Europe, “the Nordic Model” and the Revolution – By APK, Denmark (July 2000)

Contribution of the APK – The Workers’ Communist Party of Denmark – to the Fourth International Seminar “Problems of the Revolution in Latin America”, held July 17-21, 2000, in Quito, Ecuador

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Europe was the continent that gave birth to the first successful proletarian revolution when a major country, or rather a series of countries with Tsarist Russia at its centre, embarked on the road of building socialism successfully, on the Marxist-Leninist road of Lenin and Stalin.

But Europe was also the epicentre of two world wars during the last century; it was the continent, where nazi-fascism had its day, and for a long period after the great victory over fascism, it was divided into two camps, the camp of Western European imperialism and the camp of socialism and people’s democracies.

The European continent was also the first to shape state bearing modern revisionism, first in Titoite Yugoslavia, and after the death of Stalin and the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in the Soviet Union itself and in the other countries which had embarked on the road of socialism after the Second World War. Through 40 years, socialism was virtually being destroyed by modern revisionism that was still pretending to be socialism, but in fact reerected capitalism, at first in disguised ways, later, in the last decade of the 20th century, in terrible open forms.

The revisionist Soviet Union was turned into a reactionary and oppressive social-imperialist superpower that for a while, basing itself on the achievements of socialism, was able to compete, but also to collaborate with the United States of America on world domination. With the Warsaw Treaty and the COMECON, the Soviet Union was also able to dominate and subjugate its allies, the Eastern European countries, thereby adding the factor of national oppression to the other factors that eventually destroyed the Soviet social-imperialist empire.

On the first continent of socialism, there was only one notable exception to this revisionist tragedy – small socialist Albania of Enver Hoxha, which heroically fought imperialism, social-imperialism, modern revisionism and all reaction, but finally was destroyed by a terrible counter-revolution with tragic consequences for the country, its working class and people.

The victories of revolution and socialism on our continent had a great influence on the strategy and tactics of the imperialist bourgeoisie towards the working class. Fearing to be swallowed by the flames of socialist revolution, the Western European bourgeoisie, with the necessary assistance of social democracy, the reformist trade unions and later on of the former communist parties, which had turned revisionist, had to make a series of concessions to the workers, who had fought for their rights and had been in the lead of the popular struggle against fascism.

In the Nordic countries, like Denmark, Sweden and Norway, this came to be known as “the Nordic welfare model” and these countries were called “the Nordic welfare states”. These societies were presented as a kind of alternative to capitalism as well as socialism, a so-called “third way”. In fact, such a way cannot be found, and it was in reality nothing but a model of institutionalised class collaboration as a means of preventing revolution, of appeasing the working class of these countries.

In the other Western European countries, including the former fascist countries, political systems, where openly bourgeois parties alternate with reformist social democratic and socialist parties to hold the reigns of government, were eventually created. At the end of the last century until today, there were socialist or social democratic governments in the majority of the countries of the European Union (EU), including major powers such as England and reunited Germany, the strongest power of this Union.

There must be no doubt about the character of this Union, now moving towards some kind of the “United States of Europe”, with its own currency and state institutions, including the shaping of an “European army”: This is the making of another imperialist superpower, intent on world domination, created by an alliance of the imperialist bourgeoisies in its big and small powers that according to their mutual strength divide the super profits of imperialist and neo-colonialist exploitation and are dreaming of reerecting their old colonial empires in a new form.

The EU is completely imperialist, chauvinist and reactionary and has inscribed neoliberalism as its foundation in its treaties. To the workers in the EU, it is being described as a tool for securing peace in Europe and as an instrument for combating mass unemployment and securing the welfare of the workers. Especially, the social democratic, socialist and revisionist parties have been working very actively in this great deception. Now when they are in power in most of these countries, the workers are learning that neither these governments on the national scale nor the European Union as such improve their living standards, secure their welfare or eliminate mass unemployment, which officially is around 10 percent, but in reality is the double or even the triple of that figure.

On the contrary, the EU, as a tool of the monopolies, is attacking all the results of the struggles of the workers and eliminating many of the reforms that were the result of the existence of socialism on the continent and of the permanent fear of the bourgeoisie that the workers would rise in revolution. Even though a country like France has passed a law of a 35-hour week, the EU allows 48 hours as the normal working week, and this is, in fact, closer to reality. The demand for 48 hours a week was the demand first raised by the workers in 1890 in the very first May 1 celebrations! After more than a century of wars, revolutions and working class struggle, these long hours, today at exceptionally high work intensity, are found in the “flexible European labour market”.

And as for peace and stability in Europe: The European continent has become war-ridden, in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, after the collapse of state bearing revisionism, as the continent, especially the former Eastern Europe and the states of the former Soviet Union, is being redivided according to the strength of the EU and its great powers and in competition with the US and the present capitalist-imperialist Russia as well. Under the flag of independence and national sovereignty, the ruling classes of these old and new states have replaced the yoke of Soviet social-imperialism with the yoke of Western and Western European imperialism. Many of them are now trying to enter the EU and the aggressive NATO, but they are admitted only on the terms of the dominating imperialist powers, at the expense of their national rights, their working class and the people as such.

The revisionist counter-revolution, which finally resulted in the establishment of brutal and openly capitalist regimes in the countries that had embarked on the road of revolution and socialism, has had catastrophic consequences for the workers and peoples of these countries. Only a small stratum of new-rich people has benefited from it. To the majority, it has meant harder and longer working hours at lower wages, worsened living conditions, mass unemployment, and even, as in Russia, a rapid reduction of the average life expectancy.

So the temporary victory of so-called “democracy” and the market forces did not lead to prosperity, welfare and social progress, but to the opposite, to retrogression and decay, and to disillusionment.

The workers in the EU countries are engaged in a defensive struggle to avert the onslaught of capital on their conquered rights and positions. The Danish workers have combined this struggle with the struggle against Denmark’s EU membership and the country’s integration into the EU.

They understand still more clearly, in spite of the demagogy of the social democrats, at present holding the reigns of government, that the EU means the destruction and privatisation of the public sector, and the abandonment of the “Nordic welfare model” that has been destroyed to a large extent during the last decade. They understand that the EU means permanent mass unemployment, further lowering of the minimum wages and the reduction of workers’ rights.

To a small country like Denmark, which has been fighting for its independence and sovereignty throughout the centuries, including against the Nazi-German occupation, it also means the loss of independence, the abolition of the national currency and the establishment of the rule of the euro. On the international scene, such small countries cannot act independently, but only as members of this political, economic and military union, thereby gradually getting their status reduced to the same status as the one enjoyed by the individual states of the US. The small nation states of the EU are facing annihilation as national states as the EU is trying to institute a so-called “European” identity and culture, which is an identity and culture of imperialist chauvinism.

Since the birth of the workers’ movement, the European workers have constituted a socialist proletariat, aspiring to achieve and build socialist societies. Of course, the double betrayal of social democratic reformism and modern revisionism has created doubts, disillusionment and confusion. But this does not mean that the ideals of socialism, that is, genuine socialism, socialism built on the basis of Marxism-Leninism, and not the so-called “democratic socialism” or revisionist “socialism” or “communism”, has been completely discredited. On the contrary, it is “democratic socialism” and “revisionist socialism” that in reality have been revealed as capitalist hybrids and not genuine socialist societies. The victories of the revolution and socialism in Europe, especially under Lenin and Stalin, are still held as an experience in the minds of the class-conscious workers, revolutionaries and communists, and therefore the anti-communist propaganda have never ceased for one minute, even after the bourgeoisie had declared that communism had been finally out-rooted and had failed historically.

It is a great task of the Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations in Europe to reinforce the belief in socialism among the class-conscious workers, to elaborate programmes of the revolution and draw up socialism as a concrete alternative among the class-conscious workers.

Therefore, our Party, the APK, has drawn up our general programme, “The Manifesto for a Socialist Denmark”, and is trying to spread it and its ideas in the ranks of class-conscious workers and revolutionaries.

The tasks of the revolution of the highly developed capitalist and imperialist European countries are to smash the bourgeois and imperialist state apparatus, establish the dictatorship of the working class, and begin the construction of socialism. In general, the tasks of the bourgeois revolution have been solved, but in this revolutionary process, tasks of democratic nature are also interwoven, of course, including the defence of the national independence, which is being attacked by the imperialist bourgeoisie.

In some areas of Europe, especially in Russia, there objectively exists a revolutionary crisis that cannot be brought to manifestation at the moment, due to the lack of a strong Marxist-Leninist communist party and other strong workers’ organizations, such as revolutionary trade unions.

Due to the coercive work of revisionism, the workers of Russia have been deprived of their organizations, which have to be rebuild and indeed are being rebuild today by the Marxist-Leninist communists and class-conscious workers. Nevertheless, it is a fact that the subjective factors of the revolution in this country, in a very pronounced way, are lagging behind the objective factors of the revolution. This also holds for the other European countries, including the former revisionist countries, former socialist Albania and the countries in and around the EU.

With the development, enlargement and strengthening of the EU, which is creating one gigantic inner market and a corresponding gigantic labour market, including hundreds of millions of workers, the necessity to enhance the concrete cooperation and joint struggle of the workers of the Union and around the Union. The International Meetings of Trade Unionists of which the sixth was held this year in Odense, Denmark, establish very clearly that the workers of the EU countries such as Denmark, Germany and France, or surrounding countries that are still not part of the EU, such as Norway, are fighting the same, or an almost identical, struggle, and that the conditions of theses struggles are very similar. They are all facing the same enemy – the monopolies and their instrument, the EU.

During the last century, the genuine communist parties, the parties of the Communist International, and later on the new Marxist-Leninist parties that were created when the old parties turned revisionist, never succeeded in winning the majority of the working class for rising in revolution and for genuine socialism. Social democratic, reformist and revisionist ideas of class collaboration as a means to ensure progress to the workers and the so-called “democratic and parliamentary road to socialism” dominated in the majority of the working class and in the trade unions, which are tied with a thousand and one treads to capitalist society and the bourgeois state. Today, the reformist trade unions are part and parcels of the construction of the EU as a new imperialist superpower. The socialist and social democratic leaders of these capitalist trade unions are merged in the bourgeoisie and receive salaries competing with the salaries of the managers of the monopolist firms.

As Lenin teaches us, the social basis of opportunism is the existence of the labour aristocracy and the petty bourgeois intelligentsia, which exert their influence on the communist parties and the workers’ movement. As agents of capitalism and imperialism, they try to tie the working masses to the capitalist system.

It has been the policy of Western European imperialism to buy and expand the small stratum of labour aristocrats, although this stratum never makes up more than a rather small minority of the working class. It has been the great weakness of the Western European communists that they have never defeated the political role of this corrupt and pro-imperialist stratum of workers. Indeed, this stratum has occupied positions of command in all former communist parties that turned revisionist. This fact is linked to the very complicated struggle on the character of those trade unions that are tools of reformism and revisionism. In order to win the majority of the working class for the revolution not only the social democratic and revisionist parties must be turned into minority parties in the working class and the influence of openly bourgeois parties must be eliminated, also the paralysing influence of the reformist trade unions and their functionaries must be overcome.

In the Nordic countries, including Denmark, the majority of the workers, almost 90 percent, are organized in reformist, social democratic trade unions. Of course, the Danish communists must fight inside these trade unions, but if we limit our struggle to the trade unions, if we do not act outside the trade unions as well, creating revolutionary forms and organs of struggle, our struggle will only be the tail of the reformists.

Labour aristocracy and reformist ideas are especially widespread among the skilled workers. In general, the unskilled and semiskilled workers are more inclined to reject class collaboration and rise in struggle. We are convinced that the core of the working class are the unskilled and semi-skilled workers of the great industrial workplaces, and our Party bases itself and its activities mainly on this core. But also other workers, working in the private and public sector, and other strata, such as teachers and health workers, have fought and are fighting for their rights against privatisation, intensification of work, reduced real wages and new wage systems and collective agreements that split and divide the workers.

The bourgeoisie applies a number of tactics to divide and introduce new contradictions among the workers, even at the same workplace, in order to destroy their unity. These methods are being introduced all over the EU, adding new contradictions to the old ones among the workers themselves, such as contradictions among unskilled and skilled workers, men and women, younger and older and so on, basically individualising and atomising the relationship between labour and capital.

In the recent years, the workers of both Denmark and Norway have rejected the collective agreements negotiated by the social democratic trade union leaders and carried out general strikes, paralysing the entire society. These struggles were betrayed, or as in Denmark, put to an end by the government, passing a law, which did not meet the demands of the workers.

But this, as well as the heavy decline in the number of members of the social democratic parties themselves, shows the widespread dissatisfaction with the social democratic “leadership” of the working class.

There are many local conflicts, at small and medium-sized workplaces. And also the unemployed and people receiving social benefits, being used as some kind of third-rate labour force at minimal wages and mostly without any labour rights, have tried to organize themselves and rise in struggle.

The partial destruction and privatisation of the public sector have caused many conflicts: teachers, pupils and students, nursery teachers and parents, health workers, patients and their families have risen in protests and actions against closures, the worsening of their conditions and the deterioration of the educational and health standards, etc.

The Danish communists are active in or are supporting these struggles, trying to expand their scope and directing them against the state and government and the policy of the EU, too.

Due to the huge resistance against the EU among the workers and the people, the Danish bourgeoisie has been forced to hold popular referendums when new treaties, making new steps of EU integration, are made. Since 1972, when a majority of the population voted yes to Danish membership of the EU, these referendums have shown a continuing resistance towards the political Union among the Danish people and a growing no among the Danish workers. On September 28, another referendum will be held on the adoption of the euro as the national currency instead of the krone. This will be a very close race, and the bourgeoisie, almost all its parties and all the media are carrying out a constant propaganda in favour of the yes. Nevertheless, at the moment opinion polls are showing that a majority of the Danes will vote no. If this will be the result, it will be a defeat to the ruling class in Denmark and will express not only the no of the Danish workers, but also the resistance of all European workers to the EU. It will be a signal to increase the struggle everywhere against this imperialist project of the European monopolies.

Due to the differences in history, traditions and development, there exist great differences in the objective and subjective situations and conditions on the European continent. At the moment, there does not exist a revolutionary crisis in any of the countries of the EU, so the Marxist-Leninist communists have to improve these subjective factors, preparing the revolution. This means building and strengthening the Marxist-Leninist parties, continuously fighting the influence of reformism and revisionism. It means establishing strong links with the working class, especially with its lower and most exploited strata. And it means, on this basis, creating broad social alliances with all those social forces that get affected by the offensive of capital, which has become more and more furious during the last decade, and which are being intensified with every new step in the direction of the full construction of the “United States of Europe”, especially since the adoption of the Maastricht Treaty in 1991-92.

To the Danish working class and people, who are witnessing the destruction of the so-called “Nordic welfare model”, which has been abandoned even by social democracy, which played a major role in establishing it as a means to prevent the revolution, and sees its replacement in the discount social model of the EU, two roads to follow are becoming more and more clear: Either the road of capital, towards steadily worsening living conditions, imperialist wars, etc., or the road of revolution and socialism.

The so-called “third road”, the “Nordic road”, has ceased to exist.

July 2000

 

Reissued KPnet January 26th 2016