The Greek Communist Party

Blanca Alaníz, UNAM Faculty of Architecture series, Digital photography, Mexico City, 2018


Crossing the Rubicon. The revolution is socialist, world-wide and lacks an international one.

In memory of Dimitris Anagnostopoulos

The victory of the world counter-revolution, signaled by the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, caused the “orthodox” communist parties to disappear or melt across the world. Tragically, decades of class collaboration policies, carried out under Muscovite blessings, came to an end. And there was no redemption in the crisis. In some cases, the so-called orthodox communist parties continued the transition from social democracy to social liberalism, such as the former PCI in Italy, the PCdoB in Brazil, etc. Or they continued to defend proposals for “advanced democracy” and “democratic and national revolution”, that is, improvements within capitalism, such as the Portuguese Communist Party, among others.

In Brazil, in 1992, most of the leadership and members of the PCB firmly embraced social liberalism and founded the PPS, a physiological party with a sad memory. Concomitantly, that organization was refounded by leaders and militants defending the socialist program. However, in the latter case, all the implications of the leap in quality made by overcoming the “revolution by stages” program were not assumed. It was almost as if the new PCB were a logical development of the old Partidao, without essential contradictions. A kind of return to the origins after correcting some deviations. A step was taken into the future, with one foot and both hands planted in the past. Two souls continued to inhabit the party, in latent opposition, with inevitable consequences.

Since the late 1990s, under the initiative of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 21 “(annual) Meetings of Communist and Workers' Parties have been held”. In 2020, the meeting did not take place due to the pandemic. The first three meetings were held in Athens. The high number of participating organizations should come as no surprise — everyone who had participated or was inspired by the old Muscovite leadership was accepted. At the meetings, the PCB and the PCdoB arrived from Brazil, hand in hand, and then slapped each other throughout the year. From present-day Russia, four parties landed claiming to be heirs of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. And, once the party was over, the up to 120 participating parties, with programs ranging from social-liberalism to socialism, continued shooting in all directions and against each other. Other than general and protocol statements, the sum was zero. Or almost.

On February 19 of this year, the “International Relations Section of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece” (KKE) published an official statement critical of Victor Trouskov's article on the action and dissolution of the Communist International. (1) The article was published in the journal Pravda, of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the main heir of the CPSU, with a nationalist, patriotic and almost clerical bias. The KKE statement strongly protests against the justification of the “decision of self-dissolution (sic) of the Communist International” (IC). A determination taken, on May 15, 1943, monocratically, by J. Stalin, at a time when IC only registered the decisions of the Stalinist leadership of the USSR.

The Sad End of the Third International

The Communist Party of Greece was founded in 1918, and in 1920 it joined the 3rd Communist International. It was one of the sections of that CI that most opposed Stalinization, with a strong part of its militants defending the positions of the International Left Opposition. Already framed by the Stalinist domestication of the CI sections, with the beginning of the war, the KKE became the main pole of the struggle against the Nazi-fascist occupation of Greece, freeing important areas in the interior and gaining strong support in the cities during the conflict. Following Moscow's instructions to adopt the policy of the “popular front” and essentially fight against Nazi-fascism, the KKE did not carry out, in the liberated regions, the agrarian reform and the expropriation of the big landowners. In November 1943, in Tehran, J. Stalin would have agreed with Churchill to exchange from Poland to Greece. What is certain is that Greece, like Italy and France, was defined as part of the area of ​​influence of the “West”, where it was forbidden to advance in the struggle for socialism. Socialist Yugoslavia was the result of disobedience to Moscow, on the part of Tito, his guerrillas and the population of those regions of the Balkans.

After the war, a monarchical, anti-popular and anti-communist regime was re-established in Greece, supported by British and US imperialism. In 1946, due to the unbearable social and political situation, a popular insurrection led by the KKE broke out, which liberated a large part of the country, initially receiving military aid from Yugoslavia, interrupted in 1948, when the rupture between Tito and Stalin. The USSR did not lift a finger in defense of the Greek insurrection, respecting the division of Europe combined in Tehran. The defeat of the insurrection was followed by very harsh repression against the communists and the left – executions, torture, very long prison sentences. Marxist historiography paid little attention to those events, which were of capital importance.

In the late 1960s, a Euro-Communist split organized itself as the Communist Party of Greece at home, while the KKE abroad stayed true to Moscow and its deep roots. Legalized in 1974, divided into two souls, the KKE lost influence after participating in electoral alliances and in governments with conservative parties, that is, in “popular fronts”. In 1993, it obtained only 4,3% of the votes in the parliamentary elections. In the May 2012 elections, it surpassed 8%, but failed to become an alternative to Syriza, a group of left-wing groups, mainly reformists, founded in 2004.

Lost Historical Situation

The revolutionary situation experienced by the small country and the superhuman effort of its popular classes aroused enormous hopes and expectations in the left and in European and world workers. Meanwhile, with the traditional right-wing parties in crisis, Syriza moved forward to end the crisis and stabilize capitalism. In 2015, Alexis Tsípras, in the presidency of Syriza, was taken to government by a strong anti-austerity, anti-European Union and anti-euro movement. However, against the explicit decision of the population, Alexis Tsípras imposed austerity, submitting the country to the determinations of big capital. The revolutionary crisis dissipated, paving the way for the right's electoral victory in 2019.

In Brazil, the reformist and transformist left, with emphasis on the PSOL, praised Alexis Tsípras and Syriza, who already organized the defense of the capitalist order. They dreamed and dream of playing the same role in South America. In 2014, Luciana Genro shouted out loud: “I am Syriza! And it's not today." After the betrayal, Tsipras and Syriza were half-forgotten. Even having opposed that betrayal, the Communist Party of Greece suffered the hard blow for having failed to rise as the leadership of that revolutionary historical context. It continued to maintain, without major variation, an electoral score of around 5%, which was already surprising for a European Communist Party, even more so with its left-wing political orientation. However, as we know, what doesn't go forward, goes backwards.

The KKE continues to oppose the European Union and NATO. It demands the unilateral annulment of the debt, the socialization of the great means of production, the planning of the economy, workers' and popular control of all economic and social instances. In recent years, even among those who support the socialist program of the KKE, the incoherence of the defense of “building socialism in a single country”, a legacy of the Stalinist period, is remembered. To this thorny question, the KKE leaders responded rhetorically that, after the conquest of power, a “self-sufficient” socialism would be installed in the small country of ten million inhabitants, with a specialized industry, dependent on tourism and a huge international debt.

Forward, not backward

The statement of the 19th of February by the “Section for International Relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece” clarifies that, in recent years, the KKE has focused on its past history, from its founding in 1918 to its defeat in the civil and revolutionary war, in 1949. And, from this internal discussion, resulted the “National Conference for History”, of 2018, when the approval of the History Essay, in four volumes, about that period. Regrettably, texts available only in Greek. Immediate translation is therefore required, at least into English. But let no one be alarmed: the KKE has not turned into a club of historians. The discussion about the past sought to guide current, national and international political action.

And the historical discussion reached unexpected results, certainly driven by the tension that the lost revolutionary period imposed on the KKE and its militants. Even rarely giving the “name to the horse”, the conclusions of that discussion presented in the last declarations do not leave stone unturned of the traditional architecture of the political-ideological formulations inherited from the so-called “Marxist-Leninist” past. The Declaration in question recalls that the main function of the “Communist International” was the “elaboration of a unique revolutionary strategy against capitalist power”. And he proposes that this strategy is also necessary for today. It points to the need for a socialist world revolution. Which is a huge leap forward.

By defining the socialist character of the world revolution, at the time of the 3rd International and today, the Communist Party of Greece ruthlessly liquidates central political axioms of the Stalinist vulgate. He criticizes the collaborationist orientations of the CI, such as the “three basic types of revolution”, taken up and defended later by Maoism. It criticizes the “popular fronts” and liquidates the proposals of a progressive “local bourgeoisie” and an alliance with it. The struggle was always for socialism, he recalls. And let it be clear that you throw yourself into the past to hit the present. In other words, the struggle is always socialist. Proposal also of unusual importance.

The KKE's reasons for proposing that the revolution in all countries be socialist is striking. In the “era of monopoly capitalism”, with the “sharpening of the basic contradiction between capital and labor”, the “unequal relations between states cannot be abolished on the terrain of capitalism”. The relative backwardness of the undeveloped nations, in "basic contradiction" with capitalism, will necessarily be resolved by the "socialist character" of the revolution. In other words, as traditionally proposed, in colonial, semi-colonial and backward capitalist countries, bourgeois-democratic tasks will be solved jointly with socialist tasks. (2) In a revolutionary process uninterrupted.

Not even the proposal of “Patriotic War”, after the Nazi invasion of the USSR, in 1941, is spared. It proposed that the fight was, from that date, “against fascism”, challenging the fight “for the overthrow of capitalism in different countries” and the “global revolution”. At that time, J. Stalin, at the head of the USSR bureaucracy, defined US, English and French imperialism as dear friends of the world proletariat. The only bad guys in the film would be the German Nazis. The KKE recalls that the fight against fascism should always have been associated with the fight against capitalism. In this case, therefore, would be Spain. In that conflict, the revolutionary tendencies proposed the need to make the revolution, to win the Civil War. On the contrary, Stalinism advocated winning the conflict, allied with bourgeois forces, and then see what was done! This, in order not to frighten the French and English bourgeoisie, above all!

World Revolution Party

And even more so. The KKE statement puts an end to the delusions of building socialism in a single country: “Ultimately, what determines whether a socialist state is definitively secured is the world victory of socialism or its dominance in a strong group of countries (…) .” It reaffirms the clear necessity, in the present, of the socialist world revolution to guarantee the construction of socialism and the future of humanity. Even more so in a tiny country like Greece! And he defends the proposal that the construction of socialism in the USSR was possible, which nobody discussed. And remember that without the world revolution, the country of the soviets would be destroyed. Position defended by the Left Opposition. In other words, building socialism in a single country would be and is literally drying ice. Another great programmatic achievement, albeit a long overdue one.

The KKE defines the “decision of self-dissolution (sic) of the IC” as an action in “absolute contradiction” with the principles that supported “its foundation”, defined in the Communist Manifesto, which governed “proletarian internationalism”. He remembers that CI was necessary for the defense of the USSR, as we have seen. He repeats the proposal that the International was essential for the definition of “a unique revolutionary strategy of the communist parties against international imperialism”. The Declaration also protests against the Pravda columnist's suggestion of the simple need for an “information centre” for the “Marxist-Leninist parties”. In other words, the Communist Party of Greece harshly criticizes the limits of its initiative in the past.

The KKE now defends the insufficiency of the annual meeting of parties that “keep the title of 'communists'” without being so, and advances the need for a worldwide grouping of revolutionary socialist organizations. He suggests, still a little embarrassed, in a biased way, the need to refound a Communist International. Like Jesus Christ, who did not come to “bring peace”, declares war within the “International Communist Movement”, that is, the parties that he struggled to bring together two decades ago. An action with positive consequences, as it drives the political and ideological advancement of at least part of that articulation.

“Many parties maintain the title of 'communist', but their political-ideological and organizational formation is not in accordance with the characteristics and ideology of scientific communism, the revolutionary strategy – a program that corresponds to a revolutionary, Leninist workers' party.” And the KKE follows, without feeling sorry for many former sister parties: “The approaches of the CPs are often dominated by bourgeois opportunist ideological influences”. “(…) opportunist strategy of (revolution by) stages”. Program of revolution in stages that defends the “anti-dictatorship, anti-occupation”, “anti-imperialist, democratic, anti-fascist, anti-liberal, etc.” struggle within the capitalist order.

No mercy

The KKE denounces parties that defend proposals such as the “resilience of capitalism” and the possibility of “humanizing” and “democratizing” it. It denounces parties that propose the progressive nature of participation in bourgeois governments. And he adds: “(…) in the trade union movement” “union leaders and committed unions prevail” with the bourgeoisie and the bosses. It hides the incorrect proposals of “left unity” with collaborationist movements. Union of the class left with “democratic or patriotic forces”. Of “cooperation with left social democracy”. Participation in “center-left governments”, in “new anti-fascist and anti-neoliberal fronts”, etc. An important message for the so-called Brazilian left.

And, mercilessly, the KKE liquidates the delusions about “(market) socialism with Chinese characteristics”, so successful in Brazil, in the Losurdian version. (3) Defines as a “stable front” the fight against the “imperialist centers of the USA, NATO, the EU”, but criticizes the proposals that China and Russia play a “progressive role at the international level”. A message to Putinesque Communist Party of the Russian Federation. It demands that, in the class confrontation, the revolutionary movement does not choose “'foreign flag', under the pressure of petty-bourgeois forces” or “nationalists”. Positions that must, logically, be accompanied by unconditional defense of the nation-states attacked by international imperialism, in addition to the criticism of their national governments — Syria, Iran, Cuba, Russia itself, etc.

In conclusion, the Communist Party of Greece defines as its objective the “formation of a Marxist-Leninist pole”. A goal that he recognizes as “slow, difficult, vulnerable”. Proposal that remains, however, it seems, within the framework of the “International Communist Movement”, that is, the organizations that attend the annual meetings indicated. Which is, if so, a clear limitation, since the program that it proposes and defines as Leninist strongly extrapolates the articulation that the KKE itself now blows up, with its revolutionary revision of its history in the years 1918-1947. On the fringes of what the KKE calls the MCI, in dispersed form or in small organizations, a huge part of internationalist communism has been, for decades, defending the positions now courageously raised by the Communist Party of Greece.

Without naming the oxen

It is difficult to predict the repercussions of the KKE revision on the past and, above all, the consequences it draws from it for the present. Not just for the so-called “International Communist Movement”, where the prestige of that party is enormous. In Brazil, these proposals will especially agitate the PCB and the PCdoB. And they will disorganize Revival from the neo-Stalinist terraplanismo, mainly from a Lusordista bias, and the nostalgic Stalinist, from those who claim the policies and actions in the past of the “Father of the Peoples”, so harshly treated by the KKE.

The general proposals are clear and leave no room for doubt. Even not naming the oxen, as proposed. They are literally iconoclastic, in relation to the pillars of the so-called “Marxism-Leninism”, which has, as corpus essential constituent, the vulgate and the bureaucratic and Stalinist degeneration of Marxism and Leninism. A qualitative advance, beyond any limitations, small, medium and large. If Greek communist militants of the KKE had proposed what they are proposing today, especially in the years of the Greek Civil War, they would have been shot as Trotskyist agents of the British, by the leadership of the KKE itself subordinated to the Kremlin. As hundreds of fierce internationalist Greek communists really were at that time. Or KKE militants who took refuge, after their defeat, in the USSR and in the “People's Democracies”, on orders from the Stalinist leadership.

The new political lines outlined by the KKE were the product of reflection on the past that was born out of the need to overcome obstacles that hindered and continue to impede the progress of the struggle. This is not a historiographical discussion. The struggle, by advancing in the present, makes room for the future and allows remission of the lacerations of the past. The KKE is crossing its Rubicon. There is no possible return. And, in order not to be defeated, in this difficult campaign, he cannot camp and erect tents and defenses against those who attack what he has conquered. You cannot stay with one foot in the past while moving forward in the present. It must move forward, through new territories, conquering new victories, adding to its troops, legions and fighters from all over the world. There will be no world emancipation of the workers without the reconstruction of a revolutionary international. The emancipation and survival of humanity increasingly depends on the union of the exploited and exploited all over the world.

* Mario Maestri is a historian. Author, among other books, of Revolution and counter-revolution in Brazil: 1500-2019.


(1) The formation, action and dissolution of the Communist International through the prism of the current tasks of the international communist movement.

(2) 100 years of the Communist International. 26/02/2019. KKE. Communist Party of Greece. Declaration of the Central Committee of the  KKE

(3) MAESTRI, Mario. Dominic Losurdo: a faker in the land of parrots. Essays on Stalinism and Neo-Stalinism in Brazil. 2 ed. enlarged.

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