By Oliver Davies
A number of recent events highlight important new initiatives in the international Marxist movement which are undoubtedly connected to recent international political developments. They are particularly important to socialists as they involve the two largest groups of Marxists on the planet, each of which has many millions of supporters – the ‘Fidelistas’, those inspired by Fidel Castro in Latin America, and the ‘Maoists’, those inspired by the Chinese revolution and Mao Zedong, in China and parts of Asia. As each of these currents involves mass forces it is greatly to be hoped that these initiatives will have an impact in Europe and North America – there are the first signs of this occurring.
International initiatives by the Communist Party of China (CPC)
The first series of recent initiatives are those coming from China and the CPC.
- The CPC has for several years held international conferences on the ‘CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties’. These are open to all political parties in every country, regardless of their ideological position, who are interested in discussion with the CPC. However, in December 2017 the importance of this regular conference was upgraded by the CPC to the highest level with President Xi Jinping delivering the opening speech in Beijing.
- Then in May 2018 a conference of 70 Communist Parties from 50 countries was held in Shenzhen China. The opening session was addressed by leaders of the Communist Parties of China, Vietnam, Cuba, Russia, South Africa and the Czech Republic.
- Earlier in May the ‘Second World Congress on Marxism’ was held by China in Beijing. This consisted of Marxist academics and writers from numerous countries. This event was timed to coincide with China’s celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Marx – which was treated as a major state event with Xi Jinping delivering the main address commemorating Marx, transmission of TV programmes on Marx, holding of concerts and other events on Marx.
In summary, the CPC has taken a recent major series of international initiatives at different levels – Communist Parties, Marxist scholars, all parties interested in dialogue with China.
This involved significant efforts and the participation of the highest-level figures in the China state and CPC.
Cuban Communist Party (PCC) and the Sao Paulo Forum
Important initiatives are also taking place in Latin America involving the Cuban Communist Party at the same time as the developments in China.
The Sao Paulo Forum, of left wing Latin American political parties and organisations, was founded on the initiative of Fidel Castro and Lula in 1990 with the first meeting hosted by the Brazilian Workers Party in 1990. It has always therefore always been strongly supported by Cuba. It will hold its 2018 conference in July in Havana.
The Sao Paulo Forum is explicitly conceived of as a broad front of progressive organisations in Latin America. Fidel Castro said during the closing of the 4th meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum in Havana in July 1993: ‘what more can we do, what more can the left in Latin America do but to create consciousness in favour of unity? That should be written on the flags of the left wing. With or without socialism’.
He concluded: ‘those that think that socialism is a possibility and want to fight for socialism, but even those that cannot conceive socialism, even like the capitalist nations, but we would never have a future without unity or integration.
The 2018 meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum, to be held in July, is particularly notable for several reasons.
- Precisely because it is being held in Havana – which means the PCC and Cuban leadership attaches special importance to it and strengthening links throughout Latin America.
- It comes after a series of right wing successes in Argentina, Brazil and other countries which set back the ‘pink tide’, the victory of progressive forces across almost all of Latin America, which took place after 2000 and therefore the Forum is an important place to take stock of this.
- The Forum comes after the huge victory of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico’s Presidential election – which is not only a victory for the Mexican people but destroys the myth that an unstoppable right-wing tide was flowing in Latin America. This victory confirms that both left and right in Latin America have very deep social roots and an intense struggle will continue for a prolonged period.
- China is taking a direct interest in the Forum. Xinhua, the main Chinese news agency, in May started to carry reports on the Forum, noting: ‘It will be dedicated to the legacy of Cuban historical leader, Fidel Castro, and to the current challenges facing leftist and socialist governments in the current regional context.’
- Idalmis Brooks, an official with the international relations department of the PCC, announced for the first time the Sao Paulo Forum would open up to parties of the European left, in order to promote inclusion and a more open debate globally.
Significance of these events
Taking the significance of these events together it means that China and Cuba, and their respective Communist Parties, have significantly stepped up international activity. As noted at the beginning of the article the ‘Fidelistas’ and ‘Maoists’ are the two international Marxist currents with mass support – the Marxist left in Europe and North America is confined to relatively small groups in comparison, and the left is still underdeveloped in most of Africa and the Middle East. However, both the Cubans and Chinese have a correct united front orientation – in addition to consolidating Marxists they deliberately seek wide alliance with progressive non-Marxist forces. This will both push forward progressive struggles and strengthen the influence of Marxists.
Given these important initiatives in Latin America and China, and therefore among the largest Marxist and socialist forces in the world, it is crucial socialists and all progressive forces in Europe of all viewpoints do everything possible to link up with these developments.