The Liquidation of what was called the Greek Revolution
(Battaglia Communista, n.40-41, 1949)
One of the most common objections that the Stalinists to move the repudiation of collaborationist methods was drawn, at the time of the liberation and of the democratic idyll within the CLN, from the experience of the insurrection of the partisan EAM, pro-Russian and self-proclaimed anti-capitalist, which violently broke the pact of national union for the liberation of the Greek fatherland, signed by all the democratic and anti-German parties, including those that later would be called monarcho-fascists. It is well known what happened: the leaders of the British occupation corps did not hesitate to turn their weapons against the rebels, assisted in this by the parties of the “right” and, in a short period of time, drowned the Stalinist insurrection in blood.
This was decisive for the imperialist placing of Greece, which thus passed into the Western camp. The Stalinists pretended, in Italy and elsewhere, that the outlawing of the Greek national-communist party meant a reversal of the relations of force between the classes and, subordinately, the material proof of the impossibility of following a revolutionary policy as the allied occupation of the West continued. Trivially misinterpreting the anti-national unity, anti-egalitarian, and class-based tactics defended by the scattered internationalist groups that were detaching themselves from the terrible militaristic abhorrence, our enemies didn’t miss, on any occasion, the polemical pleasure of waving under our noses the horrible disaster that befell the Greek “revolution” and accusing us of wanting an identical fate for the Italian proletariat. “Class politics?” They objected. “Anti-national defeatism, anti-democratism? You want to throw Italy into a Greek situation. A realistic assessment of the situation imposes an exclusively collaborationist “tactic” – with the parties of democracy”.
Apart from the fact that we could not do anything in the political arena, it was relatively easy to find arguments to disprove the stupid accusations of Blanquist voluntarism that are traditionally hurled at the really revolutionary party, but not so easy was the task of extracting from the Greek events the counter-revolutionary content in a way that would be intelligible to people who had been blinded by the war propaganda; to the point that the inseparable alliance of Russia with the Western capitalist powers did not arouse their suspicions in the slightest, an alliance loudly proven, if there was still a need to do so, by the conferences in Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. The events and the epilogue, in particular, of the second phase of the Greek guerrilla war, which officially began in the autumn of 1946 with the proclamation of the constitution of the Democratic Army of Markos, were to prove exhaustively the causes, the motive and the purely imperialistic scope of the fighting that broke out within the Greek State, and shamefully refute the lies of Stalinist propaganda, according to which the opposition of the partisans to the existing regime was carried out along the line of the struggle against Greek capitalism and was part of the international crusade against American imperialism. This falsification was to seem more and more truthful the more submissive the Athens government became to the political and military powerhouses in Washington. It’s not without reason that the Greek guerrilla was immediately after the Chinese “revolution” of in the golden records of cominformist socialism. It is therefore appropriate to exhume some significant episodes, which will also allow us to see an important aspect of the phenomenon of imperialist civil war.
Those who, being still undecided, had waited for the proof of facts to judge the nature of guerrilla warfare, according to the internationalist diagnosis, could be satisfied already in the aftermath of the appeal to the UN that was one of the first official acts of the Markos government. This was in September 1947. The Cominform’s enormous maneuver of mystification was already being outlined at that time. The Cominform, due to unavoidable need of imperialistic competition, was driven to furious opposition to American expansionism without being able to break definitively with its rival bloc, as shown by the coexistence of the rivals in the ultimate body of world reactionary solidarity: the UN. Nor was it worth presenting the presence of Russia and its associates in it as the result of the victorious pressure of the world of socialism on the retreating world of capitalism, given that a simple glance at the political topography of the illustrious assembly was enough, then as now, to highlight its unequivocal nature as a fief of Yankee politicantism, capable of opposing other means of blackmail and oppression of the “minors” who were not able to exercise the famous right of veto, granted to Russia as joint ownership. Therefore, the recourse of Markos to the UN at the moment in which he declared war on Greek capitalism and, through it, on its powerful American supporters already constituted a self-confession of the alleged anti-capitalist aims of the movement and, therefore, a declaration of loyalty, against any misunderstanding, of Greek people’s democracy to the fundamental institutions of bourgeois conservation. Had it been of another orientation, i.e. in revolutionary opposition of capitalism, the guerrilla could only proceed to the solemn denunciation of the repressive role of the corporate assemblies that, if they have no intrinsic power, serve magnificently to mask the imperialist jailing of the world and, in this specific case, the inclusion of Greece in the economic, political and military apparatus of the United States. It was not possible – to remain on the ground of the ultra-reactionary demands of the Markos government – to fantasize about Greek national independence, sovereignty, etc., etc. and to ask for the support of the smaller forces of the UN which, by carrying out the directives of the Big Boys, had sanctioned the “monarcho-fascist” government in Athens. This was especially clear to the supreme authorities of the Moscow International, as is indirectly demonstrated by the fact that when it came to the question of the conquest of the independence (read: dependence on Moscow) of China, the local leaders, who had much better material chances of success than the shabby “army” of Markos, devoted very little time to making appeals to the UN, showing that they held the latter in the same regard as all the brigands of imperialism in the exercise of their actual functions.
It was clear that by asking the UN to be listened to by its representatives, Markos did not lift a finger against the “lurking reaction”, but neither did he intend in the depth of his soul to work seriously for the realization of the authentic programmatic utopias of his party such as the ousting of the government of Athens and the independence and democracy of Greece, which after the proclamation of the “Truman doctrine”, which is to say, the will of the US to practically annex Greece and Turkey, became pure propaganda material, a polemical weapon of the Russian Cold War. That is, the Greek guerrillas served as pawns of the supreme strategists of the Cominform as a tactical expedient in a conflict that had its epicenter elsewhere; all the rest, the verbal anti-bourgeois statements, the cursing of Greek fascists, etc., etc., being smoke and mirrors for the eyes of the proletariat. In fact, when the storm began to calm down in the sense that Russia had no reason to hope to wrest anything more from the exorbitant hands of its American comrades and a prelude of a rainbow will appear on the international horizon, the seemingly unstoppable guerrilla campaign went straight to hell – needless to say, in the cauldron of the UN. Who can’t see that today?
Markos ended up as everyone knows, but the policy of clasping hands in front of the UN survived him, and Gromyko was called to represent Greek people’s democracy in front of his illustrious colleagues and to expose to them, as the torpedoed Markos asked to do in his time, “their point of view”. Let’s skip the gruesome history of bloodshed and hunger of that massacre in slow-motion that was, on both sides, the “civil war” and recall immediately how, after the meeting between the Russian diplomat and the UN tutelary deities on the eve of the conference of the 4 Greats in Paris, last spring, the war of the Greek partisans went downhill and the shares of the government in Athens went up.
What’s the basis of the reversal whereby, immediately after the Paris conference, the Cominform shifted the blame away from Greece and to Tito and Rajk? The matter returned to the green table of international commissions in spite of the violent hostility shown at the time by the “mountain government” and that of Moscow for the commissions of inquiry sent by the UN to Greece. When the proposal of a conciliationist “commission” was put forward with the task of studying the means to pacify Greece under the aegis of the UN, Russia gave its consent to the establishment of such a commission.
This already warrants some commentary. First of all, the intention of the so-called democratic government and above all of Russia to give a “peaceful solution to the Greek question” is obvious (Unità issue of 15-8). This means that once again Moscow has bartered the blood of proletarians in exchange for American diplomatic compensation. Besides the fact that we don’t see how it’s possible to “pacify” the Greek proletariat, which the Cominformists claim to represent, with capitalism, the fact remains that Moscow doesn’t sell to America the end of the guerrilla war, practically eradicated by now anyway, but leverages on the tacit threat to start it again should the price paid by the American brigands turn out to be unprofitable. We mean that, far from being a revolutionary undertaking, the Greek civil war was from the very start a disruptive action and a means of blackmail in the hands of Moscow in the exact same way as the unrests conducted by the Stalinist parties in other sectors of the pro-American camp. As such, it could only end in the line of social pacification that is clearly evident in all of the Cominform’s current policies, from Di Vittorio’s reconstructive plans to the formulation of the corporatist and conformist government program of the Chinese “peacemakers”.
Returning to the matter at hand, who can accuse us today of wanting “Greek situations”? They lead to social pacification while we are for the increasing in social contradictions until the revolutionary outbreak. Unless the Stalinists have learned from the study of Marxism the secret of universal peace, we refuse to believe that social classes can be like sports champions, who become friends again after vigorously boxing on the ring. The matter becomes even more incredible when the referees are the big gangsters of diplomacy, installed at the UN.
Social pacification is a euphemism that hides the subjugation of the proletariat. Certainly not pacification! Not even a truce is possible in the social jungle, as long as the regime of exploitation lasts, as the proletarians tied to the secular chain of the bosses know. What distinguishes us and violently opposes Stalinism of all sorts is our interpretation of the social struggle, which leads to the conclusion that the only way to pacify society is to get rid of the executioner and his assistants, capitalism and its servants.
But the Greek tragedy didn’t end with the appointment of a “pacification commission”. The secret of Russian diplomacy consists, when it comes to finding a solution to any question of world importance, in bypassing and pre-empting the adversaries of the moment by devising the most “right-wing” solution that is objectively feasible. This fascinates our bourgeois, bred in the belief that the Russian government embodies the “spirit” of the extreme revolutionary left, so we hear every day that Stalin “extends socialism with the means and political skills of capitalism”, with the most insidious stratagems of Machiavellianism to the detriment of the bourgeoisie; he makes the revolution “pretending” to preach class collaboration and international detente, and we read long screeds on the supposed two-sidedness of Russian diplomacy, a myth which extends into the lower layers to neutralize the critical abilities of the masses in the general interest of bourgeois society, which the latter therefore has every convenience in accrediting. Thus, when the Cominform, even before the oracles of the UN declared on the appointed date that they were powerless to find a way out of the Greek “question”, sounded the retreat signal to the guerrilla Napoleons (Unità issue of 18-10), the bourgeois newspapers were quick to suggest that this “right-wing solution” was a sham to hide God knows what evil “left-wing” designs. The truth is only one: “to be on the right”, now that the push towards ever more totalitarian forms of the State is present in all the national varieties of capitalism and leads inexorably to a substantial identity of programmes of all the supposedly distinct and opposing parties “to be on the right” means to work, no matter if under the orders of Moscow or Washington, to heal class contradictions, to persuade the proletarians to disarm themselves of the weapons of class warfare in the interest either of the nation or of democracy. As a consequence, only those political forces can say they are “on the left”, even if with an improper term, who see in the exasperation of all the social contradictions of the bourgeoisie the objective justification of a political action tending to worsen the wounds that torment the ruling class, to hasten its death on purpose, without being softened by the creaking of the institutions in force.
It was the leaders of the Paris Commune (may the ghosts of our ancestors forgive us these geographical designations that we use only to polemically retort the arms of our opponents) who, deaf and blind to the lamentations of the patriotic sermons weeping over the “ruin of the invaded country”, dared to strike the death blow to "France immortelle", as were the Bolsheviks equally insensitive to the “cry of pain” of the high priestesses of parliamentary democracy “victorious over Tsarism”. This is not the case with the ultra-renegate leaders of the Cominform who, eager only to get past the runners of the UN “control commission”, ordered the Greek guerrillas to lay down their arms in the name of the democratic need to “spare the country extreme ruin” - which is the same language used by Thiers and Favre when, helped by the Prussian “enemies”, they carried out the massacre of the Communards, thus entering the Pantheon of the saviors of the bourgeois fatherland and receiving on the other hand, in Marx’s burning indictment, an eternal mark of infamy. The country was saved only because the Commune was massacred. The two poles excluded each other then, and they exclude each other all the more today. The Greek guerrilla war was not even a rough copy of the Commune or of any other class struggle of the proletariat, but nevertheless it managed to influence the masses oppressed by the fierce national capitalism. Once again the masses believed in the demagogic words of Moscow’s scoundrels; therefore they could only pay for it themselves at the time of the renewed collusion between Moscow and Athens. Nor, today that Moscow abandons them to the unquenchable thirst for revenge of their class enemies, do they even have at least the satisfaction of knowing that they, like those of the Commune, are the authors of an authentic revolutionary gesture. Compassionate victims of the Russian Moloch, for supreme irony and as compensation for the bestial harassment suffered they will hear the echo of the shameless tirade of Russian diplomats at the UN, sitting elbow to elbow by the representatives of the government of Athens and thundering against the monarcho-fascist executioners with whom they feast... This is how the Greek civil war, waged and betrayed by Moscow with a view to cynical imperialist aims, was to end, in the most shameless murder and deception of the proletarians.
To the proletarians, who fell under the illusion of doing away with the bourgeoisie, Moscow had the grace to sprinkle their tomb with the blessed water of democracy and national solidarity and to write on the gravestones: "fallen for the fatherland". To extreme sacrifice extreme vilification. The cursed executioners of imperialism cannot limit themselves to slaughtering the proletarians, they must sully their memory in order to foster demoralization in the souls of the survivors. A more atrocious insult could not be made to the memory of the multitudes of slaughtered militants whom the Stalinists would never have been able to drag to the slaughter if they had not given them hope of destroying the class enemy. Therefore, it is clear that, thrown aside by Moscow’s lieutenants, these proletarians are entering the already immense ranks of those who are waiting to be avenged by the Revolution. In the meantime, the meditation on their fate will help to revive the anti-bourgeois hatred of the revolutionary vanguard.