McCarthyism resurrected in Europe

On Jan. 24-27 the Council of Europe will vote on a resolution demanding international condemnation of communism and statements of renunciation from all communist parties in European Union member states “condemning the crimes committed by totalitarian communist regimes.” Equating communism with Nazism/fascism, the resolution claims that “communist ideology, wherever and whenever implemented … has always resulted in massive terror, crimes and large scale violation of human rights,” and says these are “a direct result of the class struggle theory.”

The resolution, if adopted, could launch a new period of anticommunist hysteria. It leads the way to prohibition of communist parties that do not issue the renunciations. Observers note that in numerous former socialist countries in Europe, communist parties and communists are being actively persecuted, communist leaders jailed and communist symbols forbidden. In this context, this resolution threatens to create a European-wide climate encouraging increased anticommunist persecution.

Calling for a major rewriting of the history of the 20th century, the resolution demands that the historical contribution of communist parties and communists on the front lines of struggles for national independence, social justice, democracy and human rights be renounced. It attempts to erase from popular memory the sacrifice of the lives of millions of communists in the fight for a more just world, and the 20 million dead of the former Soviet Union in the war against fascism. By equating communist and fascism it attempts to rewrite the history of World War II, minimizing if not concealing the responsibility of fascism with the claim that “other totalitarian regimes” existed.

The resolution was set in motion in August 2003 with a condemnation of communist ideology in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which urged the council to “take the necessary measures to get rid of the inheritance of former communist totalitarian states.” In May 2005, on the 60th anniversary of the victory over fascism, the European Parliament (EP) adopted an extreme anticommunist resolution. In October, PACE presented a memorandum even more reactionary than that of the EP, asking for the international condemnation of communism “without further delay.” Its author, Goran Lindblad, has been publicly quoted stating that “communism is satanic as an idea” and the “French Revolution was abhorrent.”

This resolution is part of an all-out attack by the forces of reaction in Europe against the ideology of communism. Fifteen years ago, when European socialist states were overthrown, the death of communism and the “end of history” were declared, with capitalism the “victor.” However, as capitalism is seen as spreading misery and poverty throughout the world and people in former socialist countries have tasted the harsh reality of capitalism, communist ideas and prospects for socialism are apparently not so “dead” after all, and reactionary forces are uneasy.

This resolution targets not only communists but the entire working-class movement. Struggles against neoliberalism, globalization, the monopolies and the “new world order” are increasingly inspired by ideals that conflict with capitalism. With this resolution, European representatives of capitalism apparently hope to obliterate these ideals using openly fascistic methods.

A public outcry against the resolution in many European Union countries and across the world continues. A Europe-wide meeting of communist and workers’ parties was set for Jan. 21 in Brussels. On Jan. 24 a mass protest will be held outside the Council of Europe in Straussberg on the day the resolution will be voted on. Demonstrations are being held in various countries. An online petition against the resolution at has drawn signatures from thousands of people around the world.

In Greece public outcry against the resolution has been overwhelming, spanning the entire political spectrum from right to left. Internationally renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis said the Council of Europe has decided to “distort” history “by equating the victims with the villains. The criminals with the heroes. The conquerors with the liberators and the Nazis with the communists.”

The resolution opens the way for “the ghosts of Hitler and Himmler,” who “began their career by outlawing the Communist Parties and by locking up the Communists in death camps,” Theodorakis said.

Meanwhile the council has been silent on U.S. aggression, torture and other human rights violations, he noted. “I have but one word to address to those ‘gentlemen’: Shame!”

Laura Petricola ( writes from Athens, Greece.