Communist Party of Belgium


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Communist Party of Belgium

 

(CPB; in French, Parti Communiste de Belgique; in Flemish, Belgische Communistische Partij), founded Sept. 4, 1921, as a result of the merger of the Belgian Communist Party (formed in late 1920) and the Communist Party, founded in May 1921 by J. Jacquemotte from the group Amis d’Exploités (Friends of the Exploited), which took place on the recommendation of the Comintern. Immediately after its formation, the CPB joined the Comintern.

Despite repression by the authorities, the CPB played an important role in organizing the struggle of the toiling people against the policies of the ruling circles during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Communists were active in the miners’ strike of 1932 and in fighting during the strikes of 1936; they struggled to rally the popular masses against fascism. United front committees were established on the initiative of the CPB. In 1936–39, responding to the call of the CPB, more than 2,000 Belgians fought in the ranks of the International Brigades in Spain. To a considerable degree, it was the efforts of the CPB that thwarted the attempts of the Belgian fascists (Rexists) to take power in 1937–38. In 1939 the CPB had 7,000 members.

On May 10, 1940, the day fascist Germany attacked Belgium, the CPB was banned by the Belgian government and went underground. During the fascist German occupation of Belgium (May 1940-September 1944), the CPB was the guiding force of the resistance movement. A guerrilla army (about 50,000 men in mid-1944) was established on the initiative of the CPB; more than 2,000 members of the CPB gave their lives for the liberation of their homeland. Communists occupied key positions in the broad antifascist independence front. Committees of the trade union struggle (170,000 members) and a number of women’s and youth organizations were under the influence of the CPB.

In 1944, after the liberation of Belgium, representatives of the CPB, which had more than 100,000 members in late 1944, entered the government. The party proposed a program for the revival of the country. In the parliamentary elections of 1946, candidates of the CPB received more than 300,000 votes, and 41 Communists were elected to parliament. However, reactionary circles launched an anti-Communist and anti-Soviet compaign in the country with the support of right-wing leaders of the Belgian Socialist Party (BSP) and the ruling circles of the USA. In March 1947 the Communists were removed from the government. In August 1950 the chairman of the CPB, J. Lahaut, fell at the hands of hired fascist killers. The CPB’s numbers and its influence among the masses declined as a result of persecution. The right-wing opportunist and sectarian errors committed by the party leadership during this period played a certain role in weakening the position of the CPB. The Eleventh Congress of the CPB (1954) sharply criticized these errors and charted a course to strengthen the party. The congress elected new leadership for the CPB, headed by E. Burnelle. The Twelfth (1957) and Thirteenth (1960) party congresses developed a more flexible line, which took into account the situation in the country, and adopted detailed program theses.

The CPB intensified its work among the masses; it played an important role in the general strike of Belgian workers in 1960–61, opposed Belgian participation in NATO and the transfer of NATO headquarters to Belgium, organized a number of workers’ demonstrations against American aggression in Indochina, and demanded the establishment of peace in the Middle East. In the parliamentary elections of 1971 the CPB received 164,000 votes (3.1 percent) and won five seats in the lower house and one in the upper house.

The documents of the Fourteenth through Nineteenth congresses of the CPB proclaim the party’s goal as the building of socialist society in Belgium through the creation of a broad antimonopolist front whose immediate task should be the formation of an antimonopolist government, nationalization of banks and the most highly monopolized branches of industry, broad democratization of governmental bodies, and the introduction of worker control over enterprises and their administration. The CPB proposed to resolve the national question in Belgium by transforming the country from a unitary state into a federation of Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels, which were to be autonomous. In foreign policy, the CPB stands for the active neutrality of Belgium. The Twentieth and Twenty-first congresses of the CPB (1971 and 1973) confirmed the party’s foreign-policy course and its domestic political line for realizing unity of action among democratic and progressive forces. The report at the Twentieth Congress by the chairman of the CPB, M. Drumaux (died in 1972), stressed that the main obstacle on the road to realization of this line was the right wing of the Belgian Socialist Party.

Delegations of the CPB have participated in the International Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties (1957, 1960, and 1969 in Moscow). The CPB approved the documents adopted by these conferences.

Under its bylaws (adopted in 1963), the CPB is built on the principles of democratic centralism. The supreme body of the party is the congress; in the intervals between congresses, it is the Central Committee, which elects the Politburo of the Central Committee to direct the routine work of the party. For the discussion of national problems, the CPB is divided into Walloon and Flemish wings, which periodically hold conferences. The chairman of the CPB is L. van Geyt. The central organs of the party are the weekly newspapers Le Drapeau Rouge (in French) and De Rode Vaan (in Flemish); the theoretical organs are the journals Cahiers Marxistes (in French) and Vlaamse marxistise tiydschrift (in Flemish). (See Table 1 for congresses of the CPB.)

Table 1. Congresses of the Communist Party of Belgium
First ...............Sept. 3–4, 1921
Second ...............January 1923
Third ...............Jan. 23–25, 1925
Fourth ...............January 1927
Fifth ...............March 1929
Sixth ...............November 1936
Seventh ...............August 1939
Eighth ...............May 30–June 2, 1946
Ninth ...............May 15–18, 1948
Tenth ...............Mar. 23–26, 1951
Eleventh ...............Dec. 9–12, 1954
Twelfth ...............Apr. 19–22, 1957
Thirteenth ...............Apr. 16–18, 1960
Fourteenth ...............Apr. 13–15, 1963
Fifteenth ...............Nov. 28–29, 1964
Sixteenth ...............Oct. 23–24, 1965
Seventeenth ...............Dec. 10–11, 1966
Eighteenth ...............Dec. 16–17, 1967
Nineteenth ...............Nov. 15–17, 1968
Twentieth ...............Mar. 19–21, 1971
Twenty–first ...............Dec. 14–16, 1973

SOURCES AND REFERENCES

Renard, C. Oktiabr’ 1917goda i bel’giiskoe rabochee dvizhenie. Moscow, 1968. (Translated from French.)
XII Natsional’nyi s”ezd Kommunisticheskoi partii Belgii. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from French.)
“40 années de lutte du Parti.” Le Drapeau Rouge, Sept. 5, 7, 12, 14, 15, 19, 21, 27, and 28, 1961.
PCB—XX congrès. Brussels, 1971.

D. ZAKHAROV [12–1575–1; updated]

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