BEN STEVENSON speech at International Conference, Nicosia, Cyprus, 4th June 2015 - “The threats of fascism and reactionary forces in the era of imperialism and wars”.

Dear comrades,

I bring fraternal and sororal greetings from the Communist Party of Britain to this international conference and to the 22nd Congress of AKEL. We are meeting today at a time of deep challenges for the international communist movement. It is apt therefore that we discuss and reflect upon the rising tide of fascist and reactionary forces today, in the year that we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the historic victory over fascism. This victory was only made possible by: the mobilisation of all working class forces in a popular people's war against fascism; the heroic work of communists and socialists in the partisan movements in occupied Europe; and the unprecedented sacrifice and determination of the soviet people's who “tore the guts out of the nazi war machine”.

Not only did this victory establish the people's democracies across Eastern Europe but through the deepening of class consciousness and the experience garnered by working class forces through the struggle against fascism, it also laid the foundation for the advancements of the post war period - in developed capitalist countries the establishment of the social democratic consensus and for the billions living under colonial rule major advancements in the struggle for national liberation.

The advance of Fascism in the 1930s was characterised by communists, as the ultimate triumph of the most reactionary sections of monopoly capital, which uses the coercive structures of the state to suppress communist, socialists, trade unionists and other forms of working class organisation. It was a response to the threat of socialist and working class advance in the wake of deeply systemic capitalist crisis. The working class in Britain was fortunately forewarned of the threat posed by fascism and it was the Communist Party who worked with its allies to defeat the British variant of fascism – not just by mobilising and opposing it on the streets but by building working class unity in communities around issues such as housing, employment and community services. Comrades, whilst the particular forms and expressions of fascism differ from country to country and epoch to epoch it is dependent on deprivation and dividing working class forces to assume power.

In this current phase of imperialism, particularly since the capitalist economic crisis of 2008, we have seen a sharpening of the inherent contradictions of capitalism and an intensification of the imperialist offensive as the U.S., Britain, Germany and other imperialist countries attempt to shore up their economic dominance in key strategic corners of the globe. In Eastern Europe, NATO and EU expansion and the intervention in the Ukraine has been coupled with anti-communism and historical revisionism - the presentable face of which has been through the Prague declaration movement and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s resolution on the supposed “crimes of communism” – which amongst other things attempts to equate the liberators of Auschwicz with those responsible for the running of it. This ideological assault is critical to the successful expansion of imperialism in the region and it is no accident that the Prague declaration movement has the support of reactionary governments across Eastern Europe.

The true character of this movement has been exposed for all to see in the Ukraine. The attempted banning of Communist Parties our symbols and ideas, the destruction of partisan and holocaust memorials and the condoning and orchestration of violent assault against communists, socialists and trade unionists. The government of the Ukraine is not a legitimate, patriotic government heroically standing up to Russian aggression as is continually portrayed in the bourgeois media in advanced capitalist countries but are the expression of US imperialist interests in the region, aimed at constraining and limiting the influence of its supposed rival, Russia.

Imperialism cannot nor has it ever acted as a safeguard against reaction or a vehicle for promoting democratic values. Nowhere is the true character of imperialism more evident than in the Middle East. The inevitable end result of imperialist tactics - from military intervention, sanctions, drone attacks and the supplying of arms and economic support by the U.S. and its allies to some of the most ultra-reactionary religious forces - has resulted in death and deprivation for millions of people across the Middle East and the continuing advance of religious fundamentalist, Jihadist and reactionary forces such as Islamic state. The threat of further military intervention in Iraq and Syria in particular continues to supply IS and other reactionary forces with recruits for wars which are wreaking havoc across the region. Communists in Britain continue to express our solidarity with our sister parties and comrades in the region who are facing the dual threat of imperialist aggression and violent assaults by jihadist and extremist terrorist forces.

In Britain, whilst organised fascist forces are on the defensive, Xenophobia, racism and anti-immigrant sentiment has become part of the mainstream political debate. The far right anti immigration UKIP was only prevented from winning a significant number of seats in parliament at the general election a last month as a result of the archaic nature of our electoral system. Despite its inability to expand beyond its two existing MPs, it finished third in the popular vote with nearly 15% of the vote in the general election held on the 7th May. Millions of disenchanted white working class people in de-industrialised parts of England, who have been abandoned by the Labour Party now look to it as an 'alternative'. These divide and rule tactics which the British ruling class is well practiced in are an obstacle to the building of popular class unity against austerity and consciously obscure the debate around the character of the EU and Britain’s membership of it.

The grip that monopoly capitalism has over the British state has been further strengthened by the election of a Tory government. Despite less than one in five adults having voted for them, they have immediately launched a further assault on democratic rights and civil liberties. This government has already after less than a month in office proven to be the most reactionary one experienced by the people of Britain since Margaret Thatcher left office in 1991. They have immediately set about strengthening and extending anti-union laws – from the proposed banning of strikes in the public sector, further restrictions on strike ballots, and allowing bosses to employ scab labour, the Cameron government recognises that it's true opponents lie not in parliament but in the popular, militant and organised expressions of workers.

They're can be no doubt as well that this government will ramp up the rhetoric and likelihood of further military interventions overseas. Whilst in coalition with the liberals the Tories attempted to resurrect the discredited notion of the positive historical influence of British colonialism as a ‘civilising force’ and was only prevented from turning the centenary of the first world war into a flag waving jingoistic celebration of a supposed victory against aggressive German militarism due to the coordinated intervention of progressive organisations, historians, playwrights, poets and other cultural figures. Reestablishing the ideological basis for imperialist interventions in Britain

Comrades, we must learn the lessons from our history – our victories as well as our defeats – but critically engage in analysing the material conditions which exist today. The rising tide of Fascism and other reactionary forces can and will only be halted - just as it was in previous epochs - through expression of internationalism and solidarity of those people's facing imperialist aggression and the building of popular working class and people's unity in each country, through the trade unions, mass organisations, social movements with the communist and left forces as an integral and critical component of this struggle. The processes through which this is achieved and struggles that we have to face are qualitatively and quantitively different from those we faced 70+ years ago. But as was the case then it is only the communists who have the understanding, experience and base within our class who can lead and initiate this struggle.