Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Day in the Life of the Left Platform

April 1, 2014. Ecofin, the Council on Financial and State Finance Affairs of the EU, is holding a conference in Athens. The ND-PASOK government forbids demonstrations in the downtown Athens area pre-emptively. GSEE-ADEDY has planned a demo and PAME calls for a demonstration against government repression. SYRIZA does as well. But in the actual demo, as plenty of tweets from participants testify, the very small SYRIZA contingent that actually attended is Missing in Action, leaving only a group of MPs, who are walking way ahead of the rest of the demonstrators and without any visible plan. This peculiar avant garde is composed of Panagiotis Lafazanis, Dimitris Stratoulis and other members of the "militant left" of the "Left Platform". Let's see the video, as they are approaching the point where the police have blocked passage to the city center:



SYRIZA "dissidence"

Much has been the hype, internationally and (far more grotesquely) nationally about supposed "dissidence" within SYRIZA regarding the Eurogroup agreement. First of all, it would be good to establish once and for all what the balance of formally expressed forces is within the party: in the elections held in 2013 for the constitution of SYRIZA's Central Commitee, the forces involved were as follows:

1. The Unity Ballot (that is to say, the "SYRIZA establishment"), 67.61%, 135 members of the CC

2. The "Left Platform" (the alleged "SYRIZA Left Wing", led by Panagiotis Lafazanis -- pictured above winking at us while voting in the aforementioned party elections; this is also the formation of the Jacobin's exceedingly verbose Stathis Kouvelakis) 30.15%, 60 members of the CC

3. The "Non-Allied", 1.03%, 2 members of the CC

4. The Communist Tendency (of which a gigantic amount of hype globally), 0. 74%, 2 members of the CC

5. The "Members' Intervention", 0.27%, 1 member of the CC

6. The "Unity Intervention", 0.21%, 0 members of the CC.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Names

Vandalized memorial plaque to a Democratic Army General, 2013
The names tug on the sleeves of indifferent passersby like orphan children.

Who will give the names a room to huddle together and rest?
They come from afar, their feet dusty. They are thirsty with a thirst of stone.
Their empty stomachs empty the room, empty my hand, empty the loaf of bread from the inside.

They look at me silently as regards the central issues
of forgiveness and revenge, or, more practically,
of the tactics and strategy
of the current conjuncture.

I shut the door on them, but they keep coming in.
I open it, but they escape to another house, and from another's shoulder
they trace what is written with invisible eyes, from left to right.

In its first, mystical innocence, history was a long list of names,
and in its deepest guilt likewise.
If I remembered them, one by one, syllable by syllable,
if I trained my lips to properly speak their succession, first a hundred,
then a thousand, then ten thousand names, which key, exactly, would I then
find in my palm? Perhaps I would conceive the tone of an unknown melody,
or perhaps the peculiar character of the silence that follows the rattle of the machine gun.
And which, if I were to weigh my body, would be
their precise weight when present? And when absent, when the names
have been lost, would I be lighter?

I have concluded, as a materialist, that the soul exists and does not exist
because the soul is what feels pain when the names speak
and because what feels pain is nothing, it is less
than nothing, it is created in the image
of the names.

Poem self-translated by Lenin Reloaded.

Handful of a man, a mountain

Handful of a man, a mountain

He's sitting in the front row. I don't know how the words sound to him through the hearing aid -- perhaps like the sea, perhaps like winter wind on roof tiles, perhaps like the crystal of stalactite in caves.

He's small, like the old-time people in ancient coffins. He says goodnight and leaves, bones tucked in pants and white shirt.

Salonica, Kozani, Edessa, Western and Central Macedonia; Limassol.

Eptapyrgion, Aigina, Yaros, Kefallonia, Tyrinthos, Averov Prisons. To death, to death, to death.

Dusk swallows the white shirt. The light gets smaller. I see him suddenly, returning from the innards of the night, and he is big, colossal. He carries himself on his own back. On his shoulders, the world is snowing, and the boot sinks in the mud, and the palm is acquainted with the rifle. And there is no gravity, nor night, nor sleep. Beside me, the great procession marches, voiceless. Everyone of them a mountain, on which they themselves ride. Partisans.
***
Text self-translated. On first encounter with Yannis Drousiotis, 96 years old, Cypriot, fighter with ELAS and the Democratic Army, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, sentenced to death thrice, released through the intercession of his father and the British authorities in colonial Cyprus, brother of Andreas Drousiotis, Spanish Civil War volunteer, killed in action on 19 October 1944. Photograph pictures him first left, in white shirt, on the day I met him, during a KKE presentation of volume on party history from 1949 to 1968, held in Limassol, Cyprus.

Yannis Ritsos-Calendar entries, 17, 22 November 1973

Yannis Ritsos's calendar, week of the Polytechnic uprising and junta repression, 16-22 November 1973

17 November
Heavy silence, punctured by shots, bitter city,
blood, fire, the fallen door, the smoke, the vinegar
Who will say I am waiting from the interior darkness.

Little rope-walkers with big shoes and a bandage of fire on the forehead
red wire, red bird, the lonely dog in the isolated suburbs,
as the palest day dawns behind the smoke-painted statues
and the last scream is heard, dissolved on the avenues
behind the tanks, inside the scattered shots.
So how can you sleep? How can you then sleep?

22 November
How slowly the knife grows. He who is silent,
it isn't that he has nothing to say
it isn't the twelve nails on the wall, the locust in the glass
it is that he is waiting for his jaws to unclench.

Translated by Lenin Reloaded.

Lads, Rise Up!


Lads, rise up!
Let's get on the streets.
Women and men
with rifles on our shoulders.
Always faithful
to the red banner
to the trumpet, next to us
that's calling us.

Raze the foundations
of palaces and thrones
of heavy chains, scarlet robes and laws
shame to the worker, shame to the slave
who doesn't drown such a life in blood.

Forward, let us crush tyrants and fascists
become builders of the New Greece
shame to the youth who doesn't join the battle
for popular power, for honest life.

Paris and Moscow, deeply honored
Athens, Barcelona, bathed in blood
they are sending us messages, they are sending us cries
Forward, revolutionaries, for glorious victories
they are sending us messages, they are sending us cries
Forward, revolutionaries, forward, communists!

Musical version: Mikis Theodorakis
Vocals: Maria Dimitriadi
Lyrics: Unknown (different versions of rebel song)
Transl. by Lenin Reloaded

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Words that Maketh Murder

Mr. Stathis Stavropoulos
The international Press is full of praises for the high intellectual quality and caliber of SYRIZA cabinet and fans, praises usually written by SYRIZA cabinet and fans; for instance Stathis Kouvelakis, or "Prospect Magazine", enraptured as it was by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, "nemesis of the Germans". Often, as in the case of Kouvelakis' essay or  Mr. Charalambous' recent piece, SYRIZA's cerebral superiority (the result, pace Mr. Charalambous, of a blend of Marxism and Keynesianism bound to defeat inferior and antiquated Leninist ideas) is highlighted by comparison to the lowly intelligence of the inveterate and atavistic "Stalinists" of the KKE -- to all intents and purposes, a party of boorish "proles", as George Orwell would have it; no matches for the superhuman intelligence of the Zizeks, Negris and Balibars of this world, certainly.

But let us shift focus to the national context. Mr. Stathis Stavropoulos was a cartoonist for "Rizospastis" until the 1991 split, when he left the newspaper and made a great career for himself working in the Greek bourgeois press; he was, after all, a talented cartoonist.

Mr. Stavropoulos was a candidate MP for SYRIZA in the 2012 Parliamentary elections, and was expected to be a candidate again, though he did not make the final list this time. He is a columnist for news portal Enikos, while his essays are frequently hosted by "Iskra", the electronic organ of SYRIZA's "Left Platform" (to which, incidentally, Mr. Kouvelakis belongs).

No toleration for the new agreement reached between the government and the EU to extend the memorandum

No toleration for the new agreement reached between the government and the EU to extend the memorandum
Statement of the PB of the CC of the KKE

The new agreement, which the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government signed with the EU, ECB and IMF, is both in form and in essence an extension of the memorandum and the commitments provided for in it, a continuation of the anti-people political line of the previous governments of ND and PASOK. This agreement and the list of “reforms” include all the measures that are negative for the workers. These are measures that were taken by capital, its governments, together with the EU in conditions of the economic crisis, measures that assisted the recovery of capitalist profitability. I.e. all those things that bled the Greek people dry in the previous years and which they had fought against: strict supervision and evaluation by the troika which is now called the “three institutions”, observance and extension of the anti-worker and anti-people directions.

This agreement confirms that the negotiations even the so-called “tough” ones, which are conducted inside the framework of the EU with capitalist recovery as their goal, consistently have anti-people outcomes. The alleged “proud” negotiation was an advertising scam.

SYRIZA and Imperialism: On Libya

In the early months of 2011, SYRIZA's main party advocator, the newspaper "Avgi" (which hails historically from the days of EDA, when the KKE was banned and entered into coalition with Social Democrats in vain attempts to curtail anticommunist terror in the country), published a series of articles pushing for intervention in Libya. 

These articles have vanished from the newspaper's electronic archives, but, with the aid of more electronically savvy comrades than myself, they have been recouped.

Below, then, follows a translation from one of these, an article in "Avgi" by Dimitris Stoumbos, published on 26 February 2011. The original, Greek language article has been archived in my Greek language blog in the interests of preserving historical memory against its professional manipulators.
---

The only remaining electronic proof of the publication of the article, a screenshot of its abstract and title from a third-source "Avgi" archive. The newspaper regularly resorts to "disappearing" incriminating pieces of its propagandistic activity, once the horrendous results of what it advocates have become too difficult to falsify as "conspiracy theories".
The Insurrection is Giving Birth to a New Libya
D. Stoumbos
Avgi
Date of publication: 26/02/2011

SYRIZA and Imperialism: On Syria

The following statement was published by the Press Office of Synaspismos on August 1, 2011. The statement was written by Rena Dourou (pictured with Alexis Tsipras), then European Policy Coordinator for Synaspimos, and currently Attica Prefect with SYRIZA. Synaspismos [Coalition] of the Left, Social Movements and Ecology was founded as a party in 1991, after the split between KKE and the Coalition of the Left and of Progress, itself accompanied by a split within KKE, as several of the members of its cadres switched to the new party (including many currently in SYRIZA's so-called "Left Platform"). In 2004, Synaspismos became the largest constituent part of SYRIZA.

The statement is translated in the interests of allowing non-Greeks to better understand SYRIZA's actual political and ideological character and, inevitably, the causes of the split in 1991, after the counter-revolution in the USSR, and the causes of political conflict --and real enmity-- between SYRIZA and KKE today. I also hope it will shed some light on the broader character of the Euroleft coalition of the European Left Party, which SYRIZA helped found in 2004.
----
Statement by Rena Dourou, European Policy Coordinator of Synaspismos, on the recent bloody repression of the Opposition by the Syrian regime, in the city of Hama

"Syria is bleeding. From their webpages on the internet, Syrian oppositionists are once again protesting the bloody repression the Assad government conducts in order to save itself, and at the same time, are criticizing the international community for its passive stance toward a regime that has for some time crossed "the red line", as it is unabashedly turning against its own citizens.

On the eve of the Ramazan, the Assad regime chose --not accidentally-- the city of Hama in order to spread mass death -- hundreds of dead and an unknown number of injured, according to an NGO, while intermittent images on the internet testify to the violence and brutality of the military intervention. The city of Hama, which is in the front line, since mid March, of the rebellion of the Syrian people against the regime of Bassar Al Assad, was the theater of the most murderous repression campaign of the current president's father, Hafez Al Assad. The dead (Sunnis, almost exclusively) were tens of thousands...

Today, five months after the launching of "Syrian Spring", the fighters of the insurrection persist, despite the bloodbath, in standing tall and in resisting, demanding what the Egyptians, the Tunisians, the Libyans demanded: Freedom, democracy, respect for their dignity.

Today, at a time when the people of Syria are delivering a remarkable lesson in courage and resistance to a barbaric regime, the international community is effectively silent, absorbed by the negative economic conditions in the US and Europe. But this stance effectively works as a "green light" to the Assad regime, to continue drowning in blood even the most peaceful demonstrations. The time for the international community, headed by the United Nations and the EU, to isolate the bloodthirsty regime is NOW [sic]; they must simultaneously support, politically and economically, the forces of the opposition. NOW is really the time of concrete solidarity with the people of Syria".

The Press Office.

Translated by Lenin Reloaded

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is there a class in this text?

"The comparative lack of elaboration concerning the matrix of political and economic challenges of today is in part the result of the absence of academics from the environs of the KKE. This is something SYRIZA inherited from Synaspismos, where there was always space for the coexistence of Keynesianism and Marxism. The crisis, the organizational involvement of Synaspismos with social movements, made the theoretical arsenal of the new party even more prosperous [sic].  On the contrary, in the KKE, the absence of any relation to the new centers of reaction against austerity guaranteed the continuation of the existing ideological arsenal."
George Charalambous, Red Notebook (SYRIZA Website). Trans. Lenin Reloaded. 

Below, a recent sample of the "absence of any relation to the new centers of reaction against austerity" in KKE, 1 November 2014. 1000 Unions, 100,000 workers. Took 3 weeks to organize.

The KKE denounces the anti-communist persecution against the CP of Ukraine

The KKE carried out an intervention in the EU Parliament’s Foreign Affairs’ Committee in order to denounce the persecution of the CP of Ukraine and the dissolution of its parliamentary group. This committee carried out a special meeting, where the President of the Ukrainian Parliament, V. Groysman, was the central speaker.

The MEP of the KKE, Kostas Papadakis, stressed in his speech: “Mr Groysman in your country, which the Chair E. Brok in his presentation characterized as a country that could be an example to be emulated, the reactionary government that is supported by fascist forces dissolved the Parliamentary Group of the Communist Party of Ukraine.

In the same country, the President of the Administrative Court of Kiev that is conducting the Ukrainian government’s political persecution against the CP of Ukraine, resigned and made accusations that on the 16th and 17th of February he and other members of the judiciary were subject to searches in their offices, to searches of their computers and personal items. The president characterized these acts as being illegal and refused to bow to the pressure. 10 other judges of the same court demanded exemption from the specific trial in support of the President of the court.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Love and Silence-Giorgos Tsarouhas

Giorgos Tsarouhas was born in 1912. He studied Law at the Athens Law School. After the end of the Civil War, he was sentenced to imprisonment for 12 years and exiled to Yaros island. He was temporarily released in 1951, re-arrested in 1953 and sent to Ai-Stratis island. He was finally released in 1961 and elected as an EDA MP (KKE was banned) in the same year. On the night of the 27th of May 1963, when Gregoris Lamprakis was assassinated, Tsarouhas was also violently attacked and had to be hospitalized for 29 days (photo above). He was one of the main witnesses in the Lambrakis assassination trial. In 1968, in the second year of the military dictatorship, he was kidnapped by Police and tortured. He died from the beatings he received in the Police station. Before dying, Giorgos Tsarouhas managed to swallow a note he was carrying from the illegal KKE Party Organization of Salonica, as it contained the names of his comrades. The note was found when they cut his body open during autopsy, and it was included in the evidence when the case against his Police assassins was finally prosecuted, in 1979. My mother was friends with his daughter and this note is in his memory.

Charilaos Florakis: "Notes of Ire", 1991

Charilaos Florakis, Democratic Army of Greece, right
Shameless lackeys of imperialism! The leaders of the CPSU have suddenly proclaimed the party of Lenin and Stalin, the party of the wretched of all the earth, illegal! And they have auctioned its property! This is a world first. This is the provocation and deceit of centuries. And they put us to sleep, all these years, with their "Perestroika" and "Glasnost" and their other deceptive proclamations. How the hell did they unnerve the people so as to grab from its hands the reins, its present and future, without a single nose bleeding?
August-September 1991

I remember Diamantis, Agathi, Beloyannis and countless other fighters -- all buried in the dirt. If they could rise, they would ask us: "Comrades, is this why we gave our lives for socialism? So it could be surrendered to traitors?" What would we answer, so as to make them peaceful again in their graves? That the proclamation that the Bolshevik party is illegal is its...reconstruction? That the dissolution of the Soviet State took place for the sake of improving actually existing socialism? That unemployment, hunger, immiseration and criminality are a necessary stage for the rebuilding of socialism? That the "new order" is the quintessence of socialism? What would we answer them?
October, 1991

What I had, I' ve given to the Party. The objects in my house should stay with the Party as well. The Communist Party of Greece of course! Because if the devil has it so --I don't want to believe this-- that it has the fate of other parties, whether by changing its name or its program, then I say categorically, I ask that all contracts regarding my inheritance be revoked and that everything goes to the "Home of the Partisan". I want to be categorical about this. Because I' m leaving my belongings to KKE, not to some other, ersatz Party. I repeat, if there are changes (I don't believe so -- there's much one cannot believe that does happen -- who would have ever thought the CPSU would self-dissolve and become illegal) everything should go to the Home of the Partisan. I don't care what political stance they' ll have as long as they are fighters.
December 1991

Charilaos Florakis was the GS of KKE from 1972 to 1989. He was active in KKE since 1941 and fought for ELAS and the Democratic Army of Greece. He spent 12 years in prison and 6 in exile. He died in 2005. The title "Notes of Ire" is given to his diary of the period by his biographer, Christos Theoharatos, from whose second volume of Florakis's biography the present have been translated.

(Not) Understanding the KKE

 

Inescapably, the political developments in Greece have led to an increasing amount of debate on the stance of the Communist Party of Greece, its positions on a number of the key issues, and, probably, to an amount of curiosity as to its nature.

There is of course the formal response to well-intentioned queries, the detailed analysis of the main issues through the party press or through glosses. From my perspective, however, something is lost in translation. You may convey how KKE sees this or that issue, but not what it is to see through its eyes, what silent premises its vision contains.

1910        1920         1930        1940        1950         1960        1970        1980           1990              2000           2010
                  1924 ΚΚΕ                                                                         1974 ΠΑΣΟΚ          1993          2004    2010    2012
                  (1918 ΣΕΚΕ)                                                                         1974 ΝΔ                    Χ.Α.       ΣΥΡΙΖΑ  ΔΗΜΑΡ/Α

This graph shows the evolution of the composition of the Greek parliament in 2012. KKE was founded as Socialist Workers Party of Greece in 1918 and changed its name to KKE in 1924, when it adopted the principles of the Leninist Third International. Between 1924 and the foundation of the next oldest parties, ND and PASOK, 50 years elapse. The fascist party, Golden Dawn, was founded in the early years after the counter-revolution in the former Soviet block, SYRIZA in 2004, the Independent Greeks in 2012. DIMAR is no longer in the Parliament, but its replacement, "Potami", was founded in 2014. It's clear we are really speaking about two worlds here, two versions of what the "twentieth century" is really all about.

"Revista Opera" Interview with G. Marinos, MP and member of the PB of the KKE

1 - How do you see the recent election of Syriza? Will they be able to solve Greece's workers needs?

In our assessment, the replacement of the ND-PASOK government by the SYRIZA-ANEL one can not help satisfy the people’s needs today. And this is because the new government, like the previous one, despite its “leftwing” sloganeering operates within the same framework: the country’s participation in the EU and NATO, the implementation of the commitments to these imperialist unions, the recognition of the unbearable state debt that the people are not responsible for, the support for the profitability of the capitalist interests in the name of the “competitiveness of the national economy”.

So the new government’s program is simply seeking to manage the phenomena of extreme poverty, while at the same time the unbearable situation will continue for the majority of the people, as the causes of the people’s problems will remain in place. These causes are to be found in the very nature of capitalism.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Invisible Aspects of Opportunism: Semioticization

As is the case more broadly in postmodernism, the history of the communist movement is transformed for opportunism into an object of semiotic cannibalism. Cannibalism is of central importance for the semiotic politics of opportunism: anthropologically, it is part of the triumph over a defeated opponent; similarly, the opportunistic cannibalization of the communist past is a sign of triumph over historical communism. At the same time, cannibalism is a means of "incorporating" the communist Other, transforming him/her into something harmless and manipulable. Cannibalism is both murder and mourning over murder, an attempt to retain the trace of the now harmless dead as a "souvenir" -- hence the horrifying cannibalistic habit of retaining "souvenirs" of victims -- shrunken heads, teeth, hair, etc. Similarly, in opportunism's own semiotic cannibalism, communist history is "mourned" as a trophy, as a violently disjointed memory of a now dismembered (precisely into "signs") body (remember the exemplary anticommunist "trophy" of the 90s, a piece from the Berlin wall). Like actual cannibalism, semiotic cannibalism suggests both sadistic violence and imaginary identification with the object of this violence (I transform the Other, whom I swallow, into myself), and hence its character is both sadistic and narcissistic: it is an extreme form of simultaneous hatred for the Other and narcissistic libido so intense that it transforms this hated Other into a part of one's  own Ego.

And the image mongering of the "Semiotic Left" continues...

EAM Antifascist Poster, early 1940s
SYRIZA "Anti-Memorandum" Poster,  present

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Yannis Ritsos-These Red Spots

Yannis Ritsos, center. Makronisos Concentration Camp for Communists.
These red spots on the walls, they could be from blood.
All red these days is blood.
They may be from the sunset, reflected on the wall across.

Every night, things redden before fading
and death comes nearer. Outside the prison bars
are the voices of children, and the train's whistle.

Then, the cells get narrower
and you have to think of a valley of grain
and of the bread on the table of the poor
and of mothers smiling at windows
to find a bit of space to stretch your legs.

In those hours, you grasp the hand of your comrade,
a silence is formed that is full of trees
the cigarette, split in two, moves from mouth to mouth
like a lantern searching for the forest.

We find the vein that reaches the heart of Spring.

We smile.
***
Voice: Yannis Ritsos
Vocals: Nikos Xylouris
Music: Christos Leontis

Cornelius Castoriades on December, 1944

The remainder of the Trotskyist delusion that was burdening us and that we had not yet denounced was the idea that Stalinist parties had become bourgeois, just as 40 or 50 years ago, reformist Social Democracy had become bourgeois.

The hour of truth came in December, 1944. What kind of bourgeois or reformist party was this, that -- were we to set aside the dark and not entirely known story of the hesitations and stupidity with which the Stalinist leadership fought the battle of Athens -- was trying to take power by force of arms, slaughtered everyone and everything, etc? And what was it that mobilized the masses following it? It was at this point that the only political disagreement I ever had with Spiros [Stinas; major Trotskyist and anti-KKE militant] occured.

Maybe it was so he could salvage something out of the classical theoretical schema, maybe because the situation for someone bred in Marxism was monstrously incomprehensible, maybe because the situation was tragic -- seeing the little people come downtown from Kaisariani, from Pagkrati, from Peristeri, and being ready to die, and knowing that what they are dying for is the creation of concentration camps and a Stalinist dictatorship. At any rate, for one of these reasons, after December Spiros argued for a certain while --I don't know if the text in question is extant-- that this was an idiosyncratic military movement that echoed the dictatorial tendencies of the military personnel of ELAS. For me, on the contrary, as I have written anyway, the December events were, in a way, the Revelation, not of John, but of Joseph...and of ... Nicolai. These events, the politics of the party, the stance of the masses, were totally indigestible by classical theoretical schemata -- not only Trotskyist, but not even Leninist, and even, were we to be precise, Marxist schemata of viewing society and history. They showed where Stalinism was heading; it was clear as daylight that, had the Stalinists taken power, they would have installed a purely Stalinist regime like the one in Russia, and would have sooner or later purged the bourgeois and the petit bourgeois and the left-wing dissidents, as well as anyone who did not become their servile subject. This, of course, and I say this without arrogance, was corroborated en masse by what happened later (we didn't know it then) in Yugoslavia and in other countries, whether there was a Russian army or not; simply by virtue of the power of Stalinist parties, which of course, in conditions of military conquest and occupation, in conditions of national liberation struggle developed, as they later did in other countries (Vietnam and elsewhere), a gigantic military machine, on which they based themselves to take power.

Speech at the Athens Law School, 1989.
Translated by Lenin Reloaded.

We recruited some people. It was called New Times--New Era, rather. And then as time passed, it turned out that the Greek CP’s attitude was not a deviation but instead was following the line of the Third International--which, moreover, was disbanded soon thereafter (1943) by Stalin. Practically everyone abandoned us and left for the CP. And for my part, I joined the Greek Trotskyist party, the most left-wing faction, directed at the time by an extraordinary man named Spiros Stinas, who died a little less than two years ago--a hero and at the same time a secular saint, who was persecuted his whole life long and who surely almost never ate a hot meal for twenty years. I was active with them until the end of my stay in Greece, that is to say, until the end of ’45, and I never had any differences with Stinas, except on the occasion of the Stalinist coup d’état of December ’44--he thought that it was a military coup d’état, which in my view was meaningless; I, on the contrary, thought, not to go into details, that this attempt at a coup d’état was aimed at establishing [instaurer] in Greece what would later be called a people’s democracy, that is to say, the seizure of power by the Stalinists in order to establish a Russian-type society, with, of course, the necessary local variations. 

Interview at Agora International, 1990.

Brief biographical information on Cornelius Castoriades: A year after the events of December 1944, Cornelius Castoriades left Greece on board of the British ship "Mataroa", for Paris. He was quickly hired by the OECD. Most Greeks today think that he left because he was an ultra-revolutionary.

On his connections with Raymond Aron and other figures of the "anticommunist left", as well as the fascist Boris Souvarine, consult:

Christophe Premat

Annie Lacroix-Riz

Benoit Challand

Announcement of the P.O of the CC of KKE on the Eurogroup Agreement

The Press Office of the Central Committee of KKE has issued an announcement on the government's agreement at the Eurogroup.

The announcement is as follows:

"Independently of how it will be called, the government agreement is in both form and substance an extension of the Memorandum, involving strict monitoring, the evaluation of the economy by the institutions (the Troika), and, most importantly, the continuation of anti-popular reforms. Whatever revision to the program, e.g, lower primary surpluses, will not be implemented to relieve the people, but to reinforce the recovery of capital, in other words, capitalist profit, while for the people, the anti-popular measures adopted in previous year remain active. This is why even the breadcrumbs promised by the government through its program will depend on agreement with European partners and on the condition that fiscal austerity and economic recovery will not be jeopardized.

The people, who have been bled dry all these years, and were hoping for something better, must not give in to disappointment. They must not give up on the goal of the real abolition of Memoranda, implementation laws, the goal of recovering their losses. They can achieve that by moving on the path of struggle, aimed at disengagement from the EU, the unilateral cancellation of debt, the socialization of the wealth of the country."

902 

Text translated by Lenin Reloaded.

2+2=5: A Lexicon of Greek Ideological Discourse, 2009-15

Adapted from text published in Greek, Lenin Reloaded, 7 February 2013



Anti-Stalinism=The conviction that because it is theoretically better than fascism, communism is also practically worse, since it committed equally great crimes. Consequently, the silent preference for fascism over communism. 
Autonomy=The ability of capital to automatically adjust every facet of social life.
Constitutional Arc=The spectrum of political parties guaranteeing submission to the ruling class.
Dignity=The means of rationalizing and embellishing mass submission to the power of capital.
Dogmatism=The condition of having a conscience and principles.
European Family=The Boards of multinationals based on European Union countries; the network of finance and political institutions of European imperialism.
Freedom=The right of capital to expand spatially and over social relations.
Front (of the Left)=A form of electoral collaboration aiming at maximizing the occupation of well-paying parliamentary posts.
Hegemony (Left wing)=The unconditional surrender of the New Left to the terms and interests of the bourgeoisie.
Isolationism=The refusal to participate in shady deals between political demagogues.
Legality=Conformity to the power of capital in the legal sphere.
Movement (Social)=A collective form of activism aimed at obscuring the class character of society, usually funded by other nation-states and their secret services, by corporations and by NGOs.
Negotiation=A form of legitimating what has already been decided through the media cultivation of delusional suspense.
Obsolescence=The common feature of all theoretical ideas that actually defend the working class and teach it how to fight for its interests.
Patriotism=What is left to the masses as a specter of the "popular" after the elimination of class consciousness.
Postmodern, postmodernism=The totality of modes of thought after the end of hopes for human emancipation.
Radical change=The loss of working class rights in a specific sector or in all sectors; alternatively, a rhetorical equation of thin air with objective reality.
Rationalization (in economic planning)=The demolition of obstacles to capital accumulation.
Renewal=The invigoration of dominant ideology through its fusion with a rhetoric that appears to resist it.
Responsible Government=A government that is committed to the responsibility of the working class to yield profit to the bourgeoisie.
Radical Leftism=The preference for a different bourgeois government than the current one.
Realism=Renegacy that has successfully rid itself of guilt.
Restructuring=The demolition of obstacles to the functional totalization of a system of exploitation.
Scholasticism (sterile)=Paying attention to the actual meaning of words, defending concepts from distortion.
Second Coming (socialism of the)=The belief that socialism is actually possible in contemporary society.
Sectarianism=The belief in your ideas, accompanied by the lack of willingness to prostitute them in the interests  of bourgeois ideology.
Social Cohesion=The lack of protest or reaction against social injustice.
Sovietism=Keynesianism, state intervention of any form, the welfare state, state ownership of any form.
Totalitarianism=The idea that social life under capitalism is a structured whole whose change has to be thorough and radical, or it cannot really be conceived as a "change" at all.
Unity=The cultivation of divisions within the working class, so that it can be replaced by the collaboration of its self-appointed representatives with the bourgeoisie.
Violence=The obstruction of the freedom of movement of capital and of its right to shape social life and social relations in their entirety.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Europarliament Team of KKE on the US Senate Report on CIA Use of Torture

"The commonly approved text [of the Social Democrats, the Liberals, the Greens and GUE/NGL] attempts to obscure, behind the condemnation of horrific torture of 'suspects for terrorist acts' by the CIA, the responsibility of the US government and of the governments of the state members of the EU which cooperated with the US secret services, for acts of kidnapping, illegal detention, and the turning over of persons to the CIA. The text attributes torture and crimes to allegedly 'arbitrary' acts of the CIA and of the secret services of EU member states, thus obscuring the obvious fact that these were committed under government directives, by state apparatuses of the bourgeois state, which is deeply hostile to the people and which acts to protect the power of the ruling class.

It is characteristic of the obfuscation of the source of all the crimes of the secret services of the US and EU member states, of bourgeois power and its governments, that the text suggests torture didn't lead to information extraction; that it was, then, ... ineffective! Torture, kidnapping and murder by the secret services of the US, the EU and its member states, are constituent elements of bourgeois power and its state. The peoples can block and fully eliminate such elements only if, through their struggle, they directly confront monopolies, their unions, bourgeois power; only if they socialize the wealth which they produce and which belongs to them, emancipated from the EU and from imperialist bondage."
Translated by Lenin Reloaded

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February, 1848


Music: Thanos Mikroutsikos
Lyrics: Alkis Alkeos
Vocals: Maria Dimitriadi

February, 1848

Monday, February 16, 2015

Provocation against “Rizospastis” – The response of the workers was immediate



Provocation against “Rizospastis” – The response of the workers was immediate

In recent days, there was an attempted provocation against “Rizospastis” and of course against the KKE. The protagonists in this were representatives of the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government, “Avgi” newspaper that belongs to SYRIZA, and of course dozens of “anonymous” and “independent” blogs that rushed to regurgitate the provocation.

On the 11th of February, a text entitled “You won’t believe your eyes- the advert carried by Rizospastis on its last page” was uploaded on the website of the well-known journalist Spyros Karatzaferis [NB: extreme right publicist, brother of extreme right party leader Giorgos Karatzaferis, frequent slanderer of KKE and under investigation for bribery for armaments deal]. The text was accompanied by a photograph of Rizospastis, which carried a Coca Cola advert on its last page.

Announcement of the P.O of the CC of KKE on New EU Sanctions Against Russia

The Press Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has announced the following on the subject of the new sanctions of the EU against Russia:

«Today, the European Union made public the new "black list" of persons of public office in Russia on whom sanctions are imposed, using as justification their involvement in the Ukraine conflict. Among those "punished" by the EU is Valery Raskin,  an MP of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, and the Vice Chariperson of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation.

It is clear that, like their predecessors, the new sanctions, imposed after the implementation of the Ukraine ceasefire agreement, do not contribute to any resolution of the problems of the Ukraine crisis.  Furthermore, these sanctions belie the arguments of representatives of the SYRIZA-ANEL government, that it was thanks to their stance that new sanctions against Russia were not imposed. It is factually proven that the SYRIZA-ANEL government did not only agree to the same sanctions against Russia with which the previous, ND-PASOK government had agreed, but also to their perpetuation and further escalation».
16 February 2015.
Text translated by Lenin Reloaded.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What the leader of the Greek "Radical Left" signed at the EU Summit

EU Summit: Conclusions on terrorism and safeguarding values
It wasn’t all about Greece at the informal meeting of the EU heads of state at Brussels on Thursday. A statement was released by the European Council.

EU leaders reacted with deep sorrow and strong unity to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. These attacks targeted the fundamental values and human rights that are at the heart of the European Union solidarity, freedom, including freedom of expression, pluralism, democracy, tolerance and human dignity. All citizens have the right to live free from fear, whatever their opinions or beliefs. The EU is adamant about safeguarding the region’s common values and protecting all from violence based on ethnic or religious motivations and racism.

Friday, February 13, 2015

On the Peace Agreement concerning Southeast Ukraine

On the Peace Agreement concerning Southeast Ukraine
Statement of the International Relations Section of the CC of the KKE

The peace agreement concerning the Southeast Ukraine, which was arrived at after marathon talks between the Presidents of Russia, Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, P. Poroshenko, France, F. Hollande and the Chancellor of Germany, A. Merkel, contains the element of a temporary compromise between the powers that came into bloody conflict in Ukraine in the previous period.

Much will depend on the course of the implementation of this agreement (and the related compromise). Also, there are many crucial points that are not clarified by the framework of this specific agreement. However, the most important aspect is that the causes that led to the crisis and the armed confrontation remain active to a greater or lesser extent. We are referring to the struggle over the control of the shares of the market, the natural resources and the energy transport routes. The outcomes of the naked intervention of the USA and EU in their competition with Russia remain, such as the existence of the reactionary Kiev government, which is also supported by fascist forces.

Consequently, it is too early for celebrations.* The compromises and agreements can not safeguard peace and security for the peoples, as long as the system that gives rise to competition, imperialist interventions and wars remains in place.

ATHENS 12/2/2015
KKE

* According to the CPG's website, and in confirmation of its skepticism, 11 people are reported dead in hostilities in Donbas in the first 24 hours after the Minsk Peace Treaty.

Who is it that my life/Third World War


Who is it that my life
Music: Mikis Theodorakis
Lyrics: Manos Eleftheriou

Who is it that my life hunts
wishing to prey upon it in the night?
Trucks scream and whistle
I' m caught like fish in the net.

For someone in the world it is too late
who is it that my life, that my life hunts?

Who lies in ambush for my life?
Who is it who takes aim at the alleys of the world?
Where is the one who knows how to speak
who knows, even more, how to believe?

Enemies

I have many enemies; but this enemy is different. This enemy tells everyone, everywhere, that he is really my friend. Well-intentioned strangers congratulate me: "Ah, what a great friend you have! And how alike you look!" As soon as I try to say it is not so, that he was never my friend, they look at me skeptically. "How rude, how ungrateful a friend he is!", they think. Sometimes, I don't bother to say anything. I just sit there, broiling with anger at the well-intentioned and at myself. What kinds of well-intentioned people are these, who don't know how to tell apart my friends from my enemies?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"Without illusions"

"Without illusions"*: The combination of cynicism and stupidity has found its new slogan in the lips of those who deceive others while reassuring them that they themselves are not deceived; or rather, those who effectively argue that they promote deception only because others have already been deceived -- to keep them company in delusion, as it were.

For mass delusion appears as the second best option after mass class consciousness, and certainly as something far better than minority class consciousness: mass delusion is "mass", so it morphologically resembles half the character of the revolutionary consciousness of which it is admittedly a parody. 

The Zenonian theory of the transition to socialism


As is well known and repeated by all global pundits, the goal of SYRIZA and the Greek non-communist left in general is the democratic transition to socialism.

But as the distance to socialism is too large to cross at once, there emerges the intermediate goal of a "government of the left."

But that goal is also too large to attain at once, so the "radical left" must needs first assimilate the entire ideological and organizational body of PASOK. Because PASOK has experience in "left-wing government."

The "erratic Marxism" of Mr. Varoufakis

The ‘erratic Marxism’ of Mr. Varoufakis
Written and translated from the Greek by Gori

The Greek Finance Minister was very clear in his ‘famous BBC interview’, but our petty-bourgeois commentators were too busy commenting on his style and the absence of a tie. He said that the current crisis has so far been dealt with as a liquidity crisis, which it is not. He said that it is instead an insolvency crisis. What he did not say is that this is a capitalist crisis. That the recession was caused by the inherent contradictions of capitalism, and more specifically by the anarchy of production, and by the gap and necessary breakdown between production and consumption, which produces all sorts of distortions the more the productive force of capitalism develops. What he did not say is that Varoufakis-Syriza’s neo-Keynesian proposal is a proposal to deal merely with the results and the symptoms of the problem (i.e. capitalist crisis), and not to eradicate the problem at its roots (i.e. the capitalist mode of production itself).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

George Soros and the purpose of his "struggle against austerity"

The "cream of civil society"
Wake Up, Europe
George Soros
November 20, 2014 Issue

Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it. I attribute this mainly to the fact that the European Union in general and the eurozone in particular lost their way after the financial crisis of 2008.

The fiscal rules that currently prevail in Europe have aroused a lot of popular resentment. Anti-Europe parties captured nearly 30 percent of the seats in the latest elections for the European Parliament but they had no realistic alternative to the EU to point to until recently. Now Russia is presenting an alternative that poses a fundamental challenge to the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded. It is based on the use of force that manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law. What is shocking is that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has proved to be in some ways superior to the European Union—more flexible and constantly springing surprises. That has given it a tactical advantage, at least in the near term.

What IS Syriza's position on NATO?

Some folk abroad have expressed concern with the very sensible question reflected in the title: they want to know what SYRIZA's position on NATO is.

As with all things SYRIZA (the party that is all things to all people -- except commies), however, the answer is a lot more complicated than the question; I've done the work of tracing it already for Greek readers, so here it is in translation. Enjoy.

1. NATO has had no reason to exist in the last twenty years. Attica Administrative Ruler Rena Dourou, June 2012.
2. Disengagement of Greece from NATO. April 2012, SYRIZA Press Announcement.
5. Exiting NATO is a stable SYRIZA position. MP Karagiannidis, January 2013, "Ethnos" interview.
6. Greece has no intention to leave NATO. MP and Minister Yanis Varoufakis (and James Galbraith), NYT, 23 June 2013.
7. Leave NATO. MP and Minister Dritsas, 5 September 2014.
8. Struggle for NATO to dissolve itself. MP Vitsas, 8 September 2014.
12. Against NATO, but leaving it is not a priority. Panos Trigazis, SYRIZA Foreign Relations Coordinator, 1 October 2014.
13.  Our good relations with NATO will not be harmed. Panos Kammenos, ANEL leader and Minister of Defense of the SYRIZA-ANEL government. 5 February 2015.
14. We want an active role on the side of NATO against terrorism. Panos Kammenos (in the same statement as #13).

George Soros' "Solidarity with Greece"

George Soros
Setting up Solidarity Houses in Greece

The asylum policy of the European Union has broken down and the treatment of migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable groups in Europe in the midst of financial and political crisis is an issue of ongoing concern.

I have always believed that the European Union is the embodiment of an open society, but today these values are being eroded. The European Union was conceived as an instrument of solidarity and cooperation. Today Europe is held together by grim necessity. That is not conducive to a harmonious partnership, and so I set up the Open Society Initiative for Europe to help recapture the spirit of solidarity and shared values.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Golden Dawn's statement of support to the new Greek Government

First, let's meet the honorable MP of Golden Dawn, Christos Pappas:

KKE GS D. Koutsoumpas, on the "Left", Parliament speech extract 10/2/2015

Since a number of people here claim to speak on behalf of the Left, often addressing KKE:

The Left, those who fell in the battlefield, were shot, were imprisoned, were persecuted, joined the struggle in "the years of stone", of the harsh battles of EAM, ELAS, EPON, of December 1944, of the Democratic Army of Greece, of 1-1-4, of the anti-dictatorship struggle, and, after the dictatorship, of "Out with the US and NATO", of "EU and NATO are the same trust", of the socialization of big corporations, etc...all those people have not authorized anyone in here to speak on their behalf. Neither are "passports" whose expiry date has passed valid.

Really, can you place the banner of EAM, of ELAS, of EPON of the Democratic Army next to NATO's flag, which SYRIZA and its government hoists high, thrusting us in the maelstrom of bellicose adventurism in the "Bermuda Triangle" of the Ukraine, Syria and Libya, like its parading ministers said?

Golden Dawn vs KKE at Europarliament


Golden Dawn MEP: Sir Colleague, the right to strike is respectable and sacred, but the right to work is equally respectable. What is your view on the phenomenon of minority groups, coming from a specific political party, which refuse entry to corporations, often using violence, with the final result being to shut down these corporations, leaving everyone unemployed? Thank you.

Sotiris Zarianopoulos (already convicted for striking activity by the Greek courts), MEP KKE: We expected nothing else from the Nazis of Golden Dawn. They are lackeys of capital, they have relations to specific employers. They are funded to terrorize workers, to function as employer offices, as slave traders, so they can place dirt-cheap workers at the service of their bosses. That's what the Nazis are, that's what their role is, and that's what it always was. For this, they must be condemned and isolated by the workers themselves.

Labor Brief, 10 February 2015

It's been about two weeks since the new SYRIZA-ANEL government has been in place, and the anti-labor initiatives of Greek capital, as well as its voracity for profit, continue, naturally, unabated.

Today, the fired workers of "Metropolis" music chain stores announced their dismay at the scandalous contract offered, five days before the elections, to their already convicted (for unpaid debts and wages) former employer, media businessman Andreas Kouris, calling on the new government to put an end to the parody of fundamental social justice at workers' express.

The employees of multinational Village Cinemas corp. issued a protest, regarding the mass firings the company undertook without warning, calling on the new Ministries to intervene to repeal the Presidential Decree 108, which allows such practices.

Evel Economakis-The Strange Marxism of Syriza


The Strange Marxism of Syriza
By Evel Economakis*

In the eyes of Angela Merkel and the Troika, the pre-election promises Syriza made to the Greek people are “socialist”, even “extremist”: renounce the usurious debt, kick out the Troika bailiffs, and put an end to austerity that has plagued the country for the last five years. So too are some of the statements the new government has made since it won the elections on January 25th, including Finance Minister Giannis Varoufakis’ plan to halt the privatization of two ports in Greece and increase the minimum wage and rehire some public sector workers.

None of these things however make Syriza socialist. And let us not forget that its junior partner in government, ANEL, or the Party of Independent Greeks, includes extreme right-wingers. Indeed, this mix is reflected endymatologically in the way the members of the government dress. While many refuse to wear ties, and some don’t even tuck in their shirts, others don three-piece suits.

A few words on "Euroscepticism"

Discussions of the prospects for a United States of Europe emerged among the European bourgeoisie during the 19th-century bourgeois revolutions and nationalist movements in Europe as a bourgeois-democratic demand. Among its proponents were the French author Victor Hugo and the Italian bourgeois revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini. The dawn of the 20th century saw a revival of the debate as an objective result of capitalism entering its imperialist stage, with the discussions intensifying during World War I.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the debate had an impact on the workers’ movement, with discussions concerning whether the slogan should be adopted or not. It should be reminded that this was the discussion to which Lenin contributed during World War I with his 1915 article “On the slogan for a United States of Europe”, where he pointed out:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Manolis Anagnostakis-Mihalis Katsaros: Two poems


It was still a long time
It was still a long time before the dawn.
But I did not admit defeat.
I could see now how many hidden keepsakes I had to salvage
how many nests of water I had to preserve within the flames.

You talk, you show your wounds on the street, beside yourselves
you plant the panic that is strangling your heart on balconies,
as if it were a flag; you have studiously loaded the commodities,
your prediction is safe: The city will fall.

Friday, February 6, 2015

What is the Lord?


The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away (Job 1:21)

What is the Lord?

The Lord is he who gives and who takes back what he gives.

If he did not give, he would not be the Lord. If he did not take back, he would not be the Lord.

The Lord gives and takes, gives because he takes, he takes and gives and takes.

The Lord is what appears between give and take, he is the promise that I will be given to, he is the fear that they will take from me. The Lord is my hope because he is my fear. He is my hope and my fear, because I am not the Lord. If I were the Lord, I would have no hope, I would have no fear. I would do the giving and the taking.

I am the one given to, the one from whom they take. I kneel before the Lord, because the Lord has taken away, because the Lord has given, because he took nothing other than what he gave. He gave it, for if he has taken it, he must have given it to me before. 

The Lord, my Master, sometimes allows me to be called "mister", with an "i", and sometimes does not, and then my name changes. It becomes "hey, you."

The Lord showed me my face in the mirror, dressed as I was in the clothes of the Lord, and told me: "be afraid." He told me it is terrible that a man with my face could ever think of becoming the Lord, with a capital "L."

And I was afraid. And when he saw I was afraid, the Lord gave unto me. And when I had been used to being afraid, the Lord took back what he gave.

Now I am used to being afraid, and I don't scare anyone anymore. And I certainly don't scare the Lord. No. Now all I do is hope and fear, fear and hope.

And the Lord smiles.

Originally published in Greek, Lenin Reloaded, 5 November 2014.

On the EU's Provocative Answer to KKE regarding Ban on CP Of Ukraine, 17/9/2014

The EU’s provocative answer to the KKE regarding the attempt to outlaw the CP of Ukraine
17/9/2014


The response of the High Representative of Foreign Policy of the EU to the question of the EU parliamentary group of the KKE in relation to the attempts to ban the CP of Ukraine was provocative. The EU parliamentary group of the KKE made the following reference in its press statement:

“The EU’s full support for the reactionary Ukrainian government and its aim to outlaw the CP of Ukraine and to escalate its persecutions against communists has been confirmed by the High Representative of the EU’s Foreign Policy C. Aston, with her answer to the Question of the EU parliamentary group of the KKE, which denounced the government’s persecution of the CP of Ukraine.

The statement of the MEP of the KKE, Kostas Papadakis, on the trial to outlaw the CP of Ukraine

The trial regarding the outlawing of the CP of Ukraine began on Wednesday (4/2) in Kiev. The accusers of the CP of Ukraine in the trial are the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, the Ministry of the Interior and the National Information Agency. They accuse the CP of Ukraine of “divisive propaganda”. Similar acts of persecution against its cadres and members are underway all over the country with baseless and untenable accusations, which are refuted and exposed by the party’s cadres. A representative of the KKE, Kostas Papadakis, member of the CC and MEP, attended the trial at the invitation of the CP of Ukraine. 

At the press conference organized by the CP of Ukraine for the Ukrainian mass media, K. Papadakis noted the following: 

 “Today’s trial, which will continue, is just a part of a barrage of persecutions that is underway at the expense of the CP of Ukraine, and also against its individual members and cadres. The persecution and machinations to outlaw the communists and their activity are unacceptable and reprehensible. They attack the people themselves and their rights. The communists of Ukraine made a great contribution to the struggle of the Ukrainian people, to all their achievements, both during the Great Anti-fascist Victory of the Peoples and also during the years of socialist construction, as well as today. 

On the dangerous and misleading campaign of so-called “solidarity with the Greek people”

Comment of the International Relations Section of the CC of the KKE 

At the same time as the discussions and meetings of the new Greek SYRIZA-ANEL government are under way at an international level, before the beginning of the official negotiations with the “European partners” and “lenders”, a “campaign of solidarity with the Greek people and left government” is being promoted by certain forces abroad. 

However, if someone looks at the real conditions and facts in an objective way they would notice that the following are at the centre of the negotiations: how the people will continue to pay the high price for the debt that they did not create, how the competitiveness of the business groups will be reinforced, how the “reforms” will proceed (which, as the Prime Minister A. Tsipras stressed during his meeting with the French President F. Hollande on 4/2, are aims of the government, no one is imposing them), how ready money will be secured for capital’s recovery

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Self-defense as an ethical act of the highest order

Sometime ago, a comrade--an unemployed construction worker who lives in one of the poorest refugee homes near the border with the occupied part of Cyprus--asked me what I thought people like Nikos Belogiannis (pictured laughing during his trial, second to the left) thought and felt as they faced the firing squad. "What was it that allowed them to face self-sacrifice of the highest order with a smile?", he asked me. He wasn't looking for an answer; he said he wanted me to think about the question myself.

I thought about the question on and off, for some time now. And when I tried to think about it I realized I had to reject some of the easiest answers, the ones very often reproduced in the media and in "public opinion" about men and women like Nikos Belogiannis. The media, when it doesn't slander communists, likes to portray them as latter-day saints, who were capable of self-sacrifice because they held an incredibly idealistic belief in the salvation of the class, and so saw themselves as its anointed martyrs. But Belogiannis, and the vast majority of those who underwent torture, imprisonment and execution, were atheists and materialists. They did not believe in any afterlife, and they did not believe they would be "recompensed" in some spiritual sense. Fotis Aggoules, a worker-poet of the 1930s who underwent prolonged imprisonment, put it succinctly: "Don't expect us to bend/for we have loved life too much." Resistance is not only not renunciation of earthly pleasure, it is lust for life.