The following article was prepared for inclusion in the Revolutionary History special issue on Greece, Vol.3 No.3, Spring 1991. Because of pressure on space we were not able to include all the documents that we would have liked in that issue. Several other interesting documents by Karliaftis were published, and interested readers are recommended to look there for biographical notes about him and other heroic figures in the Greek movement.
The articles in that issue, which is now out of print, is available on the web. In the longer term, we hope it will be possible to scan and web-publish other material which was given a very limited circulation in English by the Greek ‘Workers Vanguard’ group, of which Karliaftis was the long time leader.
It would be surprising if we were able to prepare this document without making errors in the spellings of proper names. We will be grateful if you point any out to us.
THE ROLE OF THE LEADERSHIP OF THE BALKAN FEDERATION IN GREECE
To understand the influence which the Balkan federation had on the Greek movement, we must learn about the different tendencies inside the Balkan federation.
The Bulgarian ‘Narrow’ marxists played a very important role in the Balkan Federation. They were the first to join the Bolsheviks. Without any doubt Dimitrov was a heroic militant as his struggle against Nazism and his testimony at the Leipzig trial proves. But it was Stalin’s politics that he put forward at Leipzig, policies which contributed to Hitler’s rise to power.
A lack of initiative did not help Dimitrov. The date of the split between the ‘Broads’ and the ‘Narrows’ was in 1903. Dimitrov was the leader of the Trade Union side of the Bulgarian Communist Party. He pushed the struggle between the ‘Narrows’ and the ‘Broads’ to the point of a Trade Union split. Already, outside the Second International and before its decline, Trotsky was sent in 1909 and Rakovsky in 1908 to resolve the Bulgarian question and to repair the strategy which the Dimitrov’s split had caused in the Trade Unions. What is more this strategy helped the bourgeoisie and the opportunists, Savazov and others, to divide the masses. At last in 1914 Dimitrov accepted Trade Union unity.
During the war of 1914, the Bulgarian leadership of the Balkan Federation, Dimitrov and Kolarov, cordially stood together with the other representatives. It seems that Dimitrov and Kolarov were not aware that Sideris was a representative of the Federation, that is to say a supporter of gradualist Socialism, in other words a ‘Broad’ like Rakazov.
During this period of unity there was an Anti-Militarist Manifesto of the Balkan Federation which had a rather superficial view of the situation and even a certain pacifism.
In 1918 the uprising at Klantomir and Kintala broke out and Dimitrov said later that both the Party and he himself made grave errors during the uprising, which was drowned in blood. This revolt was a spontaneous movement of soldiers, Dimitrov even said that they were not close enough to the Bolsheviks. This declaration necessitated his self-criticism.
At their conference in February 1922 the PSO continued its policy of betraying the masses. What is more this policy was not just because of Dimitrov and Kolarov but was also that of the Balkan Federation.
The Stalinists have said nothing about this betrayal. Benaroyas has revealed an extraordinary and important thing in telling us what the political prisoners in prison stressed on the subject of this betrayal. Benaroyas tells us that the Conference had thought that the social patriotic and opportunist policy was alright in the Greek situation, while the Bulgarian representatives declared that they wished to set an example to the other Balkan parties.
That was an inevitable proof of their incapacity, unlike Lenin and Trotsky with the Comintern, to perceive the revolutionary nature of the epoch.
After the Conference of October 1922 the representative of the Balkan Federation who had come to Greece with leanings towards the supporters of the 1922 February Conference of a common agreement between the extremist Papanastassis and the reformist Sideris, said that a Central Committee must be created including Sargologos and the partisans of the February 1922 Conference. During this period the Federation representative, with the complicity of Georgiadis and Sideris, had created another Central Committee but the Central Committee of Sargologos sabotaged this Committee.
The Bulgarian representative had dared to support Georgiadis, Sideris and Petsopoulas. Sargologos made friendly contacts with him of a kind that gave a false impression of his plans to the Bulgarian representative. The Bulgarian representative had also met Tzoulatis of whose role and prestige he was well aware. There was no possibility of doing anything without Tzoulatis. He tried to convince the latter to join them. But from the end of 1921 onwards Tzoulatis did not believe in a regroupment of the PSO. So he formed a new movement. Without doubt he counted on the support of Balkan Federation but even more he counted on that of the Communist International. The Balkan Federation representative ignored article 7 of the 21 Principles which demanded a break in relations with reformists and centre politicians. He made an agreement with Tzoulatis on the basis of Article 2 of the 21 Principles which demanded that two-thirds of the Central Committee could only consist of Socialists who had pronounced in favour of the Third International before the Congress.
Thus he aligned with the right wing of the February Conference.
Dimitrov had made other errors and had accused the tendency opposed to the Fascist coup d’‚tat of Tsagov of reformism. From that moment Dimitrov, on his own responsibility, adopted a policy by the Bulgarian Communist Party of neutrality between the governments of Stabolinsky and Tsagov. He did not take sufficient notice of the position taken by the Bolsheviks towards Kornilov. Tsagov started by murdering Stabolinsky. He then killed thousands of Communists, workers and intellectuals. He ruled for twenty years as a dictator.
The hatred of Fascism and the spontaneous rising of the masses against Tsagov brought about a change of heart in the Bulgarian Communist Party. They then formed a joint front with Agrarian Union of Stabolinsky, the Social-Democratic Party (the so-called Social Fascists of 1931) and even radical bourgeois.
These opportunist deviations of Kolarov and Dimitrov were unknown to Trotsky and Lenin. But they showed the reason for the conflicts going on between Trotsky and Rakovsky on the one hand and on the other Dimitrov and Kolarov. It was never possible to open a debate within the Third International on the problems of Greek and Bulgarian Communism.
GREEK CAPITALISM ON THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS
When Greek capitalism reeled in Asia Minor and rotted in Greece, the militarist adventure paralysed activity. A state of emergency was declared. Then in the summer of 1922 the Gounaris government imprisoned members of the Communist union of the P.S.O., the editor of Rizopastis and Rizos, with the accusation of high treason and sedition. At the same time Metaxas, for demagogic reasons, declared that the direct intervention in Asia Minor was done by mercenaries and that Kabanis, Kraniakis and Kotsies openly sabotaged it without anyone bothering them.
The prisons filled with members of the P.S.O until the organisation collapsed.
At this point the retreat started. The defeat was almost total. There was panic among Constantine’s supporters. Kordatos made public a decision of the military government of Athens that wanted to execute all the Communist prisoners believing that there would be a mass outcry to punish the Communist treason.
The blow failed. In fact Balidis, the prison governor, demanded a written order as a telephoned command was not enough.
The bourgeois class looked with favour on the defeat at the front and saw a Greek version of the Commune.
Then Metaxas was summoned to take power. It was he who was given the responsibility of involving the communists in the government.
Metaxas sent his aide Evelpidis to visit the prisons and then went there himself with two vacant ministerial posts to offer. One of these was the Ministry of the Interior for he said “The more you can pin the responsibility on Plastiras the more they will have to suffer the reprisals of the Venezelists.” It was certainly an odd proposition from someone who had previously hanged Communists for treason.
“General you do me too much honour” replied Kordatos. “I know that the present time is critical for our country but I believe that the role for us in the P.S.O.P. is not save the throne of the bourgeois state. We cannot take part in your government for our principles forbid it.” After that Metaxas formed a government on his own.
THE DEFEAT ON THE FRONT IN ASIA MINOR
The collapse of the front in Asia Minor in August 1922 marked the end of the Greco-Turkish war which the Venezelists had started and the royalists had continued. This defeat was the result of the profound weakness of Greek capitalism and the feelings of the soldiers against the massacre lasted for eight months.
In that year discipline in the army was destroyed. A whole unit mutinied rather than go to the front. The soldiers would no longer sacrifice themselves for Greek capitalism. The articles in Rizos, For Communism and Workers’ Fight were inspired by Lenin’s Socialists and the War which set the tinder alight. The exiles had difficulty in recovering from this defeat. But there were other disturbances in the very heart of society. At Radesto there were numerous disturbances. There were mass meetings of thousands of soldiers. In these mass meetings they spoke of peace and socialism. The state seemed to breaking up. At Adrianople a group of Communists, which included Vlachos, had organised an action committee. There were other such centres of organised nuclei in other places but their impact was not very great. In reality, since the PSO had been dissolved at Athens, the little groups could not co-ordinate their activities. Papadatos and Kianoulotos maintained that they had reunited the Committee but the Soviets did not get the same effects as in Russia.
Certain units of the army succeeded in both keeping their arms and escaping from the control of Plastiras. The Trotskyist Giannis with some other socialists says that they were able to get almost to Pireaeus before they were disarmed. The worker Kokkinogiannis almost got to Salonika. The defeat at the front could have transformed itself into a revolution but there was no party to give things direction and to focus the revolutionary tendencies of peasants, workers and soldiers.
THE PRINCIPLES OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNISM BETRAYED
When the decisions of the February Conference were known the word treason sprang to the lips of the rank and file. Everyone attacked the opportunist tendencies.
The rank and file were encouraged in their struggle by the German crisis of 1923. The British, Bulgarian, Estonian, Hungarian and Chinese revolutionary events encouraged them too. But they were also influenced by the (dis)association of the Comintern of Lenin and Trotsky.
The upheaval started with the Tzoulatis-Sarandidis group but the Papanastassakis tendency followed. In time the movement spread as far as Pireaus and Salonika reaching into the prisons and the soldiers at the front.
Benaroyas was sincere in his recognition of this movement of militants in spite of which he declared “Some agitated with ulterior motives, other through weakness, thought that the February Conference had betrayed the principles of the Party.” Saragogolos and Stavridis did agitate with ulterior motives and voted for the decisions of the February meeting.
Then Benaroyas tells us “Around Papanastassios a group of militants was built against the Conference decision. The prisoners were also against such Social-Democratic decisions. Petsopoulas and Kordatos also declared themselves opposed to these decisions. And the leadership of the Party became engaged in a great movement against these opportunist tendencies.” Then the Petsopoulas tendency cancelled the February conference decisions even though it was in favour of them. At the time the revisionism of the February conference had only partially marked certain events of the twenties, Petsopoulas and Kordatos were definitely influenced.
THE SPECIAL CONGRESS OF SEPTEMBER 1922
The October 1922 Conference was called to resolve the crisis of the P.S.O. but in fact it made it worse.
Athens was represented by Ikonmou, Papanikolaou, Maggo and Strago, and Pireaus by Agelis, Kourtidis and Aligizakis, while Saragogolos, Chatzistavros and Ventura came from Salonika. The Federation of Tobacco workers and Electrical workers union were present. Sideris and Georgiadis decided to break if they were not in the majority. But the right wing did not have the majority.
That, said the secretary Kordatos, is united on the only small possibility of organising. What is more that underlined the crisis among the parties and unions.
Then Sideris and Georgiades proposed the expulsion of Petsopoulos. After the treachery of the leading workers here and internationally, the Special Congress was torn to pieces by endless personal rivalries.
Members with ossified ideas were attacked as intellectuals. That only made the crisis worse. Thus the bourgeoisie could rule over a divided working class. Petsiopoulos was expelled by a committee made up of Saragogolos and Stavridis who by the end had shown themselves to be traitors to the working class.
This material was originally intended for Revolutionary History Vol.3 No.3 (The special issue on Trotskyism in Greece) but was not included because of the limited space available. The Introduction dealt with 2 articles, only the second of which was ever prepared for print, and which is made available here.
There had been differences between Stinas and Pouliopoulis within the Greek revolutionary movement since 1927, when Stinas had judged it premature to split from the Greek Communist party (see Revolutionary History, Vol.3, no.3). Already in 1937, even before the war, Stinas held that the position of revolutionary defeatism also applied to the Soviet Union. The discussion between the KDEE of Stinas and Vitsoris and the EOKDE of Pouliopoulis and Karliaftis began in Aegina prison and continued amongst the Trotskyists incarcerated in Acronauplia. The documents of this discussion were copied up into two copybooks in very small letters by the secretary of the EOKDE, Chr. Athanasiades, and sent to other prisons, where the debate continued. All the writings pertaining to the debate were entrusted to the EOKDE whose leaders, over a period of forty years, published some of their own polemics but only truncated extracts of those of their opponents. It was only in June 1977 that Stinas got hold of two of his contributions (A.Stinas, Mémoires: Un revolutionnaire dans la Grèce du XXième SiŠcle, Paris 1990, p.220).
The first article presented here was written in Acronauplia by N. Giannakos, a teacher who had supported Pouliopoulis’ Spartacus group from the late twenties and had been arrested by the Metaxas dictatorship in 1938. Workers Front (Ergatiko Metopo) was the name of the journal of the International League of Greece (KDEE) led by Stinas and Vitsoris. Giannakos was executed along with Pouliopoulis by the Italian Fascists in Nexero concentration camp in 1943.
The piece that follows it was written by Stinas to develop his ideas on the attitude to be assumed by revolutionaries towards the Soviet Union during the war, and was distributed in Acronauplia in October 1940. Our version is translated from the French contained in the appendix to his memoirs (pp.329-41), which unfortunately is not reproduced in full but with the cuts as indicated (…). It is printed along with another text of the time developing the differences of the KDEE with the EOKDE, and with an afterword replying to a polemic by Pouliopoulis against Stinas that was not published until 1976.
A report of the imprisonment of the Greek Trotskyists appears in Workers International News, Vol.1, no.11, November 1938, p.10, mentioning among others Pouliopoulis and Giannakos. We are grateful to V.N. Gelis for translating Giannakos’ paper from the Greek and to Ted Crawford for rendering Stinas’ polemic from the French. We can only express the hope that it has not lost any of its sense or the force of its argument in its progress through three languages.
THE USSR AND THE STRUGGLE FOR WORLD REVOLUTION
The history of the theoretical struggles within the workers’ movement has shown that only debates on concrete problems can reveal the deepest differences (…). Many a time an agreement has been achieved on theoretical questions which does not have any concrete importance and where the deepest differences appear later when they become the object of mass activity (…) This indeed happened with our debate on the nature of the Soviet Union. Our agreement with the general political principles of the IVth was repeatedly announced by all. That did not prevent the appearance of serious differences on a whole series of vital problems of the day, for example “the struggle on two fronts” and “revolutionary defeatism”. These two questions were vital for the immediate political activity of our party. The struggle to transform the war into a civil war in our country was impossible without a total and thorough understanding of revolutionary defeatism and the future victory of the Greek workers’ struggle would not be possible without a deep understanding by the whole party of the opportunist nature of the “struggle on two fronts” as is very precisely formulated in the articles by the majority of comrades in the unified EOKDE cell. It is a matter then of very great importance (…).
1. Revolutionary Policy in the USSR
(The differences with the EOKDE about this did not concern the character of the revolution but the means to achieve it. We all supported the conception that the revolution in the USSR would have a political rather than a social character. But we said that the revolution, a real revolution, would have to be a ferocious armed struggle between the worker masses and the bureaucracy and its state. The comrades of the unified EOKDE gave no clear answer to this. Here are some relevant extracts.)
(…) Comrade N wrote that “the Russian section of the IVth International must safeguard and consolidate the social base of the regime, not reverse it”. But these were hollow phrases, the sort of Stalinist boasting to which we were accustomed, and which their authors used when they would not or could not give a more serious analysis. The Russian proletariat may not have to overthrow a social regime, that is to say change the legal property relationships, but it has to overthrow the most monstrous and totalitarian state of the modern world. Its overthrow would only be possible as a result of a civil war which would very probably be amongst the most ferocious and murderous in history. (…) The more the supporters of the IVth International approach this task with audacity and intransigence, the more success will be guaranteed. Conciliation and retreats will have no other result than to reinforce counter-revolution. (…)
2.Bureaucracy and Counter-Revolution
To this the defenders of defeatism ingenuously reply “Read the articles by CH and N. that ‘The bureaucracy is counter-revolutionary’”. But by its nature and social origin the bureaucracy is not the counter-revolution in person but a privileged and conservative caste within which, just as within the labour aristocracy and collective farms, counter-revolutionary elements take root and flourish in a hothouse atmosphere (…). Our comrades infer that the Soviet bureaucracy has become anti-revolutionary, and even if it has not yet established individual private property, this is because of fear of the proletariat (…).
As Trotsky wrote “It is wrong to identify the bureaucracy as the only dominant and privileged social layer in the full sense of that term. The bureaucracy is a complete pyramid which carries this social layer on its shoulders (…).”
We have the naivet‚ to ask the comrades if they will explain to us why the bureaucracy is not counter-revolutionary by its nature and social origin. What is this “dominant and privileged social layer” which it is false to identify with the bureaucracy? And what social layer is built, like a complete pyramid, on the bureaucracy? This formula confuses very deep reasons which either show the ignorance of its authors or their inability to express their thoughts clearly. That contains the opposition between the real points of view and appreciations of the comrades and the tasks and slogans of the IVth International in relationship to the USSR.
In spite of its confused formulation the logical deduction of the above passage is very clear and very revealing. If the bureaucracy is not by its nature and social origin the counter-revolution, that in Marxist language means that the bureaucracy is not counter-revolutionary because of its material interests. There are in the USSR then, as the comrades write, only counter-revolutionary elements within the bureaucracy and within the aristocracy of labour and collective farmers, but a social layer, whose counter-revolutionary tendencies are determined by deeper material reasons, does not exist. The counter-revolution is therefore, from the point of view of the comrades, intangible, ghostly and impersonal: it fact it does not exist. The social regime cannot be threatened by counter-revolutionary elements which originate here and there (…). It is no use sending the comrades back to immerse themselves in the Marxist texts so that they can find out the causes and conditions which give birth to revolutions. It is not that they are unaware of Marx’s theory; they reject a revolutionary policy in the USSR (…).
Furthermore, the comrades, who are sarcastic about the “naivet‚ of the workers frontists” and of comrade D, tell us that the bureaucracy is not homogenous. This is the ABC of Marxism, and if they believe this adds anything to the debate this only goes to show their own naivety. There does not exist and there has never existed in class society a social category or class which is, or can be, strictly homogenous. That is even truer for the proletariat (…) but classes in spite of their lack of homogeneity have fundamental characteristics in common which distinguish them from other social classes (…). The bureaucracy, in spite of its lack of homogeneity is very precisely distinguished from the working class and the peasantry (…) the Lords of the Kremlin and their Praetorian Guards in the GPU have a very different life from that of the chairman of a village collective farm, but the life of the latter differs much from that of the mouzhik. However, these two from the highest to the lowest are bound together by their common interests against the workers and by their wish to keep and to reinforce their privileges (…).
The greater or lesser degree of cohesion of the bureaucracy will be revealed when, for the fourth time, the heroic proletariat of the USSR once more raises up its head (…).
The comrades then write “We see three main tendencies within the bureaucracy: 1. The Butenko grouping; 2. the Reiss tendency which represents the lower levels of the privileged; and 3. the centre faction of Stalin. The majority of the bureaucracy is influenced by the first two centrifugal tendencies.” The Stalinist faction is not a centrist grouping that wavers between Marxism and reformism., but a blood-stained Bonapartist clique which, in the interest of the counter revolution, exterminates working class militants from every tendency with fire and sword (…). What is more it is by no means certain the Reiss tendency represents the lower levels of the privileged. This is no tendency in the sociological sense of the term and it does not represent the interests of part of the bureaucracy because no section of the bureaucracy provides an economic basis for such a clearly proletarian tendency. Rather the matter concerns revolutionaries who have not been corrupted and who, though very few and scattered, can still exist in the state machine which came out of the revolution (…).
3. The USSR and the War
Always and in all circumstances Marxists have said that the destiny of the USSR is entirely determined by the destiny of the world revolution. “The October Revolution has created the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia … This opens the epoch of World revolution.” Such are the opening words of the Bolshevik party programme. In sum, without a victorious outcome for the proletariat’s world revolutionary struggle, at least in the most advanced capitalist countries and the support for this by the USSR through economic and political state methods, the dictatorship of the proletariat would be condemned to founder (…). This fundamental position is found in all the serious works by the leaders and masters of Communism starting with Trotsky and Luxemburg. Those comrades who, replying with a childish naivety to those who see the destiny of the USSR played out by the proletariat in the industrial centres of Europe write, “In spite of everything … the USSR stays upright” show that they have understood nothing of the USSR, the world revolution or the bonds that exist between these two things. Trotsky knew something more than the anti-defeatist comrades when he wrote “more than ever the fate of the October revolution is bound up now with the fate of Europe and the whole world. The problems of the Soviet Union are now being decided on the Spanish peninsular, in France, in Belgium. At the moment when this book appears the situation will be incomparably more clear than today, when civil war is in progress under the walls of Madrid. If the Soviet bureaucracy succeeds with its treacherous policy of people’s fronts in ensuring the victory of reaction in Spain and France – and the Communist International is doing all that it can in that direction – the USSR will find itself on the edge of ruin. A bourgeois counter-revolution rather than an insurrection of the workers against the bureaucracy will be on the order of the day” The Revolution Betrayed, New York edition, 1973, p.290.
(…) If the working class does not finish the war by revolution, society and civilisation are threatened by a retreat and catastrophe that the most pessimistic imagination cannot conceive. The USSR will not survive this unprecedented catastrophe (…).
The welfare of the USSR today depends absolutely not only on the struggle of the European working class, but upon the transformation of the existing war into a civil war. The achievement of this objective will need all our forces and all our efforts. Our political initiatives, our least important tasks and our slogans must all be subordinated to this fundamental and immediate task, and are only correct to the degree that they help it. For the party of the revolutionary working class in the capitalist countries it is very clear: we must use the suffering caused by the war to develop the political activity of the masses and to transform the imperialist war into a civil war to overthrow capitalism. It is absolutely the same for all capitalist countries irrespective of their political regime, or whether they are allies of the USSR. In no case would a “modification” or a “different interpretation” be justified, and the following paragraph from the report on the war by the majority of the Acronauplia cell of the EOKDE is very odd in this regard: “Some particular problems of a tactical nature which could occur in the Greek section of the IVth International during a war in case of a Soviet-Anglo-French bloc supported by Greece.” What can these be? In a struggle for its demands, whatever these may be, the proletariat in the war has no other weapon than the class struggle and its application which leads to revolution and the defeat of the government. Can these “particular” questions make us use different means from those which determine our principles, and, more concretely, our immediate basic task? If not, what is the meaning of this very strange paragraph? This paragraph leaves an opening whereby social-fascism and the concept of an “anti-fascist” war can be swallowed, and through which the Party can sink to treason. The removal of this passage is for us, and we would hope for the majority of the Party, a matter of principle. There is no “particular problem of a tactical nature” for the working class of a country which may be allied to the USSR, and the call for “Defence of the USSR” loses all its practical value in a world war, and can only create confusion. Those comrades who maintain the contrary must quote us some concrete “particular problems”. If they cannot, they give us the right to say that they are deliberately trying to smuggle the idea of an “anti-fascist” war into the party. The duty of a “Workers’ state”, whose destiny will be determined in a decisive fashion by the ability of the world working class to put an end to this frightful war by a revolution, is to help the world working class accomplish this task, to denounce the aims of the brigands of war from both sides, and to call upon the workers of the belligerent peoples to join hands against their executioners and to proclaim that their army serves to toughen, encourage, and to give hope to the revolutionary working class (…).
This job cannot be done, or even thought about, without the overthrow of Stalin. And that is the job of the Russian working class (…).
The call for the transformation of the war into a civil war within the capitalist countries, as the duty of the proletariat alone, in whatever conditions or circumstances, and the call for a revolutionary struggle to overthrow the bureaucracy by the Russian proletariat, whatever the temporary consequences at the front, will concentrate activity and attention upon a distinct and clear objective and will ideologically prepare the masses for the carrying out of this task when conditions allow (…).
4. The Tactic of War on Two Fronts
We again insist on this problem, and we would particularly want to draw the attention of all comrades to the above. The very grave errors committed by our “anti-defeatists” not only result from an erroneous appreciation of the situation in the USSR and the character of the bureaucracy, but from a more general point of view from the tactic of “struggle on two fronts”, which is totally opposed to the programmatic principles of revolutionary Marxism. The broad lines of the positions, so openly right-wing but also so naive, identical to those defended buy our anti-defeatists, appeared inside a party of the IVth International during the Spanish Civil War with Nin’s position and its critique by Trotsky and the secretariat of the IVth International (…). In Greece illegality prevented the Trotskyists taking any active part in the debate and the organisations were happy simply to solidarise with Trotsky and the secretariat and, as is apparent today, at least as far as the majority of the EOKDE cell is concerned, to condemn the participation of Nin in the Catalan government without however really understanding the errors of the POUM and Trotsky’s criticism.
As we are going to show, the existence in our ranks of such profoundly opportunist positions which revolutionary Marxism had resolved years ago, is neither surprising, nor does it justify any disillusion in the future of our party: it is enough that the Marxist critique will not be withdrawn and that we will not try to cover up errors and conciliate the opposition for a broad and shallow “agreement”. It is shown for the nth time that the broad acceptance of our programme by any group does not ipso facto make that group revolutionary.
(…) The comrades refer constantly to the “difficult”, “complex” or “composite” character of the problem, and of the “surprises kept in reserve by the dialectic” as if they wished to suggest that if they had not succeeded in giving a concrete analysis the responsibility fell on … the problem itself. But one can tell a Marxist by his ability to clarify and analyse all the most difficult and complex problems, and, as part of his analysis, to trace out his perpectives and tasks. The confusion does not reside in the problem but within the comrades’ skulls.
In all their writings the majority comrades in the EOKDE cell systematically avoid concretely posing the problem of the struggle on two fronts, and try to persuade us that it means nothing more than the simultaneous struggle of the working class on several fronts against different enemies, as let us say, in the first years of the Russian Civil War when the revolutionary proletariat fought the counter-revolutionary bands and the imperialist armies both in the interior and on the frontiers at the same time.
Our debate would not make sense if it was about that. The working class revolution then fought the same enemy on every front: counter-revolution and international imperialism, which were allies and which together tried to strangle the revolution. Though spread over the interior and the frontiers, there was only a single front. On the contrary the tactic of the struggle on two fronts which the anti-defeatist comrade advocated for the defence of the USSR results from an arrangment of fronts and relationship of enemies which are entirely different. At least that is what these comrades think.
The proletariat is faced by two enemies who are themselves enemies. When these face one another, the proletariat helps one against the other which it reckons is the most dangerous, while simultaneously it carries on another struggle against its ally. Such is the theory of the struggle on two fronts that is also known as opportunism (…).
Both before and after 1905 the same theory was formulated by the Russian Mensheviks in the course of debates on the character and motor forces of the Russian revolution, as against the theory of permanent revolution. They said that the task of the Russian proletariat was, in alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie, to overthrow Tsarism and feudalism, and push through the most democratic measures while at the same time it had to struggle for its own interests as a class against the bourgoisie. But inevitably by the same logic of this “war on two fronts” the Mensheviks found themselves during the revolution on the same side as the Tsarist generals and foreign imperialists. In Spain the POUM also adopted this tactic, and it was precisely this that led the revolution to disaster (…).
The centrist theory of the struggle on two fronts by its nature and its own logic does not differ from the traditional reformist theory of an alliance with the democratic bourgeois parties against the reactionary “tendencies” in bourgeois society (…).
This theory arises in periods of calm and retreat and does not take into account the changes which occur in consciousness and spirit of the masses in revolutionary periods which this recipe is for (…).
There is no section of the bourgeoisie whose economic interests push it to ally itself with the working class against another section of the bourgeoise. The petty-bourgeois layers can be conquered by the proletariat, not when the latter makes deals with and allies with “their parties”, but only when it has won its independence and when it shows, by its policy and its behaviour, that it is ready to become the master of society (…).
In a revolutionary situation real power and force are to be found in the street. The bourgeois and petty bourgeois “workers” parties are stripped of all their real influence. But they still keep an influence which is explained by links with the past. The revolutionary masses will only free themselves from this “influence” by the revolutionary party’s unrelenting struggle against these parties, and with calls for the “destruction of the state machine” and “all power to the organs of the revolutionary masses”. Then the old parties will be forced to throw away their “democratic“ and “socialist” mask and to reveal their real face. The slightest retreat in favour of “the unity of all against fascism” leads inevitably to the victory of the “allies” first and fascist reaction afterwards (…).
The real opinion of the comrades of the EOKDE is the following: the bureaucracy, which is not itself the counter-revolution, and whose interests coincide with those of the Worker’s State, will defend the USSR against foreign imperialism. Tthe working class has the duty to it to repel the imperialists and to prevent the enslaving of its own country. Thus in time of war it will find itself on the same side as the bureaucracy. Until then, their idea is logical, it will doubtless give satisfaction to all “friends of the USSR” (…). If the comrades stop at that point their attitude would be very clear, and the fronts sharply marked. But at the same time they tell us they will fight not just for the defence of the borders but for the revolutionary overthrow of Stalin.
Nevertheless, the war does not only happen on the frontiers but also in the rear, and it demands a total unity and discipline both at the front and in the interior. All governments know this very well, and that is why they give such enormous importance to the home front. It is not only keeping morale high; with modern techniques today war takes on a truly totalitarian character, and the entire population participates in it. The revolution, if we do not in a criminal fashion play with the words and if it is a real task for us and not just a hollow phrase, needs the development of the class struggle inside a country, and the breaking of national unity and its discipline, that is to say a war in the interior of the country against the government. Every manifestation inside the country, every strike, every demonstration will have an immediate and disintegrating effect on the front. The army is not built in some separate area apart from society, but is an integral part of society, of its flesh and blood. The revolution will influence it also and pass through it. The enlisted workers and peasants will go over to the side of the revolutionary masses, the officers and the offspring of the bureaucracy, to that of the government and to counter-revolution. The defence of the frontiers and the simultaneous struggle for the revolutionary overthrow of the government are irreconcilable (…).
The masses will make their appearance on the scene when there is a decisive defeat at the front, a foreign revolution or a serious crisis of the regime. At the moment when, breaking national unity, the masses range themselves against the government and the war, civil war will break out in the country. At that precise moment everything will depend on the preparation of the vanguard. The bureaucracy will turn against the masses in revolution under the cover of the “defence of the borders” and the “saving of the country threatened by the foreign invaders”, accusing the revolutionaries of being agents of the enemy. The slogan of the “struggle on two fronts” will then acquire force and significance. Its job will be to hold back the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses and to terrify them with the danger of a foreign invasion. It will then become a weapon in the hands of the bureaucracy against the working class.
During the whole period leading up to the rising, the role of those who defend this slogan will be to contain and hold back any anti-governmental demonstration, above all when the fronts run the risk of being broken and when defeat threatens. To the extent that it depends on them, they will contribute to the unity and the discipline of the home front, that is to say, submission to the bureaucracy.
As a result the slogan of the revolutionary overthow of Stalin and the bureaucracy, independently of its consequences at the front, concentrates the struggle of the proletarian vanguard on a concrete objective and prepares for an unrelenteng struggle against the bonapartist clique and the counter-revolution (…).
And what of the frontiers of the Workers’ state? In April 1938 our cell gave the following answer, “It is very likely that revolutionary struggles inside the country will let the enemy over the frontier…. But internationalist revolutionaries are absolutely convinced that Stalin is leading the country to a catastrophe, to defeat and dissolution, and only that can save the USSR from the totalitarian catastrophe. The victorious proletariat will at the same time be able to be enthusiastic and to mobilise the country of October, to give a revolutionary character to the war on its own side, to dissolve the opposing armies, to fraternise with the workers and peasants in uniform, as much in the fascist countries as in the `democratic’ ones, and to hurl them against their own scaffolds”.
5. Revolutionary Defeatism
In view of their arguments that the anti-defeatist comrades use in their polemic against revolutionary defeatism in the USSR, we can make two hypotheses: maybe they are intentionally giving a wholly inadmissable interpretation to this slogan which is amongst the most fundamental of Bolshevism, or maybe they have a idea of revolutionary defeatism which is both naive and dreadful, and evidently reject it and throw it away for every country in the world, and not just the USSR.
If the ommission of this slogan in their attitude to the war is not chance – and how can the omission of a slogan which is precisely the one that distinguishes us from all sorts of social patriotism and pacificism be chance? – then we must suppose that it is the second theory which is correct, at least for some of the anti-defeatists. For these comrades revolutionary defeatism means – open the borders and deliver the country to foreign imperialism. We know that reaction has always tried to give such an ‘interpretation’ to this slogan making the revolutionaries out to be the agents of the enemy to justify vicious measures against them.
Other comrades assert that revolutionary defeatism imposes itself on the working class in the advanced capitalist countries because they have nothing to defend, while in the USSR on the other hand the workers have seized the shop and are ready to defend it. (…). The working class would be truly unworthy of its great mission if, faced with the great historical events which determined the outcome for the world, its attitude was determined by such a miserably miserly point of view. The present day proletariat has nothing in common with the slaves of the Roman Empire, it is concerned with the productive forces of society of which it will be the historical inheritor, and on this base it will build the future happiness of mankind. Revolutionary defeatism conditions the success of the proletarian revolution is the only way to save human society from the chaos and catastrophe to which rotting captalism is taking it. A revolutionary defeatist policy flows from the reactionary character of the capitalist system and modern imperialist wars and of the historical necessity for a proletarian revolution and not from the point of view that “we have nothing to defend”(…).
We do not fold our arms during a war and say that we might just as well be chopped into little bits because “we have nothing to defend”, but we fight for the transformation into a civil war precisely because we have to defend human civilisation (…).
We carry out our fight against the government only by means of class struggle (…). What we want, and what we do, all advanced workers want and do. Thus, our struggle is part of a world struggle. Until the revolution starts we cannot know which is the weakest link in the capitalist chain. But we are convinced of the historical necessity of our struggle. We are convinced that the weakest link will break, that the revolution will raise its flag and that it alone will put an end to the war and free humanity from its horror and destruction for ever.
The working class does not seize political power to defend its own little “business” and to create its own national state. The working class is a class which bears the civilisation of a world which will abolish frontiers, and unite all peoples of the world in a world society. It defends the borders of a country when it holds political power there solely in the sense that it defends the cause of international socialism in a region of the world where it happens to be. It does not think that its task ends by overthrowing its own government and the taking of power, but it puts all the strength which state power gives it to the service of the world revolution.
Revolutionary defeatism very sharply distinguishes us from all other tendencies in the workers’ movement, and because of that it must be brought out very clearly in our resolution on the war. But far more than mentioning it in our resolution, we must understand its essence and its significance. If the drafter of a report on the war understood that, he could not slip any passage on “particular tactical questions” into his text. Thus revolutionary defeatism excludes the appearance of any other question than those of class posed by our struggle for the overthrow of the government. At the same time it can never be a matter of “parallel” struggles to overthrow the dictatorship, to transform the war into a civil war, as that which appears in another article by the same comrade. In the war we struggle against the government of the bourgeoisie which is carrying out the war, whatever it is, and not just because it is the dictatorship of Metaxas. If in war conditions, Metaxas is replaced by someone else (which is very unlikely) that will be because of the need to carry on the war more effectively and to deceive the masses. Our open and courageous revolutionary defeatist position puts us into absolute opposition to all the “democratic” and “workers’” parties and forewarns against any deviation. Furthermore, a parallel struggle against the goverment which we wage to transform the war into a civil war does not exist. The resulting struggle for the transformation of the war into a civil war becomes a part of the struggle to overthrow the capitalist government, whatever it may be.
Our tasks in relation to the war must be clear. It is a question of life and death for our party and for the working class and the comrades who understand that must insist on the drafting of an absolutely clear resolution without ambiguities or double meanings (…).
The Russian proletariat will only defend borders when this means defending the cause of international socialism. And that will only be possible when it has overthrown the bloody bonapartist clique and swept the country clean of the leprous bureaucracy (…).
Acronauplia, October 1940
Greece and Social-Democracy, Justice, 6 March 1897, p.4. Signed by “D” (probably Drakoules).
The subject of absorbing interest for the last three weeks has been the Cretan question, or, as we might rather call it, the Greek question. Everybody now knows the beginning and progress of the events which led to the expedition of King George of Greece, who sent his son with a torpedo flotilla and strict orders to prevent Turkish troops foam landing at Crete. It is also well known that the warships of the great Powers have surrounded the island, with a view to preventing hostilities between Turks and Greeks. The British admiral threatened Prince George of Greece to use force against him if he would give any assistance to the insurgents of the island. We need not dwell upon this incident, which has already roused some indignation in England, nor do we intend to go through a narrative of other details. Wars and expeditions are deprecated by all Socialists who understand their origin and source, but their significance as indicating the course of events is worthy of our serious study.
There are some points which call for an interpretation of the Eastern question from a Social-Democratic point of view. The existence of modern Greece is an immediate offspring of the French Revolution. The inspiring ideas of that great drama and its stirring events awoke the Hellenic race from the torpor into which the Turkish yoke had plunged it for four centuries. Greeks of learning and culture lived through the whole period of the Revolution in Paris, and the most eminent among them, Koraes, who saw the impending rising of his race, conceived the idea of paving the way for its regeneration by regulating the then corrupt and neglected Greek languages so as to bring it in greater conformity with the ancient Greek, hoping thus to kindle in the hearts of his countrymen that love far freedom which characterised their ancestors.
The conceptions of Freedom, Equality, and Fraternity have now permeated the Hellenic race all over the world, and. after a period of incubation, survived the reaction which followed in Europe at the appearance of that Messiah of capitalism, Napoleon Buonaparte. The Greeks, now duly equipped with the requisite determination, and full of the spirit of their new literature and poetry which sprang from their new ideal, all rose as one man in 1821 against Turkish tyranny, in defiance of the united opposition of Western Europe. The ruling classes were terrified at this insurrection, which they considered as identical with the insurrection of the French nation, and were determined to stifle it at the outset. They resolved, however, to allow Turkey to suppress the Revolution by her own methods, which, it was hoped, would lead to the final extermination of the disturbers of “peace and order.”
But the firmness of the Greeks was as remarkable as it is now, and this cost them terrible sufferings during a period of ten years. European democracy was by that time benumbed, and on the Continent it had not yet attained sufficient development to exhibit the universal and systematic sympathy which is now exhibited on behalf of the Greeks. Sympathy, of course, existed, but it was much less articulate than it is now, though Shelley sufficed to give it effectual expression through his unrivalled poetry, and his humanitarian ideal. The heroic achievements of Greeks too recalled the valour of classic times, and at last the European democracies triumphed over the determinations of the governments to allow Greece to be exterminated by the Turkish forces which were then pretty formidable. Byron’s championship of Greece, and his death at Messolonghi, has also contributed, to a very large extent, towards the culmination of feeling in favour of the brave revolutionists.
A free Greece, in a republican form, was created in 1830, but the Hellenes saw it was too far short of their ideal, and they regarded their President, Capodistris – a Greek chosen by Russia – as an instrument of Russian plans of dominion over them. They got rid of him very soon, and constituted themselves into a kingdom. King Otho proved too despotic, and was accordingly expelled, after a reign of thirty years. The present reign of King George began in 1864, and continued throughout to be a most democratic government, in form. But as Capedistria was the embodiment of aristocracy, and King Otho the incarnation of the bourgeoisie, so King George has throughout represented the capitalistic spirit.
Greece went, within seventy years, through all the stages which took seven hundred years to be evolved in Western Europe. The system of accumulation of wealth in a few hands produced just the same effects as everywhere else. The usual methods of capitalists who convert every noble sentiment into a weapon for their own advantage, have been in Greece conspicuous in the production of the vulgar aspect of patriotism, side by side with the most abject poverty of the working classes. Twelve years ago a discreet and tactical propagation of scientific Socialism began slowly, but surely, to gain ground, until both the labour world and the educated proletariat assumed a really menacing attitude which the sagacious King George duly noted. He faced the difficulty most admirably; and we wish him the success which his temerity and audacity deserves, for the sake of the issues it is likely to have. He saw and demonstrated the impotence of the European Governments. He profited by the example that the crumbling Turkish Empire was rendered omnipotent solely on account of the mutual jealousies of the Powers. He relied on the feeling of the European democracies, which, as William Morris observed, constitutes the invincible power of Greece. Counting, moreover, on his close relationship with nearly all the reigning families of Europe, King George did not suffer his opportunity to pass, but masterfully seized it, averting by his action the upheaval of the working classes of Greece, but at the same time awakening the slumbering masses of Europe, who in their sympathy with Greece struggling for freedom are reminded of that Social Revolution which sooner or later is to come, but which is delayed on account of a certain apathy due to lack of initiative.
The boldness of Greece might serve as an instructive lesson to the working classes of Europe, inasmuch as it shows that the ruling classes are impotent to withstand a strong general uprising. The action and tact of King George moreover suggests that all depends on the initiative of one man able and determined enough to place himself at the head of the great army of European workers who await the signal in order to bring to an end the present monstrous fabric of civilisation. Such a sincere leader whom international labour could trust, would be followed with the same eagerness with which King George was followed by the Greek nation.
The capitalists all over the world are in dread of a European war, not out of love for peace, but out of love for their stocks. There are two issues of the Eastern Question which appear to us quite possible: Either it may lead to the Social Revolution through a general European war, or it may be limited to producing a larger Greece, perhaps a Greek State, with Constantinople as its capital, and a confederation of all the Balkan States. If the latter alternative happens, we sincerely hope that it will not be on the model of Italy, whose unity was attained only for the benefit of capitalists and marquises. Whatever benefits may accrue to Greece, they must be for the people of Greece, not for her handful of politicians.
If the Social Revolution in Europe is postponed by such a solution of the Eastern Question, the community of interests of the workers of all countries, as opposed by the interests of capital, must not, at any rate, be forgotten. Greece, Bulgaria, Servia, Roumania, Armenia, and even Turkey, are united in a common cause of Labour, and if only they understand this they will find that their brethren of Western Europe and America constitute the only great Power which really means, and is able, to co-operate with them in establishing social and political freedom, and abolishing any Sultan, either Moslem or Christian.
The Editorial Board of Revolutionary History wishes to commemorate, on its 60th anniversary, the December 1944 slaughter of Trotskyists, other internationalist communists and anarchists by the Stalinists in Greece. We do so by publishing, so far as we know for the first time in English, this extract from the memoirs of Agis Stinas, one of the leading members of the Trotskyist movement in Greece. We do not claim to tell the full story of this ugly period, and especially we do not claim to be able to tell the story of the anarchists and the Archeo-Marxists. We do not take any position on the complex factional history that has tragically divided the revolutionaries in Greece. We do however want to draw the world’s attention, after sixty years, to what Stinas accurately called the Greek St Bartholomew’s Day, and to include in that recollection the more than honourable comrades from the anarchist and archeo-marxist currents who were also victims of the Stalinists.
Other accounts of these events provide additional names of those murdered. In presenting Stinas’s text we do not concur with his decisions about those he does not mention.
Further source material and references can be found in Revolutionary History, Vol.3 No.3, which can be found at Rev History RH0303 and in Documents sur la révolution grecque du décembre 1944, Les Cahiers du C.E.R.M.T.R.I. no 60, March 1991. René Dazy devotes a chapter to the same events in his Fusillez ces chiens enrages! Le Genocides des Trotskistes, Olivier Orban 1981. Pierre Broué provides a background at Rev History RH0304 in his How Trotsky and the Trotskyists confronted the Second World War.
A review of Stinas’s book from Revolutionary History can be found at Rev History RH0301 and http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/3909/stinas/ contains additional material about Stinas, Castoriadis and other militants of the movement in Greece, including a substantial part (but as yet incomplete) translation of the Memoirs into English.
Extract from Memoirs: A revolutionary in 20th century Greece by A. Stinas
Editions La Bréche-PEC, Montreuil ISBN 2-902524-79-X
Translation by John Plant.
The assistance of Ian Birchall in correcting some defects in translation is gratefully acknowledged, but no responsibility is accorded to him for any errors remaining in this document. Footnotes have been provided where possible by J.P. and draw upon the sources mentioned above, in addition to Stinas’s volume.
The massacre of the internationalist communists in Greece, December 1944
During the First World War, the executioners who governed the people put specially trained police units and professional killers in charge of the massacre of the internationalists. During the Second World War, the Stalinists took this responsibility upon themselves.
At the time of the "liberation" and the "national" government, they were the true masters of the country. In their speeches and their communiqués they missed no opportunity of assuring the world that they had no intention of seizing political power through violence, and that they were for law and order. They wrote in their journals "In times like these, safeguarding order and normal political life are a national duty. Do not take the law into your own hands. Anybody who is arrested must surrender to the police against a receipt. District secretaries take personal responsibility for this order."
The same people unleashed a ferocious pogrom against the internationalist communists and all the elements inclined to be critical. Some hundreds of workers and intellectuals, connected by their whole soul to the cause of socialism, fell under the knives, the cudgels and the bullets of the riff-raff that the Stalinist clique had recruited in the underworld for this work. We will cite here only a few of their names.
They killed the journalist Spaneas before the "liberation". He was discussing with some young workers in Ilyssia, and there acquainted them with Lenin’s positions on war and the tasks of the working class. At their second meeting somebody new had come. And when Spaneas left, the newcomer shot him in the back and killed him.
After the revolution they captured and killed Dimosthenis Voursoukis , one of the most devoted, active and competent militants, and one of the best trained, an escaper from Acronauplia. We denounced his arrest in thousands of leaflets and a committee went to protest to Tsirimokos. The latter told us, trembling, that he could do nothing.
They killed Thymios Adramytidis, the purest and most modest of militants, in the courtyard of the hospital of Evangelismos, where he worked, on the morning of the 3rd of December while he was calling for a demonstration for "liberty" and the "rights of the people".
They slashed the throat of Panyotis Tsingelis, in the way they slaughter lambs a worker who escaped from the islands, just after capturing him at Vathis.
They killed Nikos Aravantinos, an old internationalist communist well known throughout the island of Cephalonia for fighting in the movement of workers and peasants, for which he had paid the price of long years in prison and exile. The Germans had killed his father, a well known progressive teacher.
They killed Y. Doxas , a housepainter, N. Mouskas, a café waiter, the Themelis brothers who worked in the tobacco industry, K. Haritodinis, an artisan, P. Panayatodis, a tailor, brother of N. Panayatodis  who was killed in Acronauplia.
They killed the Archeomarxist  workers Zouris and Tzilkas.
They killed Stavros Verouchis , blinded by gas during the war, secretary of the Federation of Disabled and Victims of War , and elected member of the PEEA. They killed him because, at Platanistos, in Eubea, after the discovery of a store of oil, he had insisted that the oil be shared among the peasants who were dying from lack of vitamins, and not to the partisans' military stores, as the official of the Communist Party of Greece had demanded.
They killed P. Tzinieris (P. Skytalis), a teacher, graduate of the KUTV , secretary of the Athens regional organisation, then of the cell covering East Macedonia and Thrace, author of a series of works on the labour movement. In September 1930, the archeomarxists had beaten him up in Kavala, and unable to get treatment there he came to Thessalonika and lived with me for a time. I had the same prejudice against him as against all the kutvists. But I knew him to be a most elevated, cultivated man, devoted with his whole soul to socialism. We became friends. During the internal struggle of the Communist Party of Greece in 1930-31 he sent me a letter practically imploring me not to push things to the point where I would find myself outside the party. It seems that he had diverged from the party some years later and in his turn found himself outside the party. But he never took part for a moment in antiparty activity and was resolutely against Trotskyism. During the occupation he went to his village, at Kounina near Aigion. He was known throughout the region and not just in his own village: everybody respected him and viewed him as a pure, honest and cultivated communist. One day, Velouchiotis  passed through Kounina and asked for him. It was he, Tzinieris, who had taken Th. Klaras, the future Velouchiotis, onto the Athens regional committee, when all the previous secretaries had accorded him no importance. They discussed for hours. Who knows what they said to each other? Who knows how this authentic revolutionary would have criticised the archikapetanios of a nationalist movement? Some days later they arrested him and took him under escort into "Free Greece". There they put him in a concentration camp. He went on hunger strike and his executioners let him die.
They killed Assimidis  (G. Konstantinidis, Gatkos), a graduate of the Lenin School, nominated by the Communist International in November 1931 to Zachariadis'  central committee. He quickly found himself in disagreement, and, as was the rule in the party, was expelled. He abandoned all political activity then, and devoted himself to his profession as a lawyer. But he had been in disagreement with Zachariadis, and had accused him of being paranoid and a gangster, and that was enough for them to kill him.
They killed Stergiou in Thessalonika, an old communist tobacco worker and self-taught cartoonist. He produced all the cartoons for The Workers' Voice. This comrade was loved by all, regardless of their tendency.
They killed Al. Douvas. He was with Assimidis at one stage, but he had withdrawn from activity at the same time. He gave him a "position" in Acronauplia. Every morning he distributed the cigarettes which the Group allocated to each of the detained. They killed him because he had once been a partisan of Assimidis.
Stalin had executed his brother, G. Douvas, secretary of the Federation of Communist Youth, member of the Political Bureau of the CPG and of the Executive Committee of the Communist Youth International, in Russia during the great massacre of communists in 1936-38.
They killed Damaskopoulos, the most active cadre in the civil servants' union.
They killed Yannis Kalogeridis , one of those who had killed the policeman Gyphtodimopoulos on May Day in 1931. He had been condemned to many years imprisonment and eventually ended up in the prison of Egina. There he came into conflict with Tyrimos, a CPG Deputy, who later joined the security police and during the occupation the tsoliades of Rallis.  After being released from prison, Kalogeridis took no part in any political movement. He worked in a small restaurant, where they found him and killed him because he had disobeyed Tyrimos some years previously.
They killed Kostas Speras , an anarchist cigarette maker, secretary of the trade union centre in Athens before the foundation of the trade union federation and principal leader of the rising of the iron miners in August 1916. He had taken part in the first two congresses of the CGT where he had defended anarcho-syndicalist ideas. But subsequently he had distanced himself from all political activity.
They killed Stelios Arvanitakis , the anarchist cigarette maker, who had been alone in Greece in protesting against the massacre at Kronstadt. During the general strike of August 1923, he was one of the leaders of the Communist Union, the combat organisation that led the workers of Pireus. Expelled from the CP on the decision of the International, he lived outside any organisation after that, like a worker supporter of anarcho-communism. When I was in Thessalonika I used to see him often and we discussed frequently. He remained faithful to his convictions to the end.
And these were only a few of the hundreds, if not thousands of militants, or of simple innocent people, of people above suspicion whom the OPLA  killed. At Kokkinia, at Agrinion and possibly other places, the women in black were the mothers or the wives of the old communists assassinated by the national communists of Siantos and of Ioannidis.
Most of these crimes occurred during December.
This "popular republic" which we knew and experienced in December 1944 in Athens was the worst possible discredit, ridicule and condemnation of socialism. The workers, when they were not being used for auxiliary tasks, went in peril of their lives in the town, looking for food to keep themselves alive, while the ELAS fighters were exchanging fire with government troops.. The OPLA groups, the civil guards and the judges were the incarnation of the "peoples republic", and presented its true face. These groups searched night and day for suspects to feed to the judges and the cemeteries. A suspect was anybody who did not appear in their card index. They requisitioned all the houses and searched the passers by. If you were found with Trotskyist newspapers it was the death penalty, carried out on the spot. It was equally suspect to be in possession of Rizopastis  or Marxist literature; why would anybody read them who did not appear in their card index? It was dangerous too to be found with any bourgeois newspaper whatsoever, or with a photograph of the king.
They had arrested Gl., a communist schoolmistress for many years, who had been a member of Pouliopoulos’s  organisation for a long time. But they didn't know it, and that saved her. They arrested her because she was known as an old communist, but not as a member of the CPG. She came to find me after her interrogation, to tell me to be careful because they had questioned her about me. "How can I tell you, I knew the judges and the police here as well as I did in Poland when I was active in the movement, but I have never met such bestiality and such stupidity as in this EAM  judge. His questions were imbecilic, most degrading and coarse. I had to restrain myself from hitting him in the face with my handbag. Next to me, in two or three groups, a bunch of poor women and small children were trembling while waiting their turn to go up in front of this brute."
That happened in Pancrati. In other areas it was the same thing, sometimes worse.
I was living in Pyrgotelous Streetin Pancrati with A.M. On the morning of Monday the 4th, Kleanthis arrived from Kaissariani, persecuted by people he had himself recruited to communism. Less than half an hour had passed when we heard the loud sound of boots on the stairs; four armed men appeared, demanding our papers and began a search. They found nothing, because we had made sure there was nothing to be found. I had false papers. They left after asking us several questions. We left immediately after them. As our neighbours recounted to us, hardly a quarter of an hour later a detachment of ten men entered the house. They seized whatever they found in our room, carried out close questioning about us and took five or six people in front of the judge to complete the enquiry.
I went to Thalis’s place, two or three streets further down. Thalis was a doctor and ELAS had signed him up. Up above Vyronas, on the heights, he had improvised a hospital and run up the Red Cross flag. But they (ELAS) had camouflaged a cannon next to it. Thalis told them it was not right to put a canon under the Red Cross flag. He drew upon himself this furious response, admitting of no reply: "Doctor, mind your own business and not ours." At this juncture, we learnt that they asked the residents of the neighbourhood if they knew or had heard anything about the Trotskyists. On the evening that Thalis told us what kind of reply he had got from them, towards midnight we got ourselves on the way under cover of darkness, under fire from bullets and mortar shells, stumbling over corpses with every step, and eventually getting ourselves to Nea Smyrni.
I stopped first of all with Tam, and later with Kal. The national guard and the English arrested us. They too interrogated us, they sniffed our hands in case they smelled of gunpowder and then let us go.
They also arrested Castoriadis in December. But those who had caught him by luck did not know that he figured among the highest on the list of those they were hunting, and they let him go after questioning.
1. A leading member of the OKDE (Organisation of Internationalist Communists), later of the KDEE (Internationalist Communist Union) – a rival organisation to which Stinas belonged. Imprisoned in the Acronauplia camp during WW2 where he participated in the famous debate among imprisoned revolutionaries. Dazy reports him explaining Aeschylus to workers in Piraeus.
2. According to Dazy he was 18 years old when murdered.
3. The Unified Pan-Hellenic Youth Organisation.
4. Yorgos Doxas, born in Karabourna (Asia Minor). Joined the Archeomarxists in 1928 and the Leninist Opposition in the CPG in 1932. Thereafter co-founded the group "Nea Diethnis" and later the "Workers Press" when it split from the Bolshevik Tendency. Contributed to the attempts to unify the Trotskyist groups in Greece.
5. A supporter of the KDEE
6. The "Archeomarxists" were named after their journal "The Archives of Marxism". They split off from the Communist Party of Greece in 1923 to follow a course of building a "true communist party" on the basis of a serious theoretical education (which was the purpose of the journal). From 1929 to 1934 they were the section in Greece of the International Left Opposition. After a split in 1934, one section supported the London Bureau, while the other merged with the Spartacus group (which itself had split from the CPG in 1927, led by Pouliopoulos) to become the 4th International section in Greece.
7. Verouchis is known to have joined the KDEE with a group from the OKDE in 1933. During the occupation he was active in the resistance (EAM) and elected to its leading body (the PEAA – Political Committee of National Liberation) by the Platanistos district. At this time he argued that the resistance could be transformed into a movement for socialist revolution, and that consequently the revolutionaries should integrate themselves into it. As Stinas points out (p 80) Verouchis’s tragic end demonstrated the falsity of his illusions in the nationalist resistance movement.
8. The Federation of Disabled and Victims of War was organised after WW1 and had branches in most cities and towns. Pouliopoulos was among the early leaders, with other CGP figures
9. Communist University> of the Peoples of the East organised in Moscow
10. An important leader and commander of ELAS – the army of national liberation. Dazy (pp 268-9) reports that in the Agrignon district the Trotskyists, led by Anastasiou Panayotis, organised the local EAM. Velouchiotis invited them to a conference at his headquarters in Agraphlia and had them shot.
11. A founder of the Federation of Communist Youth. Went to the Lenin School in Moscow during 1928, and on his return to Greece became part of the new CPG leadership installed by the Comintern in 1931. Opposed the turn to social-patriotism of 1935 which was supported by the majority of the central committee. According to Stinas, the Assimidis tendency was the final appearance of revolutionary politics in the CPG.
12. Nikos Zachariadis arrived in Greece from Constantinople in 1922-3 among a wave of immigrants. Was active in the Federation of Communist Youth in the mid 1920s. Sentenced to imprisonment in 1925 under the Pangalos dictatorship and escaped from the fortress prison of Yedi Koule to return to political activity. Supported the Stalin line against the Left Opposition in the 1927 Congress of the CPG. In 1931 was part of the new leadership installed by the Comintern, a de facto purge of all elements remotely suspected of support for the Left Opposition. Zachariadis in effect became the "party boss" at this time. In October 1940 published, from prison, an open letter advocating support for the war against Italy. This was published in the press by the Government. At first the CPG activists still at liberty denounced it as a fake. Stinas cites Zachariadis convoluted attempts to blame Tito for the disastrous defeat by the "Democratic Army".
13. Stinas (p 214) quotes from "Acronauplia" by Yannis Mannousakas (which does not seem to exist in any language except Greek) as follows. "Finally to close this sad chapter, I feel it is my duty to say two words on their end. At the beginning of the occupation Gatkis received orders from the Volos organisation to join the maquis. A short time later, the partisans recognised his bravery and ability by appointing him as chief of ELAS in Pelion. But when Bartzotas and others were released from Sotirias, and Ioannidis from Petras, the sent an order to the Thessaly organisation to decapitate Gatkis. The also killed Kapenis whom they found in the region of Agrinion where he was the EAM leader for the village. They put the word around that they had been captured and killed by ELAS while serving with the Germans. So Bartotas and Ionnaidis did not allow them, even after the iniquitous death they put them to, to find a little rest in the soil of their own country, the history of which, I am sure, will show that they struggled for the people and progress, and that they died with honour."
14. Yannis Yoannidis established a reputation in the CPG in the early 1920s by refusing to issue party cards bearing the portrait of the former social democrat Benaroyas. Later became, in Stinas’s words "a most sinister bureaucrat". According to Dazy it was Ioannidis who, when Germany invaded Greece, persuaded the guards at Acronauplia that the Stalinists should be released as they were covered by the Stalin-Hitler pact, while the Trotskyists should remain in prison to await the arrival of the Nazis. Many were then held as hostages and killed in reprisal for resistance activity against the occupying Nazi forces.
Not to be confused with the Y. Ioannidis who belonged to the KDEE.
15. Stalinist cadre in Acronauplia
16. Kalogeridis refused the demand of the Stalinists in Acronauplia to reject his archeomarxist past, and as a consequence was not permitted by them to take part in a mass escape.
17. Prime Minister during the occupation. He created the tsoliades (often known as the evzones), to hunt down the resistance.
18. In September 1920 Speras had opposed the CPG’s proposal for "reciprocal representation", which would have meant a takeover by the CPG of the independent trade unions. Stinas had been present at his congress, and met Speras again in prison during 1938.
19- Described by Stinas as "for many years the voice of the most extreme tendencies in the Party". The Communist Union was made up of CPG members who found it necessary to break from the party in order to give adequate support to strikes and struggles. Following "bolshevisation", the rank and file were re-admitted but not the leadership.
20. Organisation for the Protection of the People’s Struggle
21."The Radical", the CPG’s daily newspaper, from 1916
22. A central figure in the history of the left in Greece. Born 1900. Delegate to the 5th Congress of the Comintern. Member of the CC and eventually Secretary general. Imprisoned at age 18 for the CPG’s support for Macedonian independence. Expelled from the CPG in 1927 for opposition to Stalinism and founded the Spartakos group. Shot by Italian troops with over a hundred other militants in June 1943. The CERMTRI publication (see introduction above) provides a longer biographical note.
23. National Liberation Front
Due to the conditions of the war and the repression the groups did not unite as instructed by the founding conference of the Fourth International, and in addition differences had developed during the war. There were now, in effect, three tendencies: of Anastasiades, that closest to the position of Pablo, which supported the defence of the USSR, and participation in the resistance, but were unable to do so, and support for it, calling for a Communist/Socialist government and for the withdrawal of British troops; of Karliaftis and 'Mastroyannis', which opposed support to the resistance and for a Communist/Socialist government, but supported the defence of the USSR; and of Agis Stinas (Spyros Priphtis, 1920-87), which opposed both the defence of the USSR and support for the resistance and for a Communist/ Socialist government.
The initiative to unite these groups came from the International Secretariat, which sent Pablo and Sherry Mangan to a clandestine unification conference held in a ravine on Mount Pentelicus near Athens in July 1946 (Alan Wald, The Revolutionary Imagination, Chapel Hill. 1983, p l96; Stinas, Mémoires, pp275-6). The largest single group was that of Karliaftis, which secured a majority for its views in the conference and on the Central Committee, but when it came to the political bureau the Stinas group voted in favour of the tendency led by Anastasiades. Agreement was gained over the right for all tendencies to express their views in the discussion bulletin (those of Stinas appear on pp276-83 of his Mémoires), the organisation assumed the name of the International Communist Party of Greece (KDKE), and launched a weekly newspaper, Ergatike Pali (Workers Fight).
In September 1946 an agreement was signed with the Greek Communist Party (KKE) to hold a series of three public debates in a theatre (by invitation only) in October and November in Athens. The first, for which the main speaker from the Trotskyists was Karliaftis, took place on 13 October, and a report appearing in the British Trotskyist press gave the result as being 89 votes cast for the Trotskyist case and 542 for the Stalinists ('Greek Debate', in Socialist Appeal (RCP), no 34, Mid-November 1946). The second, for which the chief Trotskyist speaker was Stinas, took place on 3 November (for extracts from Stinas' speech, cf his Mémoires, pp283-9) and the Trotskyists gained 239 votes for the Stalinists' 453. It should be noted that the majority of votes cast for the Trotskyists' case came from members of the KKE who were convinced by their arguments. The following year Stinas' group broke with the International Communist Party, and a report about the trial and deportation of 13 Trotskyists that appeared in the British press alleged that he had disappeared ('Class War in Greece', in Socialist Appeal (RCP), no 48, September 1947). As Stinas' speech has been substantially reproduced in French, but Karliaftis' has not been available in any Western European language, we print the full text of his contribution to this debate below.
The KKE's extraordinary decision to debate with people and organisations that they had characterised as 'provocateurs' and 'in the service of fascist reaction' was primarily an attempt to head off questions that were arising inside the ranks of the KKE and the EAM (the Greek resistance movement). These were a direct result of the sell-outs in Lebanon, Caserta and Varkiza, betrayals that led to the complete ideological, political and military disarmament of the resistance, directly aiding domestic and foreign reaction.
Immediately prior to this debate and on the eve of the second guerrilla war led by Velouchiotis it should be noted that the Stalinists, through the use of their secret police, the OPLA, had already exterminated hundreds of Trotskyists. This was solely due to the fact that they were the only force to fight consistently for the transformation of the Second World War into a civil war, and hence had correctly viewed the advance of British imperialism as reactionary, and not the 'liberation' that the KKE claimed.
The slaughter of unarmed civilians in December 1944 by Britain's General Scobie in Syntagmata Square in central Athens was thus a tragic confirmation of the warnings of the Trotskyists.
Loukas Karliaftis' Speech in the Athens Debate
A well-intentioned discussion about solving the problems faced by the workers’ movement, about the struggles of the proletariat for their social liberation and that of oppressed classes generally, as well as a settlement of the differences which exist amongst the various tendencies in the workers’ movement, must presume some definitions and the acceptance of certain principles.
For us, for the KDKE (Fourth International), these principles, both the starting point and the method of investigation, are to be found in the acceptance of the teachings of Marx and Engels and of the other great teachers: Lenin, Luxemburg and Trotsky. It consists first of all of the acceptance of their method, historical materialism, and secondly of the laws which characterise capitalist society and economy, and determine its development and decline. Thirdly, it consists in recognising the class struggle, and accepting that this struggle within class society leads unavoidably to the dictatorship of the proletariat. Here is what Marx himself says about this part of his teachings:
‘As to myself, no credit is due to me for discovering either the existence of classes in modern society or the struggle between them. Long before me, bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this class struggle, and bourgeois economists the economic anatomy of the classes. What I did that was new was to demonstrate: (1) that the existence of classes is merely linked to particular historical phases in the development of production; (2) that class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society.’1
Lenin, in fighting all the traitors to Marxism and in analysing the above quotation from Marx’s letter to Weydemeyer, writes:
‘In these words, Marx succeeded in expressing with striking clarity, firstly, the chief and radical difference between his theory and that of the foremost and most profound thinkers of the bourgeoisie; and, secondly, the essence of his theory of the state.
‘It is often said and written that the main point in Marx’s theory is the class struggle. But this is wrong. And this wrong notion very often results in an opportunist distortion of Marxism and its falsification in a spirit acceptable to the bourgeoisie. For the theory of the class struggle was created not by Marx, but by the bourgeoisie before Marx and, generally speaking, it is acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Those who recognise only the class struggle are not yet Marxists; they may be found to be still within the bounds of bourgeois thinking and bourgeois politics. To confine Marxism to the theory of the class struggle means curtailing Marxism, distorting it, reducing it to something acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is what constitutes the most profound distinction between the Marxist and the ordinary petty (as well as big) bourgeois. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism should be tested.’2
Fourthly, it consists of the recognition of the international character of the struggle of the proletariat.
Rosa Luxemburg, in her struggle against Social Democracy, showed that whoever ignores in theory or practice one of these two principles - the class struggle or the internationalism of the proletarian struggle - invariably becomes a supporter and defender of reactionary capitalist regimes, and turns into an agent of the bourgeoisie inside the proletariat, to use Lenin’s phrase. All the modern history of the proletarian struggle from the epoch of Social Democracy until today is nothing more than a positive or a negative confirmation of this view, which was supported by the consistent pupils of Marx and Engels against every type of revisionist in every epoch.
If anyone asks the leaders of the KKE, they will declare the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin to be correct. They will say that they ‘accept’ as correct the teachings of Marx on the capitalist regime and the class struggle under which it, unavoidably according to Marx, leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat. They even ‘accept’ the teachings of Lenin on capitalism and its last imperialist stage. They ‘accept’ the teachings of Lenin (which is but an extension and concretisation of Marx) on imperialist wars and the tasks they pose for the revolutionary vanguard and the working class.
For us, consistent pupils of Marx, Engels and Lenin, there is no need for a new theoretical reaffirmation of their teachings. Our work is inseparable from and scientifically based upon our great teachers. Practically the whole of current history is a great confirmation, positive or negative, of their teachings. The Paris Commune and the victorious October Revolution are their positive confirmations. The latter is the greatest victory for the proletariat, which was made possible by the correct application of these teachings. On the other hand, the Chinese Revolution of 1925-27, the German and Spanish Revolutions and the Second World War are defeats which occurred because of leaders who in practice had negated these teachings.
If we are to be serious, for a sincere debater for the KKE, for world Stalinism, for a debater who respects science, the task is to prove theoretically and in practice why this theory, with its basic premises and its conclusions, does not correspond to our epoch, and why we are faced with the necessity of revising it. A general declaration of changed circumstances is at best a weakness and a subterfuge. At worst, it is conscious deceit and a betrayal of the titanic struggle which the proletariat is waging. The KKE does not lack material means. On the contrary, no other tendency has ever had so many resources at its disposal as does the Stalinist current. For more than 20 years we have waited for this opportunity but in vain. Scientific discussion has been replaced by perfidy, falsity, lies, deceit, sycophancy and physical violence. But these methods have not relieved the KKE of its obligations, it has increased them.
The current political situation can be analysed by a Marxist only from the point of view of its historical connections and development. Every natural or social phenomenon has its history, and only during the process of historical development is it possible for them to be understood clearly and completely. All modern science is a confirmation of this basic view of Marxist teaching. Today was born of yesterday. Tomorrow is determined by the dynamic of today. Only in the light of this investigation is it possible to reveal the correctness or incorrectness of the politics of the different tendencies inside the workers’ movement and to prove their social nature.
War is the most important feature of our epoch. The war of 1939-45 was an imperialist, reactionary conflict between the rich and the ‘hungry’ imperialist powers. The involvement of the Soviet Union in this war was unavoidable, and was determined by the international nature of the world economy. The war waged by the Soviet Union was defensive and progressive, and the international working class had the duty to defend it. But the progressive nature of the war on the part of the Soviet Union (the defence of nationalised ownership) transformed neither the general imperialist character of the war nor the newrh_content and obligations of the proletarian struggle for social revolution. The war made nonsense of all the Stalinist ‘theories’ of the peaceful coexistence of the Soviet Union with capitalism and of ‘Socialism in one country’.
All the theoretical work of Lenin and the Communist International and the policies they developed in the first four congresses maintained their importance for the second imperialist war and will continue to maintain it for all the wars which will be waged by imperialism if the proletariat allows it. The existence of the Soviet Union does not change the nature of imperialism. The Soviet Union was thought of by its founders as none other than an advanced outpost of the world workers’ front. This is the teaching of Lenin. All those who deny this revise Marxism-Leninism and break the internationalism of the proletarian struggle with disastrous consequences.
War and revolution are the most important events in human history. The Marxist left wing of Social Democracy - Lenin, Trotsky and Luxemburg - broke off all relations with the Second International precisely on this issue.
The question of war is very important, and it must be given its proper place in any serious discussion amongst the tendencies inside the workers’ movement. Our party proposed this topic for the first of these three discussions.
The outbreak of the second imperialist war was impossible without the defeat of the proletariat. This defeat was not possible but for the abandonment and revision of Marxist teachings by its own leadership. Just as the outbreak of the First World War confirmed the opportunist and treacherous nature of the leadership of the Second International, so the outbreak of the Second World War confirmed the petty-bourgeois degeneration of and the betrayals carried out by the leadership of the Communist International. If the outbreak of war presupposes an absolute weakening of the revolutionary strength of the working class, then the war itself, with its horrors and destruction, forces the working class into the forefront of history, and increases immeasurably its social dynamism and revolutionary strength.
This phenomenon showed itself quite markedly and clearly in Greece. Let us look at the main changes which the war brought about in the Greek economy and in the regrouping of social forces. It dislocated the capitalist economy of the country. The theft of national wealth, of the products of the country by the imperialist occupation in cooperation with the domestic plutocracy, created intolerable conditions of life for the oppressed masses. With inflation it wiped out any savings of the petty-bourgeois layers in town and country, and impelled them to take a decisive turn to the left. The bankruptcy of the bourgeois parties was complete, whilst in the working masses, a passion for a decisive social transformation was brewing. The turn of the masses to the left brought the old revolutionary party of the proletariat, the KKE, into the leadership of their struggle, due to the enormous prestige of the October Revolution which they saw this party as representing.
These developments in the consciousness of the masses led capitalist reaction in the country to make a desperate attempt to maintain its social rule and enter an alliance with both imperialisms - the Allied and the Axis. In the face of revolution, the imperialists are united. This action of theirs led the country into a situation of civil war, and in consequence all but wiped out the power of the capitalist state.
The situation in our country at the end of the civil was definitely revolutionary. But what were the politics of the KKE if not a complete negation of Marxist-Leninist teaching?
In place of the class and of class struggle - the nation and nationalist struggle.
In place of the class struggle - the collaboration of classes and class unity: in other words the subordination of the proletariat and the oppressed masses to the bourgeoisie.
In place of declarations to cultivate international proletarian solidarity - the cultivation of nationalist hatred and nationalist patriotic sentiments.
In place of the struggle against the imperialists - subjugation to Anglo-Saxon imperialism. Hundreds are the victims, militants who died because they opposed the excessive Anglo-friendliness of the KKE leadership, and carried out anti-British and anti-imperialist propaganda. Look at the relevant decisions of the Eleventh Plenum of the Central Committee of the KKE.
In place of the Socialist revolution - the historically defunct ‘Popular Democracy’ with its respect for private property.
All of these things are known - as are Lebanon, Caserta and the National Unity government.
The leadership of the KKE held power in Greece and handed it over to the Greek capitalists and their partners and patrons in Britain.
There was no problem of power for the KKE and the EAM. The opportunity existed to consolidate and maintain power. We ask: why didn’t the KKE struggle to remain in power and implement its ‘Popular Democratic Programme’? Why did it bring British imperialism to Greece?
What is the nature of the ‘Popular Frontist’ policy which its ministers carried out when in Papandreou’s government? Was it bourgeois or not? Did it serve capitalist interests or not? Was the stabilisation of the currency carried out against the interests of the oppressed masses or not? Is it true that Porfirogenis3 was the one who introduced Law 118 concerning the ‘surplus of workers’ in capitalist businesses? And we ask: if all these things are correct, how can we characterise the politics of the KKE?
And December? We must speak out clearly. December was not a revolution organised by the leaders of the EAM but a counter-revolution, an attack by Anglo-Saxon reaction against which the oppressed masses, and especially the proletariat of Athens and the Piraeus, defended themselves heroically.
December was systematically prepared using every possible method: the security forces, civil war, Lebanon and Caserta, with Ralis and Papandreou, with Scobie and Spiliotopoulus, with the court tribunals in the Middle East and Surmata and by Anglo-Greek imperialism.
Why did the EAM’s leaders refuse to form a revolutionary government when 90 percent of the population was under their influence and the whole country under their control? Why did it not declare that no unity could exist with the exploiters and murderers, in other words, with the capitalist class, but instead fought for a ‘New National Government’? With whom? Why did it not call on the natural allies of the Greek oppressed, the world proletariat, to aid it in its struggle? Why did the Stalinist government of the Soviet Union say not a single word of sympathy for the heroic struggle of the Greek masses during the December events?
The Greek proletariat and the other oppressed masses were defeated in December because their defeat was prepared before December and during December.
In December, the endless heroism and courage of the revolutionary proletariat confronted a malicious, crafty, cunning, criminal and historically bankrupt class: world capitalist reaction. This class - dark and criminal - appears strong with its international bonds and its solidarity when it confronts its enemy: the revolutionary proletarian class. The proletariat - militant and heroic and with endless resources of bravery and sacrifice appeared with its international links and its internationalist solidarity broken. Its leadership, however, did not direct it towards a realisation of its historic mission, but placed it under... a ‘New National Government’.
For this purpose, it appealed to the great imperialist ‘Democracy of the Atlantic’. The ‘leadership’ of the Greek proletariat asked for help from Roosevelt, not from the world proletariat. Without a doubt, the Stalinist leadership had - essentially from 1934 and definitively from 1943 - broken the internationalist links of the proletariat with the dissolution of the Communist International.
Lebanon, Caserta and, in December, Varkiza determined the political line and the social nature of the EAM’s leadership, proving it to be petty-bourgeois, objectively placed within the framework of the capitalist regime serving the bourgeoisie.
If Anglo-Greek capitalist reaction moved towards December, this was not due to fear of or in reaction to the politics pursued by the EAM leadership, but to the direct threat posed by the armed and deeply anti-capitalist disposition of the masses. The question of disarming the masses was, for Anglo-Greek and world capitalist reaction, a question of life and death.
With its victory in December, Greek capitalist reaction, based on the tanks and guns of Scobie, re-established its political rule. Its immediate aim was the re-establishment of its oppressive state machine and the stabilisation of its rule. United and decisive in carrying this out, it was aided and directed by its patron, British imperialism.
With the disarming of the masses (and the amnesty of the EAM’s leaders at Varkiza) the main problem which emerged for the Greek capitalists was and continues to be the ‘rebuilding’ of the economy, for which the oppressed masses have to pay. For this task, the disarming of the masses was insufficient, their spirit had to be broken. Directly or indirectly, their organisations had to be dissolved. The workers had to be broken into isolated and subjugated individuals. This task was undertaken by the various neo-Fascist organisations and gangs. At the same time, an economic offensive was unleashed on behalf of the capitalist oligarchy with the weapon of inflation. Workers’ and employees’ wages were repeatedly wiped out. All the stabilisations of the drachma which took place had as their aim a continuing cut in living standards. And the attack on living standards is continuing with the high prices announced for goods, and the implementation of indirect taxes.
All of this comes at a time when the capitalist government is giving endless grants to bankers, industrialists and traders in the form of loans, which inflation wipes out at one tenth of the initial cost.
While the economic attack is continuing, alongside it is an attempt to ‘legalise’ the dictatorial government which is concealed by a parliamentary façade for external consumption and for the deception of the world proletariat.
World capitalist reaction, from Churchill’s Tories to the pseudo-Socialist lackeys of imperialism, the Labour Party, in England, from the ‘Democratic’ bankers of New York and Washington to the ‘Popular Democrats’ of France, is struggling with deceit and armed force to crush the insurrections of capital’s slaves. And while their cannons, tanks and aeroplanes bombard the slaves of Indonesia, Indochina, India, China and elsewhere, they send their ‘observers’ to Greece to bring the king back to the throne ‘with due regard for the law’.
Greek capitalist reaction, with the support of world capitalism, and completely conscious of its class interests, is advancing towards the realisation of its aims of stabilising its power and its exploitative regime.
What are the polices of today’s leadership of the working class? ‘Peaceful democratic development’, in other words the negation of the struggle to achieve the historic aims of the proletariat, the struggle for Socialism. The leadership of the KKE throughout this period has objectively aided domestic and foreign reaction to achieve its aims. It aided them with its politics, which condemned the working class to inactivity and passivity, or dissipated and squandered the willingness of the masses to struggle, with its slogans and cries of ‘Don’t! You will provoke a monarchist coup!’, with its denunciation of all those militants who would not disarm at Varkiza - in other words those who would not stand with their arms folded and wait to be slaughtered by the Fascists, and with non-participation in the elections, with the utopia of a ‘Pan-democratic Front’.
Instead of supporting the struggle of the working class in the organisations of the working class on a world scale (according to the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin, and according to the global experience of the workers’ movement), it supported attempts at making a deal with bourgeois politicians of the ‘centre’ and the ‘left’, Sofoulis, Kafandaris and Sofianapoulis, as if it was not they who, with every demagogic utterance, were not attacking the mass movement. As if it was not the government of the ‘Democratic Centre’ which had staged an electoral coup in March!
Comrades, are these coincidental mistakes, or even just a mistaken political line? No. There is a complete consistency in the political line of the KKE. The politics of the KKE are determined by a complete denial of the proletarian revolution in Greece, from the abandonment of the old revolutionary programme to the acceptance of the possibility of bourgeois democracy in the epoch of imperialism. We are dealing with politics which are determined by the acceptance of a regime of private ownership. Here, comrades, a basic opposition exists to the revolutionary politics of Marx and Lenin and to the Fourth International which continues to this day.
The plans of domestic and foreign reaction do not stop at ensuring and maintaining their political and economic domination. The anarchy of production impels capitalism to a constant quest for profit and raw materials. This leads unavoidably to imperialist war. Instead of solving the contradictions of capitalism, war intensifies them, impoverishing the masses and forcing capitalism sooner or later into new wars. The historical dilemma of the epoch, ‘Socialism or Barbarism’ is placed decisively in front of humanity.
World capitalism today is emerging from another war. Despite great destruction of the means of production in countries like Germany and Japan, it does so with its productive capacities increased. But the standard of living for the masses fell drastically during the war. Their purchasing power was lowered to half its pre-war level. Capitalism needs new markets for selling its goods. The Soviet Union controls and rules over a significant portion of our planet. And from the point of view of the social nature of the regime, it is an enemy of capitalism.
World capitalism, under the leadership of American imperialism, is preparing an anti-Soviet war. But an outbreak of war is impossible without the previous defeat of the working class. This is what world capitalism is preparing to do. From a strategic point of view, the geographical situation of Greece will give it an important role in any such anti-Soviet war - if the proletariat does not stop it with a social revolution. One of the aims of domestic and world reaction is to turn Greece into an anti-Soviet and anti-working class bridgehead.
From the analysis we have made, we have demonstrated that the interests of Greek and British capitalism, although not identical, generally coincide. Greek capitalism bases its hopes of rebuilding its economy on the support of Anglo-Saxon imperialism. Both domestic and foreign capitalist reaction feel undying hatred for the movement of the masses for their social liberation. They both nurture the same hatred for the Soviet Union.
British imperialism has to defend its interests in the Middle East. The route to India lies through the eastern Mediterranean. The struggle for oil occurs today mainly in the Middle East. These factors force British imperialism to take a particular interest in Greece and Turkey.
These are the aims of imperialism, both domestic and foreign - the stabilisation of capitalist power wherever it has been shaken, the rebuilding of the capitalist economy on the backs of the working masses, the crushing of the mass movement, and assured strategic bases for the anti-Soviet war. The Greek proletariat and the oppressed masses must react and struggle to frustrate the plans of imperialism.
The struggle against Greek capitalism is a struggle against world imperialism, and, conversely, the struggle against world capitalism is not possible without a parallel struggle against Greek capitalist reaction.
The fronts are clearly distinguishable for all those who want to see - world capitalist reaction on the one side and the world working class on the other. This is the only way to pose the problem and the only way it can be tackled correctly and successfully.
The KKE puts the question of the removal of the British foremost, and whatever the oppressed masses may do is derived from this. The removal of the British is not seen as the outcome of the activity of the masses, but as a problem of good will and Allied diplomacy in which bourgeois ‘patriots’ are to be sought. Since these tasks must precede any other forms of struggle, they serve only to postpone the mass struggle.
Our party, as an internationalist party, confronts the problem from an internationalist point of view. Our party has never stopped carrying out the most decisive and irreconcilable struggle against imperialism. In this struggle, it has suffered many losses, among them our best cadres. The expulsion of the British from Greece, and from all the countries they are occupying, is seen as the result of the activity of the masses and chiefly the British working class. Our allies in the struggle to foil the plans of British imperialism will not be found amongst bourgeois politicians, but amongst the British and the world proletariat. We must make a firm distinction between British imperialism and the working masses of Britain. The first is an ally of local domestic capitalist reaction. Every struggle against Greek capitalism is also a struggle against British imperialism. In our struggle for our economic demands, for our trade union and political rights, we must seek and obtain aid from the British proletariat. British soldiers stationed here should side with us. The same British soldiers should ask to return to their homes.
At every opportunity we should seek to fraternise with British troops - just as we should demand fraternisation with the Greek soldiers who are being sent to attack the struggles of our brothers. The arms they are carrying can and must be used against our common class enemy. The British working class must rise up and halt the plans of British imperialism.
Class against class, the old Leninist slogan which paralysed imperialist reaction in the epoch of Red October, must be heard everywhere. It can give us victory and it will - because the working class is all-powerful. It is simply unaware of its strength because every type of confidence trickster confuses its thinking. The historical rôle of the revolutionary vanguard is to dispel confusion and show the path.
The Greek working class has suffered countless significant defeats. But none of these were decisive. That is why the movement intensified on an international scale. The spirit of the masses persists, although not as intensely as before. We have both explained the causes of the defeats and named their architects. Today the economic situation of the working class is dreadful. Inflation is rising. Starvation wages are already losing their value. The working class will enter into struggle in order to defend its livelihood. The organisation of these struggles is the direct and immediate responsibility of the revolutionary vanguard.
In the countryside a number of factors have influenced and determined the development of a significant peasant movement which grew large during the war and the occupation. These are:
a) The small landholder using primitive methods of cultivation, and the small peasant as well, thus only produce small profits per annum.
b) There is a large variation in prices between agricultural and industrial goods, due to the monopolistic form of industrial capital, which acts against agricultural produce. This results in the absorbing of a section of agricultural capital by industrial capital.
c) Agricultural produce is mainly of produce (raisins, olives, figs, etc) for foreign markets. They are distributed by various capitalist concerns or by traders who also take a significant cut from the income.
d) Taxes. The capitalist class, in order to preserve its exploitative regime, is obliged to maintain a hypertrophic state mechanism. In 1939 this consumed more than half the national income. A significant part of the budget for this weighs down on the peasantry in the form of direct taxation.
These factors, combined with the destruction of war and occupation, created a revolutionary peasant movement and ensured that the position of the poor peasant masses was alongside that of the urban proletariat for the realisation of Socialism.
This is the movement which Greek reaction attempted to annihilate. Unleashing a civil war in the countryside, ELAS guerrillas and other poor peasants rushed into the mountains to defend their lives and the lives of the fellow citizens.
This movement took a most lively form in Thessaly and Macedonia, where the peasant masses were more educated and adopted a class position. But there is another important factor, that of national minorities. The attitude of Greek capitalism was always oppressive to the minorities. After the war, their attitude was criminal. Seeking to realise the imperialist plans in the Balkans, they attempted to eliminate the national minorities.
The new guerrilla movement, which is the defence of the poor peasants, both Greek and foreign-speaking, against the attacks of the capitalist reaction which is trying to put its exploitative and imperialist schemes into practice, became a significant development in Thessaly and Macedonia. All the ‘exterminating missions’ achieved only one thing - they strengthened the movement. But the activity of the guerrillas could not, on its own, crush the capitalist attack. Left on its own and based on its own resources, the new guerrilla movement will sooner or later be forced to submit. The working class of the cities and other oppressed layers must defend the struggle of the poor peasants and the national minorities. They can defend it by organising their own struggles for their economic demands, and frustrating the aims of capitalist reaction. Part of their demands should relate to the slogan for ending the terrorism in the countryside and for a general amnesty for the fighters of the poor peasantry.
Under these conditions, the tasks of the revolutionary vanguard are clearly defined - the abandonment of any utopian idea of ‘stable democratic development’, which cannot be achieved even with the help of a section of the bourgeoisie, its ‘progressive democratic wing’. Such a grouping does not exist within the bourgeois class in the epoch of its decline. The period of democracy has passed. Bourgeois society is facing a period of decline. Today the ruling class must resort to Fascist methods of rule to maintain its regime. Only the Socialist Soviet Democracy can take humanity out of the chaos and barbarism into which capitalism is leading us. Whoever denies this view today becomes, whether they want to or not, a supporter of capitalism. The Socialist Revolution! That must be the main strategic aim of the working class.
But at this juncture in Greece we are about to face the attacks of capitalist reaction. And we can be successful with the immediate organisation of the struggles of the masses. Much time has been lost, and reaction has been winning. Our party declares that its main goal is the unity of the working class and other oppressed layers in a class front to fight for work - for wage rises index-linked to inflation, and for trade union and political freedom.
On the basis of this minimum programme we call on all workers and all the oppressed to organise themselves and to defend their struggle on a national level. Workers’ democracy must be honoured by all.
But if this minimum programme is enough to unite the oppressed in a United Front of struggle, it is not enough in itself for a United Front of the working class. We call on all the workers’ parties - the KKE, the SK-ELD, the AKE - to form a United Front on the basis of the following minimum programme:
1) The organisation of struggles for the economic demands of workers, of employees and of the peasant masses;
2) For trade union and political freedom;
3) For an amnesty for popular militants;
4) For the organisation of workers’ guards;
5) For the dissolution of the pseudo-parliament and for the declaration of elections to a Constituent Assembly;
6) For the ousting of the British by the methods of internationalist struggle; expose the imperialist aims of Anglo-Saxon capitalism and exposing the reactionary anti-working class rôle of British policy in Greece; show the distinction between the British proletariat and British capitalism; distribute fraternising propaganda in the British camps;4 appeal to the class solidarity of the British and world proletariat through workers’ organisations; oppose every armed intervention against the workers’ movement but without stopping our struggle to fraternise with the armed soldiers; for decisiveness, for commitment to and for the honouring of worker’s democracy.
On the basis of this minimum programme we call in every trade union, in every factory, in every community, in every city and village, for the democratic and proportional election of committees of the workers’ alliance, which will organise and lead the workers’ struggles.
Every party will maintain its independence, its right to propagate its full programme and its right openly to criticise.
4. An attempt was made to establish contact between British revolutionaries in uniform and the Greek movement, in spite of language difficulties. John Giles Henderson was able to make four contacts with members of the Greek Trotskyist movement who worked in the army stores in the Piraeus. Although hampered by a lack of knowledge of the language, he was able to acquaint them with the positions of the rest of the Trotskyist movement by passing to them copies of the Revolutionary Communist Party’s journals, the Workers International News and Socialist Appeal, and those of the US Socialist Workers Party, The Militant and Fourth International. Trotskyists in the British army in Egypt took considerable risks to leaflet the troops there calling on them to refuse to fire on their Greek working class brothers (Alex Acheson, ‘The Wartime Agitation of a Trotskyist Soldier’, appendix 2 of Sam Bornstein and Al Richardson, War and the International, London, 1986, p247).