Dimitris Livieratos (1927-2023)

There is a caricature by opponents of what is a Trotskyist. It is one that too many self-described Trotskyists have fallen into over the decades.

Then there is the life and work of Dimitris Livieratos, who passed away yesterday, 16 June, at the age of 96. He was a great historian of the working-class struggle in Greece and an activist dedicated to the overthrow of capitalism and the liberation of oppressed.

Livieratos joined the anti-Nazi resistance in Athens as a student. He was the youngest second lieutenant who graduated from the ELAS Officers’ School in Redina, organised by the national liberation movement. He fought in the Dekemvriana of 1944 when Winston Churchill unleashed the British army and fascist collaborators on the Greek national liberation forces. (This is one of several parts of Churchill that the cult around him in Britain obscures.)

He had already joined the tiny Trotskyist movement and was present at its first unifying congress.

He was a friend of the prominent Troskyist and fellow Greek Michel Raptis “Pablo” and like him took an active part in the Algerian Revolution. He was the organiser of the secret weapons factory in neighbouring Morocco that played a major role in arming the FLN liberation forces, which secured victory against French colonialism in 1962.

He fought against the Greek junta and stood with all the struggles of the 1970s and onwards, aiming to win support for revolutionary Marxism in the ranks of Andreas Papandreou’s insurgent Pasok before it sharply veered to the right.

Not a “trained historian”, his books are however major interventions into the history of the Greek working-class and social struggles that are reference points for any historian of modern Greece.

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He also wrote the biography of Pandelis Pouliopoulos, an early general secretary of the Communist Party of Greece who later sided with Leon Trotsky’s Left Opposition.

He remained committed to the revolutionary anti-capitalist left in Greece and the Antarsya umbrella front. And he was a regular contributer to the various conferences and gatherings of the Marxist left as a whole.

There is a pastiche of “Trotskyism”, then there is this – a remarkable and brilliant consistency in the class struggle and commitment to revolutionary Marxism.

Kevin Ovenden

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