A precious history

October 2, 2014

Greek socialists are holding public meetings to celebrate the publication of a translated collection of documents from the Communist International, writes John Riddell.

THREE HUNDRED socialists from many political currents met in Athens on September 23 to welcome the publication in Greek of a 156-page book of documents on workers' unity from the early Communist International.

The book, The United Front--Discussions and Decisions of the Fourth Congress of the Third International, edited by Antonis Davanellos, was published by RedFront. The Fourth Congress debates and decisions were translated from Toward the United Front, edited by John Riddell and published by Brill (hardcover) and Haymarket Books (softcover).

"We cannot look back for detailed directions on the way to confront the problems we face today," Davanellos says in his introduction to the volume, to be published shortly on this website. Nonetheless, "we do find something precious in the history of our movement: the criteria and logic used by revolutionaries of the past."

Davanellos, a member of the Internationalist Workers' Left, or DEA, noted that the Fourth Congress' focus on "the possibility of a workers' government." This term referred to "a government supported by the left-wing, workers' parties, arising...through a combination of massive struggles with a parliamentary crisis."

A poster for the Athens launch of the newly translated Comintern collection
A poster for the Athens launch of the newly translated Comintern collection

The outstanding example of such a possibility is "the contemporary Greek experience," he says. "The demand to overthrow the government, the demand 'to get rid of them now'--and, as a result, the issue of governmental power--were posed as a precondition for the defense of workers and social rights."

The Greek socialist party SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) responded to this challenge by campaigning for a united government of left parties. SYRIZA placed first in the May 2014 Greek voting for the European parliament, with 26.5 percent of votes cast. Two other prominent left formations, the Communist Party (KKE) and ANTARSYA ("Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow"), have criticized the proposal for a government of left parties.

The launch of the book edited by Davenellos, held on the Athens premises of the journalists' union, brought together spokespersons of many contending viewpoints in the Greek socialist Left. The speakers were:

-- Takis Mastrogiannopoulos, a supporter of the majority current in SYRIZA.
-- Dimitris Stratoulis, a member of parliament and supporter of SYRIZA's left current.
-- Panagiotis Sotiris, university teacher and ANTARSYA supporter.
-- Petros Papakonstantinou, journalist and ANTARSYA supporter.
-- Antonis Davanellos for the DEA, a left current within SYRIZA.

The meeting was chaired by Mari Bolari of the DEA, a SYRIZA member of parliament.

A second successful launch of the book was held in Thessaloniki September 28. Other meetings are planned in various Greek locations.

First published at JohnRiddell.wordpress.com.

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