A Stalinist welcome to a Nazi intervention into a workers strike in Greece

The workers of Elliniki Halivourgia (‘Greek Steelworks’) have been on strike for 111 days. Elliniki Halivourgia is a steel factory in Aspropyrgos, an industrial outskirt of Athens. The same firm has another factory in the city of Volos.

The management announced a plan to enforce a 5-hour working day with a subsequent pay cut of 40%. On October 30, 2011 the workers’ general assembly in the factory of Aspropyrgos unanimously rejected the cuts. On the other hand, the unionised factory of Volos accepted the proposals of the company. The management immediately announced the dismissal of 34 workers in Aspropyrgos. In response, the workers decided to go on an indefinite strike and picketed the factory gates . Their demands are for the rehiring of their fired co-workers and the cancellation of the cuts plan. After a month’s strike the company has decided to fire another 16.

The strike is under the control of the factory union but the final decisions are taken by the workers’ assembly. On December 6, 2011 a general 24-hours general strike took place in the local industrial area and on January 17 the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) called a 24-strike in Atiki (Athens, Piraeus).

The strike is one of the most important in the last few years. However, it remains isolated and the trade union has already accepted the plan of the company and asks for the rehiring or the early retirement of the fired co-workers. Nevertheless, the employer remains adamant.

PAME, the trade union coalition of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) has played a key role, trying to promote their fighting prestige (‘make all Greece into Elliniki Halivourgia’) and using it as a weapon for their trade union and electoral tactics.

On Friday 17 February a group of the notorious fascist party ‘Xrisi Afgi’ (‘Golden Dawn’) visited the factory; they passed unmolested through the gate, took the microphone and made a speech to the strikers expressing their ‘solidarity’ in the presence of some members of the union. Then, the president of the factory trade union welcomed the fascists, saying that ‘all Greece is with us’.

See a full video below.

First you see the Nazis making a speech and then the president welcomes the Nazis. The union’s president, Giorgos Sifonios, is a member of PAME and he was a candidate of the KKE in the district elections in 1998. Until now PAME haven’t given any explanation, and they haven’t tried to dissociate themselves from that event. So, it is justified to assume that the president acted according to party policy. Otherwise, they would have expelled him immediately.

Doing this the Stalinist KKE have brought the fascists into the workers movement. For the time being I can not explain their stance. I suppose that this is due to the active intervention of anarchists in that strike. As a matter of fact, many anarchist groups energetically supported the strikers and expressed their solidarity with them through many actions. As supporters of spontaneity they may idealize such a strike. So, maybe it will be a great discouragement on their part after that event.

‘Golden Dawn’ is a well known fascist group. They started as pure ‘national socialists’ and later they mixed Nazism up with the traditions of the Greek far-right. But, anyway, they are famous as pro-nazi. They are responsible for many attacks against immigrants. Clearly, it is a ‘para state’ group and they have close connections with the police and army. They have a growing influence especially in popular and workers areas and they are expected to win a good percentage (about 3-4%) in the upcoming elections.

A. 2012-02-21



How is this possible? Is the Greek Communist party not interested in maintaining even a shred of credibility among the working class? I tend to scoff at the insistence of certain members of the "revolutionary milieu" that the left parties have usurped the symbols/language of communism only to perpetuate the ideology and practice of capitalism (do the left communists pretend to have non-ideological positions, or to be the only ones espousing true communist principles?) but this is beyond reason, even for the Stalinist KKE.

Why do you tend "to scoff" at what is true? Is it because you can't bear the truth? Or is it because you too espouse communist terminology merely to disguise your devotion to capitalism! That the Greek Communist party - apparently indistinguishable from their bed fellows the Nazis; as in the 2nd world war, despite fighting each other - is losing credibility with workers is the best news I've heard for some time. Yet you seem sorry that this is the case. Why? And why do you call yourself "another communist" if you're not? Or is "another" shorthand for something more sinister and deceptive, like "bourgeois communist"?

I have no sympathy for left parties that support a reformist line but I think we should resist the altogether too easy response of groups that claim to promote the "pure idea of communism" against the perversions of the 20th century. If I understand the position of this group, it's not that there were fundamental theoretical problems that contributed to the Stalinist counterrevolution but a perversion of the pure idea of communism or an improper application of Marxist principles. Can it be so simple or is this an example of fundamentalist thinking? Maybe we need to rethink some aspects of Marxism like the idea that we are on the right side of history, in the sense of historical material necessity leading to socialism. If you convince yourself that you are the instrument of historical necessity, this is quasi-religious and allows one to justify the Stalinist crimes of the 20th century. Just because I criticize this tendency of taking an absolutist position does not make me an ideological capitalist. I am a longtime reader of publications by Leftcom and this is because the internationalist proletarian perspective appeals to me. I should be able to point out some potentially ideological positions without being denounced as a crypto-capitalist. I though ad hominem attacks were tools of the right.

If I understand the position of this group, it’s not that there were fundamental theoretical problems that contributed to the Stalinist counterrevolution but a perversion of the pure idea of communism or an improper application of Marxist principles.

First of all, I don't really see the difference between those two positions, and in any case it is not the position of the communist left. Rather than seeing the failures of the 20th century as a result of bad ideas or the misapplication of principles, we see Stalinism and fascism as results of the material conditions of capitalism (i.e. the economic backwardness of Russia, the failure of the international revolutionary movement, and the general class war victory of the bourgeoisie through the imperialist stage of capitalism. From a materialist perspective we then conclude that the bourgeois counterrevolution has rendered all of the official parties of the left to be mere representatives of the left wing of capitalism, purveyors of nationalism, upholders of the bourgeois myth of electoral socialist victory and/or the strength of united and popular fronts, among other things.

I think that there's a world of difference between the historical necessity for the working class to overthrow capitalism globally and seeing that there is some sort of inevitability that this will in effect occur. While a lot of the second internationalist thinking up to the outbreak of the first imperialist world slaughter war of workers was heavily influenced by the inevitability of the success of socialism over capitalism eventts have proven that this is a mistaken view. There is nothing inevitable about the communist revolution as can be seen in all the bloodbaths that capitalism has been responsible for from the end of 1918 to the present day.

No as Marx said as well as a succesful revolution there is also the possibility of the common destruction of the contending classes. This is the real possibility today if the working class is unable to organise ourselves in sufficient numbers in the revolutionary party. In the case of the KKE one example of the decay that is begining to display itself. Even taking into account the counter revolutionary role played by this organisation in the past this is new depths of betrayel.

By the way agree with everything that ideology argued on the reasons why the Stalinist machinery was able to gain such a grip of the Russian state during the counter revolutionary period following the end of the civil war in Russia.

The clarification is appreciated.

Another glaring example of betrayal in a so-called communist party is provided by the current presidential election campaign in Russia. The Communist party there wants to introduce ethnicity stamps on passports and crackdown on illegal immigration. Whatever happened to the principle of universality, qui est ici est d'ici (who is here is from here)? In more than one place we see a betrayal of principles by so-called communists.

What are puny revolutionary organizations of the communist left to do in the face of such demagogy, especially when the reactionary "worker's parties" represent the bulk of the political opinion of the working class?

"What are puny revolutionary organizations of the communist left to do...?" in the face of the apparent triumph of the bourgeoisie and it's "workers' parties". What's the answer? Give up, disband, suicide, or just wait for the class to wake up? Or anticipate decomposition's final victory? Not much of a choice there!