Fire in the Acropolis


At the moment of this writing the flames of the rebellion that erupted in Greece at the beginning of December are still burning. These flames were triggered by the murder of a young 15 year old student by the police, a new affront from our exploiters that, for once, didn't go unanswered. Although still far from the answer the bourgeoisie will get in its day of reckoning, its virtue lies in making our grey and boring slavish existence a bit more bearable in these weeks when, for the greater glory of macroeconomic statistics, the year's main consumerist orgy is organized. Nevertheless, the impact of this event was strong enough, especially when the memory of France's racaille permanent rebellion is still fresh, to perhaps signal the establishment of a different social environment in Imperialist Europe after almost two decades of continued neoliberal banquet. This rebellion, finally, counting with the active support or at least the unconcealed sympathy of large sectors of the Greek masses, has had enough relevance as to again unmask the political specimens that hegemonize the so-called revolutionary spectrum.

Let us begin with the Greek Communist Party (KKE), that together with the Portuguese Communist Party and the Belgian Labor Party forms the European triad that so fervently is admired and put forth as an example of "revolutionary communism" by the republican right of our movement in the Spanish State. There is no doubt that by looking at their attitude in the face of open social revolt we can, first, decisively unmask Greek revisionism itself. But, also, we can unmask their home-grown admirers who -fortunately for them- find themselves in a less explosive local situation and thus have a larger margin to show off their monotonous verbal radicalism.

It is well known that all these brotherly organizations follow the thesis that in revolutions the stress should lie in the "objective conditions" (reduced to their purely economic aspect); these thesis, as we have said in the past, emerge out of the spontaneist-economicist paradigm that is the result of failing to extract the adequate lessons from the experience of the October Cycle. Thus, the scenario that can be used as the basis for revolutionary action is preferentially an economic crisis, igniter of the social crisis that will allow the vanguard, organized as a party, to transform it into a revolutionary crisis. This is succinctly the scheme followed by the Komintern tradition. In this scheme the tasks of the vanguard are reduced to a permanent "gathering of forces" while it waits for the economic "objective conditions" to come, like a deus ex machina, to the aid of the revolution. This "gathering" is principally attempted under bourgeois legality, with parliament as goal and measure of the effort. The complement of this task is the creation of all sorts of reformist "minimum programmes", the further away from proletarian revolution the better, from the narrowest and most petty syndicalism to the solemn proclamation of the lofty civic values of a republic. This leftist defence of the bourgeoisie world can take many forms, from the continued maintenance of the worker's dispossessed state through syndicalist politics, to the continued validation of bourgeois democracy through the concept of republican citizenship above classes. It goes without saying, though, that in this process there's still plenty of space left to claim the "praxis", the "creative application" of the principles. Any leftist that might dare to suggest that this shameless tailism of the spontaneous social movement does not correspond, even superficially, with the concept of vanguard forged by communism will be unceremoniously sent to the leftist bonfire.

But let's focus on one of the most famous and overused fetishes of these opportunists, one that they again and again throw at those they call dogmatists: the pretence that, against the "manual of revolution", they base their politics on the analysis of a "specific reality". Is this true or is it, as we suspect, just an empty phrase? The KKE's position at the beginning of the revolt, one that has not changed substantially as this revolt has evolved, is extremely interesting in this regard.

As we have mentioned in the past, the participation in the electoral circus by this kind of opportunists is usually justified, here, in Greece and in the rest of the world, with the handy "gathering of forces". Because the social environment is not the right one and the working class is in general not interested in communism, they consider legitimate to reinforce that disinterest by presenting communism as yet-another electoral brand that can compete in the already saturated market of bourgeois politics. They claim this is useful to make communism known and popular among the masses, a communism whose symbols are reduced to an electoral brand and whose discourse, already quite toned down, barely survives as a campaign speech; also, they say, all this farce is useful to measure the frame of mind of the people.

Someone might decide to be benevolent with this apology of parliamentarian cretinism and think that those that promote it do so forced by the current and not very conducive situation, but that "when the day comes" and the social crisis is in effervescence they will start acting in accordance with the name they are today usurping.

As it turns out, after long years of relative social stability suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of that saving economic crisis, one of an intensity not seen in decades, leading in some places to an emerging and increasing social crisis and unrest. In Greece the masses crowd the street, attack the police and the symbols of State and economic power, generating a true power vacuum.

What does the KKE, one of the so called vanguards of the revolution in Europe, has to offer against this? A 6-point resolution by their Central Committee at the beginning of the revolt contains the usual series of harmless platitudes against "authoritarianism", "repression" and "cuts in social rights" (we can attest that not even once the word "capitalism" or some of its derivatives could be read in the entire resolution). After spreading rumours about "masked and hooded men, trained in the depths of the State" (an historical constant of revisionism, the accusation that everyone to their left who has a modicum of popular following is surely a an agent of reaction), they finish this resolution in its sixth point saying:

"The situation demands from us to be alert against the possibility of early elections, so that the parties of the two party system can receive a huge blow. (...) The people must give the ND and PASOK what they deserve in the next elections. (...) The first step in this direction is to strengthen the KKE in every front."[1]

All this so that we could end up directing all the social unrest and power vacuum through the bourgeois parliament! All the horizon of a large scale revolt reduced to a mere punishment of the major parties in the ballot box. This is the famous "analysis of the concrete conditions and specific reality" of our opportunists: parliament as the only goal of their activity, the same recipe and the same praxis no matter whether we are in conditions of social stability or social unrest! Who is now dogmatically following their manuals? Who is the theologian unable to apply anything but the scheme of their holy scriptures?

It goes without saying, we at MAI do not agree with this conception of revolution as the consequence of the crisis and the spontaneous resistance of the masses. This conception was exhausted at the same time than the October Cycle, but the fact is that these phonies are not even consequent with the outmoded conceptions that they stubbornly cling to.

More coherent with spontaneous resistance as the basis for radical action are the anarchists, who are the true heart of the rebellion. Of course, there's little we could add to the old debate between marxism and anarchism. The relative surge of the latter in recent years within the reduced spectrum of the radical left is nothing but another symptom of the end of the Cycle and the crisis and loss of prestige of marxism. This has made many of those in the vanguard turn to old conceptions who already had more than enough opportunities to test themselves and that too failed, even more abruptly than reformist pseudo-marxism, leaving a much smaller legacy of revolutionary struggle. Nevertheless, the current popularity of this tendency among those in the vanguard is probably a necessary step after the Cycle's shipwreck, that "expiation of the opportunist sins of the proletariat", as Lenin accurately described anarchism.

We will only say to those euphoric anarchists that, in the same way they imagine that History has already passed its judgement about marxism, the goddess Clio is a relentless critic and won't leave unpunished failure or impotence. And, unfortunately, there's no doubt in our minds that this will be the result in the medium term of the big Greek revolt. We think this to be the case because, regardless of any other differences, anarchism also derives from that old paradigm, even more so, that makes the spontaneous revolt of the masses the driving force of revolution. This is joined by their proverbial incomprehension of human nature as a set of social and historical relations, which they imagine to be an isolated monad capable of forging itself like a Robinson, fully in consonance with bourgeois liberalism. That's the origin of their distrust for the revolutionary theory and organization, which in turn makes them unable to act accordingly to their paradoxical position of vanguard in this revolt. We very much fear that the vine of rebellion will only germinate the vinegar of impotence and frustration.

Nevertheless, the revolt clarified a few more issues of interest to us. On the one hand, yet another confirmation of the thesis we put forth in our Open Letter: the objective tendency of social crisis towards the creation of power vacuums in urban areas. We defended this fact against those who denied the possibility of People's War in the Imperialist west using economicist arguments, based on the productive and demographic structure, and who are unable to conceive of this strategy anywhere but on rural areas. Have another look at reality, if an spontaneous and very rudimentary movement, chaotic, as the Greek anarchists proudly defend, has been able to put against the wall an imperialist government and truly create liberated urban areas, what wouldn't be able to do the superior form of organization of the proletariat, the Communist Party through People's War?

On the other hand, the proven inability of the revisionist or anarchist political actors to push rebellion beyond those ridiculous "parliamentary punishments" or the never-ending street riots, shows the intrinsic limitation of the spontaneous mass resistance. A resistance movement that cannot even serve as the basis for revolution when it reaches a large scale and it's aiming at political objectives, like the overthrow of this or that Greek government. In either case, the use for revolution of these rebellions will only exist if there's already a movement configured and constituted from outside of the resistance movement, with a proletarian conception of the world, giving the masses experience with the New Power (even a minimal amount). The revolutionary experience of the masses is not based in their boredom or indignation and in the subsequent manifestation of these, but on them starting to take charge of their lives, in all its depth, through organizational forms independent from the mechanisms of capital. That is, as we have often repeated, the masses position themselves with revolution, not from resistance but from the position of the dictatorship of their class. This is why a truly communist mass line, once the communist ideology is reconstituted and a wide sector of the vanguard is aligned behind it, has to have as its objective the construction of mechanisms that will allow this experimentation, which, in its first phases, will probably have to happen in a clandestine way. The Exarjia neighbourhood in Athens, the banlieues, the most depressed peripheries of the big cities, where the presence of the bourgeois State is almost non existent, are fertile areas for this work; and they are areas that exist at all times, not depending on economic cataclysms or the sporadic resistance of the masses, but being on the other hand the evident symptom of the chronic crisis of the capitalist system in its imperialist phase.

From the cradle of western civilization and democracy, always erected on top of slavery, both in its ancient and wage-based forms, it comes to us another symptom of the exhaustion of the civilization model built on top of the division of humanity in classes. It is up to us to sow the seeds of a new civilization. Today this means the ideological and political reconstitution of communism on top of the Balance of the October Cycle.

Movimiento Anti-Imperialista 2009

[1] Resolution of KKE's Central Committee about the recent events and demonstrations, December 9th 2008.