Karl Radek

The Greek Revolution

(21 October 1922)

Source: The Communist, October 21, 1922, p. 3.
Publisher: The Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/HTML Mark-up: Brian Reid.
Proofreader: David Tate.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

KING Constantine has been made the scapegoat for the defeat of the Greek armies. An uprising has chased him from his throne, and the Greek bourgeoisie is anxious to preserve the monarch and the throne for his son. Whether it will be successful our present knowledge of the situation, based on a few official telegrams, which, as usual, tend to paint the situation in brighter colours, does not permit us to draw any conclusions.

We may gather from the telegrams that the revolution was directed against the war, but has no national character. We gather this from the news that the rebels oppose a Venizelos Government, the chief fomenters of the Asia Minor adventure. Should Venizelos again make his appearance on the political arena, for the safety of France, the result must be a sharpening of conflicts, and an acceleration of the revolutionary movement.

The conflict [with] Constantine Venizelos had no personal character.

Venizelos is closely connected with the Greek bourgeoisie, especially the marine transport capitalists. It is for their benefit that he follows his policy of overseas expansion.

During the World War, Venizelos made all efforts to embroil Greece in a war with Turkey so as to annex a section of Asia Minor. Constantine’s policy favoured the Triple Alliance. His behaviour towards the Central Powers did not originate purely from personal likes – he had married the sister of Wilhelm II – but also because he hoped to break England’s influence in Greece. The help of Germany and Austria would have insured a victory over Serbia and an alliance with Bulgaria; England’s influence in Greece as one of the dominating powers of the Mediterranean would thereby have been overthrown.

Constantine became the leader of the petty bourgeois, anti-Bolshevik circles of Greece. Robbed of his power by the Allies in 1917, he abdicated in favour of his second son, Alexander.

In December 1920, after the death of his son and the electoral defeat of Venizelos, he returned to Greece. But Greece war already engaged in war with Turkey and Greek armies occupied Asia Minor. Although returned to the throne by the pacifistic masses of the peasants and the urban petty bourgeoisie, Constantine was forced to continue Venizelos’ policy to avoid a conflict with the Allies. After entering into violations with the English banks through the Greco-English financier, Basilius Sacharov, he had managed to obtain England’s support which aroused the enmity of France, who saw in Constantine the representative of the English as well as the German interests.

The adventure into Asia Minor shook profoundly the financial state of Greece. The Greek foreign debt rose from 846 million drachmas in 1913 (one drachma then was worth a franc) to 4 billions at the end of 1920, and is estimated now at 10 billion drachmas. As the imports for the needs of the army increased, the balance of trade of Greece capsized. The increasing cost of living and taxation brought the crisis daily nearer. In 1918 a lively labour movement began in Greece; trade unions were formed. A Socialist Party was also founded, which joined the Communist International in 1920. In spite of its youth and of the fact that only 150,000 of Greece’s 6 million population are industrial workers (750,000 with their families), the Communist Party, which assumed the leadership of all the anti-war, strike movements, enjoys a considerable confidence among the population. At the time of its suppression by the Government; its daily Rizospastis had a subscribers’ list of l0,000. Its influence was already largely felt at the time of the November elections. The Government proceeded with the most cruel reprisals against the labour movement. The organisations of the Communist Party were destroyed, its leaders thrown into prison, the striking workers sent to the front. But in spite of all, the Government was not able to kill the Party. It stands up again after every persecution; two months ago the whole Government again threw into prison the whole Central Committee of the Party. The appeals of the Communist Party find response not only among the industrial workers, but also in a section of the peasantry and in the Army. The peasants of Thessaly are serfs to this day. Parliament, in which the big landowners control 80 votes, managed to sabotage even the ransom Bill.

The agrarian movement assumes a continually more dangerous character. In the first year the Government was compelled to suppress by force an armed uprising in Volo in which 20,000 peasants took part. The Army is in a state of disintegration; the Government is able to hide the fact only by keeping the army in Asia Minor. For a year, mass desertions, mass shootings, brutal persecutions of those soldiers, guilty of spreading the Communist press are on the order of the day. Then came the defeat, and the anger of the population could no longer be stilled. The spontaneous demobilization, the seizure of the warship by the rebelling soldiers returning to Greece, the uprising in Athens finally led to the overthrow of Constantine.

It may still remain doubtful whether the Allies will remain in control of the insurrection and limit it merely to the deposition of Constantine and his replacement by his son George, or whether the young Communist Party may have sufficient strength to enlarge the movement; but at any rate, the uprising has destroyed all hopes of keeping the Thracian army underarms. The spirit of this army was much below that of the Asia Minor army. It was composed primarily of deserters who had fled from the battle front. Its disruption is inevitable and will proceed the more rapidly because Bulgarian and Turkish partisan troops have already begun to act in Thrace. These facts strengthen Kemal Pasha’s chances to reconquer Thrace. Thrace may fall into Bulgarian or Turkish hands even if the Allies retain the Dardanelles.

Last updated on 3 December 2020