Joseph Hansen

Churchill Blames His Victims
for Greek Slaughter

(27 January 1945)

Source: The Militant, Vol. IX No. 4, 27 January 1945, pp. 1 & 5.
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Winston Churchill, champion of capitalist counter-revolution for a quarter of a century, is now openly preparing the next great stage of the Second World War – suppression of the advancing European socialist revolution. In a sinister speech before the House of Commons on January 18, Churchill raised the banner of an unholy crusade against a spectre haunting Europe. The spectre Churchill wants to exorcise is “Trotskyism.”

This is not the first time that Britain's Prime Minister has stepped forth as the director of reaction’s vanguard. When the Soviet Union was born in the October 1917 revolution, Churchill organized the protracted Allied intervention which sought to drown the first workers’ state in blood. Only the heroic defense of the Red Army led by Trotsky, combined with the support of the world working class, frustrated Churchill’s designs.

Churchill spoke to Commons in another attempt to quell the political crisis his government faces in consequence of public indignation over the slaughter of Greek Workers and peasants. He again slandered these heroic fighters as “brigands.” He lied that Allied troops invaded Greece solely to bring the blessings of food and democracy. He did not breathe a word about General Scobie’s orders that the Greek partisans give up the arms they had used against the German armies and get out of Athens. He lied that the partisans had provoked civil war, although it was British-armed police who fired on an unarmed demonstration against the British-supported puppet government of Papandreou. He was discreetly silent about his order to Scobie to provoke civil war even if he must kill women and children.

1945 Red-Baiting

Then came Churchill’s red-baiting – a repetition of his red-baiting tactics against Bolshevism in the First World War. Describing the infiltration into Athens of partisans defending themselves against British-backed counter-revolution, Churchill declaimed:

“For three or four days or more it was a struggle to prevent a hideous massacre in the center of Athens in which all forms of Government would have been swept away and naked, triumphant Trotskyism installed. I think Trotskyism is a better definition of Greek Communist and certain other sects than the normal word. It has the advantage of being equally hated in Russia.”

In naming Trotskyism as the foe of world imperialism, Churchill was careful to absolve Stalin of any responsibility for fostering the socialist aspirations of the masses. “Trotskyism ... has the advantage of being equally hated in Russia.” With these words, Churchill gave a vote of confidence to Stalin as one of the initiates in the fraternity of counter-revolution sworn to suppress the struggle for socialism.

What Churchill means by “Trotskyism” is revealed, by a news flash from Greece, published in the London Evening News, three days before the war began, that the two thousand textile workers of a well known thread-spinning mill in Greece had taken possession of the factory and appointed a “management committee.” The appearance of management committees indicates an advanced stage of working class revolution. Such committees mean that the former capitalist management has either decamped or been dispossessed because of its sabotage of production. If such anti-capitalist actions were threatened on a wide scale, small wonder Churchill rushed troops to Greece.

Churchill’s red-baiting against Trotskyism flows from a coldly calculated attempt to lay down the ideological line for the Allied conspiracy to crush the rising working class movement of Europe. “We are toiling through a mighty maze,” declared Churchill, “but I can assure the House it is not without plan.” This plan was laid down at the Teheran conference where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin not only carved up Europe into spheres of influence, but agreed to put down socialist revolution wherever it might arise. Churchill is now engaged in executing and defending this counter-revolutionary scheme plotted at Teheran.

Churchill made it clear that British troops were sent, into Greece with full approval of Roosevelt and Stalin. In a previous speech he indicated that he made an error in not including a contingent of American troops among the invading forces. Undoubtedly he will be more careful on this score in future operations. More important, however, in diverting blame from British imperialism is his construction of a scapegoat called “Trotskyism.” That is why Churchill pictured the Greek workers as brigands, murderers, inhuman monsters. Churchill is deliberately trying to shift the “blame” for bloodshed onto the shoulders of his victims.

To insinuate that the EAM follows the banner of Trotskyism is a lie. The EAM is headed by Stalinists, who, as Churchill himself points out, are “not always free from the danger of being discredited,” but who nevertheless have done their utmost to hold back the Greek masses from revolutionary action.

We do not know the truth about internal political relations in Greece. Churchill’s censorship, his gagging of the press, prevent us from knowing the complete facts about his traduced opponents. But we are sure that the Greek Trotskyists march in the front ranks of the struggle against foreign imperialism and its native agents.

The January Socialist Appeal, organ of the British Trotskyists, reports that in some provincial editions of the capitalist press a story appeared that of “three prisoners interviewed by British journalists” in Greece “two stated that they were Social Democrats, and one that he was a member of the Fourth International.”

The Socialist Appeal likewise quotes the August 5 Economist, economic organ of British Big Business:

“Recalcitrant Communism used to be pretty strong in Greece years ago. Its spokesmen, who labelled themselves curiously as ‘Archivo-Marxists,’ gave many headaches to the leaders of the Communist International in Moscow. Under the Metaxas regime the ‘Archivo-Marxists’ were wiped out by police repression: and it seems somewhat doubtful whether the same movement has now been able to reemerge and to sway the Greek guerrillas.

“But it is quite possible that some such unorthodox Communist tendency may have established itself among the ‘men of the mountains’ firmly enough to oppose the Lebanon Agreement and to reject any conciliation with the dynasty. If so then the Russian military mission in Greece will be confronted with a task which may be as much political as military. The Mission has come to Greece with an increased moral and political prestige derived from the victories of Russian armies. This will probably strengthen its hands in laying the ‘Trotskyist’ ghost in the Epirus.”

There is substance in Churchill’s fears about the establishment of Trotskyism in Greece, for Trotskyism is the program of revolutionary socialism. If the people of Greece were permitted to exercise their democratic right to choose their own form of government, they would undoubtedly proceed to set up a workers’ republic and organize socialism as the only way out of imperialist war and capitalist chaos.


Last updated on: 22 June 2018