IV/Pablo obituary by Livio Maitan (fwd)

Ryan Daum rdaum at gpu.srv.ualberta.ca
Thu Feb 22 19:33:33 MST 1996

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Date: 22 Feb 96 17:51:33 EST
From: Int. Viewpoint <100666.1443 at compuserve.com>
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Subject: IV/Pablo obituary by Livio Maitan

Published by International Viewpoint magazine, March 1996, issue #275.
Any reprint must include our address: PECI, BP85, 75522 Paris cedex 11, France.
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The death of Michel Raptis (Pablo), 1911-1996
by Livio Maitan
5,250 characters

Michel Raptis became involved in the struggles of the Greek workers' movement
at a young age. From the early thirties on he played a key role in the
construction of anti-capitalist and anti-Stalinist organisations, in
collaboration with Pantelis Piliopoulos, that lucid and courageous revolutionary
Marxist leader, shot by the Italian fascists in 1943.
Raptis found himself in his country's prisons on several occasions, and was
obliged to spend a large part of his life in exile, mainly in France.  It was in
France, in September 1938, using the pseudonym Speros, that he participated in
the founding conference of the Fourth International. He stayed in France during
the Nazi occupation, dedicating himself to an extremely dangerous underground
struggle to reorganise the Trotskyist movement in Europe, after it had been
ravaged by repression. It was in these war years that Michel began to play a
major role in the International. A role that would be his for another two
>From 1948-1960, as a member of the International Secretariat, I had the chance
to become familiar with Michel's activities, to observe his development, and, in
our fraternal relations, to appreciate all his qualities. Each of us has a
number of friends and comrades who have contributed to our development, to the
key choices we make in our lives. For me, looking back after 30 years, I can
only conclude that I learned a lot from Michel Raptis. I consider that his
qualities were best in evidence in the 1950s. Particularly his capacity to
understand quickly the essence of a changing situation. To know when we should
re-direct our aim, and when we should redirect our strategy. And to put into
practice, without hesitation, the result of new analysis and new
For example, Michel was certainly one of the first to stress the full importance
of the rupture between Stalin and the Yugoslav leader Tito. One of the first to
adapt when the Korean war started, rejecting any 'equidistance' between the two
parties. One of the first to help revolutionary Marxists understand the
importance of the populist movements in Latin America, such as Peronism in
It was Raptis who stressed, after 1951-52, the need for revolutionary militants,
particularly in capitalist Europe, to avoid any 'propagandist' deviation. He
argued for an entryist orientation towards the Communist Parties, which were
profoundly Stalinist at that time. In other words, he argued for such policies
as would permit us to avoid separating ourselves from the actually existing
workers' movement, and make it possible to seize and exploit, from inside, and
contradictions which began to ripen.
And it was Michel's contribution which enabled the Fourth International to
rapidly sketch an analysis of changes in the Soviet Union after the death of
Stalin. *1 See his editorial in the April 1953 issue of Quatrihme
It was Michel's articles and reports, in the later 1950s, which most clearly
stressed the capital importance of the new rise in the colonial revolution. Even
at the price, in my opinion, of underestimating the potential of the workers'
movement in some European countries.
Michel's best writing also dates from this period. Take his numerous articles in
the press of the International, above all those, mostly signed M. Pablo ou
Jean-Paul Martin, in Quatrihme Internationale. Or his contribution to the
history of the first 20 years of the Fourth International. Or his reports to our
World Congresses and the sessions of the International Executive Committee. And
his books: Capitalisme ou socialisme, la guerre qui vient (1952), Dictature du
prolitariat, dimocratie, socialisme (1957), and Impressions et problhmes de la
rivolution algirienne (1962).
We should not forget either his May 1960 text on women's liberation. Many
readers may judge now, more than a quarter century of reflections and feminist
initiatives later, that this work is partly obsolete, and criticisable in a
number of respects. But it had the merit of being the first text to bring a
series of crucial problems to the attention of revolutionary Marxists.
Michel was directly involved, from the beginning, in a multi-faceted solidarity
with the Algerian revolution. He was arrested in June 1960 in Amsterdam,
together with another International Secretariat member, Sal Santen, and accused
of having prepared false papers and forged banknotes. A wide solidarity movement
developed around the world during his detention, and during his trial in 1961.
The appeal launched by Jean-Paul Sartre and signed, among others, by Simone
Beauvoir and the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado was a central part of this
campaign. Michel was finally sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, and liberated
at the end of his trial. He took refuge in Morocco. After the victory of the
revolution he moved to Algers, where he collaborated with Ahmed Ben Bella's
He rejoined the leading bodies of the International after his release from
prison. His report on the Algerian revolution was one of the most moving moments
of  the 1963 world congress.
Nevertheless, something was broken between us. Michel began a minority struggle,
which led to a rupture in 1964-5. Following this split, he led a revolutionary
Marxist current outside the Fourth International.
A few years ago, he wanted to rejoin the International, the historical
importance of which he had never disputed, along with his current. We came to an
agreement but, for various reasons, including the situation of the revolutionary
Marxist movement in Greece, and important differences of opinion on the approach
one should take to the war in former Yugoslavia, the agreement was not applied
in his personal case.
It is for historians of the international workers' movement in the 20th century
to judge Michel Raptis' activities and publications, and that of all the others
who have participated in what was and is our common purpose. All I can say today
is that I will never forget his tireless contribution to the revolutionary
struggle.   H

Livio Maitan is a leading member of the Fourth International, and of the left
wing within the Italian Party of Communist Refoundation
This text is also available in French

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