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More on the Greek crisis February 14, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics, The Left.

One thing that seems to be forgotten in the parliamentary votes and the protests is what is the political situation in terms of party support? It’s quite fascinating, in an academic sort of a way.

The new poll, carried out by Public Issue for Skai, showed ND to have inched forward to 31 percent, consolidating its growing popularity, while PASOK continues to languish in fifth place with 8 percent.
The poll, carried out on a sample of 1,002 people last week, showed the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) to be holding firm at 12.5 and 12 percent respectively. But the Democratic Left has surged in popularity, garnering 18 percent of the public vote (up 4.5 percent since last month).
All together, the leftist parties garner an impressive 42.5 percent, but as KKE has ruled out cooperating with other parties, the figure is misleading.
Support for the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), the third party in the tripartite coalition, slipped to 5 percent — from 8 percent during its heyday in 2010 — while the extreme-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) has surged to 3 percent, hitting the threshold for entering Parliament.

Fianna Fáil must count themselves lucky not to have seen their vote slump to the level of PASOK. But note a few key features. Democratic Left developed out of Synaspismos, a part of the SYRIZA coalition of parties. Perhaps it is its very newness which is part of its appeal. And the popularity of party leaders is also worth noting:

The poll’s results for parties are broadly reflected in the support for the politicians that lead them. Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis tops the list, attracting the support of 56 percent of respondents, followed by 41 percent for SYRIZA’s Alexis Tsipras and ND chief Antonis Samaras with 31 percent.

For parties explicitly left of ‘mainstream’ social democracy to reach 42 per cent is quite remarkable. That there seems no way to wield that support – however transient it may be – into something that can provide a real potential for change in the society is depressing.

All that said here’s a most interesting take from late last year on the Greek crisis which dovetails with the piece posted earlier today. It is written by Theodora Oikonomides whose bio says that:

She has worked with various humanitarian organisations in the field of education in emergencies and chronic crises in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa from 1998 to 2009, and was an advisor to the Special Secretary for Intercultural Education in the Greek Ministry of Education in 2009-2010.”

It’s importance, I think, is in that as well as discussing the reasons for the ‘austerity’ measures which in a sense are now well rehearsed, it outlines clearly – almost dispassionately, what the effects of that ‘austerity’ in Greece have been at ground level, away from the series of policy measures described earlier. But there’s also a strength in it in that it describes the dysfunctional aspects of the Greek socioeconomic set up and how the initial measures were welcomed by many because they seemed set to make a break with that dysfunction.

Much of what is said about the dysfunctions of the Greek economy is true. Greece has a very high number of civil servants relative to total population, and a significant number of them were recruited not on the basis of need, but as a gesture of political favouritism. It is a fact that the bureaucracy is slow, inefficient and wasteful. Tax evasion is rampant at all levels of society, but more shockingly so among the rich and very rich. Corruption is endemic. Business-related legislation is so arcane that it is an obstacle to entrepreneurship. Statistics provided by the Greek government to the European Union are notoriously poor, and in some cases, such as the government budget deficit figures, outright lies. All these are realities that the Greek people are fully aware of and wish to change. When the very first batch of austerity measures was announced in the beginning of 2010, many Greeks not only accepted them, but even supported them, because they agreed that sacrifices had to be made to correct the worst dysfunctions of the state.

This doesn’t strike me as a society resistant to change.
But she continues:

But reality is that austerity measures are enforced selectively. For example, the government announced with great fanfare in 2009 that it would crack down on tax evasion among the rich, yet no results of significance were ever seen. Similarly, corruption has not decreased since the 2009 elections – as a matter of fact, the Comptroller-General’s 2010 report on corruption in state-run institutions says that corruption has increased, and increased considerably. …
Since 2010, the 758,000 civil servants of Greece have taken multiple pay cuts. Pensioners have also taken substantial cuts. Tax exemptions have been revoked even for the poor, and VAT has been increased to 23% on pretty much everything. The minimum taxable income has been brought down to Ђ8,000 per year, and income tax rates have been increased. The knock-on effect for businesses has been disastrous, with 1 in 3 businesses shutting down since 2009. As of June 2011, the official unemployment rate in Greece stood at above 16%. Greece’s largest labour union, GSEE, estimates actual unemployment at 20-22% of the working-age population.

What’s astounding is the counter intuitive aspect of this. If one takes measures that makes a situation worse, and across a protracted time period, then there comes a point where one has to face up to the possibility that the course of action that is being taken is the wrong one. A medicine that merely further depresses a patient – if we’re dealing in dodgy metaphors, is one which isn’t much of a medicine. And note that this is across a range of metrics, indeed across pretty much all metrics. Could things be worse for the Greeks? Well yes, but it’s moving to a point where that becomes a matter of degree.
And most depressingly, but again dovetailing with the analysis earlier today,

Because the fiscal targets agreed between Greece and the troika were unrealistic from the start, because the government failed to crack down on tax evasion and corruption, because a grand privatization programme to generate revenue never materialized, because the recession is not only huge, but deepening every day, the same scenario plays out every time a new tranche of the “bailout” loans to Greece is to be disbursed.

It is that unrealism as regards the targets that is so hard to understand. There’s a realpolitik about these matters, obviously, a sense that those in prominent positions in the EU do not with to be seen to be wrong, whose adherence to orthodoxies is such that they cannot conceive of alternatives or even an amelioration of existing approaches, that to turn the supertanker from its present course is too great a challenge. And yet, and yet. This was true from the start when a greater set of options were possible.

The sense is of an EU that was, and is, not fit for purpose. Whose leaders, such as they are, were winging it from the off with no clear or coherent way forward and who constrained by their own national political preoccupations [and never was that more clearly so than in the case of Merkel] have resiled from making the sort of large scale compacts necessary to secure Greece both within the eurozone but also to ensure that any changes made in relation to altering the dysfunctional aspects of that society were bearable by the population and made across a timescale that would allow their downsides to be ameliorated as best as possible.

She continues:

Troika inspectors come to Athens to check the accounts of the state and find that little or no progress has been made. They demand that the government speed up the pace of reforms and implement further austerity measures to fill the gaps in the budget. The government meekly agrees and announces more austerity. A vote takes place in parliament, with thousands of people demonstrating outside and getting beaten and tear-gassed ever more violently by the riot police. The measures are voted upon, the easy ones – pays cuts, tax hikes – are implemented, the difficult ones go to the dustbin of history, Greece receives the loan tranche, and the same story repeats itself a few months later.

This treadmill like process where the situation instead of improving merely worsens leads to the following outcomes.

The problem now is that so many austerity measures have already been voted that the government is resorting to desperate moves in the hope of further cutting expenditures and generating revenue. On 27 September, parliament approved an additional tax on homeowners ranging from Ђ3 to Ђ20 per square meter of property, regardless of income and ability to pay, with very few exceptions. Furthermore, this tax will be collected through the electricity bill, with the explicit threat that power will be cut off to those who don’t pay. In my neighbourhood of Athens, this means an extra Ђ396 tax for 60 sq meters in a 15-year-old building, even for the unemployed on monthly benefits of Ђ461.50.

What’s also worth remembering is that the current measures going through parliament are in addition to everything she has discussed already.

This is astounding stuff really, the impoverishment of the citizenry of a modern democratic state in the heart of the European Union. But as noted earlier today, the response from representatives in the EU is equally astounding as noted in the earlier post on the CLR today.

And her prognosis?

In September this year, Greeks were called upon to pay not only their regular income taxes but also an emergency tax decided as part of an earlier austerity package, in addition to various contributions for health insurance and pensions for some professional groups. Many could not afford the emergency tax, and people demonstrated in front of banks on 30 September, the official deadline to pay it. The new property tax will come with the October and December electricity bills, and there again it is likely that many Greeks will not be able to pay. It is not clear exactly when the new cuts to salaries and pensions will be enforced, but some are expected as early as the end of October. Those Greeks who cannot evade taxes cannot pay. It is that simple. Therefore, a Greek default will happen sooner rather than later. What the consequences will be for Greece and for Europe is anyone’s guess.

And her warning is explicit:

To anyone who lives in Athens, it is obvious that austerity is not “helping the Greek economy get back on its feet.” Vagrancy is on the rise, dumpster-diving for food is becoming a common sight, and drug addiction, depression and suicides are increasing dramatically. The insistence of creditor countries that the Greek sovereign debt be paid back in full – the “haircut” agreed on 21 July turned out to be another sham for anyone who looked at the small print – means that Greece is caught in a debt trap with the ensuing deflation and recession. The people of Greece feel that they are being sacrificed on the altar of the euro to save other Eurozone economies from the domino effect. But the social and political cost is huge, with common people losing faith in the values of parliamentary democracy, and increasingly frequent incidents of social violence, particularly against marginalised groups such as immigrants and Roma people. In short, Greece in 2011 is a repeat of Weimar Germany after the Great Depression. We all know how that specific bit of history turned out.


1. Mark P - February 14, 2012

Democratic Left is an interesting phenomenon, but it is perhaps important to be clear that they are to the left of the traditional social democratic party rather than necessarily clearly to the left of traditional social democracy. The original point of the party was to distance its leading figures from the radicalism of SYRIZA and allow for deals with PASOK. The collapse of PASOK support means that it looks to have an opportunity to actually replace or marginalise PASOK instead of acting as junior partner and conscience to it.

At the moment they are providing something of a “clean hands” option for voters, primarily PASOK voters, repelled by PASOK’s disgraceful tenure in office but still reluctant to embrace the radicalism of the KKE or SYRIZA. As a new and relatively unstable party, the DL could conceivably be pulled back to the left under the pressure of a social explosion, but so far their trajectory has been away from the radical left and towards the ground once occupied by traditional social democracy. The problem being that there isn’t much basis for traditional social democracy in government in Greece at the moment.

The sectarianism of the KKE will likely see them steer clear of the DL. It’s possible that a big breakthrough for the DL could exercise a rightward pull on SYRIZA however.


2. TheOtherRiverR(h)ine - February 14, 2012

Anyone care to illuminate me as to why the KKE aren’t co-operating with anyone including the other left wing parties?


TheOtherRiverR(h)ine - February 14, 2012

And please spare the pointless theoretical reasons.


CMK - February 14, 2012

Yeah, good question! What do the KKE hope to achieve by this strategy?


WorldbyStorm - February 15, 2012



Mark P - February 15, 2012

I’ll give it a go. Sorry for the blizzard of party names at the start, but it’s sort of necessary if you want to understand the relationships between the big Greek left parties.

There are some historic reasons for strong mutual dislike amongst the main Greek left parties. Synaspismos is essentially the descendents of the KKE (Interior), which started out as the Eurocommunist wing of the KKE along with people later expelled from the KKE, Democratic Left is essentially what was the right wing of Synaspismos, while SYRIZA is the left wing of Synaspismos plus a bunch of Trotskyist, Maoist and Green Left groupings. So, as far as the KKE are concerned the other big Greek left parties are (a) all a bunch of splitters and (b) dirty Euros and/or a coalition between dirty Euros and ultra-left wreckers.

But there’s actually a bit more to it than that, because the KKE wasn’t always so isolationist and used to cooperate with other left parties to some degree.

Synaspismos was originally a late 80s joint organisation between the KKE and the KKE (Interior). But after the fall of the Soviet Union, the KKE reoriented itself as a harder, more traditional Stalinist party and simultaneously left Synaspismos and expelled their own “softer” members as “revisionists”.

Ever since then they’ve taken an extremely hostile attitude to all other forces on the Greek left, who they see variously as splitters, reformists, revisionists, wreckers, ultra-lefts, agent provocateurs or some combination of the aforementioned. They are all misleaders of the Greek working class, or at best obstacles to the building of the revolutionary party (which is to say, the KKE). They are of the view that all of the other left parties will expose themselves in time and that the KKE as the steadfast, uncompromising defenders of the flame will eventually inherit majority support amongst the working class. At which point socialism!

Most of us have encountered small left sects with this sort of attitude. It’s just that the younger amongst us are unlikely to have encountered an actual mass party with that approach, so it seems completely bizarre.


CMK - February 15, 2012

OK, Mark, thanks for that overview which certainly explains the complexity of the balance of forces on the Greek Left.

Would it be fanciful to suggest that the KKE are, almost 80 years later, about to reprise the role the KPD played in early 1930’s Germany, through the latter’s refusal to work with the Social Democracts? Are the KKE, by their refusal to work with the other Left groupings, effectively holding the door open for the Greek military and/or New Democracy and its fascist helpmates? What was that Marx said in the 18th Brumaire about history repeating itself first as tragedy and then as farce.


neilcaff - February 15, 2012

A bit more background on SYRIZA and the KKE:

In the late 80’s the KKE, the KKE (Interior), PASOK and some other centrist parties had a joint electoral front called Coalition of the Left and Progress or Synaspismos (which simply means “coalition” in Greek). This electoral front then entered into government with New Democracy.

The successive governments from 88-91 carried out a number of cuts and attacks on workers. In ‘91 the KKE withdrew from the government and Synaspismos.
A hefty chunk of KKE members stayed in Synaspismos at the time. Readers will probably notice this withdrawal came at the same time as the KKE began their think in about what went wrong in Eastern Europe. During this think in the KKE also lost its entire youth wing. I don’t mean young people stopped joining the KKE, I mean their actual youth organisation resigned from the party and took the vast majority of their young members with them. I’m told the KKE lost 3,000 members at the time.

It’s clear the trauma’s of the KKE’s disastrous period in government and the collapse of Stalinism left deep scars in the party. In a way you have to admire them for just keeping the party together as a recognizably radical left force. Unfortunately the solution was a retreat back into the worst excesses of centralised control (the modern day KKE youth wing, the KNE, is a by-word for iron fisted, bureaucratic, top-down control for example) and an intense sectarianism towards the rest of the left.

That said you can’t entirely blame the KKE for this approach either. Or to put it another way, it wasn’t simply a case of the KKE’s latent ultra-Stalinism reasserting itself. There was a general retreat from Marxism and class politics in Greece and internationally in the 90’s. In the case of PASOK it transformed itself from, at times a quite radical, working class based social democratic party with an active working class base, into a wholly capitalist party. Formations like Synaspismos did flirt with all sorts of post-modernist ideas in the 90’s.

Even today some of the KKE’s sectarianism has to be seen in the context of mistakes by other left forces. For example the issue of the KKE’s frequent refusal to march with other left or trade union forces. The criticism’s of this approach are well known and don’t need to be repeated here. However, part of the reason the KKE is able to get away with this is because other left forces consciously refuse to steward their demo’s properly. This makes them a more tempting target for police, “hooded ones” and out and out provocateurs. Consequently many workers prefer to go on KKE sponsored demos simply because they feel safer.

Now the sectarianism of the KKE on demo’s could be quite easily undermined if other left forces firstly properly stewarded their demo’s or contingents on joint demo’s and secondly made a conscious appeal to the KKE and their rank and file to hold joint stewarding meetings, committees etc.

Unfortunately many leading left groups refuse to take stewarding seriously because they associate proper stewarding with the over-bearing behaviour of the KKE!

The last thing I’d say about the KKE is they went fairly rapidly from popular-front style politics (i.e. coalitions with anti-working class forces like New Democracy) to their present form of politics. With elections coming round soon and the prospect of the KKE becoming the second largest, or even largest party in Greece not ruled out I would not be at all surprised if they just as rapidly switch back to popular frontism. I hope I’m wrong by the way, but that has been the general tendency of ultra-left Stalinist parties in the past when the question of power has been concretely posed.


Mark P - February 15, 2012

Thanks Neil. It’s interesting to get some balance in portrayals of the KKE’s relationship with the rest of the left. Their own statements are so deeply unlovely that it can be hard to remember that there’s plenty of blame to go around.


dilettante - February 16, 2012

We might need to realise that there’s no Winter Palace in Athens to be stormed (if there were then the only political force with the remotest chance of pulling it off successfully would probably be the KKE), and that political change in the 21st century (revolutionary or otherwise) is unlikely to create the conditions to allow the KKE to behave as 1930’s Stalinists – even if some of them might like to do so 🙂

They are not preventing the election of a left-reformist government – they just don’t want to be a part of it at this point in time (much as most of the ULA would not want to be part of such a thing if it were to come to pass in Ireland). It would be for a potential left-reformist government to discuss with the KKE about possible support on different issues (up to and including participation in government on terms that would be acceptable to the KKE).

Let’s not forget that the establishment have an interest in promoting divisions among progressive forces. A trap that many on the left are too quick to fall in to.


neilcaff - February 16, 2012

I’m scratching my head trying to figure out the point you’re making.

No one here has mentioned Russia in 1917 at all or said that the KKE is standing in the way of the election of a left reformist government.

As for your last point… hmmm. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that your not implying that left criticism of large CP formations is “objectively counter-revolutionary”


3. Mark P - February 15, 2012

If you were to be very flippant about it, you could describe the Democratic Left as Eurocommunism on time delay. Everywhere except Greece, the Eurocommunists quickly collapsed into reformism and then in many cases into the local reformist party itself. In Greece, the KKE (Interior) and then Synaspismos stayed stubbornly radical.

Now, twenty years late, the right wing of Synaspismos look like completing the traditional journey, complete with the name Democratic Left!

The left wing of Synaspismos (the majority, which is why they still have the name) remain stubbornly sui generis however. As does SYRIZA.

(This is not meant seriously).


4. Ed - February 15, 2012

Just to add a bit more jargon, the old KKE (interior) had as one of its members Nicos Poulantzas, who in his day was one of the best-known Marxist thinkers in Europe. Poulantzas spoke about there being ‘left’ and ‘right’ versions of Eurocommunism:

“What would be the proper distinction between a left wing and a right wing Euro-Communism? There are a number of them. First of all, the question of the importance given to direct and workers’ council democracy, which has always been a decisive continuum between reformist and a revolutionary road to socialism. Left wing Euro-Communism gives a much greater significance to rank and file democracy.

“The second one is the types of ruptures and the types of transformation envisaged in the very state itself: because even if we do not speak about “smashing the state”, nevertheless left Euro-Communism is very conscious of the problem of the necessity of radical transformation, not only of the ideological apparatuses of the state but also of the repressive apparatuses themselves: whereas right wing Euro-Communism tends to see those apparatuses more or less as neutral apparatuses and consequently
does not attach the same importance to their transformation.

“Left Euro-Communism retains the insistence on the moment of rupture in the state itself. It does not speak of a gradual progressive transformation of the state. It is very conscious that there will be a decisive turning point, which is not going to be a civil war but is nevertheless going to be a profound crisis of the state, with a shift in the balance of forces inside the state itself. Right wing Euro-Communism does not examine this alternative very seriously.”


I don’t know if Poulantzas is still influential in his old party, but some of that seems quite relevant to Greece today (even if the Althusserian language is a bit clunking), since you have one “repressive apparatus” of the Greek state beating up resistance veterans on the streets of Athens, another rumbling in the background as people speculate about an emergency government being formed.


5. Ed - February 15, 2012

Oh, and meant to add – I was talking to a Greek Marxist about the KKE recently, he said that they went away after the collapse of the USSR to try and figure out where things had gone wrong, and came to the conclusion that the problems with the Soviet system began when Stalin died and Khrushchev took over.

I asked what they had to say about Stalin refusing to supply arms to the KKE and ELAS when they were fighting against the right-wing government in the ’40s, he said they’ve managed to avoid saying anything about that period in Greek history yet, but will probably end up blaming it on Tito.


LeftAtTheCross - February 15, 2012

There’s an article in the International Communist Review, Issue 2, pages 21-31, written by Aleka Papariga, General Secretary of the Central Committe of the KKE, which includes some background to the soul-searching and analysis which happened after the collapse of the USSR.


Just on Ed’s point about Khrushchev, the article states:

“We concluded that the 20th Congress of the CPSU constituted a turning point towards the strengthening of the counterrevolutionary forces…”


CMK - February 15, 2012

What do you think? Is the Gulag and mass murder integral to socialism? I’m beginning to see why my Greek colleague dreads the rise of the KKE. If that’s the KKE’s position, that Stalin was a revolutionary force, then we might as well give up on Greece and admit the uncomfortable truth that the Greek people face a choice between barbarism of the Troika and the latent barbarism of the KKE. There can’t have been much soul searching, or the KKE has no ‘soul’ to search, if the best they can do is equate the slight lifing of Stalinism with counter-revolution. I’m stunned to read this, to be honest.


LeftAtTheCross - February 15, 2012

CMK, what do I think? I’ve no f***king idea at the moment. Really. Do I think that blogs, Fintan O’Toole’s well-written articles in the IT that address issues like class and attempt to create public discourse, public meetings about household charges and septic tanks, submissions to gov’t consultation processes, etc etc etc etc, that any of this will be enough to counter the barbarism of capitalism as it drives my children’s generation towards the poorhouse? Clearly not, whatever about every little bit helping. Do I think that the truly ridiculous sectarianism of the Left is worth discussing while this is going on? Do I think the gulag and mass murder was necessary? I don’t f***ing know because I wasn’t there man, I wasn’t part of that war. I just expect that things are going to get very nasty here in my lifetime and I’d rather have comrades from the KKE standing beside me with stout flagpoles and whatever else that is necessary to defend me and my kids and my class from capitalism, because there’s a chance they might actually win the fight. What happens afterwards I’ll deal with then.


6. Ed - February 15, 2012

It is mind-boggling to be reading stuff like that, but I think you’re far too pessimistic. It’s not a straight choice between the Papademos government and the KKE, after all – there are three parties to the left of PASOK, one on 18% according to the poll above, two on 12% or thereabouts. The other two main left parties are clearly anti-Stalinist (the KKE-interior broke with the KKE over the invasion of Czechoslovakia).

It seems very unlikely that the KKE would ever be able to form a government on their own, never mind establish a one-party state. More probable that a strategy based on taking all the wrong lessons from the Soviet experience will make it harder for the Greek left to propose a progressive and democratic exit from the crisis, which would then leave the door open for an authoritarian right-wing ‘solution’ – which is bad enough.


Ed - February 15, 2012

(that was in reply to CMK)


7. D_D - February 15, 2012

CMK’s association of the KKE with “latent barbarism” may have been provocative. But it’s only because I really feel intimidated by LATC’s response that I must resist that feeling and protest. There is no obligation on anyone to participate in a blog or in this discussion. If anyone feels that political discussion and activiity are futile in the face of capitalism they don’t have to read the CLR or attempt to bully its other conrtibutors.


LeftAtTheCross - February 15, 2012

D_D, there was no intention to bully or intimidate and apologies to CMK and everyone else if that’s how it came across. My exasperation is absolutely not with CMK nor with this (excellent) blog, it is with the torrent of right-wing assaults on the gains of our class, and a frustration with the inability of the Left here and elsewhere to counter that in any effective way, with the one singular exception of the KKE’s resistance in Greece. Given the scale of the assault, and the possibility that the KKE might just be in a position to fight back effectively in Greece to the benefit of the international working class, which none of the rest of us are in a position to do, maybe they should be cut some slack.


ejh - February 15, 2012

with the one singular exception of the KKE’s resistance in Greece

Except that of course it’s not solely the KKE’s resistance, is it? Despite their efforts to claim otherwise.


ejh - February 15, 2012

maybe they should be cut some slack.

They are being cut some slack. Normally a leftwing party with their politics and their approach to other leftists would get a great deal more criticism than they do.

And if they want any more, they might try cutting other people some too?


LeftAtTheCross - February 15, 2012

Correction to above:

…with the one singular exception of the KKE’s significant contribution to the resistance in Greece…



CMK - February 15, 2012

Apologies, too, if using the term ‘barbarism’ to describe the KKE was interpreted as provocative. And I wasn’t trying to have a go at LATC or anyone else rooting for the KKE.

However, the point remains that Greece is probably the first time since 1968 that a European capitalist democracy is coming close to social and political revolution. The KKE probably sense that, and they seem adamant that they will direct that revolution if and when it comes. Hence their refusal to work with other Left parties. I doubt whether they will create a single party state or even a communist dictatorship, but they seem to be completely lacking in collective self-awareness that where the Left is on the rise that development will be accompanied by a corresponding rise in the shadow of Stalin and the USSR experience. Having said that, it hardly bodes well for how the KKE in power would act if they can’t handle and work with plurality on the far left. A political party in 2012 who are unapologetic about Stalinism, as the KKE seem to be, can hardly expect to gain much traction, despite their undoubted roots in the organised Greek working class. I don’t think defending Stalin and his state is going to impresse the mass of waverers whose acquiescence or tacit support is necessary to win major political struggles. And it’s also an unnecessary ‘own goal’ for it will allow the Right to mercilessly use the KKE’s stance on Stalin to not only de-legitimise the KKE but other Left groups, too.


LeftAtTheCross - February 15, 2012

“And I wasn’t trying to have a go at LATC or anyone else rooting for the KKE.”

That was understood CMK, you are always a voice of reason 🙂


ejh - February 15, 2012

Having said that, it hardly bodes well for how the KKE in power would act if they can’t handle and work with plurality on the far left. A political party in 2012 who are unapologetic about Stalinism, as the KKE seem to be, can hardly expect to gain much traction, despite their undoubted roots in the organised Greek working class

There’s also the point that if you’re going to have a revolution, you need sympathisers and supporters worldwide, and you might need to be a bit less hostile to everybody than the KKE for this to become a reality. There are not, these days, fraternal parties to the north and north-east to turn to.


D_D - February 16, 2012

Point taken LATC about exasperation. We are all living on our nerves to some extent these days.


8. fergal - February 15, 2012

Not wanting to get involved in a debate on gulags and the like i think everybody on CLR salutes and supports the brave Greek citizens LATC mentions a very pertinent point about the inability of the Left to counter the onslaught against wokers.This could be because we’ve left the right determine the terms of the debate,deficits,loans,interest rates and so on.We can’t win this game so the Left should be invneting a whole (not so new) ballgame based on cooperation,peace and egalitarianism.How?
a. those in negative equity or being crushed by the banks squat their own house
b Job sharing and a reduction in working hours to lower unemployment
c.working towards a default,at worse banks to lose 50 or 60 per cant of their repayments.
Point c is in the context of a ruling elite that is wedded to financial capitalism.Every single action done by EU over last 4 years is to lock people into the banking system,these people can’t/won’t deliver a 100 per cent default
d complete overjaul of tax system ending the joke that is IFSC and the Googles of thie world(2.4 per cent paid in corpo tax in Ireland in 2010!)
Keep it simple 4 targets for civil society to fight for.


9. Ed - February 15, 2012

By way of some balance, the same Greek left-winger I mentioned earlier as rolling his eyes (to put it mildly) over the KKE’s regression to pre-thaw Soviet orthodoxy, was still impressed by the fact that in the early 90s, they had been so determined to make a clean break with PASOK that they broke their electoral pact with them for local elections, losing hundreds if not thousands of councillors and mayors around Greece.

I’d have to agree with the most recent comments from CMK and ejh. I think most people who are criticising the KKE do so more in sorrow than in anger – if the situation in Greece really comes to the boil and the government falls, the full-blooded McCarthyite rhetoric which is apparently already filling the Greek media will be replicated everywhere else. It’d be easier to refute it if the KKE had gone even some way towards distancing themselves from the Soviet heritage.


10. David Campbell - March 5, 2012

I agree with many comments here regarding the KKE’s apparent stalinism. That their refusal to condemn the crimes of Stalin means that they will not gain much support. That their refusal to work with both reformists and revolutionary groups heavily infiltrated by the police means they are an obstacle to a united left.


Everyone here acknowledges that,as well as crimes, there were very real and inspiring achievements made by socialist countries in the 20th century.

If we accept the idea that we need to loudly condemn all the crimes committed by socialist countries and downplay our symbols and ideology in order to make more people support ‘sensible’ socialist parties, it seems strange that the KKE, a party that refuses to follow this path, is one of the largest, most important socialist parties in Europe.

Is the fact that the KKE refuses to be on the defensive all the time and are proud to be socialist and have a clear, explicitly Marxist-Leninist line mean that they do not become confused or appear weak?

I am sure there are capitalists who feel outrage at the crimes of capitalism. But do these capitalists perhaps realise that the less they mention the horrors of the slave trade, or the murderous fascist regimes put into power by capitalism, the stronger the argument for capitalism seems?

Is the very fact that we are so appalled by the mistakes and crimes of communists in the 20th century and wish to appear to condemn this mean that to ordinary people we appear to be weak and overall support for socialism remains low?

Perhaps socialists would have more success if we concentrated on the positives, if we celebrated the achievements of socialism more and said that despite past crimes and mistakes of socialists, these are nothing compared to the past and present crimes of capitalism.

Should we stop being so defensive and just declare that socialism is a better system, that whatever mistakes and crimes made by socialists, our solutions will stop the many times worse crimes of capitalism?


11. Jim Monaghan - March 5, 2012

The left parties are polling 55 % in Greece. There is a need for a left front with a clear socialist programme. As the biggest laft party the major responsibility here llies with the KKE.
In fact the greatest error of teh KKE is not having a United Front approach. Given that they supported the PASOK in the past, could they be leaving a door open.
Staliism caused millions of deaths. It is possible that Stalin was responsible for as many deaths as Hitler. Whole nations were practically destroyed. He invented a concept of guilty nations and guilt by being related to an oppositionist.
The KKE itslef killed many on the left from rival groups.A coming to term fully with this would create a better basis for trust on the l;eft.
I do not know what the situation is in specific terms in Greece. But there is an urgency to solving the crisis in a left way. The opther way is generals or lower ranks.
55% support is the workers ways of saying to the Left, get over your differences and take power by demanding immediate elections.


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