Hot on the heels of the French Socialist Party victory in May 1981, and amid massive anti-NATO demonstrations that swept Western Europe last fall, Greece’s social democratic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) jolted world imperialism with its October electoral victory over the rightwing New Democracy Party (NDP).
Backed by small industrialists, businessmen, farmers, and much of organized labor, PASOK leader Andreas Papandreou and his young populist party captured 48% of the vote and 174 of 300 parliamentary seats. The NDP received 36% of the vote, while 11% of Greek voters favored the Communist Party.
Papandreou won popular support by virtue of his pledges to end the 25% annual inflation rate, create jobs for the nation’s 22% unemployed, improve health care, education, and social services, nationalize key sectors of industry and finance, equalize women’s economic status, and withdraw from NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC), where Greece’s agricultural and industrial backwardness cripples it competitively.
Since the election, however, Papandreou’s anti-NATO and anti-imperialist hyperbole has been muted and his national chauvinist rhetoric has escalated. Plans to dismantle four U.S. military bases in Greece were postponed as Papandreou maneuvers for guarantees that NATO will protect Greece from neighboring Turkey and that the EEC will provide a better deal for Greece.
Though Greece itself is an imperialist nation, anti-imperialist sentiments run high among the workers. Since World War II, they have endured successive reactionary and repressive regimes propped up by the U.S. and other powerful nations. Many Greeks understandably fear the spread of the repressive military junta that grips their Mediterranean neighbor, Turkey, and Papandreou paid lip service to this fear in his nationalist campaign snipes at Turkey as “the only threat to Greece.”
Straddling an ideological fence, Papandreou is finding it difficult to appease both the capitalists and the increasingly militant working class that carried his party into power. Workers are pushing him to make good his campaign promises, while the industrialists issue dire warnings against socialist “experiments. “
His failure to satisfy popular demands will sharpen the very class polarization that Papandreou is scrambling to reconcile.
Recent moves by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to diffuse the Irish republican demand for reunification of northern and southern Ireland have boomeranged. Thatcher has pushed Ireland ever closer to civil war between pro-British, Protestant rightwingers, and militant Catholics fighting for an independent Ireland.
Thatcher’s October 1981 concession that republican H-Block prisoners could wear their own clothes, receive more outside communication, and get time off for good behavior was small return for the lives of the 10 political prisoners who died during a 7-month hunger strike against their status as common criminals.
In November, Thatcher and Northern Ireland Prime Minister Garrett Fitzgerald established the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Council to strengthen economic and political ties between Britain and its Irish puppets who rule Northern Ireland.
Protestant “loyalists” who oppose Irish reunification blasted the plan as a treacherous step toward merger with southern Ireland and the removal of British troops from the north.
Sinn Fein, the Provisional Irish Republican Army’s political arm, denounced the neo-colonial Council and vowed to elect republicans to the British Parliament to demonstrate popular support for unification. Meanwhile, the IRA has intensified its guerrilla war against Britain’s colonial police force.
In this stormy climate, the recent IRA killing of Ulster’s Protestant parliamentarian, Rev. Robert Bradford, brought loyalist passions to a frenzy. The incendiary, arch-conservative minister and parliamentarian, Ian Paisley, accused Thatcher of encouraging “sectarian violence” and vowed to destroy the IRA with a “third force” of armed Protestants.
On November 24, Paisley’s far-right Democratic Unionist Party staged a “day of action” that included mass loyalist rallies, a partial strike in many of Northern Ireland’s Protestant-dominated stores and factories, and a march outside Belfast by 4000 masked men in paramilitary uniform.
The resurgence of the rightwing Protestant minority that opposes unification stems from its frustration with Thatcher’s minor concessions and its drive to intensify civil war against the IRA. Republican Army spokespeople, however, vow that the war for independence from England will continue until British troops and government completely withdraw from Northern Ireland.
A southwest African nation flanked on the north by Angola and on the south by South Africa, Namibia is a largely Black country struggling to end more than 60 years of illegal rule by South Africa.
Once a German colony, Namibia was annexed by South Africa during World War I with the blessing of the League of Nations.
However, in 1971 the United Nations refuted South Africa’s territorial claim, and in 1980 empowered a delegation of five capitalist nations — the U.S., Canada, West Germany, England, and France — to mediate an independence settlement between Namibia and South Africa.
In November 1981, the delegation announced its blueprint for bourgeois parliamentary rule in Namibia. Sidestepped were the critical questions of universal adult suffrage, one-person! one-vote representation, and a guaranteed Black majority rule. Instead the diplomatic commission proposed electoral guarantees that would favor the white settler minority and Namibian parties loyal to South Africa.
This proposal deliberately stalled negotiations.
South Africa and its imperialist allies suspect that Namibia’s 89% Black population would, if given a chance, electorally defeat the pro-South African Democratic Turnhalle Alliance and elect the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) — a Marxist, nationalist, Black organization whose overwhelming support from Namibian Blacks has prompted repeated South African military attacks on Angolan military bases.
SWAPO demands enforcement of UN Resolution 435 which named it “the sole and authentic representative” of the Namibian people. But imperialists tremble at the prospect of a Marxist government in Namibia that could fuel liberation sentiments in South African Blacks, split the white minority front that has sustained South Africa’s rightwing National Party since 1948, and take from capitalist hands the world’s largest diamond concession and 18% of the West’s uranium supply.
The ruling elites of both Namibia and South Africa justify their opposition to Black majority rule in an independent Namibia by pointing to the growing anti-independence sentiment among ultra-right white settlers, and to Russian and Cuban “interference” in Black-ruled Angola.
But imperialism’s holding pattern cannot be sustained. Black militance in Namibia will soon break the diplomatic deadlock and force the scheduling of genuinely free elections.