Saturday, January 24, 2015

As The 100th Anniversary Of The First Year Of World War I (Remember The War To End All Wars) Continues ... Some Remembrances-Writers’ Corner  

In say 1912, 1913, hell, even the beginning of 1914, the first few months anyway, before the war clouds got a full head of steam in the summer they all profusely professed their unmitigated horror at the thought of war, thought of the old way of doing business in the world. Yes the artists of every school but the Cubist/Fauvists/Futurists and  Surrealists or those who would come to speak for those movements, those who saw the disjointedness of modern industrial society and put the pieces to paint, sculptors who put twisted pieces of metal juxtaposed to each other saw that building a mighty machine from which you had to run created many problems; writers of serious history books proving that, according to their Whiggish theory of progress,  humankind had moved beyond war as an instrument of policy and the diplomats and high and mighty would put the brakes on in time, not realizing that they were all squabbling cousins; writers of serious and not so serious novels drenched in platitudes and hidden gabezo love affairs put paid to that notion in their sweet nothing words that man and woman had too much to do, too much sex to harness to denigrate themselves by crying the warrior’s cry and by having half-virgin, neat trick, maidens strewing flowers on the bloodlust streets; musicians whose muse spoke of delicate tempos and sweet muted violin concertos, not the stress and strife of the tattoos of war marches with their tinny conceits; and poets, ah, those constricted poets who bleed the moon of its amber swearing, swearing on a stack of seven sealed bibles, that they would go to the hells before touching the hair of another man. They all professed loudly (and those few who did not profess, could not profess because they were happily getting their blood rising, kept their own consul until the summer), that come the war drums they would resist the siren call, would stick to their Whiggish, Futurist, Constructionist, Cubist worlds and blast the war-makers to hell in quotes, words, chords, clanged metal, and pretty pastels. They would stay the course.  

And then the war drums intensified, the people, their clients, patrons and buyers, cried out their lusts and they, they made of ordinary human clay as it turned out, poets, artists, sculptors, writers, serious and not, musicians went to the trenches to die deathless deaths in their thousands for, well, for humankind, of course, their always fate  ….            

Regeneration, one in Pat Barker's series of novels confronting the psychological effects of World War I, focuses on treatment methods during the war and the story of a decorated English officer sent to a military hospital after publicly declaring he will no longer fight. Yet the novel is much more. Written in sparse prose that is shockingly clear -- the descriptions of ele ...more




Ain’t Got No Time For The Harry’s Variety Corner Boys-With Jerry Lee Lewis’ Breathless In Mind 

Lewis Jerry Lee
Best Of Jerry Lee Lewis


Now if you love me please don't tease
If I can hold then let me squeeze
My heart goes round and round
My love comes a tumblin' down
You leave me ahhhhhhh
Breathtess ahh !

I shake all over and you know why
I am sure its love honey thats no lie
Cause when you call my name
You know I burn like a wooden flame
You leave me ahhhhhh

OOOOOOOhhhhhh baby Oooooooh crazy!
Your much to much Honey I can't love you enough
It's alright to hold me tight
But when you love me love me riiiiighhhht!
Ah come on baby now don't be shy
This love was ment for you and I
Wind, rain, sleet or snow
I am gonna be wherever you go
You have left me ahhhh
Breathless !



oooooh baby mmmmnnn crazy
Your much to much
I can't love you enough
Well its alright to hold me tight
But when you love me love me right
Ah come on baby now don't be shy
This love was ment for you and I
Wind, rain, sleet or snow
I am gonna be wherever you go
You leave me ahhhh
Breathless Ah!

Riding down the old neighborhood streets a while back, the old North Adamsville working class streets, streets dotted with triple-deckers housing multiple families along with close-quarter, small cottage-sized single family houses like the one of Tim Murphy’s own growing to manhood time in the early 1960s. He reflected as he drove on how little the basic structure of things had changed with the changing of the ethnic composition of those streets. Sure many of the houses had been worked on, new roofs, new siding, maybe a deck add-on for the ritualistic family barbecue (barbecues that his family on the infrequent occasions that they actually had one were taken at Treasure Island a picnic area that provided pits for the grill-less like his from hunger family on the site), maybe an add-on of a room if that home equity loan came through (or the refinance worked out). The lawns, manicured or landscaped like some miniature English garden, reflected some extra cash and care that in his time was prohibited by the needs to fix up the insides first or save money for emergencies like the furnace blowing out in mid-winter. In all the tradition of keeping up appearances as best you could had been successfully transferred to the new inhabitants (keeping up appearances being a big reason work was done back then in those old judgmental Irish streets, maybe now too for all he knew).

Whatever condition the houses were in, and a few as to be expected when there are so many houses in such a small area were getting that run-down feel that he saw more frequently back in the day by those not worried by the “keeping up appearances” ethos, the houses reflected, no, exclaimed right to their tiny rooftops, that seemingly eternal overweening desire to have, small or not, worth the trouble or not, something of one’s own against the otherwise endless servitude of days. Suddenly, coming to an intersection, Tim was startled, no, more than that he was forced into a double-take, by the sight of some guys, some teenage guys hanging, hanging hard, one foot on the ground the other bent holding up the infernal brick wall that spoke of practice and marking one’s territory, against the oncoming night in front of an old time variety store, a mom and pop variety from some extinct times before the 7/11 chain store, fast shop, no room for corner boys, police take notice, dark night.

Memory called it Kelly’s (as almost every local institution was Irish called from that small dream of ownership and out of hard manual labor variety store to the Dublin Grille bar that transfixed many a neighborhood father, including his father Michael Murphy to the shanty born, or else had an Italian surname reflecting the other major ethnic group, and at times mortal enemies). Today the name is Chiang’s. From the look of them, baggy-panted, latest fashion footwear name sneakered, baseball cap-headed, all items marked, marked with the insignia (secretly, and with no hope of outside decoding) signifying their "homeboy" associations (he would say gang, meaning of course corner boy gang, but that word is charged these days and this is not exactly what it looked like, at least to the public eye, his public eye) they could be the grandsons, probably not biological because these kids were almost all Asians speckled with a couple of Irish-lookers, shanty Irish-lookers, of the ghost be-bop night guys that held Tim in thrall in those misty early 1960s times.

Yeah, that tableau, that time-etched scene, got Tim to thinking of some long lost comrades of the schoolboy night like the hang-around guys in front of Harry’s Variety several blocks away (Harry O’Toole, the most “connected” guy in the neighborhood after Jimmy Mulvey who ran the Dublin Grille, since he ran the local “book”), although comrades might not be the right word because he had been just some punk young kid trying to be a wannabe, or half-wannabe, corner boy and they had no time for punk kids and later when he came of age he had no time for corner boys being unlike his older brothers, Red and Digger, a serious student and not a hell-raiser like them giving Martha Murphy nothing but the miseries. (He gave Ma Murphy his own miseries later but that was when all of society, all youth nation society, was going through a sea-change and he just travelled in that stream to her angers and dismays, especially in his wardrobe and physical appearance.)

Yeah, that scene got Tim to thinking of the old time corner boys who ruled the whole wide North Adamsville night (and day for those who didn’t work or go to school, which was quite a few on certain days, because most of these guys were between sixteen and their early twenties with very jittery school and work histories better left unspoken then, or else if you wanted to make something of it they would oblige you with some fists). Yeah, got Tim thinking about where the white tee-shirted, blue-jeaned, engineer-booted, cigarette-smoking, unfiltered of course (Luckies the “coffin nails” of choice, sneering (learned from watching, closely watching and repeatedly Marlon Brando in The Wild One and James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause at the retro- Strand Theater up on Main Street), soda-swilling, Coke with a some kicks added, naturally, pinball wizards held forth daily and nightly, and let him cadge a few odd games when they had more important business, more important girl business, to attend to. Either a date with some hot “fox” sitting in some souped up car looking like the queen of the Nile or putting their girls to “work,” pimping them in other words. Tim had been clueless about that whole scene until much later, that pimping scene, he had just assumed that they were “easy” and left it at that. Hell he had his own sex problems, or really no sex problems although if he had known what he found out from Red and Digger he might have paid more attention to those “loose women.”

Yeah, Tim got to thinking too about Harry’s, old Harry’s Variety over there near his grandmother’s house (on his mother’s side, nee Riley) over there in that block on Sagamore Street where the Irish workingman’s whiskey-drinking (with a beer chaser), fist-fighting, sports-betting after a hard day’s work Dublin Grille was located. Harry’s was on the corner of that block. Now if you have some image, some quirky, sentimental image, of Harry’s as being run by an up-and-coming just arrived immigrant guy, maybe with a big family, trying to make this neighborhood store thing work so he can take in, take in vicariously anyway, the American dream like you see running such places now forget it. Harry’s was nothing, like he had said before, but a “front.” Old Harry, Harry O’Toole, now long gone, was nothing but the neighborhood “bookie” known far and wide to one and all as such. Even the cops would pull up in their squad cars to place their bets, laughingly, with Harry in the days before state became the bookie-of-choice for most bettors. And he had his “book”, his precious penciled-notation book right out on the counter. But see punk kid Tim, even then just a little too book-unworldly didn’t pick up on that fact until, old grandmother, Jesus, Grandmother Riley who knew nothing of the world and was called a saint by almost everybody, everybody but husband Daniel Riley when he was in his cups “hipped” him to the fact.

Until then Tim didn’t think anything of the fact that Harry had about three dust-laden cans of soup, two dust-laden cans of beans, a couple of loaves of bread (Wonder Bread, if you want to know) on his dust-laden shelves, a few old quarts of milk and an ice chest full of tonic (now called soda, even by New Englanders) and a few other odds and ends that did not, under any theory of economics, capitalist or Marxist, add up to a thriving business ethos. Unless, of course, something else was going on. But what drew Tim to Harry’s was not that stuff anyway. What drew him to Harry’s was, one, his pin ball machine complete with corner boy players and their corner boy ways, and, two, his huge Coca Cola ice chest (now sold as antique curiosities for much money at big-time flea markets and other venues) filled with ice cold, cold tonics (see above), especially the local Robb’s Root Beer that Tim was practically addicted to in those days (and that Harry, kind-hearted Harry, stocked for him).

Many an afternoon, a summer’s afternoon for sure, or an occasional early night, Tim would sip, sip hard on his Robb’s and watch the corner boys play, no sway, sway just right, with that sweet pinball machine, that pin ball machine with the bosomy, lusty-looking, cleavage-showing women pictured on the top glass frame of the machine practically inviting you, and only you the player, on to some secret place if you just put in enough coins. Of course, like many dream-things what those lusty dames really gave you, only you the player, was maybe a few free games. Teasers, right. But Tim had to just watch at first because he was too young (you had to be sixteen to play), however, every once in a while, one of the corner boys who didn’t want to just gouge out his eyes for not being a corner boy, or for no reason at all, would let him cadge a game while Harry was not looking. When he thought about it though, now anyway, Harry was so “connected” (and you know what he meant by that) what the hell did he care if some underage kid, punk kid, cadged a few games and looked at those bosomy babes in the frame.

Yeah, and thinking about Harry’s automatically got Tim thinking about Daniel (nobody ever called him that, ever) “Red” Hickey, the boss king of his schoolboy night at Harry’s. Red, the guy who set the rules, set the style, hell, set the breathing, allowed or not and when, of the place. He didn’t know if Red went to some corner boy school to learn his trade but he was the be-bop daddy (at least all the girls, all the hanging all over him girls, called him that) because he, except for one incident that Tim will mention below, ruled unchallenged with an iron fist. At least Tim never saw his regular corner boys Spike, Lenny, Shawn, Ward, Goof (yes, that was his name the only name Tim knew him by, and he liked it, that is Goof like his moniker), Bop (real name William) or the Clipper (real name Kenny, the arch-petty Woolworth’s thief of the group hence the name) challenge him, or want to.

Yeah, Red, old red-headed Red was tough alright, and has a pretty good-sized built but that was not what kept the others in line. It was a certain look he had, a certain look that if Tim went to the trouble of describing it now would go way overboard  describing it as some stone-cold killer look, some psycho-killer look but that would be wrong because it didn’t show that way. But that was what it was. Tim thought he had better put it this way. Tommy Thunder, older brother of his junior high and high school best friend and a corner boy king in his own right, Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, a big bruiser of a legendary North Adamsville football player and human wrecking machine who lived a few doors up from Harry’s went out of his way not to go near the place. See, Red was that tough.

Red was like some general, or colonel or something, an officer at least, and besides being tough, he would “inspect” his troops to see that all and sundry had their “uniform” right. White tee-shirt, full-necked, no vee-neck sissy stuff, no muscle shirt half-naked stuff, straight 100% cotton, American-cottoned, American-textiled, American-produced, ironed, mother-ironed Tim was sure, crisp. One time Goof (sorry that’s all he knew him by, really) had a wrinkled shirt on and Red marched him up the street to his triple-decker cold-water walk-up flat and berated, berated out loud for all to hear, Goof’s mother for letting him out of the house like that. And Red, old Red like all Irish guys sanctified mothers, at least in public, so you can see he meant business on the keeping the uniform right question.

And like some James Dean or Marlon Brando tough guy photo, some motorcycle disdainful, sneering guy photo, each white tee-shirt, or the right sleeve of each white tee-shirt anyway, was rolled up to provide a place, a safe haven, for the ubiquitous package of cigarettes, matches inserted inside its cellophane outer wrapping, Luckies, Chesterfields, Camels, Pall Malls, all unfiltered in defiance of the then beginning incessant cancer drumbeat warnings, for the day’s show of manliness smoking pleasures.

And blue jeans, tight fit, no this scrub-washed, fake-worn stuff, but worn and then discarded worn. No chinos, no punk kid, maybe faux "beatnik," black chinos, un-cuffed, or cuffed like Tim wore, and Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, king of the faux beatnik junior high school night, including among his devotees Tim, a little too bookish Tim, who was as tough a general, colonel, or some officer anyway, as corner boy Red was with his guys. Frankie example: no cuffs on those black chinos, stay home, or go elsewhere, if you are cuffed. Same kingly manner, right? Corner boys blue-jeaned and wide black-belted, black always, black-belt used as a handy weapon for that off-hand street fight that might erupt out of nowhere, for no reason, or many. Maybe a heavy-duty watch chain, also war-worthy, dangly down from those jeans. Boots, engineer boots, black and buckled, worn summer or winter, heavy, heavy-heeled, spit-shined, another piece of the modern armor for street fight nights. Inspection completed the night’s work lies ahead.

And most nights work, seemingly glamorous to Tim’s little too bookish eyes at the time, was holding up some corner of the brick wall in front or on the side of Harry’s Variety with those engineer boots, one firmly on the ground the other bent against the wall, small talk, small low-tone talk between comrades waiting, waiting for… Or just waiting for their turn at that Harry luscious ladies pictured pinball machine. Protocol, strictly observed, required “General Red” to have first coin in the machine. But see old Red was the master swayer with that damn machine and would rack up free games galore so, usually, he was on that thing for a while.

Hey, Red was so good, although this is not strictly part of the story, that he could have one of his several honeys right in front of him on the machine pressing some buttons and he behind pressing some other buttons Red swaying and his Capri-panted honey, usually some blond, real or imagined, blonde that is depending on the bottle, swaying, and eyes glazing, but he thought he had better let off with that description right now, as he was getting a little glassy-eyed himself at the thought, and because like he said it was strictly speaking not part of the story.

What is part of the story is that Red, when he was in the mood or just bored, or had some business, some girl business, maybe that blond, real or imagined, just mentioned business would after Tim had been hanging around a while, and Red  thought he was okay, give him his leftover free games.

Now that was the “innocent” part of Red, the swaying pinball wizard, girl-swaying, inspector general part. But see if you want to be king of the corner boy night you have to show your metal once in a while, if for no other reason than the corner boys, the old time North Adamsville corner boys might be just a little forgetful of who the king hell corner boy was, or as Tim will describe, some other corner boy king of some other variety store night might show up to see what was what.

Tim must have watched the Harry’s corner boy scene for a couple of years, maybe three, the last part just off and on, but he  only remembered once when he saw Red show “his colors.” Some guy from Adamsville, some tough-looking guy who, no question, was a corner boy just stopped at Harry’s after tipping a couple, or twenty, at the Dublin Grille. He must have said something to Red, or maybe Red just knew instinctively that he had to show his colors, but all of a sudden these two were chain-whipping each other. No, that’s not quite right, Red was wailing, flailing, nailing, chain-whipping this other guy mercilessly, worse, if that is possible. The guy, after a few minutes, was left in a pool of blood on the street, ambulance ready. And Red just walked way, just kind of sauntering away.

Of course that is not the end of the Red story. Needless to say, no work, no wanna work Red had to have coin, dough, not just for the pinball machine, cigarettes, and soda, hell, that was nothing. But for the up-keep on his Chevy (Chevy then being the “boss” car, and not just among corner boys either), and that stream of ever-loving blond honeys, real or imagined blonde depending on the bottle, he escorted into the seashore night. So said corner boys did their midnight creep around the area grabbing this and that to bring in a little dough. Eventually Red “graduated” to armed robberies when the overhead grew too much for little midnight creeps, and graduated to one of the branches of the state pen, more than once. Strangely, his end came, although Tim only heard about this second- hand, after a shoot-out with the cops down South after he tried to rob some White Hen convenience store. There is some kind of moral there, although Tim thought he would be damned if he could figure it out. Red, thanks for those free games though.

From The Archives-The Struggle To Win The Youth To The Fight For Our Socialist Future

Logo Of The Communist Youth International

Markin comment on this series:

One of the declared purposes of this blog is to draw the lessons of our left-wing past, spotty and incomplete as they may be, here in America and internationally, especially from the pro-communist wing. Historically these lessons would be centrally derived from the revolutions of 1848 in Europe, especially in France, the Paris Commune of 1871, and most vividly under the impact of the Lenin and Trotsky-led Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, a world historic achievement for the international working class whose subsequent demise was of necessity a world-historic defeat for that same class. To that end I have made commentaries and provided archival works in order to help draw those lessons for today’s left-wing activists to learn, or at least ponder over.

More importantly, for the long haul, and unfortunately given that same spotty and incomplete past the long haul is what appears to be the time frame that this old militant will have to concede that we need to think about, to help educate today’s youth in the struggle for our common communist future. An education that masses of previous generations of youth undertook gladly but which now is reduced to a precious few.  That is beside the question of numbers in any case no small or easy task given the differences of generations (the missing transmission generation problem between the generation of ’68 who tried unsuccessfully to turn the world upside down and failed, the missing in between generation raised on Reagan rations and today’s desperate youth in need of all kinds of help; differences of political milieus worked in (another missing link situation with the attenuation of the links to the old mass socialist and communist organizations decimated by the red scare Cold War 1950s night of the long knives through the new old New Left of the 1960s and little notable organizational connections since); differences of social structure to work around (the serious erosion of the industrial working class in America, the rise of the white collar service sector, the now organically chronically unemployed, and the rise of the technocrats); and, increasingly more important, the differences in appreciation of technological advances, and their uses (today’s  computer, cellphone, and social networking savvy youth using those assets as tools for organizing).

There is no question that back in my youth in the 1960s I could have used, desperately used, many of the archival materials available on-line at the press of  a button today. When I developed political consciousness very early on in my youth, albeit a liberal political consciousness, I could have used this material as I knew, I knew deep inside my heart and mind, that a junior Cold War liberal of the American For Democratic Action (ADA) stripe was not the end of my leftward political trajectory. More importantly, I could have used a socialist or communist youth organization to help me articulate the doubts I had about the virtues of liberal capitalism and be recruited to a more left-wing world view.

As it was I spent far too long in the throes of the left-liberal/soft social-democratic milieu where I was dying politically. A group like the Young Communist League (W.E.B. Dubois Clubs in those days), the Young People’s Socialist League, or the Young Socialist Alliance representing the youth organizations of the American Communist Party, American Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S.) respectively would have saved much wasted time and energy. I knew they were around but not in my area.

The archival material to be used in this series is weighted heavily toward the youth movements of the early American Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party (U.S). For more recent material I have relied on material from the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the youth group of the Spartacist League (U.S.), both because they are more readily available to me and because, and this should give cause for pause, there are not many other non-CP, non-SWP youth groups around. As I gather more material from other youth sources I will place them in this series.

Finally I would like to finish up with the preamble to the Spartacist Youth Club’s What We Fight For statement of purpose:

"The Spartacus Youth Clubs intervene into social struggles armed with the revolutionary internationalist program of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. We work to mobilize youth in struggle as partisans of the working class, championing the liberation of black people, women and all the oppressed. The SYCs fight to win youth to the perspective of building the Leninist vanguard party that will lead the working class in socialist revolution, laying the basis for a world free of capitalist exploitation and imperialist slaughter."

This seems to me be somewhere in the right direction for what a Bolshevik youth group should be doing these days; a proving ground to become professional revolutionaries with enough wiggle room to learn from their mistakes, and successes. More later.

Third Congress of the Communist International

The Communist International and the Communist Youth Movement

Source: Theses Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congress of the Third International, translated by Alix Holt and Barbara Holland. Ink Links 1980;
Transcribed: by Andy Blunden.

12 July 1921

1 The young socialist movement came into existence as a result of the steadily increasing capitalist exploitation of young workers and also of the growth of bourgeois militarism. The movement was a reaction against attempts to poison the minds of young workers with bourgeois nationalist ideology and against the tendency of most of the social-democratic parties and the trade unions to neglect the economic, political and cultural demands of young workers.

In most countries the social-democratic parties and the unions, which were growing increasingly opportunist and revisionist, took no part in establishing young socialist organisations, and in certain countries they even opposed the creation of a youth movement. The reformist social-democratic parties and trade unions saw the independent revolutionary socialist youth organisations as a serious threat to their opportunist policies. They sought to introduce a bureaucratic control over the youth organisations and destroy their independence, thus stifling the movement, changing its character and adapting it to social-democratic politics.

2 As a result of the imperialist war and the positions taken towards it by social democracy almost everywhere, the contradictions between the social-democratic parties and the international revolutionary organisations inevitably grew and eventually led to open conflict. The living conditions of young workers sharply deteriorated; there was mobilisation and military service on the one hand, and, on the other, the increasing exploitation in the munitions industries and militarisation of civilian life. The most class-conscious young socialists opposed the war and the nationalist propaganda. They dissociated themselves from the social-democratic parties and undertook independent political activity (the International Youth Conferences at Berne in 1915 and Jena in 1916).

In their struggle against the war, the young socialist organisations were supported by the most dedicated revolutionary groups and became an important focus for the revolutionary forces. In most countries no revolutionary parties existed and the youth organisations took over their role; they became independent political organisations and acted as the vanguard in the revolutionary struggle.

3 With the establishment of the Communist International and, in some countries, of Communist Parties, the role of the revolutionary youth organisations changes. Young workers, because of their economic position and because of their psychological make-up, are more easily won to Communist ideas and are quicker to show enthusiasm for revolutionary struggle than adult workers. Nevertheless, the youth movement relinquishes to the Communist Parties its vanguard role of organising independent activity and providing political leadership. The further existence of Young Communist organisations as politically independent and leading organisations would mean that two Communist Parties existed, in competition with one another and differing only in the age of their membership.

4 At the present time the role of the Young Communist movement is to organise the mass of young workers, educate them in the ideas of Communism, and draw them into the struggle for the Communist revolution.

The Communist youth organisations can no longer limit themselves to working in small propaganda circles. They must win the broad masses of workers by conducting a permanent campaign of agitation, using the newest methods. In conjunction with the Communist Parties and the trade unions, they must organise the economic struggle.

The new tasks of the Communist youth organisations require that their educational work be extended and intensified. The members of the youth movement receive their Communist education on the one hand through active participation in all revolutionary struggles and on the other through a study of Marxist theory.

Another important task facing the Young Communist organisations in the immediate future is to break the hold of centrist and social-patriotic ideas on young workers and free the movement from the influences of the social-democratic officials and youth leaders. At the same time, the Young Communist organisations must do everything they can to ‘rejuvenate’ the Communist Parties by parting with their older members, who then join the adult Parties.

The Young Communist organisations participate in the discussion of all political questions, help build the Communist Parties and take part in all revolutionary activity and struggle. This is the main difference between them and the youth sections of the centrist and socialist unions.

5 The relations between the Young Communist organisations and the Communist Party are fundamentally different from those between the revolutionary young socialist organisations and the social-democratic parties. In the common struggle to hasten the proletarian revolution, the greatest unity and strictest centralisation are essential. Political leadership at the international level must belong to the Communist International and at the national level to the respective national sections.

It is the duty of the Young Communist organisations to follow this political leadership (its programme, tactics and political directives) and merge with the general revolutionary front. The Communist Parties are at different stages of development and therefore the Executive Committee of the Communist International and the Executive Committee of the Communist Youth International should apply this principle in accordance with the circumstances obtaining in each particular case.

The Young Communist movement has begun to organise its members according to the principle of strict centralisation and in its relations with the Communist International – the leader and bearer of the proletarian revolution – it will be governed by an iron discipline. All political and tactical questions are discussed in the ranks of the Communist youth organisation, which then takes a position and works in the Communist Party of its country in accordance with the resolutions passed by the Party, in no circumstance working against them.

If the Communist youth organisation has serious differences with the Communist Party, it has the right to appeal to the Executive Committee of the Communist International.

Loss of political independence in no way implies loss of the organisational independence which is so essential for political education.

Strong centralisation and effective unity are essential for the successful advancement of the revolutionary struggle, and therefore, in those countries where historical development has left the youth dependent upon the Party, the dependence should be preserved; differences between the two bodies are decided by the EC of the Communist International and the Executive Committee of the Communist Youth International.

6 One of the most immediate and most important tasks of the Young Communist organisations is to fight the belief in political independence inherited from the period when the youth organisations enjoyed absolute autonomy, and which is still subscribed to by some members. The press and organisational apparatus of the Young Communist movement must be used to educate young workers to be responsible and active members of a united Communist Party.

At the present time the Communist youth organisations are beginning to attract increasing numbers of young workers and are developing into mass organisations; it is therefore important that they give the greatest possible time and effort to education.

7 Close co-operation between the Young Communist organisations and the Communist Parties in political work must be reflected in close organisational links. It is essential that each organisation should at all times be represented at all levels of the other organisation (from the central Party organs and district, regional and local organisations down to the cells of Communist groups and the trade unions) and particularly at all conferences and congresses.

In this way the Communist Parties will be able to exert a permanent influence on the movement and encourage political activity, while the youth organisations, in their turn, can influence the Party.

8 The relations established between the Communist Youth International and the Communist International are even closer than those between the individual Parties and their youth organisations. The Communist Youth International has to provide the Communist youth movement with a centralised leadership, offer moral and material support to individual unions, form Young Communist organisations where none has existed and publicise the Communist youth movement and its programme. The Communist Youth International is a section of the Communist International and, as such, is bound by the decisions of its congresses and its Central Committee. The Communist Youth International conducts its work within the framework of these decisions and thus passes on the political line of the Communist International to all its sections. A well-developed system of reciprocal representation and close and constant co-operation guarantees that the Communist Youth International will make gains in all the spheres of its activity (leadership, agitation, organisation and the work of strengthening and supporting the Communist youth organisations).

HONOR THE THREE L’S-LENIN, LUXEMBURG, LIEBKNECHT-Honor The Historic Leader Of The German Spartacists-Karl Liebknecht  

Karl Liebknecht Thumbnail Biography

The son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, one of the founders of the SPD, Karl Liebknecht trained to be a lawyer and defended many Social Democrats in political trials. He was also a leading figure in the socialist youth movement and thus became a leading figure in the struggle against militarism.
As a deputy in the Reichstag he was one of the first SPD representatives to break party discipline and vote against war credits in December 1914. He became a figurehead for the struggle against the war. His opposition was so successful that his parliamentary immunity was removed and he was imprisoned.

Freed by the November revolution he immediately threw himself into the struggle and became with Rosa Luxemburg one of the founders of the new Communist Party (KPD). Along with Luxemburg he was murdered by military officers with the tacit approval of the leaders of the SPD after the suppression of the so-called “Spartacist Uprising” in January 1919.
Markin comment:

Karl Liebknecht- A Model Anti-Warrior
This comment was originally  written in 2006 in the American Left History blog but the main points hold true today:

I recently (2006) have received a comment from someone whom I took earnestly to be perplexed by a section of a commentary that I had written where I stated that the minimum necessary for any anti-war politician was to vote against the Iraq war budget in a principled manner. Not the way former Democratic presidential candidate Massachusetts Senator John Kerry’s (and others) dipsy-doodled votes for and against various war budgetary requests in 2004. And certainly not the other variations on this theme performed recently by aspiring Democratic presidential candidates Senators Obama and Clinton in the lead-up to 2008. Nor, for that matter, the way of those who oppose the Iraq war budget but have no problems if those funds were diverted to wars in Afghanistan, Iran , North Korea, China or their favorite ‘evil state’ of the month. What really drew the commenter up short was that I stated this was only the beginning of political wisdom and then proceeded to explain that even that would not be enough to render the politician political support if his or her other politics were weak.  The commenter then plaintively begged me to describe what kind of politician would qualify for such support. Although I have noted elsewhere that some politicians, Democratic Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts and presidential candidate Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich stand out from the pack, the real anti-war hero on principle we should look at is long dead-Karl Liebknecht, the German Social-Democratic leader from World War I. Wherever anyone fights against unjust wars Liebknecht’s spirit hovers over those efforts. Here is what I had to say in part about that revolutionary politician:   
"…I do not believe we are lacking in physical courage. What has declined is political courage, and this seems in irreversible decline on the part of parliamentary politicians. That said, I want to finish up with a woefully inadequate political appreciation of Karl Liebknecht, member of the German Social Democratic faction in the Reichstag in the early 1900’s. Karl was also a son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, who had been a friend of Karl Marx and founder of the German Social Democratic Party in the 1860’s. On August 4, 1914, at the start of World War I the German Social Democratic Party voted YES on the war budget of the Kaiser against all its previous historic positions on German militarism. This vote was rightly seen as a betrayal of socialist principles. Due to a policy of parliamentary solidarity Karl Liebknecht also voted for this budget, or at least felt he had to go along with his faction. Shortly thereafter, he broke ranks and voted NO against the war appropriations. As pointed out below Karl Liebknecht did much more than that to oppose the German side in the First World War. That, my friends, is the kind of politician I can support. As for the rest-hold their feet to the fire.

"One of the problems with being the son of a famous politician is that as founder of the early German Social Democratic Party Wilhelm Liebknecht's son much was expected of Karl, especially on the question of leading the German working class against German militarism. Wilhelm had done a prison term (with August Bebel) for opposition to the Franco-Prussian War. As for Karl I have always admired that famous picture of him walking across the Potsdam Plaza in uniform, subject to imprisonment after loss of his parliamentary immunity, with briefcase under arm ready to go in and do battle with the parliamentary cretins of the Social Democratic Party over support for the war budget. (That photograph can be Googled.) That is the kind of leadership cadre we desperately need now. REMEMBER HIS FAMOUS SLOGANS- "HE MAIN ENEMY IS AT HOME’-‘NOT ONE PENNY, NOT ONE PERSON (updated by writer) FOR THE WAR." Wilhelm would have been proud.
From The Pen Of Leon Trotsky –Learn The Lessons Of History Before It Is Too Late- Cops Are Not Workers

In the early 1930s, reformist leaders of the German working class politically disarmed the workers by preaching reliance on the police to stop Hitler’s Nazis. Those cops had largely been recruited over the years from among pro-socialist workers. Leon Trotsky—one of the leaders of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which saw the proletariat smash the existing capitalist state apparatus and establish their own state power—sharply warned in What Next? (1932): “The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker…. And above all: every policeman knows that though governments may change, the police remain.”
Workers Vanguard No. 1059
9 January 2015
Amid Protests Against Racist Police Terror
NYC Cop Backlash
Weeks of mass protests that erupted after the policemen who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner got off have left cops across the country seething. These hired guns of the capitalist rulers are howling over any criticism of how they do their job, which in racist capitalist America does include terrorizing and killing unarmed black people. Leading the pack in New York City are the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) and its ilk, which have seized on the December 20 killing of two Brooklyn cops to further push their agenda of bonapartism: that is, to stand above the law as judge, jury and executioner. The nationwide mobilization of police for the funerals of the two cops on consecutive weekends was a chilling show of force. Now the Fraternal Order of Police is building a January 17 “End the Madness: Sea of Blue” march in Washington, D.C.
The NYPD has once again gone ballistic at the very suggestion that there should be some checks on its enforcement of racist “law and order” in the city. The cops want an entirely free hand, and it is no accident the PBA and similar groups are spearheading the backlash to the protests. The PBA is not a union in the sense of a workers organization but a political club reflecting the cops’ awareness of their social role as the guard dogs of the capitalist order.
As the mayor of New York City, which he manages on behalf of the Wall Street plutocrats and real estate barons, Bill de Blasio is commander-in-chief of the NYPD. So when he expressed a little sympathy for those opposing cop terror, de Blasio’s thugs in blue were furious, blaming him for encouraging the protests. The rabid PBA head Patrick Lynch denounced the mayor for supposedly throwing cops “under the bus.”
De Blasio also set off the cops when he stated in a TV interview that he had to warn his 17-year-old son Dante, who is biracial, to be careful not to make any sudden moves when dealing with police—common-sense advice for black youth in this vicious capitalist society that is racist to the core. In response, Ed Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, slammed the mayor: “He may want to think about moving out of New York City completely. He just doesn’t belong here.” Mullins, Lynch and their cohorts insist that de Blasio either tell protesters to stop or get out of the way.
After Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who has been described as mentally unstable, killed the two NYC cops, Lynch went on a tear over the “blood on many hands,” citing “the office of the mayor” and those in the streets protesting police brutality. De Blasio called for a pause to the protests and Police Commissioner William Bratton pronounced the killings their “direct spinoff.” Over 20 people have since been arrested for allegedly threatening cops, including a 16-year-old who was held in jail for a week over Christmas because he posted “Let’s Kill the Cops” on his Facebook page. Despite the NYPD’s sinister ravings and the mayor’s admonishments, the protests have not come to a halt. The initial wave of protest was a measure of how fed up a wide swath of society is with daily cop violence.
The two funerals were attended by tens of thousands from across the country, with the New York Times (28 December) describing the scene at the first as “nothing but thick rows of police officers as far as anyone could see.” Large numbers of cops turned their backs on de Blasio when he spoke at the funerals, as had been done when he visited the hospital where the two cops were taken. Here was a demonstrative show of insubordination and resistance to being put on a leash by civilian authorities when what they really want to do is run wild, wreaking vengeance on protesters and the ghetto and barrio poor with impunity.
Among the bourgeois politicians speaking at the first funeral was U.S. vice president Joe Biden, signaling that the maintenance of “law and order” in NYC, the center of American finance capital, is of vital concern to the highest levels of the capitalist rulers. Reflecting this concern, the bourgeoisie’s paper of record, the New York Times, issued an editorial titled “Respect for NYPD Squandered in Attacks on Bill de Blasio” (29 December). The next day, after statistics were released showing that the police were engaging in a slowdown (summonses for minor offenses had plunged by over 90 percent compared to the previous week), the Times instructed the cops to “do your jobs.” The capitalist rulers in the city and beyond are worried that the NYPD has gone too far, doing further damage to the illusion that the police “serve and protect” the population as a whole. In reality, the job of the cops is to maintain the rule of the capitalist exploiters through violent suppression of the working class, black people and all the oppressed.
In New York City, as elsewhere, the cops have a longstanding appetite for bonapartism. In 1992, when black Democratic mayor David Dinkins moved to replace the cops on the sham Civilian Complaint Review Board with civilians appointed by the mayor, a 10,000-strong cop mob stormed the steps of City Hall. That veritable lynch mob was an example of how in America, where capitalist rule has always had racial oppression at its base, even those black people who have supposedly made it are still branded by the color of their skin. (For more on PBA bonapartism, see article on page 2.)
Today, there are racist undertones to the vitriol aimed by the cops and their supporters at de Blasio, whose wife and children are black. A racist, pro-NYPD throng gathered outside City Hall on December 19, where some disgustingly sported shirts reading “I Can Breathe,” a mockery of Eric Garner’s last words as cops were choking him to death. Al Sharpton, who in the past wore a wire to spy on black politicians for the FBI and cops, has also been a target, receiving death threats for supposedly being “anti-cop.” Sharpton has been prominent around the protests against cop terror, working overtime to direct the outrage into support for the capitalist Democratic Party and reliance on the federal government. He serves to reinforce illusions that the police can be reformed to act in the interests of the oppressed by getting rid of a few “bad apples,” never passing up an opportunity to emphasize how much he supports the police.
The tensions between the PBA and the mayor boil down to how much democratic window dressing to put on the police. During his 2013 mayoral bid, de Blasio attracted support from many black people and Latinos by running as an opponent of stop-and-frisk. Lynch’s hysterical claims that de Blasio “thinks he’s running a fucking revolution” couldn’t be further from the truth; de Blasio’s policies are at bottom a repackaging of racist cop terror.
While stop-and-frisk has been curtailed and a few other largely cosmetic reforms have been introduced, arrests for minor offenses have continued unabated under de Blasio/Bratton’s “broken windows” policing strategy. And, of course, it was “broken windows” that brought about the death of Eric Garner, who was targeted for selling loose cigarettes. Bratton introduced “broken windows” policing to NYC during his first stint as police chief in the 1990s. De Blasio’s reappointment of Bratton as chief gave a green light to the NYPD to keep up the war on black and Latino youth.
Cops Are Not Workers
The utter contempt that cops have for black lives has come to the fore in the past few months. But the question is what to do about it. The answer must flow from an understanding of how this class-divided society works. Under capitalism, a tiny elite that owns the factories, mines and banks lives off the sweat and toil of working people. The cops are a core part of the state machinery of repression that ensures the domination of capital over labor. With black oppression rooted in this system of production for profit, cop terror is wielded by America’s rulers to maintain the forcible segregation of the black masses at the bottom of society, despite their lying assertion of equality. Efforts to reform the police cannot alter its fundamentally anti-working-class and racist nature. As our comrades chanted during the December 13 “Millions March NYC”: “Police reform is a hustle, fists in the air for class struggle!”
The crimes of the cops should be met with massive, militant protest based on the social power of labor. The pro-capitalist union bureaucracy, though, pushes the suicidal lie that cops are “fellow workers” and that the PBA & Co. are part of the labor movement. A prime example in NYC is the leadership of the transit union, TWU Local 100, whose president, John Samuelsen, issued a statement referring to the two dead cops as “our Union Brothers.” The Local 100 tops welcomed Lynch onto the platform of union rallies in the lead-up to the 2005 transit strike—which defied a state ban on public employee strikes. For leading the workers out, Samuelsen’s predecessor, Roger Toussaint, was later arrested and briefly jailed.
For this multiracial union, embracing the racist cops is particularly grotesque. Eric Garner’s mother, sister and niece are all Local 100 members, but the leadership did almost nothing to organize solidarity with them in their grief. When the grand jury decision not to indict the cop who killed Garner was announced, Samuelsen offered: “In federal court, in civil suit and in the next life we will bear witness until justice is served.” What is needed is a mobilization of the social power of the unions to fight racist capitalist injustice in this life!
The role of the cops as deadly enemies of labor is starkly demonstrated when workers go on strike. It’s the cops who enforce court injunctions, protect scabs, attack picket lines and arrest strikers. In fact, the unions were built in hard, often bloody, struggle against the bosses and their cops, National Guard, company goons, etc. From the Haymarket martyrs of 1887, hanged in Chicago for fighting for the eight-hour day, and the Ludlow, Colorado, massacre of striking miners and their families by the Rockefellers’ hired guns in 1914, to the PATCO air traffic controllers fired and dragged away in chains for striking in 1981, labor struggles have always run up against the capitalist state. When there are long periods with little to no class struggle like today, the social role of the cops can become obscured to the working class.
A vivid expression of the anti-working-class nature of the PBA was its denunciation of unions that had co-sponsored a march last August in Staten Island against police brutality, above all the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). The steering committee of the UFT caucus “Movement of Rank and File Educators”—which counts a supporter of the reformist International Socialist Organization, Brian Jones, as a founding member—issued a statement urging “the leaderships of the UFT and PBA, to find ways to work together and unite us.”
Rather than building unity with the shock troops of capitalist rule, there must be a fight for the independence of the labor movement from all agencies of the capitalist state. It speaks volumes that the first thing the NYPD’s Peter Liang reportedly did after shooting the unarmed Akai Gurley in a Brooklyn housing project in November was to text his PBA rep, while Gurley lay dying. Or take the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association that is defending its members’ sadistic reign of terror against inmates in the Rikers Island jail. What the cop organizations want is more officers and weapons and fewer restrictions in going after workers, blacks, immigrants and leftists—and to get paid more for doing it.
In the early 1930s, reformist leaders of the German working class politically disarmed the workers by preaching reliance on the police to stop Hitler’s Nazis. Those cops had largely been recruited over the years from among pro-socialist workers. Leon Trotsky—one of the leaders of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which saw the proletariat smash the existing capitalist state apparatus and establish their own state power—sharply warned in What Next? (1932): “The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker…. And above all: every policeman knows that though governments may change, the police remain.”
Over recent decades, while workers unions in the U.S. have been decimated, “unions” representing cops, prison guards and security guards have grown tremendously. The presence of large numbers of cops and security guards within unions like the SEIU and AFSCME is especially dangerous. Cops out of the unions!
A recent Daily News (30 December) opinion piece titled “Labor Must Reject Pat Lynch’s Bitter Bile” by Jonathan Tasini, former president of the National Writers Union who has twice sought the Democratic Party nomination for public office, reflects unease within a section of the union bureaucracy over its association with the PBA. Recoiling from Lynch’s venom, Tasini beseeches city union leaders to speak out against the PBA head because “standing by while a rogue union leader launches vituperative attacks may weaken public support for the mayor.” For Tasini, the overriding priority is to preserve labor’s ties to the Democratic Party, which no less than the Republicans is a political instrument of the class enemy.
What is necessary is to mobilize the social power of labor to fight for its own interests and those of the oppressed, in opposition to the bosses, their political representatives and their state. But the possibility for such a mobilization is undermined by the sellout labor bureaucracy, which shackles the potential power of the unions by feeding workers the lies that cops are their union brothers and sisters and that Democrats are their friends. The way forward is to fight for a class-struggle leadership of the trade unions. As long as the capitalist system remains, so will racist cop terror. To lead it in the struggle to break the capitalist state power and expropriate the bourgeoisie, establishing a workers government, the working class needs its own, revolutionary party.

Greece- Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes

Victory To The Greek Workers- Build Workers Councils Now-Fight For A Workers Government!

Re-post from an American Left History blog, February 14, 2012 the major points which are appropriate today as we head into the upcoming Greek parliamentary elections:

Markin comment:

The situation in Greece today cries out to high heaven for a revolution and a revolutionary party to intervene and lead the damn thing. Enough of one day general strikes. General strikes only pose the question of power, of dual power. Who shall rule. We say labor must rule. Strike the final blow. Back to the communist road. The Greek workers are just this minute the vanguard, yes, terrible word to some, vanguard of the international working class struggle. Forward to victory.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010-Repost from American Left History blog

*Be Still My Heart- On Calling For The Greek Communist Parties And Trade Unions To Take Power

Markin comment:

On May 10, 2010 I posted an entry on the situation in Greece in response to a post from the International Marxist Tendency’s Greek section’s analysis of the tasks that confront revolutionaries today. I agreed with the comment in the post that general strikes were of limited value if they did not, at some point, pose the question of who shall rule- working people or the capitalists. I went further and proposed two propaganda points that revolutionaries in Greece, and their supporters internationally, should be fighting for. Right now.

The first point revolved around the fight to create workers councils, committees of action or factory committees in order to fight for a revolutionary perspective. That program, the specifics which are better to left to those on the ground, needs to include refusal to pay the capitalists debts, under whatever guise, defense of the hard fought social welfare gains of the past, the struggle against the current government’s austerity program, the fight against any taint of popular frontism (opposition to alliances, at this critical juncture, with non-working class forces where the working class is the donkey and the small capitalist parties are the riders), and prepare to pose the question of who shall rule. Thus there is plenty of work that needs to be started now while the working masses are mobilized and in a furor over the current situation.

The second point, which flows out of the first, is the call for the Communist parties and trade unions to take power in their own right and in the interest of the working class. Now, clearly, and this is where some confusion has entered the picture, this is TODAY a propaganda call but is a concrete way to pose the question of who shall rule. Of course, we revolutionaries should have no illusions in the Stalinists and ex-Stalinists who run those parties and who, in previous times, have lived very comfortably with their various popular front, anti-monopolist strategies that preserve capitalism. However, today those organizations call for anti-governmental action and are listened to by the masses in the streets.

The point is to call their political bluff, carefully, but insistently. In that sense we are talking over the heads of the leaders to their social bases. Now that tactic is always proper for revolutionaries to gain authority but today we have to have a more concrete way to do so. In short, call on the Greek labor militants to call on their parties and unions to take power. And if not, then follow us. This is not some exotic formula from nowhere but reflects the sometimes painful experience, at least since the European revolutions of 1848.

Note: I headed today’s headline with the expression “be still my heart” for a reason. It has been a very long time since we have been able to, even propagandistically, call for workers parties on the European continent to take power. Especially, after the demise of the Soviet Union, for Stalinist (reformed or otherwise) parties to do so. Frankly, I did not think, as a practical matter, that I would be making such a call in Europe again in my lifetime. All proportions guarded, this may be the first wave of a new revolutionary upsurge on that continent. But, hell, it’s nice just to be able to, rationally, make that political call. In any case, the old utopian dream of a serious capitalist United States of Europe is getting ready to go into the dustbin of history. Let’s replace it with a Socialist Federation of Europe- and Greece today is the “epicenter”. SYRIZA-KKE to power!
Greece- Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes, 20/01/2015
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Mass intervention of working class to struggle for socialist policies is vital
Interview with Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI in Greece)
On 19 January, six days before the Greek general elections, spoke to Andros Payiatsos from Xekinima (CWI in Greece).

Last time we spoke you told us of the campaign of fear by the establishment to try and prevent people voting for Syriza. How has this developed?

The circus of the ruling class and its political representatives are now demoralised. They started a big fear campaign but it became absolutely clear that it would have no significant effect and that Syriza will be the next government. The question now is, will it be a minority or a majority government? Although the ruling class still try to keep the fear campaign going, it’s very weak and not effective. They have now shifted their focus to further “domesticating” Syriza, to ensure that it governs within the limits they impose.

What now seems the likely outcome of the election?

It’s generally accepted here and internationally that Syriza will win. In the last week there is a small increase for Syriza in the opinion polls – of about 1%. Really this is a stabilisation of Syriza’s lead. Including abstentions, Syriza’s support stands around 25-27%, discounting these it rises to about 30-33% – close to, but not sufficient for, a majority government.

What are the alternatives to a majority Syriza government?

The Syriza leadership see “Independent Greeks” party – a “patriotic”, populist split from New Democracy (the main right wing, capitalist party) as the most viable possibility for a coalition partner. This party took a position against the Memorandum and the Troika from the beginning.
Most of the left are not willing to cooperate with Syriza. The Communist Party rejects even the possibility of voting in parliament for Syriza to form a government - they have a disastrous sectarian position.
If the “Independent Greeks” do not have enough MPs either, then Syriza would be pushed to collaborate with parties which are considered to be “Troikan” parties (those that have accepted and implemented or supported in general the austerity policies inflicted on Greece by the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank), such as “The River” or former Pasok Prime Minister, George Papandreou’s new party, “Social Democratic Movement”.

What is the response of the ruling class to the increasing likelihood of a Syriza victory?

They now concentrate on trying to make sure a Syriza government will be as stable and effective as possible for them. There are big sections of capitalist spokespeople in Greece and internationally which say “it’s time to negotiate” and that “we must be flexible” etc. This is an attempt to incorporate Syriza into the establishment and to put a break on the dangers which Syriza may represent for their interests in terms of releasing powerful mass movements and taking measures which go against austerity.
But it’s important to know that this is not uniform. For example, the German ruling class and the countries around it still have a hard-line position against any serious negotiation. They will undoubtedly be willing to make some concessions to a Syriza government in negotiations, but of a very limited character.

How is Syriza responding to this pressure?

The leadership is responding in precisely the way that the ruling class would like. The whole programme has become absolutely blurred. Even some of the reforms that have been considered very basic are now under question.
For example, Syriza leader Tsipras was recently asked in an interview about the major struggle of the people of Halkidiki against the gold mines. He didn’t take a clear position but he said “the law will be enforced” and “the contracts will be scrutinised” – what does that mean?
In relation to the minimum wage, which was one of the major points in the programme of Syriza, it’s now not clear when it’s going to be done - there’s now talk of a gradual implementation. In regard to the privatisations and the sackings of thousands from the public sector that have taken place, they say: “we shall study the lawfulness of what took place”.
Given this, there is little real enthusiasm for Syriza in society. But there is also a feeling that there is no choice, we have to vote for Syriza and give it a majority government if possible. There is a feeling that even if they do one tenth of what they promise, things will still be better than today.

Andros Payiatsos speaking at Xekinima meeting in December 2014

How has Xekinima (CWI in Greece) participated in the elections and why?

We support a vote for Syriza and have launched a very big campaign. We produced 150,000 four-page bulletins and a special edition of our paper which sold out, so we have reproduced it, which is impressive considering the election campaign is, actually, only 11 days long!
As part of the “Initiative of 1000” (coalition of left groups united around a radical anti-capitalist programme), we discussed with Syriza about standing candidates on its lists. Unfortunately, we have not been able to do so. The Syriza leadership wanted an alliance with other forces on the Left, but of a merely token symbolic nature, in which these other forces would stand no real chance of being elected. They ruled us out from standing candidates in the areas in which we would have a very powerful and effective campaign. We said if there is going to be collaboration with other forces of the left then Syriza has to give these forces the potential to get a good result – there’s no point if you take away their strongholds and only allow them to have candidates where they stand little or no chance of being elected. On top of this, there was a very limited time to campaign. On this basis both Xekinima and other comrades in the Initiative of the 1000 decided that we would not stand.
The attitude of the Syriza leadership to this is indicative of a wider trend. For example, 50 individuals who are not members of Syriza were included in the Syriza lists across the country. Of these, only 1 is to the left of SYRIZA! They want a parliamentary group that will be very well controlled by the right wing of the party.
The main reason we support Syriza, despite these limitations, is that its victory will have a liberating effect on the working class, the movements and society in general. There is an expectation from the working class that under a Syriza government the massive attacks will stop and, at least, to a certain extent be reversed, and that some of the demands of the mass movement will be satisfied. So, despite the lack of clarity on the part of the leadership, and its accommodation to the demands of the ruling class, we believe that a Syriza victory will represent a significant shift in the balance of class forces in Greek society – it can have a catalysing effect and unleash a new period of working class struggle.
Maybe Syriza will not change the laws on the labour market, which has been completely deregulated, but workers will come out to demand their right not to be sacked, to an eight hour day, to overtime payments, and to collective bargaining. Maybe Tsipras is not ready to kick the gold mines of “Eldorado Gold” out of Halkidiki but people of Halkidiki have no choice but to come out and demand that the company stops the works on the gold mines. We expect this to take place throughout the working class movement in Greece. Maybe Tsipras won’t be willing to abolish TAIPED, the body that is overseeing all the “fast track” privatisations now taking place, but workers will feel that now they can move into action to resist these sell offs – whether they be of public utility companies or of beaches, mountains and forests.
Whatever compromises the leadership is willing to make, the workers will feel there’s a much better environment to fight to defend their rights and this is the fundamental reason that Syriza should be given conditional, critical support.
We make it very clear that we don’t just call for a vote for Syriza itself, we call for a radical, revolutionary socialist programme as the only viable road for a Syriza government.

What does Xekinima think that a Syriza government should do the day after its elected?

Of course, it should immediately paralyse the payment of the debt and rip up the memorandum with the Troika, which are fundamental to any plan to combat the misery of the Greek people.
It should immediately change the labour laws and laws for the universities (to allow for asylum on campuses, freedom of speech, free assembly etc). Raise the minimum wage to what it was before the onset of the Troika – back to €750. Close down TAIPED the body which is responsible for the privatisations of the public works and the natural beauties and resources of the country. And freeze and repeal all privatisations that have taken place in recent years. Put an end to controversial projects which are under construction now – like in Halkidiki.
This would cause a reaction by the capitalist establishment, nationally and internationally. This could only be challenged successfully by implementing bold anti-capitalist measures, nationalising the banks and the commanding heights of the economy to plan the economy on the basis of need, not profit. This should be done on the basis of democratic workers’ control and management.
And it must be linked to the struggles of the workers across Europe. We are sure that if Syriza went ahead with such a programme it would have a major effect internationally, particularly for the working class of southern Europe. This could lay the basis for an international socialist alternative to the capitalist EU and Troika rule.
In the election campaign Syriza does refer to the international aspects of their policies and to Podemos (the new left party in Spain), and other “progressive” movements internationally. Despite Syriza’s programme being so mild and compromising, it is still having a major effect on a European and international level. This shows what could be achieved if it had a more radical, socialist programme - the potential is there. At the moment, Syriza’s policies are neo-Keynesianism - for an end to austerity within the capitalist system.
In the conditions of capitalist crisis, such a programme is not really viable. Only a programme which breaks with the capitalist system can offer a way forward. This can only be achieved through the mass intervention of the working class, and the popular masses, which could, under certain conditions, push Syriza far further to the left that the leadership envisage or imagine. This is what Xekinima will be struggling for in the period after SYRYZA is elected to government.