2.1 The twentieth century was marked by momentous changes in the world. It has been a century of struggle against imperialism. The century was witness to great revolutionary events, beginning with the October Socialist Revolution of 1917. The victory over fascism in the Second World War in which the Soviet Union played a decisive role, was a major event. The historic Chinese revolution, the success of the revolutionary forces in Vietnam, Korea and Cuba and the formation of the socialist states in Eastern Europe were a product of the titanic clash between imperialism and socialism. This was also a century of national liberation movements leading to the political independence of the colonies. These victories marked a new epoch in world history as was projected by the theory of Marxism-Leninism. The revolutionary events of the century and the major developments in science and technology opened up grand prospects for the advance of humanity on a scale never envisioned before.
2.2 The countries which adopted the socialist system blazed a new path. With the creation of the Soviet Union, for the first time in human history, the working people could live in a society free from class exploitation. Rapid industrialisation, elimination of feudal vestiges and all round progress in the fields of economy, culture and science led to a new life for the vast mass of the people and the empowerment of the working people. The eradication of poverty and illiteracy, the elimination of unemployment, the vast network of social security in the fields of health, education, housing and big strides in science and technology — these were the path-breaking achievements of the socialist countries. Such remarkable progress was registered in societies where capitalism had not yet developed significantly and were relatively backward. Socialism had to be built in the difficult circumstances of overcoming socio-economic backwardness and countering the aggression, subversion and threats of imperialism. The achievements registered in the Soviet Union had their effect on the capitalist countries as well. The ruling classes were forced to introduce and extend social security for their own citizens under the concept of a welfare State.
2.3 However, in the course of building socialism on an uncharted path, the Soviet Union and other socialist countries in Eastern Europe committed serious mistakes. Such mistakes flowed from the improper understanding of the protracted nature of building socialism; the wrong notion of the role of the party and the State; the failure to effect timely changes in the economy and its management; the failure to deepen socialist democracy in the party, State and society; the growth of bureaucratism; and the erosion of ideological consciousness. These facilitated the sustained efforts of imperialism at subverting socialism. These distortions do not negate the validity of Marxism-Leninism, rather they represent the deviations from revolutionary theory and practice. The dismantling of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries and the setbacks suffered in Eastern Europe resulted in a new situation. At the end of the 20th century the forces of socialism had to once again face the challenge posed by an emboldened imperialism. The CPI(M) is confident that notwithstanding the setbacks, the communist movement and the revolutionary forces will learn from the mistakes, regroup and meet the challenge of countering the offensive of imperialism and the reactionary forces.
2.4 Despite the twists and turns, successes and reverses, the developments of the twentieth century, particularly since 1917 reflect the profound impact of socialism and the people’s struggles in the evolution of human progress. The revolutionary transformations have brought about qualitative leaps in history and left an indelible imprint on modern civilisation. The process of social emancipation and socialist transformation will be a protracted and complex one. History has shown that the transformation from capitalism to socialism is not a one-stroke transformation but a prolonged period of intense struggle of classes even after acquiring State power.
2.5 World capitalism is incapable of solving the basic problems affecting humanity. The tremendous growth of productive forces utilising the scientific and technological advances has resulted in growth taking place in the advanced capitalist countries without increasing employment and sharply accentuating income and wealth disparities. It has led to intensified exploitation of the workers by expropriating increased rate of surplus value. The advances in science and technology are utilised to perpetuate concentration of wealth and assets in the hands of a few individuals and multinational corporations. Imperialism has proved to be a predatory and destructive system. In the twentieth century it plunged humanity into two barbaric world wars claiming millions of lives. The armaments industry has become an integral part of the advanced capitalist economies, which serves to keep the aggregate demand afloat. The neo-liberal prescriptions advocating the withdrawal of the State have led to savage cuts in social security and welfare benefits for the working class and the ordinary citizens. Jobless growth, casualisation of labour, and growing disparities in incomes and wealth are a marked feature. The volatility of the financial system, the stagnant and low rates of growth in the advanced capitalist countries and the growing irrationality and wastage in the use of resources are all symptoms of the in-built crisis in the capitalist system. The rapacious drive for profits by the multinational corporations and the extravagant consumption of the rich countries have devastated the environment and is seriously threatening the world’s ecology in general and that of the third world in particular. The fundamental contradiction inherent in capitalism between the ever-growing socialisation of production and the increasingly private appropriation of the surplus has become more acute.
2.6 The concentration and internationalisation of finance capital has reached unprecedented heights in the current phase of capitalism. Globally mobile finance capital is assaulting the sovereignty of nations, seeking unimpeded access to their economies in pursuit of super profits. The imperialist order in the service of this speculative finance capital breaks down all barriers for its free flow and imposes the terms favourable to such capital in every part of the globe. The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation are the instruments to perpetuate this unjust post-colonial global order. The new hegemony of speculative finance capital results in sluggish growth in the advanced capitalist countries. For the third world it spells a vicious cycle of intensified exploitation and growing debt. The terms of trade, industrial and agricultural production, technology flows, and the services sector in the lesser-developed capitalist countries are all forced to dovetail the interests of imperialist capital. The imperialist system has divided the world into two: the rich advanced capitalist countries and the developing countries where live the vast mass of humanity. The gap between the rich and poor countries began to sharply widen in the last two decades of the twentieth century. With the onset of the imperialist driven globalisation it has grown further.
2.7 With the dismantling of the Soviet Union, imperialism which was pursuing a neo-colonial strategy since the end of the old style colonialism, has stepped up its efforts for global domination. US imperialism is using its economic, political and military power aggressively to establish its hegemony. The imperialist driven globalisation is sought to be buttressed by the expansion of NATO and military intervention around the world to impose the imperialist order. The socialist countries China, Vietnam, Cuba, Korea and Laos, faced with adverse conditions created by the change in the correlation of forces are steadfastly committed to the cause of socialism. Imperialism actively seeks to subvert the existing socialist countries and wages a relentless war in the ideological, economic and political spheres against them. Utilising the global communications revolution, imperialism with its control over the international media, aggressively seeks to discredit and suppress anti-capitalist ideas and socialism.
2.8 Despite the fact that the international correlation of forces favour imperialism at the end of the twentieth century and capitalism continues to develop productive forces with the application of new scientific and technological advances, it remains a crisis-ridden system apart from being a system of oppression, exploitation and injustice. The only system, which is an alternative to capitalism, is socialism. The central social contradiction therefore remains that between imperialism and socialism for the epoch. The contradiction between the imperialist countries and the third world countries rapidly intensifies under the neo-liberal global offensive and it is coming to the forefront. Given the uneven development under capitalism, the contradictions between imperialist countries continue to exist. The contradiction between labour and capital aggravates with the current features of capitalism as noted above. All these contradictions continue to intensify and exert their influence on world events.
2.9 The working class and its parties have to equip themselves ideologically, politically and organisationally to wage a relentless struggle against imperialism and its exploitative order. The unity of the Left, democratic and progressive forces around the world must be forged to fight against imperialism and defeat the ruling classes who seek to sustain and perpetuate the present unjust global order. As a Party based on proletarian internationalism, the CPI(M) is committed to fight against imperialist hegemony and expresses solidarity with all the forces in the world who are fighting against the imperialist-driven economic order of globalisation and for peace, democracy and socialism.