Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 10, 2012

The Greek left: notes from afar

Filed under: Greece — louisproyect @ 6:54 pm

To start off, I want to make clear that this post is not intended as anything more than my own struggle to understand why the Greek left is so divided, prompted in large part by the KKE’s (the CP) refusal to unite with SYRIZA, a party/coalition that received the second highest vote totals this week. In the past my attention has been focused more on the deeply engrained ultraleftism of the anarchists but the much larger and better organized groups that run in elections have far more responsibility today for the failure of the left to move forward.

SYRIZA is a coalition of left groups that is dominated by Synaspismós, a split from the KKE. Formed in 2004, it is roughly analogous to Die Linke in Germany and Rifundazione in Italy. But Synaspismós started out as an alliance in the late 80s between the KKE and something called the Greek Left that emerged in turn from the KKE Interior, a Eurocommunist party. Differences over strategy led to a break between the two groups analogous to the split in the CPUSA, with the Eurocommunists remaining in Synaspismós and occupying a political space equivalent to the Committees of Correspondence. Unlike the CPUSA, the KKE is still committed to revolutionary transformation—at least programmatically—and has even scolded the CPUSA for its “revisionism”.

SYRIZA serves as an umbrella group for a number of much smaller self-proclaimed revolutionary organizations including the Maoist Communist Organization of Greece that emerged PLP style out of the KKE. You can find the COE’s material crossposted on the Kasama Project. SYRIZA is also a home for International Worker’s Left, a state capitalist formation whose wiki write-up can give you a sense of the kind of small proprietorship mentality that flourishes in Greece and elsewhere:

The Internationalist Workers’ Left (Greek: Διεθνιστική Εργατική Αριστερά, Diethnistiki Ergatiki Aristera, abbreviated ΔΕΑ or DEA) is a revolutionary marxist organization in Greece, founded in 2001, having split from Socialist Workers’ Party-International Socialist Tendency (SEK-IST). It is particularly active in the Greek Social Forum and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). It maintains a sisterhood relationship with the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the United States. Through the ISO, DEA has developed connections with Socialist Alternative (Australia) and Movement for Socialism (Switzerland)

God help us when such internecine horse-trading takes place among groups with almost zero political differences.

The Synaspismós leadership of SYRIZA’s approach can best be described as social democratic in the traditional Leon Blum or Salvador Allende sense. International politics has shifted so far to the right over the past 25 years or so that they end up being described as “far left”.

In a very useful article in the November 2011 New Left Review titled “The Greek Cauldron“, Stathis Kouvelakis summarizes SYRIZA’s approach:

Faced with this impasse, elements of Synaspismos—notably the ‘left current’ led by SYRIZA’s current parliamentary spokesman, Panagiotis Lafazanis—and members of SYRIZA who have reformed as the Front for Solidarity and Rupture, led by one-time Synaspismos leader Alekos Alavanos, are breaking with the Europhile consensus. They advocate a ‘Kirchner-style’ renegotiation of the national debt, involving cessation of payments, accompanied by exit from the euro and nationalization of the banking sector; this would allow for devaluation of the currency, offering a way out of the logic of ‘internal devaluation’—essentially a dramatic reduction in labour costs—that has been imposed by the high priests of austerity. Such a break with European institutions, without an immediate exit from the EU, is necessary on political as well as economic grounds, in order to release the country from Troika supervision and restore its basic democratic functions. This agenda, strongly argued for by the London-based economist Costas Lapavitsas and colleagues, is already promoted by the extra-parliamentary far-left group Antarsya, as the basis of a programme for an anti-capitalist rupture.

The idea that Greece should follow the “Argentine road” must be fairly widespread. Just today Marxmail received a link to an article on Marxist economist Michael Roberts’s blog titled “Eurozone debt, monetary union and Argentina“. He writes:

A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Default and lost opportunities: a message from Argentina, May 2012) showed that Argentina was lucky in 2001 when they defaulted and devalued the peso. After a big drop in GDP, real GDP per capita rose by 7% a year for next seven years. But that coincided with the huge global commodity boom benefiting sales of agro products that Argentina produced. A similar default and devaluation of 1983 did not deliver a great recovery. Then, in the depths of a global recession (much like now), real GDP fell 15% and did not recover to pre-crisis levels until 10 years later.

While purists might dismiss the importance of Greece following in Argentina’s footsteps, there is little doubt that the big bourgeoisie on Wall Street and its hired thugs in Washington would welcome this as much as Fidel Castro’s procession into Havana on New Year’s Eve 1959.

(It is worth mentioning that according to the savvy Mark Weisbrot, Argentina’s economic recovery had little to do with a commodity export boom.)

Another coalition is ANTARSYA, the Front of the Greek Anticapitalist Left, that is made up small hard-left groups similar to those in SYRIZA. Its politics are exemplary but there is some question as to whether a group that received 1.19 percent in last week’s election can go very far in becoming a true revolutionary leadership. The Kasama Project, which has been doing a very good job reporting on Greece, has ANTARSYA’s analysis of the elections:

The solution is a strong Left in the perspective of a break with the system and the anti-capitalist revolution! The parliamentary parties of the Left do not meet their historical responsibilities. SYRIZA suggests a “leftist government”, but does not dare to say anything against the euro and the EU, and is increasingly in search of “solutions” to the debt problem through agreements with the creditors! The Communist Party (KKE) rejects now the recognition of debt and takes a stand against the EU position, but points to the metaphysical presence of “peoples’ power” that should come into existence through parliamentary channels and through the conquest of the parliamentary majority in the election. This party avoids any overt political conflict and still refuses to participate in a united front for a workers and popular uprising. Such a logic is a barrier to the struggles. Joint action is more necessary than ever!

It is symptomatic of the left’s malaise that ANTARSYA’s 10 member groups have not figured out a way to fuse. I imagine that each one is putting out its own propaganda as well as that of the coalition. What a terrible waste of resources.

Last but not least you have the KKE. Unlike most CP’s you are familiar with, this is a pretty damned radical group. In showing an awareness for the need to connect with other radicals globally, the group maintains an English-language website in keeping with the practically lingua franca standards of the Internet.

The vitriol directed toward the SYRIZA leaps off the pages, a reflection no doubt of the bitter feelings that grow out of a divorce:

In relation to the question of alliances, the KKE did not submit to the pressure which has been exerted in Greece by the argument of “left unity”. An argument which in our country is supported by the member of the ELP, SYN. (This is a union of opportunist forces, some of which left the KKE in 1968 under the flag of Eurocommunism and in 1991 under the banner of “Gorbachevism”)

You also see a kind of defensiveness that is most often found in much smaller groups, like the American SWP—an altogether puzzling stance for a group that received 8 percent of the vote last week. Here they defend themselves from Junge Welt, a German Marxist newspaper:

Over the last days we read amongst others the report of the left German newspaper “Junge Welt” from Athens which while it extols the election result achieved by SYRIZA, a coalition of opportunist forces and forces that left the social democrat and former governing party PASOK, it refers to the election result of the KKE in a hostile and contemptuous manner claiming amongst others that “it was voted merely by the traditional electorate of the party”.

The KKE has blasted the CPUSA, a group that it once felt more fraternally toward. Its criticisms should be familiar to anybody who has read the Maoist press of the 1970s:

It [the CPUSA] proposes the replacement of our theory by an eclectic hotchpotch which does not go beyond the limits of liberal bourgeois ideology. It attacks Marxism-Leninism directly, which constitutes one of the central laws of the existence and activity of the party of the new type, as V.I.Lenin pointed out: “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement… the role of vanguard fighter can be fulfilled only by a party that is guided by the most advanced theory.” In this specific platform various extremely old opportunist positions are promoted as new (e.g. Marxism-Leninism is foreign, anti-democratic, it is a distortion of Marxism by Stalin etc.), these are positions which disarm the labour movement and surrender it, without theoretical tools, to the claws of the exploitative system.

I don’t know. I would say that the CPUSA could be accused of lots of things but the notion that it is somehow taking a stand against Stalin seems pretty far-fetched to me. The one thing that defines Stalinism in the U.S. is its orientation to the Democratic Party, a policy that was developed by the Kremlin during the 1930s as part of its Popular Front turn.

In some ways, the KKE’s “leftism” is a throwback to the Third Period that predated the Popular Front in which the social democrats were seen as just as bad as the fascists. The hostility to SYRIZA is fundamentally an ultraleftist mistake of the sort that Lenin identified in “Left-Wing Communism: an infantile disorder”.

If KKE was interested in winning the SYRIZA voters to its cause, it would remove barriers such as condemning its leadership and refusing to bloc with it electorally. If there’s any party that is more compromised than SYRIZA, it is certainly the British Labour Party of the 1920s. When British Communists took the position that Labour was the enemy, Lenin upbraided them:

On the contrary, the fact that most British workers still follow the lead of the British Kerenskys or Scheidemanns and have not yet had experience of a government composed of these people—an experience which was necessary in Russia and Germany so as to secure the mass transition of the workers to communism—undoubtedly indicates that the British Communists should participate in parliamentary action, that they should, from within parliament, help the masses of the workers see the results of a Henderson and Snowden government in practice, and that they should help the Hendersons and Snowdens defeat the united forces of Lloyd George and Churchill. To act otherwise would mean hampering the cause of the revolution, since revolution is impossible without a change in the views of the majority of the working class, a change brought about by the political experience of the masses, never by propaganda alone.

If the Hendersons and the Snowdens reject a bloc with us on these terms, we shall gain still more, for we shall at once have shown the masses (note that, even in the purely Menshevik and completely opportunist Independent Labour Party, the rank and file are in favour of Soviets) that the Hendersons prefer their close relations with the capitalists to the unity of all the workers. We shall immediately gain in the eyes- of the masses, who, particularly after the brilliant, highly correct and highly useful (to communism) explanations given by Lloyd George, will be sympathetic to the idea of uniting all the workers against the Lloyd George-Conservative alliance. We shall gain immediately, because we shall have demonstrated to the masses that the Hendersons and the Snowdens are afraid to beat Lloyd George, afraid to assume power alone, and are striving to secure the secret support of Lloyd George, who is openly extending a hand to the Conservatives, against the Labour Party.

Much has changed since the 1920s but these words still ring true.


  1. Judge a group by what it does (if anything), not what its Wikipedia entry says. If you can’t get a sense of what a group does based on what it says in its publications (and the publications of others), that’s a good indication that it’s not doing much.

    This is why I think the Revolutionary Socialists of Egypt are doing something real and different — they wouldn’t have attracted state repression if they were mostly engaging in self-perpetuation; the Piggipedia initiative being a prime example and their regroupment effort being another one. It’s too bad no one else seems to be imitating them outside of Egypt.

    Greece is a historic opportunity for the Trotskyist left to make good on 80 years of promises of superior leadership skills held back by unfavorable objective and subjective conditions (predominance of Stalinism, social democracy, low level of workers’ struggle). If they can’t do anything worthwhile in this situation, they’ll be just as guilty of wearing a raincoat that functions wonderfully so long as it doesn’t rain as they said of the anarchists in Spain in 1936.

    Comment by Binh — May 10, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  2. […] its ties to popular protest against the hated austerity measures, its weak point appears to be the fragmented nature of the Greek left. When ND gave up hope (after only six hours) of forming a government and passed the mandate to […]

    Pingback by Noli Irritare Leones » “We have forced all of Europe to speak about the great change brought about by the Greek vote” — May 11, 2012 @ 3:39 am

  3. I thought Dr Tad’s contribution on a thread on the tomb was useful:

    The high vote for SYRIZA is a wonderful thing, and opens new possibilities. But what sort of possibilities and on what terrains? It seems to me that the revolutionaries around ANTARSYA are well within their rights to pursue a course that today leaves them with a small vote in the sphere of bourgeois politics. Yes, it’s frustrating, but despite the relatively high level of struggle in Greece they do not find themselves in a pre-revolutionary situation. There are no workers’ councils, not even rank-and-file committees on a mass scale. The bureaucrats have largely kept control of the general strikes, the movement still faces major divisions where various currents refuse to work with each other in common forums, etc, etc.

    And ANTARSYA’s relatively small size coming into the elections would preclude them making major gains in a parliamentary election. There will be tremendous pull on them to simply liquidate into ensuring that SYRIZA wins a second election and holds onto power. Yet surely the key to turning such a horrific crisis into a revolutionary situation is finding a way to turn the political break embodied in the electoral outcome into practical workers’ action on the ground? I think Eltsin is dead right to pose the difference between the social weight of ANTARSYA’s components within working class and activist organisation on the ground, and their weight in the electoral sphere. It’s whether they can turn the very significant political break occurring in the parliamentary sphere into a spur for building alternative forms of political power from below. So obviously ANTARSYA cannot be sectarian idiots if they are to take the understandable enthusiasm for SYRIZA into concrete activity and politics on the ground.The second thing is the question of what happens from here. If the Left takes a governmental role, there is not likely to be some magic bourgeois-parliamentary solution to the crisis. Rather, there will be further convulsions as the Left government argues that the extra-parliamentary movement must give them some breathing space; treat them well c.f. how they treated PASOK, etc. How else could it be — the dominant elements in SYRIZA are reformist and centrist and so will be pulled by “actually holding power”. Does anyone really believe that instead their activists will be out in every workplace organising workers to take action themselves to challenge what the state (complicit with the Troika) has been doing? Isn’t that what Tsipras would be arguing every minute on TV if he had a revolutionary strategy?

    So that tension between self-activity and support for the Left government will be at the centre of the “successive approximations” faced by the Greek working class. Such approximations can come very fast in such a period. It’d be tragic if revolutionaries (even those of us “viewing from afar”) couldn’t steer a clear line through them. Not all the divisions on the Greek Left can be attributed simply to sectarian squabbles in earlier periods of retreat. Some of them reflect real, live questions about where to from here.

    Comment by johng — May 11, 2012 @ 6:11 am

  4. There was never any prospect that New Democracy or PASOK would enter a government with Tspiros as long as he stuck to SYRIZA’s “Five Points.”

    It’s PASOK and the far more right wing Euros of the Democratic Left who are currently in talks on a Coalition.
    Since it would be based on enacting Austerity policies, it’s highly unlikely that Tsipras will join them.
    If such a Coalition comes off, it would have to be with the support of New Democracy.

    The KKE’s policy has sabotaged the possibility of a Left Government by turning the issue of leaving the EU into a sectarian fetish.
    It’s analagous to the German ultra-lefts who wanted to fetishize the Versailles Treaty in the 1920’s that Lenin criticized in “Left Wing Communism”.
    The idea that the “real question” is the formation of a United Front against Austerity when the Right inevitably takes power is purest Menshevism.
    A policy of remaining a party of “extreme opposition” when the question of governmental power is being posed.

    The most recent opinion poll from Greece show that SYRIZA has increased its popularity, whereas the KKE and Democratic Left’s are waning.

    Syriza at 23.8% (from 16.8% in the election)
    New Democracy 17.4%
    Pasok 10.8%
    IndGreeks 8.7%
    KKE 6%
    Democratic Left 4.2%
    Golden Dawn 4.9%

    (Marc Poll)

    SYRIZA’s left wing should be arguing for a Workers Government.
    Ultra left fantasies about “smashing the state” and unilaterally leaving the EU need to be kept firmly in check.
    Greece needs the cash, has considerable leverage to bargain with the EU and the bankers don’t want to lose their money.
    There’s still a strong possibility that SYRIZA will be able to force a new election, win it and be in a strong position to carry out its programme.


    Comment by prianikoff — May 11, 2012 @ 7:50 am

  5. Eddie Ford’s advice in the faux CPGB’s “Weekly Worker” is a text-book example of sterile Menshevik abstentionism.

    “Communists in Greece should therefore demand that Syriza, and the Greek left as a whole, reject all invitations to form or join a government.
    Till we have a clear majority committed to a transition to socialism it is far better to be parties of extreme opposition which intransigently fight not only against the cuts but for a new, much more democratic, constitution.”


    What complete and utter drivel!

    Comment by prianikoff — May 11, 2012 @ 9:40 am

  6. “SYRIZA’s left wing should be arguing for a Workers Government.
    Ultra left fantasies about “smashing the state” and unilaterally leaving the EU need to be kept firmly in check.”

    A ‘workers government’ that rules under the existing state and stays in the EU sounds like a bourgeois government to me.

    There are enormous tactical difficulties for the left in the current situation, which is a major crisis but not yet a revolutionary situation, but if a revolutionary situation comes about destroying the existing state machine will be posed.

    Don’t think the army and the Golden Dawn are not aware of that.

    Comment by redscribe — May 11, 2012 @ 11:46 am

  7. What’s this Louis? YOu reduced to giving advice to Stalinists now? The KKE realise they can split Syriza by temporarily posing to their left as they tack right.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 11, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  8. Louis: you discuss Syriza as if they are the `official’ leadership of the Greek labour movement rather than a bunch of sects and centrists that have been thrown up by the first waves of struggle. The Stalinists pursue their policies consciously and cynically. They are not wide-eyed naive `error’ makers. The Stalinists will make mincemeat of Syriza quite happily and they know the best way to go about it and your telling them how not to go about it helps no one as it creates illusions in the potential of the Stalinist cynics. Syriza needs to used its new found popularity to smash Stalinism as a political force in the Greek labour movement once and for all but it won’t.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 11, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

  9. And I say it won’t because it is already preparing a second election campaign that is to the right of the one it just fought. By the way I thought Eddie Ford’s piece was pretty good. One thing Syriza should be arguing for straight away is the formation of anti-fascist defence committees in every village, town and city in Greece.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 11, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

  10. Syriza’s approach as outlined in the article is truly grotesque. These people will lead the Greek working class to their deaths if not challenged.

    By the way when I say committees I mean serious militias that can not only defend the labour movement from fascist attack but when a workers’ government does finally form can take on the offensive task of dismantling the reactionary forces of the capitalist state.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 11, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

  11. Syriza aren’t going to be joining any coalition with PASOK, Democratic Left or New Democracy.
    The most likely outcome of the current impasse will be fresh elections in June.
    The latest pinion poll shows SYRIZA has over 27% of the popular vote.
    Even the bourgeois press is starting to recognise that they have a good chance of winning.

    One point in the KKE’s analysis is correct;
    There will be further splits in the political parties.
    The most likely one being in the KKE.

    It has lost 4% of its support since the election.
    This is a result of its policy of sectarian sabotage.
    It’s quite possible that SYRIZA can gain a majority of the working class vote, without even needing a coalition with the Stalinist sectarians. They should still encourage the working class base of KKE to eject its leadership and come over to their side.

    Since there are no workers councils in evidence and no obvious support for a coup, either within the Greek ruling class, (or in an EU leadership soon to be joined by Hollande), it is necessary to follow the electoral process to the end.

    The majority of Greeks are not convinced about unilaterally leaving the EU, or exiting the Euro either.
    Therefore this issue can’t be used as an “acid-test” for the left.
    It’s a policy that needs to be worked out in practice.

    This is not an immediate political priorty.
    Forming a left government is.
    Then ensuring it carries out a programme which challenges austerity, defends jobs and workers rights.
    It if does it will be a workers government, which opens up the question of socialism.
    In Greece and the rest of Europe.

    Comment by prianikoff — May 11, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  12. “..the first opinion poll since the election showed the main beneficiary of a new vote would be Tsipras, a 37-year-old ex-Communist civil engineer and former student leader, who demands the bailout be torn up.
    ..The poll showed SYRIZA would win with 27.7 percent of the vote, almost 11 points up on its Sunday result, consolidating votes from smaller anti-bailout groups.
    If SYRIZA were to win the 50 bonus seats for first place, the marginalisation of once-mighty parties that ruled Greece for decades would be complete, and their bailout a dead letter.”

    SYRIZA deputy Panagiotis Lafazanis told Greek radio any hope the leftist party would agree to join a broad government was “wishful thinking” and such speculation was a farce.

    A senior SYRIZA party official said European leaders were bluffing by questioning Greece’s future in the euro.
    “They will be begging us to take the money,” Dimitris Stratoulis said of the bailout, adding that a Greek exit would trigger the collapse of the single currency.


    Comment by prianikoff — May 11, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

  13. Dear Louis, a single comment on the origins of Arg recovery (which, by the way, on many important indicators has not reached the levels of the immediate pre-Cavallo age, not to speak those of 1975). Weisbrot is right in general but he misses an important point. Though Arg growth is far from a simple “commodity export boom”, there exists such a boom and its effect must be taken into account. Not simply “not disregarded”, but flatly taken into account. Argentina does not have a self-centered economy in the sense of Samir Amin, where there is a relation between Sections I and II of the economy that allows the country to produce the capital it needs to fuel the accumulation process by itself, thus turning foreign trade important but not essential. That is why our peso is not a “hard”, “international” currency like the Swedish krona, for example. Argentina needs to finance its economic growth and the restoration of its industrial tissue by means of grabbing at least a part of the differential rent that the agricultural exports provide. In this sense, the export boom has been most important and in a sense essential. Without it, Argentina would have fallen lots deeper than it did, even with “good” economic management by a national bourgeois administration. Of course, it is to the merit of the Kirchners that they have not squandered the extra rent, but this is an entirely different issue.

    Comment by Néstor Gorojovsky — May 11, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

  14. Coincidentally, my wife is working on a number of articles about Argentine banking. Very interesting stuff even if I don’t understand the econometrics side.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 11, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

  15. Ah, Mine will find it a wonderful hunting range indeed! Something else: in 1983, there was devaluation without default. Negotiations with the IMF lasted less than a year, after which the then government agreed to honor the foreign debt fully.

    Comment by Néstor Gorojovsky — May 11, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  16. Greece needs cash right now to import almost everything. And their main product is tourism, which is not conducive to socialist relations, self-sufficiency, or the development of foreign exchange reserves.

    As someone noted above, Argentina gets its cash/foreign exchange reserves through a trade surplus based on selling a tangible product, mostly agricultural. Even so, they are dangerously exposed if they become a significant energy importer which is what is behind the Repsol nationalization.

    Comment by purple — May 11, 2012 @ 10:09 pm

  17. I think that the SACP provides a useful comparison here. While lesser-evilism sometimes justifies electoral coalitions or endorsements, the SACP has been reasonably criticized for joining bourgeois governments.

    Comment by Seekonk — May 12, 2012 @ 4:45 am

  18. I’m with prianikoff and binh on their respective points. “purple” also makes an overlooked, but critical point: Even a Greek transitional worker’s government won’t survive long in isolation; Greece simply lacks the economic basis; Its fate is inextricably tied to all of Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. The sentiment against leaving the Euro and the EU on the part of the masses, including almost certainly the majority of the Greek working class, reflects They, after all, live and breathe their real concrete relation to the broader political economy every day. Unless there is a viable alternative to the EU – the Balkans/Turkey/Ukraine and ultimately the Argentina of the Northeast, Putin’s mineral rent Russia? (Ironically the old historical axis of Greece from ancient times) – the demand for exit from the Eurozone/EU should be pushed down in the transitional demands, much less utilized as a sectarian point of disunity.

    But not left off, as this relation is the basis for the capitalist austerity offensive.

    However, one international relation that gets little mention, but comes to mind with the mention of Turkey, is NATO. The first job of a worker’s transitional government will be the publication of the State books. These should show that a major driver of Greek debt has been arms sales to the Greek military as a member of NATO. IOW, NATO has been a major factor in the immiseration of the Greek working class. This should be elevated up the transition demand list, and the case made publicly.

    That’s the first installment, second on the “abroad” relation to the Greek events forthcoming.

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — May 12, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  19. First, from abroad, a note of respect is to be assumed towards the political participants professing a revolutionary, socialist and working class stance, even when there are disagreements, even those of a deep, historical nature, as with the KKE. It won’t do to act the peanut gallery cynic. These parties and factions face an extraordinary situation simultaneously full of possibility and fraught with danger. Beginning from an international viewpoint tells us that the Greek revolutionary socialists will need our solidarity, and if we speak respectfully they might just listen to what we have to say. For ourselve abroad, it is important that we take away the right lessons for our own countries.

    The extraordinary situation marks a historic political breakthrough in a country on the inner periphery of the so-called “advanced capitalist countries” of the imperialist zone. it is historic because it occurs in contemporary conditions under the aegis of a bourgeois democratic parliamentary regime. There are few examples to be found of this elsewhere. Allende’s Chile and Venezuela come to mind, both with very different outcomes, the latter having to resist an attempted military coup backed by the U.S. But neither of these were countries in either NATO or the EU. And neither had the advantage of the low possibility that the imperialist bourgeoisie would now opt for an autocratic solution via a military coup in the present situation of Greece.

    The result is the we now know the “melting point” of a Southern European bourgeois democratic regime, and in particular shows the possibility of demolishing the barrier of the old and now traitorous social democratic parties throughout Europe, with Portugal and Spain the next possibility in the coming years. Or perhaps sooner than we think, as I’ll admit that the speed at which the situation has developed did take me a bit by surprise.

    And perhaps it took some in Greece by surprise as well, evidenced by the noted absence of worker’s councils. This, rather than votes in the bourgeois parliament, is the real arena for concrete action by ANTARSYA: in the present favorable climate, begin the construction of the institutions of a dual worker’s power. Worker’s parliaments alongside the bourgeois parliament. This will accomplish two things: it will hem in the bourgeois parliament and put any “menshevik” tendencies on notice; and it will be a key instrument against the fascists. Such an effort will also put ANTARSYA in direct confrontation with the traditional trade union officialdom that underpin PASOK and the KKE, in this way addressing the no doubt counterrevolutionary role of the bureaucracies of these extra-parliamentary worker’s organizations, this yet another front in the battle. Worker’s parliaments will be a direct threat to their social power. Indeed this may become a key feature of the era opening before us; as the traditional social-democratic parties disintegrate, the traditional trade union bureaucracy will lag behind the developing mass consciousness of the working class.

    The Greek events hold lessons already for us here even in the U.S.A. More later…

    Comment by matthewrusso9 — May 13, 2012 @ 1:17 am

  20. #17 “…the SACP provides a useful comparison here”

    Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) make a better comparison with SYRIZA.

    Like SYRIZA, the PRC are members of the “European Left” group.
    In 1996 they helped Prodi’s Olive Tree Coalition take power in Italy.
    They got over a million votes and 35 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

    However, PRC has never obtained more than 8.6% of the Italian vote.
    It was thus dependent on goodwill of parties to the right of it.

    It left the Coalition and helped bring down Prodi in the 90’s.
    Then succumbed to the temptations Ministerialism.
    PRC had a Minister in the Prodi II cabinet of 2006.
    When this voted funds for the Afghan War, there was a split.
    Its influence is now much reduced.

    SYRIZA has the possibility of forming a government without needing to enter a coalition.
    Or it might do so in a Coalition with other workers parties like the KKE.
    The Ministerialist Euros in the Greek Democratic Left are similar to the right-wing of PRC.
    They actively want SYRIZA to form a Coalition with them.
    They could become a transmission belt for the right.
    The danger is that the KKE’s sectarianism might drive SYRIZA’s leadership into their embrace.
    But this would be resisted by its Marxist left wing.

    Getting to the most important point;
    Suppose there’s a new election and SYRIZA wins an absolute majority.
    Should it refuse to form a government?
    It would make far more sense to take power, carry out its domestic programme and use it as a platform for resisting the diktats from the EU leadership. Such a government could then defend its positions and win international support.
    That offers a far better prospect for socialism than renouncing power to make abstract propaganda for it.

    Comment by prianikoff — May 13, 2012 @ 10:06 am

  21. One doesn’t have to know the difference between Greece and grease to know that there is a world of difference between becoming the government of a capitalist state and “taking power”. Confusion of the two can be a major disaster for the working class and the left, as the survivors of the Chilean Popular Unity government of 1970-73 can attest. (Or _could_ attest, if the trauma of their defeat, followed by the counter-revolutions in Eastern Europe, China and Southeast Asia, had not left most of them as cowed, timid reformists who are at most willing to demand punishment for their individual persecutors but never for the class responsible.)

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 13, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  22. I shouldn’t have put ‘taking power’ in quotes in my last comment, since the difference I’m referring to is between becoming the government of a capitalist state and ACTUALLY taking power. There is no difference between becoming the government of a capitalist state and “taking power” in the sense that left-talking reformists use the latter phrase, which is the crux of the problem with them.

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 13, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

  23. It is not even sectarianism to demand the Stalinists of the KKE and the semi-stalinists of Syriza form an anti-cuts coalition government, it is pure adventurism.

    But it looks like Coalition talks have ended and Syriza will get the blame. If they had been serious they would have proposed to Pasok that they form a minority government and guarantee that its representatives will vote for all its anti-austerity, pro-labour movement proposals and against all its pro-austerity, anti-labour movement proposals but that it will not support any votes of no-confidence aimed at bringing such a government down. This would be a united front that would speak to the need for a workers’ government whilst avoiding an unprincipled `anti-cuts’ lash up with the Pasok right wing and make it difficult for that right wing to form a cuts coalition with anti-working class forces.

    In the meantime it should organise the formation of anti-fascists militias in every town and city and prepare its alternative programme to Merkozy’s ECB/IMF austerity bollox. In the coming electhion it should insist that if it wins it will be letting Greece’s bankrupt banks go under and that it will replace these with a state monopoly of credit by which a People’s Bank will facilitate the necessary social investment and lend Euros at base rate to small business. It should then pledge to defend all necessary and desirable public spending and that it will pay for this and balance the budget by directing any austerity measures where they will do most good and where they are most deserved: at the parasitic Greek super rich through heavy taxation and emergency seizures of wealth. That way public spending is defended and the EU Fiscal treaty is met at least in spirit.

    With this policy Syriza will quickly replace Pasok as the dominante political force in the Greek labour movement whilst marginalising the KKE Stalinists nipping at its heels.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 13, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

  24. In the meantime it should organise the formation of anti-fascists militias in every town and city and prepare its alternative programme to Merkozy’s ECB/IMF austerity bollox. In the coming electhion it should insist that if it wins it will be letting Greece’s bankrupt banks go under and that it will replace these with a state monopoly of credit by which a People’s Bank will facilitate the necessary social investment and lend Euros at base rate to small business.

    Idle chatter of the kind that borders on abnormal psychology, a function clearly of reading far too much Leon Trotsky. It is to Trotsky as Andy Kaufman was to Elvis.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 13, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

  25. Here’s a comment I put on the Guardian’s live blog about the Euro crisis which addresses some of the issues involved in the Greek events:


    Well, this is remarkable. This is the first time the working class has really raised its head as a political force in Europe since the collapse of the USSR. The European ruling classes are spooked because the Greeks are poised to vote as their probably largest party a left-reformist coalition originating in the far left with a significant presence of Trotskyists and a green/environmentalist fringe that is probably the least radical element among this mini rainbow.

    Its hardly a vehicle that Marxist purists would have chosen. But who can choose anyway? This is the anti-1989, the beginning of the end of the ‘end of communism’.

    Who would have thought it, working class resistance to austerity making the Euro, one of the main projects of European capital, totter only 21 years after the collapse of the USSR? Capitalism is not about to collapse just like that of course, but nevertheless this points to the fact that there is a social force that can still scare the hell out of those who really believe they are born to rule.

    And in this case they have done it just by ‘voting’ the way the bankers and Eurocrats did not want them too.

    Its also amusing to hear PASOK’s leader denouncing SRYIZA as ‘irresponsible’ for refusing to join in a coalition with him.

    In the British context this would be like Tony Blair denouncing George Galloway for being ‘irresponsible’ for refusing to join him in a coalition government.

    Amazing how politics can suddenly change when the working class strikes out independently in politics, even in a partial way. Much more to come in years to come!

    Comment by redscribe — May 14, 2012 @ 7:13 am

  26. `Idle chatter of the kind that borders on abnormal psychology, a function clearly of reading far too much Leon Trotsky. It is to Trotsky as Andy Kaufman was to Elvis.’

    Yes Louis idle chatter but I suppose once you stop caring all is idle chatter. You need to change the name of this blog to the repentant trot though you are the one who spent most of his political life in a sect not me.

    Syriza’s approach is sectarian. Pure and simple. Address that fact and keep your silly quips to yourself.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 14, 2012 @ 7:19 am

  27. You are worse than the cunt newman for trolling your own blog.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 14, 2012 @ 7:22 am

  28. Louis if you want to spend all your ennergy on a flame war I’m happy to oblige until you ban me. It is the same method as the Stalinists on Scum Unity.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 14, 2012 @ 7:30 am

  29. Redscribe: If the Greek elites can somehow place the blame on Syriza for Greece’s exit from the Euro and the subsequent Weimar-style chaos then your optimism would have proved false indeed. Syriza should be looking for a United Front with Pasok by demanding they form an anti-austerity government which will resist Greece’s explusion from the Euro whilst defending public spending and balancing the budget through heavy taxation and seizures of the wealth of the rich.

    The best thing to say about Syriza, and this is no small thing, is that they are sticking to their anti-austerity guns but they are completely apolitical in the way that propaganda sects unfortunately are.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 14, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  30. Plus Louis I’m surprised you think building defence committees against the rapidly growin neo-nazi threat in Greece is `idle chatter’ and abnormal psychology. Tell us what you recommend oh wise one. A megaphone and some propaganda about the Euro and austerity?

    Comment by David Ellis — May 14, 2012 @ 7:44 am

  31. David: you are aware that PASOK is not a working class party, not even a bourgeois workers party like the British LP or the SPD? It might be a member of the Second International but there are quite a few parties in that body that are thoroughly bourgeois and not even deformed expressions of class independence. Such as PASOK, the Israeli Labour Party, the old Venezuelan Social Democrats, etc. A United Front with PASOK pressuposes that there is a class contradiction in PASOK, but that is not the case. The way things are shaping up, SYRIZA is the repository of independent working class politics in Greece.

    I’ve published some more generalised stuff on this situation on my blog here

    Comment by redscribe — May 14, 2012 @ 8:16 am

  32. #31 Red: I believe that if Syriza approach the situation politically instead of like an apolitical sect they might be able to prove your point once and for all to the people that count: the Greeek working class.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 14, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  33. “I believe that if Syriza approach the situation politically instead of like an apolitical sect they might be able to prove your point once and for all to the people that count: the Greeek working class.”

    More workers voted for SYRIZA than PASOK. I guess Greek workers prefer apolitical sects to neoliberal traitors. I would too: less damage done.

    Comment by The North Star — May 14, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

  34. Plus Louis I’m surprised you think building defence committees against the rapidly growin neo-nazi threat in Greece is `idle chatter’ and abnormal psychology. Tell us what you recommend oh wise one. A megaphone and some propaganda about the Euro and austerity?

    Aren’t you aware that you are writing in the style of Leon Trotsky in Coyoacan? When Trotsky wrote about France or Germany in the 1930s, he was addressing his followers mainly, and anybody else who would listen. When you write comments in English to a blog that rarely has more than 2 visits a day from Greece urging the formation of workers militias there, you are not talking to anybody who matters, in other words people with boots on the ground. All you are doing is trying to sound revolutionary. Instead it is foolish. Also, I have never once attacked you personally. You have commented here hundreds of times without me saying anything, but in this particular instance you sound foolish.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 14, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

  35. Louis wrote, in his original post:

    “It is symptomatic of the left’s malaise that ANTARSYA’s 10 member groups have not figured out a way to fuse. I imagine that each one is putting out its own propaganda as well as that of the coalition. What a terrible waste of resources.”

    I suppost that it is “a terrible waste of resources” for Louis and perhaps a few hundred other individuals or small groups with roughly similar politics to each maintain his/her/their own blog, web site, or whatever?

    I have only a general idea of what the differences are among the groups that make up Antarsya, but it seems to me that it would be a grave error for any group, or at least any group that purports to be revolutionary, to stop putting forth, and arguing for, its own analysis and positions and ONLY put forth the necessarily bare-bones analysis and positions agreed to by the coalition.

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 14, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  36. I suppost that it is “a terrible waste of resources” for Louis and perhaps a few hundred other individuals or small groups with roughly similar politics to each maintain his/her/their own blog, web site, or whatever?

    It would be if this blog was titled “Communist Voice: the official organ of the Militant Labor Tendency–Fifth International” or some such thing.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 14, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  37. @15:
    prianikoff gives undue praise to the Mensheviks. Except perhaps for the left minority of the Mensheviks, including those like Trotsky who went over to the Bolsheviks and perhaps a few, like Martov, who didn’t, the Mensheviks would not and did not hesitate to join a bourgeois government.

    “Menshevik abstentionism” is a chimera. Menshevik opportunism, which is what prianikoff seems to be advocating, isn’t.

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 14, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  38. OOPS! I forgot, if I ever knew, that the wordpress software doesn’t treat angle brackets literally. Please consider the ones in my above comment as a marker for prianikoff’s full comment #15.

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 14, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

  39. A useful article on Syriza by Paul Mason: http://paulmasonnews.tumblr.com/post/22914870033/greece-trying-to-understand-syriza

    Comment by louisproyect — May 14, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

  40. Regarding the question of what is or isn’t “a terrible waste of resources” (just search this page for ‘resources’ to see the comments on this topic!), I find Louis’ response to my last comment on this to be a bit strange:

    > It [i.e., this blog] would be [a terrible waste of resources] was titled “Communist Voice: the official organ of the Militant Labor Tendency–Fifth International” or some such thing.

    > Comment by louisproyect — May 14, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    So it’s not really a matter of what resources are used, but of the pretentiousness of various groups and individuals using them. A valid criticism, but not the one you made, Louis. Unless you mean that any use of resources to express ideas, or use phraseology, that you, for whatever reasons, dislike is “a terrible waste of resources”.

    I’m sure that many people would agree with that method of defining ‘waste of resources’, just as many people would agree with the Supreme Court justice who said something to the effect that he couldn’t define ‘obscenity’ but knew it when he saw it. And, in both cases, such a subjective definition is only useful if one has the power to enforce one’s own subjectivity on others.

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 14, 2012 @ 11:34 pm

  41. Snapper, you are probably a newcomer here but I have been writing about sectarianism on the Internet for about 20 years. Just google “sectarian” and the URL for this blog to get an idea of where I am coming from. I am all for political diversity, what I am not for is small sectarian self-declared vanguards. I hope that helps.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 14, 2012 @ 11:48 pm

  42. “Menshevik abstentionism” is a chimera. Menshevik opportunism, which is what prianikoff seems to be advocating, isn’t.”

    True. However, those he is criticising are also wrong. Given that SYRIZA is a class-conscious, left reformist party with a growing working class base, critical support to them and demanding that they take office and thus expose their limitations and further radicalise the situation is the correct tactic for Marxists., Not demanding that they only take power in a revolutionary manner, as if they were an errant revolutionary current of some sort.

    They are not that. Demanding that they behave like that also reflects at some level illusions in them by the CPGB etc

    Comment by redscribe — May 15, 2012 @ 7:23 am

  43. 37 Red Snapper
    “Menshevik abstentionism” is a chimera. Menshevik opportunism, which is what prianikoff seems to be advocating, isn’t.”

    No you idiot, you haven’t applied the political lessons properly at all.
    All you’re fit for is being served on a bed of saffron rice with a twist of lime.

    The policy of the Mensheviks was to oppose the formation of a workers government in Russia.
    In practice, their political activity amounted to handing over power to the liberal capitalists.
    The coalition with the Socialist Revolutionaries and liberal Constitutional Democrats in 1917 was entirely in keeping with this aim.
    As was walking out of the Soviets.

    The KKE’s failure to propose a Workers Government with SYRIZA is a betrayal of a similar order to the Mensheviks.
    Except they’re doing it using opportunist national chauvinist arguments about the EU.
    Whereas the Bolsheviks were criticizing a cross class coalition that had already formed a government and was perpetuating an Imperialist War.

    Comment by prianikoff — May 15, 2012 @ 8:46 am

  44. Meeting with Alexis Tsipras – leader of SYRIZA
    May 14, 2012

    ‘This is a European crisis and we must respond on a European basis. This needs to include Europe outside of the EU, a new internationalism.’


    Comment by prianikoff — May 15, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  45. I’m not clear, prianikoff, on what parties you think might make up a “workers’ government”? It is highly unlikely that Syriza and the KKE will get much more than a third of the vote, and even with the 50-seat bonus for the party with the most votes, they are unlikely to have a majority in parliament. Moreover, if Pasok and New Democracy want to prevent that, all they have to do is form a coalition for the June election that would virtually guarantee that they, not Syriza, will get the 50-seat bonus.

    I would guess that what the bankster leaders want is for Syriza to take responsibility for governing, but without a clear majority. That way, Syriza could not make any of the radical moves its base would want, and would have an excuse for making serious concessions to the banks.

    In other words, a “workers’ government” in Greece now would just be an instrument of pushing through the program of the banks, perhaps with cosmetic modifications, while demoralizing working-class resistance to austerity and to the fascists.

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 15, 2012 @ 10:06 am

  46. The idea that Syriza could form a workers’ government with the Stalinist isolationists of the KKE is ludicrous. They need to be advocating a united front with PASOK in which austerity measures are redirected against the Greek super rich and elites. That would be a United Front and a nascent worker’s government which Pasok are likely to reject casting them as the villains and if Greece was still kicked out of the Euro by the Fascist Financiers of Frankfurt they would get the blame. At the moment Syriza look like they are going to take Greece out of the EU in the name of `internationalism’. and allow the blame for the ensuing economic madness to fall on the shoulders of the left across Europe. Ironically though Syriza might think that pulling out of the Euro is the panacea that will allow them to avoid class struggle it won’t. The new drachma will be as worthless as confetti if they don’t take on the rich and their banks.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 15, 2012 @ 10:17 am

  47. No doubt the counter-revolutionary stalinist KKE having persuaded the centrists of Syriza to take the blame for Greece leaving the Euro will then proclaim in the back lash: `first the fascists then us.’ as they did in Germany in the 1930s.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 15, 2012 @ 10:28 am

  48. What’s so bad about Greece leaving the Euro? No serious demand of the working class against austerity is possible within the Euro, for the simple reason that the purpose of the austerity is to keep Greece in the Euro and thereby protect the Euro from the threat of disintegration.

    Comment by redscribe — May 15, 2012 @ 11:44 am

  49. What’s so bad about it? It is an attempt to side step the class struggle both against the Greeek ruling classes and the European financial classes. The purpose of the austerity is not to protect the Euro. They couldn’t give a flying one for it. It is to bail out the owners of the banks liabilities: the super rich and elites of Greece and Europe. The chaos that will ensue from Greece’s leaving the Euro will be blamed on the left not just in Greece but across the board. If the Stalinists or Syriza were saying `we need to leave the Euro so that we can seize the wealth and property of the Greek ruling classes’ fine but what they are saying is `leave the Euro and all will be well’. It won’t. It will be Weimar Two. Greek isolationism should be left to the fash. 70% of Greekw want to remain in the Euro because they are fully aware that the drachma will be utterly worthless wiping out at least half of savings and perhaps even GDP overnight.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 15, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

  50. ” The purpose of the austerity is not to protect the Euro. They couldn’t give a flying one for it.”

    I think that is simply wrong. That is exactly the point of the exceptionally severe austerity that is being imposed on Greece and other weaker capitalist economies in the Eurozone such as Spain. The Euro is an overvalued currency relative to the weaker capitalist economies and that irrationality is crucifying those economies. If anti-austerity actions stop short at the hurdle of the Euro then that is a limit on the militancy of the class – we can only go so far otherwise we’ll be outside the Euro. The Euro is a very important project for the European ruling classes.

    There should be no preference one way or another – within or without the Euro is no principle, but if Euro membership gets in the way of the working class struggle then it is the Euro that has to go. And why has leaving the Euro anything to do with Greek isolationism? What happens if several of all the countries whose economies are being crucified like this are forced to abandon it due to working class revolt? It could happen, and that would not be isolationism but an anti-austerity revolt across national lines.

    Comment by redscribe — May 15, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  51. `There should be no preference one way or another – within or without the Euro is no principle, but if Euro membership gets in the way of the working class struggle then it is the Euro that has to go.’

    I just said that myself so don’t argue against positions I don’t hold. The ruling class will abandon the Euro if it is tactically in their interests to do so in the course of the class struggle. Should, for instance, the Greek working class propose to balance the budget and therefore meet the conditions of the EU Fiscal Treaty by abandoning the bank bail out and seizing the assets of the Greek rich then it is likely that Greece will be kicked out of the Euro and that will expose the ruling classes’ true intent. If however they can force the left to withdraw Greece from the Euro they can shift the blame for the economic chaos from the capitalist system to a political decision by the left. Tactically the Stalinist Greek left want to drag Syriza into this major error of isolationism.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 15, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

  52. By the way the exceptionally severe austerity that is being imposed on Greece is down to the exceptional corruptness and historical decadence of the Greek ruling classes who are more exposed than anybody to the bank collapse having investemd more of their treasure than most in Ponzi Bank Bonds. If Greece is suffering more than the rest it is mostly down to the fact that this class of utter parasites are demanding it. If anything the rest of the European financial class are ready to cut them loose.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 15, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  53. David

    “to the exceptional corruptness and historical decadence of the Greek ruling classes”

    I don’t see how the Greek ruling class can be described as ‘exceptionally’ decadent, more so than the rest of the European bourgeoisie.

    The real reason for the particularly hard impact of the crisis on Greek capitalism is its relative backwardness and lack of economic strength. The same with Ireland, Spain etc.. Italy does not fit this pattern, but had a legacy of enormous debt problems before the Euro going back decades, so de-facto it is in a position with some similarities for slightly different reasons.

    .It seems to me that there is an inconsistency in this comrade’s argument here. The Greek population is not so gullible, I don’t think, to blame the left for the failure of Greece in the Euro particularly since the official reason for the severe austerity is to stay in the Euro! If people at the same time express sentiment against leaving the Euro it is because they have not yet thought this through. But it is a big leap from that to ‘blaming the left’ for something that it is obvious is in an immediate sense is the result of the fact that Greece cannot devalue its currency to escape the worst effects of its crisis – because its currency is the Euro.

    This is the result of the contradictions of imperialism at a European/world level, and a huge opportunity to win over workers to that understanding. Why should the left fear stupid and transparently mendacious attempts to blame it for this crisis? It is not a credible smear.

    Comment by redscribe — May 15, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

  54. Unlike several other comrades here, I have far too little understanding of political economy in general and of the role of monetary policy in particular to advise a hypothetical workers’ government in Greece, or any other country, how to deal with the Euro. But I will risk a few observations:

    1) The power of the unelected European Central Bank to set monetary policy is something that has to be opposed.

    2) The Euro is not only an instrument of banker domination of Europe, but of European imperialism, especially in Africa.

    3) Less of an observation than a question: What is the role of major U.S. financial institutions, as well as the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve, in relation to the fiscal and monetary policies being carried out, or attempted, in Europe?

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 15, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

  55. Greece: SYRIZA, the Communist Party and the desperate need for a united front
    by Michael Karadjis
    Links, International Journal of Socialist Renewal
    May 16th


    “…it is important to know that the one and only section of the left that the KKE has ever actively collaborated with was …historically the “right-Eurocommunists..PASOK and New Democracy.
    …In other words, the KKE has collaborated with everyone but the left.
    To explain all this, a little history is necessary…

    In 1995, the KKE, which had faithfully followed Khrushchev, then Brezhnev, then Gorbachev, suddenly rediscovered that Stalin was allegedly one of the greatest Marxist thinkers and began doing absurd things in the 1990s like glorifying the 1930s purges. This seems to have little logic other than that of protecting its human “assets” from contamination by the rest of the radical Greek left, consisting of a dizzy constellation of Trotskyist, Maoist, anarchist and other far-left and revolutionary formations, and giving some justification to its abject refusal to work with anyone on the left…
    later in the decade the KKE adapted .. to Greek nationalism. ”

    …The KKE’s idea that it will gain from a “second wind” when the masses see the failure of SYRIZA is almost beyond comprehension in its sectarian reasoning.
    In a situation that is revolutionary, that is life and death for the masses, the nettle needs to be grasped. More likely a failure of the left to unite at such a crucial moment for Greek society will open the door to fascism as a section of the masses swing right to find an “alternative” to the crisis.


    Comment by prianikoff — May 16, 2012 @ 6:54 am

  56. It looks like Syriza may well pay for their flirtation with the isolationist Stalinists of the KKE with a much reduced share of the poll in any snap re-run of the Greek General Election. The pro-austerity parties have successfully turned it into a in or out of the Euro referendum and of course every Greek worker knows that the value of their wages, welfare and of public spending will be reduced by about 90% if they swap the Euro for a new Drachma.

    Who votes for the KKE for God’s sake? All they offer is a Greek version of North Korea. Even the Greek neo-nazis are more outward looking. At least they want to conquer the world. Syriza should have demanded a United Front with Pasok to direct austerity where it is morally due and where it will do the most good: at the parasitic Greek ruling elites and then pledged to fight tooth and nail to avoid being kicked out of the Euro by the Fascist Financiers of Frankfurt.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 16, 2012 @ 7:08 am

  57. `I don’t see how the Greek ruling class can be described as ‘exceptionally’ decadent, more so than the rest of the European bourgeoisie.’

    For historical reasons it is the most parasitic, chauvinistic and criminal of the European ruling classes due to its being a very vulnerable, dispensable and late-forged link in the chain of imperialism.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 16, 2012 @ 7:11 am

  58. Syriza needs to end its sectarian flirtation with the disgusting KKE and Socialism in One Country and get back to a serious programme of class struggle including:

    End the bail out of the bankrupt banks. Replace them with a state-owned people’s bank lending euros at base rate to small business and facilitating social investment.

    Defend all desirable and necessary public spending and balance the budget by heavy taxation of the rich and one off seizures if necessary to cover the most urgent bills;

    Full Employment: No expensive and pointless job creation schemes. Share the available productive work and pay all a living wage;

    Socialise and democratise the cash-hoarding, job-slashing, asset-stripping monopolies;

    Renegotiate the founding treaties of the EU in accordance with socialist principles.

    Encourage the founding of local assemblies of workers and community organisations and anti-fascist defence committees along with committees of workers in all work places that can challenge shareholders and esbatlishment placemen for management.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 16, 2012 @ 7:19 am

  59. #58: Enough with the second-rate Coyoacan imitation.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 16, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  60. #59 Get lost you old fart. Mind you opportunist sectarians and indeed sectarian opportunists do so dislike discussing concrete policies preferring as they do the rareified atmosphere of endless meaningless abstractions and propaganda. That is where they live after all you wouldn’t want to develop an abnormal psychology would you. You are worse than Newman. Really you are. There is nothing he hates more than concrete discussion of policy. You can even get banned for it. I suggest you give up political blogging and go an run a monastery.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 16, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  61. By the way, we get it, you are not a trot anymore. Guess what? We don’t fucking care.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 16, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  62. Louis: Just out of interest. What is it that you object about my comments. That they are fifth rate Trosky impersinations displaying an abnormal psychology or the actual content of them? Just so that we know that you are not simply trolling your own blog with a series of ad hominem attacks what is it you object to. Even if you simply say `end the bail out… shit’, `full-employment … shit’, `socialise the monopolies … shit’ `united front … shit’ etc, etc.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 16, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

  63. What is it that you object about my comments.

    They are sterile and narcissistic. Nobody else writes as if they are giving directives to the masses. They are too modest to do so. I am telling you, as you probably know, that Trotsky used to write such stuff for his followers in Spain, France, and Germany. It was always translated into the languages of the people he was addressing. You are writing in English to the people who read this blog. As I have told you already, I have never seen more than 2 visits or so from Greece. So basically you are not addressing the Greek working class but my readership, who are hardly in a position to form workers militias, etc.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 16, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  64. #63 Sorry you think that way. I have no illusions that the Greek masses are reading your blog. In fact i’d be surprised if even a single Greek had ever visited it. My comments are attempts to generate discussion among the tiny number of `marxists’ that may visit it in regard of policy an and in this case to oppose the obvious sectarianism of those who want to see Syriza in an alliance with Stalinism against the Greek working class. Maybe you should stick to films. I know you’ve described this thread as notes from afar but this isn’t the nineteenth century. For me Greece is more or less across the way. I visit it regularly though not in a political capacity. I think you need to chill out and cut the nasty insults. As for modesty with you it would be entirely false and in fact this is no time for modesty real or false.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 16, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

  65. How in fuck’s name is your call for workers militia, etc. supposed to generate discussion? In fact it defies a rational response since it is so detached from reality. I really don’t object to you attacking KKE (which doesn’t mean that I agree with you) but formulating demands for Greek workers is bonkers. You should refrain from doing this since it is a waste of bandwidth.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 16, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  66. Are you saying that anti-fascist defence comittees shouldn’t be built in Greece at the moment and that they shouldn’t be serious especially in the wake of the sudden growth of Golden Dawn following serious new funding streams. If so why not just say it and cut the vicious insults. Many people post on blogs with different styles and methods. Who cares? Suck it up and move on.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 16, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

  67. Are you saying that anti-fascist defence comittees shouldn’t be built in Greece at the moment and that they shouldn’t be serious especially in the wake of the sudden growth of Golden Dawn following serious new funding streams.

    No, what I am saying is that you calling for such a thing is sterile and a waste of bandwidth. In fact, the next time you post that kind of nonsense, you are out of here.

    Comment by louisproyect — May 16, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  68. Louis seriously stick your fucking blog where the sun don’t shine. Like you say no fucker comes here anyway and when they do they only get trolled by you.

    Comment by David Ellis — May 16, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  69. I think the problem with David Ellis’ formulations, aside from my disagreements with or soubts about many of the specifics, is that he doesn’t say what political subject, i.e., conscious actor, he is speaking to. When Trotsky wrote about Germany in the early 1930’s he was writing as the leader of a group that still considered itself to be a faction of the Comintern and, in that capacity, was arguing what the German Communist Party should be doing. By the late 1930’s, especially in regard to Spain, he was arguing what those in Spain who opposed the Stalinist PCE from the left should or should not be doing. In both situations, he also communicated semi-privately with his own supporters about what they should be doing, etc.. In the earlier case, his public writings were for the historical subject called the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), while his more private writings were about how the smaller historical subject, his faction, could affect the behavior of the larger subject, the KPD, which, although Trotsky might not have put it that way, constituted an objective factor in relation to the former.

    So David Ellis, if he doesn’t want to sound so abstract, should decide to whom he is, if only hypothetically, addressing his prescriptions. The Greek working class? Syriza? Some political current inside or outside Syriza? Even in fiction, when one writes a story in the form of a letter or message to some person or persons, one says or implies to whom the letter is addressed.

    P.S. While Louis does indeed troll his own blog and make ad hominem attacks on many who comment here, it doesn’t help to respond to him in kind.

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 16, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  70. redsnapper

    “Less of an observation than a question: What is the role of major U.S. financial institutions, as well as the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve, in relation to the fiscal and monetary policies being carried out, or attempted, in Europe?”

    Good question. They have been involved in promoting the austerity plans, observe the role of Goldman Sachs proteges in running Italy, Greece up till recently, and even the European Central Bank. At the same time, the Obama administration has not pursued this kind of radical austerity policy domestically. And they are concerned about further economic instability, that may blow back against the US economy. I can only conclude from this that they do not have a unified position on what should happen regarding Europe’s financial crisis, apart from the working class being made to pay for it either in the short or medium term. And that there should be no ‘instability’ particularly that means independent working class action that could throw a spanner in the works of bourgeois hegemony in Europe. But I don’t see a coherent policy there.

    Comment by redscribe — May 17, 2012 @ 8:58 am

  71. Thanks to redscribe for venturing to answer my question.

    On another matter argued by David Ellis and Louis P.: I doubt that many of us here would argue that the left. the working class and immigrants in Greece don’t need some kind of armed defense guards to confront the fascists and the police. But what would be of interest to most of us who actually read this blog is to learn what various groups in Greece are saying and doing regarding the matter. It might make some sense, then, to critically evaluate their words and actions, or the lack thereof, as a part, however small, of the collective self-education of the international anti-capitalist left.

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 17, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

  72. Without expressing any opinion of the general line or work of the KKE, I think the following, from STATEMENT OF THE POLITICAL BUREAU OF THE CC OF THE KKE On the NATO Summit Meeting in Chicago (http://inter.kke.gr/News/news2012/2012-05-17-pg-nato/) is, if accurate, a good reason to not give unconditional support to Syriza:

    The stance of SYRIZA is hypocritical. It avoids the demand for the disengagement-departure of Greece from NATO with the general demand for the “dissolution of NATO”, i.e. Greece will never leave NATO, not even in the “Second Coming”! Because the nucleus of NATO is the USA, as the strongest political-military and economic power from the time of its creation. The weakening of NATO has as its pre-condition the weakening of this alliance through the disengagement of our countries from NATO, as a result of the struggle of the peoples and the overthrow of the anti-people imperialist political line in their countries also. No pro-people government and policy can exist within NATO, as well as in the structures of the EU alliance. The EU and NATO are two sides of the same coin. The recent political proposal of SYRIZA for a “left government”, while the clouds of war against Syria and Iran are gathering, and the involvement of Greece in NATO and its plans in the region is being reinforced, is silent-in a very obvious manner- on the issue of disengagement.

    The demand for the disentanglement of Greece from the imperialist plans is timely and necessary, as well as for the return of sections of the Greek armed forces, which are on imperialist missions, as well as for the disengagement of our country from NATO. The struggle of the neighbouring peoples for disengagement and the weakening of the NATO alliance, the closure of all the NATO military bases (like Suda) are also timely and necessary. All these demands are in a line of rupture and counterattack, more decisively combining the anti-monopoly anti-imperialist struggle in every country with the struggle for people’s power.

    It would, IMO, be wrong for any purportedly anti-imperialist group inside or outside of Greece to support the formation of a government, however ‘left’ it claims to be, that would continue Greek participation in NATO. Support for Syriza should be contingent on its commitment to take Greece out of NATO forthwith.

    While the EU is also, as the KKE argues, imperialist, that fact is not, at least in principle, a necessary consequence of its existence. One could fight for a socialist EU in fraternal relationship to the semi-colonial world, but can one imagine fighting for a socialist NATO in fraternal relationship to the semi-colonial world?

    Comment by Red Snapper — May 18, 2012 @ 6:36 am

  73. As Greece was occupied during the Crimean and Cold wars, we must displace the current residents with Albanians (Kosovar Style) to keep them from giving the soviets access to the straits.

    Comment by jack — May 18, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

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