Michel Pablo
Michel Pablo was the pseudonym of Michalis N. Raptis (Greek: Μιχάλης Ν. Ράπτης), a Trotskyist leader of Greek origin.

Early activism

He began a lifetime involvement with revolutionary politics in the late 1930s in Greece. Drawn into the "Spartacus
Spartacus was a famous leader of the slaves in the Third Servile War, a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. Little is known about Spartacus beyond the events of the war, and surviving historical accounts are sometimes contradictory and may not always be reliable...

" faction, he represented Greek Trotskyists at the founding conference of the Fourth International
Fourth International
The Fourth International is the communist international organisation consisting of followers of Leon Trotsky , with the declared dedicated goal of helping the working class bring about socialism...

 in Paris in 1938. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Pablo graduated from the National Technical University of Athens
National Technical University of Athens
The National Technical University of Athens , sometimes simply known as Athens Polytechnic, is among the oldest and most prestigious higher education institutions of Greece....

 and continued his studies in urban planning at the Sorbonne
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

 in Paris, where he was to spend much of the following decades. During the 1936 military dictatorship of Ioannis Metaxas
Ioannis Metaxas
Ioannis Metaxas was a Greek general, politician, and dictator, serving as Prime Minister of Greece from 1936 until his death in 1941...

 Pablo was arrested and exiled in the Aegean island of Folegandros
Folegandros is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea which, together with Sikinos, Ios, Anafi and Santorini, forms the southern part of the Cyclades. Its surface area is about and it has 667 inhabitants....

. There he was not admitted by the orthodox communists, also in exile, so he joined the company of cattle and horse thieves, who at that time were punished with exile. In Folegandros he met his future wife Elli Dyovounioti. Together they escaped from the island and later from Greece. Pablo was ill in Paris when the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 began. The same ill health meant until 1944 he played little part in the activities of the French Trotskyists although he was reported to have given educational classes to David Korner
David Korner
David Korner was a Romanian and French communist militant, trade unionist, and journalist...

's Union Communiste.

Leadership of the Fourth International

By 1944 he was fully involved with the movement, and was elected the organizational secretary of its European Bureau, which had re-established contact with between the Trotskyist parties. After the war, Pablo became the central leader of the Fourth International
Fourth International
The Fourth International is the communist international organisation consisting of followers of Leon Trotsky , with the declared dedicated goal of helping the working class bring about socialism...

 with the support of the SWP of America and James P. Cannon
James P. Cannon
James Patrick "Jim" Cannon was an American Trotskyist and a leader of the Socialist Workers Party.Born on February 11, 1890 in Rosedale, Kansas, he joined the Socialist Party of America in 1908 and the Industrial Workers of the World in 1911...

. Pablo played a key role in re-unifying, re-centralising and re-orienting the International. In 1946 Pablo visited Greece to successfully reunify the four separate Trotskyist parties. Pablo and Ernest Mandel
Ernest Mandel
Ernest Ezra Mandel, also known by various pseudonyms such as Ernest Germain, Pierre Gousset, Henri Vallin, Walter , was a revolutionary Marxist theorist.-Life:...

 were instrumental in these years in winning the Fourth International to a position that asserted that the Eastern European states conquered by the Soviet Armed Forces in 1944-45 had by 1948 become what they described as deformed workers' states.

In the uncertain aftermath of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, when the Trotskyists were numerically dwarfed by the mass Communist Parties and their hopes for a revolutionary breakthrough were dashed, Pablo also advanced a new tactic for the FI from about 1951 onwards. He argued that a Third World War
World War III
World War III denotes a successor to World War II that would be on a global scale, with common speculation that it would be likely nuclear and devastating in nature....

, which was believed by many people to be imminent, would be characterised by revolutionary outbreaks during the actual war. Splits of revolutionary dissenters were likely to develop in the Communist Parties. To gain influence, win members and avoid becoming small sectarian cliques just talking to each other, the Trotskyists should - where possible - join, or in Trotskyist terminology enter
Entryism is a political tactic by which an organisation or state encourages its members or agents to infiltrate another organisation in an attempt to gain recruits, or take over entirely...

, the mass Communist
Communist party
A political party described as a Communist party includes those that advocate the application of the social principles of communism through a communist form of government...

 or Social Democratic (Labour) parties. This was known as entrism sui generis or long-term entry. It was understood by all that the FI would retain its political identity, and its own press.

It was believed at the time that the international "centre" should be able to impose democratic centralist discipline by directly intervening in the politics of local parties. Pablo also used the weight of the international secretariat to back tendencies that were closest to mainstream views inside the International. For example, Pablo and Cannon jointly sponsored an entryist faction within the British movement that opposed the leadership of Jock Haston
Jock Haston
James "Jock" Ritchie Haston was a Trotskyist politician and General Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist Party in Great Britain.-Early years:...

 in the RCP, contributing to the collapse of the RCP as an open organisation.


In 1953 the American, British and part of the French Trotskyists declared themselves in opposition to this course of action, and withdrew from the FI to form a public faction, the International Committee of the Fourth International
International Committee of the Fourth International
The International Committee of the Fourth International is the name of two Trotskyist internationals; one with sections named Socialist Equality Party which publishes the World Socialist Web Site and another linked to the Workers Revolutionary Party in Britain.-Foundation:The International...

. The hostility of the ICFI to what became known as "Pabloism" was legendary. Decades later, the ICFI still writes in opposition to what it calls "Pabloite revisionism."http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/oct2008/hist-o04.shtmlhttp://www.wsws.org/IML/heritage/heritage_index.shtml

Pablo continued with the European International Secretariat of the Fourth International, operating from Amsterdam and Paris. The entryist tactic he proposed could not be implemented in many countries and succeeded only to some extent in countries where a large social-democratic party could be 'entered'.

None of the various Trotskyist splinter groups gained large numbers of new members in the early Cold War years, whether 'independent party-builders' or 'entryists'. After the invasion of Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 in 1956, many intellectuals split from the Communist Parties, and there was further political fragmentation resulting from the Sino-Soviet split
Sino-Soviet split
In political science, the term Sino–Soviet split denotes the worsening of political and ideologic relations between the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Cold War...

, but the Trotskyists gained almost no new adherents from them.

As the 1950s became the 1960s, Pablo was convinced that the best revolutionary prospects were now in what was to become known as the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 of Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, Latin America
Latin America
Latin America is a region of the Americas where Romance languages  – particularly Spanish and Portuguese, and variably French – are primarily spoken. Latin America has an area of approximately 21,069,500 km² , almost 3.9% of the Earth's surface or 14.1% of its land surface area...

 and Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. He also wrote a prophetic essay anticipating the women's liberation movement
Women's liberation movement
The Women's Liberation Movement was a political movement, born in the 1960s from Second-Wave Feminism.It generated mythology almost before it was born such as bra burning - and it was allegedly a matter of deep concern to those within it at the time that its history would allegedly be rewritten...


He was personally closely involved in supporting the Algerian national liberation struggle against France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, which led to imprisonment in Holland in connection with counterfeit money
Counterfeit money
Counterfeit money is currency that is produced without the legal sanction of the state or government to resemble some official form of currency closely enough that it may be confused for genuine currency. Producing or using counterfeit money is a form of fraud or forgery. Counterfeiting is probably...

 and gun-smuggling
Arms trafficking, also known as gunrunning, is the illegal trafficking or smuggling of contraband weapons or ammunition.The 1997 Report of the UN Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms provides a more refined and precise definition, which has become internationally accepted...

 activities. A campaign for his release was launched by Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy, particularly Marxism, and was one of the key figures in literary...

. In 1961 Pablo was finally sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, and liberated at the end of his trial. He took refuge in Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

. After the victory of the Algerian revolution, he became a minister in the FLN government.

By 1963, ICFI forces around the Socialist Workers Party (United States) were moving back towards unity with the ISFI, sharing common positions towards the Cuban revolution. Pablo was regarded by the SWP as a barrier to that unification. The world congress in 1963 formed the reunified Fourth International
Reunified Fourth International
The Fourth International is a Trotskyist international. In 1963, the majorities of the two public factions of the Fourth International, the International Secretariat and the International Committee, reunited, electing a United Secretariat of the Fourth International...

. Pablo moved a counter-resolution at the 1963 reunification congress, as well as the main resolution on Algeria, and was elected to the international executive committee. Tensions grew, and Pablo and his African Bureau were outside the International by the end of 1965 for partly disputed reasons: in the view of Pablo's supporters, reunification rapidly led the new majority to oust Pablo; in the International's view, Pablo's tendency broke with the International publicly and placed itself outside the FI. What is not disputed is that by then Pablo had key political differences with the FI.

Outside the Fourth International

Pablo's influence through this period then was mainly through his writings. The central theme of Pablo's thought in the later 1960s and 1970s was that of autogestion or "workers' self-management" (Arbeiter-selbstverwaltung). At the beginning of the 1970s, he was politically active in Chile, under Allende
Allende is a Spanish word of Latin origin meaning "beyond" or "besides". It is also a Basque surname.Allende may refer to:People*Salvador Allende, former President of Chile...

's government. After the fall of the Junta
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

, he returned to Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. In the 1980s, however Pablo receded into political obscurity.

Pablo continued with his revolutionary politics, and organized the Revolutionary Marxist Tendency and the International Revolutionary Marxist Tendency
International Revolutionary Marxist Tendency
The International Revolutionary Marxist Tendency was the international Trotskyist current led by Michel Pablo. It split from the reunified Fourth International in 1965 and rejoined in 1992....

 based in France. These were never serious competitors to the larger Trotskyist groups. The sections of the IRMT rejoined the reunified Fourth International in 1994 and 1995, although the agreement was not applied in Pablo's individual case.

Unusually for a revolutionary, his funeral was a state event in his native Greece. This is explained by his personal friendship from the 1930s with Andreas Papandreou
Andreas Papandreou
Andreas G. Papandreou ; 5 February 1919 – 23 June 1996) was a Greek economist, a socialist politician and a dominant figure in Greek politics. The son of Georgios Papandreou, Andreas was a Harvard-trained academic...

who had been a Trotskyist in his youth. Pablo's motto was: "The meaning of life is life itself, to live as much as you can".

External links

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