VI. Summary Theses
At the conclusion of this publication we summarize the most important conclusions in the form of some theses.
1. The formation of monopolies and Great Powers increasingly led to the division of the entire world into different spheres of influence for the rivaling imperialist states and to the subjugation of most countries under these few Great Powers. From this follows an essential feature of Lenin’s (and Trotsky’s) analysis of imperialism: the characterization of the relationship between the imperialist nations and the huge majority of the people living in the capitalistically less developed countries as a relationship of oppression and super-exploitation.
2. The relationship between states has to be seen in the totality of its economic, political, and military features. Thus, a given state must be viewed not only as a separate unit, but first and foremost in its relation to other states and nations. An imperialist state usually enters a relationship with other states and nations whom it oppresses, in one form or another, and super-exploits – i.e., appropriates a share of its produced capitalist value. Again this has to be viewed in its totality, i.e., if a state gains certain profits from its outward foreign investment but has to pay much more (debt service, profit repatriation, etc.) to other countries’ foreign investment, loans etc., this state can usually not being considered as imperialist.
3. In short, we define an imperialist state as follows: An imperialist state is a capitalist state whose monopolies and state apparatus have a position in the world order where they first and foremost dominate other states and nations. As a result they gain extra-profits and other economic, political and/or military advantages from such a relationship based on super-exploitation and oppression.
4. Likewise, one also has to differentiate between different types of semi-colonies. Obviously there are huge differences today between Peru and Argentina or Brazil, Congo and Egypt, Pakistan and Turkey, Nepal and Thailand, Kazakhstan and Poland. Some countries are more industrialized than others, some have achieved a certain political latitude and others not. Hence, we can differentiate between advanced or industrialized semi-colonies like for example Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Poland or Thailand on one hand and poorer or semi-industrialized semi-colonies like Bolivia, Peru, the Sub-Saharan African countries (except South Africa), Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia etc.
5. To summarize our definition of semi-colonies we propose the following formula: A semi-colonial country is a capitalist state whose economy and state apparatus have a position in the world order where they first and foremost are dominated by other states and nations. As a result they create extra-profits and give other economic, political and/or military edges to the imperialist monopolies and states through their relationship based on super-exploitation and oppression.
6. The analysis and division of countries into different types must not be understood in a dogmatic, mechanistic way but in a Marxist, i.e., dialectical, way. Hence, it would be wrong to imagine an impenetrable Chinese Wall between the two categories, imperialist and semi-colonial states. As we have argued on several occasions there have been several examples where, under exceptional circumstances, a dependent state was able to become an imperialist country as well as the other way round.
7. We reject the category of “Sub-Imperialism” as part of the Marxist analytical apparatus. Under capitalism, no nation escapes the formation of ever closer economic and political ties with the dominant imperialist powers. Such close relations automatically create, modify, and reproduce mechanisms of exploitation and super-exploitation. In other words, under capitalism – and even more under imperialism – all nations are sucked into the process of super-exploitation. Either they are strong enough and become part of the oppressing nations, or they are pushed into the camp of the majority of humanity – the oppressed nations. There is no “third camp” in between.
8. We can summarize the first period of Greece’s existence as an independent state since the war 1821–29 as follows: The Greek’s struggle for national independence was highly progressive. However it ended with semi-independence for a small fraction of the Greek people. From the start, the newly born Greek state was highly dependent on the Great Powers Britain, France and Russia– politically and economically. The Great Powers imposed a monarchy headed by foreign kings on the Greek people. The country’s high level of debt resulted in state bankruptcy and an International Finance Commission took charge of Greek finances in the 1890s. In addition, the Greek bourgeoisie was dominated by merchants and didn’t focus on developing a domestic industry.
9. Hence the country remained backward: its economy was characterized by smallholder agriculture production and commerce and dominated by a few oligarchic families closely linked with the Great Powers; its political system was characterized by a monstrous state apparatus with a rotten monarchy at the top.
10. The Venizelos-period in the early 20th century ensured a certain degree of modernization both politically and economically as well as Greece’s gradual territorial expansion. But Greece remained trapped by its dependence on the Great Powers and foreign capital. And Venizelos’ adventures in offering his army as foot soldiers for British imperialism against Soviet Russia and Turkey resulted in a national catastrophe in 1922/23. The defeat against Turkey caused the inflow of about a million and a half Greek refugees and the state was more in debt than ever.
11. The Greek state not only liberated Greek people living under foreign domination, it also acted as a national oppressor from 1913 onwards. This affected in particular the Slavic Macedonian people as well as the Muslim minority in Western Thrace. Those Slavic Macedonians living in the region annexed by Greece were severely oppressed in their national rights. Most of them were expelled from their homes and driven out of Greece in several waves in between 1913 and the end of the civil war in 1949.
12. The period between the two world wars ended with the black years of the Metaxas dictatorship and the occupation by German imperialism. In these years Greece experienced devastating destruction, the large scale robbery of assets by the Nazis and the loss of many lives. The years of civil war 1945–49, when the Greek workers and poor peasants resisted the British occupation and the ascent to power by the discredited reactionary monarchy and military camarilla. The forces of progress lost due to the betrayal of the Stalinist leadership, and this defeat added to the overall exhaustion of the country.
13. After the end of the civil war, Greece experienced a process of modernization and industrialization until the 1970s. For the first time, a considerable domestic industry emerged. Greek shipowners directed some investments to Greece’s industry. However, Greece remained economically and politically dependent on Western imperialism. Its economy was still dominated by small enterprise; foreign monopolies played a decisive role amongst the big corporations and a significant part of its public expenditures were financed by foreign loans. Greece has been a member of NATO from the beginning and its regimes, and in particular its army, were in fact underlings of US imperialism.
14. The important group of Greek shipowners is a specific, quite unique section of the Greek bourgeoisie. In the past centuries it played a central role in international shipping trade. In the second half of the 20th century it had become the dominant force in this global industry. Historically the Greek shipowners have been a cosmopolitan layer often living abroad – in the 20th century this was mostly in New York and London. This changed to a certain degree from the 1970s and Greek shipowners have directed important sectors of their business to Greece. This specific social-economic nature of the Greek shipowners had and has several important consequences. First, it has been a semi-Diaspora bourgeoisie and hence only to a certain degree (or in a peculiar way) part of the national ruling class. Second, the Greek shipowners are a trading and not a producing class. Greece has played no significant role in ship-building for a long time and hardly produced any ships in recent decade. Third, Greek shipowners have always been strongly dependent on foreign loans. In the 2000s, 4/5 of their loans were from foreign-owned banks. Fourth, given the nature of sea trade. Greek shipowners have always been dependent on the security provided by Great Powers. For all these reasons, even the Greek shipowners – the economically most potent sector of the Greek bourgeoisie – have always been closely tied to and dependent on the imperialist bourgeoisie of the Great Powers (mainly Britain and US, but recently also increasingly to China). The Greek bourgeoisie as a whole has a particular strong “comprador” character, i.e., it avoids any confrontation with imperialism and serves the Great Powers as local henchmen.
15. After the collapse of Stalinism in 1989 in the Balkans, Greek capital to advantage, after some delay, the opportunities which capitalist restoration offered it. It became an important foreign investor in Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania and managed to extract significant extra-profits. However, Greece’s foreign investment abroad remained much smaller than inward foreign investment in Greece. With the onset of the crisis in 2008, Greece’s foreign investment significantly reduced.
16. Likewise, Greek capitalism has succeeded in acquiring a significant layer of migrants (about one million people) who serve the bosses as a super-exploited stratum at the bottom of the working class. This layer has not been reduced by the recent crisis and this is unlikely to happen because the wars and catastrophes in the Middle East make nearly certain that there will be many more refugees.
17. At the same time Greece has been traditionally been a country from which many migrants originated. Today, there are still residing several millions Greeks abroad and the remittances they send to their families constitute a sizeable part of Greece’s national income. (1970: 4%, 2001: 2.5%)
18. It is important to evaluate the development of a country historically. Since achieving independence, Greece has always been a dependent, semi-colonial country albeit with specific features (the Greek shipowners as an economically potent semi-Diaspora bourgeoisie). In the 1990s and up to 2008, they made some headway in becoming a minor imperialist power by exporting capital to some southern Balkan countries and by absorbing huge layers of migrants. But these developments were vastly overshadowed by Greece’s increasing dependence on the Great Powers during the same period. In addition, the country’s external debt reached massive proportions. Furthermore its national economy was and is still being increasingly bought up by foreign monopolies.
19. The crisis which erupted in 2008 has provided an historical test for the class character of Greece. Such tests are always crucial to perceiving potential changes in the class character of a country. The developments of Greece in the past 7 years have demonstrated, beyond doubt, that the country has not been strong enough to withstand its complete subjugation by the EU. Greece has been forced to submit its economy and even parts of its territory (several islands) for sale to foreign investors. It has even been formally robbed by the EU troika of its sovereign rights to make its own political and economic decisions.
20. In short, Greek imperialist advances in the 1990s and up to 2008 came too little and too late. Hence, we repeat that Greece was and remains a semi-colonial country dominated by and dependent on foreign imperialist monopoly capital.
21. The RCIT rejects the position of the Stalinist KKE, after its recent turn around, which claims that Greece is now a normal imperialist country. As is well known, until a few years ago the Greek Stalinists have historically been “left” patriots, and viewed the country as a colony of US and EU imperialism, this being their adaptation to Greek. The KKE’s about face regarding this issue was not motivated by any new insights but rather by their bureaucratic need to justify their rejection of any united front tactics towards SYRIZA (whose ideologists traditionally have shared the thesis of Greece as a dependent country). Likewise, we unequivocally reject the position of the KKE in the past and that of the LAE and others today who propose, based on their correct assessment of Greece’s dependency and subjugation by imperialism, the strategy of a popular front, i.e., the orientation towards class collaboration with a “national” or “domestic” sector of the Greek bourgeoisie. Such an orientation is wrong in principle and particularly absurd in a country like Greece whose bourgeoisie as a whole has a strongly cosmopolitan character and which throughout its entire history has served as local henchmen of imperialism.
22. The working class, multinational in composition with many migrants, must independently fight against the imperialist rulers of Greece, including their lackeys – the Greek bourgeoisie. It must strive to rally the urban poor, petty-bourgeoisie, as well as the small peasants in the struggle for democratic and anti-capitalist demands. Furthermore the working class must aim to look closely unite itself in its struggle with their class brothers and sisters in the region – i.e., the European workers and poor as well as those in the Middle East. The latter can play a dynamic role given the recent experience of the Arab Revolution which began in December 2010.
23. A revolutionary program for Greece must include a slogan for the country’s exit from the EU. Greece has always been a dependent and subjugated country in the EU and this status is institutionalized by the nature of the EU institutions dominated by Germany and France. Any substantial change in the country’s economic and social policy is impossible within the imperialist EU.
24. Naturally, this slogan for Greece’s exit from the EU does not constitute an independent program but is only a tactic as part of a broader strategy – the strategy for an authentic workers’ government striving for the expropriation of the imperialist and domestic bourgeoisie and opening the road to socialism. The RCIT rejects the national-reformist program à la Costas Lapavitsas and the LAE-leadership. The national-capitalist road is an illusionary dead-end. The slogan for Greece’s exit from the EU has to be raised in connection with slogans for the expropriation of the monopoly capitalists in Greece, lest the latter economically sabotage an independent Greece. Likewise, this slogan has to be combined with the perspective of international class struggle with the European and Arab working class. The struggle for an independent and socialist Greece has to be part of the struggle for the United Socialist States of Europe.
25. The struggle against Greece’s subjugation by the imperialist EU must not distract socialists from focusing on fighting all forms of reactionary Greek chauvinism. Such chauvinism manifests itself, in particular, in two ways. First, the national oppression and super-exploitation of one million or so migrants in Greece. Socialists in Greece must fight for full equality of migrants. This includes equal wages for equal work, full access to social benefits, the right to vote as well as the recognition of their native language as equal in education, public administration etc. Likewise, socialists should fight for open borders and for international solidarity with the refugees coming to Europe. At the same time socialists oppose the discrimination of Greek workers living abroad.
26. Greek socialists must also oppose the reactionary Greek chauvinism directed against the Slavic Macedonians as well as against the Muslim minority in Western Thrace. Socialists reject the reactionary chauvinist myth about supposed historical foundations for the claim that Macedonia belongs to Greece. In reality Aegean Macedonia had a non-Greek majority when it was annexed by Greece in 1913. It only became a mostly Greek-populated region after subsequent governments systematically expelled most of the native population and instead settled Greeks (many of whom were themselves refugees from Asia Minor). True, today it would be reactionary to call for the expulsion of the Greeks who have been residing for generations in Aegean Macedonia. The historic crime of the expulsion of the Macedonian people from Aegean Macedonia cannot be undone. However, socialists should fight for autonomy and local self-government of those regions and areas with a strong Macedonian population as well as for the right of national self-determination for the remaining minority of Slavic Macedonians (including their right to secession). The struggle for the Macedonian minority must include a number of essential demands. First and foremost they must support the Macedonians demand for being recognized as a national minority. They must call for full equality which includes unconditional support for their demand to use their language in education as well as public administration, to use their Macedonian-language names if they wish to do so, to practice their religion in their mother language as well as their culture in general, to have equal access to the media (in their mother language if they wish to do so), etc. In addition, socialists should demand from the Greek government adequate compensation to the descendants of the expelled Slavic Macedonians families who today mostly live in the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria. Furthermore Greek socialists must demand the official recognition of the Republic of Macedonia by its own name (instead of such ridiculous names like FYROM). Likewise, socialist should fight for full democratic rights for the Muslim minority living in Western Thrace.
27. The struggle for such a program as well for its application in individual issues is hopeless if it is not undertaken by an organized force of authentic Marxists. This is why the RCIT considers the formation of a revolutionary party as the most important task in the struggle against the imperialist subjugation of Greece as well as for the liberation of the working class and oppressed.
28. Such a party cannot be founded mechanically; it will emerge in the class struggles ahead. However, it is urgent to create as soon as possible a revolutionary pre-party organization which unites activists on the basis on an authentic Marxist program and which fights for the formation of such a party. The RCIT looks forward to collaborating with Greek revolutionaries and supporting them in achieving this goal!
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____ No to chauvinist war-mongering by Japanese and Chinese imperialism! Chinese and Japanese workers: Your main enemy is at home! Stop the conflict on the Senkaku/Diaoyu-islands in the East China Sea! 23.9.2012, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 6, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/no-war-between-china-and-japan/
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____ The China Question and the Marxist Theory of Imperialism. Again on China as an imperialist Power. Reply to a Polemic from CSR (Venezuela) and PCO (Argentina), December 2014, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 32, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/reply-to-csr-pco-on-china/
____ The British Left and the EU-Referendum: The Many Faces of pro-UK or pro-EU Social-Imperialism. An analysis of the left’s failure to fight for an independent, internationalist and socialist stance both against British as well as European imperialism, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 40, August 2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/british-left-and-eu-referendum/
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____ Europe / North Africa: Storm the Gates of Rome! Open Borders for Refugees! Stop the Imperialist EU-War against Refugees! No to the Preparations for an Imperialist Aggression against Libya! 22.5.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/eu-war-against-refugees/
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