and reproduction.
"Less State" for the working people, more State for capital. Weakening and obstructing the State's redistributive social functions, with the commercialization of public services from an entrepreneurial and economicist perspective. The enhancing of the State's coercive functions (police, armies). Frontal attack against the independence of the weaker countries' States, voiding their sovereignty; strengthening the power of the more powerful countries' States and of imperialism's supranational instruments.
An attack on a sovereign State is also an attack on democracy. The false "right of humanitarian interference" is in fact the "right" of big powers to impose their policies. The so-called "liberation of civil society" from the "State's yoke" in reality means strengthening the control by the dominant economic and political interests. To void State institutions of their sovereign powers means to transfer decisions which are vital in shaping up a society to capital's international entities, whether formal (IMF, WB, OECD, EU, NATO), or informal (from G7 to "Davos").
For the PCP, the struggle for democracy simultaneously involves its political, economic, social and cultural components, as well as the defence of sovereignty and national independence. The defence of rights so arduously gained through struggle, the defence of political democracy itself, is inseparable from the struggle against imperialist interference and impositions.
Imperialist reaction has shown itself very strong and with qualitatively new traces in the military field. After nearly a decade since the Gulf war against Iraq, the big imperialist powers are increasingly resorting to the force of weapons to expand and strengthen their control over national resources and markets, remove any obstacles that may halt their expansion (as in Yugoslavia), stifling inevitable social and revolutionary explosions and also applying pressure and dissuasion against opponents or even allies.
Military budgets grow. The Warsaw Treaty has disappeared, but NATO is being strengthened. The arms trade and trafficking is intensified. Arms industries are restructured, while the purchase orders for the big military-industrial complex companies keep growing. Increasingly sophisticated and deadly weapons are improved and manufactured. The "right of interference" with or without hypocritical "humanitarian" dressings is proclaimed. Nuclear disarmament is rejected and the right to a first nuclear strike is admitted. New, already openly aggressive, strategic concepts are drawn up (NATO). Treaties are challenged and torn to pieces, as the United States are doing with the ABM (Agreement on Ballistic Missiles, 1972) in order to move ahead with their new version of "Star Wars".
In a situation where, day after day, 35,000 children die of hunger or of avoidable diseases and where there is lack of resources for the FAO and WHO programmes, the USA not only leave their debt to the UN unpaid, but also allocate around 60 billion dollars to their new National Anti-Missile Defence Project.
Imperialism's criminal nature was revealed in a particularly brutal way, during this period, in the criminal sanctions imposed by the US and UK against Iraq, which have already resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, mainly children.
The war of aggression against Yugoslavia, the first war in the heart of Europe since the end of World War II, marks a qualitative step in the process of imperialist militarisation and intervention, with the open violation of the UN Charter and International Law, and total disrespect for the role of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe).
Launched by the US and NATO, under the false pretext of avoiding "ethnic cleansing", counting with the active assistance of the European Union, and utilising a powerful and sophisticated war machine, this aggression tested the Yugoslav people's patriotic determination. It caused a large number of casualties and enormous destruction, leading to the flight of ethnic Albanian kosovars and to the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Serbs, it placed Kosovo under NATO occupation, and achieved a new and substantial eastward push of US military forces, towards the Russian border. Life proved that only through political means, however difficult, would it be, and is it, possible to solve the serious Yugoslav problems.
Following the war in Bosnia, the war of aggression against Yugoslavia was the pretext and immediate fig-leaf for NATO's openly offensive new strategic concept, which was already being developed, a concept which provides for intervention outside the UN, wherever it feels its interests to be under threat. A new concept which is part of NATO's policy of strengthening and enlarging - namely by incorporating Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic - a concept that strengthens US hegemony and develops new potential factors that may de-stabilise the geo-strategic situation in our continent and the world over.
It was also used as a pretext and cover-up for the brutal acceleration of the European Union's process of militarisation, with the formalisation of the "Mr PESC" post, the elaboration of a "Common European Security and Defence Policy", the creation of a military force for intervention, made up of 60 thousand men ready to intervene wherever the big EU powers considered it important to their interests. This militarisation, often presented as aimed at ensuring "Europe's autonomy from the US", is articulated with NATO and represents, although in a framework of conflict and rivalry, the strengthening of NATO's "European pillar" and of the "Euro-Atlantic" axis, all under the aegis of US imperialism.
At the same time, the OSCE's potential is being blocked, its original aims perverted, and it is increasingly being instrumentalized by the US and the big European powers.
The US arrogantly asserts its will to dominate the world and is nowadays the main and most dangerous source of militarism and war, trying to force and place the other big imperialist poles into a subordinate position. What is happening in Europe with the EU is also happening in the Asian/Pacific region with Japan and the Japanese/US Security Treaty, with the aim of intervening in Asia and keeping the People's Republic of China under siege and pressure. China that, in a increasingly clear way, and together with Vietnam, India and other countries in the region, represents an important factor of peace and contention of imperialism's longing for totalitarian world domination. The USA's insistence upon the so-called "National Anti-Missile Defence", which is facing the fierce opposition of China, Russia and other countries and strong reservations even among the USA's European allies, is already creating the prospect of a new, spiralling arms race.
Extremely serious is the process of subverting the UN and International Law, manoeuvred by the US. It aims at, not simply instrumentalizing, but at bringing down the whole legal and international order which emerged from the victory over Nazi-fascism, and to try to impose a "new order" which, enshrining the unfavourable balance of forces resulting from the disappearance of the USSR and the socialist regimes of Eastern Europe, may legalise and facilitate a policy of exploitation, aggression and oppression carried out by capital and imperialism. The concept of the "right of humanitarian interference" which has already been blessed by the Vatican itself, articulated with the hypocritical but sometimes seducing theories about the "decrepit" character of the sovereign State, "the global village" and the "universal civil society" and others, occupy the central stage of imperialism's ideological attack to try and weaken the resistance against its policies.
The consequences of imperialist "globalisation" are dramatic for the world and explosive for the system. Numerous studies, such as the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade And Development) reports, show the regression of development rates, the widening gap between "the rich" and "the poor", both on a world level and within countries, and the unbearable situation of poverty and suffering in which the largest part of Humankind lives.
Together with the systematic offensive which is launched in the developed capitalist countries to destroy gains and rights obtained throughout many decades of hard struggles, we are witnessing the re-colonisation and plunder of peoples in the "Third World" countries, through unfair trade terms in commercial relations, demanding the opening of those countries' markets to the unlimited action of multinationals, the imposition of the notorious IMF "adjustment programmes", the foreign debt shackles and other economic, political and military mechanisms to ensure dependence. With great cynicism, big powers try to present themselves as unselfish creditors, committed to "aiding" the development of the weaker countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. In reality, colossal material and human resources, which are indispensable to overcome underdevelopment, continue to be drained to the developed "North".
Without minimising the role played by the domestic reactionary forces, with the assistance of previous Party and State leaders, it is also necessary to point the finger at the responsibility of the big powers and big capital for the dramatic situation created in the last ten years in most of the former USSR and East European countries. Examples of this are: the destruction of social gains and of the national productive systems, the invasion of markets, the taking over by foreign capital of key resources and economic sectors, the imposition of "reforms" of a capitalist nature, organized crime's profound penetration of financial activities and economic life, the draining of capital going abroad and the foreign debt, the brain drain of scientists and generally skilled manpower and as a central consequence, the brutal regression of the social situation which has particularly devastating effects in Russia.
Such are the consequences of the counter-revolutionary processes, the dismantling of the socialist regimes which existed in those countries and the restoration of capitalism, processes that are driven and propelled in a true forced march by the European Union and NATO towards the East, in an articulated fashion, and where German expansionism and US designs for planetary hegemony are worryingly visible. The decision by the US and NATO to deploy nuclear weapons in the territories of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic is a particularly explosive one.
The inhumane consequences of imperialist "globalisation" and of neo-liberal policies, spread right across all spheres of society, to nature itself and to the ecological and environmental balances which are indispensable to Humankind's future and are dangerously being threatened by the quest for maximum profits. Advances made in education, culture and science are controlled by the big economic interests and by the criteria of the ruling ideology. But it is at the social level that big capital's exploiting nature becomes more visible. The situation described at the Party's 15th Congress is still valid and has only worsened in several aspects, namely in terms of social polarisation, precarious jobs, increased exploitation, poverty, hunger, disease and minimally dignified living conditions.
The world context is so serious, with such flagrant contradictions, paradoxes and shocking situations, that criticism of such a state of affairs is growing. There is hardly anyone today who doesn't distance himself from the negative aspects of "globalisation", who doesn't declare to be scandalised with the gap between the rich and poor, who isn't "shocked" by poverty in the "Third World", who doesn't show indignation towards discriminations against women, who doesn't distance himself from the "excesses" and "perversions" of the market. The "moral" condemnation of the consequences of "globalisation" is very widespread. There is a true explosion of literature with facts and figures showing how unsustainable is the present main course of world development.
At the same time, the broad agreement concerning the diagnosis of the situation is not matched by similar agreement, either of opinions concerning the real causes which are, in general, underestimated, silenced and even hidden; or of solutions which, in general, do not question the system, are merely partial and often represent false alternatives. There is a very intense struggle of ideas around these problems.
But not even the ruling economic and political powers can hide the situation's seriousness. Quite the opposite, they are anxious and ready to use repression and the force of arms against any development of processes, whether or not openly revolutionary, that may challenge them. The disappearance of the USSR and of socialism as a world system, have led the USA and the major NATO powers, in order to justify their aggressive policies, to define "new threats" and put into place new police and military structures which are clearly targeted at the use of force against the peoples. This is one of contemporary capitalism's more reactionary traits, and it is disturbing that it is developing without raising the kind of denounciation and resistance which the seriousness of the situation would require.
At the same time, many different efforts are being made in order to try and keep within "acceptable" bounds the more outrageous and negative consequences of unbridled neo-liberalism (as the economy's financialisation, financial speculation, undisguised corruption, criminal trafficking) which have grown in the last few years. New forms of capitalist regulation, adequate to the current phase of transnational monopoly capital, are being sought. Theories about a "world government" and "an Economic Security Council" are being developed.
Those are, above all, cosmetic operations, attempts to soften the most violent consequences of "globalisation" namely through a paternalistic and numbing aid-relief approach with policies and mechanisms that try to tame, recuperate and even integrate within the system, trade unions as well as other social organisations and structures of the people's movement. Slogans like "globalisation with a human face", in other words, putting a cherry on top of the neoliberal cake, should continuously and firmly be exposed.
The convergence of the class interests of the big powers and the imperialist centres, does not annull the existence of conflicts, rivalries and contradictions within the imperialist camp itself. The very centralisation and concentration of capital on an international level and the creation of powerful transnational conglomerates is an expression of the severe capitalist competition for the control of resources and markets and for maximum profits.
We have to accept that it is hard to determine objectively whether what prevails nowadays in the inter-imperialist camp is concertation or rivalry. Both aspects co-exist, within the framework of US hegemony, and to both we must pay attention.
The existence of a single superpower in a "unipolar" situation, trying to dominate the whole world, clashes with the countries that define building a socialist society as their aim; it also clashes with other countries that defend their sovereignty as well as with the forces of national independence, social progress, peace and socialism. In addition, it clashes with the very interests of the US allies, which, if on the one hand accept to be placed in a subordinate situation when it comes to sharing tasks within the imperialist camp (as in the context of NATO, the Gulf War, the war of aggression against Yugoslavia or in the definition of the major economic policies), on the other try to assert themselves as powers. The areas where there are clear disputes over spheres of influence and domination are many (Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and the former USSR, Latin America, China). When we see the contradictions, such as in the failure of the new WTO Seattle round, "Echellon", the dispute over purchase orders linked to aeronautics and the arms industry, the struggle for the supremacy of their respective currencies (dollar, euro, yen) as a means of payment and universal reserve currency, the banana war and that of the GMO's (genetically modified organisms), it becomes quite clear that we are looking at true "economic wars" which tend to increase and possibly slide towards more acute and dangerous forms of confrontation. Lack of trust and serious disagreements have been emerging over Defence and Security issues as was the recent case of the US "Anti-Missile National Defence".
The three main imperialist poles, the so-called "Triad" - US, EU/Germany, Japan - share economic and military supremacy over the rest of the world. They unite against the peoples in a relationship of convenience, but they increasingly clash in different spheres. Any appeals to strengthen one of the poles against any other, should be firmly rejected. Actively supported by the Portuguese government, the current policy of militarising the EU and transforming it into a powerful imperialist block, in the name of "autonomy" in relation to the US, poses enormous dangers for the independence of the peoples of Europe, for peace in Europe and for international security.
It is important, in this framework, to make as precise an assessment as possible regarding the place occupied today by social-democracy within the international positioning of forces, whether in terms of the right-wing policies of its governments or of the actions carried out by its structures and agencies - the Socialist International, the European Socialist Party, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation - and by the organisations where it is hegemonic, be they trade unions, as the ICFTU or the ETUC, or subsidy-dependant NGO's.
The facts speak quite clearly: social democracy, confirming its historical role, has surrendered to neo-liberalism, openly defending the interests of big capital, alternating in the government with the self-confessed right-wing parties, pursuing in office the same right-wing policies and, in practical terms, being an essential pillar of capitalism. With socialist and social-democratic parties in the governments of 13 out of 15 EU countries, privatisation policies and the dismantling of social and democratic gains were even more harmful than those adopted by openly reactionary governments. Their position regarding the war of aggression against Yugoslavia, reminding us of the sombre days that preceded World Wars I and II, leaves no room for doubt.
"Thatcherism with a human face" which is represented by Blair's "Third Way" is actually a self-confessed breakaway from social-democracy's reformist tradition. The Florence/Berlin process of Summits of "Modernisers" or "Progressives"(!) is in itself a true social-democrat surrender to US leadership, and has to be seen as part of the efforts by the ruling classes and the big powers on both sides of the Atlantic to agree on policies, find common answers to key issues concerning the reproduction of monopoly capital and provide them with an ideological basis.
Nevertheless, it would be a serious mistake to paint a schematically uniform picture of the different components of social democracy. There are many diverse histories and situations in each country. There are sectors that don't see themselves represented in this rightward march of social democracy and seek to oppose it. There are parties and movements that, while belonging for different reasons to the Socialist International are, or have in their midst, left-wing and even revolutionary forces. And as we have repeatedly said, under the pressure and within the framework of a dynamic of the masses and of their own popular grassroots, when confronted with the failure of their own policies, social-democratic parties may be, and sometimes have been, forced to take up democratic and left-wing stands and to reach understandings with the Communists which may advance the workers' struggle.
However, that requires, on the one hand, distancing oneself from ambiguous "left-wing" labels which may, dogmatically and out of context, include the whole of social-democracy and, on the other, acknowledging that the diversity of the left must not lead to the dilution of the communists' organisational, ideological and programmatic independence.
Capitalism's parasitic, unfair and inhumane character is increasingly obvious.
Morally speaking, capitalism has no defence whatsoever, particularly in its present form in which, confirming Marx's genial analysis and forecast, we are witnessing the commercialisation of all aspects of social life and human activity. A system which in the times of the Internet, feeds off the most abject forms of exploitation, the most sinister forms of trafficking, the industries of war and death, the aggression against, and destruction of, nature. Such a system cannot be morally defended. But the condemnation of capitalism is, above all, of an objective nature: it is contained in its intrinsic contradictions which are becoming more acute, and in its historical limitations which are imposed by the development of productive forces with their growingly social character, as well as by the workers' and peoples' revolutionary struggle.
As we declared at our 15th Congress, capitalism has long become an obstacle to the progress of Humankind. Its increasingly acute contradictions, together with the liberating struggle of the working class, of all workers and peoples, have long since opened up the possibility of overcoming it in a revolutionary way. This began in the early 20th Century with the October Revolution and although revealing itself as more complex, irregular and lengthier than anticipated, will necessarily prolong itself into the 21st century.
The imperialist offensive has not prevented the resistance and struggle by workers and peoples worldwide. Nor has it prevented significant liberating developments and important victories from taking place, despite the unfavourable balance of forces. Cuba, with its defence of sovereignty and of its socialist revolution, and East Timor, with the heroic victory over the Indonesian occupiers, are examples that are particularly dear to us and that confirm that it is possible to resist and to win.
The last few years have witnessed numerous struggles in many different sectors of society and in practically all regions of the world. The goals and aims of those struggles have included a wide range of objectives, from the most local and topical to the most global and politically motivated, and the means used in those struggles have also differed enormously.
The attempt by capitalism to impose a world-wide hegemony and domination has been met with a growing resistance which is increasingly becoming more diverse from a social and geographical viewpoint.
Despite the violent attack to destroy accomplishments and rights and to hinder the resistance of the working class and of workers in general persistent, tough, and often long, struggles take place in every continent against the most damaging measures taken by big bosses and governments. They include struggles against unemployment and the closure of companies, for jobs and quality in employment, against flexibility and the casualisation of labour, for reduced working hours, for just wages, against the wave of privatisations, for public services, in particular in support of welfare, health, education and training. General strikes in Greece, India, South Korea, South Africa, Bolivia and in many other countries, the sectoral strikes at US multinationals UPS and General Motors, or the strikes by Renault workers in several of its plants throughout Europe, are just a few of the examples of mass struggles of great political significance which daily take place throughout the world.
The struggles of peasants in support of land reform and for the handing over of land to those who work it (as in Brazil, with the struggle of the Landless Peasants' Movement - but also in India and other countries), against the destruction of the national agricultures and the subjection to agro-food transnational corporations (as in India, France, Greece) have intensified over the last few years.
The struggle of women in support of, and to promote their rights, for a real equality in economic, social, political and cultural terms, against religious fundamentalisms and other forms of oppression, discrimination and violence, represents a valuable component of the workers' and peoples' resistance struggle. Being particularly affected by dominant economic and social policies, subject to an enormous exploitation and to a subtle and unceasing ideological pressure, women have been active in specific and diversified ways, exposing and revealing the profound causes of the deriorating social situation. Women's emancipating struggle today has a renewed vitality, namely in the development of a wide-ranging movement of struggle against poverty and violence which has taken the form of national marches and of the Women's World March. The demand to put an end to imperialist oppressions and conflicts and the support for, and solidarity with, women and children - who are always the prime and major victims of conflicts - are a permanent trait of women's struggle. The World Federation of Democratic Women, which unites organizations from all continents, has carried out different actions of solidarity with women's struggles.
Youth has proved to be an important sector in the popular movement and its encouragement. The struggle of students in support of public education has continued with significant developments in Europe (Greece, France, UK, Spain, Portugal) but also in India, Latin America (Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua) and the US. The involvement of young people in struggles relating to labour issues has become increasingly important, both in Europe and in Latin America and Asia. Examples of struggles in which youth has played an important, often determining, role include: expressing solidarity with struggling peoples (Cuba, Western Sahara, Palestine, East Timor); demanding peace and an end to imperialist aggression (Yugoslavia); condemning racism and xenophobia; fighting for the abolition of the death penalty; environmental issues. Of particular importance has been the revival of the Festival Movement with the staging, in 1997, of the 14th World Festival of Youth and Students in Cuba, with a clear anti-imperialist content, an event that brought together 13,000 delegates from all over the world. In this context, the activities of the World Federation of Democratic Youth should also be highlighted, in particular its initiative to stage the 15th Festival in Algeria in 2001, the first time such an event will be held in the African continent.
In the struggle for peace and against the aggressive policies of imperialism, it must be stressed that the war of aggression against Yugoslavia gave rise to widespread condemnation by public opinion which, however, did not live up to the seriousness of the situation. In Greece, Portugal, Italy as well as in other countries, demonstrations were staged against the war. The struggle for nuclear disarmement, against "star wars", for the dismantling of NATO, against foreign military bases, needs a strong impetus. In this field, it is necessary to value the role which the WPC (World Peace Council) can play in building a broad international movement for disarmament and peace.
The struggle against racism and xenophobia, against reactionary nationalism, fundamentalism and the extreme-right has become increasingly important in relation to the barriers being raised against the free circulation of workers, the extreme exploitation of migrant workers and growing networks of slave and clandestine labour, against the background of a deteriorating social setting, discredited institutions and serious supranational impositions.
The scale of the environmental crisis which was spelled out in the Rio-92 World Summit and in the failed Accords to implement the Kyoto Protocol, gives rise to an ever more widespread concern and diversified activity. Struggles to protect the environment are becoming increasingly important, both among the populations of developed countries and among the peoples of Latina America and Asia, who face the destruction of their ways of life by transnational corporations. The struggle of native communities for the land, in defence of their cultural identity, their rights and expectations and against centuries-old discriminations - as in Mexico (expressed in Chiapas and the EZLN), Guatemala, Brazil and other countries - generate growing interest and solidarity and, as happened recently in Ecuador, serve as catalysts for vast movements of discontent and popular revolt.
More recently, the struggle and mobilisation against the mechanisms and consequences of imperialist "globalisation" have come to the fore, as happened in India against the IMF (involving millions of workers and peasants), and in the US against WTO (thus contributing to the failure of the Seattle ministerial meeting). The staging of actions of mobilisation and propaganda to coincide with international meetings - of the G7, IMF/World Bank, WTO, NATO, EU - in order to protest against the policies and mechanisms of imperialist "globalisation" and domination by international finance and transnational corporations, has had a very significant impact and acquired a high media profile. Although one should be mindful of absolutist interpretations and manipulations of these phenomena, which are far from innocent, it is necessary to stress their importance as an international meeting point for various struggles, movements and forces.
In the period since the 15th Congress, the objective and subjective consequences of the defeat of socialism in Eastern Europe have continued to have a negative effect. On the one hand, with the disappearance of important achievements and social accomplishments and of a decisive counterweight to imperialism's policies of exploitation and aggression. On the other hand, because the attractive power of the project for a new society has been weakened by the distortions, mistakes, deviations, replacement of political action by repressive measures, policies and initiatives which resulted in a "blueprint" that did not, and does not, correspond to the ideals of Communism and that created conditions which favoured its own defeat. These issues were examined in an innovative and critical way, subject to further developments, at the 13th Congress (May 1990) which was essentially dedicated to issues relating to socialist countries, as well as at the 14th Congress (December 1992). Pending new, more in-depth analyses, which are considered necessary, the analyses already produced remain valid.
Imperialism's offensive resulted in negative developments and defeats in several countries and parts of the world. Social-democracy's surrender before the interests of big business may, once its usefulness has been exhausted, lead to a comeback of the right and to the progression of the extreme-right, namely in Europe. At the same time, significant victories were achieved. The overthrow of Mobutu in the Democratic Republic of Congo and of Suharto in Indonesia (with a significant contribution by the East Timorese people) have meant an end to cruel dictatorships imposed by imperialism and which were totally subservient to it. In Venezuela, the ongoing and original process of democratic and anti-imperialist changes shows that there are ways out from the crisis caused by capitalist globalisation.
Struggles go on everywhere, demanding our active solidarity. Struggles of peoples: of Cuba (to defend their revolution and against the blockade), of East Timor (for full independence), of Western Sahara (to exercise their right to self-determination and to ensure the referendum voted on by the UN Security Council), of Korea (for the de-militarisation of the peninsula and peaceful reunification), of Cyprus (for territorial unity and integrity), of Angola (for Unita's de-militarisation and for peace), of Yugoslavia (for sovereignty, territorial integrity and an end to sanctions), of Iraq (against the blockade and for a democratic regime), of Kurdistan (for the acknowledgment of their national rights), of Colombia (for peace and against the dangerous threat of US military intervention embodied in "Plan Colombia"), of Chile (for the punishment of the crimes of Pinochet's dictatorship and the consolidation of democracy), among many others, which confirm that the struggle for freedom and social progress cannot be choked, nor the march of History halted. At this moment, of particular importance is the solidarity with the people of Palestine in their national liberation struggle, for their right to an independent and sovereign State, against the growing arrogance, impunity and violence of the Israeli occupier, which is supported by US complicity and hypocrisy.
The struggle of Third World peoples and countries has highly complex and contradictory features. It is obvious that most governments in these countries, as in the developed capitalist countries, are to a large extent corrupted by transnational corporations and imperialism's agencies. But despite this, and in the face of the dramatic widening of the North/South divide and under the pressure of popular movements of discontent, feelings and attitudes in defence of national sovereignty and of an anti-imperialist nature are being revived: in defence of national sovereignty, against the WTO's devastating impositions and the IMF's "structural adjustment" programmes, against the plunder by transnational corporations, for the reduction and cancellation of the foreign debt, etc. The Durban Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, the united and clear stand adopted by the members of the Organisation for African Unity which contributed to the failure of the Seattle WTO summit, the denounciation of imperialist "globalisation" that emerged from the Summit of the 77 held in Havana, even the EU/Africa Summit - clearly show that imperialism will not be able to freely impose its policies of recolonisation and plunder.
The background that has been described shows that the resistance and struggle of workers and peoples is wide-ranging and takes on many diferent forms, despite the unfavourable balance of forces and the violent onslaught of imperialism, as well as the shortcomings, deficiencies, hesitations and even renunciations in the field of the progressive forces - all of which have to be opposed and overcome.
To get to know this reality, to publicize it and to emphasize its significance are particularly important, as is stressing the irreplaceable role played in this struggle by the workers' and trade union movement as well as by other broad-based movements and structures of the popular movement representing the interests and expectations of diferent classes and social strata: peasants, micro, small- and medium-sized businesspeople, intellectuals, women, youth, pensioners and senior citizens, immigrants. Other forms of organisation and mobilisation of various types should also be taken into account and duly valued, as they reflect the diversification of social structures and of cultural life and the involvement in the struggle against imperialist "globalisation" of new sectors of society, as happens with the "Euro-marches", the movements in favour of the "Tobin tax", the movements to cancel the Third World countries' foreign debt, and others.
One should naturally reject theories and attitudes which, in the name of "modernity", ignore the class struggle; that consider class trade unionism as well as other proven forms of organised popular struggle outdated; that generally reject "political parties" and favour the cult of spontaneity; that oppose informal and networked forms of collaboration which have been made possible by new means of communication to an organised and militant work with the masses; that foster division and sectarian fragmentation of the broad-based movements; that use confusing constructs and concepts of "civil society" and "power" - "devolution of powers to civil society", "power to civil society" - rejecting the struggle for political power and thus hindering the ongoing struggles.
A significant effort is required, not to divide, but to intensify the common struggle and to unite in a single stream very diverse movements and struggles that clearly share a common anti-neoliberal stand, if not actually a common anti-imperialist and even anti-capitalist approach.
Communists, in their role as revolutionary vanguard, must contribute decisively to this long process aimed at integrating different struggles and objectives, old as well as new needs and expectations that are all related to the core contradiction between labour and capital.
Emphasizing and stressing the significance of these struggles and their outcomes, even when limited, is of crucial importance, as the media serving the dominant classes ignore, devalue and distort them with a view to fostering feelings of isolation, impotence and conformism.
At the same time, it is necessary to fight against attempts by capitalism to weaken, divide and neutralise any resistance to its policies and, in particular, maneouvres to use and instrumentalize struggles, movements and organisations.
A dramatic decline in class trade unionism has occurred in many countries, namely in Europe. This was due to the allurement of leaders, the creation of relations of dependence, of mechanisms that have brought them closer to the institutions and have dissolved demands and objectives, separating them from the grassroots, associated with the adoption of reformist views. Generous feelings of solidarity vis-à-vis the victims of "globalisation" which have materialised in charity work and assistance are used and manipulated with a view to promoting imperialism's interests. Truly democratic organisations often become dependent upon state subsidies and numerous NGOs which have been officially "legitimized" become cushions for the very serious problems caused by capitalism and are domesticated and incorporated into the power structure.
Throughout the last decade, the ideologues of the ruling classes have proclaimed the end of the working class, of the class struggle, of the liberation struggle, of revolution, revolutionaries and communists. Even the "end of History" has been proclaimed and capitalism described as the final stage in the development of Human society.
But these mystifications do not stand in the face of evidence. Life has not confirmed the "death of communism" and the "irreversible decline" of Communist parties. In Portugal and elsewhere, revolutionary parties, whether they call themselves Communist or not, resist and fight on, defending those that are exploited, the weak and the oppressed, persevering in the struggle for a society free of exploitation and of the brutal injustice of capitalism, for socialism and communism, thus playing an irreplaceable role in their respective countries' social and political life.
The communist and revolutionary movement has not yet overcome the serious crisis which affected it in the last decade.
Although over the last few years examples have emerged that indicate a revival and growing influence of communist parties and of other revolutionary, democratic and anti-imperialist forces, we are still witnessing negative phenomena and degenerative processes that, in some instances, have worsened.
In this contradictory development, objective factors such as the volatile and uncertain international situation, the restructuring of productive processes and of social structures, the repression/neutralisation of the workers' and people's movement, the steady ideological onslaught of anti-communism, the corrupting power of transnational companies, play an important role. But there are also subjective causes for the current difficulties and shortcomings (e.g., as regards the necessary rooting of the Party among the working class and the popular strata and its relation with the trade union movement and its features) which have to do with the analysis of contemporary capitalism and of major trends in world, the very notion of Communist party, of its aims, policy of alliances, the proposed ways to bring about social change and other ideological issues.
Particularly important is the debate concerning issues related to the place and role of the working class and waged labour, the link between the mass struggle and institutional initiatives, the notion of "the left" and the attitude vis-à-vis social-democracy, the validity of sovereign States and the national/international dialectic, the stance in relation to central themes such as power and the ownership of the major means of production.
The wide range of views on these and other issues also reflects the complexity and uncertainty surrounding the international situation and the very diverse stages of development, situations and experiences.
In the PCP's point of view, such a scenario should not, and cannot, prevent the common or convergent action by Communists and other revolutionaries, and left-wing forces, mutual solidarity and internationalist cooperation.
The PCP considers that a collective discussion around issues that are of common interest is required. The party is open to a frank and fraternal exchange of views, both on a bilateral and a multilateral basis, on any issues on which there are different and even divergent views. We believe that we have to take into account the discussions held within other Communist parties and revolutionary organisations so as to feed our own debate and conclusions. That includes, for instance, an analysis of the main features of contemporary capitalism and of the major contradictions in today's world and of the main world trends.
But, first and foremost, we believe that significant efforts should be made to organise common actions and initiatives around specific problems that can mobilise vast masses, such as social issues (unemployment, working hours, casualisation of labour, discrimination of women, racism, immigrants' rights, the struggle against drug trafficking, etc.), environmental issues or issues relating to peace and war.
Despite some meetings, international demonstrations and other initiatives, it is necessary to acknowledge that internationalist co-operation still presents many shortcomings, as was dramatically revealed by the weakness of the concerted international response to the war of aggression against Yugoslavia, notwithstanding significant achievements on a national level.
The PCP shall do whatever it can to help overcome the current situation, in particular to strengthen the exchange of information and to bring together efforts aimed at strengthening class trade unionism and international democratic organisations of women, youth, for peace and solidarity.
The PCP opposes the creation of "European parties" or any other organisations of a supra-national nature which are, in some cases, imposed by those in power, and in others are seen as a "way out" to overcome difficulties in rooting organisations in the concrete situation of their respective countries and shortcomings in internationalist co-operation.
The PCP continues to view the national framework as the decisive context for establishing links with the workers and the masses in the struggle for social change. Being a patriotic and internationalist party, the PCP shall contribute to give a new, vigorous and urgent impetus to solidarity and internationalist co-operation among Communists, progressive forces, the workers and peoples of the world.
In the face of the scourges of capitalism, whose development is in essence subject to the interests of an exploiting minority, it is necessary to stress even further the profoundly humane nature of Communism and of its liberating project - a project that is a powerful factor of progressive and revolutionary mobilisation, especially among youth.
It is necessary and possible to reverse, through the struggle, the current course of the world's evolution, that is, to contain and roll back the imperialist "globalisation" process, to defeat the attempts to set up a "new order" at the service of big business, to achieve a turn to the left and alternatives of social progress, to advance towards socialism.
In what ways is this possible, with such a disproportion of forces and in times of such an accelerated internationalisation of the productive processes and of social relations?
There are no easy answers nor ready-made "models" to break the huge difficulties and the complexity of the current situation. But we are sure that the the course of an alternative and of revolution is the course of the working class and the masses, of their organisation and mobilisation for the struggle, for the satisfaction of their interests and most heart-felt expectations and for political power. It is, at the same time, the course of solidarity and internationalist cooperation of Communists, progressives, workers and peoples worldwide.
In valuing national sovereignty as an indispensable component of democracy, and the national State as a privileged and unavoidable arena of the class struggle, the PCP views the goals and the struggle at a national level as dialectically articulated with world-wide goals and struggle, the growing importance of which is recognised.
History, and particularly the history of the workers' movement, shows that, despite huge difficulties and obstacles, there is an accumulation of forces and processes which can evolve, sometimes very quickly, in favourable ways for the progressive and revolutionary struggle. But it also shows the dangers of underestimating the strength and determination of big capital in defending its class privileges and its hegemonic power. The process which will lead to a fundamental change in the world balance of forces will probably be a complex and prolonged one, involving huge social and political explosions, and implying bitter struggles to overcome the resistance and confront the violence of the ruling classes. Changing this balance of forces implies not underestimating the role of the mass struggle, nor disregarding the reality of the class struggle and the Marxist-Leninist view of the class nature of the State and power.
In general terms, the present stage may still be considered as one of resistance, of the accumulation of forces, including very diversified actions and struggles, covering a very broad range of demands and goals.
At the same time, the advancing processes of internationalisation, cooperation and integration and imperialist "globalisation" itself, tend to bring together and to establish increasingly closer objective links of interdependence between the workers' and peoples' struggles all over the world.
It is the duty of Communists and of all revolutionaries to work to expand the international and internationalist dimension of their activity, and to find the common problems, demands and goals enabling them to bring together in a broad anti-imperialist front very diversified social and political sectors that fight for democracy, national independence, peace, the preservation of the environment, social progress and socialism.
Considering the diversity of political, economic and social situations, and therefore the diversity of tasks which each people faces, it is necessary, urgent and possible to achieve a broad unity in the struggle against imperialism and neo-liberalism, for peace and social progress, around goals such as:
- the struggle against monopolies, transnational corporations and finance capital; against imperialist globalisation and the political and economic bodies at its service; against underdevelopment, exploitation, poverty and hunger; against speculation and the free movement of capital; for the allocation of resources to development and productive investments; against privatisation; for public, universal and free public systems of health, education and welfare; for the abrogation of the foreign debt of the Third World countries; against political and economic impositions by the most powerful countries;
- the struggle to value labour and those who work; against unemployment and for jobs with rights and security; for wages and retirement pensions; for labour and social rights; in defence of workers' trade unions and representative organisations; to reduce working hours without loss of pay and rights; in defence of national agricultures and of farmers;
- the struggle for a real political, social, economic and cultural democracy; the struggle for true equality between men and women and for children's rights; internationalist solidarity with the peoples in struggle for freedom and self-determination, or who are victims of foreign aggressions or blockades; the struggle against every expression of fascist, racist, xenophobic or obscurantist forces; the struggle for the universal abolition of the death penalty;
- the struggle for a world of peace; against imperialism's militarist and interventionist escalation; for the dissolution of NATO and of all political-military blocks; to close down military bases on foreign soil; in defence of the international system of arms-control and disarmament treaties; against the militarisation of space and the development of new weapons systems; to ban and eliminate nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction;
- the struggle to defend the current International Law and United Nations Charter; in defence of sovereignty and national independence; for international relations based on cooperation, mutual advantages and the respect for national interests, for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each State; for a new information order; in defence of, and for the democratization of, the United Nations and its system of organisations, as a framework for peaceful cooperation between peoples;
- the struggle for an ecologically sustainable development; for the preservation of natural resources and ecological balances; against environmental pollution and desertification; for an orderly development of the big urban centres.
These are some of the problems, demands and goals around which the unity in action of the revolutionary, left and progressive forces, as well as the convergence of broad processes and struggles, is necessary and possible. Naturally, it is easier to draw up a list of issues than to find, at each given moment and in the heat of the moment, the specific bonds of unity which can give a strong momentum to the anti-imperialist struggle and open up real prospects of liberating advances. That requires a much broader and quicker circulation of information, a high degree of willingness and readiness for unity, greater speed in coordinating efforts.
It is also necessary to consider that the need for, and the possibility of, establishing very broad alliances to fight against the most inhumane aspects of the policies of big business and imperialism only makes sense when inserted within a broader view of the struggle against their causes and for alternative policies with a view to overcoming them.
Convergences and alliances involving a wide array of forces of the national liberation movement, of important social and democratic movements, and even sectors of social-democracy and of the "Green"/ecological movement are obviously desirable, even when limited in scope and duration. This is possible on issues such as fundamental rights and freedoms, denouncing the most flagrant injustices and inequalities, renewing the importance of the State's social functions, taking steps to regulate global capitalism, considering the most harmful effects of the finance economy and the most pressing problems of the Third World. But to give up, in the name of equivocal notions of "anti-neoliberalism" and "left", goals which challenge the power of the monopolies and of finance capital, the fight against militarism and war, the rejection of the so-called "right of interference" among others, would castrate an anti-capitalist and revolutionary dynamic. As for the main international instruments of imperialist "globalisation" - the IMF, WB, WTO, EU, etc. - the issue at stake is not to "democratise" or "redirect" but to fundamentally restructure, with a view to reorganising the international system of relations, to establish a new equitable and fair economic world order, with a "new world information order", a "collective security system", etc..
In the struggle for specific goals and reforms achievable within the limits of the system, it is necessary, in order to avoid sliding towards an inconsequent reformist short-termism, not to lose sight of the demand for profound social-economic changes of an anti-monopolist, anti-capitalist nature, nor the prospect of the revolutionary overcoming of capitalism, inscribed in the very contradictions of the system.
However hard people try to distort and deny it, socialism, in a conception necessarily renewed by the lessons of experience, is proving itself, day after day, as the necessary alternative.
Some ten years after the defeats of socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe, of the arrogant proclamation of the ultimate triumph of capitalism, it is obvious that the world has not become safer, more democratic, fairer, more humane. We see precisely the opposite. Capitalism is not only incapable of solving the workers' and the peoples' problems, as it is also imposing terrible social and even civilisational regressions and dragging Humankind towards great dangers.
And if capitalism still displays a remarkable capacity of adjustment and recovery, it is also true that it shows itself incapable of suppressing its intrinsic contradictions, beginning with the basic contradiction between, on one hand, the huge development of the productive forces and the growingly social character of production, and, on the other, the relations of production based on the sacrosanct private capitalist property. The opposition between the outstanding advances in knowledge and the brutal worsening of social and human problems, the solution to which is now within Man's reach, is a relevant expression of that basic contradiction that is urgent to overcome through social revolution and the construction of a new, intrinsically democratic, socialist society.
The defeats of socialism and the dangers pending over Humankind do not erase the reality that the 20th century, albeit marked by cruel dramas and violent storms, was essentially a century of huge liberating advances which are inseparable from the creative thought and the revolutionary action of Communists.
Learning with the positive and negative experiences of the working-class and Communist movement, closely identified with the interests and expectations of the workers and masses of the people, fighting against bourgeois ideology and asserting the political, ideological and organisational independence of their Parties, persisting in the struggle and in strengthening their ties of internationalist solidarity - the Communists will open the way so that, in the 21st century, socialism prevails over capitalism.
4 - The PCP, asserting its identity, increasing its influence
Between the 15th and 16th Congresses the PCP carried out an intense and diversified activity, dealing with the country's problems, in defence of the workers and the people, with a decisive role in promoting the mass struggle, in liaison with a qualified intervention in the institutions, and confirming itself as a major national Party, with a stance, identity and values that differentiate it from all others.
A stronger PCP, asserting its identity, strengthening its organisation and activity, extending its social, political and electoral influence: these are great goals and decisive tasks for all Party members and organisations. A stronger Party is essential to make a left-wing alternative possible and to materialise its goals and project of an advanced democracy and socialism as the future for Portugal.
In the period under consideration, the Party faced a situation marked by an unfavourable international context and by the consequences of the course of European integration, with its vast effects on the country, that were made more profound by the PS Government's policies, which are essentially at the service of the economic and financial groups, against the workers, the Portuguese people and the country's interests.
The consequences of a profound offensive against the achievements and values of the Portuguese Revolution have weighed upon this situation, causing significant changes and in many cases creating greater difficulties for an active participation in social, political and Party activities.
During this period, strategies promoting conformism and resignation, and to discredit the struggle and its results, continued to unfold; the consequences of the defeats of socialism in the East European countries, and their instrumentalisation, continued to be felt; and the intoxication and ideological pressure against the Party, silencing and distorting its activity, political proposals and project, was stepped up.
In this context, and despite shortcomings and difficulties, which should not be underestimated, the Party carried out a vast activity, revealing a great capacity of achievement, based upon the participation of thousands of Party members.
Communists have given a decisive contribution to develop the struggles of the masses, of the working class and of working people in general, of the farmers, the students, the pensioners and handicapped people, of women and other social strata, of communities, in defence of their demands and rights, in the resistance against the offensive of big business and against Government policies, thus representing a powerful factor in clarifying and unmasking the true nature of right-wing policies and in asserting the need for a left-wing alternative.
Communists have contributed, with dedication, to the organisation, unity and activity of different broad-based movements, notably in the broad Trade Union Movement.
Communists have carried out a qualified role in the institutions, in the Assembly of the Republic [the country's Parliament], in the European Parliament, in the Regional Legislative Assemblies of the Azores and Madeira [archipelagos] and in Local Government.
The Party had an active and committed participation in the elections and referenda which have taken place.
During these years, the Party promoted and drove important campaigns of political action, associating protest, demands for solutions and the presentation of proposals. The campaigns on the following issues should be stressed: against the increase in phone prices; against the [European] single currency; for public services; against privatisations and their consequences; on the prices of electricity; on giving due value to labour and workers; against the package of labour laws; in defence of vacation leaves; for more respect for those who work; for the right to health care; in defence of public social security; for more fiscal justice; for women's rights; for better wages and jobs with rights; against the increase of fuel and transport prices; on the notion that workers are entitled to a better life.
Besides its regular activity, which yearly involved thousands of meetings, the Party launched a new thrust to strengthen its organisation, activity and political presence, including hundreds of Organisational Assemblies, and carried out, directly or within the CDU [electoral coalition] a large number of initiatives, debates, seminars, meeting of cadres, conferences, cycles of debates on the main national, regional and sectoral issues. Among the topics covered and initiatives held we can point out: the conference on Local Government elections, the seminar on the voluntary interruption of pregnancies and the meetings on regionalisation and the 1999 elections (for the European Parliament and the National Parliament); the seminars on the single currency and employment; the cycle of debates - Portugal 2000; the forums on money laundering, public services and the situation of women; the meetings on privatisations - for a strong and dynamic public sector; on the issues of the big landed estates and the new Alqueva [dam] irrigation, on education and the school system, on health care, sports, community associations, on the labour legislation package and social struggles, on social security, on work among the workers and strengthening the Party, on local government legislation.
The Party's anniversary, celebrated with hundreds of events, brought together thousands of members, and marked a high point in the Party's activity.
The "Avante!" Festival, whose 24th edition took place this year, is an incomparable milestone in the political and cultural life of our country, a Festival of the April Revolution, the people and the youth; it is proof of militancy, creativity and dedication and represents an important factor in asserting the Party and its ideals.
The PCP was at the forefront of the powerful national movement of solidarity with the people of East Timor and in the actions to oppose the war of aggression against Yugoslavia.
It also carried out a diversified activity, namely with the Lisbon International Rally, the resumption of the Festa da Alegria [PCP festival in the northern city of Braga] and initiatives to mark the April 25th [1974 revolution] (particularly during its 25th anniversary celebrations), the October Revolution, the 150 years of the Communist Manifesto and the 130 years of Lenin's birth. Also to be stressed are the many events, festivals, the participation in popular initiatives, the national fund-raising campaigns and the campaign to promote the sales of [the Party newspaper] "Avante!", which took place this year.
The world, in the transition from the 20th to the 21st Century - a time of impressive scientific and technical progress - is an unfair and inhumane world. This gives more strength and relevance to the Communists' struggle and project of emancipation.
The prodigious potential which science and technology opens up for the fulfilment of Humankind's needs is, due to the very nature of capitalism, confronted with the fact that these are used essentially to serve a small minority, whilst exploitation, injustice and social inequality increase and billions of human beings face growing needs.
The aspirations of the workers and the peoples for better living conditions, for development, for sovereign decision-making regarding their future and for peace, are jeopardised by imperialism's designs for world dominance and its traits of aggression and war.
The Portuguese workers' and people's longing for a better life, for a developed, more democratic and fairer country, clashes with the effects of a right-wing policy of national surrender, which causes severe problems today and jeopardises the future.
The times we live in are times of exploitation and injustice, but at the same time, times of resistance, action and struggle.
Facing a complex situation, in which its class enemies use the powerful instruments at their disposal to annihilate or neutralise it, but in which there are clear signs of discontentment and protest, and where the need for a course of social progress is more evident, the PCP, trusting the workers and the Portuguese people, encouraging their action, making use of existing possibilities to extend and expand its influence, has reasons to proceed with confidence in the struggle for a fairer society and world.
It has been so, during its almost 80 years of struggle, of a unique history, with its example of abnegation, courage, coherence and dedication, which has such an enormous value and capacity of attraction.
It is so today, and will be so in the future, for a Party which tries to respond to the main issues of the day, which presents itself, in the complex, demanding and appealing times we live in, with hope, will, conviction and a project capable of responding to the expectations and needs of the Portuguese people and of Portugal.
The Portuguese Communist Party, a revolutionary organization without parallel in 20th Century Portuguese society and History, decidedly asserts itself as a Party for the 21st century. A necessary, indispensable and irreplaceable Party for the workers, the people and the country, it is a Party with its own identity - the Communist identity - established in its Programme and Constitution, whose unmistakable characteristics identify and differentiate it and whose central elements are:
- the aim of building a new society - socialism and communism - free from the exploitation of man by man, from oppression, from discriminations, inequalities and the social scourges of capitalism, a society which, based upon political, economic, social and cultural democracy, a permanent and creative participation of the masses of the people, ensures the development and sovereignty of Portugal and the growth of the Portuguese workers' and people's material and spiritual well-being;
- its class nature, as a Party and vanguard of the working class and all workers, independent from the influence, interests, ideology and policy of the forces of capital, and which has, as its characteristic and goal, close links to the working class, the workers and the people in general;
- its theoretical basis, Marxism-Leninism, a materialist and dialectical view of the world, an instrument for the analysis of reality, a guide for action, a critical and transforming ideology, an open system, contrary to dogmatisation as well as to the opportunistic revision of its principles and concepts, which, linked with experience and life, is constantly renewing and enriching itself;
- its organic structure and operational principles, based upon the creative development of democratic centralism, whose basic characteristics are a profound inner-Party democracy, a single general line and a single central leadership;
- the concept of articulating its national tasks with its international duties, considered indissociable and complementary, and which define it as a patriotic and internationalist Party.
The identity of the PCP is indissociable from its role, its unwavering tenacity and strength, and represents a basis from which to pave the way for greater influence and activity. The goals, priorities, leadership, cadre policy, organisation, financial policy, social and political struggle, social alliances, the Communists' methods of exercising power, the different aspects of the Party's life and intervention must reflect the PCP's identity, class nature and project.
The PCP is the Party which best defends the interests and aspirations of the social sectors and strata which are prey to the right-wing policy of national surrender, strata which it tries to bring together in a vast social front of struggle.
The present Party Programme and Constitution, which were improved and updated in previous Congresses, are still relevant and valid, so that no changes are proposed now. Being essential documents and instruments of the Party, it is necessary to ensure a more widespread debate and circulation of their contents.
The Party inscribes the struggle against the right-wing policy and for a left-wing alternative, which materialises the advanced democracy that it submits to the Portuguese people, within the struggle for socialism and communism, a goal which has mobilised generations of Communists and millions of men and women throughout the 20th Century and which projects itself as the great emancipating cause of the workers and peoples in the 21st Century.
The work of the Central Leadership, in a complex and demanding national and international situation, has, in general, ensured the response and activity of the Party, with timely and regular initiatives. However, difficulties have existed and grown, among others, in planning and co-ordinating the intense and diversified activity of the Party, in an insufficient study of core problems and in elaborating solutions for them, and sometimes, in sectoral and conjunctural analyses, removed from an integrated perspective and response.
Since the 15th Congress, the Central Committee held 20 meetings, discussing the main issues of the political situation and Party life, within the exercise of its responsabilities. But it has continued to reveal shortcomings in its work, namely in the field of information and in planning the discussion of important issues.
The previous Congresses, namely the 15th Congress, adopted decisions which introduced significant changes in the structure of the Central Leadership, with a reduction in the numbers of bodies. The Central Leadership structure resulting from these changes, based upon the Central Committee, the Secretariat, the Political Committee and the Central Control Committee, regardless of its specific composition and of necessary improvements in its work, is essentially adequate for the present phase of Party life. The experience and the requirements which the Party faces, namely a greater study and knowledge of problems, a better definition of guidelines, more political initiative and dynamic and efficient responses, point to the need to improve leadership work. To be stressed are: the importance of collective work; a single general guideline and a close link of the leadership with the Party's organisations and its members; more assessment and study of possible adjustments and improvements in the articulation and complementarity of the various executive bodies and their liaison with the organisational structure, within the context of a necessary renewal, as well as an improvement in the work of the Central Committee and a more timely information between the Central Leadership, the Regional Leaderships, the intermediate bodies and the grassroots organizations. The strong and intense offensive against the PCP, waged by the dominant mass media and supported by attitudes and behaviours of Party members that clearly violated the norms of inner-Party behaviour which were collectively defined and adopted, and that apply to all in their internal or external militant action, require a redoubled cohesion from the Party Leadership in propelling the Party's initiative, in the political and ideological struggle and in the practical assertion of the principles and norms of the Party's democratic functioning, which are essential elements for its strength and effectiveness.
The role and importance of the Central Committee, its constitutional responsibilities, namely the higher-level guidance of the Party's political, ideological and organisational work, involve improving its working conditions, namely: a greater involvement in the debate and decision on Party guidelines; steps forward in conveying information and in a timely planning of its agenda, particularly in the discussion of basic issues; and ensuring a better preparation of its meetings, both by its members and by the executive bodies.
The Central Committee to be elected at the 16th Congress should, in terms of size, have a similar, but not larger, number of members. As to its composition, taking into account the necessary renewal and reflecting the Party's nature, it should continue to have a large majority of workers and employees with a strong working-class composition, ensure the inclusion of cadres with diversified expertise and experiences, with both full-time Party workers and other Party members, reflecting the geographical reality of the Party, with more women and young people, namely from JCP [the Portuguese Communist Youth], and cadres responsible for major areas of Party activity, with strong or relevant intervention in important areas of social and national life.
The Regional Leaderships play a fundamental role in carrying out Party activity and in ensuring the articulation between the Central Committee's executive bodies and the work of Party organisations. However, the situation among the Regional Organisations is widely different in terms of number of members, political and electoral influence, means, cadres and operationality. Carrying out their important role implies - within the framework of the Party's strength - assessing and taking the necessary measures so as to provide the weaker ones with working conditions and, at the same time, contribute to guarantee the solidity and operationality of the stronger ones, in the context of the Party's national dimension. Regional
Leaderships have, as a general rule, continued to exist along District lines, but Regional Leaderships with other borders were created, as were inter-regional organisms with differentiated roles. The general criteria, at this stage, should continue to be the maintenance of Regional Leaderships along District lines, admitting, however, the possibility of different scopes in cases where this may be justified. The assessment of current experiences must continue.
Also to be kept and developed, with an assessment of each experience, are inter-regional organisms, with different solutions concerning their scope and powers, and introducing any changes which experience dictates. Preferences should go to solutions which ensure a closer link between the [Party's] executive bodies and the Regional Leaderships, the involvement and work of local cadres, the liaison with the Party grassroots, the improvement of central assistance to their work and the strengthening of their activity.
The intermediate structures of Leadership (Municipal Committees, Professional Sector or Company Leaderships) are decisive for the Party's activity in response to national requirements and to the specific problems of each sphere of activity. Their number and work being insufficient, it is necessary to create new organisms and value existing ones, stimulate their own initiative, improve information and their articulation with higher-ranking organisms, strengthen their cadres' skills and give them assistance and resources, taking into account the priorities and existing potential.
The structures which assist the Central Leadership have a very important role in monitoring and studying issues and in defining guidelines, within the framework of a broad and diversified activity. This work should be carried out in close liaison with the Regional Leaderships and taking into account the advantage of involving their cadres in the Party organizations. Stressing their important contribution, it is necessary to: assess the adequacy of existing structures to the present needs, priorities and resources; consider their size, taking into account the possible advantages of centralising certain activities and procedures, the possible involvement of cadres, and an adequate proportion of cadres from the central structure and from the Regional Organisations; to seek solutions ensuring the participation in national commssions, which correspond to the potential of the Regional Leaderships and to the Party's structure and national dimension.
The co-ordination of nation-wide companies and sectors has proved important for an integrated approach to activities and in promoting campaigns among the workers (in articulation with the National Trade Union Commission), in monitoring problems, in co-ordinating and integrating guidelines. It is important to stress the responsibility of [Party] Executive Body cadres in this respect. There are shortcomings and delays which result from the excessive workload of those responsible for these sectors, a small number of cells and insufficient cadres appointed for this purpose in the regions, and an excessive discussion of trade union issues. It is necessary to continue the positive experience of campaigns of contacts with the workers, consider the launching of other lines of national action, give responsibility to more cadres and cadres with more availability for this task, increase the number of sectors to be accompanied and appoint cadres from each Regional Leadership to contact Party members and organise cells in their region's companies and sectors, taking into account concrete conditions.
The national initiatives and meetings of cadres of different sectoral and geographic areas, have generally proved useful for the co-ordination of activities and to unify guidelines. It is an experience to be continued, ensuring their integration within the general Party activity and line, with prior involvement of Party organisations and preventing routine and a dispersion of purposes.
The specific way in which Communists democratically exercise power, which results from the PCP's identity - in various contexts, within the Party, in social organisations, in local government, in the State institutions and bodies - is marked by traits which makes it unique, among them: the exercise of power to serve the workers, the people and the country, detached from personal interests, or electoralism; a view of power as resulting from, and requiring, a democratic organisation and functioning of the institutions, articulating power and participatory democracy; respect for elected bodies, leaving aside individualisms and presidentialisms which disfigure the collectives and in which defending Party guidelines is articulated with respect for the institutions' democratic life; an attitude in the exercise of power which respects the obligation to neither benefit, nor be hindered, in financial terms as a result of this, and which merges the responsibilities received from the voters, the permanent willingness to renounce their own mandates and political responsibility towards the Party; a guideline to promote the participation of industrial and other workers in the institutions; an exercise of power which is part and parcel of a class policy coherent with the Communist identity and project. The exercise of power by Communists represents an experience of great value, which must be improved and assessed, with the necessary care, in view of future work, correcting mistakes, being demanding and rigorous so as to assert the Communists' different attitude and work.
Party work in driving forward the struggle and mass movements, in political activity and in Party organisation, is inseparable from the activity of thousands of cadres and other members. The Party is made up by men and women, young and less young people, with different experiences of life and cultural backgrounds, but united by the organization, the action, and the goals of struggle, by their common ideals and Communist project. The Party counts upon a valuable nucleus of cadres, at different levels of responsibility, with undeniable dedication and Party spirit
Cadre policy is a fundamental aspect of Leadership work and is of decisive importance for the growth of the Party's organisation and activity. Giving responsibilities to cadres, in a Party such as ours, warrants a policy, guidelines and continuous and persistent work.
The 15th Congress outlined guidelines for a cadre policy, concerning the need to know and assess cadres, their education and enhancement, the need to distribute responsibilities, as well as to strengthen the nucleus of full-time Party workers and to analyse their conditions and situation. There were advances, but also shortcomings and delays in the implementation of these guidelines, resulting from the objective situation and the problems of Party work.
Steps were taken to know and assess cadres, namely at a national level, with the survey carried out following the 15th Congress and the subsequent follow-up, but shortcomings persist. Superficiality in assessments remains, as do fluctuation of opinions in short spans of time. These deficiencies are sometimes at the root of hasty distributions of responsibilities or the underestimation of cadres with real capacities and potential for development. The assessment of a cadre will be closer to reality if it results from collective work and a continuing assessment linked to the activity carried out. Assessments should also take into account, besides individual characteristics and contributions, the degree of insertion within collective work.
One of the fundamental aspects of a cadre policy is the education and enhancement of cadres. In this respect, an assessment can stress the positive stimulus to the initiative of the cadres. But, in organisations and organisms, there continue to be problems in collective work, cases of weak or inexisting monitoring and accountability and situations of slackness of party discipline.
The action of the Party demands cadres with political and ideological preparation in accordance with its identity, which identifies it as a Communist Party. The development of this theoretical education, necessarily articulated and enriched by practice, is only possible by individual study and the creation by the Party of conditions for a real education and updating, stressing the importance of courses at different levels, with different contents and aimed at diversified sectors, with special attention to young cadres, namely young workers, and intermediate leadership bodies.
Since the 15th Congress, and in comparison with the period between the previous two Congresses, the number of the courses grew significantly, in particular those aimed at specific sectors, which were attended by 500 comrades. There was a relevant participation of new full-time Party workers and JCP member cadres.
If we take into account the limitations on planning and attending courses, we can say that there were positive steps. But we have to admit that we fell very short of the Party's needs and possibilities. The reasons for this, besides objective factors, are a lack of understanding of the importance of cadres' political and ideological preparation and a real underestimation of the importance of individual study and training courses.
Giving responsibilities to cadres is a vital aspect. Since the last Congress and despite major regional differences, there were advances, namely in terms of rejuvenation and more responsibilities for women, but delays and bottlenecks continue.
There was no progress in giving responsibilities to working-class cadres. This cannot be separated from the major organisational shortcomings in companies and work places (resulting from objective factors and from our own activity) and from an insufficient planning of measures, goals and commitment in responding to the changes which have taken place.
Behind the insufficient assignment of responsibilities to working-class cadres, and also to women, there sometimes still lies an absolutisation of the need for short-term availability and immediate answers.
The role of thousands of cadres who are active in various fields of intervention is decisive and of undisputable importance. Among them, it is fair to highlight the full-time Party workers, that core of members who, due to the specific content and nature of their full-time work, give a decisive contribution to the dynamics of Party activity and to strengthen the Party's class nature and revolutionary role.
In accordance, albeit insufficiently, with the 15th Congress guidelines, a renewal and rejuvenation of the nucleus of full-time Party workers has continued.
A particular contribution to this progress was given by the central programme to assist in the recruitment of new full-time Party workers. Under this programme, some 25 comrades, with an average age of 30, were recruited to become full-time Party workers. It is significant that, among these new full-timers, there are an important number of cadres coming from JCP. The revision of the Full-time Party Workers' Material Statute, carried out in 1998, was another step in the consideration and attention to the living and working condition of full-time workers, which has to be continued, taking into account Party finances.
The initial approach and the measures taken were, however, insufficient to answer all the issues concerning full-timers' conditions and status.
On the other hand, paid cadres, with a different status from those of the full-time Party workers, continue to exist for specific needs and situations which cannot be generalised. It has been attempted to keep their numbers small.
Taking into account the situation and the demanding tasks and challenges facing the Party, the need to improve styles of work, the need to ensure that cadres and cadre policy is seen as a priority of the Party's activity, the aim of increasing their numbers, ensuring that they are assigned responsibilities, enhancing their knowledge and assessment, increasing their education and political and ideological steadfastness, preparation, leadership qualities and the activity of current and future cadres, namely full-time Party workers, here are the main guidelines and measures for a cadre policy:
- to promote a broader, more regular and profound assessment of cadres at different levels, namely by continuing the survey of cadres begun by the Central Cadres' Commission (CCQ).
- to give more attention to the education and evolution of cadres, with their participation in Party work. Relevant aspects are: valuing collective work and leadership, the participation in organisms with a regular activity, the distribution of tasks and the monitoring of their execution, the encouragement of accountability, Party discipline, criticism and self-criticism, stimulating participation, creativity and expertise, and a profound study of reality, fundamentally through greater links with the Party's grassroots, with the social movements and movements of struggle, with the masses. Also important is the publicisation and knowledge of the Party's very rich experience of work and the fraternal consideration of cadres' difficulties.
- to give greater importance to the political and ideological education of cadres and Party members in the framework of an overall strengthening of the various aspects of ideological work, by enhancing the role of the Party's School, making a serious effort to increase the number of comrades attending its courses, further publicizing its activity among Party members, deepening their content and continuing to give central support to courses and other educational initiatives by Party organisations.
- to continue a courageous assignement of responsibilities to cadres at all levels, improving the use of their abilities and availability, and giving particular attention to workers, young people and women.
- to increase, renew and rejuvenate the body of full-time Party workers, taking into account that this is essential for an organisationally stronger Party, for the development of its political activity and for the revolutionary nature of the PCP. In particular, to target working-class, young and women cadres, who have, or show potential to develop, leadership and organisational qualities. To counter routines, stimulate their improvement and development. To proceed with, and improve, the central programme of support to the recruitment of new full-time Party workers, without decreasing the organisations' own responsibilities in this respect, and, namely, to take into account the Party's priorities and the preservation and strengthening of its national character. To continue the assessment and study of full-time Party workers' conditions and situation and the study of an adequate relation between the full-time workers in the central structure and in the local organisations.
The Party's organisation is a fundamental instrument for its activity, its links to the masses and for the growth of its influence. It has responded with great value, confirming the PCP's role in the demanding political and social situation and in the political battles fought since the 15th Congress. The Party proved to be a great organised force, which counts upon the dedication of thousands of activists and represents a unique organisation in the country.
The Organisational Balance at the end of 1999 gives a set of indicators which confirm the general tendency, already noted at the 15th Congress, of a curb in the negative evolution of the organisational structure, albeit with contradictory signs at a regional level and in the different lines of work.
The active nucleus and degree of contact, link or integration of Party members, in different forms, shows a stabilisation, with a slight drop in some indicators and growth in others.
The percentage of Party members in organisms and with contact or link grows, the latter totalling just over half of all members, despite a small drop in absolute terms.
The number of members paying dues grows significantly, although with great disparity in regional tendencies, but the number continues to be insufficient (30% of the total).
The number of registered members verified during the balance at the end of 1999 was 131 000. In such a vast organisation, this number oscillates from year to year influenced by objective factors such as the closure of companies, dismissals, desertification of certain parts of the country and concentration of the population in urban areas, emigration and changes of address, situations that take place often and which are relevant, causing loss of contact and with clear reflections in the number of members and the extent of their links with the Party.
The ongoing process of a more profound updating of Party files and the monitoring of their accuracy had a significant impact on these figures.
The continuing rigorous assessment of the situation of current Party members, namely of the large number of members without links, will mean that some of them will not be considered as such, although, on the other hand, the assessment of many existing situations in the local organisations and at a central level, not counted in the Balance, may reveal some who will be reintegrated in the Party's work.
The social composition of members by sex and age shows few changes since the balance of 1996.
The social composition continues marked by a strong working-class composition (52.6%) with a small drop that is not unrelated to the shortcomings of Party work and roots in the shop floors. Other workers constitute 21.2%, who, together with working-class members, represent 74% of all members. The percentage of intellectuals and technical personnel, of small and medium businesspeople and students rises slightly.
The proportion of women increases, reaching 24.9%, but it continues to be low. In some regional organisations this number is higher, reaching 31.2%. In others, the percentage of women among members is vastly lower than the national average. Women represented 29% of new memberships in the last few years and there is an increase of their participation in Party organisations.
As to age composition, although there are positive signs concerning younger people, the rejuvenation is very insufficient. Without counting JCP members who are not members of the Party, about 20% of the Party's members are under 40, 25% are aged between 41 and 50, 30% between 51 and 64 and 25% are over 64 years of age. There is an increase in the number of members over the age of 50, an ongoing tendency in the Party, but also a fact related to the developments in the Portuguese society which show an increase in life expectancy and to the fact that thousands who joined the Party many years ago continue to be Party members. In absolute numbers and percentage, the number of comrades under 21 rises, although slightly. The number of Party members under 30 integrated in the activity of Party organisms increases and another positive sign is the fact that 40% of new members since the 15th Congress is less than 30 years old.
The number of organisms, also considering the organisations that meet in plenary sessions, has grown, and reached 2470, although there is an uneven evolution in the different types of organisms.
At the territorial level there are more than 700 organisms, showing a stabilisation, with a reduction in the number of Municipal and Parish Committees and an increase of Local Committees.
The insufficiencies in company and work-place organisations are very marked, representing only 20% of the total. The overall number of these organisations stabilized, with profound regional differences, there being a drop in the number of Cell Secretariats and Leadership Organisations of Professional Sectors and an increase in the number of their respective branches. However, the effort to strengthen the organisation among the workers is a positive experience that has to be continued in a bold and determined way.
The number of organisations dedicated to Local Government work and work in local Party headquarters increases, the number of organisms involved with trade union activity stabilises and that of other areas of work decreases.
There was progress in the implementation of the main organisational guidelines of the 15th Congress.
There was an improvement in terms of holding Organisational Assemblies, extending inner-Party democracy and encouraging party organisation. In the period since the 15th Congress there were more than 500 Assemblies, mostly Municipal and Parish Organisation Assemblies, with most difficulties at the level of company and Sectoral organisations. Assemblies of Regional Organisations, among others, were held regularly.
There continued to be misunderstandings and resistance to holding Assemblies, due to weaknesses and to exaggerated expectations. There were also, although sporadically, views reducing Assemblies to the mere election of leadership bodies, underestimating accountability, collective analysis and debate and the establishment of guidelines.
There were advances in strengthening and creating grassroots organisations - the cells -at a local level, with an improvement in the activity of some organisations, in their links to the workers and the communities and in some cases, in taking active stands and undertaking struggles for the solution of problems.
Steps forward were also taken in identifying them in each regional organisation, with a view to increasing their number and creating conditions to improve their activity and raise their political life.
Assigning responsibilities to cadres in grassroots organisations, which is important for their growth in size and for their effective activity, made insufficient progress. The general rule corresponds to the Party's experience of giving responsabilities to cadres who are not full-time Party workers, winning them over to take on the responsibility for grassroots organisations in articulation with the higher-ranking body. The choice or election within a given organisation, of a male or female comrade who will co-ordinate or dynamise the activity of the collective, as a way of giving responsibilities to cadres in grassroots organisations, is an experience which proved to be limited in its application and the results of which it is necessary to continue assessing.
There was a significative rate of recruitment to the Party and JCP and development in rejuvenation. Since the 15th Congress, more than 5000 new members joined the Party, including a large number of young people. An important number was included in the Party organisations, a significant number took part in leadership bodies (Parish Committees, Cell Secretariats and even Municipal Committees) in spite of continuing shortcomings in the integration of many others. During the same period, more than 4600 young people joined JCP, mostly students, but also a significant number of young workers. About 33% are girls. Although problems continue, there were positive steps in the process of transfering JCP youth to the Party, as well as in the recruitment of young full-time Party workers.
The assignement of responsibilities to cadres, and renewal, have progressed. There are Regional Organisations where more than a third of elected members were elected for the first time. There are positive developments in understanding the importance of the participation of all Party members, the assignement of responsibilities was broadened to more cadres who are not full-time Party workers, there is now a better knowledge of the active nucleus and the means of integration, involvement and contact with members have been diversified.
In spite of the advances, due to the difficult objective conditions it faces and to less positive aspects of its own work, the Party faces difficulties, insufficiencies and bottlenecks, among which the following:
- great organisational weaknesses in companies and work-places, with shortcomings where it is present and absence in many companies with hundreds or even thousands of (male and female) workers, namely (male and female) industrial workers, which has an immediate impact in an insufficient acquaintance with the national reality, in the links and roots among the working class and the workers in general, in the influence, ability to mobilise and renewal of forces, which can compromise, in the future, the strength, influence and even the nature of the Party.
- weakness of grassroots organisations, in their numbers and in a still unsatisfactory attention given to the problems of workers and communities, to the initiative and activity of the masses, in order to be in a position to correspond to them. Inhibition in undertaking popular initiative, in general and also in parishes and municipalities where local government is run by members of the Party and other CDU-elected officials. Lack of articulation between immediate tasks, short and medium term goals and the Party's proposals and project.
- an insufficient number of cadres who can take on a regular responsibility for organisations and organisms, a situation which reflects upon the degree of structure, dynamism and involvement of Party members. Insufficient number of full-time Party workers.
- a level of militancy, which, with variations, is below what is necessary to carry out Party tasks and work, namely in what concerns assuming permanent responsabilities.
- difficulties in planning and unifying the intervention of Party cadres and organisations in a single general guideline, at certain moments, with sectoralism and the weakening of collective work in some organisations and bodies.
- insufficient revenue, be it from dues or militant collection of contributions, to face the needs deriving from PCP's role, causing financial problems which particular impact in some Regional Organisations.
- underassessment of the importance of the organisation, of its structure and activity, of the regular consideration of measures to strengthen it.
The PCP is faced with great goals of struggle, the materialisation of which requires substantially strengthening the Party, its organisational strength, its social, political and electoral influence. These require the development of the mass struggle on the social level and its guidance into political struggle; the strengthening of the workers' and peoples' movement, the increase of the Party's influence in their structures, the articulation of the mass struggle with institutional activity, and the dynamisation of the Party's political activity. A stronger and more participatory organisation, deeply rooted among the workers and the people, identified with their interests and aspirations, are essential conditions for the growth of the PCP's influence. The difficulties and hurdles, for a Party like ours, are to be overcome and can be overcome. With a continued and persistent action it is possible to strengthen the organisation, a major goal facing all Party cadres and organisations.
The 16th Congress, taking into account the demands which the Party faces, and with a view to overcoming the insufficiencies and bottlenecks which have been detected, points out as the main guidelines of work to strengthen the organisation:
- to launch a vast action to change the small number of party organisations in the enterprises and workplaces and to strengthen the Party's organisation and intervention among the working class and the workers in general. An action involving continued and extended national, regional and sectoral Campaigns and other forms of contact with the workers (associating organisational measures, with struggle for demands, propaganda and political activity), but which has the key goal of building and strengthening the Party's organisation and intervention in the companies and workplaces (creating new Party cells and strengthening those which exist, thereby ensuring the Party's presence, even if only with a single member). The materialisation of this goal should be permanently present in all organisms, should merit the attention of all cadres, is a task of the whole Party, which can only succeed if assumed by the Party collective, mobilising and ensuring the convergence of its forces. The Municipal Committees and Parish Committees, the cadres of the Party in general and Communist union leaders in particular, are all important and necessary to materialise this objective. Besides requiring the general attention of the Party, a decisive issue for the Party's thrust in this direction and to find answers to the changes which have taken place (namely the casualization of labour relations, the growth in the number of working women and the increase in the number of immigrant workers) is the creation of specific Party bodies for sectors and companies (by branch of activity, for companies in a given geographic area, etc.), allotting resources and appointing cadres, namely full-time Party workers, exclusively for this task. The creation of new cells and the rejuvenation of the party organisation in areas where the Party is organised, is only possible with the recruitment of new members, particularly young people. The development of work in close connection and articulation, at various levels, between the Party and JCP, will enable a better use of available contacts, expertise and means, and will also contribute towards this objective. Party work in the companies and workplaces does not begin nor end with the Party members there. It is an action geared towards the workers, which has in the Party members in a given company, in the Party's cell, the essential elements and structure for this work. The 16th Congress places before the whole Party the task of materialising a plan to strengthen the Party's organisation and work in the workplaces, defining as a national goal to ensure the existence of the Party's organised work in the companies and workplaces with more than a thousand workers and/or of strategic importance, besides other sectoral and regional goals to ensure that the Party grows its roots. The Central Committee should promote a national initiative in the year 2002 to assess the situation, the degree of materialisation of the guidelines and measures which seek to strengthen the organisation and intervention in the companies and workplaces.
- to stress a style of work which places at the centre of the Party bodies' and organisations' attention the problems of the workers and the community, of the environment in which they work, the Party proposals and initiatives which concern them, the mass struggles and movements, the action of broad-based associations and structures, the regular discussion of the political situation, the definition of their own positions, a timely information and regular contact with the masses, in articulation with the Party's proposals, ideals and project. To improve the activity, equipment, image and events in local Party headquarters, insofar as they are an important element in ensuring the Party's links with the workers and the communities.
- to strengthen the Party structure, responding to the concrete existing conditions and to the goals which are to be attained, growing deeper roots for the Party and proceeding with the effort to create, encourage and strengthen grassroots organisations, to complete and update thier identification and stimulate their own political initiative and life, as part and parcel of the Party's collective functioning.
- to carry out work among the youth, with a regular activity, articulated between the Party and JCP, contributing to support and strengthen JCP, promoting the integration and greater responsibilities for young people in the party's organisms and ensuring favourable conditions for the growth of the Party among the youth.
- to structure the forms of activity among other social strata, namely: to increase the number of specific organisms for work among farmers, as well as among the micro, small and medium sized businesspeople and their associations and movements; to take into account and give organisational responses to the workers' increasing level of education and to the general situation among intellectuals and technical workers as salaried workers, which strengthens the idea of their integration within the rest of the Party organisations, although maintaining, in accordance with the specific conditions of each regional organization, specific organisations for work in specific sectors (intellectual sectors, areas of professional activity, cells, etc.), taking into account the social importance of this strata and its contribution to the Party; to strengthen the Party's work among old-age and other pensioners and their mass organisations and social structures, taking into consideration their problems and expectations, their growing social and political importance, their numbers in the Party ranks and the role of their movements and institutions, appointing the necessary cadres and creating the necessary structures for this purpose.
- to assign responsibilities to more cadres, to proceed with the organisations' rejuvenation, to intensify recruitments as a direct result of political work and mass action and to ensure the integration of new members. Strive to have a greater number of comrades assume responsibilities and permanent tasks at various levels, paying particular attention to working-class, young and women cadres. To strengthen and rejuvenate the nucleus of the Party's full-time workers. To stimulate women's participation in Party life and leadership bodies at various levels. To promote a more intense recruitment work, in particular among the youth, workers and women, namely finding ways to increase the recruitment of young people from JCP into the Party. To ensure greater attention to the organizing of each new member, by giving him/her tasks and integrating them within an organisation.
- to increase militancy, increase the active nucleus, stimulate the initiative of Communists, promote the integration, liaison and contact with Party members through varied forms. To broaden the understanding that the Party's organisation in each place is, first and foremost, what the Party members ensure that it can be, with their militancy, dedication and creativity, as part and parcel of the Party collective's work. To deepen a persistent quest for means of organisational and political work that can stimulate more information, involvement and a more active participation of Party members. To improve the contents and preparation of meetings. To view the creation of Party organisms and the integration of Party members within them as a main concern. To carry out regular meetings, preferably monthly, ensuring the participation of all Party members who so wish and are able, as well as get-togethers, debates and other events which enable contact and liaison. To structure forms of individual contact with Party members (a network of liaison and collection of dues, the militant sale of "Avante!" and "Militante", etc.). To also make use of postal services when necessary to make contact.
- to ensure a more regular and profound monitoring, discussion and assessment of the organisation and the number of its members. To continue clarifying the situation of Party members, speeding up this work, without administrative clean-ups, and aiming at integrating those who wish to continue or to re-establish their links with the Party and to ensure greater accuracy in registering the Party's reality. To launch a campaign of contacts with Party members, to be carried out from March 2001, handing out the new Party cards, trying to update available information, increasing dues and their payment, and inquiring about the availability for specific tasks. To make an annual assessment of the active nucleus and to systematise the nature of the information on the organisational reality, so as to ensure regular monitoring by the Party's Central Leadership.
- to carry out more regular and more frequent organisational Assemblies, as a way of enhancing inner-Party democracy and promoting Party work, and making them venues for assessment of past work and of prospects for the future, for accountability, collective debate and the election of leading bodies. To try to organise yearly Assemblies of smaller grassroots organisations, preferably at the beginning of each year.
The Party's activity, based upon the decisive role of the Party's organisation and having as its key element the mass struggle, associated with the institutional struggle, requires a coordination and unification of forces. Other lines, means and instruments of Party action are the Party press, information and propaganda, the "Avante!" Festival and other party initiatives.
Under the present political conditions, with the existing disproportion of means, particularly as regards access to the major mass media, the Party's participation in the daily struggle to achieve short, medium and long term objectives - carried out with lines, means and instruments of intervention which have their own dynamics and linked to the initiative of each organisation or organism - will have a real chance of influencing political life and succeed if the Party manages to coordinate and unify, at a given moment, all its forces for a certain action, campaign or objective.
Despite positive experiences, there have been difficulties in this respect, except during electoral campaigns, and even then, in an insufficient way.
It is necessary to develop the experience of conducting great mass political campaigns of alert, protest, proposals and demands promoted by the Party, with care in their programming so as to leave space for sectoral, regional and local dynamics, without neglecting the necessary agility to take decisions and provide answers in accordance with the requirements of the moment.
The Party press - "Avante!" and "Militante" - has a very prominent role in the ideological education of Party members, in the battle of ideas, in publicizing events, positions and guidelines of the Party, in ensuring that it is seen as a national whole.
The promotion and circulation of "Avante!" and "Militante", fighting existing underestimations, is an important form of dynamising the organisation, ensuring its link with members and contact with different people, of boldly asserting the Party's proposals and ideals.
With the remodelling of "Avante!" (February 2000) and the improvement of its contents, important - if uneven - steps were taken in the Party organisations. The campaign to promote and circulate "Avante!", carried out following the remodelling, proved that there is great potential to increase its circulation, whenever Party organisations take concrete measures to this effect. "Militante" is instrumental in Party members' political and ideological education and plays an important role, that must be encouraged, in what concerns organizational issues.
Circulating and promoting the Party press is a task for the whole Party. The success of this task, taking into account the nature and aim of the Party press, namely of "Avante!", as the Party's Central Organ, can only be achieved if based upon the Party organisation, giving comrades responsibility for this task, implementing stable structures that ensure the continuity of its militant sales and stimulating a network of distributors of "Avante!". The necessary and possible increase in mail subscriptions is another important form of circulation.
Improving the contents of the Party press, the attention and treatment of national and international news, of cultural and ideological issues, a greater and more permanent links to the Party's activity and reality, are fundamental for the growth and circulation of the Party press, namely of "Avante!" and "Militante".
In the framework of the PCP's communication work, that involves many elements and aspects, information and propaganda have a particular importance and relevance. They are increasingly essential and indispensable to almost all forms of political activity by the PCP.
During the past four years, an intense and diversified informational and propaganda activity continued, based on the Propaganda Department, the central Press Office and the regional Organisations. Its dimension and need can be gauged by a brief and incomplete reference to the support given to five national election campaigns and local and regional election campaigns; to the contribution to major Party initiatives (notably the "Avante!" Festivals); to the production of several topical or targeted materials and to broadcasting periods on radio and television; to updating and improving the Party's presence and press on the Internet; to the preparation and circulation of several exhibitions; to persistent contacts with the media for the publicization of the Party's positions and initiatives; to the organisation of major topical campaigns articulated with the Party's political initiatives.
An assessment of the work carried out in this area necessarily involves an honest acceptance of numerous shortcomings, omissions and delays in relation to various matters, concerns and lines of work announced at the previous Congress - and which are essentially still valid and relevant. But the valuable contribution of this work cannot be ignored, taking into consideration the Party's limited resources and the uneven balance of forces in the struggle of ideas.
The tendencies, developments and changes affecting political life and the media system, and the increasing connection between these two areas, far from lessening or reducing the role of the Party's information and propaganda, imperatively demand that it be strengthened, with increasing skills, improvement and expansion. This is so because there is a need to confront the pressure exerted by the media's criteria of fragmenting and distorting facts and information, thereby compromising an understanding of processes and of the links between phenomena. This is so because there is a need to provide Party members and voters and vast social sectors with consistent and true elements of information about the national reality and Party proposals, thus countering the effects of the gross discrimination against the PCP and of the values and criteria prevailing in the media and political life, that promote superficiality, conformism, abusive generalisations encompassing all parties, and which encourage political amnesia and the impunity of those who are responsible for right-wing policies. This is so because the Party's information and propaganda represents an added value for the Party's activity and a greater contact of its organisations and members with the social sectors and communities in which they operate.
Under these circumstances, and without being exhaustive, the following issues, lines of work and guidelines warrant particular attention:
- to strengthen a qualified and continuing line of central information and propaganda work and of relations with the media, based upon specialised structures and cadres, which can correspond to the Party's national communication needs and guarantee the necessary support to the Party organisations' own activity and initiative;
- to develop, encourage and support an effective decentralisation of communication work and initiatives, namely at the level of grassroots organisations, as an irreplaceable element for a quicker and clearer response, closer to events and people. This can ensure a more efficient and also a more intense relationship of Party organisations with the workers and the community;
- to preserve concepts and principles which have guided the Party's communication activity (as is the case with defending a coherence between form and content; of a distinctive view of political propaganda, as opposed to advertising and its criteria; of harmonising a decentralised initiative with the unifying and national elements of the political message and image; of valuing the Party organisation and its members as a decisive factor of communication), to stimulate the search and innovation of means, language and forms and to make progress in assessing the effectiveness and results of communication work, based upon a closer relationship and dialogue with the organisations and the use of agents specialised in communication techniques and in the Social Sciences;
- continuing to value classic and tested forms of information and propaganda, such as cell bulletins and documents on various issues felt by the workers and populations, it is necessary to reflect and study the ongoing and forthcoming qualitative changes in the media system (massification of the Internet and electronic media, digital radio and television, multiplication of channels, interactivity, changes in the contents and patterns of information, etc.) and the ways by which the Party, in this context, can undertake an active and effective work and publicization of its ideas and values, taking into account the diversity and difference among the people we are targeting, their degree of illiteracy and of access to the new information technologies;
- to fight against views and policies which, under the pretence of justified and legitimate environmental concerns and of defending our heritage, concerns which we share, aim in reality to restrict and condition the exercise of the right and freedom of political propaganda.
The "Avante!" Festival, a unique event in the political and cultural panorama of the country, a festival of youth, freedom, democracy, solidarity, participation and struggle, a festival of social reunion and joy, has, throughout the years, counted with the creativity, innovation and diversity which has created new poles of attraction for thousands of Portuguese people.
The editions of the Festival, during the period since the 15th Congress, have represented a great political assertion of the Party, of its proposals, ideals and values and ensured important displays of different cultural expressions.
The engagement of the Party, the discussion, planning, innovation, mobilisation of organisations and members, giving responsibilities to new comrades, all these are fundamental elements to build the Festival. Its success is the result of militancy, creativity, dedication of Party and JCP members, and of many sympathisers, who see in the Party's Festival, the Festival of those who struggle for a better, fairer, more fraternal world, for freedom, democracy and socialism.
The Party's ability to carry out political work is closely linked to its financial capacity. The issue of funds, from their collection to their judicious management, is a problem of the utmost importance in the daily activity of Party members, organisms and organisations.
As a revolutionary Party of the working class and of all workers, the collection of funds, essential to the financing of the activities of the PCP, continues to have its main source among the members, sympathisers and masses of the people. Unlike other Parties, the PCP lives from its support among the workers and the masses of the people, whose interests and yearnings it serves and defends.
The evolution in the consolidated accounts of the whole Party universe, from the 15th Congress until the end of 1999, regularly presented to the Constitutional Court and published in "Avante!", reveal a globally favourable evolution in that there is a positive balance sheet. It is important to clarify that these balanced accounts are fundamentally due to a criterious management of the Party's property, seeking to make good use of resources so as to ensure the financial means necessary for the Party's intense political activity. In effect, if we consider only the average current revenue of the four years being considered (1966/99), to face its current expenses, there is a deficit of 116 thousand contos [1 conto=1000 escudos].
The revenue of the Regional Organisations, taken globally, increased 24.57% since the 15th Congress, from 680 970 contos in 1996 to 848 359 contos in 1999, showing, overall, a positive trend, although with less positive situations in some organisations.
The expenses of all organisations rose 14.6%, reaching in 1999 the huge sum of 1 033 077 contos. The rate of coverage improved significantly,and was, at the end of 1999, 84.5%, which is positive. However, this means that the Central Treasury still had to cover, through different subsidies, a 15.5% deficit in the organisations' current expenses, spending more than 184 thousand contos. This is a situation which has to be changed, because it is not possible to continue resorting to the Party's reserves, which are not inexhaustible.
The structure of expenses shows that expenditure with full-time Party workers, for reasons deriving from a Party with our characteristics, continue to have a considerable weight, representing in 1999, 60.8% of the total. Expenses with transportation and with Party headquarters totalled about 26.4% of all Party expenses in 1999.
Between the 15th and 16th Congresses, income globally grew 2.6% and expenses grew 4.6%. Despite a larger growth in expenses, a financial balance was preserved.
Comparing the financial results with those presented at the 15th Congress, we find a positive trend.
To continue this positive evolution, to improve the self-financing of the Party in all organisations and Sectors is a goal which is within our reach. To this end, the following objectives and measures have to be present:
- to strive for a great increase in Party revenue. This is a possible and necessary goal, paying particular attention to members' dues and contributions, which represent the most secure and coherent means of financial support for the Party. It is necessary to increase the number of members who pay their dues regularly and carry out a continuous effort to update their value. To make more organisms and comrades responsible for this task, to underline its importance and to extend the network of dues collection are indispensable conditions to achieve these goals, at the same time as new forms are sought, taking into account existing experience. Experience shows that there still is shyness and little political courage in seeking financial support among members, democrats and important segments of the population, who although not Communists, respect and admire the PCP, and are willing to help when asked. It is a weakness of our work, which has to be overcome.
- to raise the contributions of elected officials. The value of these contributions has increased slightly since the 15th Congress and, even though it continues to be the second largest item in the structure of Party revenue, it is far from its real potential. Because these contributions are a consciencious embodiment of the way of exercising power with values that distinguish us, it is indispensable to keep up the efforts to monitor and materialise the pledges of each elected official, so as to ensure respect for the Party's constitutional principle according to which no Communist elected official should benefit, nor be hindered, as a result of holding office. Without countering the need to increase income from this origin, it is necessary to register that many Regional Organisations depend heavily on these contributions, a situation which demands great attention and requires measures to change it.
- to continue to militantly stimulate mass initiatives, such as national and local campaigns, festivals, social gatherings, cultural events and others, in which thousands of Party members and sympathisers participate, which generally constitute an important source of income for the organisations and an important link between the Party and the popular masses.
- to apply a policy of containment of expenses, especially of those not directly connected with political activity. There should be no increase in the relative weight of expenses with cadres without tasks of leadership or organisation in the total amount of the expenses with the Party's workers. There must be a judicious use of the material and financial resources of the Party, opposing certain practices of liberalism in the management of its assets and resources.
- to work towards gradually securing a financial balance in all organisations in general. The stronger organisations should be encouraged to step up their contributions to the Central Treasury. The studies aiming at updating the schemes of assistance by the Central Treasury to those organisations which cannot yet guarantee their self-financing should be pursued, safeguarding that the present overall levels of support will not be significantly changed.
- to continue supporting the recruitment of new full-time Party workers, taking into account the cadres, the definition of the Party's priorities and its financial limitations.
- to take care of Party assets, throughout the country, which are today priceless in both historical and financial terms. This fact has required and continues requiring the constant dedication and attention of the Party, its organisations and members, as to their good use, conservation and usefulness.
- to improve the drawing up of Party accounts. Although several deficiencies in the correct and timely preparation of accounts have been overcome in the last few years, a few flaws still persist. These flaws must be corrected, insofar as it is necessary to face the new legal requirements imposed by the recent version of the Law on the financing of political parties.
- to intensify the political discussion on Funds, at all levels of the organisation, raising cadres' understanding of their importance, viewing this task as an important political issue in the context of preserving the Party's political and ideological independence and of preserving an intense activity and work, making more members responsible for the different tasks of funds, creating more Commissions for Funds and Financial Control.
The PCP, a patriotic and internationalist party, continued paying great attention to its responsibilities on an international level and to act to strengthen the bonds of friendship, co-operation and solidarity between the Communists and all progressive and left forces, and for a common or converging action of anti-imperialist forces.
Facing the stepped up imperialist policy of militarism, aggression and war, the PCP intervened with its own positions in the intense political and ideological battle imposed by the proclaimers of the "single thought" and in the promotion and support of concrete actions of solidarity. Among these, the unequivocal condemnation by the PCP of the aggression against Yugoslavia and the solidarity with its people, the support for the independence of East Timor, in keeping with the PCP's long-standing solidarity with the heroic East Timorese people, and the permanent solidarity with the Cuban people and for the end of the blockade.
We continue to highly value bilateral relations, which are essential for a mutual acquaintance and understanding, although we have to note a decrease of visits to Portugal. However, we count on about 40 foreign delegations during each edition of the "Avante!" Festival. The Party sent several delegations abroad, prominent among them, those of the General Secretary to Angola, South Africa, Brazil, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Sweden. The Party attended numerous congresses, conferences, seminars, festivals of central organs and very diverse initiatives. To be stressed, among others, are the visits to Venezuela, Colombia, Yugoslavia, China and East Timor.
On a multilateral level, the PCP gave its active contribution to the co-operation between Communists and other forces of the left in Europe, supporting common or converging actions around issues such as the struggle against unemployment and for the reduction of working hours, against the aggression on Yugoslavia, for the dissolution of NATO, against the militarization of the E.U., and others. It took part in the adoption and launching of the "Common Appeal" for the 1999 European Parliament elections and the constitution and activity of the European Unitary Group of the Left/Nordic Green Left. It participated in the Unitary Group of the Left of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.It was always present in the "Summits" of the left-wing forces that took place in Madrid, Berlin, Paris, Lisbon. Among our Party's other initiatives, we value the huge International Meeting of Lisbon, in May 1997, as well as the debate on "Employment with Rights", together with the participation in the huge CGTP rally of March 23, 2000. It is also important to note the PCP's participation in international meetings, seminars and conferences of various types in Greece, Cyprus, Cuba and other countries. The PCP was represented at all the Meetings of the Forum of São Paulo, a process that continues to be an important form of co-operation among the Latin-American forces of the left.
Since the 15th Congress, the PCP continued to broaden its international relations, but was not able to correspond to numerous invitations and solicitations to participate in a very broad array of initiatives.
The guidelines for the development of the Party's international activity are:
- to continue studying the main current trends of capitalism and the great issues of world development; to try to improve the exchange of analyses and points of view on these issues and, whenever possible, to carry out common reflections on them;
- to take frequent stands and to promote initiatives of explanation and solidarity on international issues, also giving them more time in its political discourse;
- to contribute to strengthen and assert the communist and revolutionary movement and to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations with other Communist parties;
- to deepen its very diversified relations with numerous political forces in Europe and the world, and to establish exchange relations with new democratic, progressive and anti-imperialist forces;
- to examine the possibility of setting aside resources and cadres to improve the international publicization of the Party's activity and guidelines, as well as to provide more domestic information about its international activity;
- to continue and improve the articulation of the international activities of Communists in the institutions and mass movements;
- to contribute to strengthen the structures and national and international initiatives of broad movements for peace and internationalist solidarity.
In Portugal and in the world at this turn of the century, the PCP confirms itself as a Party which is necessary and irreplaceable for the workers, the people and the country.
A Party of the working class and all workers, but at the same time a Party presenting an alternative and a policy which corresponds to the fundamental interests of other non-monopolist classes and strata.
A Party which embodies the left-wing opposition to the policy of the right and to the PS Government, a Party which can encourage and lead the protest, demands and struggle, a Party with a new and different view of the exercise of power and of politics, based upon the people's interests, on seriousness of purpose, competence, integrity and participation.
A Party with a coherent identity and image, which does not sway with the prevailing winds, but where daily political action articulates with the project of an advanced democracy and socialism for Portugal.
A Party whose strength and growth in influence is a decisive condition for the materialisation of popular aspirations, to answer the serious problems facing Portugal and ensure its development:
The Portuguese Communist Party, a party with almost 80 years of struggle at the service of the Portuguese people and the country, counting upon the participation of its militant collective, extending its roots among the Portuguese workers and people, decidedly asserts itself as a major party for the 21st Century.