Workers Hammer No. 243

Autumn 2018


In memory of Zoe Chrysali 1968-2018

The following translation from O Bolsevikos (no 4, April 2018), newspaper of the Trotskyist Group of Greece (TOE), first appeared in Workers Vanguard (no 1136, 29 June). Comrade Zoe had been a member of the Spartacist League/Britain for a time.

Zoe Chrysali, one of the founding cadres of the Trotskyist Group of Greece, section of the International Communist League, died at the age of only 50 of brain cancer at her home in Aspropyrgos after years of health problems. We extend our deepest condolences to her sister Georgia and to all her friends.

Zoe was born and grew up in the working-class district of Aspropyrgos. From an early age she suffered from serious health issues, which she fought to the end with her incomparable tenacity despite the extreme adversity she faced. She was a stubborn person, with a special, sharp sense of humour, passionately insistent in expressing her opinions. She loved to tease and challenge her comrades and friends and was always up for a good fight. She adored music and books.

Having a keen sense of what it is to grow up and live as a woman in backward Greek society, Zoe joined the workers movement to fight against women’s oppression and for female sexual liberation. She understood that only through socialist revolution could women achieve their full emancipation.

Zoe came into contact with the ICL in mid-1999 and was won to the international’s position of principled opposition to the imperialist war against Serbia. In March 2000, she took part in discussions, along with other sympathisers, studying the ICL’s programme. From then until 2003, when the TOE became a sympathising section of the ICL at its Fourth International Conference, she played a leading role in the founding of the Greek section on a number of key questions, including the “Russian Question” and capitalist counterrevolution in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In June 2000, she wrote:

“I studied anew Trotsky’s books The Class Nature of the Soviet State, The Revolution Betrayed and the “Declaration of Principles” of the ICL. Thereafter, together with our own discussions, I consider that the positions of the ICL on the question of Afghanistan are consistent with our ideology and I agree with them on the basis of the defense of a bureaucratically degenerated workers state against the threat of the bourgeois counterrevolution.

“In regard to the question of China, what I consider applies is what Trotsky maintained in 1933, when he fought against the conception that the bureaucracy had already destroyed the Soviet workers state: Trotskyists judge that situation as dangerous but not desperate and they consider it an act of cowardice to announce that the revolutionary fight has been lost before the fight and without a fight.”

In 2001, Zoe engaged in the most important fight of her political life, playing a leading role in defence of national minorities in Greece against the then “leader” of the group, who refused to defend oppressed national minorities. This is a vital question for the establishment of a genuine Leninist-Trotskyist party in a Balkan country. The fight that she waged with other comrades on the national question led to a split in the group between the real internationalists and those who had compromised with poisonous Greek nationalism. It was this major struggle that laid the basis for the founding of the TOE. It is no exaggeration to say that without Zoe, there would probably not be a section of the ICL in Greece. In 2002, she went to London and worked with our comrades there, gaining valuable internationalist experience.

In 2005, Zoe withdrew from politics but remained a sympathiser of the TOE for many years. For a while, due to the enormous health problems that she faced, Zoe lost touch with our section and with the international. However, around five years ago she resumed contact with the Greek section. Fully aware that she had only a short time to live, Zoe asked us to arrange a secular funeral for her after she died. In a society in which cremation of the dead is not allowed and in which, for the most part, funeral arrangements — whether secular or religious — are dictated by the family, Zoe wished to make a final statement against religion and the Orthodox church.

It was not easy to carry out this last request, and we had to fight against the religious ceremony that had already been organised. Nevertheless, we succeeded with the valuable help of a sympathiser. In our grief at no longer having Zoe among us, we are comforted a little by the knowledge that we were able to satisfy her last wish. Those who knew her well will laugh and say that even in her death there had to be a little fight. It is more than certain that she deserved it.

We dedicate to our friend and comrade Zoe this issue of our newspaper, which reflects her struggle against the “holy trinity” of Greek capitalism — fatherland, religion and family.