The opposite of anti-communism is not communism but democracy

Autor: Christiane Reymann <(at)>, Téma: International, Vydáno dne: 05. 12. 2006

Contribution of Christiane Reymann (Left Party.PDS), Member of the Executive Board of the European Left Party, at the International Conference "Commmunists and democratic movements struggling for human rights and democracy in Europe and the world – Fight actively against anti-communism!", organized by CPBM in Prague, 25-26 November 2006

Dear Comrades and Friends!

The dissolution of the Communist Youth League in the Czech Republic and the threats against the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia have created a highly dangerous situation for all democrats in Europe. We declare our protest to the Czech government against banning and threatening democratic organisations! We demand the European Union to speak out loudly, when democracy is damaged in the Czech Republic! And – that is the most important point for me: We express our solidarity with you, dear Czech comrades! I bring you the solidarity of the European Left Party, the Left Party.PDS in Germany and the Left Group in the German Bundestag!

The dissolution of the Communist Youth League is a heavy blow to the European Union defining itself as a space of democracy. This violation of democratic principles is directed not only against the Left in your country. It is aiming at your neighbours in Central and Eastern Europe. And it is meant to put pressure on Western Europe, too. Maybe, we in the left parties of Western Europe were slow in understanding this, when the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia repeatedly called us to mobilise against the anti-communist attacks in the Council of Europe. I’m also saying this in a mood of self-criticism. At the beginning the idea that a communist organisation could be banned seemed to us like a ghost from another time, from the Cold War.

Then, in 1956, the Communist Party was banned in West Germany. Having been a communist in West Germany, this whole story deeply influenced my life as well. The verdict from fifty years ago is still valid today. Once imposed, a ban is very difficult to be lifted.

The ban of the Communist Party of Germany also started with the youth organisation – the Free German Youth (FDJ). Before the party 80 other organisations were banned. More than 200 000 persons came under investigation, about 30 000 were brought before courts, more than 3 000 communists, men and women, were sentenced to long years of imprisonment. Often, former nazi judges sentenced nazi victims. Outlawed were people and organisations striving for an understanding between the two German states, resisting the remilitarisation of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Communist parties were banned in Europe till the end of the 70s: in Salazar’s Portugal, in Franco’s Spain, in Germany and in Turkey. It is authoritarian states that are resorting to the ban of democratic parties. Does the Czech Republic want to be in that number?

Dear Comrades, dear Friends!

What is the opposite of anti-communism? The opposite of anti-communism is not communism but democracy. Martin Niemoeller, a priest and Member of the Council of the German Protestant Church, who spent himself 8 years in Nazi concentration camps, said this on the Nazi era: “When the nazis started arresting the communists, I remained silent, for I was no communist. When they arrested the social democrats, I did not speak out, for I was no social democrat. When they imprisoned the trade unionists, I kept my mouth shut, for I was no trade unionist. When they came to take me, there was no one left to speak out in protest.”

To cut the roots of anti-communism we are defending democracy as a type of state, so important to us like breathing air. When we are seeking to this end the cooperation with all democrats beyond the borders of parties and world views, this is not possible without conflict and controversial debate. We, the German Left had to learn a lot in this respect. Not every question others are asking on our history, our mistakes or failures is anti-communism. Numerous people, groupings ore intellectual currents are coming out with substantial criticism of us communists, but are defending democracy in their own self-interest. To understand and to respect their motives, experience and reasons is not always easy. But the more we look at ourselves with self-confidence and self-criticism, the clearer we see the difference between criticism and anti-communism.

Dear Comrades and Friends!

Why is anti-communism having a revival just now? Why modern capitalism is resorting to such an outdated strategy?

I think, today’s capitalism is using several political and ideological strategies at the same time. World wide the main focus is on the so-called “clash of cultures”, which finds its political expression in the “war on terror”. But anti-communism is not put aside either. For that they have their reasons.

In 1989/1990 capitalism has not defeated socialism. It has only been left over in the big fight of the oppressed and despised against the oppressers in the history of mankind.

Today’s capitalism is entering a new phase of its development. The world is divided anew and even more deeply split between the rich and the poor. It is governed by the G8, a body elected by no one. Exploited is not only the human workforce, but the human being as a whole, with its emotions, attitudes, it’s inner self. As today we have the International Day against Violence on Women I will choose one example for the new phase of capitalism out of this field. Slave markets are flourishing. According to estimates of the International Migration Organisation (MIO), about 500 000 women and children from Central and Eastern Europe are traded every year to the West of the continent. With trafficking for sexual exploitation the international Mafia is earning more money than with drugs and guns. We from the rich countries buy the bodies of those from the poor countries and more and more even vital parts of their bodies – kidneys for instance.

For the new phase of capitalism we are all paying with a loss of security, peace and democracy. But the forces of resistance do exist. There are movements of protest everywhere: against war, against the destruction of our planet, against glaring social injustice. In some Latin American countries the Left has been elected into government. The French and Dutch No the the European constitutional treaty have brought us a breathing space. We should use it to think about our idea of a different Europe.

Dear Comrades and Friends!

Is anti-communism in our time heralding fascism? This can never be excluded. Fascism is despising formal democracy, it is racism, it is destroying highly organised social movements. But capitalism in its new phase, called by us a bit clumsily “neo-liberalism”, is functioning best in a parliamentarian system, where the population is consistently robbed the chance to have a real say in vital political decisions. Neo-liberalism is not just a system of economic, but also of political and cultural domination. It aims at taking the social movements their culture of resistance and even their language. The poorest parts of the working class are becoming a “precariat”, wars are called “interventions”, their civilian victims “collateral damage”. So, an important part of our struggle against anti-communism must be fought in the fields of culture and ideas to gain cultural hegemony. 

But the main point is: the struggle must be fought together. Only united we are strong! I would like to thank you, comrades of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, for the active part you are playing in the European Left Party. The European Left, all its member parties are standing in solidarity at your side. Together we are one party out of 27 parties with more than 500 000 members.

Our solidarity is not a one-way-road. By not allowing democratic rights being so brutally violated as in the Czech Republic, we are at the same time defending basic human and democratic rights in Europe to open a road to another Europe, based on peace, freedom, human and women’s rights, democracy, ecology and social justice.