nationalismDown with patriotism – Long live internationalism

A few days ago (7 March) we were watching a sickening spectacle of the events that took place in the parade in the island of Rhodes; a local community which for years has proclaimed money as the highest value in life, embodying in the most characteristic way the modern Greek petty-bourgeois idea of «glamour».

In the «national uprising» of the «Colossi of Rhodes» we saw a bigoted patriotic mob cheering the Chief of Police, screaming in a body the slogan »tramps, traitors, politicians» (one of the traditional slogans of the fascist »Golden Dawn»), demanding that only the representatives of the police, the army and the church stay on the grandstand, and after the expulsion of «quisling cheating politicians» watching the parade in a spirit of national unity and patriotic devoutness, singing military marches and clapping the commandos of the army screaming «Greece belongs to Greeks,» in an atmosphere that breathes the stinking smell of the post-Civil War regime and the Colonels’ Junta.

These events did not come as a bolt from the blue. It was the natural continuation of the disruption of the parade of 28th October in Salonika by a similar nationalist mob, in which hundreds of fascist scum found a fertile ground for action, who were raging against the «nation-traitor government» of «pro-foreigner politicians» behind whom are «Jews and Masons,» and who sang without ceasing «Famous Macedonia»[1] and to cheer «our national army.»

Having as a «bright example» the «national revolution» of Salonika and Rhodes, and given the growing rage of wide strata of the Greek society because of the sweeping economic crisis, a «brown-red» motley mass of leftist patriots, fascists and para-militaries, calls on March 25th[2] for a «popular uprising» against «quisling» government of the «servants of the Troika».

So, this year’s anniversary of the 25th of March 1821 becomes «a turning point of the mass expression of popular rage and indignation». Calls and statements by various local initiatives, organizations of the Left, extreme-right organizations, «anti-war internationalists»[3] (!) movements, associations of retired officers and reserves of army special forces, first degree trade unions, teachers’ unions, local associations…

All of them are calling people to join the military parade.

In order to become a «parade of the fighting people».

With the aim of a «popular uprising against the government-slave-of the Troika».

With the aim all people in a body (all classes and social groups except perhaps «plutocrats»…and immigrants) of creating a patriotic popular anti-memorandum front, rising and overthrowing the traitors of the nation, raising the Greek flag and declaring «It’s either them or us».

This blatantly reactionary turn that is tending to take the protest of a large portion of petit-bourgeois and workers who are being destroyed by the crisis by directing it into the channel of nationalism, is in fact convenient for the system itself.

First of all, it strengthens the fascists, who are already on the rise,[4] letting them to present themselves as «friends of the people» so that at the right moment they will attack the weakest parts of the proletariat, i.e. immigrants, and generally to smash labour movement. The appropriate advantage was given to them by the «class unionism» of the Greek Communist Party, which brought Nazi cut-throats of the ‘Golden Dawn’ into the factory of Greek Steel-works in Aspropyrgos in order to get rid of the extreme left and anarchists supporters of the strikers.

But mainly it enables the rulers to smash the proletariat as a class, as a potentially active factor to overthrow the system, in preventing its independent formation as a revolutionary power and by dissolving its particular class identity into «the people» and «nation». The ruling class does not fear the patriotic indignation of the «people» but they want to keep it in the context of «order», i.e. its manipulation either by police repression or by a para-state provocation that will give them the opportunity to declare a state of emergency, something that it seems to seek earnestly after the dead-end riots on February 12th.[5]

Anyway, we are not aiming to play the Oracle.[6] We do not know what will happen on 25th of March in Syntagma. Maybe a lot, maybe nothing. What interests us is, in these very critical historical conditions in which we live in Greece as well as internationally, the working class constituting itself as an autonomous revolutionary subject.

The only way out of the current crisis is the overthrow of capitalism. Otherwise the system, having done with the threat of a proletarian uprising, will finally implement the classical method with which solves its major crises: a new world war for the destruction of surplus capital and people and a new redistribution of markets to resume a new cycle of capital accumulation. And to do this it, it should enlist, once again, millions of workers to become «cannon fodder» for the sake of the «glory of the nation», the «grandeur of the fatherland», the «defence of democracy» and other such ideologies that serve to the stupefaction of the masses in order to lead them to the battlefield. So, all of them who call today the world of labour in a «popular front» and «national enlisting» will be among those who tomorrow will call them to war.

That’s why the various pseudo-solutions raised by the Left of Capital for a better management of the system – from the Eurobond to the exodus of Greece from the European Union or the «Popular Power» like Cuba or North Korea – are nothing but «Tales of the Arabian Nights» in order to fool working people and to increase the polling rate of big leftist parties and their extreme-Left hangers-on. The era of reforms has definitely come to an end along with the post-war «welfare state». Today it is infinitely easier to overthrow the system itself rather than to reverse its policy. But that’s why it the political constitution of the only social class who can overthrow capitalism as a revolutionary subject is absolutely necessary. And to do that, they should break the chains of the dominant ideology. You cannot fight your enemies with their own weapons, as earlier you could not change «from within» a system that is designed so that it can not be changed. If you try this, the only certainty is what you will change yourself, even if you have the best intentions. And so good intentions are quickly transformed into cynicism and integration.

Patriotism of the masses and its harmful consequences were seen in the two major world wars. This blatant contradiction between the proletariat’s social interests and this patriotic attitude is due to its decline in class consciousness under the weight of bourgeois ideological propaganda but also by the discouragement and the shattering of confidence in its own strength and the corrosive action of those political forces that appear as its supporters and speak on its behalf.

But national unity is a lie. The idea of the nation is an important prop of bourgeois domination, because it disguises the class character of the social system. Nationalism always means the subordination of the proletariat to their «own» bourgeoisie.

The working people must realise that there is no salvation in this system, especially under conditions of global crisis. And that the working class has no fatherland.

That even if you overthrow the present government, another one will come along that will serve the interests of the ruling class, even though it wears the blue and white flag.[7]

Capitalism cannot be improved gradually; neither can it be managed in a decent human way. It must be overthrown by the working class in a revolutionary way.

Those well-meaning militants who naively believe that they can use patriotic ideology in order to attack the bourgeoisie blaming them for «national treason», in order to appear «more royal than the king», they are tragically mistaken, because it will return to haunt them like a boomerang. Their model is, of course, the National Liberation Front.[8] So, they are looking now, in vain, for similarities to the period of the Occupation. This history, however, is only repeated as farce. What we can learn from the experience of the EAM’s resistance is that the mobilization of the working class in the national front for the interests of «democratic imperialism» in the name of «peoples’ anti-fascist war», regardless of the vague desires of the working masses for social change, means the dramatic enslavement of the workers to the system. Once the masses had been used to strengthen the anti-fascist imperialism of the Allies and for the reconstruction of the bourgeois regime, then they were enslaved and they became prey to a new bourgeois power. But even if the EAM, i.e. the Communist Party of Greece, had taken power, it would have established the tyranny of a state capitalist regime modelled on Stalinist Russia and the «popular democracies». In both cases, the slaves of capital would have remained slaves.

So, the necessary condition is the overthrowing of all bourgeois myths that weigh like a nightmare in the minds of the working class and paralyze any class independent activity. Patriotism *is a deadly poison for the class struggle of the proletariat.*

The working class in its natural condition – as a simple sociological category – is a multitude of individuals and the only thing that keeps it united is that it is a human material for exploitation. This is the significance of the famous phrase of Engels:

«The working class is either revolutionary or it is nothing». The working class must be constituted as a militant community inside bourgeois society by creating their own structures, their own «struggle formations», coming to a rupture with the dominant ideology, as a practical negation of capitalism, and thus forming its own «party». To do this, it must refuse, inter alia, the ideology of patriotism and to break all the spiritual chains that enslave their consciousness. It must reject national unity and the fatherland, because neither they can be united with its worst enemies nor it can have a fatherland. The proletariat is a world class by nature.

Nation is a specific historical formation that fulfils a special social mission: the establishment of the national state as a determined area of economic and political domination of the bourgeoisie. Nation is the community of capital, the national state is the bourgeois state and the fatherland is the dominion of the bourgeoisie.

The state is an instrument of class domination, a mechanism of organized violence of the economically ruling class in order to ensure the exploitation of the oppressed social classes and to defend their interests. The repressive bodies of this power are the police and the army.

The Army, especially, is not only the most effective means for smashing a social revolution, but it is also the prime means for defence or for the expansion of the capitalist territory.

However, although the power of the ruling class relies, in the last analysis, on violent coercion, it is not restricted to it and it uses this coercion only during periods of open social war, i.e. civil war. For the consolidation of class domination what is necessary is the ideological integration of the oppressed classes, i.e. the acceptance on their part of the existing system of exploitation and oppression as fair, permanent and inevitable.

Thus, the condition for the establishment and operation of the national state is the social interests of the ruling class and the class relations of power to be experienced as national relations and national interests. So, classes are identified with the «people», the «people» with the nation, the nation with the state, the state with the fatherland and capital with the national wealth.

That’s why all bourgeois factions, from the Right to the Left, appear as genuine representatives of national interests, presenting their special interests as the people’s and the nation’s interests in order to mobilize the oppressed classes for the service of their own interests of participation in the bourgeois political system.

Thus, the left and right national-minders compete, outbidding each other in patriotism, showing each other to be weak on the national interest.

In the same way, they dispute over the management of the capitalism system, each putting forward its own solution as nationally advantageous and as fair for the people. In each case, however, beyond the bourgeois parties, the real «party» of the bourgeoisie is its State, for the possession of which the whole spectrum of bourgeois political factions fights against each other, from the political status-quo to the extremist forces of the Right and Left.

The historically progressive mission of the nation consists in the historically progressive role of capitalism, i.e. the creation of the material and social conditions for the establishment of a classless society.

This progressive historical work of capitalism ended in the era of imperialism, in the era of the devastating global economic crisis and world wars. The proletarian revolution is now on the historical agenda. And this revolution does not create or maintain nations and borders but abolishes them and brings all the people of the world together in one human community.

The defense of the nation and the fatherland is nothing but the defense of decadent capitalism, a social system that leads humanity into chaos, war and barbarity. Communists are against any form of patriotism or nationalism. Communism *is the common cause of all workers around the world and their place is all the earth.* The only «socialism with national colors» is the state capitalism of Stalin and Hitler’s National Socialism. We live in a planetary capitalist system with a global working class that already counts 1 billion people. The slogan of Communist _Manifesto_ «Proletarians of all countries unite!» had never been more well-timed as in our time.

Many well-intentioned activists may realize all these facts. But as they are in panic over the size of the attack of the government and by the feebleness of their forces they forget everything, they bow to the miserable political level of the working masses and desperately seek for an immediate solution. They say: «Something must be done at last! Anything! People must react, to express their rage and indignation against what is ruining their life. And let the people do it in any way».

The argument that is put forward is emotional.

But people are angry and indignant and they know it.

If people, for example, want to overthrow the current government, they can do it very well. Anyway, the government does not do whatever it wants, but what people are «allowing» it to do, because of their fear, neglect, confusion and tolerance. No need to tell people to overthrow the rulers.

There is a need of other things to be told.

But the organizations of the Left who are supposed to be for the revolution and for the overthrow of the capitalist system, are talking with an emotional language, they do not articulate political arguments.

They desperately say that something must be done, anything. And precisely for this reason they bow towards the bourgeois consciousness of the masses, they idolize its reactions and they are looking for «smart and effective solutions» within the system. This concept has a name and a tradition: it’s called «opportunism». One hundred and twenty years ago Engels had described it by saying:

‘This forgetting of the great, the principal considerations for the momentary interests of the day, this struggling and striving for the success of the moment regardless of later consequences, this sacrifice of the future of the movement for its present may be “honestly” meant, but it is and remains opportunism, and “honest” opportunism is perhaps the most dangerous of all!’

_ Engels, «A Critique of the Draft Social-Democratic Program of 1891»


Communists, however, are neither loyal servants of the masses nor their would-be saviors and their future oppressors. They are, or at least they ought to be, the most politically conscious part of the proletariat and their role is to inspire confidence in its collective power and to show the way to overthrow this rotten system and for the creation of a new society. Without a revolutionary social vision, the proletariat can not be constituted as a revolutionary class. In fact, it can not even successfully resist to the frontal attack that is suffering. But this means that we must restore the content of communism and socialism in the consciousness of the working masses; a content that has been monstrously distorted and degraded by social democracy, Stalinism and their offshoots.

The purpose of a revolutionary organization as a conscious part of the working class is to show the direction and the objective that the class struggle of the proletariat has to take against capital, to radically criticize bourgeois society, to support the interests of the working class as a whole and to help the proletariat to constitute itself a class in order to overthrow the capitalist system and to establish the communist society.

Communism is nothing less than a society without classes, without exploitation of man by man, without mechanisms of organized violence and oppression in general, without the whole of capitalist relations that are governed by property, commercial exchange, exchange value, surplus value, money and wage labor.

It is an organic universal community of freely associated producers, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all, each member of which contributes to social welfare according to his ability and enjoys the social goods according to his needs and participate directly and actively in the collective management of common affairs.

It is, finally, a collectivist and non-hierarchical society in which collectivity is matched with personal autonomy within relations of solidarity and equality, bringing into effect true political democracy, that is the self-government of the society.

We must show to people the need and the vision of communism, because it is the only way out of capitalist barbarism.

If they will not mobilize by themselves, nobody can save them. If they will not believe in their collective power and will not raise the national flag but their stature, nothing will be done.

If they will not struggle, inspired by a different future, then they will remain scared and desperate.

And the only way out of the impasse will be the safety valve of desperate riots with no future, and to constantly resort to bourgeois ideologies, which, as dominant forces, are able to multiply, spread and transmute.

We, personally, remain faithful to our program and our principles. The policy that equates value with efficiency, without taking into account principles and values, is the contemporary bourgeois policy. We are together with our class, we are together with it in the everyday struggles that carries on as a class against class, raising its self-confidence, encouraging its self-organization and contributing to the rise of class consciousness. We neither worship nor carry the working class.

Patriotism, even if it becomes the flag of the masses, provokes disgust in us. The duty of revolutionaries, of internationalists is to stand against the stream and to defend, against this stream, the historical interests of the proletariat. So we will not step our foot in the military parade.

Down with all fatherlands, nations and bourgeois armies!

No to the myth of national unity – Proletarians have no country!

Class against class!

For the world communist revolution!


Internationalist Comrades in Greece

Athens, March 24, 2012

[1] Military nationalist song.

[2] Anniversary of the Greek revolution against Ottoman Empire.

[3] It implies “Anti-war Internationalist Movement” (Antipolemiki Diethnistiki Kinisi), a frontal far-leftist formation that called for the transforming of the military parade into a popular uprising against government and the policy of troika, for the unity of all the forces who are against Memorandum and for the unity of the soldiers with the regular staff of the armed forces (!).

[4] It implies “Golden Down”, a neo-Nazi party that it has a growing influence especially in popular and workers areas and it is expected to win a good percentage (about 3-4%) in the upcoming elections.

[5] On February 12th a massive rally against economic austerity was transformed into a series of serious riots in Athens.

[6] The Pythia, commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo.

[7] The colours of the Greek flag.

[8] The National Liberation Front (in Greek Ethniko Apeleftherotiko Metopo, EAM) was the main movement of the Greek Resistance during the Axis occupation in Greece in World War II. Its main driving force was the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), but its membership throughout the Occupation period included several other leftist and republican groups.


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