Nicos Remoundos Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Nicos Remoundos


Right wing attacks fail to stop PASOK

(June 1984)

From Militant, No. 706, 29 June 1984, p. 11.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Nicos Remoundos, editor of Xekinima, the Greek Marxist paper, spoke to Roger Shrives

THE ENORMOUS polarisation of society during the crisis is pushing the two opposing classes in Greece into struggle.

After the election of the left-wing PASOK in 1981, the ruling class until recently used a tactic of “wait and see”, of pressuring the government behind the scenes to try and make it move to the right.

But in the last three weeks the capitalists, in a co-ordinated campaign, have begun to play all their cards against the government.

First of all President Karamanlis, who had been trying to appear ‘neutral’ in the previous period issued a declaration to the people a few days before the elections asking them to vote for the EEC, in essence for the right wing New Democracy, the only party which favours the Common Market in Greece. This caused uproar even in “liberal” capitalist circles.

The Greek equivalent of the CBI, which previously pressurised the government in the background, suddenly at its Congress a few weeks ago, elected a “militant” new leadership for business. They not only booed the Minister of the Economy who wanted to speak to them, but co-ordinated a campaign of unity of all “private enterprise” people, creating for the first time In Greece something of a “patronat” of industrialists, big hoteliers, large scale merchants, major importers, etc.

Right wing hooligans

A week ago this body called a public meeting in central Athens. Compared to their expectation, it was a failure with only about 2,000 to 3,000 people turning up, mostly paid up hooligans of New Democracy.

But most significantly in the last few weeks the right have mobilised street gangs of hooligans to terrorise people in the streets. This was shown to be co-ordinated behind the scenes by former officers in the forces and police.

They attacked selected working class neighbourhoods, 200 or 300 of them with chains, iron bars and dogs, trying to intimidate the youth, party workers and workers in general in Athens and Salonika.

The front pages of the papers were filled with pictures of Pasok supporters with bloody faces. Even the director of Police in Athens was forced to say these were the result of the New Democracy campaign and accused former ministers and MPs of that party at their rallies, who were actually pushing these hooligans to attack Pasok and Communist Party supporters.

The ruling class have decided they cannot afford this government any more because of the dire crisis of Greek capitalism, two thirds of industry is near bankruptcy and the other third is not far off. An estimated 80% of the assets of industry are loaned from the banks and only about 20% is their own capital.

So when interest rates went up two or three years ago industry had to borrow far more money just to repay interest. Huge concerns of the traditional big bourgeois families have begun to collapse one after another and the government was forced to intervene and take them over, “socialise” them as Pasok calls it.

Also since joining the EEC when tariff barriers went down, EEC products started flooding into the Greek market while Greek products were less successful. This meant further exacerbation of the crisis.

Traditionally Greece imported more industrial goods and exported more agricultural goods. Now it imports more of both. Also the balance of payments used to be more or less balanced because of remittances from seamen, immigrants in Germany etc. These are going down, with the crisis in shipping and with immigrants leaving Germany as unemployment grows.


The enormous devaluation of the drachma has also affected tourism.

The Greek ruling class has an immediate need for a hard Thatcherite government to try to break the will of the workers and take back all their past gains.

At the beginning of 1984 the government, under pressure from the workers was forced to give workers back the sliding scale which it had watered down in 1983. They have also manoeuvred with the Greek TUC, controlled by Pasok since the last congress, to compromise with the industrialists and quickly settle the question of the national wage agreement to avoid mobilisation from workers. They also had an agreement with the “Communist” Party leaders, the “moratorium” where the CP accepted the role of helping to hold down workers’ struggles.

General strike threatened

Despite this, we saw an enormous spontaneous movement of workers and a large strike wave with an estimated 1,700,000 workers striking in the first four months of this year in comparison to 800,000 in the whole of 1982 and 1.7 million in the whole of 1983. The Greek working class is only 1.6 million in number!

Greek workers have had battles without stop since the collapse of the dictatorship in 1974. It is estimated that from 1974 to 1984, 16 million workers have been on strike.

The New Democracy’s use of fascist bands made the workers angry. The same TUC which sabotaged the earlier struggle was forced to call an extraordinary meeting and threaten a 24-hour general strike.

Also unions, particularly those sections controlled by PASOK, issued very hard statements to move much faster towards socialism. When the provocations started the ranks of the PASOK and the Communist Party were taken by surprise as were the people in the neighbourhoods. But quickly when they saw the dangers they began t organise. When the attacks happened again they found a mass response by the party ranks. The population were coming out from flats and houses to encourage the workers fighting the battle in the streets telling them “Kill the bloody fascists, smash them”.

The government has been trying in the past 2½ years to appease the ruling class, trying to balance between the capitalists and the workers. Particularly in the last four or five months it has taken a very rapid rightward turn, calling on the people to be very patient, not to polarise the situation or provoke actions, started talking about “good” industrialists and “bad” industrialists implying there is a wing of the ruling class that wants to invest and co-operate with the government.

PASOK revolt

They reached such a level of bankruptcy that Papandreou himself said that in the past two and a half years, Karamanlis had been so neutral and democratic that PASOK will be considering voting for him in Presidential elections next May!

The Minister of the Economy gave an interview to a capitalist economic paper where he explained that the government does not want to socialise any industries but they are forced to take over some concerns because they are bankrupt. When these industries are made healthy again by the government paying their huge debts then, he said, private enterprise would be allowed to take them back again!

All this had begun to create tremendous confusion in the ranks of the party and the working class. But after the workers began to see the government was not willing to work towards socialism they knew they had to take their destiny into their own hands.

The PASOK leadership called a Congress in May, the first since the party formed in 1974! They thought just one month before the elections, that the leaders would just be clapped by the rank and file. But four weeks before the Congress, in branches which have been half dead in recent years, discussions have taken an explosive character. 90% of the area committees throughout the country are estimated to have voted down the document of the Central Committee in pre-conference discussions.

Members counterposed books which Papandreou himself had written in 1974–75, in essence calling for a return to the left traditions and socialist policies of its early years. One older worker who took part in the resistance against Nazi occupation and civil war said “in 1944 reaction raised its head and began to massacre us only after we gave up the guns. Now our leadership is giving up socialist policies and the reaction is again raising its head. Can’t you see what’s happening?”

A young worker said to the leadership “you have forgotten our policy of socialising the strategic parts of the economy. You have put these ideas on the museum shelves. Are you keeping the shelves warm, until Britain gives us back the Elgin Marbles?”

That was the kind of climate in party branches and conferences throughout the pre-conference period.

The Congress ended with Papandreou pushing through most of his policies for two basic reasons, one, the leadership rigged the conference by having at least one-third of delegates already appointed before hand, secondly because this revolution within the party ranks was not organised. In effect most delegates elected were careerists, who jumped on the bandwagon, spoke left in order to win the rank and file votes but then went on to congress and did nothing.

So the leadership who are really terrified by this enormous revolt controlled conference but theirs is a Pyrrhic victory. The policies voted for by Congress will be voted down by the workers every day in their struggles.

Despite the confusion and disorientation caused by the leadership’s policies, workers see the bosses’ reaction and see the danger of New Democracy being re-elected. They suddenly feel the whip of counter-revolution and are starting to gather around PASOK the biggest workers’ party to stop a right wing comeback. This was revealed by Papandreou’s huge rallies in the cities of Greece, thought to be even bigger than those in 1981 before PASOK’s victory.

PASOK lost fewer votes in the European elections than would have seemed likely a month or two ago, going down from 42% from 48%. The total left vote was still 57% compared to 60% in 1981. The loss was mainly in urban middle class areas, the workers and peasants were solid. In the coming general elections too PASOK will most probably be re-elected in 1985 with a majority enough for government on its own.

But this renewed support is not unconditional. The leaders should not assume this means support for their right-wing policies. Workers’ struggles will prove that.

New society

Workers in Greece have shown many times in history their capacity to take power in their own hands. In 1923 after the rout in Asia Minor, workers, peasants and soldiers arose. In 1936 in the panhellenic general strike, in the civil war of 1941–49, in the period of 1958 to 1967 and again since the junta tumbled a decade ago.

Enormous opportunities will come the way of the working class and PASOK. Capitalism can offer us nothing. We must create a party of power which can be the means by which the working class can build a new society.

Nicos Remoundos Archive   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 11 July 2017