A few words about the international communist movement. The collapse of the Soviet bloc and the far-reaching changes in China have drastically changed the scenario of the international communist movement. The old division between pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese parties, a legacy of the Great Debate of the ’60s, has become irrelevant. The Soviet collapse, however, has brought about a reorganisation of communist parties and communist platforms in Russia as well as in several East European countries. These parties are reassessing their past, particularly the harmful effects of revisionism. On the other hand, several ML parties the world over which emerged during the stormy days of 1968-70 and sustained themselves have also been analysing the ultra-left deviations they had suffered from. This has created a favourable situation for the parties belonging to both the streams coming closer. This typical phenomenon was reflected in the recent international seminar held under the auspices of the Workers’ Party of Belgium where more than 50 parties and groups belonging to both the erstwhile streams as well as ‘independent’ streams participated. Our Party too was represented there and extended its cooperation to such a coming together.

We think that reducing the concept of the unity of the International communist movement to simply the unity of ML parties who uphold Mao’s Thought, and that too a particular interpretation of it, is too sectarian an approach and unsuited to the present conditions.

I think it is necessary to reiterate our attitude to China as it remains a great source of confusion and polemics. In our opinion, building of socialism should not be viewed in abstraction devoid of the concrete conditions of the country concerned and the concrete times. Building socialism in a backward country like China and in conditions where socialism does not exist anywhere except in a few small socialist countries and there are no prospects for any proletarian revolution for a fairly long time to come in any advanced capitalist country, is a specific problem. So it is not the question of building socialism in general that ought to be discussed; rather building socialism in China in the present-day conditions that must be the point of departure for any meaningful discussion. These considerations only lead us to appreciate the general orientation of Chinese reforms. There is no question of supporting each and every measure of CPC and Chinese government. The support to the general orientation at the same time implies our serious concerns over the risks involved and, of course, criticisms of the policies which we consider harmful to the general interests of socialism and the international communist movement.

We are neither in favour of a China — or CPC-centred international communist bloc nor are we eager to join any international formation that makes condemnation of China its central concern. This I think sums up our attitude to China as well as to the international communist movement.

We are living in times when almost all the basic tenets of Marxism are being challenged and declarations are being made about the end of history. This reminds me of Marx who in his Poverty of Philosophy wrote some 150 years back, “When they say that the present-day relations — the relations of bourgeois production — are natural, the economists imply that these are the relations in which wealth is created and productive forces developed in conformity with the laws of nature. Thus, these relations are themselves natural laws independent of the influence of time. They are eternal laws which must always govern society. Thus there has been history, but there is no longer any.”

So bourgeois philosophers and economists had declared the end of history much earlier. But still history progressed and Marxism played a guiding role in its advance. Marx had challenged the eternity of bourgeois relations of production and through a rare scientific insight shown that these relations too, like earlier relations, are but transitory in nature. The eternity of change lies at the core of Marxist philosophy and all future attempts to change the world shall only draw sustenance from Marxism. Marx in his grand treatise Das Kapital had exposed the exploitative basis of bourgeois relations of production. He wrote in his Wage Labour and Capital, "Even the most favourable situation for the working class, the most rapid possible growth of capital, however much it may improve the material existence of the worker, does not remove the antagonism between his interests and the interests of the bourgeoisie, the interests of the capitalists. Profits and wages remain as before in inverse proportion.

“If capital is growing rapidly wages may rise, the profit of capital rises incomparably more rapidly. The material position of the worker has improved, but at the cost of his social position. The social gulf that divides him from the capitalist has widened.”

Despite all the changes in the structure and organisation of production, the exploitative basis of the bourgeois relations of production, the extraction of surplus value remains intact and if anything, the social gulf between imperialism and dependent countries on the international scale and between the proletariat and bourgeoisie within the developed capitalist world has only widened. And hence the antagonism, the motive force that continues to propel the history forward.

And yet the proletarian struggle has suffered setbacks, socialism built over a large part of the globe has suffered reversal. Hence, mere reiteration of faith in Marxism, in the victory of proletariat, is not enough. Marxism can be defended only through its enrichment.

By the time Marx’s study of British capitalism, the most ideally developed country of capitalism, the base material for his Das Kapital was complete, free competition had started giving way to the monopolies. The stage of finance capital, of monopoly capitalism, replaced competition within the country by competition among capitalist countries for the world market. And thus arose the phenomena of world wars and of proletarian revolution breaking the imperialist chain where it is weakest. And then again the rise of a single economic, military and political bloc of imperialism led by USA and the defeat and subsequent collapse of socialism in the prolonged cold war.

This interrelation, in the background of structural changes in capitalist production owing to scientific and technological revolution and virtual stagnation in the socialist economy, opens up new fields of study and investigation for Marxist theoreticians the world over. Communists have before them over seventy five years of experience of building socialism. One learns only through one’s mistakes and hence the study I mentioned shall essentially be a study of the political economy of socialism, comparable only to the dimensions of Das Kapital.