Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History

Open Letter to the KKE

The Greek Communist Party (KKE) was founded on 4 November 1918, with the original name of the Greek Socialist Workers Party. An outline of its early years can be found in Loukas Karliaftis, The History of Bolshevism/Trotskyism in Greece and La naissance du bolshevisme en Grece, part ii, as well as in A. Stinas, Memoires, pp.37-108. The following document was circulated after the end of the party’s third congress in March 1927 along with the appeal of Trotsky and Vuyovic against expulsion from the Comintern.

Pantelis Pouliopoulos (1900-43) joined the KKE in 1922, and first became prominent in the thousands-strong movement of the war veterans in 1923-25, for which he was arrested and tried in Athens on charges of promoting the autonomy of Macedonia and Thrace, and exiled to Folegandos island. He translated Capital into Greek, and was the KKE’s first Secretary, and had been delegated to the fifth congress of the Comintern in 1924. After being made the scapegoat for the party’s failure, and being abused and slandered, he resigned in September 1926, but was reinstated by the Comintern delegation and took part in the party’s congress in March 1927, where he and Giatsopoulos were removed from the Central Committee. After publishing and circulating the pamphlet known as New Beginning they were formally expelled from the party later that year, and formed an oppositional group which solidarised itself with the struggle of the International Left Opposition They began to publish a journal called Spartocus from December 1928 onwards, containing the main documents of the Left Opposition. They refused to join the split of the Archeiomarxists that had already taken place from the Communist Party, as they regarded it as having a sectarian attitude to the KKE. When the Archeiomarxists were accepted as the representatives of the International Left Opposition in Greece, Trotsky condemned the Spartacus group (L.D. Trotsky, Who Shall Attend the International Conference?, 22 May 1932, in Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932, New York 1973, p.102), describing them as “fruitless and hopeless” (On the State of the Left Opposition, 16 December 1932, in Writings of Leon Trotsky 1932-33, New York 1972, p.291), and they were excluded from the Trotskyist movement along with the ‘Fractionalists’ who had just split from the Archeiomarxists led by Michel Pablo (The International Left Opposition. Its Tasks and Methods, in Documents of the Fourth International: The Formative Years, New York 1973, p.40). The two groups joined together to set up the OKDE in 1934, and for a while Pouliopoulos maintained links with other oppositional groups around Landau and Molinier, opposing the movement to create a new International from 1933 onwards, but took the initiative in the move to unite the Greek Trotskyists in 1938. Later that year he was arrested, and his ultimate fate is described below.

Every thinking Communist inside the Communist Party of Greece feels quite sure that the party is in an unhealthy state, and in all its activities sees the spasms of an incurable illness. Most members of the party do not see any of this. They continue to view the situation as natural, and are completely unable to think things through. This is the most frightening symptom of the party’s illness. After its congress the party’s crisis has not only worsened, but has today reached such a tragic state, whereby every logical man who is to be found inside this organisation with the honest intention of working for Communism, feels the irresistible urge finally to react in some way to this situation. It is a general phenomenon inside the party. However, many honest comrades who are not crushed by the recurrent disillusionments, are today experiencing an unprecedented unease and even guilt, having left things to themselves to take the downhill road to degeneration.

We happen to be among the oldest militants inside the party and have otherwise served the party in the most responsible positions. The experience which we have gathered from the struggle, and a deep awareness of our responsibilities to the movement, have led us to a few concrete conclusions on how we should confront the situation. Our first Communist task is indubitably to make known our thoughts to as many comrades as have shown in practice until now the sincerity of their commitment and their common sense.

We recognise the elementary logical idea that inside a sick organism, which has proved itself incapable of standing on its own, comradeship and cooperation among those members who feel the same urge to react to the malaise, is both unavoidable and urgent.

The views expressed below are for us a precondition for the revolutionary movement of our country, based on study and experience, ideas which we will carry through to their logical conclusion with confidence and resoluteness, indifferent to whatever obstacles or sycophancy we meet or the number of comrades who will accept them today. As Lenin said: “Every serious revolutionary is obliged to defend his views, which he believes are important for the cause of the proletarian revolution, even in the case of being in a minority. And he is obliged to go against the stream which may dominate for a certain period. If he does not do this he is not a revolutionary, but a pitiless careerist”.

1. The Crisis in the Party

The development of the party since the Third Emergency Congress has confirmed the conclusions which a small group had formed during the turbulent pre-congress discussion in Rizospastis (Radical) and during the discussions inside the congress. The KKE has experienced a permanent internal crisis from birth. The symptoms are:

  1. The lack of a leading nucleus of comrades with a sound Marxist political education and the ability to adapt their Communist principles to the concrete situation of the country, with a minimal homogenous ideology and inspire trust within the members of the party as well as among the mass of its followers;
  2. The party has had a bad class composition from the start, which as time progresses becomes even worse. A large part of the members of the party have originated from the worst elements of the proletariat, from the lumpen-proletariat, and from the petty bourgeoisie with an anti-proletarian psychology. In many places, Communism appearing with such elements repels away many of the best elements from the working class as well as quite a few intellectuals who could become good militants. Such a social composition of the party allows even opportunist elements, which exist inside the party to become demagogues with pseudo-revolutionary phraseology, and many honest comrades are disillusioned, forcing them to leave the party. That is the reason why the party does not attract serious intellectuals but frequently strange and suspect individuals;
  3. There is a disproportion between the spontaneous movement of the masses who turn towards the left due to the objective situation, and the defectiveness and insufficiencies of the party. This creates a complex arena for action where the pressing needs of the workers are confronted by the party in a fashion which is spasmodic, unorganised and anarchic, thus ending only in hopeless confusion, without any positive results and no steady organisational conquests for Communism inside the country.

2. Reasons for the Crisis

The most immediate reasons for these critical phenomena are to be found in the particular conditions of the historical development of our movement, in correlation with the upturn and downturn of the international revolutionary movement. Basically the reasons for the crisis, in the final analysis, are to be found in the special conditions of the development of capitalism in our country: its socio-economic position and the psychology of the Greek proletariat and of the petty bourgeoisie, and in particular, the comprador character of our country and its capitalist backwardness, the lack of a Socialist tradition and of a Marxist culture, the influx of opportunist elements inside the movement, etc.

The task of the Greek Communists is to come to grips with confronting those conditions of the movement which they can influence with their conscious actions.

3. The Question of ‘Tendencies’ Inside the KKE

Only he who ignores the situation in the party can assert today that the crisis of the KKE is to be attributed to a conflict of ‘tendencies’ concerning tactics. The above mentioned reasons for the crisis show that the overall tendency inside the KKE concerning tactics is generally confused. Periodically sharp antagonisms between ideologically formed tendencies, antagonisms which are common in all the Communist parties and provoke periodical inter-party crises, inside the KKE consist of either personal conflicts or at the most automatic conflicts between groups which spasmodically seek a concrete ideological form. Such crises inside the KKE form only a small part of its permanent crisis. The confusion of these two phenomena prevents a correct diagnosis of the situation inside the party.

Convincing proof of utter confusion is the so-called ‘left’ and ‘Leninist’ group (Khaitas, and the leadership of the OKNE – CP Youth). Yesterday it was for Pangalos, as well as for ‘left wing democracy’ – craven opportunism – and then stupid extremism of a Byzantine type, and while at first it deceived the party with its “clear reformism”, considering as mistakes the slogans on the national question, in their opportunist activity they simply spoke about a “defence of the minorities” in the last elections, whilst in line with revolutionary policy they should have spread the slogans of the Emergency Congress as did their opponents who believed them to be truly revolutionary. The assumption that a clear ‘right’ and ‘left’ exist today inside the KKE is clearly, demagogy. Our inherent basic deficiencies and, first of all, the lack of a clear revolutionary theory based on a Marxist-Leninist analysis of conditions in the country, cannot avoid exposing the party to extreme right wing views and to a permanent vacillation between extremism and clear cut opportunism. No logical comrade can accept as ‘left wing’ the fabricators of the so-called ‘Leninism’ and ‘left wing democracy’, which they did not repudiate until a condemnation arrived from the International, when they started shouting comically on the eve of the elections about the ‘party’s mistake’, thus making a joke of one of the basic principles of Leninism in Greece, that of self-criticism. And it is clearly demagogy to use the handy sycophantic label of “right wingers” against the undersigned, who were the only ones, and the first ones, to characterise that slogan at the ‘Congress of Factors’ (September 1926 as “stupid opportunism” and a ludicrous mechanical transferring of Russian slogans of 1905, and this at a time when all of today’s defenders of ‘leftism’ were overawed by the ‘Leninist’ slogan of ‘left wing democracy’ brought here directly by those merely trained in Mosco’s Educational School.

Another issue is the object of our inner-party struggle, and not the acquisition of ‘leftist’ credentials. The division, which the representatives of the Communist International made into a ‘Marxist group’, a ‘Leninist group’ and a ‘workers’ group’, is obviously arbitrary and it is very dangerous for our movement to characterise as ‘Left’ the Khaitas group as occurred in a previous Balkan Congress. These things show once more how much damage is done to our movement by the lack of knowledge of Greek individuals and situations shown all the time by the representatives of the Communist International.

4. The Third Emergency Congress

The congress never provided, nor could it have provided, any ‘solution’ to the crises of the party. The pre-congress discussion not only was not enlightening for the party and those workers who follow it, but it immensely ridiculed and lowered the prestige of the party. During the congress, while nearly all were in possession of the facts about the social composition and about the ‘opportunists’ inside the party, no one apart from a few comrades drew the necessary conclusions to remedy the situation, in the face of the spectre of ‘liquidation’ which had been craftily raised inside the party by the opportunist majority of the old leadership. The decisions of the congress were an official ratification for the continuation of disorder. Not only were there no thoughts about the selection and recruitment of members, but on the contrary, entry was provided into the party to all kinds of useless elements. While the splitting opportunist view concerning professionalism was condemned, the congress chose precisely to enforce the opposite tactic by those who didn't believe in it, as it was proved later in practice that they were only capable of provoking pseudo-revolutionary disorders inside the trade unions, so aiding reformism and provocateurs, and not carrying out productive and positive revolutionary work in uniting and educating the workers in a revolutionary fashion.

5. After the Congress

As was expected, instability characterised all the appearances and movements of the party after that famous congress. Internally it was the same but worse – spasmodic methods, empiricism, a bit of everything, no distribution of work, anarchy and journalistic production due to the inability of the party to produce a theoretical organ at a time when Marxist works in our country were enriching a few publishers. On May Day and at the meeting of the Press Union in Athens, the party tail-ended various loud-mouthed irresponsible elements and various members of the ‘Communist League’, and thus these meetings, instead of being the first steps in exposing reformism and provocateurs, a true exposure and not fake promises, became weapons and arguments in the hands of the sputters. Later, in the face of the danger of a split in the trade unions, instead of all our forces being intensified in recruiting the unorganised, which is a better means against the sputters (as in any case the broad masses of workers outside the trade unions do not take much notice of the ‘uncovering’ of known provocateurs) we reached the pathetic point of not knowing what is happening inside the trade union movement, awaiting the automatic development of events, the leadership of which had been left to the reactionary leaders of the General Confederation (Greek TUC). If it is correct what is being heard inside the party, that the leaders of the ‘workers’ group’ are thinking seriously of founding a new General Confederation, then we have before us the culmination of a crazy tendency on the trade union question, as it is clear that our role is precisely to expose those reactionary people who declare openly for a split, and to unify the workers, educating them, and moving them on the day-to-day issues with which they can identify, and thus show them in practice, and not with indefinite phrases about the necessity of unified trade unionism. The craziness which makes us waver today in an ungovernable fashion is a consequence of the logic dominating among us of utter adventurism.

A complete catastrophe has been brought to the movement by the adventurism which in general governs the majority of the party during the last tobacco workers’ struggle. The comrades of the Tobacco Workers Union had done nothing to discover the general relationship of forces inside the country, in order to be able to judge if they needed to enter into a struggle right now. Preparation work around the Insurance Funds of the Tobacco Workers Union was terra incognita for the party. There was absolutely no concept of what precisely the Insurance Funds of the Tobacco Workers Union were and what general importance they had for the working class as a whole and for Communism in Greece. It has been proved that the Insurance Funds of the Tobacco Workers Union were a weapon with which the reactionary government wanted to be able to attack the union, in other words, the only basis of Communism inside Greece, the proletariat of the heroic tobacco workers. The splitting tendency of the General Confederation and the general downturn of the labour movement were clear, and thus its lack of support for the struggle of the Tobacco Workers Union. And the leaders of the party should have known that a general strike of the tobacco workers in a period of open attacks of the Coalition Government against the KKE would mobilise against them all the forces of state terror. And finally when it appeared as if the almost completely spontaneous outbreak by the tobacco workers would end in disaster, the party continued fatalistically to tail-end the unavoidable, producing in the last days in Rizospastis declarations such as the “traitors of the General Confederation”, without even proving such allegations in the many tangible events which had taken place. And people began leaving. The hitherto bare provocateur reformism started to create an even more stable basis inside the tobacco-working masses. The endeavours which the comrades up there now must undertake in rebuilding the old Tobacco Workers Union are gigantic. Now in the face of the debris which adventurism has accumulated under the flag of fake ‘Leninism’, they are attempting to put the blame on the KKE fraction, as if it was a narrow trade union struggle over which the KKE leaders have no control! Finally the meeting of the “only Bolshevik” organisation in Greece in Athens on 5 June 1927 constituted a complete disgrace for the party. What Communist has not lost his sense of shame, and there was much to be ashamed of as a Communist to see such a downgrading of the tobacco workers’ struggle and of Communism in Greece? The ridiculous appearance of the party in the capital of the country with a feeble excuse, which allowed troublesome elements to dominate the meeting with their resulting interjections to the obscene expressions of the official speaker of the party, and likewise the stupidity of trying to organise an ‘illegal’ meeting, along with the absence from it of the ‘Leninists’ (!) of the Athens organisation who convened it – all of these made the party appear in the capital as a gathering of people who are simply joking and being irresponsible about the revolution, at the time when the Greek proletariat is everywhere carrying out in practice its fierce revolutionary struggle!

6. The International and the Party

We believe completely in the correctness of the principles and tactics of the Communist International as founded and guided by Lenin. But we declare quite clearly that we do not agree at all with the methods and views of the representatives of the Communist International at the Third Congress of the KKE. The representatives of the Communist International with their stance at the congress, and their declarations in the Balkan Communist Federation, proved that they don't know anything apart from the speeches of a group inside the party, and who happen to carry with them a so-called ‘Leninist’ baggage of knowledge, but are completely unable to discern with Leninist dialectics the particular conditions under which we work here in Greece, and up until now they have only shown political adventurism, having paralysed the movement. We disagree with the non-Leninist way international centralism has been applied by the representatives of the Communist International at our congress, both in the discussion of our views, as well as in the elections of a new Central Committee. We disagree fundamentally with the views which have been stated by the representatives concerning the nature of the Communist Party (it “reflects the level of the working class”), and we consider it to be the opposite of the basic organisational principle of Leninism and the experience of the Bolsheviks, which show us that the Communist Party is the elite of the proletariat and gathers around it the most advanced and “honest” (as Lenin put it) elements of the working class. Lenin, when asked on many occasions about the question of the first organisation of Russian Social Democrats, had with bitterness and sarcasm frowned upon those who had suggested that we must take as our starting point not the ‘best’ of the workers but the ‘middle workers’ from the class (Lenin, What Is To Be Done). We fundamentally disagree with the mechanical way in which the comrades of the International have transferred the experience of the internal struggles of the German Communist Party to Greece, and their ideas concerning the position of revolutionary intellectuals inside the party of the proletariat. We have the conviction that the narrow workerist spirit which the representatives have brought to the congress is damaging for our party as a party which organises the revolutionary forces in an underdeveloped petty bourgeois country with a bitter experience of narrow workerism. Those who today cultivate inside the party a workerist spirit and defame the revolutionary intelligentsia are not workers, but only the few ruling adventurist, pseudo-revolutionary ‘intellectuals’ who want to monopolise the revolutionary intelligentsia. We believe that in Greece a serious Communist movement cannot exist if serious thinkers from bourgeois, even, and petty bourgeois layers are not won over, and who will come to give the uneducated Greek proletariat the knowledge of scientific Socialism, and to accept from it proletarian psychology. `Social Democratic (Communist) theory appeared independently from the spontaneous rise of the working class movements, being a natural and inevitable result of the thought of intellectual followers of scientific Socialism. “The history of all countries proves that left to its own forces the working class can only reach a trade unionist outlook” (Lenin, What Is To Be Done).

In any case, the experience of the Bulgarian party teaches us that the attraction of intellectuals to the proletarian camp in underdeveloped countries like ours has a special significance. Obviously our party in its composition must be basically proletarian, and its proletarian composition is obviously a guarantee for its correct revolutionary line. But the other equally important guarantee for the development and greater raising of the party's level and the proletarian masses towards Communism, is the existence inside the fighting vanguard of a group of intellectuals who have a high practical idealism and are cultivated daily in proletarian life, who will give to the party its scientific weapon of Marxist theory. We finally disagree with the utter offhand way with which the delegation of the Communist International spoke about the national question in Greece, and tried to characterise our views as “Luxemburgist”. It has been proved finally in practice that the party had abandoned the slogans of the Emergency Congress, even as ‘propaganda’ slogans. Finally, we emphasise that as revolutionaries not only disciplined but of independent thought who want and are obliged to develop our own ideas, we have the right to ask for more information about the views of the Opposition inside the CPSU and inside the International, and we do not agree at all with the view that for our party the great historical problems concerning this discussion that today divide the leaders of the Russian Revolution and old co-workers of Lenin (Socialist industrialisation in one country, international tactics, the Chinese question, etc) are secondary. If the party is to be a true component of the international revolutionary front, we must consider of primary importance the issues concerning the development of the international revolution.

A Bolshevik is one who is not only disciplined, he is a man who deeply studies and every time forms his own views and defends them courageously and independently not only against the enemy, but also courageously and independently inside his own organisation. Today he might be in a minority but that does not mean that he is always wrong. (Trotsky)

7. The Danger of Degeneration Inside the Party

However, many comrades who hoped that the Third Congress would open up a new period of creative enthusiasm and revitalisation inside the party saw their hopes being disproved by events. The deeper causes of the crisis of the party remained untouched and without any examination at the congress, and made fruitless any attempt of the healthy elements inside the party to make amends. A small number of honest, able and thinking comrades, who truly want to work every day, see that their work for the party remains without result, and others lose interest while others fatalistically conclude that the situation is unchangeable as this is “the material which the position of the Greek proletariat gives us”. They work inside the party without interest or enthusiasm, and they also become part of the general downturn, and are plagued by serious doubts. Any uncomfortable search for a resolution of the crisis has now become alien. The great mass of politically uneducated members passively accepts the speeches made by those who happen to be the present leadership, and thus it is easy for an active demagogue who will use great words and pseudo-revolutionary phrases, whose content is meaningless, to influence party members. Nearly all the public appearances of the party take on the exclusive character of automatic displays and undue uproar, thus losing all seriousness. That is why many comrades whom we attract to the party are simply noisy, empty or adventurist elements who simply ask for adventures of the moment, and do not enter the movement to contribute to the revolutionary education, organisation and mobilisation of the proletariat. While the party appears to be represented by such elements, we will not be able to stabilise a force inside the country to raise the consciousness of the masses and to make them feel the authority and imposition of a political organisation which directs them in their daily struggles and prepares their future liberation from capitalism. Public appearances and meetings are not occasions for screeching, but for organised displays and mobilisations of the masses, which manifest their revolutionary enthusiasm and are also educated politically by their party, which explains its slogans and its political ideas. This is how Communism is implanted among the exploited masses. Today’s events show that the party is not an organisation which can discipline the masses, but is a gathering of people dragged along by the spontaneous movement.

In such a situation it is not at all strange that an atmosphere of corruption is created inside the party, inside of which chatter, careerism and pseudo-revolutionary phrases are endlessly cultivated, and hence we see the hatching of new ‘leaders’ every once in a while, who then fall so that others can take over. This situation, which we call adventurist pseudo-revolutionism, will dominate the party for a long time in the future. The groundwork for its domination was unfortunately cultivated unconsciously by all of us, at a time when there was a lack of any experience, and pure revolutionary enthusiasm was the only guide of every healthy element inside the party. It was aided by the mistaken appreciation of the representatives of the International. It is aided by a network of ‘trustworthy’ people who are forever around the organs of the International and the Balkan Communist Organisation, and who create a suitable sycophantic atmosphere concerning the various ‘unwanted’ comrades. Finally, it is based upon a layer of comrades in the party who are politically uneducated and completely uncontrollable.

This ‘tendency’ is the first and constant element against which every attempt to raise the party from its current level stumbles. Its representatives' way of thinking, mechanical and in general closed to all surrounding reality, and incorrigibly narrow-minded, renders them totally incapable of observing what is going on around them or of finding a new solution to the fresh problems which develop, by applying a Marxist dialectical method. Marxism and Leninism for them are always a given sophistry, a sealed bible, which gives ready-made solutions and labels for every problem. It is not a living method of theory distilled from the experience of past struggles, which here in Greece we are called upon to enrich, producing by the same method new lessons and new experiences and thus creating the revolutionary theory of the Greek proletarian movement as part of its international experience.

Practice has proved here in Greece, as elsewhere, that inability to use the Marxist method when dealing with concrete reality leads to political adventurism and destroys the movement. (For example: the ‘Leninist’ left wing democracy, because Lenin in 1905 had said: “the democratic dictatorship of the proletarian and peasantry”; “the organised left wing faction” because they heard that the same occurred in England; the “Bonapartism” of Pangalos, because some Marxist book happened to refer to Bonapartism; the “rationalisation” of power and our “negative” stance, because a few days ago we read Pravda, and Bukharin spoke about something like that in German industry; and all of these endless and great absurdities in the name of poor ‘eninism’).

But from another point of view this ‘tendency’ is adventurist. Its representatives do not by any means intend to undertake responsibly and publicly the task of explaining their political line every time to the masses. Their ideal is to remain closed inside the party circle of members, who are awed by their ‘Leninism’, to give orders, to direct (as did ... Lenin from Finland or Switzerland!) and then implacably ... to criticise in ‘Bolshevik’ style. Full of conceit and petty craftiness, old fashioned in their political methods, they want to have puppet MPs and public speakers generally under control, so as to be able tomorrow to condemn them as careerists and right wingers, nor at all revolutionaries, incapable of understanding the sterile line of Leninism of which only they know the secret and can safeguard it(!), while they can also appear as specialists on ‘illegal’ activity. They are afraid of legality precisely in the same fashion that others are afraid of illegality. And the illegal activities of the party are directed without them taking part (for example, the absence of the ‘Leninist’ secretary of the Athens organisation at the ‘illegal’ meeting which he himself had ordered for 5 June). In other words for them illegality means “hide so no one knows you”. What fake ‘Archeiomarxist’ Leninism!

If this situation continues it is without doubt that every healthy element will feel asphyxiated inside the party and will distance himself, while the party will transform itself even more into a gathering of certain types, who bear no relation to Communism, under the leadership of this original ‘eninist’ adventurism. And naturally in the new period of illegality which now opens up, these people will disperse themselves and once more destroy the party, as occurred precisely with the first period of illegality, when the representative of the International, amazed at the many provocateur elements, proposed the dissolution of the party and the retainment of only the 100 ‘true’ Communists. Thus a serious Communist party, which will impose itself with authority in the working class against its enemies and will educate the masses in a revolutionary fashion, will not be acquired before the proletarian revolution!

8. The Task of the Healthy Elements

While there is still time and whilst the party has not yet been completely poisoned by this dreadful situation, all the healthy elements must start reacting sympathetically to this evil. Avoiding any fatalism and the simplistic idea that “through activity alone” the situation will remedy itself, they are obliged to undertake a decisive struggle against the root causes of the crisis. There are two basic and indispensable preconditions for such an attempt; a determined, strict commonoutlook not only as to the concrete aims which need to be pursued to overcome the crisis, but a whole series of bases to be created for the rebirth of the movement, and decisiveness in achieving these aims without hesitation and fear in the face of any slander, which will surely be used by those who have identified their position inside the movement with the vulgar role of those who ridicule Communism in Greece. All who understand these developments but hesitate in fighting the unhealthy aspects of our movement, and passively accept the current situation with its tragic perspective, aid it and thus become jointly responsible for it. We strongly believe that every thinking comrade inside Greece will be convinced sooner or later that apart from the course we are outlining here, serious and fruitful work for Communism will not exist in the future. Let us consider the aims which, in our opinion, need to be pursued.

9. What Needs to be Done

(1) A general cleansing of the party and a new selection, using as a basis individual capability for development, activity and proletarian morality. The creation of a seriously based Communist party in Greece must be approached correctly, in other words, on Communist organisational principles applied not blindly, but dialectically, according to the concrete circumstances and historical experience of the Greek labour movement. We must start correctly. We will never build a serious Communist Party in Greece if we do not at first concentrate a certain layer of chosen proletarian and intellectual elements. Such was the starting point of all of today’s Communist Parties and the Bolshevik Party first of all. For many more particular reasons this must be the starting point for us in Greece. These elements must clear out from our party as quickly as possible every adventurist, passive, politically uncontrollable and easily gullible element that is to be found in our ranks. Greek Communists must first of all take care to concentrate in their ranks those whose intellectual, moral and practical qualities can inspire the Greek proletariat to gather around them, and not to allow Communism in our country to appear from elements which are bankrupt, ludicrous, weird or simply of a low intellectual capability when relating to their working class surroundings, elements which defame in practice the ideas of Communism. Before such a serious sorting out of the true ‘vanguard’ is made, capable of assimilating the best elements and getting rid of the worst, the doors of the party cannot simply be opened up to the proletariat.

(2) Communism has nothing to lose in political influence by such an organisational recomposition of its forces, as has been proved by events in the past. We have to win as our goals stability, strengthening and a broadening of our perspective. Today's chaos will be replaced by a class discipline, and stale chatter by comradely cooperation and enthusiasm alongside creative work. Everyone will start to understand what work he must do inside the party, and everyone will look at the positive developments of their attempts, and that will inspire trust in the strength of their organisation. The accusation levelled against such a cleansing approach towards the party, of ‘aristocratic Communism’ is baseless. We cannot consider ourselves today as a ‘vanguard’. We must become a true vanguard. With today’s wretched composition not only will we never become a vanguard but we will continuously turn into a vulgar caricature of Communism, a parody of a Communist movement. We will progressively deteriorate if we do not pull ourselves together. Such a view has nothing in common with the automatisation (Spontaneity theory) as declared by Pannekoek and Rosa Luxemburg. On the contrary, it is based on a correct estimation of the great role (for a backward country with such a generally low political level of the masses and such general corruption) to be played by the consciously organised direction of the struggle by a good general staff.

(3) A decisive condition for the raising of the party from its current level is the political development of its members with a suitable combination of the propagandistic-educating work inside the party, and the method of division and control of practical activity, which have both been lacking in the party, the normalisation of the internal life of the party, the fearless attack upon spontaneity and adventurism on the organisational level, and more generally the eradication from our ranks of vulgar parasitism and adventurist pseudo-revolutionism and of a narrow workerist spirit wherever it reveals itself.

(4) It is a task of all leaders to educate themselves continuously in all theoretical questions ... Socialism from when it became a science must be treated as a science, in other words we must study it. (Engels, The Peasant War in Germany, p175)

The party is obliged constantly and with a studied system to aid in the minimum theoretical specialisation of its best elements. The necessity for theoretical work for the KKE is much greater than of any other party inside the Communist International which has a similar influence on the masses. Thus and only thus can the question of theoretical and practical work for our Communist movement be posed. Blind ‘activity’ in darkness and useless uproar – that is what our ‘activity’ has hitherto consisted of. Whoever talks of theoretical work inside the party is characterised as an ‘Archeiomarxist’. The question is how to bring these two fields of activity into a correct relationship, in other words in a relationship which is in agreement with the current conditions and needs of the movement. The party must pursue the scientific cultivation of Marxism-Leninism, to distribute it among the proletariat and to give the possibility for the best comrades to study in a Marxist-Leninist fashion the concrete social-economic condition of the country, something which until now hasn’t even been started. For so long as such work does not produce results, the KKE cannot constitute a serious party inside the International. Only the development of a correct revolutionary theory by the KKE can prevent vacillations in our tactical work, which many times until now have distorted the independent class character of the party. It is deceitful and a vulgar sycophancy to characterise such an appreciation of the living needs of the party as ‘Archeiomarxist’. No work can be done separate from the practice of the workers’ movement. Marxist-Leninist theory cannot appear in Greece if it is not concentrated and generalised in the practical experience of the struggle of the Greek proletariat, in combination with international experience, and if it is not tested through these.

(5) The squandering of the meagre resources of the party in adventurist confrontations in diverse fields of action must stop. The party is obliged above all to concentrate its attention and to use most of its forces in trade union work, and in the proletarian centres of the country, concentrating upon workers in the unions, in their revolutionary education, and to apply revolutionary tactics not with abstract phraseology but in confronting the concrete problems of the daily struggle of the workers, in accordance with the desired aim along with the systematic work for the raising of the level of proletarian education of the workers, which in our country is very low. The trade union fractions must become living organs, which will observe closely the problems of their field of work, and become centres of union meetings and of the political education and mobilisation of the workers in their daily struggles. The task of systematically aiding certain comrades, who can cultivate their abilities and acquire a serious theoretical education so as to become serious revolutionary cadres, is one of the first tasks in front of us.

(6) We must democratise centralism inside the party, stop the appointment of functionaries or the use of untested comrades in responsible positions or the mechanical creation of ‘professional revolutionaries’, and cleanse the technical organisational functioning of the party by pursuing the economic independence of the local branches, and call a halt to measures that limit the aims of purging it.

(7) The party must confront the Archeiomarxists as a particular Greek organisation which exploits the organisational disorder of the party and the nascent cultural level of its members, seeking the dissolution of the party in the name of Communism, dividing in anti-Marxist fashion theory from practice, distorting the teachings of Marxism with countless slanders against the party, distorting the psychology and spirit of the workers who, disillusioned by the party, are pushed towards the Archeiomarxists. It must educate the workers and intellectuals with care, and explain that the Areheiomarxists’ corrosive propaganda is an obstacle to the creation of a strong Communist Party in Greece.

The so-called ‘third position’ is made up of elements who are proletarian and intellectual with a good propagandistic Communist education in the past, who declare that they are asking to enter the party. The tactics of the leadership of the party in confronting them are basically mistaken. It asks them to repudiate certain opinions concerning the cleansing of the party, but to declare that they recognise completely the correctness of the decisions of the Third Congress, whereas the only thing which the leadership could ask from revolutionary proletarians who are followers of the International is to accept the discipline of the party, but have the right of independent thought and opinion concerning the deepest sickness which the party is experiencing, To insist on the former is equal to the complete transformation of the members of a political party into an amorphous mass of passive people, and can only lead to a continuation of today’s disgraceful situation.

(8) The party, without ceasing to support the self-determination of the Macedonian people up until their secession and to fight the concrete forms of national oppression over them by the Greek, Bulgarian and Serbian bourgeoisie, must abandon the tactical slogans of “a united and independent Macedonia” and “a united and independent Thrace”, as they have proved mistaken, and have created confusion among the workers, refugees and peasants, thwarting their internationalist education, which is one of the tasks of the party. The Communists from the Balkans must be able to demonstrate before the Macedonian masses their autonomist slogans independent of the Bulgarian bourgeoisie and its Fascist organs inside the Macedonian organisations, and to defend the national liberation movement of the Macedonians wherever and whenever it manifests itself among the masses themselves, declaring at the same time that the only way for the Macedonian peoples to acquire their national freedoms and the basis of an independent state, if they want it themselves, is a joint struggle with the workers and peasants of the, Balkans against the common enemy, the Balkan bourgeoisie and the dynastic cliques, for a Balkan federation of workers’ and peasants’ democracies. The argument that such a position when dealing with the Macedonians is wrong, saying it starts from an anti-Leninist theoretical basis and it agrees more with the views of Rosa Luxemburg on the national question which cannot be seriously supported today, that the national independence of the Macedonians cannot occur within the framework of bourgeois regimes such as in the Norwegian example, which was discussed by such Russian Marxists as Lenin during the discussion with Rosa Luxemburg, is untenable. Such a position on the national question, despite the fact that it was condemned by the congress, in practice is the position of the party today, as the slogans of the Emergency Congress of 1924 were not even propagandistically used after the Third Emergency Congress. The collapse of Communism can be seen when the party is criticised by the bourgeois papers of Macedonia for its national policy, and the leadership of the party remains silent without clearly giving its opinion! Political cowardice shelters under the cloak of Leninism – that is the present political line of the KKE on the national question.

(9) A brief collection of facts, the formulation of a programme for the KKE, using as a basis the programme of the Communist International which was accepted at its Fifth Congress and the programme of the Communist Party of Bulgaria, arid the publication of a theoretical organ of the party where all the views can be expressed freely concerning the problems facing the movement, are essential.

(10) Finally, we must discuss methods of work inside the party. It is utopian to believe that every attempt to cleanse the party can be achieved in cooperation with every honest element inside the party when they haven’t acquired a clear conception of the situation, as described above, and have not the decisiveness to work accordingly in attacking the bad traditions which have immobilised us until today. Even more utopian is it to wait for a solution of the crisis by an ‘enlightenment’ of the adventurers or the uncontrolled elements, who have been proved totally incapable of realising into what state the movement is being driven. The problem lies in the hands of the best comrades inside the party who correctly understand the situation.

Our immediate aim must be to disseminate broadly and continually the above ideas among the best comrades, and to dispel this atmosphere of conservatism which is stifling the internal life of the party.

When all the best and healthy elements inside the party have been convinced about the necessity for such a cleansing and recomposition of the party, then the problem is near its solution.

The position of all comrades who accept the above views inside the present organisation of the party are clearly defined: (1) No one has the right to doubt our true position inside the party for which we have given and are giving whatever services and sacrifices we can. (2) The party is threatened by a real danger of degeneration – a consequence of the current situation and the adventurism which predominates. Here is to be found the true ‘liquidationism’ of the party. It is this danger which we are fighting. We are fighting for the cleansing and rebirth of the party, which is the only way to avoid the degeneration towards which we are heading. (3) Whoever talks about our ‘liquidationism’ is characterising himself and his position.

We have the conviction that enough able elements who can systematise their endeavours on clearly predetermined common aims, will one day achieve the rebirth of the movement, and breathe new life into the party organisation, which is continuously dying.

It is upon the activity of the comrades who today have become convinced about the reasons for the crises of the movement and the means by which it can be overcome that the fate of Communism in Greece depends. One day it will start emerging from its pre-history, so that it will one day enter its true history, seriously preparing all the revolutionary forces in the country for the overthrow of capitalism.

Athens, 15 July 1927
P. Pouliopoulos
P. Giatsopoulos

Updated by ETOL: 6.8.2003