Communist youth protest ban
KSM files complaint based on the right to freedom of speech
By Hilda Hoy
Staff Writer, The Prague Post
November 29th, 2006
Communist Youth Union Chairman Milan Krajča, 23, is concerned about the rising tide of anti-communism he says is sweeping across Europe.
The lanky, baby-faced 23-year-old fell tiredly into his seat at the Lucerna Café in New Town recently and needed a few sips of espresso before he was rejuvenated and ready to talk. And talk he did: As a young communist, he is full of ideas he wants to share.
Krajča spent the first half of the day as a university student, attending history classes at Charles University. Then he spent the afternoon busy in another role: chairman of the country's Communist Youth Union (KSM).
That meant shuttling around foreign delegates in town to attend the International Conference of Communist and Leftist Parties Nov. 25-26. The theme of the meeting, and the issue weighing heavily on Krajča's mind these days, is the rising tide of anti-communism that he said is sweeping the Continent, particularly in the Czech Republic.
"Anti-communism is not an issue only for communists," Krajča says earnestly. "This is about the defense of democratic rights for everybody."
The KSM has been in the spotlight since the Interior Ministry banned the group Oct. 12, saying that its mission statement, which advocates the abolition of private ownership, violates the Czech Constitution. On Nov. 20, the KSM filed a retaliatory legal complaint, alleging the dissolution violates their right to free expression.
"[We] started monitoring the KSM's activities at the request of the police," said spokesman Petr Vorlíček. "After a thorough analysis of texts published on the KSM's Web site, the police came to the conclusion that there were reasons for dissolving the association."
Across the European Union, there are examples of democracies with laws on their books that blur the line between free and outlawed speech, opinion and belief.
France recently made it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during World War I. British Historian David Irving was jailed in Austria earlier this year for denying the Holocaust. In Germany, any allegiance to Nazism is illegal.
But what is perhaps most surprising is how relatively few social observers here in the Czech Republic view the government's crackdown of the KSM as a threat to basic civil liberties.
"I don't think [the KSM's] rights were violated," said political analyst Bohumil Doležal. "Especially after the experiences with communism we've had in this country."
Even the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSČM) has been relatively quiet on the issue.
The KSM, founded 15 years ago, has 600 high school- and university-age members across the country. Like members of any other youth group, they spend time just hanging out together, but also organize and attend pro-communist rallies and marches.
The wrangling between the Interior Ministry and the KSM goes back 12 months. They first clashed over a technicality: The KSM, registered only as a civic group, was attempting to do the work of a political party, the ministry said. The ministry then challenged the union's mission statement, which called for a socialist revolution and the abolition of private property.
Krajča said the ministry's actions have been nothing short of a politically motivated "witch hunt. The [KSČM] is the main enemy for them."
But others say the KSM's speech is not the issue.
"I think nobody, not even the Interior Ministry, is against the KSM's right to hold opinions," said Jaromír Štětina, a former anti-communist dissident and an independent member of the Senate. "The Interior Ministry's reservations are against the KSM's methods of achieving its political goals, namely Marxism-Leninism, because it is an appeal for violence and terror."
Under sections 260 and 261 of the Criminal Code, it's illegal to support or propagate any movement "that provably aims at suppressing human rights and freedoms."
Observers often cite this.
"The dissolution [of the KSM] does not seem to be a direct attack on freedom of speech," said Jana Reschová, a professor of constitutional law at Charles University. "However, there has been, in my opinion, an indirect limitation of the freedom of speech. Additionally, the ministry seems to be very selective and not very consistent in its sanctions of ideas having the potential of violating the constitution."
For now, little has changed: Until the KSM's complaint makes its way through the Czech courts, the union is allowed to continue operating as normal.
Whatever the courts decide, the KSM and its brethren worldwide vow to maintain their ideological battle. An online petition opposing the government's recent actions has garnered about 9,400 signatures, including that of Bono, the frontman for Irish rock group U2.
If necessary, the KSM will consider taking its case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, Krajča said. "Lots of people in the Czech Republic disagree with the system. [The government] can use this precedent against others," he said.
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Against the Banning of the 'KSM' Youth Organisation (Czech Republic)
On October 12, 2006, the Home Office of the Czech Republic decided to
dissolve a Czech communist youth organisation called the 'KSM'.
And what crime had it committed? Its statutes are in favour of
"collective ownership of the means of production". In the text announcing and
explaining this decision, the Home Office declares:
"Paragraph 2 of the KSM's program declares: "The KSM declares it is in
favour of going beyond capitalism in a revolutionary way and replacing
it by collective ownership and social conditions that could bring about
social democracy" ...
"The above statements found in the KSM's program involve the KSM in
activities that are not compatible with the protection of every
individual, which can be read in article 11, § 1 of the Charter of Fundamental
Rights and Liberties. To attempt to deny the right to private ownership
of the means of production is incompatible with elementary democratic
principles. It ensues from paragraph 2 of article 9 of the Czech
Republic's Constitution that it is unacceptable to change the democratic
foundations of the legal democratic state. It is thus necessary to reject
any attempt that could bring about the violation of the Constitutional
decisions recalled above and which ensue from principles also asserted
in the European Convention for the protection of human rights and
The Home Office has rejected the KSM's argument that it does not intend
to achieve its aim by any means that are undemocratic or illegal. The
Home Office goes on to state:
"The KSM answers that it is only aiming at the ownership of means of
production and not at ownership in general. Š That argument cannot be
taken into account, because the law, as it is expressed in article 11, §
1 of the Charter, concerns all types of ownership, without distinction,
whether such private property be intended for production or not. There
can thus be no question of accepting 'the abolition of private
ownership of the means of production and replacing it by collective
So it is that the Home Office of the Czech Republic, a member country
of the European Union, reinforced by a European Convention, purely and
simply outlaws all idea of collective property of the means of
production. And it puts forward this European Convention to justify its
decision to ban an organisation that has not been found guilty of any action
whatsoever, but simply advocates in its program the future perspective
of collective ownership of the means of production.
There is no mention of any political activity the KSM might be engaged
in that could provide the grounds for justifying the Home Office's
decision. The outlawing of the KSM flouts even the most elementary
democratic rights; such a decision would simply cross out more 150 years of the
history of the labour movement.
This decision is an attack on democracy by forbidding an organisation,
whatever that organisation may be, from putting forward a political
program and attempting to win over a majority of the population to its
goal of collective ownership of the means of production.
This decision, with the simple stroke of a pen, would seek to deny 150
years of the history of the labour movement, and even of democracy
itself -- because ever since 1848, the labour movement and the various
supporters of socialism have made obtaining collective ownership of the
means of production an essential part of their analyses and program.
Following this decision, the Home Secretary of the Czech Republic is
thus forbidding, in the name of the European Convention of Human Rights
and Fundamental Liberties, any organisation whatsoever from having the
right to adhere to Marx and Engel's Communist Party Manifesto, which
asserts: "communists can summarize their theory in one single formula:
abolition of private property; the property that exploits working for a
The Home Secretary is thus forbidding any organisation whatsoever to
claim to have its roots in the Socialist Encyclopaedia written before the
First World War by socialists such as Compère-Morel, Bracke, Pierre
Brizon, Hubert-Rouher, Jean Longuet, Paul Louis, Charles Rappoport,
Sixte-Quenin, Jean-Baptiste Séverac, the future deputy general secretary of
the French Socialist Party, the SFIO, that, summarizing half a century
of socialist ideas and action in various
countries throughout the world, declared the "necessity for collective
ownership", explaining that: "Individual ownership was defendable when
the instrument of labour was personal, it must become collective when
production also becomes collective. It is only in its collective form
that ownership can become something that is universal and become for
each individual not a theoretic right, but something certain, a reality."
The Home Secretary is thus forbidding any organisation whatsoever to
claim to have its roots in the literature of Jules Guesde, Jean Jaurès,
Rosa Luxemburg, Léon Blum, the founders of Czech Social-Democracy,
members up to 1918 of the Austro-Hungarian Social-Democratic Party, who
declared the necessity for collective ownership.
The French Workers' Party founded by Jules Guesde asserted right away
in its founding congress in October 1879: "The Congress declares that
all possible means must continue to be used, so as to obtain collective
ownership of all labour instruments and all the production workforce.
It insists on the necessity for the proletariat to form its own class
political party and to break away completely from the bourgeoisie." (Paul
Louis, Le Parti socialiste en France, Encyclopédie socialiste, pp
11-12 (The Socialist Party in France,
Jean Jaurès demanded "the coming of a new order in which ownership,
ceasing to be individual and private, will become social" (26th November
1900). As for Léon Blum, he declared: "Socialism is a movement of
ideas and action that leads to a complete transformation of the regime of
ownership, the transformation of an economic regime founded on private
ownership into a regime founded on collective or common ownership" (27th
December 1920). On September 1st 1946, he still asserted: "We are the
Socialist Party and our aim is to achieve revolutionary transformation
of the social structure, i.e. of the production and ownership regime."
Otto Bauer, one of the founders of the Austro-Hungarian
Social-Democratic Party, of which the Czech Social-Democracy was also a part until
1918, declared in a text about "the slow revolution": "Collectivisation of
the State economy starts with large industries collectivisation starts
with expropriation: the State brings in a law by which it declares that
the current owners of large industries are no longer the owners.
Collectivisation has a dual aim: on the one hand, improvement of the
situation of the blue-collar and white-collar workers in the collectivised
branch of industry and on the other hand, making available for the
community the revenues that until then had been going to the capitalists"
The Home Secretary is forbidding any organisation whatsoever to even
make reference to nationalisation decrees voted, for example, just after
the Second World War by the British Labour Party government, by various
coalition governments such as the French government, in which there was
even a Christian-Democratic Party (the MRP), or by various
Social-Democratic or Labour governments.
The collective form of ownership has indeed appeared, from time to time
throughout history, as being a necessity, and not only within the trend
of socialist ideas. So it was that in 1894, the writer Leo Tolstoy in
his "Advice to those receiving orders" proposed to bring up in Russia
"the question of expropriation of land, with or without compensation, so
as to nationalise the land thereafter". Would the Czech Home Secretary
ban the distribution of such works in the name of the European
Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Liberties?
The Czech Home Secretary has made this decision at the same time as
directors of large companies are massively cutting back on jobs throughout
the world, thereby threatening the very lives of the laid-off workers,
with scorn for the interest of society in general, simply in the name
of the private financial interests of the owners and of the dividends
for the large shareholders.
The Czech Home Secretary has made this decision at the same time as a
policy of privatisation and dismantling of State services and of
nationalised companies is being implemented, resulting in the suppression of
tens of thousands of jobs in all countries that are members of the
European Union, in the name of "free and un-tampered competition", as
demanded in the Maastricht Treaty.
- We, the undersigned, remark that this banning is a first application,
detrimental to fundamental liberties, of the Council of Europe's
resolution 1481 condemning "communism".
- We, the undersigned, denounce the ban against including the call for
collective ownership of means of production in the program of a
political organisation, in the name of a Convention supposedly defending human
rights and fundamental liberties, and we denounce the dissolution of
the KSM which the Czech Home Secretary has deduced is thus necessary.
- We, the undersigned, denounce this measure, which is in response only
to the demands of those who own capital, but is hypocritically masked
as being in defence of individual liberties -- for it is an intolerable
attack on political democracy, on freedom of opinion, of thought, of
expression and of organisation, and we demand that it this ban be
ALLAIN Auguste (France); ANTONINI Daniel, international secretary of
the 'Pole of Communist Renaissance in France' (France); AUDEJAN Noëlle,
author (France); BARDIN Georges, internationalist militant, former
French Resistance fighter (France); BARROIS Jean-Pierre, Senior lecturer at
Paris-XII University, anti-war activist (France); BEDÖ János
(Hungary); BELISSA Marc, University Lecturer (France); BLANCHARD Daniel, former
member of 'Socialism or Barbarity' (France);
BLANCHARD Arnold, former member of 'Socialism or Barbarity' (France);
BLANCHARD Helen, former member of 'Socialism or Barbarity' (France);
BODIN Martine teacher-trade-unionist (France); BOMBARDIERI Bernadette,
'Free-Thinker' (France); BORISOV Todor, president of the Bulgarian
Workers' and Peasants' Party (Bulgaria); BOURHIS Gilles, CNRS-trade-unionist
(T.N.: Scientific research) (France); BREITBACH Ulrich, member of the
Union of German writers and of the Union of German journalists, Ver.di
Trade Union (Germany); BREMOND Hansi, 'Free-Thinker' and political
militant (France); BRICMONT Jean, University Lecturer (Belgium); CANALI
José, working-class militant, communist, trade-unionist (France); CAUMIERES
Philippe, teacher qualified in philosophy (France); CHABERT Raymond,
pensioner (France); CHALLIER Alain, sculptor (France); CHENET Jacques,
'Free-Thinker' (France); CHUBERRE Hervé (France); CLESSE Pascal,
'Free-Thinker' (France); CUENCA Jean (France); DE MONTLIBERT Jean, emeritus
professor of sociology (France); DERUETTE Serge, Lecturer in
political science at Mons University (UMH), (Belgium); DOUJON
Jean-Pierre, University Lecturer (France); DOUPSIS Georges, 'Free-Thinker';
DUBOIS Françoise, retired teacher; DUBOIS Pierre, visual artist (France);
ELIARD Michel, Sociologist, University Lecturer (France); EXCOFFON
Sylvain, University Lecturer in history (France); FABRE Marguerite,
working-class militant, 'Free-Thinker' (France); FABROL Emile, 'Prométhée',
communist site, militant in Vitry (France); FAYET Jean-François, PhD
(France); FERNANDES Grégory, student in Lyon, RYA militant (France);
FERRAT Jacques, teacher (France); FLAMMANT Thierry , history teacher
(France); FOGLER Tibor (Hungary); FRATANOLO Janos, president of the
Hungarian Workers' Party 2006 (Hungary); GAVOIS Marc-Olivier, history and
geography teacher (France); GIRAUDON Liliane, author (France); GLEIZAL
Jean-Jacques, University Lecturer in Grenoble (France); GÔME Gérard,
trade-unionist (France); GOTLIB Igor, regional coordinator of Alternatives
- St-Petersburg (Russia); GROS Dominique, retired law teacher (France);
GUERRIEN Bernard, Lecturer in economy at Paris-I University (France);
GUITTON Michel, 'Free-Thinker' (France); HEBERT Alexandre,
anarchist-trade-unionist (France) ; IMSIROVIC Pavlusko, militant of the Labour
Political Alliance, former political prisoner, condemned in the "Trial of
six people" (ex-Yugoslavia); JAKOCS Dániel (Hungary); JEKOV Todor,
president of the Labour-Peasant Party (Bulgaria); JOBIC Christian (France);
JOHNSTONE Diana, journalist, author (USA); JONY Iván (Hungary); JULIEN
(France); KASTLER Claude, emeritus professor of Stendhal University in
Grenoble (France); KOSTIOUK Rouslan, doctor of history,
Saint-Petersburg (Russia); LABRASCA Frank, University Lecturer, trade-unionist
(France); LACROIX-RIZ Annie, historian (France); LARUE LANGLOIS François,
author (France); LAVALLEE Ivan, State Doctorate in Science (France);
LEFEBVRE Michel, trade-unionist SNES (France); LEMASLE Arnaud (France);
Françoise LONDON-DAIX (France); LOSURDO
Domenico, Lecturer in History and Philosophy at the University of
Urbino (Italy); MAITTE Hervé, CGT trade-unionist (France); MARCELE Philippe
(France); MARIE Jean-Jacques, historian, responsible from 1976 to 1980
for the French edition of 'Listy', the newspaper of the Czech Socialist
Opposition, founded by Jiri Pelikan (France); MARTIN Roger, author,
French Communist Party militant (France); MATHIEU Olivier, teacher and
trade-unionist (France); MOLENAT Jean-Pierre emeritus director of research
at the CNRS (France); MOQUETTE Yvan, trade-unionist (France); MORELLI
Anne, university lecturer (Belgium); NOEL Bernard, author (France);
O'CONNOR Emmet, (Ireland); PAPP Julien, historian (France); PATRIZIO
Marie-Ange, psychologist (France); PAUWELS Dirk, ergonomist, manual
therapist, physiotherapist (Belgium); PESTIEAU Jean, Lecturer at the Catholic
University of Louvain (Belgium); PLANTIVEAU Gérard, trade-unionist
(France); POINTCHEVAL Jacques, 'Free-Thinker' (France); POULAIN Philippe,
visual artist (France); PASLAR Vitaly, member of the Komsomol (Moldavian
Republic); POLIANSKI Mikhail, member of the Komsomol (Moldavian
Republic); POULAIN Philippe, visual artist (France); POUPKINE Vassia,
(Russia); PRAT Didier, author, compositor, musician (France); PRENEAU
François, trade-unionist (France); PROST Laurent (France); QUENTIN Bernadette,
employee of PTT-FT (France); REMBOTTE Gilles, trade-union militant
(France); REZNIK Aleksandr, of the "Student Solidarity" Union, State
University of Perm (Russia); RIVAL Michel, retired primary school teacher,
French Communist Party militant (France); ROBINET Marie-Line, DDA Val de
Marne (France); ROCHEFORT Jacques, assistant (France); ROQUES Monique,
teacher (France); ROUET Jean-Jacques, municipal councillor in Fondettes
(37) (France); ROY Pierre, historian, 'Free-Thinker' (France); RYJKINE
Mikhaïl Ivanovitch, assistant of the Elected Member of the Douma of
the Russian Federation of Kibirev (Russia); SANTOLINI Arnaud, teacher,
researcher, trade-unionist (France); SEPPECHER Pascal, teacher, (France);
SEREZAT André, (France); SERGERE Julien, education assistant (France);
SERNICLAY Clément, French Assistant in Zurich (Switzerland); SAVASTIN
Liudmyla member of the Komsomol (Moldavian Republic); SERGERE Julien,
education assistant (France); SYBELIN Yannick, hospital trade-unionist
(France); VERCRUYSSE Pierre, CGT trade-unionist (France); VAN CAMPEN
Marc, early-retired steel worker, Charleroi (Belgium); VIARD Jean, retired
CGT trade-unionist (France); WEBER Michel, Doctor in Philosophy
(Belgium); WEINSTEIN Max, pensioner, former French Resistance fighter
(France); WHITEHEAD Fred, historian and 'Free-Thinker', Kansas (USA); ARGUE,
Steven, Liberation News,
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