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SYRIZA: “the left reserve force” of capitalism


Elisseos Vagenas

Member of the CC of the KKE

Responsible for the International Relations Section of the CC of the KKE.



After the outbreak of the capitalist crisis in Greece the bourgeois class sought intensively to ideologically disarm the people by means of obscuring the causes of the crisis and the problems that the working people are experiencing in order to lead them to political choices that do not call the exploitative system into question. Thus the bourgeois political parties, both old as well as newly emerging, began to focus on isolated phenomena e.g. the economic scandals, presenting them as the cause of the crisis. “There was money. Some people (the politicians) squandered it and now the people are paying” is one of the common views. The so called “movement of the indignant citizens”, which fostered the aversion to the organized class-oriented labour movement and its goals, was utilized in these plans. This movement focused on the slogans “thieves! thieves!” and “traitors”, which were directed at the politicians. In this way it prepared the ideological ground for the “seeds” of the racist and criminal views of the fascist “Golden Dawn”. 

In these conditions the KKE declared decisively that we are dealing with a crisis of the system itself which requires rupture, disengagement from the imperialist unions of the EE and NATO with socialization of the means of production and the construction of another economy and society that will focus on the satisfaction of the people’s needs and not on profit. On the contrary, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) indulged in all kind of ideological-political tastes in order to manage to become the main opposition party. It is worth mentioning several elements regarding the stance of this party, especially in the current period when it is being promoted by the “European Left Party” as “a force for the overthrow” and the forces of the ELP are represented by its president Alexis Tsipras as a candidate for the office of the president of the EU Commission.

When the “radical left” meets the far right

On 7th February 2014 the Political Secretariat of SYRIZA decided to withdraw the candidacy of the journalist T. Karipidis for Regional Prefect in Western Macedonia in the upcoming local elections that will take place in the period of the EU parliamentary elections (May 2014). Greece is divided into 13 regions. So SYRIZA was led to withdraw its candidate in a large geographical area, that of Western Macedonia (not immediately but after 5 days of inner-party soul-searching). Why? The reason was the views of this journalist that were made public, as he is a supporter of a conspiracy theory regarding the torments that the working people in our country are suffering. According to his theory the Prime Minister A. Samaras is destroying Greece according to a plan of the Jews! This extreme conspiracy theory which dovetails with the corresponding views of fascist circles has been accommodated by the radical left of SYRIZA. So much for… “radicalism”…

The undeniable truth is that this is the “tip of the iceberg” as over the last three years SYRIZA has absorbed entire sections of the social-democratic party PASOK which is in the process of disintegration.

Even if we do not focus on this episode, we will see that over recent years SYRIZA has been making a systematic effort to rescue capitalism in the eyes of the working people. How is it doing this? Let us briefly examine this.


Praising “healthy” capitalism like Obama’s

SYRIZA is claiming that neoliberalism and neoliberal capitalism are to blame for the crisis and the problems of the workers. It is extolling the policy of Obama as neo-Keynesianism and characterizes it as “progressive”. At the end of last year the president of SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras praised the US president Barack Obama in a speech in Texas, USA, stating that “I feel that we can have a constructive debate with Washington on the issue of the crisis of the Eurozone. This is one of the reasons that I am happy to be here today.”

In this way the leadership of SYRIZA and the ELP is involved in the fierce competition amongst the imperialist powers. It is well known that the government of the USA, France, Italy are pressing Germany to shoulder a larger section of the losses regarding the management of the debt of the indebted states of Eurozone and limit its trade surplus. The forces of the ELP are siding with the USA. Nevertheless, this confrontation, is not related to the interests of the popular forces. It does not concern the interests of the peoples in the more powerful capitalist economies or in the weaker ones. Whatever formula is followed for the management of the crisis the working people will not be disentangled from capitalist exploitation, poverty, destitution, new anti-people measures. This is shown by the immense social and economic problems that tens of millions of working people face in the USA. Even if some statistical data indicates that capitalist growth appears on the terrain of the destruction of the social achievements, this growth will be at the expense of the people, the working people will suffer the consequences of the next and deeper crisis of capital over-accumulation.

By restricting its criticism to so called “neoliberal capitalism” SYRIZA is fostering illusions amongst the working people that there can be another “good” capitalism.


Anticipating the change of the predatory alliance


Let us bear in mind that in the 1960’s the KKE characterized the EU as “lions’ den”. In 1980 it said NO to the accession of Greece to the EEC and in 1991 it said NO to the Treaty of Maastricht that transformed the EEC into EU.

In contrast, all the other parties, including the parties from which SYRIZA emerged, supported these choices of the bourgeois class for the assimilation of Greece to the EEC and the EU.

Today SYRIZA is claiming that the EU is “violating its founding principles and goals”. The truth is that from 1957 until today, and for as long as the EU exists, whether it is split into a union of the south or of the north, whether it becomes a federation, or a confederation, it will be an imperialist union, aimed against the peoples and youth.

It is obvious that the EU does not change, either with the change of the president of the EU Commission, which is an apparatus for the elaboration and the implementation of the most severe anti-people measures, or with political reforms, because the exploitation of man by man, that is to say class exploitation, the main contradiction of capitalist society, is inherent in it.

The main question is what interests did the foundation of this inter-state union serve. It was founded in order to help the capitalists to more effectively exploit the working people in its member-states; in order to enable them to buttress their power supported by the bourgeois classes of the other countries of the union. It was created in order to assist the European monopolies in their fierce conflict with the monopolies of the other countries and regional unions.

The EU, with most of its member-states being members of NATO as well, is organizing the war with financial, political and military means. It conducted a war on European territory, it participates in the plans to intervene in Asia, Africa, today in the Central African Republic, it accompanies the USA in its anti-communism and in dealing with the movement using terror legislation.

 SYRIZA, due to its position as the official opposition, bears a great share of responsibility for the conscious deception of the working people because it claims that the EU can allegedly be democratized and humanized.

Recently, in relation to the bloody events in Ukraine, SYRIZA once again discovered the “lack of an independent foreign policy” in the blatant intervention of the EU in the internal affairs of Ukraine, which was carried out together with the USA and in confrontation with Russia over the control of the markets, the raw materials and the country’s transport networks. SYRIZA argued that the EU could have a “stronger role” in favour of the people of Ukraine if it did not align itself with the USA. Then, according to this viewpoint, the EU would become a “force for stability and peace”. However, there is no greater fraud than for someone to claim that the imperialist EU can become a “factor for peace”, fostering illusions about a pro-peace imperialism! The imperialist “predators”, the EU amongst them, during the “dividing up of the loot” can come into conflict, but they always remain “predators” and hostile to the interests of the peoples.

The “front” and the “wind” of the South

SYRIZA is fishing in the “muddy waters” of the parties of the so-called “anti-memorandum arc”, of “anti-Merkelism”, and “anti-banking” version of the EU and Eurozone, of parties that condemn merely the troika and particularly Germany.

Nevertheless, it conceals the fact that the outbreak of the capitalist crisis preceded the memorandum. It overlooks the fact that the EU is a component of the Troika. The memorandum that the Greek government has signed with the troika of the lenders, is nothing other than the specialization of the general political line of the EU in the conditions of crisis in Greece. Consequently the opposition of SYRIZA to the memorandum is dust to the people’s eyes given that this party does not oppose the EU but supports it.

But why is SYRIZA only blaming the troika or Germany? Because, in this way it conceals its essential support for the EU of capital, of the monopolies. It is fostering illusions to the people that the EU can change through “a front of the countries of the South”. Nevertheless, the international allies and support that are invoked, such as the governments of the USA, France, Italy, the Mediterranean South, are enemies of the people, they steamroller the people’s rights in their countries, just as the German government does.

The EU is a hell for all its peoples. Τhe truth is that the anti-people measures concern the working class and popular strata of all the countries, regardless of memoranda and debts.

In other countries measures were taken in the 1990s and in the 2000s, in some all together as a “shock”, like Greece in the conditions of the crisis, in others gradually as in Germany. However there are differences from country to country in terms of workers’ gains, social needs, the rate of unemployment. The reason is that Greece had a weaker starting point in the Eurozone and it is not due to the bad political choices or the use of the “wrong medicine”.

For example, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a general policy which has as its aim the concentration of the agricultural production and land in fewer hands. However, it was more painful in countries which still had numerous small producers, like Greece.

The new wind of the South that will sweep the bad EU and bring a better on is a “fairy tale” that aims at deceiving the peoples. On 12th June 2012 the newspaper of SYRIZA wrote: “A new page opened for France yesterday. Victory of the left”.  SYRIZA and its leadership fostered many illusions regarding the election of Hollande claiming that the EU is starting to change. Now we all know how that has developed…

Contrary to these illusions, the KKE and the other parties that participate in the European Communist Initiative assess that the EU cannot change, that it is a reactionary apparatus which has at its core the interests of the monopolies.


The odious and unsustainable debt


The KKE has demonstrated with evidence that the workers are not responsible for the public debt and must not pay for it. The propaganda of the capitalist power is trying to conceal the real reasons for the inflation of the public debt. In reality, the state borrowed in the previous years in order to serve the needs of the profitability of capital and now it is calling on the workers to pay. The debt also increased due to the enormous spending on arms programmes for the needs of NATO and the participation in imperialist missions, as well as due to the consequences of the assimilation of the Greek economy in the EU and EMU. The course of the shrinking of important branches of manufacturing, which were on the receiving end of strong pressure from competitors and shrank, is characteristic (e.g. textiles, clothing, metal, ship-building and ship-repair, production of transport means.) The expansion of the trade deficit and the rapid increase of imports from the EU had a similar impact on the inflation of the public debt.


SYRIZA, for a long time period, especially before the previous elections, argued that a “left government” of SYRIZA will separate the debt into a correct part (which must be paid) and an “odious”, “unjust” part that will not be paid. Indeed they let it be understood that possibly the largest part of the public debt is “odious” and sharply criticized the KKE for not adopting this “realistic” rationale. Nevertheless, the more the possibility of SYRIZA taking on the “reins” of bourgeois management increases, the more its position gradually alters. SYRIZA’s economist, G. Stathakis, stated in February 2014 that based on his calculations the “odious” debt is only 5%. Consequently, he recognized that the people should pay the remaining 95% of the debt. The head of SYRIZA claimed in the very same month during a visit to Italy that the crisis in Greece is the result of “a mistaken development model of over-consumption with loans”! I.e he is regurgitating the basic bourgeois ideological constructs inside and outside of Greece regarding the cause of the debt and is calling on the people to pay for the debt, as longs as it can become “sustainable”. He is calling for another “haircut” to take place, in opposition to the government of ND-PASOK, which is demanding an extension of the payment period.  And these two management solutions are not merely not “radical” and “people-friendly”, but provide for new anti-people measures against the workers.


The only people-friendly solution is the one promoted by the KKE: unilateral cancellation of the debt for which the people are not responsible. Socialization of the means of production, disengagement from the EU, working class-people’s power.


“Radicalism” inside the “walls” of the system


SYRIZA is an opportunist party which very rapidly is developing into a modern social-democratic party and is fostering illusions amongst the people that there can be a better form of management for the people, despite the dominance of the monopolies. It plays with the pain of the people, with the pressure for immediate solutions without radical changes.


The speech of A. Tsipras at an event in honour of the Austrian social-democrat Bruno Kreisky is revealing. A. Tsipras clarified that the “A left government in Greece will extend a hand to Europe’s social democrats, to Europe’s free thinking liberals”, with as its plan “the project of stabilising the Eurozone – a first step towards an open, democratic and cohesive Europe.” Such a government will seek a “European Marshall Plan”, which will include: “proper banking union, a public debt centrally managed by the ECB and a massive programme of public investment.” These goals, as A. Tsipras categorically assured the audience, can be satisfied without “without any treaty changes” in the EU.


But the assurances of SYRIZA that the “state has continuity”, clearly stating that it will continue the work of the previous governments on the terrain of the anti-worker political line, of the ruins of the working class people’s rights, also highlight how it understands the so-called “governmental left”. The candidacy of Tsipras for President of the Commission reveals SYRIZA’s devotion to the EU, this union of the monopolies. The promotion of the Obama government by SYRIZA as a model is a confirmation that its governance will manage capitalism. These are assurances that the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises has assessed very specifically, praising the “useful radicalism of SYRIZA”.


About “Democracy” and “National Sovereignty”


SYRIZA is trying with its propaganda to conceal the fact that the participation of a capitalist state in an inter-state capitalist union, such as the EU, objectively means the cessation of sovereign rights. Of course, this is not due to the “German occupation”, as various nationalist groups of the bourgeois “anti-memorandum current” misleadingly claim, a sloganeering that the forces of SYRIZA have from time to time adopted. But it is a conscious strategic choice of capital in every state, and in Greece as well, with the aim of strengthening its economic and political position. Inter-state unions which are formed in the framework of an increasingly intensified capitalist internationalization, which means the increasingly more extensive interconnection of sections of capital of different states, the development of relations between them, the inter-dependence of the capitalist economies, and as a consequence the capitalist states. These are relations of unequal interdependence that of course are unequal because they are formed on the terrain of uneven development, relations that are formed with the economic and political strength as the criteria. This is the characteristic feature both of inter-state capitalist unions, as well as of the nexus of inter-state relations which are formed in the framework of the global imperialist system. The KKE argues that these relations can break, can be overturned only through the disengagement of the country from the capitalist inter-state unions and from the capitalist development path, and not by patching them up, as SYRIZA aims to do.


It is apparent from the positions of SYRIZA that this party only disagrees with the “German leadership of the EU and Eurozone”, and not with the controls on the budgets, as long as they are carried out by “legitimate bodies”. If, for example, they are carried out by the EU Parliament, there is no problem, because it says that this is the only democratically elected body of the EU.


Nevertheless, the terms “democracy” and “sovereignty” have a specific social “identity”, according to which class is in power. Bourgeois democracy is nothing other than the class dominance, dictatorship of the bourgeoisie with a parliamentary mantle and the justice that accompanies it is the justice of the bourgeoisie. SYRIZA is the vehicle of a petty bourgeois, non-class view about freedom and democracy. It makes criticisms regarding these issues from the standpoint of petty bourgeois “pluralism”.  It ignores and conceals the class- and in reality restricted- character of democratic gains under capitalism. It conceals the fact that the source of authoritarianism is the political line that serves capital, which at the same time is closely connected to the implementation of the EU’s decisions.  With its more general position about the EU and the Common Policies, it takes a position in favour of the creation of inter-state mechanisms of repression of the EU, which are objectively aimed at confronting the anti-imperialist movements. In its criticism it conceals the role of these mechanisms so that the EU is not incriminated (Europol, Eurostat, Frontex, Schengen etc.)


Character of the “referendum”. For what reason and in whose interests?


SYRIZA, because it sees that the EU itself has lost ground, has created revulsion and discontent in wider sections of the workers, is seeking to pose other false dilemmas in light of the EU Parliamentary elections and the local elections, it is trying to provide them with the character of a “referendum on the policies and parties that led the country to its current position”, “legitimization or not of the political line that the government is implementing.”


SYRIZA says that it will support the “healthy” sections of capital, and thus the referendum which it demands is about what sections of capital will be reinforced in the recovery phase. About which sectors will receive financial backing. Really, from whom will they receive this money?


It is demanding a “referendum” about how the workers, popular families will be even further squeezed: Through an extension of the payment period (which the government is asking of the foreign creditors) or as SYRIZA asks through a new haircut of the debt.

SYRIZA is declaring its devotion to the EU, which with its “economic governance” established the “permanent memorandum” for the peoples. So the referendum that it asks for is aimed at winning the people’s support so that it can guarantee the EU one-way street and the implementation of the EU’s permanent memorandum. So that it can better manage the poverty and destitution. It is trying to trick the workers that its proposal will bring prosperity to the people.

SYRIZA is demanding a referendum in favour of a “left government”. However the developments in France, Italy, Cyprus and elsewhere demonstrate that “left” and “centre-left” governments constitute the left “reserve force” of the capitalist development path.

The KKE notes that the workers must go to the ballot box in May with other criteria.

They must go with the criteria of punishing all those who with lies, intimidation and illusions over the previous years, and even now, try to persuade them that there can be a pro-people development for the Greek and other peoples of Europe inside the capitalist development path and the EU.

They must have as their criterion the formation of a strong working class-people’s opposition, the need to regroup the labour-people’s movement, the People’s Alliance for the struggle against the anti-people political line, the EU and the parties of the EU one-way street.

With the criterion of strengthening the struggle for a Greece with people’s prosperity, with the utilization of all the country’s productive potential, with solidarity and cooperation with all the peoples, in opposition to the chains of the European Union, capitalist exploitation and injustice.

With the criterion of paving the way for the socialization of the monopolies, the unilateral cancellation of the debt, the disengagement from the EU. So that the people can acquire their own power and become protagonists in the developments, so that they can influence them in a direction favourable to them.

The workers must utilize the May elections with these criteria, rejecting false dilemmas and false referenda, contributing to a change in the correlation of forces in favour of the people, through the strengthening of the KKE.