Thursday, January 31, 2008

PAME: at the service of capital, the divisive and strikebreaking role of its reformist leaders

On the occasion of its 3rd Panhellenic Conference

In the reformist “Announcement-call” of PAME (=”All Workers’ Militant Front”) (“Rizospastis”, 27/5/2007) on the occasion of its third panhellenic conference, it is mentioned that the founding of PAME, in 1999, is “an accomplishment of the working class” and that PAME acts according to the line of “class struggle”.

First of all it has to be clarified from the beginning that PAME is not a trade union and therefore it cannot initiate a struggle like calling a strike. As its name suggests, it is rather a coordination platform set up by various associations and trade unionists. Even so, both of the claims mentioned above are utterly demagogic and bear absolutely no relation to reality, that is, to the nature of PAME which is not revolutionary but a reformist trade-union platform as it is shown below. Consequently, PAME neither constitutes an accomplishment of the working class, nor adheres to the line of the “revolutionary class struggle” for the “fulfillment of the tasks corresponding to the needs of the working class” as most falsely its leaders purport for the sake of disorientating and deceiving the workers.

It must be emphasized that the truly revolutionary trade unions were schools of class struggle and schools of socialism-communism, in other words, they were always linking: a) the struggle for the economic and social demands with the political demands, giving priority to the latter and b) the anti-imperialist with the revolutionary struggle for the abolition of the exploiting capitalist system and the establishment of socialism-communism.

The revolutionary trade unions, as organs of struggle against the capital have permanently and constantly inscribed on their flag the revolutionary slogan of Marx: “abolition of the wages system”. As Marx emphasized: “the trade unions are the schools of socialism. In trade unions, the workers are shaped into socialists, because the struggle against the capital is carried out, on daily basis, before their very eyes” and Lenin also said that: “the working class limiting itself to the economic struggle, loses its political independence, allows itself to be dragged by other political parties, betrays the great emblem: the emancipation of the working class must be carried out by the workers themselves”

In complete contradiction to the above, PAME was founded from the very beginning, in 1999, as a reformist trade union platform guided ideologically by Khrushchevian revisionism that is opposite and hostile to the proletarian revolution and the whole Marxist concept of socialism. It continues along the reformist course of the World Trade Union Organization (WTO) which despite the fact that followed a revolutionary line, from its creation (October 1945) until the mid-50s, after the final dominance of Khrushchevian revisionism (1956) it degenerated into a reformist trade union organization abandoning the revolutionary and anti-imperialist line for good.

It is precisely the line of WTO, promulgated during the period of Khrushchev – Brezhnev - Gorbachev, which the PAME (“K”KE) reformist leaders follow today as well as its fraternal trade union organization A.P. (SYN). The reformists of PASKE (PASOK) are the same whereas the DAKE (ND) fascists were always representatives of the employers’ trade unionism. All these factions, participate in the Executive Committee of the reformist General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the Higher Union of Civil Servants (ADEDY).

The PAME leaders are reformist not only because they have abandoned the line of revolutionary struggle and follow the line of class co-operation and limiting the struggle to economic demands but because they have also resigned from the immediate economic demands such as the salary payment for the 1st of May and the return of all the money stolen from the Insurance Institutions. Moreover they play a divisive and strikebreaking role through the separate rallies they organize. Concerning the imperialist war against Iraq, they showed, like the “K”KE leadership, a pro-American and pro-imperialist attitude because, during the war demonstrations: a) they adopted the slogan “Greece out of the war”(!) instead of the right anti-imperialist one: “Anglo-American imperialist occupation forces out of Iraq” not blaming thus the Anglo-American imperialists and b) they supported and continue to support the Quislings of the fraternal Iraqi “C”P that welcomed the invasion and participated in the first puppet government installed by the Anglo-American forces.

A. The divisive role of the PAME reformists

During the last years, the PAME leaders organize, on permanent basis, separate rallies on the of 1st May causing thus a split in the trade union movement not only on the higher but also on intermediate level across the country. Their excuse for doing this is that these divisive rallies offer allegedly by themselves the possibility to break away from the reformists and they are, therefore, of revolutionary character. It is, of course, obvious that the separate rallies neither distance the workers from reformist nor do they have by themselves an anti-imperialist and revolutionary character. On the contrary, the features that make the revolutionaries and the reformists essentially distinct and give the revolutionary content of a trade unionist rally are two: first, the general anti-imperialist and revolutionary line in combination with the violent overthrow of capitalism second, the revolutionary line of class struggle that defends the class interests of the workers and the wide masses maintaining an unbreakable unity between economic and political demands and always subdued to the general revolutionary direction.

If the separate rallies were by themselves revolutionary, devoid of the corresponding content, then, following this “criterion” of the PAME reformists, one would make the preposterous conclusion that this year’s separate rally for the 1st of May organized by the DAKE fascists was also a “revolutionary” one! Of course it was a counter-revolutionary and pro-capitalist rally apart from divisive.

A quick reference to the two separate PAME rallies on the occasion of the 1st of May (in 2005 and 2007) will show much better not only the divisive role of the PAME leaders but the abandonment of the defense of, even, basic reformist demands. Both rallies were reformist, in their content, because of the general Khrushchevian line and also because they didn’t satisfy the second condition, that is the defense of the current interests of the working class.

In the rally of the 1st of May 2005, the PAME reformists came up with the false dilemma: “1st of May, strike or bank holiday?” The harm of such a slogan to the interests of the working class can be properly understood if one considers the fact that in Greece the working class has accomplished, through a long struggle, so that the 1st of May is also a paid bank holiday besides a day of strike. This hasn’t diminished the size of the 1st of May rallies at all. However the reactionary Karamanlis government decided to abolish the bank holiday, that year and, thus, the leaders of PAME, using the above slogan were, in essence, completely identified with this decision. The result was that hundreds of millions of Euros went to the capitalists and the bourgeois state instead of the working people. On the contrary, in the rally organized by the GSEE-ADEDY reformists, the central slogan was “pay the working people” a fact that permitted the president of GSEE to criticize, from the left, the PAME leaders and accuse them of being at the service of capitalist interests. In the same separate rally for the 1st of May, the PAME reformists leaders didn’t defend even this particular economic interest-accomplishment of the working class but the interests of the bourgeois class, since, through their treacherous attitude, they made easier for the capitalists to pocket the millions of Euros that should have been paid to the working people.

In fact, the PAME reformist leaders, due to their treacherous attitude supporting the abolition of the 1st May bank holiday, placed themselves to the right not only of the reformists of GSEE-ADEDY-A.P. but also of the DAKE fascists; the latter, fearing the political cost, didn’t dare to express in public their approval of the government’s decision to abolish the 1st of May bank holiday: “DAKE issued an announcement whereby calls the government to move the bank holiday from the 1st to 11th of May, as had been done in the past”. So, the only trade union organization that supported this reactionary decision of the government was PAME. This was the reason why the PAME leaders were warmly congratulated by the fascist ND cadre A. Andreoulakos.

This rally of PAME wasn’t only a divisive rally but also a rally in favor of the abolition of 1st May bank holiday, in other words, it was a pro-government rally supporting the reactionary decision of the Karamanlis government.

In 2007’s rally for the 1st of May, the reformists leaders of GSEE-ADEDY had rightly adopted as central slogan the following: “return all the stolen money back to the Insurance Institutions” (as a response to the government-backed embezzlement of Insurance funds) whereas in their separate, divisive, rally the PAME leaders not only didn’t adopt the above slogan as the central one but not at all. Instead, they put forward the pro-governmental request voiced by the DAKE fascists asking for the return of all the money stolen from the Insurance Institutions since 1950 (!), that is to say, never. In this way, the leaders of PAME were aligned-identified with: a) the DAKE fascists and b) the reactionary Karamanlis government both of whom were against the return of the stolen money back to the Insurance Institutions.

In this case too, the reformists of GSEE-ADEDY were at the left of the reformist leaders of PAME.

The two above mentioned separate rallies organized by PAME on the occasion of the 1st of May clearly show that not only they were not revolutionary rallies but they didn’t seek to defend not even the concrete and rightful economic demands of the working people: a) to receive the payment for the bank holiday of the first of May (2005) b) to have all the stolen money from the Insurance Institutions returned (2007). These rallies of PAME were, therefore, reformist, divisive and pro-governmental.

On the 1st of May 2006, the reformist leaders of PAME committed an almost unprecedented treason since they didn’t appeal for a struggle against industrial capitalists and capital in general but only against the reformist leaders adopting the slogan: “Turn your back to the compromised trade unionists”.

Not surprisingly, PAME faces serious problems due to its divisive tactics. One of the its founding cadres, and a long-term member in its Executive Secretariat, T. Fotopoulos, mentioned the following in his resignation letter: “In OTE (Greek Telecom) the ESK (the “C”PG representatives) allied with ASSE (the K.A. representatives – a small group participating in PAME as well) and both went to the elections under a common slate called A.M. But the next day, having secured the election of its own members, ESK remained a separate faction and not a part of A.M although these people were elected as nominees of the latter!

PAME doesn’t take part in the anti-globalization actions except in WTO which they strive to resurrect by establishing a European Buro where they are the…sole members. The persistence of “K”KE and PAME to hold separate rallies has caused frictions with the few small groups with which formed or is forming an alliance like DIKKI or K.A

B. The strikebreaking role of the PAME leaders

The whole activity and the role of PAME is not only divisive – in the framework, of course, of reformism that dominates the trade union movement today – and in favor of capital; it has become, in addition, during the last years, something much worse in relation to working people strikes: PAME has become, with its separate rallies, the number 1 strikebreaking force in the reformist trade union movement. This because, on permanent and systematic basis – and not by mistake – it causes a split in the strike mobilization of the working people undermining its massiveness from the beginning.

Let’s take for example the latest strikes of sailors, schoolteachers, university teachers and university students.

In the case of the sailors’ strike, the trade union leaders of PAME, apart from breaking the strike, they also organized separate rallies that weren’t simply divisive but were, first and foremost, strikebreaking clearly aiming at the split of the sailors unity and the weakening of their struggle. They were strikebreaking rallies in complete coordination with the governmental strikebreaking mechanisms, in the framework of “K”KE-ND cooperation. Their attitude was so shamelessly pro-governmental that, while the barbarous police was attacking the rally held in solidarity to the tailors, the PAME reformist Manusogiannakis appeared on television not to condemn the fascist police assault but to distance the position of PAME from the event stating that the people beaten up by MAT (the infamous special police forces) didn’t belong to PAME!!!

In the case of the schoolteachers’ great and continuous strike that shook up the whole country, the PAME trade unionists in the Primary School Teachers Federation (DOE) not only rejected the strike and tried to prevent it but, when this started and for the duration, they were systematically undermining it through separate rallies of strikebreaking character. We pointed out at the time:

“Only the reformist trade union factions (PASKE-A.P-P.) voted for the five-days strikes of the school teachers that shook up the whole country, as it is mentioned in “Rizospastis” in relation to the strikebreaking attitude of ESAK-DEE (the PAME representatives in the DOE): “the votes of PASKE, A.P and P. added up and the program of action was decided” (“R”, 7/7/2006, p. 18).

The reformist leaders of ESAK-DEE, having initially rejected and sabotaged the decision for the repeated 5-days strikes, went on to slander them claiming that they allegedly serve very well the pre-election needs of PASOK, few days before the October municipal elections (“R”, 7/7/2006, p.18). When the great strike began, they directly undermined the unity of the striking struggle by organizing separate rallies, merging, thus, with the DAKE reactionaries into a unified strikebreaking mechanism in the service of the government. It is more than obvious, and the PAME leaders cannot fail to realize, that without unity it’s impossible to achieve the massiveness of the struggle, a necessary condition for its successful completion” (“Anasintaxi”, No. 236, 15-30 October 2006, p.3).

Finally, the leaders of PAME came up against of the university teachers and students struggle; they openly opposed to the schools’ occupations by the students and the continuous strike of the university teachers. When the struggle began, they tried desperately to thwart it and then, after their failure to achieve this, they undermined it by organizing separate strikebreaking rallies. As a matter of fact the leaders of PAME went so far to place their rally stand next to the one of POSDEP-OLME-DOE in one of the great rallies held by the latter in Syntagma square. We wrote then about that rally:

“The only “note of discord”, the only negative and harmful event in that rally was the separate, strikebreaking rally in Omonia square organized by the reformist leaders of PAME. But this time they weren’t limited to the separate demonstration but they made a further step: they provocatively set up, obviously under instructions by the Karamanlis government, a second platform in Syntagma next to the one of POSDEP-OLME-DOE, not confronting the government but the Teachers Federation leading the struggle.

That the strikebreaking activity of the PAME leaders is carried out under the instructions of the Karamanlis government and in the framework of “K”KE-ND cooperation, was shown once more by the fact that also in this rally the blocs of PAME were small (numbering about 1000 people) (“PRIN”, 14/1/2007, p.13). The blocs were consciously and purposefully kept small in size in order to fulfill the goals agreed on with the government: a) the PAME leaders act in a strikebreaking way at the service of the government’s strikebreaking tactics b) avoid to put pressure on the government (a greater number of participants in the blocs would increase the pressure on the government upsetting the “K”KE-ND agreement)

Just imagine what would have been the picture if the other reformist trade union organizations had also set up their own platforms or what would have happened if the Teachers Federations POSDEP-OLME-DOE, as the leadership of the struggle, had rightly demanded the removal of the PAME reformists” (“Anasintaxi”, No 242, 15-31 January 2007, p.1).

From the above, it is evident that PAME is a reformist trade union organization which not simply follows the line of class cooperation but, at the same time, it plays a divisive and strikebreaking role, in the framework of the trade union movement, and in certain cases, like the ones mentioned above, its position is on the right wing of GSEE-ADEDY. This strikebreaking role is fully integrated-aligned with the strikebreaking mechanisms of the Karamanlis reactionary government.

C. Only the path of unity in struggle can stop the capital’s attacks

In their “Announcement-call”, the PAME leaders mention that their trade union platform “unites the working people into a unified class fighting capital and its agents”. This claim is utterly false and it only aims at the disorientation and the deception of the working class since the UNITY of the working class presupposes an anti-imperialist and revolutionary line in the trade unions, which doesn’t exist in the case of PAME because its activity is guided by the reformist social democratic Khrushchevian views, that is, the reformist line that dominated WTO from the mid-50s onwards. PAME, as a reformist trade union platform, is dividing the working class, just like in the older times, the social democratic reformist trade unions did and today GSEE, ADEDY.

PAME is not dividing only the working class but also the reformist camp with its separate rallies. Moreover, with the separate rallies of strikebreaking character during any striking mobilization, they, from the very beginning, cause a rift in the unity of the working class, the MASSIVENESS of the mobilization making it unavoidably INNEFECTIVE.

The class conscious and revolutionary workers cannot but raise the following fundamental question: “Is the working class able to repel the capital’s attacks given the absence of revolutionary trade unions and, if yes, how?”

The answer to this, fundamental and vital for the working class struggle, question has been already provided by life itself in the past but also at the present and it constitutes the answer of the revolutionary Marxism. The working class is indeed able – despite the absence of revolutionary trade unions – to repel the capital’s attacks. This can be achieved only along the path of UNITY that secures the maximum MASSIVENESS, two absolutely necessary conditions that can guarantee the EFFECTIVENESS of the mobilization and yield victory for the working people. The case in which the Insurance Bill was withdrawn in 2001 (by the Simitis government) after the massive panhelenic strike (at that time PAME wisely didn’t dare to organize a separate rally) and that of great, massive mobilization of students and working people against the Contract of First Employment (CFE) introduced by the right-wing government of Dominique de Villepin in France show the only right PATH. The same is shown by the great, massive mobilization of students and university students in Greece that prevented the reactionary revision of the Constitution’s article 16.

Moreover, the massive popular mobilization in Latin America countries – despite the absence of revolutionary trade unions and revolutionary communist parties – not only repelled the attacks coming from the indigenous capital, the IMF, the International Bank but also repeatedly ousted whole governments in a number of subcontinent countries.

Finally, it is a common knowledge that the sporadic acts of mobilization organized by PAME didn’t repel any attack from the capital, didn’t have and couldn’t have had absolutely no result; they were simply acts that served the petty-party and propaganda purposes of the PAME-“K”KE reformist leaders and aimed at the deception of the working people.

D. Further developments

After the massive rally organized by GSEE-ADEDY on the12th of December 2007 in Athens and in other Greek cities, the social democrat G. Marinos (new member of the “K”KE Politburo), hiding the fact that the panhelenic strike was called by the reformist leaders of GSEE-ADEDY, seems to worry very much about the size (5 times larger than the one of PAME) and the large participation of working people, including “a great number of employees in Olympic airways, lawyers, engineers, journalists and doctors” in the massive rally in Athens. Then, ridiculing himself he invites the working people to “think twice” about the fact they joined their trade unions rallies and urges them not to participate in theses but to the divisive, strikebreaking, progovernmental ones of the reformist PAME. At the same time, he advertises it as an allegedly “class force” which follows “the line of class struggle” that secures “the unity of the working class”!!!
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

V.I. Lenin: Our Revolution (Apropos of N. Sukhanov's Notes)

The text translated in Greek published in Anasintaxi issue 265 (1-15/1/2008)

I have lately been glancing through Sukhanov's notes on the revolution. What strikes one most is the pedantry of all our petty-bourgeois Democrats and of all heroes of the Second International. Apart from the fact that they are all extremely fainthearted, that when it comes to the minutest deviation from the German model [of Socialism] even the best of them fortified themselves with reservations — apart from this characteristic, which is common to all petty-bourgeois Democrats and has been abundantly manifested by them throughout the revolution, what strikes one is their slavish imitation of the past.

They all call themselves Marxists, but their conception of Marxism is impossibly pedantic. They have completely failed to understand what is decisive in Marxism, namely, its revolutionary dialectics. They have even absolutely failed to understand Marx's plain statements that in times of revolution the utmost flexibility is demanded, and have even failed to notice, for instance, the statements Marx made in his letters — I think it was in 1856 — expressing the hope of combining the peasant war in Germany, which might create a revolutionary situation, with the working-class movement — they avoid even this plain statement and walk around and about it like a cat around a bowl of hot porridge.

Their conduct betrays them as cowardly reformists who are afraid to deviate from the bourgeoisie, let alone break with it, at the same time they disguised their cowardice with the wildest rhetoric and braggartry. But what strikes one in all of them even from the purely theoretical point of view is their utter inability to grasp the following Marxist considerations: up to now they have seen capitalism and bourgeois democracy in Western Europe follow a definite path of development, and cannot conceive that this path can be taken as a model only mutatis mutandis, only with certain amendments (quite insignificant from the standpoint of the general development of world history).

First — the revolution connected with the first imperialist world war. Such revolution was bound to reveal new features, or variations, resulting from the war itself, the world has never seen such a war in such a situation. We find that since the war the bourgeoisie of the wealthiest countries have to this day been unable to restore "normal" bourgeois relations. Yet our reformists — petty-bourgeois who make a show of being revolutionaries — believed, and still believe, that normal bourgeois relations are the limit (thus far shalt thou go and no farther). And even their conception of "normal" is extremely stereotyped and narrow.

Secondly, they are complete strangers to the idea that while the development of world history as a whole follows general laws it is by no means precluded, but, on the contrary, presumed, that certain periods of development may display peculiarities in either the form or the sequence of this development. For instance, it has not even occurred to them that because Russia stands on the borderline between civilized countries and the countries which this war has for the first time definitely brought into the orbit of civilization — all the Oriental, non-European countries — she could and was, indeed, bound to reveal certain distinguishing features; although these, of course, are in keeping with the general line of world development, they distinguish her revolution from those which took place in the West European countries and introduce certain partial innovations as the revolution moves on to the countries of the East.

Infinitely stereotyped, for instance, is the argument they learned by rote during the development of West-European Social-Democracy, namely, that we are not yet ripe for socialism, but as certain "learned" gentleman among them put it, the objective economic premises for socialism do not exist in our country. Does it not occur to any of them to ask: what about the people that found itself in a revolutionary situation such as that created during the first imperialist war? Might it not, influenced by the hopelessness of its situation, fling itself into a struggle that would offer it at least some chance of securing conditions for the further development of civilization that were somewhat unusual?

"The development of the productive forces of Russia has not yet attained the level that makes socialism possible." All the heroes of the Second International, including, of course, Sukhanov, beat the drums about this proposition. They keep harping on this incontrovertible proposition in a thousand different keys, and think that it is decisive criterion of our revolution.

But what if the situation, which drew Russia into the imperialist world war that involved every more or less influential West European country and made her a witness of the eve of the revolutions maturing or partly already begun in the East, gave rise to circumstances that put Russia and her development in a position which enabled us to achieve precisely that combination of a "peasant war" with the working-class movement suggested in 1856 by no less a Marxist than Marx himself as a possible prospect for Prussia?

What if the complete hopelessness of the situation, by stimulating the efforts of the workers and peasants tenfold, offered us the opportunity to create the fundamental requisites of civilization in a different way from that of the West European countries? Has that altered the general line of development of world history? Has that altered the basic relations between the basic classes of all the countries that are being, or have been, drawn into the general course of world history?

If a definite level of culture is required for the building of socialism (although nobody can say just what that definite "level of culture" is, for it differs in every Western European country), why cannot we began by first achieving the prerequisites for that definite level of culture in a revolutionary way, and then, with the aid of the workers' and peasants' government and Soviet system, proceed to overtake the other nations?

January 16, 1923


You say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving toward socialism? Where, in what books, have you read that such variations of the customary historical sequence of events are impermissible or impossible?

Napoleon, I think, wrote: "On s'engage et puis ... on voit." rendered freely this means: "First engage in a serious battle and then see what happens." Well, we did first engage in a serious battle in October 1917, and then saw such details of development (from the standpoint of world history they were certainly details) as the Brest peace, the New Economic Policy, and so forth. And now there can be no doubt that in the main we have been victorious.

Our Sukhanovs, not to mention Social-Democrats still farther to the right, never even dream that revolutions cannot be made any other way. Our European philistines never even dream that the subsequent revolutions in Oriental countries, which possess much vaster populations in a much vaster diversity of social conditions, will undoubtedly display even greater distinctions than the Russian Revolution.

It need hardly be said that a textbook written on Kautskian lines was a very useful thing in its day. But it is time, given that, to abandon the idea that it foresaw all the forms of development of subsequent world history. It would be timely to say that those who think so are simply fools.

January 17, 1923

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