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M. Bell

Churchill Defends Greek Atrocities

Calls the Revolutionary ELAS “Trotskyist”

(January 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 5, 29 January 1945, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Last week the Prime Minister who sent Spitfire planes and lend-lease Sherman tanks against the Greek people lighting for liberation made an appeal to his allies, Roosevelt and Stalin, to refrain from utilizing the cold-blooded slaughter of innocent Greeks to turn sentiment against Britain.

Of the war in Athens between Greek anti-fascists who had had to turn their guns against British imperialist armies to protect themselves against “liberation,” Churchill said:

“For three or four days or more it was a struggle to prevent a hideous massacre in the center of Athens in which all forms of government would have been swept away, and naked, triumphant Trotskyism installed. I think Trotskyism is a better definition of Greek Communism and certain other sects than the normal word. It has the advantage of being equally hated in Russia.”

The Prime Minister did not mean “Trotskyism” in the sense of organized Trotskyist parties in Greece. He meant Trotskyism in its political sense – the permanent world struggle of the exploited to emancipate themselves from their exploiters. The astutely class-conscious Churchill (class-conscious of Tory imperialist interests) saw that the ELAS forces which had struggled for years against fascism did not do so to pave the way either for the return of a British puppet king or for subservient native exploiters.

In effect he said to Stalin:

“Your policy is not for the people to take charge of the government, either. Don’t forget, you hate Trotskyism, too. You saw to it that a pro-Russian ‘people’s’ government was set up in Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, etc. I agreed that you should have those ‘spheres of influence.’ Now, for whatever part of the militancy of the Greeks you’re responsible, please call your dogs off. We agreed at Teheran that England should have Greece! I scratched your back, now it’s your turn to scratch mine.”

And to FDR, Churchill meant much the same thing:

“The American press and public opinion are being allowed to go too far against the role of Britain. You know at Teheran we agreed to government of, by and for the people (what a demagogic appeal to American democratic traditions!) providing the people will submit to us. After all, we’re all in debt to you for the cost of the war, and if you want us to pay back, we’d, better have our stake in Greece. If the Greek people take over, it’s goodbye to the returns on your investments.”

Churchill thus makes a bid for the combination of the reactionary powers of the world against the Greek people. The Greeks were heroes as long as they were fighting, the Italian and German fascists. Now that they want to preserve their hard-won liberties, they are brigands and, even worse, “Trotskyists,” that is, true fighters for Greek independence, freedom, peace and security.

Even the Daily Worker editorialists, critical of Churchill because they’re hustling for Stalin’s imperial interests in Greece, say “The Truth is that Churchill is catering to the most reactionary sections of American life to gain their support.” How does Churchill “cater” to the “reactionaries”? By ringing the alarm – “Trotskyists!” But for many years the Stalinist-Communists have called the Trotskyists “reactionaries.” Thus they lie about Trotskyism – and not very cleverly.

If you’ll pardon us for belaboring the obvious, Communists have ceased being champions of the working class.

What the reactionaries fear is what Churchill calls “naked, triumphant Trotskyism,” i.e., the struggle of the workers of the world for their complete economic, social and political emancipation.

The shots of the Greeks in their fight for genuine liberation have been heard ’round the world.

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