Notes on the XXII International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties in Havana (and the so-called “Paris Declaration”)
By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 10 November 2022, www.thecommunists.net
145 representatives of 78 Stalinist parties of 60 countries participated at the 22nd “International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties” (IMCWP) which was held in Havana (Cuba) on 27-29 October 2022. These annual conferences have been initiated by the Greek KKE and are the most important global gatherings of Stalinist parties.
While many parties are small and insignificant, there were also a number of important participants.  Among the latter are parties which dominate a state since decades (Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea and Laos) or which are part of national governments of capitalist states (Brazil, Spain, South Africa, Syria) respectively of regional governments of large countries (India).
At this place, we want to focus on a process which seems to us being the most important political outcome of this conference: the deepening of differences between these Stalinist parties. We did already point to this process in several other works and, therefore, we will limit ourselves to discuss the latest statements adopted at the 22nd IMCWP. 
It is not surprising that the process of political differentiation takes place around the issues of the Ukraine War and the accelerating Great Power rivalry. These are the dominating issues of the current world situation and, hence, these are the political axes around which political forces develop their political positions.
The 22nd IMCWP conference reflected the formation of two camps within the Stalinist milieu with clearly contrasting views. Let us first present the two statements which reflect the positions of these currents.
The Pro-Russian Social-Imperialists
One statement reflects the views of the most reactionary parties which can be characterized as pro-Russian social-imperialists.  They view only the U.S. and its allies as imperialist. The Ukraine, in the imaginary world of these simpletons, is a country of Nazis, aiding Washington to spread fascism around the world.
“Imperialism is becoming ever more dangerous for humankind. It resorts ever more often to provocations and conflicts. Its actions threaten a new world war and the use of nuclear weapons. In fact the war, as armed struggle of classes, nations or states, has been waged since 2014 when the Kiev Nazis launched a punitive operation against the population of Donbass. (…) Today more than fifty predator-countries, organized and directed by US-led NATO, are using Ukrainian followers of Banderaites, allies of Hitler, to pursue a policy of Fascist expansion vis-à-vis Russia. (…) The aim is to establish world hegemony of the USA in the 21st century with active and overt use of Fascism.” 
While these Stalinist parties might have disagreements about the concrete class character of Russia and China, they certainly share the view that these states are not imperialist. Worse, they claim that Russia is waging a “just anti-fascist war” against the “Ukrainian Nazis” which are only “proxies of NATO”. Consequently, they openly side with Russia and its allies and call for support Putin’s war efforts.
“The Communist and Workers’ Parties support the just anti-Fascist struggle of the working people of Donbass backed by the Russian Armed Forces. We come out against the US imperialism which is using Fascist methods in its foreign policy and, with direct participation of NATO, is in fact waging a war aimed at defeating Russia with the hands of the puppet bourgeois-nationalist Ukrainian regime. We declare that we will do all we can to prevent Russia from repeating the fate of Yugoslavia, Iraq or Libya, which is starkly at odds with the interests of the world workers’ movement. (…) Russia cannot afford to lose the war against Nazism.”
The pro-Russian social-imperialist character of this statement is furthermore confirmed if one looks at the list of the signatories. Among the most important of these is Zyuganov’s KPRF – a Great Russian chauvinist party which has unconditionally supported Putin’s imperialist war at every stage.  Other important signatories are the RKRP (a smaller Stalinist party in Russia ), the Brazilian PCdoB (part of Lula’s popular front alliance), and the Syrian Communist Party – Unified (part of Assad’s dictatorship). It is noteworthy that the German DKP, the Italian PC and the Hungarian Munkáspárt also signed this “Putinista” statement.
Clearly, these parties can be characterized as political supporters of the imperialist camp which is led by Russia and China.
The Paris Declaration: The Ultra-Stalinist Knights of Xi, Kim and Putin
At this point, we shall briefly deal with another joint statement of a number of Stalinist parties – the so-called “Paris Declaration”. This document, adopted at a conference in October 2022 in France’s capital, focuses not only on the Ukraine War. It is rather a more general declaration of support and solidarity with China and Russia since these two powers “represent a serious threat to the imperialists’ world hegemony.” 
Hence, the signatory parties claim that “the Russian side, in its alliance with the peoples of the Donbass, is engaged in a war of self-defence and national liberation against imperialist attack.”
Likewise, they say that any conflict between the U.S. and China, “no matter who fires the first shot (…) will likewise be [a] war of anti-imperialist self-defence and national liberation waged by the (…) Chinese people.”
Hence, it is only consequential that these parties see Russia and China as their hope for the anti-imperialist struggle. “The growing alliance between Russia and China offers hope to the people of the world: hope of an alternative to US domination and imperialist superexploitation. A strong anti-imperialist camp is our peoples’ best defence against the aggressive plans of the bloodthirsty Nato alliance – our best defence against the looming threat of nuclear war.”
Two of the signatories of the above-mentioned Putinista Havana statement did also sign the Paris Declaration (the Italian PC and the Hungarian Munkáspárt). Other supporters include the Ultra-Stalinist CPGB(ML) in Britain,  the South Korean People’s Democracy Party (supporters of the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un), the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan, the PCI (Italy), and the two French organizations – the National Association of Communists and the Pole of Communist Revival in France.
Looking at the list of signatories, the Paris Declaration does not seem to be significant. However, these forces reflect a broader current within the Stalinist and Bolivarian camp. This is also indicated by the list of forces which were present and made speeches at the Paris conference. Among these are the Ambassador of Venezuela, the Czech Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the Party for Socialism and Liberation (U.S.) and the Russian RKRP.
Like the above-mentioned Havana Putinistas, these parties are political supporters of Russian and Chinese imperialism. However, the Paris Declaration provides a stronger and more generalized ideological basis for such reactionary social-imperialism.
An emerging trend of Stalinist parties opposed to both imperialist camps
As we noted already in other works published in the recent past, one of the most interesting developments in the Stalinist camp is the growing differentiation and the emergence of a group of parties which oppose not only the Great Power policy of NATO but also that of Russia and China. In fact, they recognize (or are close to recognize) the imperialist character not only of NATO but also of Russia and China. 
“We condemn all the criminal actions of the representatives of the world capital: the USA, imperialist alliances and blocs, the Russian Federation and the ruling circles of Ukraine itself, who have used the last means to resolve their contradictions in the age of imperialism - war - on the territory of Ukraine.” 
Hence, they support anti-war actions not only in the Western countries but also in Russia. “We support anti-militarist sentiments and actions within Ukraine and the Russian Federation as a struggle of the exploited class against the exploiting class. Not only the logic of Marxist analysis, but also the eight months of ongoing war show the falsity of the goals declared by the Russian government as their implementation obviously leads to directly opposite results: humanitarian disaster, thousands of civilian deaths, militarization of Ukraine alongside with the destruction of its industrial enterprises and cities, increase in anti-Russian sentiment and the numbers of fascist militants. Thus, as before in history, the ruling elites of both countries are manipulating the slogans of a "just war" for their political points, economic gain and the mobilization of the deceived peoples to achieve goals alien to them.”
These parties also demarcate themselves from the above-mentioned pro-Russian Stalinists by stating: “We strongly disclaim any involvement of the Russian government policy in the anti-fascist movement or, even more so, in the "pro-Soviet" sentiment. The Russian Federation, being a bourgeois state, is only nominally, in the framework of bourgeois law, the inheritor of the USSR, while it has nothing in common with the USSR either in its basis or superstructure.”
While they share various illusions about the character of the so-called “Donbass Republics” in the years after 2014, they have a much more sober view about the current nature of these proxy-entities of the Kremlin.  “The proxies of the bourgeois ruling circles of the Russian Federation have seized power in the people's republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, the red field commanders - the people's nominees - have been eliminated, and the political activities of communist organizations have been banned. All the goals stated by Putin and the official authorities of the Russian Federation regarding the "special military operation" failed. This "special operation" is not only false but also criminal which is confirmed by the humanitarian catastrophe affecting the civilian population of Ukraine.”
Consequently, these left Stalinist parties take a dual-defeatist position in the Ukraine War, i.e. they oppose both camps. “We are certain that it is only the Ukrainian working class united with the Russian proletariat and supported by the world labor that is able of stopping the imperialist slaughter. Ukraine’s, Russia’s and world bourgeoisie mobilized and armed workers. It is necessary that these armaments be aimed at the governments of war, to convert the imperialist war between the peoples into a civil war between classes.”
Of course, we do think that this position is mistaken since it ignores the legitimate character of the national war of defense of the Ukrainian people. But before elaborating more on this, we want to point to another trenchant demarcation of these parties from their “Putinista” siblings.
“It is shameful and criminal for communists all over the world to trail behind the governments of bourgeois countries and work for the interests of their national bourgeoisie, to support one or another bloc of bourgeois countries. Our immutable task is to help workers all over the world realize that imperialist wars do not lead to the emancipation of labor, on the contrary, they enslave it even more; that in the imperialist conflict the working class has no allies among the ruling circles, only enemies; that their friends are only the proletarians, no matter what nationality they may be.”
The driving force behind this statement is the Greek KKE – a party which has influence in the trade unions and which usually gains about 5-7% at national elections.  Most other signatories are small parties except the South African Communist Party. We have no idea why on earth the SACP signed this statement as this is an arch-opportunist and corrupted force which has been part of the neoliberal ANC government since nearly three decades. A bureaucratic misunderstanding or a signature provided late at night at a Havana barroom? (It should be noted that the Palestinian Communist Party managed to sign both contradicting statements! So, not everyone attending this conference is the brightest bulb in the box!)
Other noteworthy signatories are the Communist Party of Turkey and the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan (a party originally coming from a Trotskyist tradition which played a role in the workers uprising in 2011). 
Ignoring the national just war of the Ukrainian people
As readers of the our publications will know, we disagree with the characterization of the Ukraine War as a proxy war between two imperialist camps. This does not mean that such a feature would not exist to a certain degree. We have emphasized since the beginning of the war that this conflict has a dual character It is an imperialist war waged by Russia against the Ukraine. At the same time, it is combined with the rivalry between the Great Powers of West and East. From such a dual character of the conflict follows the dual tactic which the RCIT and its comrades in Socialist Tendency (Russia) have advocated since the beginning of the war and which we summarised in the slogan: Defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion! Against Russian and against NATO imperialism! 
In discussions with Stalinist comrades, we have pointed to the fact that such a complex character of a conflict – a combination of legitimate national war of liberation as well as inter-imperialist rivalry – is not a unique case. In fact, several similar conflicts took place in the 1930s and 1940 (e.g. the Italo-Ethiopian War in 1935 or the Sino-Chinese War in 19387-45). Such a combined character did not stop communists from defending the oppressed people. 
In such discussions, we have also raised the following questions to these comrades: 
1. Why did the Ukrainian people energetically resist Putin’s invasion from the very first day? Did they fight because NATO told them to do so or because they don’t want to be occupied by the Russian army?
2. Do the Ukrainian people continue resisting the Russian invasion because of Zelensky and NATO? Or is it not rather the case that they would defend themselves in any case (true, with less modern weapons if NATO would not support them)?
3. Would the Ukrainian people agree to the occupation of their country or to the annexation of parts of their country if NATO would not support them?
4. What would the Ukrainian people do differently if NATO would not support them? Surely, they would be weaker militarily. May be their form of resistance would have more the character of a guerilla war like in Afghanistan and Iraq against the U.S. But don’t you think that they would wage a national liberation struggle in any case?!
5. Furthermore, is it not the case that this war has first and foremost “internal” causes, i.e. that it was caused by Putin’s desire to subjugate the Ukraine because of the imperialist, Great Russian nature of his policy and his regime? One just has to remember his essay of summer 2021 in which he denied the very existence of a Ukrainian nation, combined with a rant against Lenin and the Bolshevik policy of national self-determination. Hence, it is wrong to explain Russia’s invasion only by the Great Power rivalry. Great Russian chauvinism is an old policy rooted in the feudalist and capitalist tradition of Russia. It is first and foremost not a reaction to Western provocations as many Stalinists claim. It is primarily the result of the imperialist nature of Russia – like the U.S. attack on Afghanistan and Iraq or France’s military intervention in Mali reflected the imperialist character of these powers.
6. Finally, we appreciate if we agree on the analysis of Russia as imperialist. But what is the class character of the Ukraine? Is it a semi-colonial or an imperialist country? We think that the Ukraine is the former – hence, the war has the character of an attack by an imperialist power (Russia) against a semi-colonial Ukraine. It is well-known among Marxists that in principle, all other factors being equal, one has to defend the latter against the imperialist aggressor.
In summary, we consider it as wrong – as the KKE-inspired statement does – to ignore the legitimate character of the Ukrainian national war of defense. Nevertheless, in politics it is important to recognize not only the correctness or non-correctness of a position, but also which direction of political movement does such a position reflect.
In the case of the KKE-led camp of Stalinists we can speak about a shift to the left by these parties as they are in a process of recognizing the imperialist character of Russia (and China). This is even more the case as – in contrast, for example, to the Russian RKRP – they also oppose the policy of the Eastern imperialist powers and refuse to defend them against the Western rivals. True, these parties have still a long way to go. It is also quite possible that they get stuck in this process or retreat. Nevertheless, let us note that a first and important step has been made. It would be foolish to ignore this.
 See 22nd International Meeting of Communist & Workers Parties, http://www.solidnet.org/meetings-and-statements/imcwp/22nd-International-Meeting-of-Communist-Workers-Parties/; concerning the collective decisions of this conference see: Final Declaration, http://www.solidnet.org/article/22nd-IMCWP-Final-Declaration-of-the-22nd-International-Meeting-of-Communist-and-Workers-Parties/; Plan of Action, http://www.solidnet.org/article/22nd-IMCWP-Plan-of-Action-of-the-22nd-International-Meeting-of-Communist-and-Workers-Parties-Havana-Cuba/.
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: A Progressive Step Towards Anti-Imperialism. Some Stalinist parties refuse to support Russian or EU imperialism in the current NATO-Russia conflict, 17 February 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/kke-and-nato-russia-conflict/.
 See on this these two pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: Putin’s Poodles (Apologies to All Dogs). The pro-Russian Stalinist parties and their arguments in the current NATO-Russia Conflict, 9 February 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/nato-russia-conflict-stalinism-as-putin-s-poodles/; by the same author: Servants of Two Masters. Stalinism and the New Cold War between Imperialist Great Powers in East and West, 10 July 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/servants-of-two-masters-stalinism-and-new-cold-war/.
 The Struggle Against USA and NATO Imperialism which Seek World Hegemony is the Key Task of the Progressive Forces, Statement by the participants in the XXII International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties, Havana, 28-29 October, 2022, http://www.solidnet.org/article/22nd-IMCWP-The-Struggle-Against-USA-and-NATO-Imperialism-which-Seek-World-Hegemony-is-the-Key-Task-of-the-Progressive-Forces/
 The RCIT has published a number of polemics against the KPRF’s social-chauvinist policy in the Ukraine War; see e.g. the pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: Putin’s Poodles (Apologies to All Dogs). The pro-Russian Stalinist parties and their arguments in the current NATO-Russia Conflict, 9 February 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/nato-russia-conflict-stalinism-as-putin-s-poodles/; by the same author: Russia: Zyuganov Calls for “General Mobilisation” to defeat the Ukraine. The “communist” KPRF leader joins the long-standing demand of the hard-core sector of the Great Russian chauvinist camp a la Igor Strelkov, 13 September 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/russia-zyuganov-calls-for-general-mobilisation-to-defeat-the-ukraine/; “Socialism” a la Putin and Zyuganov. On a telling dialogue between the Stalinist party leader and the Russian President, 13 July 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/socialism-a-la-putin/.
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: “Left” Stalinism and the Program of Russian Social-Imperialism. On the latest resolution of the RKRP about Putin’s “partial mobilisation”, annexation and the Ukraine War, 18 October 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/rkrp-program-of-russian-social-imperialism/; by the same author: Russia and the Theory of “Lesser-Evil” Imperialism. On some Stalinists and “Trotskyists” who formally recognize Russia’s class character but reject the political consequences, 28 July 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/russia-and-the-theory-of-lesser-evil-imperialism/
 About the CPGB(ML) see e.g. chapter VIII and XXIV in our book by Michael Pröbsting: Anti-Imperialism in the Age of Great Power Rivalry. The Factors behind the Accelerating Rivalry between the U.S., China, Russia, EU and Japan. A Critique of the Left’s Analysis and an Outline of the Marxist Perspective, RCIT Books, Vienna 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/anti-imperialism-in-the-age-of-great-power-rivalry/.
 The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. The most important ones are several pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: The Peculiar Features of Russian Imperialism. A Study of Russia’s Monopolies, Capital Export and Super-Exploitation in the Light of Marxist Theory, 10 August 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-peculiar-features-of-russian-imperialism/; by the same author: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014 (this pamphlet contains a document written in 2001 in which we established for the first time our characterisation of Russia as imperialist), http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/; see also these essays by the same author: Russia: An Imperialist Power or a “Non-Hegemonic Empire in Gestation”? A reply to the Argentinean economist Claudio Katz, in: New Politics, 11 August 2022, at https://newpol.org/russia-an-imperialist-power-or-a-non-hegemonic-empire-in-gestation-a-reply-to-the-argentinean-economist-claudio-katz-an-essay-with-8-tables/; Russian Imperialism and Its Monopolies, in: New Politics Vol. XVIII No. 4, Whole Number 72, Winter 2022, https://newpol.org/issue_post/russian-imperialism-and-its-monopolies/; Once Again on Russian Imperialism (Reply to Critics). A rebuttal of a theory which claims that Russia is not an imperialist state but would be rather “comparable to Brazil and Iran”, 30 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/once-again-on-russian-imperialism-reply-to-critics/. See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/.
 22nd IMCWP, RESOLUTION on the imperialist war on the territory of Ukraine, http://www.solidnet.org/article/22nd-IMCWP-RESOLUTION-on-the-imperialist-war-on-the-territory-of-Ukraine/
 See on this RCIT: “Self-Determination for Donbass”: A Reactionary Slogan in the Service of Russian Imperialism. On the historical, theoretical, and political reasons why this slogan is contrary to the Marxist program of national self-determination as well as to the interests of the current national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people, 27 June 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/theses-on-donbass/; Petr Sedov: On the Donbass Uprising in Spring 2014. A necessary correction of our assessment of the early phase of the “anti-fascist” Uprising in the Eastern Ukraine, RCIT Russia, July 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/reconsidering-the-donbass-uprising-in-spring-2014/; Michael Pröbsting: The Uprising in East Ukraine and Russian Imperialism. An Analysis of Recent Developments in the Ukrainian Civil War and their Consequences for Revolutionary Tactics, 22.October 2014 https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/ukraine-and-russian-imperialism/
 Our latest critique of the KKE is by Michael Pröbsting: Greece: Social-Patriotic KKE Calls for the Defence of “Our Country’s Sovereign Rights”, 30 September 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-social-patriotic-kke-calls-for-the-defence-of-our-country-s-sovereign-rights/
 The RCIT has published several documents on the popular uprising in Kazakhstan in January 2022. They are all compiled at a special page on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/compilation-of-articles-on-the-popular-uprising-in-kazakhstan/.
 We refer readers to a special page on our website where more than 120 RCIT documents on the Ukraine War and the current NATO-Russia conflict are compiled: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/compilation-of-documents-on-nato-russia-conflict/. In particular we refer to the RCIT Manifesto: Ukraine War: A Turning Point of World Historic Significance. Socialists must combine the revolutionary defense of the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion with the internationalist struggle against Russian as well as NATO and EU imperialism, 1 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/manifesto-ukraine-war-a-turning-point-of-world-historic-significance/
 See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: A Marxist Slogan and its Caricature. On the social-imperialist distortion of the slogan “The Main Enemy Is At Home” in the context of the Ukraine War and the Taiwan Strait Crisis, 17 August 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/the-marxist-slogan-the-main-enemy-is-at-home-and-its-social-imperialist-distortion/; by the same author: The Ukraine War and the Second Sino-Japanese War: A Historical Analogy. The dual tactic of Marxists in the Ukraine War today draws on the approach of their predecessors in the war between China and Japan in 1937-41, 10 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/ukraine-war-second-sino-japanese-war-a-historical-analogy/
 See e.g. Социалистической тенденции: С годовщиной Великой Социалистической Революции! Долой войну! 4 ноября 2022, https://www.socialisttendency.com/post/ovyocober-revolution