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Revue en ligne éditée par une partie de l'ancienne rédaction de La Pensée exclue en 2004, élargie à d’autres collaborateurs et consacrée au renouvellement de la pensée critique de la globalisation, du politiq
  • Philo-socio-anthropo-histoire. Revue en ligne éditée par une partie de l'ancienne rédaction de La Pensée exclue en 2004, élargie à d’autres collaborateurs et consacrée au renouvellement de la pensée critique de la globalisation, du politiq



8 avril 2018 7 08 /04 /avril /2018 16:37
Ces deux entretiens avec un des dirigeant du parti Levitsa (Gauche) de la République de Macédoine poursuivent les deux précédents dossiers sur la question.

La Rédaction


We need a Balkan socialist movement


12 février 2018

Alek Atevik*

LE1: It is interesting to think if, to what extent and how the Left in each country has influenced the Left in the other. The Greek Left has had a formative impact on the Macedonian Left- how, if at all, has the fall from grace of Syriza impacted on the Macedonian Left? Is that so, and if yes, how is this influence reflected in your conversations, strategies and ways of organising?

AA: It is necessary to distinguish the left-wing movement in both countries in the recent period. The Macedonian Left was formed after the nightmare of the breakup of Yugoslavia with the full restoration of capitalism. In this process, the former League of Communists of Yugoslavia played a major role, not as catalyst but as promoter of “free market”, thus beheading the working class of authentic political organization of the masses. The left-wing in Macedonia is still in its germination phase with an absence of a mass labour party and with de factopowerless trade union organizations. The formation of Levica is a positive step only as it stirred the pretty much slimy circumstances and made provocation to depressed activists. It also had negative effect as it showed the degree of strength i.e.weakness of left wing ideologies and detachment from the masses, both with objective and subjective causes. The connection to the GreekLeft wing is second to none, as much as working class is influencing each other. The party Levica and the left-wing movement in general is left alone or is surviving despite the foreign influences.


LE2: Recently, the dispute over the name “Macedonia” has re-emerged. We have been informed of squats being burnt down in Thessaloniki following/as part of the nationalist rally; tens of thousands gathered at a nationalist rally in Athens last Sunday. What is behind this re-emergence of nationalism and why do you think it happens now?

A.A: The recent formal trigger is obviously the Macedonian side (the new regime of social democrats of Zaev) that are eager to join NATO. In order to achieve this goal they have to reach an agreement with Greece on the “name issue”. And Zaev is willing to give great concession to Greek nationalists and Western powers just to stay in power.


LE3: How are different Left groups in your countries dealing with the renewed spread of nationalism and the absorption of neo-nazi and fascist tendencies into the current nationalist wave on the name-issue?

A.A: It would not be accurate to say that there is a spread of nationalism in Macedonia. Nationalism spread its wings from the violent dissolution of Socialist Yugoslavia and remains an active force in the establishment of all political parties. I would even say that nationalists are in decline and people are fed up by their rhetorics. Of course, the declining VMRO-DPMNE is pushing some nationalist line as one resort of gaining popular support, but their socio-economic policies in the past 11 years have shown in full light their servile attitude towards Western imperialism and their ultimate cronyism. We should not be alarmed by the sectarian fascist or clero-fascist groups as they have existed for 30 years. They are not organized enough to be able to grow into a serious societal power. Needless to say, the way to combat them (the nationalist and other deformations) is to form stronger disciplined working class party.


LE4: What is (if any) the spectrum of divergences within the Left in the interpretation/responses to the “Macedonian name” issue?

A.A: The Macedonian side of left-wing politics is opposing any kind of name change as of the principle of self-determination of nations. Those that accept the ultimatum of Greek and Western powers are influenced by the ruling social-democrats, and the reasoning that there is no alternative to EU integration and the state and nation has to obey.



LE5: There have been multiple solidarity actions across the borders- in the theory and praxis of shaping a left critique of neoliberal capitalism, in its application in relation to the Greek austerity crisis, in the interpretation and response to the refugee crisis, and anti-mining struggles across the borders most recently. What is the level of interaction (if any) between the Left on the two sides of the border in relation to the name dispute?

A.A: You are giving very good examples of interaction between activists. The result of this interaction is very weak and mainly isolated from the population. This just follows from the weakness of our movement. I would like to stress the objective factor of our mutual non-cooperation. The Macedonian Left has more connection with more distant Slovenia as we shared the same history. Also, the countries from former almost socialist states have much more in common. In this, I would not exclude the future collaboration of Macedonian and Greek socialists or communists.


LE6: What do you see as the central problem behind the name problem, and what is your position on its “resolution”? What would qualify as a positive outcome in your view?

A.A: The central problem behind the name dispute is capitalism i.e. the Greek weak capitalist class and its petty-imperialist ambitions, the remnants from the Greek Civil Wars, the Counter-revolutionary victory and unsolved national questions on the Balkans. The partyLevicawould expect from left-wing activists to continue their struggle against capitalism and nationalism.


LE7:How do you see the socio-political situations in the two countries evolving?

A.A:Macedonia has developed the capitalism of the periphery to the highest degree – forming deep class antagonisms, mass unemployment, constant flux of emigrants, decline in public education and collapse of public health care system. This frustration have toppled down the authoritarian regime of Gruevski and great expectations are on the table with the new or almost new Government. The trade unions are in lull. The main Parliamentary opposition VMRO-DPMNE is experiencing serious losing of ground, although it will remain the greatest party in opposition. Zaev’s Government, on the other hand, is promoting almost the same economic policies as the predecessors and their absence of strategy is evident. The new Government, even though it won the voters with left-wingish propaganda, it is from day to day proving to be pro-capitalist and their initial support is in decline.


LE8:What do you see as the future of the left in the region?

A.A:Capitalism will bring new challenges for political activists – eventually the new crisis will provoke people to enter politics. The Balkan region will not be passed by. The democratic capacities of left wing organization will be tested as much as their correct strategy towards the masses. The only ones that will survive and grow will be the ones that are dedicated to the formation of political cadres and organizational networks or branches. In this respect, with huge exception in Greece, the Balkan region is lagging behind. We need mass internationalist labour parties in all countries of the region and we need them now. The slogans for Balkan socialist movement should be changed towards “For socialist federation of the Balkans, for a European socialist union”.

by lefteast : http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/alek-atevik-we-need-a-balkan-socialist-movement/

Alek Atevik is working in Skopje. He is an editor of Nova iskra and a member of the Marxist Organization Crveni(« Reds »).He is Member of the Central Committee of the Macedonian organization Levitsa (Left), a leading figure in the Yugoslav section of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) and a founding member of Levica(« Left »),where he is acoordinator of Program Sector Foreign policy, Defense and Security.

Greece and Macedonia: ‘Unite against our common enemy!’1
Alek Atevik spoke tEpanastasi[‘Revolution’] about nationalist myths and the need for internationalist class solidarity.

The Greek ruling class claims that Macedonians are not a nation and that the Macedonian language does not exist. What is the truth?

The starting position should be the national liberation movements in the Balkan Peninsula in the 19th century. All of them were directed against either the Ottoman Empire or the Habsburg Empire, both of which were multinational states with emerging capitalist relations. With the help of Russian, German, English, French and Austro-Hungarian forces the Ottoman Empire began to decay, starting with the formation of the Greek monarchy. A little later it continued with the setting up of the Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Montenegrin monarchies.

The concept of ‘Megali Idea’ [a Greater Greece], ‘San Stefano Bulgaria’ [a Greater Bulgaria based on the Treaty of San Stefano signed between Russia and the Ottoman Empire in 1878] and similar such ideas can be found in all the Balkan bourgeoisies, which is to expand as far as possible one’s own territory at the expense of one’s neighbours. The national question, therefore, took on a bloody character, and instead of bringing development and progress, it was a call for perpetual wars, military actions and propaganda, violent changes of demographics… So, it is not only the Greek ruling class that has claims against their neighbours. The same is true of the modern Bulgarian ruling class, and in the past – before the People’s Liberation War and Revolution (1941-44) of the Serbian ruling class.

It took a civil war in Yugoslavia, with on the one side the Communist partisans, and on the other all the different mutually antagonistic sections of the bourgeoisie, to cut across the chauvinist propaganda, so the Serbian ruling class cannot sell this idea to the Serbian people. For example, even the ultra-Serb nationalist Šešelj denounced the earlier attitudes prevailing in Serbia that Macedonians are southern Serbs. In Greece, we saw similar tendencies during World War Two, but as in the Greek Civil War, the winners were the capitalists, the hatred was intensified. Thus, we can see that the reactionary ideas imposed on the Balkan proletariat will only finally be changed with socialist revolution.

The existence of a Macedonian nation was confirmed after World War Two with the creation of the Macedonian state within the Federation of Yugoslavia. It is true that this nation is small, but can any sane person claim that the Slovaks or the Slovenes don’t exist as nations? As for the Macedonian language, it is a recognised Slavic language, with a separate orthography, unique letters and words, and Bulgarians or Serbs can understand it with a little help, somewhat like the Dutch language for the English or Germans.

What is the general mood in Macedonian society regarding the conflict with Greece, and regarding NATO and the EU?

People in the Republic of Macedonia (RM), no matter their political affiliation or ethnicity, seem to be fed up with this and blame the Greeks (the Greek government) for their irrational policy of demanding name change. They blame Greek policy for the blockade of NATO and the EU, but this is truly seen as one minor factor. The vast majority consider that it is local politics and strategy that are restraining economic development. So, the ruling parties (the Social-Democrats and the Albanian-speaking Democratic Union for Integration) are willing to bow down and accept some new name just to get NATO membership. This will temporarily strengthen their position, as NATO membership has been a national myth of ‘progress and prosperity’ for the past 25 years.

The open door to the EU will further bring benefits for the government, as the EU has been even more uncritically accepted as a saviour from economic despair ever since the break-up of Yugoslavia. Here, we should also note the pressure of American imperialism on the Macedonian government to integrate the state within NATO, and to present this enlargement as a success for the present-day failing American foreign politics.


Do you think that there is any strong mood among the people for ‘expansionism’ at the expense of Greece? Are there any elements of expansionism in the current constitution?

[Jokingly] There is great interest in Halkidiki, Asprovalta and Platamonas [Greek seaside holiday resorts] for summer ‘expansions’. Thessaloniki is also a centre for regular shopping by the upper-middle classes. It is a joke that such claims of ‘Fyromian expansionism’ can even be considered [Note: FYROM, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is the name Greece insists that Macedonia uses]. The country hardly has an army, and NATO came into Macedonia and the country openly collaborates with it, which means that the army of the Hellenic Republic is fully informed of the capacities of the small professional army here.

As for the constitution, our readers should know that it was changed with amendments imposed by the Hellenic Republic in 1995. Thus, in the constitution there is already Article 3 which states clearly: “RM doesn’t have territorial pretensions towards neighbouring countries. The borders of the Republic can be changed according to the constitution, on the basis of voluntary action and within accepted international norms”. Also, Article 49 has the following line, imposed by Andreas Papandreou’s government: “The Republic will not interfere in the sovereign rights of foreign countries and their domestic affairs”.

Any attempt to find irredentism in the written law is very superficial. There are no political forces within RM that have goals of occupying parts of larger region Macedonia, even further there are political forces outside of Macedonia of occupying the territory of present day RM. It would be nice to hear again from these people what should be changed in the constitution. So far, there are proposals and some political demagogy from the Greek Minister of Defence, Kotzias to change the formulation of ‘Republic of Macedonia’ with some term like ‘Republic of Northern Macedonia’, as if the change of name would stop the mighty Macedonian army and millions of people from conquering the world!


In Macedonia, Is there any room for the development of an internationalist proletarian movement, as part of such a movement across the whole of the Balkans?

What we can see after almost three decades of capitalist development is the decay of almost all the gains of the working class (wages, working hours, working conditions, pensions, holidays and workers’ hotels, allowances and so on). One can observe very weak trade unions and a decrease of the membership, while the labour aristocracy serves the ruling parties. From time to time there is some turmoil within them, but generally speaking they are stable in their reorientation towards any new government – like sunflowers (who always turn towards the sun), we say.

We can expect that a mass, working-class movement will be absent in the near future, but at the same time the workers will realise by themselves that the bourgeois institutions and parliamentary parties are impotent to solve the real burning questions. What we need is a clear socialist programme and strategy to win them over. It is crucial that the small forces of revolutionary Marxism (that have been working for quite some time) are developed, locally, but also in the region. That is one of the reasons why communists from Macedonia joined the Marxist Organization Crveni: a joint group of communists within the former Yugoslav territory.


Given that Levicahas emerged as quite a strong force in politics, what is its political line and what is its perspective?

Levica, formally is not at all a strong force, but given the obstructions from the legal system, the pressure on some of its leading members, the financial difficulties, the low level of political culture, and the false use of left-wing ideas, Levicacan be proud of what it has achieved. Example of these difficulties are the four separate cases of prosecution against the party leadership, or the case where some intruders demanded taking over the party by judicial means twice, which we won by the way, or the sabotage two days prior to the elections and so on.

Levicawill remain in opposition to the capitalist system, a system created by the bosses’ parties and their rulers, and it will not join any of the large coalitions and time will vindicate our correct tactics. The strategy is to build the party of workers, so we support in different ways individual and collective workers’ struggles, offering both legal help and solidarity actions. The party has a news and information website that promotes anti-imperialist and anti-nationalist ideas. It is developing a network of branches, not at a high pace.

Communists working in the Marxist organization Crveni are actively participating in the Levica party, and they are given confidence with leading positions. I am member of the Central Committee and Coordinator of the Programmatic sector, Foreign policy, Defence and Security.

Levicais the only party that stands against joining NATO, and also the only party that expresses open criticism of the servile Macedonian politics. Thus, we proposed ending the so-called negotiations over the name of the country done by the right wing and the so-called social-democrats. At the same time, we reject the false historical rhetoric that Macedonians are ‘sons and daughters of Alexander the Great’. We are also ferociously against the historic revisionism of the nationalists under the previous government of Gruevski. In Macedonia Levica is attacked for its position on name change, as nationalists or even fascists, but we just cannot side with Greek nationalism or any kind of nationalism.


What is the attitude of the working class and the youth towards the Titoist period and the old unified Yugoslavia?

In all the former Yugoslav republics, more or less, the working class, in particular the white-collar workers, have a positive attitude towards the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia. Their feeling is that it was something good that has now been replaced by something bad. The retired people of today, and who were fully employed 30 or 40 years ago, have suffered the heavy burden of the wave of privatizations since 1989 and have been witnesses to the disintegration of their lives with hyperinflation, embargoes, massive layoffs, literally the decimation of industry, and wars and refugees.

However, those times are long gone and the present generation of workers cannot connect their experience with that of 30 years ago. The memory of the working class has been smashed to pieces as the Communist Party of Yugoslavia was unable to stand firm. The need for a genuine mass Communist party is thus essential to restore the memory and activate the class struggle on a higher political level.


What is your message for the Greek comrades and the militant workers and youth in Greece?

Up until six months ago, the most important questions of ordinary people, no matter what their ethnicity is, were unemployment, low wages, corruption, poor healthcare system, decaying education system, terrible pollution in Skopje and other cities, toxic gold and silver mines, and huge class divisions between rich and poor. Today the new government has tried to bury these problems and impose other problems such as the name-change of the state, the language rights of the Albanian nationality, internal territorial divisions, joining NATO and so on. The media are also co-participating in this hysterical propaganda.

Our duty, in both our countries, is essentially the same: to oppose this turning away from class struggle towards nationalism/racism and to help build the unity of working people. We have the task of exposing the real motives of the ruling class in dividing the working class within national borders, but also internationally. We have to explain patiently and we shall overcome.

1Epanastasi, paper of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT)in Greecehttps://www.marxist.com/greece-and-macedonia-unite-against-our-common-enemy.htm

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