The demonstration was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising, in which radical students defied the repressive military-fascistic Greek regime that had controlled the country on behalf of US imperialism since 1967.
The three-day uprising attracted wide popular support from workers and peasants but was eventually put down by force, as a tank smashed the gates of the Polytechnic building and military forces entered the campus.
Around a hundred were killed and many more were disappeared into the regime’s prisons. The anti-imperialist, anti-Nato, popular demands of the people were a continuation of the traditions of the Greek revolution of the 1940s and marked the beginning of the end for the military junta, which fell in 1974.
It cannot have escaped the attention of those gathered here today that a seismic shift is taking place in the global balance of class forces.
Particularly significant events have transpired in the last year and a half – events that were triggered by the deepening of the global capitalist crisis and by the accelerating drive to war and domination that is the imperialists’ response to this crisis.
The launch of Russia’s special military operation on 24 February 2022 was the first and most crucial of these events. This was the date on which the Russian government and people declared ‘no more’ to the war of aggression being waged against them all along their borders, and most especially in Ukraine.
The installation of a new, popular government in Niger on 26 July 2023 was the next big event to shake the imperialists’ complacency. This was a clarion call to the superexploited people and its effects are being felt all over the African continent.
And then on 7 October 2023 news reached us of the launch of the Al-Aqsa Flood battle by the united forces of the Palestinian resistance. With the onset of this operation, another line in the sand has been drawn, another call sounded whose echoes are reverberating around the world.
Each of these events has been long in the making. Each represents a decisive turning point in the development of these three separate but related struggles against imperialist domination of the globe.
Each one has struck a mighty blow at the imperialist system and revealed an essential impotence at the heart of the seemingly all-powerful US-led Nato war machine – an impotence which has left their vicious fascistic proxies glaringly exposed.
For all their firepower, for all their economic might, for all their undoubted ability to inflict horrendous suffering on a targeted people, the imperialists are unable to beat down the forces of resistance, and the more those forces work together, as they are increasingly doing, the more impossible the task of defeating them becomes.
In Ukraine, it is clear that, however long the war continues to be fuelled by western money and weapons, the days of the fascistic stooge regime of Zelensky and co are numbered.
In Niger, too, the imperialists have been unable to muster a reliable proxy force capable of reimposing their diktat. Compradors across the region are starting to worry that their days, too, might be numbered.
And in Palestine, we see that the harder the zionist criminals push to achieve their genocidal aims, the more surely do they create the conditions in which a united middle-eastern response will emerge and prove decisive. Not only the rabid government of Netanyahu and co, but the entire settler-colonial population of Israel are waking up to the fact that their days as a supremacist outpost of western imperialism are coming to an end.
In each case, the sympathy and increasingly active support of all progressive humanity is on the side of the anti-imperialist forces.
In each case, the unconditional support of the imperialist and stooge politicians and media for the forces of reaction is exacerbating the crisis of legitimacy that their governments are already facing.
As we stand here today, commemorating the anniversary of the heroic antifascist uprising of students at the Athens Polytechnic 50 years ago, we note that the student rebellion was expressing the sentiments of the wider working class, many of whom flocked to join it once the standard had been raised.
The call of the risen workers and peasants for ‘Bread, education and liberty’ echoed the demand of the poverty-stricken, war-torn masses of Russia who demanded ‘Peace, land and bread’ in 1917. These demands are so simple, yet the self-styled ‘masters of the universe’ cannot fulfil them. They can only answer with more violence, more repression, more hunger and more misery.
Understanding this simple truth was what impelled the Russian people to carry out the October Revolution. And it is what has driven every national-liberation and socialist struggle that followed in the footsteps of October.
This is the understanding we must once again bring to workers everywhere. Imperialism cannot be reasoned with, and it cannot solve the most basic problems of the masses.
It can only loot, pillage and burn. And it is willing to drown the world in blood in order to hang on to its ill-gotten gains and maintain the lords of finance capital in their position of dominance over all.
This lesson has been taught to the working masses over and over again in blood.
Let us learn from our history and throw all our weight behind the forces of resistance in the titanic battles to come. Let the next wave of struggle be as earth-shaking as was the first!
Death to the warmongering Nato imperialist bloc and all its fascistic proxies!
Victory to the resistance!
Onward to socialism!
Athens, 17 November 2023