top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Capitalism "is human exploitation, environmental destruction and war for the benefit of a minority"

Excerpts from the speech given by Enrique Santiago, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain at the Fiesta PCE, October 1, 2022. An English translation of the speech was released by the party October 10:

Today more than ever, we live in an agitated world full of social and armed conflicts, a world that is every day moving away from the necessary creation of a new multilateral order, where collaboration between peoples prevails in order to build a model of human development that respects the limits of the planet and puts an end to the great scourges of humanity, such as social injustice, the exploitation of people, hunger, disease, the plundering of natural resources and the pollution of the planet, and the denial of fundamental rights.

Our planet and humanity have sufficient natural, scientific and technical resources for this, and only the greed of an insatiable system and the suicidal voracity of capitalism make it unfeasible. We reiterate that today the capitalist system, besides being tremendously unjust, exploiting human beings and predating resources, is suicidal in that it drives a development that is increasingly incompatible with the preservation of ecosystems, of life and, therefore, of the survival of humanity.

Although the capital and the forces of reaction, both conservative and ultra-right ones, persist in their desire to deny reality, the seriousness of environmental degradation cannot be covered up, even more so after a summer in which climate change, increasingly irreversible, has manifested itself with a disproportionate capacity for destruction.

The United States, still the world and leading military power, is a major proponent of maintaining the suicidal form of capitalist production. A country capable of putting global security at risk to ensure that its military and economic interests prevail, launching an aggressive campaign across the planet to militarily encircle those it considers as enemies that threaten its strategic interests: China, Russia, the free peoples of Latin America and elsewhere in the world, and the new emerging Asian powers.

Today, as so often have, we point out again that capitalism is human exploitation, environmental destruction and war for the benefit of a minority, which is why we insist on the need to build socialism as the only way to guarantee peace, democracy, and human rights. The current world order is characterised by just the opposite: the weakening of democratic spaces and the regression of human rights in favour of war as a political instrument.

NATO represents this paradigm of unilateralism for the benefit of the arms industry. NATO's permanent extension eastwards since the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union have led to the military encirclement of Russia, whose requests for NATO membership formulated by Yeltsin were previously denied by NATO.

NATO has not only given up on becoming a defensive alliance in which former Cold War enemies will work towards multilateralism, but has also reneged on its promises not to extend into the former Soviet space. One need only look at the map of NATO military bases in the northern hemisphere to see the military encirclement around Russia —as well as China—, which has every reason to feel its security threatened.

Even more incomprehensible is the United States and his determination to interfere in the China Sea as if it were its own backyard, threatening the sovereignty of the People Republic of China, as evidenced by its constant intervention in Taiwan affairs. The permanent challenge to the People Republic of China seeks to drag China into a new arms race for the benefit of the US military-industrial complex and to force China to divert huge resources used for the country economic, social and scientific development.

The new military alliances of the United States and its military presence in the eastern oceans and in Far Asia leave no room for doubt about its imperialist ambitions and its attempt to encircle militarily what is already the world leading economic power.

Our party has not agreed with Russia military invasion of Ukraine and we have stated this publicly, recalling that in relations between states, especially in the nuclear era, political diplomacy, respect for territorial integrity and peaceful mechanisms for conflict resolution must take precedence.

Today Russia is not the Soviet Union, nor is Putin party a left-wing party, but a nationalist, conservative and neoliberal party that constantly attacks the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, which has recently seen its candidates in the municipal elections threatened once again, falling victim to a campaign aimed at preventing its electoral and political growth.

But regardless of who governs Russia, the reality is that Russia has reasonable cause to be concerned about the placement of NATO weaponry on its borders, just as the US was concerned in 1962 about the installation of Russian missiles in Cuba. And it should feel threatened by the US drive to expand NATO eastwards, which is both unnecessary and counterproductive.

There is a shared responsibility for the consequences of this policy, as well as for the failure to comply with the 2015 Minsk Agreements. We are witnessing the biggest crisis in international relations since the end of the Cold War, a crisis that is changing global geopolitics, that has shattered any possibility of building a European security policy in the short term. Security will never come from more rearmament, but from policies of trust. Moreover, this war is increasing the risk of a nuclear incident in Europe, and is causing, in addition to human casualties, harsh social and economic consequences suffered both by the peoples of the countries involved and by the working class throughout Europe.

The misguided sanctions policy of the European Union is causing pernicious economic and social effects on the peoples of the countries that have agreed to them, even more so in Russia, the country at which they were aimed.

Just as we are critical of the Russian government, we note that in Ukraine we have been witnessing an antidemocratic drift for years. The regime that has been in place since the Maidan events, clearly influenced by the far-right, has been labelling as enemies of the homeland and pro-Russian agents all those organised expressions of the left or nationalist political forces that have questioned both the policy of intervention of Ukrainian sovereignty by NATO and the increasingly far-right drift of the Ukrainian government.

The Ukrainian government failure to comply with the Minsk agreements has been accompanied by the prior outlawing and repression of the Communist Party of Ukraine, which only 10 years ago, as the country third largest party, had its deputies forcibly expelled from parliament and was subsequently outlawed. The communist youth and trade unions and up to 10 other left-wing parties have also been banned and subjected to brutal repression. In Ukraine today there are no legalised trade unions or left- wing forces; no party that defines itself as socialist, communist or Russian-speaking nationalist is legal.

And the cynicism of the European Union in refusing to condemn this situation and demand its end is astonishing, but despite the seriousness of this war, there is a complete absence of diplomatic action, conflict defusing and peace building by the international community. The European Union has long since abandoned any mediation or intervention efforts to resolve the conflict, ignoring the fact that it will always share territory and geographical space with Russia. There is no doubt that it is in the interest of European countries to defuse the conflict and find a viable solution for the peaceful coexistence of all European peoples, including Russia, over the coming years.

In the process of monitoring the implementation of the Minsk agreements, sponsored by the now defunct OSCE, the European Union renounced an active role, leaving it to countries such as France and Germany, which ultimately failed in the face of the inflammatory attitude of the United States and NATO, unambiguously assuming a subordinate position to the US and renouncing any strategic autonomy.

European diplomacy should be working on reactivating the role of the OSCE in order to reach an agreement with Russia to end the war, which is an objective necessity for security and peace in Europe, instead of dedicating itself to sending arms to Ukraine and calling for the continuation of the confrontations until a highly improbable military victory over a Russia which is a nuclear power...

In Europe, the advance of the far right continues in these moments of anguish and uncertainty about the future. It is essential that we communists, and all democrats in general, wage a forceful cultural battle against the advance of the ideas and arguments of the right. The far right permanently challenges the values of solidarity, social justice, and equality. We are aware that racism, the creation of pockets of exclusion of undocumented foreigners —despite the need for labour due to the decline of the European population—, and patriarchy are also powerful tools for the advancement of fascism and the most authoritarian form of capitalism.

The far-right government in Poland continues to restrict public freedoms and civil rights. We expressly call for the immediate release of the Spanish journalist Pablo Gonzalez, imprisoned for 6 months in Polish jails on false charges, which is a serious attack on the freedom of information that must be preserved also in armed conflicts.

The Hungarian far-right government continues to demolish the rule of law and the fundamental freedoms of its citizens, and the far-right has become the second force in Sweden, with the possibility of governing. In Italy, the pro-fascist far right was the most voted force in the last general elections held on Sunday 25 September and will form and lead the government of the EU third largest economy, 100 years after Mussolini march on Rome.

The USA has found an opportunity in the Ukraine crisis and the parallel militarisation of European politics to increase the sales of its arms companies and to position itself as the first supplier of liquefied gas and oil to Europe. The PCE will work to stop this arms race and we will use our influence in Congress and in the government to prevent the increase of Spain defence spending to 2% of GDP as advocated by the PSOE and the right wing.

Undoubtedly one of the consequences of the war in Ukraine has been the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energies and the decarbonisation policies needed to combat the serious environmental crisis caused by accelerated climate change, which is the responsibility of capital, as President Petro has declared in the United Nations.

According to the European Commission, we have experienced the driest year in 500 years in Europe. This reality clashes with a new form of denialism which, without denying climate change, claims that it has no consequences or is inevitable. Fortunately, the majority of young people are committed activists against climate change, making even more evident the gap between governments that do not act and a majority of young people who demand action.

The changes in the economic and productive model needed to stop climate change are an opportunity to question capitalism. The PCE and the communist youth will promote and participate in climate mobilisations and accompany the climate movement from a perspective of socialist transformation.


bottom of page