Socialism is the future!
Puheenvuoro Euroopan vasemmiston ja Molodovan kommunistisen puolueen järjestämässä seminaarissa ”100 vuotta Lokakuun sosialistisesta vallankumouksesta: opetuksia ja vasemmiston tulevaisuus”, Yrjö Hakanen Chisinau 27.-28.10.2017:
Capitalism is more and more unjust, destructive and dangerous. This system is incapable to solve burning problems such as poverty, unemployment and climate change. Just eight billioniers own as much as half of the world’s population. Euro crises is an example how the financial capital plunder and oppress the rest of society. Imperialist competition for natural resources and domination of international relations spreads wars and death. Just ten percent of worlds military spending would be enough to fund the United Nations global goals to end poverty and hunger.
Future of the humankind and life with human dignity requires a fundamentally different kind of social development and a system that is not based on exploitation and violence. Growing inequality and the global threats make ever more urgent the need for seeking alternative to capitalism.
As Marx and Engels noted, modern bourgeois society “with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells”.
The development of a modern economy and society depends more and more on workers skills and co-operation, on information management, on saving energy and other natural resources, as well as on scientific and technological developments. This social nature of production is in deep contradiction with relations based on private ownership of the means of production.
This presents a challenge for us, for the left: we need to develop our understanding of what are the contemporary forms of organizing social ownership. In my view, indications in this respect can be found in the writings of Marx and Lenin, where they described socialism as co-operatives of free producers and complementing democracy. Today also the ideas of commons and participatory democracy have questioned the existing bourgeois principles of ownership and power.
In the light of the experience of the workers’ movements and revolutions, the transition to socialism is a long process. In this process forms social ownership must have a decisive role so that development can be directed in a democratic and planned way. These forms of social ownership take many forms, such as state-owned companies, municipal organizations and co-operatives.
At the same time, it is necessary to ensure a bottom-up growth of democracy as a means of workers’ self-management and local self-management. This is a way to prevent the possibility that collective ownership creates ground to power of a bureaucratic elite.
As the economic, social and political development proceeds at different paces in different parts of the world, it is important to stand up for democratizing the international system so that the corporate power, structures like the European union and the Nato cannot suppress the peoples strive for freedom.
In a world facing the threats of environmental disasters, it is clear, that we cannot continue along a path that emphasizes only quantitative economic growth, characterized by production for the sake of production and surplus value. We need a new model of development, based on saving natural resources, recycling and using renewable energy. We need more fair distribution of income and technological achievements. And the benefits of labor productivity must be used for the welfare of the people and to reduce working hours.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the right-wing and neoliberal forces were in a state of euphoria over the victory of capitalism. Socialism was declared to belong only to history. Today the situation is different.
Quite a few people believe that the freedom of capitalist markets really serves them and common good. Many see the need for radical changes. Anti-capitalist and Marxist ideas wake again interest among youth and social movements. But at the same time there is a gap between the need for change and the situation of the left forces, who should open the ways to implement these changes.
For us, for the European Left, this situation is a big challenge. Workers’ unity does not arise spontaneously. Capitalism constantly produces differences, illusions and competition, nationalism and racism. We, communist, socialist and other left forces, have our place where is discontent, where the working people are on move and where forces can be gathered against neoliberal policies and big capital. This is an all-European and international challenge, too.
We face immediate need to organize class struggle to defend the rights of workers, poor and oppressed against the neoliberal, authoritarian and military attacks. At the same time this situation is a challenge to gather forces for counter-attack and to focus the struggles on the capitalist power and ownership relations. Different battles in everyday rights are more and more connected to the power of finance capital. The left must and can open perspectives out of capitalism and towards modern socialism.
We have a great responsibility as to whether the crises will lead to even more unequal, authoritarian and dangerous developments – or, whether a democratic and left way out of crises will be found and opened.