Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 9, 2012

People of Greece Shake Europe

Filed under: anti-capitalism,Greece — louisproyect @ 1:13 pm


  1. The “Left Coalition” (SYRIZA) have gone begging “independent” conservatives to form a government with, along with the Social-Democrats who have been ruling so far. So much for “shaking Europe”. They are committed to keeping the country in the EU. Their trade union officials have been voting down strikes, voting for wage-cuts in cahoots with social democrats and conservatives in trade unions, calling strikers “strike-breakers” and “wreckers”, throwing individual unions out of union bodies for the sin of signing up non-permanent workers, and undermining every kind organised struggle in the workplace that they can.

    How’s that “shaking Europe”?

    That and the “Insane sectarianism” title a couple of posts down, of the “evil” KKE who refuse to join an opportunist coalition administering wage-cuts, debt-collection for financial capital, remaining in the EU and following its bidding, scabbing and beating down workers’ organisation anywhere they can, shows amazing ignorance of the situation in the ground. The “insane” KKE have been organising the most successful strikes, the most militant and effective union coalition (PAME), have been helping creating numerous SOVIETS across the country (workplace, neighbourhood, school and university committees) and yet they are “insane”. Truly amazing.

    Comment by Antonis — May 9, 2012 @ 6:35 pm

  2. I take it that Antonis is sympathetic to the KKE.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 9, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

  3. What’s insane is the KKE sectarianism, especially in the face of the emergence of a fascist threat. Why doesn’t the KKE organize joint actions with the rank and file supporters of SYRIZA that will given them to opening to expose their traitorous leaderships and win them over to the KKE?

    There has been a massive sift to the left among the Greek peopel, out of PASOK via SYRIZA. Now is the time to pull them further towards the left through a practical United Front effor against the austerity and against the fascists!

    Wake the ef up! This isn’t Groundhog’s Day all over again – THE SITUATION HAS CHANGED!!!

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — May 9, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

  4. I love the KKE literature praising North Korea. Yes, that will inspire people.

    Comment by purple — May 10, 2012 @ 5:57 am

  5. SYRIZA have supported “ousting PAME from the streets” during their massive demonstration a few months ago through their media, live, while the PAME section was being attacked by police provos, resulting in the death of one construction worker. Their leadership is seeking to form a government with the social democrats and right-wingers, and their union officials have been opposing every attempt at organising and fighting back the cuts in the workplace. And yet the KKE is now supposed to join some sort of anti-fascist government with them (Because this tactic worked wonders in the 30s, didn’t it…) and watch over wage cuts, sacking workers by the thousands, tax cuts for the rich, and privatisation. I cannot follow such logic.

    Comment by Antonis — May 10, 2012 @ 9:06 am

  6. Unlike the KKE, which is notoriously antidemocratic and extremely authoritarian, SYRIZA is internally democratic and is able to represent a wide range of opinions, all the way from left social democrats to revolutionary socialists, and even a few anarchists! That’s quite impressive for a single organisation to do, and it has effectively united people with strong and differing opinions together for the sake of unity, while not sacrificing their own ideas. The KKE will never tolerate anyone who has a different ‘line’ to them, and they do act in an extremely sectarian fashion, staging ‘seperate’ marches when demonstrations are called, not to speak of their unrepentant Stalinism and continued admiration of some of the most wretched regimes that have ever existed. Certainly they do not attract the youth, working class or otherwise, especially not the revolutionary youth, who have put their bodies on the line at anti-austerity demonstrations. How much SYRIZA can do that will be effective, or mark a significant break with current policy, is in question. But they have never been apologists for totalitarian regimes, have never been sympathisers with totalitarian regimes, and instead emphasise their practical and theorectical committment to radical democracy and an extension of liberty and justice to all, which is why they have been so prominent in recent years, and its proof has come in this stunning result of an election. Lets only hope democracy and liberty can be deepened and extended as part of a revolutionary process. For a good article on the KKE and its role it plays in Greece today, I suggest this article- written by an organisation, I should say,which is a little too orthodox in its Trotskyism for my libertarian socialist tastes (though I have always though that there are important things to get from Trotsky if you approach him and his legacy critically), but at least it does offer a useful analysis of the KKE and some practical advice for a way forward: http://www.marxist.com/the-kke-and-the-greek-revolution.htm

    Comment by the red star twinkles mischievously — May 10, 2012 @ 10:42 am

  7. I must make one correction- I didn’t know that their were Maoists in SYRIZA. So they do have Stalinists in their ranks. I can’t imagine they are very influentual though. At least I hope not. Who the hell can be attracted to Maoism as some kind of viable option or way forward in 2012? It’s entirely anarchronistic, and shows an enormous disregard for history, to say the least about it.

    Comment by the red star twinkles mischievously — May 11, 2012 @ 2:06 am

  8. I’ll admit I’m not too savvy on Mao or Maoism or even Chinese history but I will say that I’m still mighty impressed with any individual who can manage to organize a thousand mile Long March comprised of the 99% and then command an assault on the 1% resulting in the taking of state power, the nationalization of the means of production, and even, despite all it’s other faults, giving priority to peasant women in the universities during the cultural revolution.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 11, 2012 @ 4:20 am

  9. I’ll also admit that I’m a starting Freshman when it comes to modern Greek politics and have much to learn but isn’t it just possible that SYRIZA is the equivalent to George McGovern while the KKE is the equivalent to Markos Vafiades?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — May 11, 2012 @ 4:31 am

  10. Mao took state power all right- he took the over the power of the capitalist state and rebuilt it, indeed nationalising (note- not socialising, which is the socialist aspiration after all) the means of production and imposing a Stalinist system of state managers (who can be representatives of capital, in the sense that they extract surplus value from workers, that is, if the state isn’t busy expropriating them or putting them in labour camps) over a command economy- I refuse to call it ‘planned’ because it would be to give it far too much credit, it had not a trace of democracy, and it more closely resembled hierachial and overcentralised military mobilisation than anything that deserves the name of a democratically planned socialist economy. What he implemented was essentially state capitalism, whatever may be the ancilliary benifits of some national development programs that were implemented under Mao- just as under Stalin, consumption for the masses was subordinate, to an enormous and unjustified degree, to production and accumulation which did not fufill the needs and desires of people (who at best enjoyed ‘trickle down’ benifits in that economic system), but fell into the hands of bureaucrats (who, in this scenario, are the ruling class, and are essentially playing the same role as the capitalist class)- this is a feature of capitalism that socialists have always criticised- After all, the great socialist slogan is ‘production for use, not profit!’ This analysis comes directly out of Marxist theory. As Engels put it: “The official representative of capitalist society–the state–will ultimately have to undertake the direction of production…. But the transformation…into state ownership does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces… The modern state… is essentially a capitalist machine, the state of the capitalists, the ideal personification of the total national capital. The more it proceeds to the taking over the productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit. The capitalist relation is not done away with. It is rather brought to a head.” Unlike some crude caricatures of the Bolsheviks by both conservatives and some on the left, who see them as fully reared Stalinists from the get go, Mao was a Stalinist from the moment Stalinism became ascendent, and remained so, which is why it should be not surprise that China under the Maoist state committed gross crimes against its own population on numerous occassions, where, apart from moral and ethical concerns about freedom, emancipation and justice, there was no possible or even remotely viable reason for acting with such severity (like an invasion, civil war, etc). I know that their are Indian Maoists out there who are fighting against some of the most severe capitalist, state and corporate authoritarianism as peasants and villagers are driven off the land so that corporations can plunder natural resources, which are finite and most definetely unsustainable, and that the people fighting against this corporate rape and village are some of the most exploited and oppressed citizens on this little green earth. But their very politics will sabotage a sustainable and democratic outcome, and have done so, as they have implemented conservative and authoritarian policies in the places they control, while also distributing land to peasants and villagers (usually in an ad hoc and top down fashion). The Russian anarchist Nestor Makhno and the movement he led managed to distribute land to the peasantry, while also not imposing stringent laws upon the peasants that interfered with their freedom and autonomy. The peasants held congresses of soviets which were the main organs of democratic self-government in the Ukraine, and under the most severe conditions of White counterrevolution and invasion they struggled to maintain their own democratic self-organisation, which certainly cannot be said for the Maoists. The Indians would have been much better off adopting his politics, or that of Zapata, for example, or the Zapatistas today, than this poisonous Maoism.

    Comment by the red star twinkles mischievously — May 11, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  11. Red Star you should read up on KOE over at Kasama. It’s a very interesting group. And anyone lauding Trotsky or Makhno but calling Mao anachronistic is pulling a pot-calling-the-kettle-black act. The revolutionaries in Greece are fortunately engaged in real world struggle not parlour-room internet debate. The blanket Stalinophobia you’re expressing is what to me seems anachronistic, sort of a mirror image of KKE sectarianism. There are lessons to be learned from the Stalin-Trotsky divide, but to be stuck in that 20th-century debate strikes me as singularly unproductive.

    Comment by ish — May 11, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

  12. ish, I think it can be said pretty safely that, significant problems though they have, Trotsky and Makhno are substaintially better politically (and with political insights that remain relevant to this day) and as individuals than Mao (or Stalin) ever was. Robert Service is probably the only historian who would disagree with that statement, and he’s not even a very good historian (see the controversy over the factual innacuracies in his Trotsky biography http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jun2011/pers-j28.shtml) Call me Stalinophobic (and I don’t know how else you should approach Stalinism- in a friendly fashion?) but Stalinists will act as Stalinsts have always done- demanding that any movement be subordinated to their leadership and their dictates, pursuing anti-democratic outcomes, misrepresenting their own members and their desires/aspirations in their own organisation, and admiring murderous and genocidal totalitarian states. And crushing popular-democratic revolutions, of course. Not exactly an inspiring record or a spotless banner to be attracted to. This is, of course, not to deny the worth and courage of many members of the KKE active in the fight against capitalist austerity. What I am saying is that the KKE is not an organisation worthy of their time, effort, and idealism, and it will sabotage any movement towards a genuinely democratic socialism.

    Comment by the red star twinkles mischievously — May 12, 2012 @ 2:11 am

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