FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece

The black day 13th July 2015 Greece can claim a single historical precedent: August 4th, 1914, when the German Social-Democratic Party in the Berlin Reichstag spelled the beginning of the tragedy of the twentieth century, a tragedy whose consequences are still being felt even today.

And yet today, as then, the whole catastrophe had been preceded by dozens if not hundreds of oaths of loyalty to the values of socialism and implacable opposition to the blackmail from the right, capital and the bourgeois. “Never again war”, they promised then; “I will never be another Papademos,” they told us yesterday. [Papademos was the banker and caretaker prime minister who replaced Papandreou in 2011.]

But, alas, our fine bureaucrats soon caved in to the pressure; they voted then for the war credits, and they consented today to the transformation of Greece into a debt colony – naturally, still affirming that they had “avoided the worst” and still promising to return soon to the right path.

Of course, we know that the course of events is different. Not only have they not returned to their socialist past, they have distanced themselves further and further from their roots, to reach a final crossing of the class Rubicon and turn themselves into good loyal managers of the capitalist system and its barbarism.

However, be careful. The march of the bureaucrats towards their total degradation and their utter betrayal of their youthful aspirations has, and continues to have, its own implacable logic. To arrive at its eventual infamy, the Social-Democracy had not only to purge from its ranks the unrepentant champions of the “red lines” of its past, but also to exterminate them! In fact, it was a leading minister – the bloodhound Noske – who bombarded the working-class living quarters of the German cities, drowned in blood the revolt of the Spartakus League, assassinated Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, and set the stage for the emergence and the final triumph of the Nazi monster.

And now? Can it be that all this is just ancient history with no relevance to our own “postmodern” epoch? When you look at all that has been happening since the infamous Brussels Accord was signed, no one can dare say that history isn’t repeating itself. The heads of Zoe and Lafazanis [Zoe Kanstantinou, speaker of the Greek parliament, and Panayotis Lafazanis, leader of SYRIZA’s Left Platform – both “betes noires” in the eyes of Greek reaction] are no longer demanded just by their habitual class enemies, but also and above all by their own comrades of yesterday. And unfortunately it is these latter who are distinguishing themselves today by the same ferocious hatred as has been shown over the last hundred years by the likes of the various Noskes who fill the history of the Social-Democracy.

So let’s take care lest history repeat itself yet again, not necessarily as farce but also again as tragedy. Just like then, so too today things can happen, and have already happened, which yesterday seemed impossible, inconceivable: things which are beyond human understanding, such as their comrades of yesterday making common cause with their class enemies to suppress those “unrepentant romantics” who persist in denying that “pigs can fly”! And, worst of all, we’re already catching sight of a number of bureaucratic mediocrities within the government and SYRIZA who already seem busy preparing their credentials for the role of modern clones of Noske the bloodhound.

We know that most of the left find themselves in all good faith unable to explain what is happening or digest from day to day the “treachery” of their comrades. Their confusion is quite justified and understandable. After all, wasn’t it Lenin himself who, for several days after the black day of 4th August 1914, refused to believe reports that his good friend Kautsky and his party had voted for the war credits, and continued to regard as forgeries by the German General Staff copies of the SPD daily newspaper praising the Social-Democrats’ participation in the “sacred union” and the slaughter of the First World War?

However, today as then the stakes are of such vital historic importance that we have a duty to put aside as fast as possible our current bewilderment and confusion – before it is too late, not just for our fellow citizens and the Greek left, but also for the sake of the workers and the left throughout Europe. That is because SYRIZA, which has been often idealised, was until yesterday a point of reference and of hope for millions of people all over our old continent, and this unconditional surrender by its leadership threatens catastrophic long-term consequences well beyond the borders of Greece.

In other words, now is the time for big decisions, because it is urgent for each one of us – in Greece and throughout Europe – to choose who to part company with and who to accompany all the way! Yes, sure, this choice is neither easy nor insignificant, especially at a moment when the left and the social movements are hardly at the top of their form. However, it is imposed upon us by the terrible dangers of our times, by the black clouds of the neo-fascist menace that are gathering over Europe, by the current arrogance and boundless insolence of triumphalist capitalism which can promise nothing but disaster to humanity.

A century ago, the beginning of the necessary rebuilding and recomposition had as its starting-point something called Zimmerwald. What could be the Zimmerwald of our difficult and dangerous times?

More articles by:

Yorgos Mitralias is a founding member of the Greek Committee Against the Debt, which is affiliated to the international network of CADTM.

August 16, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
“Don’t Be Stupid, Be a Smarty”: Why Anti-Authoritarian Doctors Are So Rare
W. T. Whitney
New Facebook Alliance Endangers Access to News about Latin America
Sam Husseini
The Trump-Media Logrolling
Ramzy Baroud
Mission Accomplished: Why Solidarity Boats to Gaza Succeed Despite Failing to Break the Siege
Larry Atkins
Why Parkland Students, Not Trump, Deserve the Nobel Peace Prize
William Hartung
Donald Trump, Gunrunner for Hire
Yves Engler
Will Trudeau Stand Up to Mohammad bin Salman?
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Morality Tales in US Public Life?
Vijay Prashad
Samir Amin: Death of a Marxist
Binoy Kampmark
Boris Johnson and the Exploding Burka
Eric Toussaint
Nicaragua: The Evolution of the Government of President Daniel Ortega Since 2007 
Adolf Alzuphar
Days of Sagebrush, Nights of Jasmine in LA
Robert J. Burrowes
A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival
August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omarosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail