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Teleconference of the European Communist Initiative on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the USSR Speech delivered by Dimitris Koutsoumbas, GS of the CC of the KKE

Dear comrades,

The international and domestic developments in the 100 years since the founding of the USSR confirm the necessity to enrich our programmatic conception of socialism, incorporating all the positive and at the same time negative experience from the very course of socialist construction in the 20th century and drawing useful conclusions from the victory of the counter-revolution, first of all in the USSR.

We are fully aware that the restoration of faith in socialism is interconnected with the formulation of a revolutionary strategy for the transition to socialism, the objective assessment of the entire course of socialist construction, and the interpretation of the causes of the prevalence of counter-revolution and ultimately of capitalist restoration.

We consider that this obligation is urgent and mature for our Party, as it is for every Communist Party. For more than a century now, bourgeois polemics against the communist movement, often assuming the form of an intellectual elitism, concentrate their fire on the revolutionary core of the workers’ movement; they struggle, in general, against the necessity of revolution and its political offspring, the dictatorship of the proletariat, that is, the revolutionary workers’ power. In particular, they fight against the outcome of the first victorious revolution, of the October Revolution in Russia, fiercely opposing every phase where the Revolution exposed and repelled counterrevolutionary activities and opportunist barriers, which, in the final analysis, were weakening, directly or indirectly, the Revolution at a social and political level.

For more than a century now, every current negating, retreating or resigning from the necessity of revolutionary struggle is being promoted as “democratic socialism”, in opposition to the so-called “totalitarian”, “dictatorial”, “putschist” communism. We are well aware of these polemics and calumnies against scientific communism, against the class struggle. They pertain not only to the conditions under capitalism, but, under different forms and conditions, also to the process of formation of the new social relations, as well as their expansion and maturation into communist relations.

It is for this reason that in the discussion on “socialist democracy” different weights and measures are being used to judge events taking place during one or the other period, with the explicit aim of erasing the contribution of socialist construction. In some instances they negate the entire 70-year history of the USSR, in others they specifically aim at the period during which its socialist foundation was laid. Whatever the case, they always support those political practices that constituted deviations from the socialist course.

The KKE remains steadfast in the defence of the contribution of socialist course in the USSR, in general of socialist construction during the 20th century, in the struggle for social progress, for the abolition of exploitation of man by man. Today our Party is ideologically more steeled and politically experienced to rebut the ideological interventions of the bourgeois centres.

We have studied and continue reflecting on and further studying the ruthless course of the class struggle for the transition to the new society, for its foundation and development, for the expansion and deepening of the new relations of production and distribution, of all social relations and for the molding of the new man.

We bring forward the contradictions, the mistakes and deviations under the pressure of the international correlation of forces, without resorting to blanket nihilism about the contribution of the USSR and socialism. We examine things in a critical and self-critical manner so as to make the KKE, as part of the international communist movement (ICM), stronger in the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism, for the construction of socialism. At the same time, we believe that our own weaknesses, theoretical shortcomings and mistaken evaluations also constituted part of the problem of the ICM.

We are well aware that future historical studies, carried out by our Party and by the communist movement internationally, will undoubtedly illuminate further the issues regarding the experience of the USSR and of the other socialist countries. Besides, the development of the theory of socialism–communism is a necessity, a living process, a challenge for our Party and for the ICM, today and in the future.




30 December this year marks the centenary of the founding of the USSR that took place on 30 December 1922. We should approach the 100 years that have passed since that historical moment by responding to some specific, crucial questions:

First: Did the founding of the USSR following the Great October Socialist Revolution have a positive effect on the peoples and nationalities of the Soviet Union as well as on the peoples of the entire world?

Second: Was it an upward, effective course in all its manifestations, free from errors, weaknesses, failures, and setbacks? If not, what were the causes of these negative elements, where were they to be found, and why were they caused? Did these elements influence and ultimately led to the dissolution of the USSR and the overthrow of the socialist system?

Third: Did the world get better or worse after the dissolution of the USSR? Were the peoples of the world benefited or harmed by this first great historical setback of humanity, which turned from an “assault to the skies” into a tragic slide to the “darkness of Hades”?

We usually do not engage into a periodization of history; however, allow us to make a short reference, objectively assessing the 100 years that have passed since then (1922–2022).

Of course, before that century, an entire period preceded during which the development of capitalism and the class struggle brought communism inevitably into the historical forefront; from the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” written in 1848 by Marx and Engels and the first proletarian revolution of the Paris Commune in 1871, up to the successful October Socialist Revolution in Russia in 1917.

The 1917 revolution marked the beginning of one of the greatest achievements of civilization in the history of humankind, i.e. the abolition of the exploitation of man by man. The revolution prevailed thanks to the guidance of Lenin’s Party in Russia, while the powerful imperialist states, through the Entente alliance, stood against it. It was carried out amidst an intervention aiming to stifle it through a fierce civil war waged by the old power, i.e. the owners of wealth. The revolution emerged victorious and resulted in the founding of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the end of 1922.

And thus began the new historical course of the USSR from 30 December 1922 to 26 December 1991, when the red flag with the hammer and sickle was lowered from the Kremlin. Back then, hope shifted from the Soviet Union, the beacon that had been lighting the path for the peoples during all those decades, and once again rest exclusively on the peoples’ struggle!


The contribution of socialism in the years of the USSR’s existence

All in all, in the 69 years of the existence of the USSR, despite any problems, the socialist system has proved the superiority of socialism over capitalism and the huge advantages that it provides for the working people’s lives and working conditions.

The Soviet Union and the world socialist system constituted the only real counterweight to imperialist aggression. The role of the Soviet Union in the Anti-fascist People’s victory, during the Second World War, was decisive. The victories of the Red Army significantly propelled the development of national liberation and anti-fascist movements, which were led by Communist Parties. In many countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the anti-fascist struggle, with the decisive contribution of the USSR, was linked to the overthrow of bourgeois power.

The socialist states provided historic examples of internationalist solidarity to peoples who were fighting against exploitation, foreign occupation and imperialist intervention. They contributed in a decisive manner to the dissolution of the colonial system and to the limitation of military confrontations and conflicts.

The achievements of workers in the socialist states were a point of reference for many decades and contributed to the gains won by the labour and popular movement in capitalist societies. The international correlation of forces that was formed after the Second World War forced capitalist states, to a certain degree, to back down and to manoeuvre in order to restrain the revolutionary line of struggle and to create conditions in which they could co-opt the labour movement.

The abolition of capitalist relations of production freed mankind from the bonds of wage slavery and paved the way for production and the development of sciences with the goal of meeting people’s needs. In this way, everyone enjoyed guaranteed work, public free health care and education, cheap services provided by the state, housing, and access to intellectual and cultural creativity. The complete eradication of the terrible legacy of illiteracy, in combination with the increase in the general level of education and specialization and the abolition of unemployment, constitute unique achievements of socialism.

In the Soviet Union, working hours were among the fewest in the world. All workers were guaranteed weekly rest periods and annual paid holidays. Non-working time was extended and its content was changed. It was transformed into time for the development of the cultural and educational level of the workers, for the enhancement of their participation in workers’ power and in the control of the administration of productive units.

Social Security for working people was of utmost priority for the socialist state. A comprehensive system of retirement benefits, with the important achievement of low age limits for retirement (55 years for women, 60 for men), was created.

Socialist power laid the foundation for the abolition of inequality of women, overcoming the great difficulties that objectively existed. It ensured in practice the social character of motherhood and socialized childcare.

The dictatorship of the proletariat, the revolutionary workers’ power, as a state that expressed the interests of the social majority of exploited people, and not of the minority of exploiters, proved itself to be a superior form of democracy. For the first time in history, the unit of production could become the nucleus of democracy, with the representative participation of working people in power and administration, the possibility for workers to elect and recall their own representatives in the higher organs of power. Workers’ power brought the masses in from the margins and a vast number of mass organizations such as trade union, cultural, educational, women’s, and youth organizations were developed, in which the majority of the population was organized.

Bourgeois and opportunist propaganda, speaking of lack of freedom and anti-democratic regimes, promotes the bourgeois concepts of “democracy” and “freedom”, identifying democracy with bourgeois parliamentarism and freedom with bourgeois individualism and private capitalist ownership. The real essence of freedom and democracy under capitalism is the economic coercion of wage slavery and the dictatorship of capital, in society in general and especially inside capitalist enterprises.

The October Revolution launched a process of equality between nations and nationalities within the framework of a giant multinational state and provided the direction for the resolution of the national question by abolishing national oppression in all its forms and manifestations. However, this process was undermined during the course of the erosion of socialist relations and was finally stopped with the counter-revolutionary developments in the 1980s.

The gains that were undoubtedly achieved in the socialist states, in comparison to their starting point as well as in comparison to the living standard of working people in the capitalist world, prove that socialism has an intrinsic potential for increasing social prosperity in a rapid and continual manner and promoting the all-round development of people.

The contribution and superiority of socialist construction in the USSR should be assessed in correlation with the imperialist strategy of its encirclement that caused great destruction and posed continuous obstacles and threats.


Evaluation of the course of socialist construction in the USSR from its foundation (1922) to its opportunist transformation and the mistakes made that led to the final attack of the counter-revolutionary forces, resulting in its dissolution (1991)

The first period of socialist construction up until the Second World War faced the basic, primary aim of abolishing capitalist ownership and of handling in a planned fashion the social and economic problems that had been inherited from capitalism and had been exacerbated by the imperialist encirclement and intervention. It was during this period that Soviet power considerably reduced the deep unevenness that the revolution had inherited from the tsarist empire.

During the 1917–1940 period the Soviet power achieved, for the most part, successes. It carried out the electrification and industrialization of production, the expansion of transport infrastructure, and the mechanization of a large part of agricultural production. It initiated planned production and achieved impressive rates in the development of socialist industrial production. It successfully developed domestic productive capacities in all industrial sectors. Production cooperatives (kolkhozes) and state farms (sovkhozes) were created, providing the basis for the expansion and prevalence of socialist relations in agricultural production. The “cultural revolution” was realized. The formation of a new generation of communist specialists and scientists was begun. The most important achievement was the complete abolition of capitalist relations of production, with the abolition of hired labour power, thus laying the foundation for the new socio-economic formation.

Up until the Second World War, the bases for the development of the new society were created. The class struggle, which led to the abolition of capitalist relations and the prevalence of the socialized sector of production based on Central Planning, was being carried out with success. Impressive results were achieved concerning the rise of social prosperity.

Following the Second World War and the post-war recovery, socialist construction entered a new phase. The Party was faced with new demands and challenges. The 20th Congress of the CPSU (1956) stands out as a turning point, since at that congress a series of opportunist positions were adopted on matters relating to the economy, the strategy of the communist movement and international relations. The correlation of forces in the confrontation taking place during the entire preceding period was altered, with a turn in favour of the revisionist-opportunist positions. As a result, the Party gradually began to lose its revolutionary characteristics.

Social resistance to the need for an expansion and deepening of the socialist relations of production —mounted by kolkhoz farmers, executives in agricultural production and in industry— was expressed at an ideological and political level through an internal party confrontation at the beginning of the 1950’s. The sharpened confrontation, which ended with the theoretical acceptance of the law of value as a law of socialism, signified political choices with more direct and powerful consequences on the course of socialist development, in comparison with the pre-war period, when the material backwardness made the effect of those theoretical positions less painful.

These forces were expressed politically through the positions adopted in the resolutions of the 20th Congress of the CPSU, a congress which was marked by the prevalence of the right opportunist deviation. Political choices were gradually adopted that expanded commodity-money (potentially capitalist) relations, in the name of correcting weaknesses in Central Planning and in the administration of the socialist productive units.

Ways and means that belonged to the past were used to resolve the problems that arose in the economy. Owing to the promotion of “market” policies, social ownership and Central Planning, the homogenization of the working class (with the widening of the abilities and capacities for multi-specialization, for alternation in the technical division of labour), workers’ participation in the organization of labour, and workers’ control from the bottom up were not reinforced; on the contrary, the reverse trend began to grow. Against this backdrop, the level of social consciousness gradually declined. The previous experience and the effectiveness of the factory soviet, of the Stakhanovite movement in quality control, in the more effective organization and administration, in inventions for the conservation of material and working time etc., were lost.

The theoretical sliding and the corresponding political retreat in the USSR occurred during a new phase, when the productive forces had developed at a higher level and necessitated a corresponding development of Central Planning. In other words, the need for a deepening of socialist relations had matured.

In the decade of the 1980s, with perestroika, opportunism fully developed into a traitorous, counter-revolutionary force.

The resolution of the 27th Congress (1986) constituted a further opportunist choice. Subsequently, the counter-revolution was also promoted through the passing of the law (1987) that institutionally legitimized capitalist economic relations, under the guise of the acceptance of the multiplicity of forms of ownership. The consistent communist forces that reacted during the final phase of the betrayal, at the 28th CPSU Congress, did not manage in a timely manner to expose it and to organize the revolutionary reaction of the working class.

We believe that the line of “peaceful co-existence”, as was developed in the post-war period, to some extent at the 19th Congress (October 1952) and primarily at the 20th Congress of the CPSU (1956), acknowledged the capitalist barbarity and aggression of the USA and Britain, and of certain sections of the bourgeoisie and its respective political forces in the western European capitalist states, but not as an integral element of monopoly capitalism, that is, imperialism. In this way, it allowed the fostering of utopian perceptions, such as that it is possible for imperialism to accept on a long term basis its co-existence with forces that have broken its worldwide domination.

The uniform strategy of capitalism against the socialist states and the labour movement in the capitalist countries was underestimated. The contradictions between the capitalist states, which of course contained the element of dependency, as is inevitable within the imperialist pyramid, were not correctly analyzed.

The stance of many CPs towards social democracy was part of this strategy. The view that social democracy could be distinguished into a “left” and a “right” wing became dominant in the CPs, seriously weakening the ideological struggle against it. In the name of the unity of the working class, the CPs made a series of ideological and political concessions, while the proclamations of unity on the part of social democracy did not aim to overthrow the capitalist system but to draw the working class away from the influence of communist ideas and to alienate it from its  class nature.

In Western Europe, the opportunist current known as “Euro-communism” held sway in the ranks of many CPs, under the pretext of the national peculiarities of each country. This  current denied the scientific laws of the socialist revolution, the dictatorship of the proletariat and revolutionary struggle in general.

The interaction of opportunism between the CPs of the capitalist countries and the governing CPs was strengthened under the threat of a nuclear strike against the socialist countries, the sharpening of class struggle inside the socialist states (Central and Eastern Europe) and new imperialist wars (e.g. against Vietnam, Korea). The flexible tactics of imperialism had an impact on the development of opportunism in the CPs of the socialist states, on the undermining of socialist construction, and of the revolutionary struggle in capitalist Europe and worldwide. Thus, directly or indirectly, imperialist pressure on the socialist states was intensified.


Dear comrades,

Overall, the direction that prevailed should not be assessed today only from a theoretical perspective, but also by its practical results. After a course of the application of those reforms in the USSR, the problems had clearly sharpened. Stagnation reared its head for the first time in the history of socialist construction. Technological backwardness continued to be a reality for the large majority of enterprises. Shortages occurred in many consumer products and problems arose in the “market”, because enterprises were causing an artificial rise in prices, by hoarding commodities in warehouses or by supplying them in controlled quantities.

An important index of the retreat of the Soviet economy during the 1970’s was the decline in the USSR’s share in the world production of industrial raw materials and in manufacturing.

The ever-increasing involvement of market elements in the directly social production of socialism was weakening it. It led to a decline in the dynamics of socialist development. Short-term individual and group interests (with an increase in income differentiation among the workers in each enterprise, between the workers and the managerial apparat, between different enterprises) were promoted to the detriment of the general interests of society. As time passed, the social conditions were created for the counterrevolution to flourish and to finally prevail using perestroika as its vehicle.

Through these reforms the possibility was created for monetary amounts that had been accumulated, primarily through illegal means (smuggling, etc.), to be invested in the “black” (illegal) market. Those opportunities concerned primarily officials in the management layers of enterprises and sectors, cadres of the kolkhozes and of foreign trade. Data regarding the so-called underground economy were also provided by the Procurator General of the USSR. According to these statistics, a significant proportion of the cooperative or state agricultural production was also channelled to the consumers by illegal means.

Income differentiation among the individual agricultural producers, the kolkhozniks, increased, as well as their opposition to the tendency to strengthen the directly social character of agricultural production. A portion of the farmers and the managerial cadres of the kolkhozes who were getting rich was strengthened as a social layer hampering socialist construction. The social differentiation in industry was even more pronounced through the concentration of “enterprise profits”. The so-called “shadow capital”, resulting not only from enrichment through enterprise profits but also from the black market and criminal acts of appropriation of the social product, sought its legal functioning as capital in production, i.e. the privatization of the means of production, the restoration of capitalism. Its owners constituted the driving social force of the counter-revolution. They took advantage of their position in the state and party apparatus. They found support in sections of the population, which, objectively, due to their position, were more vulnerable to the influence of bourgeois ideology and vacillation. Those forces affected the Party in a directly or indirect manner, strengthening its opportunist erosion and the counter-revolutionary degeneration that was expressed through the policies of “perestroika” and sought the institutional consolidation of capitalist relations. That was achieved after perestroika, with the overthrow of socialism.

Dear comrades,

Socialist construction is an uninterrupted process, which begins with the conquest of power by the working class. In the beginning, the new mode of production is formed, which prevails following the complete abolition of capitalist relations, of the relation between capital and wage labour. Subsequently, the new relations are extended and deepened, communist relations and the new type of man develop to a higher level that guarantees their irreversible prevalence, provided that capitalist relations have been abolished on a worldwide scale or at least in the developed and influential countries of the imperialist system.

The socialist course contains the possibility of a reversal and a retreat backwards to capitalism. Such a retreat is not a new phenomenon in social development and, in any case, it constitutes a temporary phenomenon in its history. It is an irrefutable fact that no socio-economic system has ever been immediately consolidated in the history of humankind. The transition from a lower phase of development to a higher one is not a straightforward, upward process. This is shown by the very history of the prevalence of capitalism.

The formation of the communist mode of production begins with the socialization of the concentrated means of production, with Central Planning, with the allocation of the labour force in the different sectors of the economy, with the planned distribution of the social product, with the formation of institutions of workers’ control. Based on those new economic relations, the productive forces, man, and the means of production develop with rapid rates; production and the entire society become organized. Socialist accumulation is achieved, a new level of social prosperity.

Socialization under socialism, as well as the entire organization of the economy and the society, is effected through the state of the working class, under the guidance of the Communist Party, which depends on the mobilization of the working masses, on workers’ control.

Any delay or, even more importantly, any retreat in the development of socialist relations leads to a sharpening of the contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production. On this basis, social contradictions and differentiations may develop into social antagonisms and lead to a sharpening of the class struggle. Under socialism there exists an objective basis that contains the possibility for social forces to act, under certain conditions, as potential bearers of exploitative relations, as was witnessed in the USSR.

Following a certain period, the Party gradually lost its revolutionary guiding character and, as a result, counter-revolutionary forces were able to prevail in the Party and the power.

We characterize the developments of 1989–1991 as a victory of the counter-revolution. They constituted the last act of the process that led to the strengthening of social inequalities and differences and respectively of the forces of counterrevolution and social regression. It is not accidental that those developments were supported by international reaction; that socialist construction, particularly during the period of the abolition of capitalist relations and of the founding of socialism, up until the Second World War,  came under ideological and political fire from international imperialism.

The victory of the counter-revolution in 1989–1991 does not prove a lack of the basic level of development of the material prerequisites necessary for the socialist construction to begin in Russia.

However, socialism faced additional difficulties due to the fact that socialist construction began in a country with a lower level of development of the productive forces (medium-weak, as V. I. Lenin characterized it) compared to the advanced capitalist countries and with a large degree of unevenness in its development, due to the extensive survival of pre-capitalist relations, particularly in the former Asian colonies of the tsarist empire. Socialism then had to face the destruction caused by the Second World War, while capitalist powers such as the USA never experienced war within their borders. On the contrary, they utilized the war to overcome the deep economic crisis of the 1930s.

The remarkable economic and social development that was accomplished under these conditions proves the superiority of the communist relations of production, even at their initial stage of development.

The counter-revolution in the USSR did not result from an imperialist military intervention, but rather from within and from the top, as a result of the opportunist transformation of the CP and the corresponding political direction of the Soviet power.

We assign priority to the internal factors, to the socio-economic conditions that reproduce opportunism on the basis of socialist construction, without of course underestimating the long-term effect and the multi-faceted interference of imperialism in the development of opportunism and its evolution into a counterrevolutionary force.

Consequently, the scientific and class nature of the policies of the CP is a crucial precondition for socialist construction. To the extent that these features become lost, opportunism grows and, unless it is dealt with, it gradually develops into a counter-revolutionary force.

Our Party has assumed its own responsibility for the misjudgments and the theoretical inability to understand all those developments in depth and in a timely manner.

This critical treatment of the stance of the KKE vis-à-vis socialist construction does not denigrate the fact that our Party throughout its course, true to its internationalist character, defended the process of the construction of socialism–communism in the 20th century, even with the lives of thousands of its members and cadres. The militant defence of the contribution of socialism in the 20th century was and is a conscious choice of our Party.

The KKE did not join the side of those forces which, originating in the communist movement and in the name of criticism towards the USSR and the other countries, were led to utter rejection, to the denial of the socialist character of those countries, to the adoption of the propaganda of imperialism; neither did it revise its defence of socialism, despite the USSR’s weaknesses.


The peoples of the former USSR and the entire world experience an unprecedented tragedy following the dissolution of the USSR and the overthrow of the socialist system (1991–2022)

1. The brutal exploitation of man by man. Hard-won achievements of the working class and the peoples were consigned to the dustbin. Working conditions belonging to the Dark Ages. Dismantling of social security. Restriction of trade union freedoms and rights. Increase in unemployment. Economic crises and a series of anti-labour and anti-union laws. An acute housing problem. Foreclosure auctions of primary residences. Risk of energy poverty, price increases, and inflation eating away at people’s incomes. Heavy taxation.

2. Abuse of women, widening inequality between men and women. Lack of protection of children. An upsurge in the drug scourge. Increasing cases of child abuse as in the case of the NGO “Kivotos” in Greece. Upsurge in racism, nationalism, fascism–Nazism. State repression and violence. Phone-tapping and monitoring by domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, corruption, and scandals.

3. Sharpening of imperialist competition. Contradictions, conflicts, imperialist war, most recently in Ukraine. Refugees, immigration. Nuclear threat.

4. Environmental destruction. Intensification of natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, fires, etc.) leaving popular families unprotected. Energy poverty and lack of electricity. Risk of food crisis. War for water.

And so much more as the number of problems is endless. This is capitalism;  barbaric and ruthless to the peoples and youth.

Those who expected or counted on an improvement in the international situation, a new period of prosperity for the peoples all around the world, were proven wrong.

The capitalists had a plan. The bourgeois staffs were working systematically to restore barbarism through the overthrow of socialism and the dissolution of the USSR. Their propaganda machine misled pure people that believed in something more beautiful.

Many people were led astray. Now is the time for them to see how and who undermined the efforts of the toiling people, the progressive people, the communists, to bring humanity back to prehistoric times. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the USSR, which we commemorate this year, perhaps it is time for all of them to draw substantial conclusions and, with their hand on their heart and a clearer mind, to join the great army of the world revolution.

Dear comrades,

We are convinced that the counter-revolutionary overthrows do not change the character of the era. The 21st century will be the century of a new upsurge of the world revolutionary movement and of a new series of social revolutions. The struggles that limit themselves to defending some gains, despite being necessary, cannot provide substantive and permanent solutions. The only way out and inevitable perspective remains socialism, despite the defeat at the end of the 20th century.

The necessity of socialism emerges from the sharpening of the contradictions of the contemporary capitalist world, of the imperialist system. It flows from the fact that in the imperialist stage of development of capitalism, which is characterized by the domination of monopolies, the material preconditions that necessitate the transition to a superior socio-economic system have fully matured.

As a party, we continue studying and researching, to better codify our conclusions, including on issues that we have not yet touched upon in a comprehensive way. At the same time, we make a thorough effort so that all the Party and KNE forces, especially the younger generation, assimilate those conclusions and our assessments.

This task determines the ability of the Party to link its strategy with the daily struggle in a comprehensive manner and to elaborate objectives for the immediate problems of the working people, in connection with the strategy for the conquest of revolutionary workers’ power and socialist construction.