Patras, Greece in 1890s: Socialist Brotherhood, Giannis Magkanaras, Vasilis Doudoumis and others
In 1893 Socialistiki Adelfotita (Socialist Brotherhood) founded in Patras, which was not a coherent organisation, but a loose grouping of some socialists and progressives, many of whom were friends and followers of the famous Greek socialist of this time Plato Drakoulis. By some historians, Socialist Brotherhood was allegedly a continuation of the Democratic Club in 1870s.
Brotherhood’s president was Vasilis Doudoumis (a lawyer who among other things, wrote some revolutionary poems), secretary was the teacher Charilaos Dimitropoulos, and one of the leaders of the organisation was the architect Aristotle Thales, who came from Alexandria in Egypt.
Apart from Plato Drakoulis’ followers, such as V. Doudoumis (who was a classmate of Drakoulis in High School of Patras), members of the Brotherhood were supporters of the other famous socialist of the time Stavros Kallergis (based in Athens) and some anarchists, such as the well-educated and excellent connoisseur of anarchist ideas and European social movements of his time Giannis Magkanaras, who settled in Patras, probably around the same time, coming from Corinth.
Of those, some were intellectuals, and a small number were tradesmen and laborers. However, as we said earlier the Socialist Brotherhood was not a coherent organisation and the various ideological trends fought constantly among themselves.
The fact that Giannis Magkanaras was connected with the Socialist Brotherhood proved by his reports on the activities of this organisation published in the socialist newspaper “O Metarrythmistis” ("The Reformer") in which he either worked as an editor or cooperated. This newspaper firstly published in 1893 in Athens by G. Dimopoulos when he left the Sosialistikos Syndesmos (Socialist Society) led by Stavros Kallergis.
Also, Giannis Magkanaras seems he cooperated with the newspaper “Sosialistikos Syllogos” (“Socialist Association") firstly published in 1893 in Athens as an organ of Kentrikos Sosialistikos Syllogos (Central Socialist Society) which was the product of one of the splits in this organisation. In the same paper in the Central Socialist Society participated anarchists such as Evangelos Markantonatos or anarchism influenced activists such as Alexandros Matiatos.
Socialist Brotherhood’s prime and foremost interest was the union movement and by Brotherhood‘s initiative the first labor unions founded in Patras, as mentioned by anarchist Dimitris Karampilias in his memoirs. Several members of the Brotherhood were, simultaneously, members of these unions.
The organisation, other than their mutual nature, aimed to educate local people and workers to the ideals of socialism and because there was not a proper meeting space for the monthly gatherings and lectures they used the room of an elementary school in St. George Square, for which Dimitris Karampilias wrote in an article of his published as a memoir in the newspaper “E Simerini” ("Today"), Patras, 30 April 1950. The first unions, the newspaper “To Fos” ("The Light").
As mentioned before, at the same time the first labor unions founded in the city of Patras and the surrounding region. According leading marxist historian Gianis Kordatos, the first union was this of shoe makers founded in 1894. According T. Constantine the first union founded in Patras in 1893 and it was the Syndesmos Ton En Patras Ypallilon “E Enosis” (Association of Employees of Patras "The Union"), but Dimitris Karampilias indicates that the first trade union was this of the timber workers founded in 1894 by the initiative of Socialist Brotherhood. However, other unions formed at the same time and they were those of the sultana boxes makers, tobacco workers and cigarette makers announcing strikes in which Socialist Brotherhood played a leading role. In October 1895, the shoe cleaners went on strike with economic and wage demands, but the State responded by arrests. Socialist Brotherhood reached 500 members in 1895 from 140 in 1893.
At the same time hard-core socialistic-spiritualist trends begun to make their appearance, while at the end of 1894 Socialist Brotherhood published the newspaper “To Fos” ("The Light") where among other things they supported Plato Drakoulis as a local candidate for the elections of 1895. The announcement of the publication of the second issue of “To Fos” was published in the daily mainstream newspaper Peloponnese, in Tuesday, 28 February 1895.
After the publication of “To Fos”, in August of the same year, another newspaper appeared in Patras under the same title and subtitle "Electoral newspaper published by independent citizens. Distributed free of charge”. This newspaper supported conservative Kanakaris in the elections.
However, Drakoulis failed to be elected. The anarchists who were members of the organisation and some supporters of Stavros Kallergis disagreed strongly with the participation in elections and organised a separate anti-electoral campaign. Since then, the organisation became torn by internal conflicts between the three trends, a) Drakoulis supporters, b) Stavros Kallergis followers and c) anarchists.
Stavros Kallergis himself during the formation of socialist groups of his direct influence in various cities, had a strong group of supporters in Patras as well, while many Socialist Brotherhood members were either subscribers or recipients of his newspaper “Sosialistis” ("Socialist"). Thus, as a result of internal conflicts within the Brotherhood, in 2 June 1894 a group left the organisation and founded Sosialistiki Leshi Patron (Socialist Club of Patras) a group controlled directy by Kallergis. As founders of the new organisation appearred K. Kipourgos, A. Vassilopoulos, P. Evangelidis, G. Valsamakis, Achilles Orphanides and others.
The Christian-Sosialists and 'Armageddon'
At the same time, we have also the forming of "Armageddon", which expressed Christian-sosialist beliefs with some libertarian elements. Main figures were John Arnellos (a physicomathematician and philosopher, brother of anarchist Dimitris Arnellos), lawyer Vasilis Theodoridis (who was closer of all to the anarchists), PhD Literature Athanassios Christogiannopoulos, entrepreneur Sotiris Kyriazopoulos and lawyer Theodore Kapetanos.
The members of "Armageddon" were touring and teaching social christianity, attending peasant rallies and organizing various events. They published a weekly newspaper with the same title. The Greek State repressed them brutally by arrests and imprisonment mainly against A. Christogiannopoulos and John Arnellos. However some of them continued their activity until around 1910.
In Patras another similar group with "Armageddon" was the “Christianiki Isopoliteia” ("Christian Egalitarianism”), whose leader was Dimitris Andreopoulos or Katsivelos (1871-1947), who were also one of the pioneers in establishing trade unions and workers’ clubs, and played an important role in establishing Ergatiko Kentro of Patras (Trades Hall of Patras) in 1906 where he was president for many years.
Vasilis Theodoridis was the only member of "Armageddon" who later have been associated actively with the anarchist group “Epi Ta Proso" (“Forward”) and participated in various struggles and mobilizations by the peasants, been either motivated by the anarchists of the city or started spontaneously, while later he participated in the anarchist group and newspaper “Neon Fos” (“New Light") of Pyrgos.
In January 1896 under the initiative of anarchists Constantine C. Stavropoulos, Panagiotis Kotzias and Dimitris Karampilias a strong but loose anarchist faction formed within Socialist Brotherhood – which by then due to the internal conflicts was in a state of dissolution. This faction sought to continue the Brotherhood’s educational work among the workers and began publishing weekly the newspaper “Empros" (“Forward”). This newspaper was much more anarchist in its contents than “To Fos”, but after the intervention of conservative local MP George Papadiamantopoulos stopped its circulation in the third issue. But this loose anarchist faction laid the groundwork for a closer association between the anarchists and the various workers’ circles, especially those who belonged to the sultana boxes makers union with whom they formed the Socialistiko Kentro (Socialist Centree”. The anarchist faction had about 40 members.