Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History

On War and Revolution

Loukas Karliaftis’ Speech in the Athens Debate

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, pp.275-6). 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 pp.276-83 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.4, 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, pp.283-9) 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.

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 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 Porfirogenis [3] 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:

  1. The small landholder using primitive methods of cultivation, and the small peasant as well, thus only produce small profits per annum.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Loukas Karliaftis



1. Karl Marx, Letter to Joseph Weydemeyer, 5 March 1852, K. Marx and F. Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow 1975, p.64.

2. V.I. Lenin, State and Revolution, Collected Works, Volume 25, Moscow 1977, p.416.

3. One of the Communist Party’s ministers in Papandreou’s government.

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, p.247).

Updated by ETOL: 21.7.2003