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ON THE SITUATION IN GREECE AND THE ANTI-PEOPLE ROLE OF SYRIZA
- The responsibilities of its applauders
Article of Giorgos Marinos
Member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the KKE
On Monday the 13th of July, the SYRIZA-ANEL government with the support of all the bourgeois parties agreed at the Eurozone Summit to a very harsh package of anti-people measures, the third memorandum, which will destroy whatever workers’-people’s rights have remained.
On Wednesday the 15th of July, the “first time leftwing” government passed the agreement of the Summit and the first raft of measures to be implemented for the 3rd memorandum with the votes of the bourgeois parties ND-PASOK-POTAMI, including new savage taxation measures and the abolition of pension rights. The KKE voted against it and called for a roll call vote, during which 32 cadres of SYRIZA voted NO, 6 “present” and 1 abstention. These members of SYRIZA said that “we vote against the new memorandum, but … we wholeheartedly support the government that is tabling it.”
The experience of the 5 months of SYRIZA’s governance demonstrates that it did not want to nor was it able to prepare the people for a confrontation against the memoranda and the monopolies, both Greek and European, precisely because it had no orientation for resistance and conflict. On the contrary, it deceived the people that it could pave the way for pro-people changes inside the predatory alliance of the EU.
The developments are a very clear expression of the failure of the so-called “renewed” or “governmental left”, of the theory that the EU can change its monopolist and anti-people character.
The line of struggle of the KKE and its robust and consistent stance, which rejected participation in such “leftwing governments” that are really governments of bourgeois management, have been borne out.
On the basis of this specific experience and overcoming the bourgeois mass media offensive, the workers in the Europe and all over the world must try to find the truth and utilize the developments in Greece so that they can draw useful conclusions.
They should examine and study the KKE’s line of struggle, penetrating the wall of misinformation of the bourgeois and opportunist forces that concern themselves with the management of capitalist barbarity and work systematically in order to manipulate the workers.
WHAT IS THE REAL SITUATION IN GREECE? WHAT IS THE REAL ROLE OF SYRIZA? WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF ITS APPLAUDERS?
Firstly, during the capitalist crisis and the painful consequences that the anti-people political line of the liberal ND party and the social-democratic PASOK brought for the working class and popular strata, an extended reformation of the bourgeois political system began.
The traditional bourgeois parties were weakened and worn down, and SYRIZA and the criminal-Nazi organization “Golden Dawn” were strengthened.
SYRIZA, which was a small opportunist party, rapidly increased its votes in the elections of June 2012 and won the elections of January 2015, forming a government with the rightwing nationalist party ANEL.
Over this entire period, this party trapped the workers in the false schema “memorandum-antimemorandum”, concealing the fact that the memoranda are a part of the more general strategy of capital. It exploited the sharpening problems of the people and made false promises that it would relieve and satisfy the demands of the workers.
In this framework, it promised that it would immediately increase the minimum wage, restore collective bargaining agreements, abolish the property tax, increase the tax-free threshold, put an end to privatizations etc.
Despite the slogans it used, in practice SYRIZA formed a social-democratic strategy and made it clear from the beginning that it would manage capitalism and serve the competitiveness and profitability of the monopoly groups, implement the EU’s strategy, which it called “our common European home”.
Second, after the elections of 2015, the SYRIZA-ANEL government continued the anti-people political line of the previous governments. On the 20th of February, it signed an agreement with the EU-ECB-IMF (Troika) and undertook commitments regarding the recognition and repayment of the debt that was not created by the people, the “avoidance of unilateral actions”, the non-implementation of its election promises and the promotion of “capitalist restructurings”.
The SYRIZA-ANEL government, during the negotiations that followed in Brussels, tabled a series of proposals with harsh anti-people measures, including:
The maintenance of the memoranda and all the application laws of ND and PASOK, the imposition of additional taxation, the demolition of pension rights, privatizations and other measures worth 8 billion euros at the expense of the people. This proposal was similar to that of the Troika, which contained anti-people measures worth 8.5 billion euros.
The confrontations in the negotiations and the withdrawal of the SYRIZA-ANEL government in one phase are not related to resistance to defend the people’s interests, as certain parties abroad are baselessly claiming.
It was the interests of the monopolies that were on the table of negotiations and on this basis more general contradictions were expressed that are related to the formula for the management of capitalism, the course of the Eurozone and Greece’s position in it, (including the possibility of a Grexit), the contradictions over hegemony in Europe between Germany and France, between the USA and the Eurozone and in particular Germany.
Third, in these conditions, the government brought to the Parliament on Saturday 27th of June a proposal for a referendum, attempting to trap the people with a YES or NO to the Troika’s raft of anti-people measures, refusing to table its own anti-people proposal in order to be judged by the people.
The KKE (in parliament) demanded the following be posed in the referendum:
A) The proposal of the Troika. B) the proposal of the government. C) The proposal of the KKE for ‘DISENGAGEMENT FROM THE EU, ABOLITION OF THE MEMORANDA AND ALL THE ANTI-PEOPLE APPLICATION LAWS.”
The government arbitrarily refused to put the proposal of the KKE to a vote. Its goal was to blackmail the people and exploit the people’s vote as approval for its own proposal that constituted a new memorandum.
The KKE resisted, denounced the blackmail and posed its own ballot paper to the judgment of the people:
‘NO TO THE PROPOSAL OF THE EU-ECB-IMF.
NO TO THE PROPOSAL OF THE GOVERNMENT.
DISENGAGEMENT FROM THE EU WITH THE PEOPLE IN POWER.’
This ballot paper was distributed in the workplaces, in the popular neighbourhoods, outside the voting centres on the day of the referendum, while at the same time, the KKE called on the people to resist in every way and to express their opposition to the new memoranda.
In conditions of false dilemmas and blackmail, the KKE explained to the people that both the YES and the NO would be used to impose new anti-people measures.
This decision is a great legacy for our people, so that they can continue their struggle on the basis of their own interests.
A significant section of our people resisted. It cast the ballot of the KKE, it cast blank or spoiled ballots – (over 350,000, 6%)- a section of working people followed the path of abstention.
The KKE did not set a numerical goal for this referendum, its stance was a principled political one, it sent a political message to the people not to submit to all the blackmail, the dilemmas, whether they originate from the troika or from the government and the other bourgeois political parties.
Fourth, one day after the referendum, on the 6th of July, the developments confirmed in the most characteristic way the positions and line of struggle of the KKE and exposed the parties abroad that celebrated together with SYRIZA or sent messages of support to the Greek Prime Minister.
On the day after the referendum There a meeting of the political leaders took place at the initiative of Prime Minister, Tsipras, with the participation of the President of the Republic. This meeting made the situation even clearer.
SYRIZA, ANEL, ND, PASOK, POTAMI, i.e. all the bourgeois parties, signed a joint statement that mentioned amongst other things : “The recent verdict of the Greek people does not comprise a mandate of rupture, but a mandate for continuing and strengthening the effort of achieving a socially just and economically sustainable agreement..”, confirming that the bourgeois parties as a whole were ready to sign an agreement/new memorandum with the Troika against the people.
The GS of the CC of the KKE, cde Dimitris Koutsoumpas disagreed, made his different stance clear and after the meeting of the political leaders stated amongst other things: “We clearly expressed on our part, once again, the views of the KKE regarding the assessment of the referendum result and chiefly as regards the enormous problems being experienced by the Greek people inside the predatory alliance of the EU, which has a political line that continually increases the impasses for the people, the people’s income, the course of the country and the course of our people as a whole.
It has been demonstrated, once again, that there can be no pro-people pro-worker negotiations inside the walls of the EU, inside the capitalist development path… No one has authorized anybody to go and sign new memoranda, new painful measures for our people.”
Fifth, after the referendum the SYRIZA-ANEL government sent an application to the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) for a three-year loan programme worth about 50 billion euros, with a new loan agreement and a new memorandum.
On Friday the 10th of July, the government proposed to the Troika (EU, ECB, IMF) a provocative raft of harsh anti-people measures-3rd memorandum worth over 12 billion euros!! That is to say 4-5 billion euros more than the proposal that was being discussed before the referendum.
On the same day, in the related discussion in Parliament, the government asked for and received the support and authorization of the bourgeois parties, ND-PASOK-POTAMI, in order to sign the anti-people agreement-3rd memorandum.
While, at daybreak, Monday the 13th of July, Prime Minister Tsipras agreed at the Eurozone Summit to a new loan worth 85 billion euros and a very dangerous anti-people memorandum, which will truly smash whatever workers’-people’s rights have remained.
Here are some characteristic examples:
Maintenance of the ENFIA, the tax on property and the other harsh tax measures of ND and PASOK that have driven millions of families from the popular strata to desperation and an additional increase of the VAT rates, transferring packaged food and other items of mass popular consumption to the highest rate of 23%, the abolition of tax exemptions for farmers, a significant increase in VAT for the islands etc.
The government’s propaganda that it is increasing taxes on the big businesses and ship-owners is unfounded. It is a drop in the ocean. The tax exemptions for the ship-owners and big capital as a whole are being kept in place.
Maintenance of the anti-social-security measures in their entirety which reduce pensions, increase the retirement age, exempt employers from social-security contributions and also the introduction of new measures that abolish the remaining early retirements establishing a single retirement age of 67, abolish the benefits for pensioners with very low pensions, increase the workers’ social-security contributions, merge the social-security funds with a race to the bottom in terms of rights. It is examining additional tough measures in the name of the social-security system’s sustainability.
Maintenance of the “medieval” labour relations that are prevalent in the workplaces, the freezing of collective agreements, the maintenance of reduced wages and also additional new anti-worker measures in the name of adaptation to the EU directives for the expansion of individual contracts between workers and employers, the reinforcement of part-time and temporary work, flexible labour relations.
Implementation of the Toolkit of the imperialist organization OECD (which the government considers to be a strategic partner) that provides for the liberalization of professions, the abolition of the Sunday holiday etc.
Maintenance of the privatizations that have taken place and the promotion of new ones, in the ports, 14 regional airports, the railways, the company that manages natural gas etc.
The creation of a mechanism for mortgaging and selling public property in order to raise 50 billion Euros to repay the loans etc.
The creation of primary surpluses of 1% for 2015, 2% for 2016, 3% for 2017, 3.5% for 2018, and the implementation of a mechanism to automatically cut salaries, pensions, social spending if there is divergence from the fiscal goals.
The SYRIZA-ANEL government used the same blackmail and dilemma that ND and PASOK had used in order to convince the people to accept the measures: a new harsher memorandum or state bankruptcy via a grexit?
It repeated the same dilemma that was posed for memorandum 1 and memorandum 2 and on each occasion an installment was to be disbursed. Every time the people must choose the “lesser” evil, which in the end leads to the greater evil.
Even now, when the anti-people political line of SYRIZA is out in the open, Tsipras is attempting to foster false expectations, by claiming that the agreement includes an adjustment of the debt ( which has increased due to the new loan) and the so-called “development packages”. Despite the fact that it is well-known that the people in any case will pay for the debt and that the packages will once again be directed to the large monopoly groups, which will reap many benefits.
Sixth, the anti-people political line of SYRIZA is not just restricted to these issues but is also expressed in its foreign policy.
The Greek government within 5 months has provided significant support to NATO, the USA, the Euro-Atlantic axis.
It has not only maintained but also made commitments to strengthen the US-NATO bases at Suda, the command centre for imperialist interventions and wars, Aktio (Radar centre) and has also made commitments to strengthening it, the headquarters in Thessaloniki, Larissa etc.
It announced that in consultation with the USA it will install a new NATO base in the Aegean Sea, on the island of Karpathos.
The government officially made a commitment to make its armed forces and military bases available for new imperialist wars in the region, in the name of dealing with the Jihadists and “protecting the Christian populations”.
It participates in military exercises together with the USA and Israel and enhances its military, political and economic relations with the Israeli state which continues the occupation and torments the Palestinian people.
The so-called “multi-dimensional policy” with Russia and China, with BRICS, is being carried out from the standpoint of advancing the interests of the monopoly groups in order to enhance their position in the field of energy, in the framework of the general imperialist competition, entangling our people in new hazards.
The workers in Europe and all over the world can draw important conclusions from this course of events about the developments in Greece in order to denounce the political forces that defend the capitalist development path and the European Union, the inter-state imperialist union.
The communist men and women, the workers must examine the developments on the basis of the actual data.
They should appreciate the stance of dozens of Communist Parties that tried to analyze the developments in Greece on the basis of class criteria and keeping to the principle of proletarian internationalism contributed to supporting the struggle of the KKE and published its information bulletins and related interviews, wrote their own articles and fought against the confusion sown by SYRIZA and the ELP.
The KKE thanks the dozens of communist parties and communist youth organizations all over the world that expressed their solidarity in many different ways and stood at the side of the struggle of our party and KNE.
We thank the working men and women, trade unions and other organizations of the people’s movement from abroad that support the struggle of the class oriented movement in Greece.
Our party will continue to wage tough struggles and honour their confidence in us.
In the conditions of the strong pressure exerted by the bourgeois ideological apparatus and the intervention of the opportunist forces, the mass expression of internationalist solidarity is a very important element. It contributes to our common struggle. It is a valuable experience which will bear fruit in the next period.
At the same time, the communists and workers must carefully examine and denounce the opportunist forces and other forces that during this entire period concealed the positions of the KKE and aligned with SYRIZA, prettifying the anti-people-class essence of its political line, its social-democratic character.
The ELP is playing a particularly dangerous role in manipulating the workers. The European Left Party recognized its own mutated strategy for bourgeois management in the social-democratic positions of SYRIZA, its own positions for assimilation into the EU.
It was to be expected.
The serious problem concerns certain CPs that reproduced the positions of SYRIZA, presented it as force of resistance against the EU, concealing the fact that this party is a defender of the EU predatory alliance and NATO, a manager of the barbaric capitalist system.
These forces saluted the “NO” of the referendum but concealed the fact that behind this was SYRIZA’s YES to a new memorandum, new measures, which will continue to bleed our people.
They misinformed -intentionally or unintentionally- the workers in their countries. They connected the Greek government’s stance to the defense of “popular sovereignty”, but reality demonstrates that the people cannot be sovereign when they are encircled by the blackmail of capital’s forces, when they are hungry, unemployed, victims of capitalism and the capitalists who hold power and possess the means of production and steal the wealth produced by the workers.
The stance of these parties objectively operated against the struggle of the KKE and at the expense of the interest of the working class, the popular strata in Greece, in every country, because supporting the new social-democracy means strengthening the opponent of the workers, fostering illusions and confusion.
There is no excuse. They bear serious responsibilities. The parties that concealed the positions of the KKE, organized events to support SYRIZA and saluted social-democracy have been exposed.
In reality, the demonstrations e.g. in Paris, Rome, Brussels, Nicosia, Lisbon and other cities, irrespective of who organized them and the slogans used, were utilized by SYRIZA as a “leftwing” alibi to strengthen its position, to present itself as a “saviour” and impose new harsh anti-people measures on the Greek workers.
This is not the first time we have spoken about these issues. The consequences of the opportunist influence in the ranks of the communist movement, the consequences of the counterrevolution continue to be painful.
Our party, as is well-known, has consistently expressed (for many years) its internationalist solidarity even with CPs that today are aligning with its political opponents. The KKE follows a principled position and we will continue to do so.
However, a discussion must begin in the European and International Communist Movement about the choices of CPs that took the side of social-democracy and conclusions must be drawn.
Whoever loses the class, revolutionary compass will be led into managing capitalism, even if the communist name is maintained, even if there are formal references to socialism.
Historical experience bears this out and this is the problem for certain parties that use the slander about “sectarianism” in order to incriminate the revolutionary struggle, to hide their own retreat from the principles of Marxism-Leninism and their choice to manage the bourgeois system.
The recent developments have brought serious issues to the fore that must be discussed even further.
The social-democratic parties of the SYRIZA and Podemos variety work to manipulate the working class, to safeguard capitalist management with fake left slogans.
In practice, the example of SYRIZA demonstrated once again that the so-called “left governments” are a form of management and reproduction of capitalist exploitation, that they cultivate illusions, disarm the popular forces and lead to the strengthening of conservative forces, to the return of rightwing governments. The examples of “leftwing governments” in France, Italy, Cyprus, Denmark and in Latin American countries confirm this assessment.
The position that presents the replacement of the Euro by a national currency e.g. the drachma in Greece as a development in favour of the people, a position supported by various ultra-left groups and cadres of SYRIZA who voted against the 3rd memorandum in parliament obscures the real situation for the workers. The currency on its own cannot solve in a beneficial way any of the people’s problems. Capitalist exploitation will continue to hold sway, as well as the factor that determines the course of developments i.e. which social class has the power and means of production in its hands.
The attempt to interpret the developments with positions that present Greece as being a “colony”, does not have an objective basis; it omits the aims and interests of the bourgeoisie, it does not take uneven capitalist development and the unequal relations between capitalist states into account.
Greece’s continued participation in NATO and the EU is the position that is dominant in the bourgeois class and the concession of sovereign rights is a conscious choice that aims to buttress capitalism and serve the interests of the monopolies inside the imperialist alliances.
Focusing all the attention on the stance of Germany, the attempt to interpret the developments through the prism of the “Schauble coup” conceals the essence of the inter-imperialist competition, of the interests that are coming into conflict.
The SYRIZA-ANEL’ government’s choice of allies e.g. the USA and France has nothing to do with the people’s interests but with the interests of the monopoly groups, entangling our people further into the web of imperialist competition.
The recent statements of a cadre of SYRIZA and Vice President of the government are characteristic. He made the following reference: “I have to publicly thank the US government and Mr. (President Barack) Obama as without their help and persistence that the deal has to include the debt issue and development horizon we might have not succeeded.”
THE STRUGGLE OF THE KKE
The KKE advanced forwards, having enriched its strategy on the basis of the contemporary demands of the class struggle, overcoming the theory regarding “intermediate stages” in the management of the exploitative system and the different forms for the maintenance of bourgeois democracy, defending the laws of socialist revolution and construction.
Our party utilized the anticapitalist-antimonopoly line of struggle, the line for the concentration and preparation of working class and popular forces for the overthrow of capitalism, for workers’-people’s power, socialism, rejecting cooperation with the social-democratic party SYRIZA and any participation in governments of bourgeois management.
It gave a decisive answer in the elections of 2012, continuing in difficult conditions its independent political-ideological and mass struggle with the needs of the families from the working class and popular strata as its criteria.
It waged the battle of the elections in 2015, it increased its forces and utilizes its 15-member parliamentary group to highlight the people’s problems, tabling important draft laws and proposals, like the draft law for the abolition of the memoranda and the application laws which the government has been refusing to discuss in Parliament for 5 months.
It utilizes its EU parliamentary group at the side of the workers, achieving a new level in its significant political interventions after its withdrawal from GUE/NGL which has been transformed into an appendage of the ELP.
The proud stance of the KKE in the recent referendum is a continuation of this political struggle. It exposed the anti-people political line of the SYRIZA-ANEL government, the Troika and the bourgeois parties that support remaining in the “EU at all costs”, tabling its own proposal to the people.
Our party intervenes decisively in the political developments, it fights against difficulties and deficiencies and works tirelessly in the workplaces, inside the labour-people’s movement, it plays the leading role in the struggles of the working class, the farmers, the intermediate strata, the youth. It continues its internationalist activity, strengthens its relations with dozens of CPs all over the world and tries to discuss its experience with the communists and leading working class forces abroad.
These are very serious duties. The KKE focuses on organizing the resistance of the workers against the anti-people agreement of the SYRIZA-ANEL government, so that the level of the people’s demands is raised and so that a militant movement will develop that will demand in a mass way the recovery of the losses and the satisfaction of the contemporary needs.
The class oriented movement, PAME and the other militant rallies are escalating the mass mobilizations, are making efforts to organize a solidarity movement to support those who are suffering from unemployment and poverty, to support the pensioners, the workers who are standing in the queues at the banks to take a small portion of their pension or salary due to the restrictions on banking transactions.
Through struggle committees in the workplaces, factories, hospitals, supermarkets, services, through the mobilization of the “people’s committees” in the neighbourhoods.
These are valuable tools in order to strengthen the people’s struggle.
We will continue on this path and we call on the working class, the popular strata to adopt in a mass and decisive way the political proposal of the KKE for the best possible organization of the workers, the regroupment of the labour movement, to strengthen the people’s alliance of the working class with the farmers, the other popular strata in order to intensify the struggle for deep-radical changes. For the socialization of the monopolies, with central scientific planning of the economy, disengagement from the EU-NATO and the development of mutually beneficial relations with other states and peoples, the unilateral cancellation of the debt, with the working class and people holding the reins of power.