BEING A MEMBER OF AKEL
“AKEL derives its strength from its ideological, political and organizational unity, functioning of internal party-democracy, collective work, conscious participation and action of its members, from the continued broadening and strengthening of the ties it maintains with the workers and the people”. This statutory principle forms the foundation upon which the entire mechanism of AKEL rests on. This is the basis from which all the characteristics of a Party member emanate: the belief in our ideology, conscious discipline, and ethos, active participation in party life and popular struggles, contact with society, self-education and constant vigilance to safeguard the Party.
The correct awareness of the capacity of an AKEL member has great importance for the Party and members of AKEL.
The distortion that was allowed to penetrate into the entire party in relation to the meaning of the status of a party member (that of responsibility, obligations and rights that this entails) is responsible, to a large extent, for many of the weaknesses in the Party – organizational and political.
There is tangible evidence that shows a worrying picture for the Party, such as the attendance of members at meetings and general assemblies of the Party Base Organisations (PBO) and the participation in rallies and events organised by the Party and the People’s Movement. There are cases of comrades who for various reasons are inactive and do not actively participate in the party life, not only on a daily basis but also during election campaigns. The low circulation of the newspaper “Haravgi” shows that a large part of party members are informed daily from the mass media which present events through their own political and ideological approach, formulating a hostile communications environment for our Party and its policy.
Moreover, violations of the Party statute are observed which undermine its effectiveness, unity and authority. Cases of party members who have distanced themselves from the party decisions during elections have increased and were opposed to the choices of AKEL. Increasingly, there are phenomena which are incompatible with the character of AKEL: the phenomena of “paragontismos” (Note: permanent goal of pursuing personal ambition/advancement by abusing positions of power), self-promotion, careerism and “localism”. Gossip, the spreading of rumours and discussion of party matters outside party bodies, or even on the internet, has become widespread. Some party members assert only rights, but avoid their party duties and work. Other members feel it’s enough just to carry out the practical fulfilment of organizational tasks and not to participate in stating their personal opinion towards shaping of party policy. Some of our cadres consider that the work done in the mass media, on the internet and the social media can even replace daily political work. Personal contact with the common people remains the most important and effective form of political action and contact.
Finally, the pressure of the bourgeois propaganda as exerted through all its mechanisms has negative effects on our members and this is expressed in diverse ways: on the image they hold of the Party and on organized struggle, as well as in the class nature of their perceptions on the economy and society. We also detect an intrusion in the consciousness of some party members aspects which are incompatible with our ideology (xenophobia, conservatism, compromise with the system, cosmopolitan or rejectionist approaches with regards the solution of the Cyprus problem, lessening of internationalist and anti-imperialist reflexes, favouritism, interweaving interests etc.) Totally incompatible with the status of a member of AKEL are the cases of employers who violate labour rights or oppose trade union activity.
We have no right to compromise with such negative phenomena that have chain effects throughout the party structure. These phenomena provoke disappointment, frictions and eventually inactivity of cadres. These undermine the ties of the Party with the working people. They spread confusion about the ideological and political position of AKEL in society. They alter the criteria of evaluating and nurturing of party cadres, our representatives in public offices and mass organizations.
The reasons for the situation observed can be sought at various levels; they can be found in the influence of capitalist society and the mentalities that characterise it; in the slackening of the criteria for new party members; in the weakening of ideological work among existing members; in the fact that our participation in the government – during the last five years, but also earlier on – has attracted people with attitudes and morals which are alien to our own; in the lack of control by leading party bodies; in the delayed and non-decisive tackling of violations of party statutes, of policies, party morals and ethics; in the lessening of inter-party democracy.
To address these negative phenomena, we have to make a targeted effort in six main areas: a) the process of admitting new Party members, b) the ideological and political work with existing members, c) ensuring the democratic operation of bodies so as to develop freely the inter-party dialogue, d) the active participation of the party membership in decision making, e) enhancing comradeship and comradely control at all levels and f) knowledge and consistent compliance with the party statute and the imposition of sanctions where necessary.
With regards the admission to the Party, the procedure provided by Article 3 of the Statute must be strictly implemented. There must be a meaningful debate in the PBO regarding how ready each candidate is to become a member of AKEL. Under the responsibility of the Secretary and the PBO Bureau, a thorough discussion with each new member must be made regarding the importance of the decision to be a member of AKEL as a life decision. The compulsory attendance of new members in a series of lectures on the basic principles of our ideology and party life must be institutionalized. At the same time, we should not fail to acknowledge that younger age groups are not sufficiently represented in PBOs; something which is due to the gap existing in the period young people should pass to and join the Party.
Concerning ideological work, it is on the one hand the duty of a party member to study and self-educate constantly and actively participate in ideological activities of the Party. On the other hand, it is the duty of the guiding bodies to continuously organize activities ideological in content. Ideological education is the best shield of party members against the system’s propaganda. It is the shield of the members of AKEL so that they can contribute effectively in shaping the positions and actions of the Party at all levels. The functioning of the Pancyprian Party Cadre School is expected to produce results in this respect. A continuous flow of ideological/educational activities must be planned at local and district level, while self-education must be resolutely encouraged.
Regarding internal party democracy and the participation of the party grass roots in decision making: if party members do not feel – rightly or wrongly – that their voice is being heard or that they are the masters of the Party, then this inevitably leads to a lack of interest in party procedures and an emotional distance is created between the member and the Party. Anything that, directly or indirectly, can prevent (or give the impression that it hinders) criticism within bodies or makes the free expression of opinion difficult must be combated immediately. A party member does not just have the right, but the obligation, to submit in the relevant bodies his/her opinion and ideas and to argue in their favour. In this way, the issue under discussion is creatively enriched and approached through different angles, which is valuable for the Party. Of course, after a decision has been taken, every party member has the duty to work for the implementation of this decision, regardless whether they voted in favour or against it.
Finally, comradely control of party members should be made concrete in relation to their duties, including all members without exception, whether both full-time cadres and volunteers, members of party bodies or not, occupying party and public offices or not. Phenomena of ideological retreat may be tackled more effectively when the cadres themselves who belong to leading bodies constitute an example and a model of party behaviour to all.
In phase that our country is now entering, the conscious discipline of the members of AKEL is a prerequisite and condition for the effective intervention of the party in developments. Incidents of violations of decisions and principles should no longer be tolerated. The appropriate party bodies are obliged to exercise comradely criticism in an attempt to correct and educate through persuasion, but they also have a duty to impose sanctions where necessary. The party member has an obligation – rather than a restrained discretion – of reporting and criticizing to relevant bodies any such violation that comes to his/her attention. The speedy examination of complaints by the Central Control Commission will contribute to timely decision-making.
Each party member has a responsibility to know and claim his/her rights, deriving from the statutes of the party, but he/she also has the duty to know and to honour his/her obligations, also stemming from the statutes. Each party member even has a personal responsibility to demand the full implementation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution and of the decisions of the Party.
Acknowledging the alarming phenomena identified in party life, it would be a big mistake to give the impression that this picture holds true for all, or even for the majority of members of AKEL. Quite the contrary, our Party still has thousands of genuine honest communists, who have identified their lives and daily life with the struggles of the Party, with the rights of the working class and the cause of our homeland. Thousands of cadres – even in the event of small or greater disagreements or bitterness – lift proudly the heavy weight of the political and organizational work of AKEL. Thousands of AKEL members, with unwavering faith in our ideology, contribute to the Party life, without demanding anything in return. Thousands of comrades, in adverse conditions such as the current ones, did not fear spoiling their image, they do not yield and retreat, but vigorously defend AKEL, its history and policies.
For the members of AKEL, being a Party member is inseparable from the rest of their lives. Their free and conscious choice to become members of AKEL is vindicated when the member of AKEL is also singled out as a person, as a personality, as a fighter for the people. When he/she is distinguished by his/her ethos, honesty, modesty and selflessness; by living among the common people and is linked with the working people, with their concerns and demands. When he/she stands out in his/her field of action for their responsibility, consistency, creativity and seriousness; does not get involved and does not tolerate cronyism, interweaving interests and the promotion of favouritism; is not afraid to clash in order to defend the ideas and values of the Left; defends at all times the need for a just solution to the Cyprus problem and the co-existence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, as one people; constantly deepens his/her knowledge and understanding of Marxist – Leninist ideology; is informed about the developments in Cyprus and the world; appreciates scientific progress, art and culture; is a courageous voice against racism, chauvinism, conservatism, discrimination in the social, professional and family environment; is guided by comradeship in his/her relations with party members and places the collective above the personal, the “we” over the “I”.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
- Feb26 2015-02-26
- Nov13 2014-11-13