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Marxism in Greece: The Case of the KKE* Ole L. Smith It has often been claimed that institutional Marxism in Greece as represented by the Greek Communist Party is of no value, being an unreflective application of foreign models, imported from outside, either from the Second International in the very early period or from Comintern and Eastern Europe later on.1 Thus the problem of Marxism in Greece to a certain extent becomes a model case of European ideological influences and their impact in Greece. Is it true that these influences were imported and applied without consideration for Greek political and social realities? In the case of the KKE the failure of the party to integrate itself into Greek society by formulating a realistic and viable perspective for social change, and offer an alternative to the bourgeois parties has been ascribed to dogmatic and orthodox views taken over mechanically and uncritically from foreign models.2 Of course there has also been a wide-spread tendency, even among serious writers, to reject communism in Greece as being something incompatible with Greek mentality.3 * The present paper is an amended and expanded version of my contribution to the MGSA Symposium in New York, Oct. 1983. 1 This is the basic interpretation of KKE policy in Elefantis' book which in spite of its heavy bias must rank as the most serious attempt at a documented study of the KKE and its history until 1940. The large-scale book by Esche on the period 194149 with a concise historical introduction should also be mentioned though Esche's perspective is very different. For similar negative views on the KKE today see the articles by Richter and Kitsikis. This is still an often heard objection to the KKE in Greek politics today; see for instance Andreas Papandreou's arguments against cooperation between the KKE and PASOK in the interview with Τα ΕÎ-α 1 November 1982. See e.g., C. M. Woodhouse's Foreword to Kousoulas, Revolution and Defeat. These scandalous views are somewhat toned down in Woodhouse, The Struggle, 320 . 45 46 Ole L. Smith The object of this paper is to examine this common negative opinion by taking a closer view at three crucial stages in the history of the party where evidence for the above views have been assumed to exist. It will be seen, I hope, that the negative views are too simplistic and are the result of two basic factors operating in scholarly investigation of the history of the party: inadequate source material and retrospective, often even post-Civil War, criticism. A third factor should perhaps also be mentioned, namely the reluctance of the KKE after 1974 to take part in the debate, and to discuss and reassess its own history. In his Theses for the History of the KKE (Επιλογή κειμÎ-νων 23), Nikos Zachariadis, secretary general of the party, repudiated party history from 1918-31, characterized, he said, by the inability of the leadership to formulate a genuine Marxist-Leninist theory and to carry it out in practice. Arguing—in accordance with general Comintern views—that the objective factors for a revolutionary change were present during these years, he dismissed the early leaders, because they proved to be unable to lead the KKE successfully. Zachariadis' harsh criticism is first and foremost meant to highlight his own leadership from 1931 on, and to put the Comintern intervention in 1931 into perspective; but his views have strangely enough found close parallels in later assessments of the early party history by his political adversaries who have had absolutely no reason to praise Zachariadis or to justify the Comintern. Party historians as different as Katsoulis, Nefeloudis and Brillakis have agreed that the early party was ideologically naive, and that the leaders were a confused and mixed group of idealists and socialists.4 In the case of the foundation of the Socialist Workers' Party (SEKE) which later changed its name to KKE, it is obvious that our source material—or rather the lack of it—is the main reason for the negative criticism. Until recently we had very few documents, namely a declaration of principles and the so-called program of immediate demands.5 The relation between the basic principles...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 45-64
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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