As of consumer spending based on credit took off significantly. There was a massive shift to retail lending that started in with the total liberalisation of consumer credit. A databank was set up to gather credit histories of individuals seeking credit card loans and mortgages. Again, the idea was that with such a low percentage there was room for more. Easy credit was thus one of the elements that contributed to the boom. There were other factors such as EU aid and state spending, particularly around the period of the Athens Olympics which saw massive funding being supplied, most of the funding coming from the state which spent over 7billion euros.
Now these two sources of economic growth, state spending and credit from the banks, have dried up. They have gone beyond the limit of what is materially possible. The banks are in crisis and the state is overburdened with debt. The budget deficit jumped dramatically in the second half of from 6. Three factors contributed to this sudden leap in debt. First there were lower tax revenues due to the impact of the recession. This adds to the already chronic level of tax evasion in Greece.
Secondly, for some time the Greek government had been hiding the real level of debt and state expenditure from the EU. This was in order to facilitate funding from the EU. Now of course it has all backfired. Now officially the national debt stands at This situation explains the present crisis affecting Greece, which could have dramatic effects for the whole of the eurozone.
The Greek bourgeoisie together with the EU Commissioners are getting extremely concerned, not so much because of the rate of the budget deficit and overall level of debt - other EU countries have equally high budget deficits, among them Britain — but because of the grim perspectives for the Greek economy. The world crisis of capitalism is revealing which countries have the strength to resist in the world market, which countries have an industrial base that allows them to compete and survive in the world market.
Greek wages are low compared to most eurozone member states and yet instead of going up Greek competitivity has actually gone. That indicates the parasitic nature of the Greek bourgeoisie, which has not invested sufficiently in productive capacity and technique. The reason for this is that the average German worker is more productive because he or she has far more advanced technology and machinery to work with.
This year 13 of the 16 eurozone countries will be under observation by the EU Commission, but of these Greece is the one that is giving greatest concern to the EU officials. The international and Greek bourgeoisie are putting immense pressure on the Greek government to carry out serious cuts, like those applied in Ireland. In fact in Greece they use the example of Ireland constantly. In spite of this Ireland also is very much in crisis and is having to apply stringent cuts in spending. As we have seen, Greek banks played an important role providing easy cheap credit. Now the Greek banking system is facing a severe crisis.
In the past Greek banks invested heavily in Eastern Europe and Turkey. Now, however, because of the crisis in countries like Lithuania and the Ukraine, Greek banking profits have plummeted. Kostas Karamanlis, leader of the bourgeois New Democracy party has been forced to resign over the abyssmal election results. Photo by New Democracy. Now the Greek economy faces a situation of practically permanent slump conditions.
Serious bourgeois analysts are comparing the situation to that of stagnation faced by Japan in the past. A large number of Greek families have survived in the recent period only by getting further and further into debt and we will see in the coming period many of these facing personal bankruptcy.
The Russian Revolutions Influence on Greek Labour
Also, many small businesses will face collapse in the next period. Debts will not be paid and therefore the banks will suffer even more. This reveals the utterly parasitic nature of the Greek banks, that were getting money for nothing and with the easy profits they were making, instead of facilitating lending, they were reducing their deficits accumulated in the previous period. Similarly to other European countries that had massively bailed out their banks, the huge amounts of public money thrown at the banks did not induce these to make mortgages easier to get.
In fact the growth of credit fell year-on-year in June by 7. This affected both small businesses and family households. What made things worse at the end of last year was when Trichet of the ECB announced they were going to cut loan facilities to Greece. This prepared the present nightmare scenario for the Greek financial system.
Unemployment shoots up
The situation is so critical that any major bank could collapse in Greece in the coming period, and this time the government would not be in a position to carry out a large-scale bailout like last time. This is causing huge political problems for the Greek bourgeoisie. It is the present deep crisis of Greek capitalism that led to the defeat of the conservative New Democracy party back in October.
Not only was it a defeat; with only That defeat has led to a big internal crisis in ND, with a bitter leadership battle following after the leader resigned. The two main contenders were Dora Bakoyanni and Andonis Samaras. Samaras in the s led a split from the ND when he brought down the then Mitsotakis government in , although in the late s he returned to the ranks of the ND. During the contest all opinion polls indicated that the ND with Bakoyanni at the head would find it difficult to recover in the coming period.
This is because Bakoyanni is totally identified with US imperialism, the policies of the recent Karamanlis government and the bourgeois elite and is a very unpopular politician in Greek society. This is regularly used by the right wing in Greece to divert attention away from the real social problems. The reason for this, they claim, is that Macedonia could develop aspirations to expand into Greek territory, as the northern part of Greece is also called Macedonia. The idea that little weak Macedonia could ever seriously threaten Greece is laughable, but it is kept in reserve to frighten Greeks and foment nationalism.
The problem of the Greek bourgeoisie is that its direct political representative, the New Democracy party has been seriously damaged by its recent period in office. Therefore one section of the bourgeoisie understands the need to clean up the image of ND and give it a new profile if it is to play a role in the future. There is also the added factor that Bakoyanni seems to have been involved big time in the Siemens scandal, which involved the Mitsotakis family. The German company Siemens allegedly paid over million euros to Greek officials in order to win state contracts. Considering all these problems, Samaras was seen as a populist leader that would be able to unite the social base of the party, galvanising the right-wing vote.
The latter, the mayor of Greater Saloniki, represents the extreme right of the party. In fact at the end of ND was picking up in the polls somewhat, falling only 10 percentage points behind the PASOK, whereas just after the elections it was 20 points behind. Samaras is now trying to consolidate the right-wing voters and may even appeal to the extreme right-wing LAOS party of Karatzaferis for collaboration in parliament. George Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece. However, in spite of everything the right wing could do, it was the PASOK that emerged as the big winner in the elections.
Simitis governed at the peak of the boom and during a period of relative lull in the class struggle. Except for the year he governed during a period of falling strike figures. Now the economic, social and political situation in Greece is very different. Back in , after a general strike, Simitis was forced to withdraw his proposed attacks on pensions and other welfare reforms.
Because of the boom, he could afford to delay some of the planned attacks on welfare. The ruling class is putting huge pressure on it in a period where there is no economic growth.
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And at the same time the Greek labour movement and the youth is in a stage of recovery and reawakening. Since , under the ND government there were eleven general strikes, three of which were very big. There were many youth movements in the universities and schools, culminating in the December semi-insurrectionary explosion after the killing of a school student by the police. We saw then the courageous stand of the school students who were the most active protagonists of that movement.
In such a situation Papandreou realises he must tread carefully. In fact, in the first couple of months in office he tried to ignore the pressure coming from the bourgeois, both in Greece and internationally. He was publicly insisting that the rich should pay and not the poor and the pensioners. This reflected the huge pressure he felt from below, from the millions of working class families that are taking the brunt of the present crisis, who voted in the PASOK because they want a government that will govern in their interests.
This essay surveys the issue of Russian labor during the First World War. It summarizes existing historiography about the topic and suggests the parameters of statistics and definitions of the working class. It then focuses on the effects of wartime mobilization, the strategies used by the government to replace drafted workers, the issues of salaries and inflation, work hours, and the employment of women, children, prisoners of war, and refugees.
It concludes with an overview of evolving wartime working class politics and outlines contrasts between Russia and her opponents. The concept of labor in Russia during the Great War raises fateful questions. All major conflicts of the modern era place enormous stress on labor. As workers are drafted into the armed forces, women, the young, or anyone else available are expected to contribute their labor to the patriotic cause without complaint, often in substandard conditions with frozen wages amid rapid inflation.
The question of whether the Soviet government fulfilled its original intentions as regards workers or workers' expectations aside, the wartime Russian labor issue clearly assumes unusual significance. According to traditional counts, the Russian labor force, understood as manual wage-earners in all realms of the economy, equaled roughly 9 million persons, of which million were factory workers and the balance agricultural workers as opposed to communal or individual farmers.
Missing are significant categories of hired manual labor, much of it industrial see Table 1.
Russia in 1917?
The standard figures of million industrial workers apply only to large-scale private enterprise. One author counts 4. Both sides concentrate on private enterprise, liberals because it signifies the growth of the free market and leftists because the free market signifies capitalist exploitation. Regardless, workers themselves made no such distinction: they lived in the same quarters, intermarried, had the same specialties, utilized the same types of machines and tools, received similar pay, joined the same organizations political, cultural, economic , and struck in unison and marched in the same demonstrations.
Overall, in reality more than 26 million persons in Russia earned their living through manual wage labor. Table 2: All manual wage earners . The outbreak of war sharply altered the contours of labor. Although statistics are lacking, by analogy with mobilized peasants, something over one-third of the 12 million industrial workers all types entered the armed forces between and Regardless, well over 3 million mobilized industrial workers left their workplaces.
Table 3: Military Mobilization cumulative annual totals and as percentage of working-aged males . Mobilization of industrial workers was fraught with harmful potential. For instance, large privately-owned factories supervised by the Factory Inspectorate showed significant drops in their workforces throughout the conflict see Table 4.
The shortfalls were over , during the first war years and even by exceeded , Even so, in crucial metal-working plants for armaments and coal-mining concerns vital for military transportation , the labor force actually increased steadily throughout the war: metal workers from , in to , by and coal-miners from , to , In succeeding years, this trend, as elsewhere, entirely reversed itself: between and , employment in twenty-one large metallurgical plants increased from 79, to ,, and in coal mining from , to , Table 4: Wartime workforces in large private plants .
The government actively intervened to maintain and even increase the size of the workforce in military-oriented production even as it mobilized massive numbers of working aged males into the armed forces. It employed the deferment and factory assignment options especially widely in state-owned plants, upon which, simultaneously, it imposed a virtually militarized status military officers replaced civilian managers. The War Industries Committees bodies established in mid by private entrepreneurs to aid military production coordinated deferments for workers in privately owned plants directly with the military.
Another labor source were the over 3. Of these, , were considered employable men and 1,, employable women. Much of this labor was assigned to agriculture or to work directly behind the fronts, whereas relatively few performed industrial labor. A larger source of industrial labor were the over 1. The role of war prisoners was especially great in South Russia, where, despite government regulations limiting prisoners to 15 percent per concern, by early they comprised 26 percent of coal miners, 27 percent of metal workers, and 60 percent of iron ore miners.
In contrast in the Moscow Industrial Region eight provinces , with its concentration on light industry and textiles utilized only 1. In Siberia and the Volga region, a sizable but unspecified number of Chinese and Korean laborers also found agricultural and industrial employment. During in the Donets industrial region not noted for large numbers of such workers , there were workers from China and Persia and a year later the number had increased to almost 1,; presumably much larger numbers found employment in the regions noted above.
By early almost two-fifths of Don Basin workers came from elsewhere prisoners of war, refugees, and East Asians. Women and male adolescents also increasingly contributed to the labor pool see Table 5. Overall, industrial employment of children and adolescents aged twelve to seventeen increased, reversing a long trend that had begun no later than the s, when the government codified and enforced serious labor legislation.
During the s children aged twelve to fourteen had constituted 10 percent of industrial workers in Russia; in 2 percent; in 1. The war reversed this trend see Table 6. New wartime regulations opened previously forbidden categories of the metallurgical and mining industry to women, adolescents, and children, for instance, to be employed underground. Regardless, given the cataclysms facing these women and children not to mention male laborers in the form of two revolutions, civil war , total economic collapse, unemployment, urban depopulation, and famine, their wartime travails would soon seem, if not trivial, at least not the worst they would experience in their lives.
Table 5: Changes in gender and age make-up of wartime labor . Table 6: Industrial employment of adolescents and children . In agriculture, non-drafted males and females of all ages replaced much of the shortfall. In addition, many war refugees and prisoners went into agricultural work see Table 7 , largely replacing, for instance, the , mobilized peasant laborers on large estates. In addition, in Siberia and along the Volga, East Asians found agricultural employment. These categories of workers could easily be shifted as need arose; for instance, in October , , prisoners of war were switched from agricultural work to fuel preparation.
Table 7: Agricultural employment of war refugees and prisoners . He remarked that the situation would eventually change but that he would not live to see the revolution. Yet, within the space of one month, the Russian working class would bring Tsarism crashing down and bring about a situation of dual power. When in Zurich, Lenin scoured the newspapers for the latest news from Russia.
He saw that the soviets, now dominated by the leaders of the Social Revolutionaries SRs and the Mensheviks, had handed power to the Provisional Government, headed by the monarchist Prince Lvov. No trust in Kerensky! When Lenin returned to Russia on 3rd April , he put forward his April Theses: a Second Russian Revolution must be a step to the world socialist revolution! He came out against the old guard who were lagging behind the situation and fought to rearm the Bolshevik Party.
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In agreement with Lenin, Trotsky joined the Inter-District Organisation with the aim of winning them over to Bolshevism. But I make bold to think I understood him in a way not inferior to others. In the months preceding the revolution, Lenin had called on the Menshevik and SR-dominated Soviets to break with the capitalist ministers and take power, to which they stubbornly refused to do. However, the Bolshevik slogans - Bread! All Power to the Soviets! The mass demonstrations in June reflected this shift. It also prompted the new premier Kerensky to begin a campaign of repression against the Bolsheviks.
In August, General Kornilov tried to impose his own fascist dictatorship. Desperate for help, and fearing Kornilov, the government released Trotsky and other Bolsheviks. This boosted support enormously for the Bolsheviks, who won majorities in both the Moscow and Petrograd Soviets. This victory proved decisive, and became an essential stepping-stone to the victory in October. Lenin, who by now was in hiding in Finland, became very impatient with the Bolshevik leaders.
He feared that they were dragging their feet. Trotsky, as head of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Petrograd Soviet, acted swiftly to ensure the smooth transfer of power on 25th October The Revolution succeeded in a bloodless fashion and on the following day, 26th October, its results were announced to the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets.
This time, the Bolsheviks held some delegates out of a total of present, a clear majority. In protest, the Mensheviks and Right SRs walked out. Despised just four months earlier, the Bolsheviks were now hailed by the revolutionary workers. When the Third Congress of Soviets in January proclaimed the establishment of the Russian Federated Soviet Republic, large tracts of Russia were still occupied by the Central Powers, bourgeois nationalists and White generals.
Five days after the Revolution, the new government was attacked by Cossack forces led by General Krasnov. The attack was repulsed and the general was handed over by his own men. However, he was released after giving his word not to take up arms. Of course, he broke his promise and went south to lead the Cossack White Army.
Similarly, after the Winter Palace military cadets were released they staged an uprising. The Revolution was all too generous and trusting in its early days. When we arrested anyone we told him we would let him go if he gave us a written promise not to engage in sabotage.
Such written promises have been given. He should have been shot on the spot… [Instead] He was to go off to put the Don region to fire and the sword. No sooner had the Soviet power established itself than the imperialists acted to crush the revolution in blood. In March Lenin moved the government to Moscow as Petrograd had become vulnerable to German attack.
The crisis of Greek capitalism and how it is impacting on the labour movement
Soon afterwards, British troops landed in Murmansk accompanied by American and Canadian forces; the Japanese landed in Vladivostok alongside British and American battalions. The British also seized the port of Baku to get their hands on the oil. The Ukraine was occupied by the Germans.
In all, 21 foreign armies of intervention on several fronts confronted the Soviet government forces.
The Revolution was fighting for its life. It was surrounded, starving and infested with conspiracies.
A similar counter-revolutionary position was held by the Mensheviks, which placed them in the enemy camp. They collaborated with the Whites and took money from the French government to carry out their activities. In the summer of attempts were made to murder Lenin and Trotsky. On 30th August, Lenin was shot, but managed to survive. On the same day, Uritsky was assassinated, as was the German ambassador.