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Popular discontent can find a way out through the political proposal of KKE

Interview of the GS of the CC of KKE Dimitris Koutsoumpas on  the ERT1 public television channel, on 24/10. Below are extended excerpts from  the interview.

-        I read the following in “Rizospastis”: The day when the government begins the discussion with the “institutions” (Troika) about the new attack against working and trade union rights, SYRIZA and ND choose to squabble about their favourites and also about the misleading issue of corruption in order to hide their convergence on the antiworker measures. Is corruption a misleading issue? Can you explain this? Doesn't this issue objectively exist in our lives?


-        The issue of corruption always exists in our lives, exists in this system, exists in the state. Our evaluation is that it is the state which has decayed, that the political system has been corrupted more generally. Therefore, it is a real issue, but it is utilized every time when the parties which are in power, the government and the respective official opposition, and want to confront each other around such issues in order to hide the big problem, the “forest”- the peoples' problems, the antiworker and antipeople measures that they are discussing in this period with their partners (Troika)- because they aren't the partners of the Greek people- the creditors in order to bring new measures, possibly a new memorandum as well.


This is the essence of the whole confrontation. Because, from now on, in this system, with these measures, with these governments, with those who have the power, neither corruption will be confronted, nor the problems solved. We saw it also regarding  the TV license issue, we saw it with the successive laws they have passed which, regarding the supposed offensive against corruption, or, for example, the issue of transparency, ended in total failure, both those of the previous (governments) and the present one.


Let me tell you this simply: The representatives of ND and PASOK are servants of some interests, owners of TV channels I mean, and the current governmental majority of SYRIZA-ANEL is servant of some other owners and interests.


-        Let us say something on that point which is interesting regarding the critique that is directed towards the KKE about its tactics. In completely good faith, some people ask and say, at this conjuncture that Tsipras has chosen to collide with specific interests, with major interests, as you say the swords and knives that have come out from the sheaths are big...


-        I didn't say that he has decided to collide. I said that he has decided to serve some other interests.


-        Yes, but the knives have come out. Therefore, at this conjuncture some evaluate that the stance that the KKE follows, to lump them all in together, is a tactic that helps ND. That, your ideological position “the liars who applied these,  he told us one thing and  did another etc.” becomes dominant, as if, they say, you are interested in the application of SYRIZA's promises.... and within this context they say that the KKE is trapped and follows the same rhetoric, i.e. that the opposition approach of ND becomes the hegemonic direction.


-        This supposed argument is well-known, it comes from the very past and we believe that our people have gained significant enough experience. It is the same line that PASOK used in the past, when it was in the opposition, when it was the “light and darkness” division, when it wasn't in governmental coalition with ND, where PASOK then, with G.Papandreou and others before him, was saying that the KKE plays the role of ND. It is the same old story. When a party becomes a government, it later argues that KKE or the opposition agrees with some other party, simple as that. It is the other side of the same coin. The argument that you say, that “by criticizing SYRIZA, the KKE supports ND”, exists, which is ridiculous, because the KKE fought against ND steadfastly, as it does now. As you have seen, we talk about bipolarity, criticizing both respectively, because they follow the same direction.


-        Naturally, KKE will criticize, this is obvious, it has a different ideological starting point and defends specific interests. What I ask is different. They argue that through this way, the right-wing view becomes a hegemonic ideology which talks about the rationalization of the state, that it can become better, that the bad people should leave and the better ones should come. Thus, they change the political agenda at the core of politics.


-        This doesn't have anything to do with KKE, but with criticism we also  direct towards ND. Rationalization of the state and productive reconstruction, with the same owners and the same people who have the power, cannot be done. A substantial change in the political system and a reform of the state, through partial measures, like the current government does or as ND says that will do, cannot be done. The notion that must prevail in the Greek people, in the movement, but also in the very consciousness of the workers is that all these things require a fundamental overthrow, they need radical changes, actual revolutionary changes, but not in words. Such revolutions and overthrows in words, we had before the elections like those of Mr.Tsipras and SYRIZA and Mr.Kammenos and ANEL, even before them we had G.Papandreou of PASOK, others in ND etc. Everyone talks about revolution in society, for fundamental radical changes of the state. What needs here is another programme, another perspective, there is a need for another course to be charted, not in an improvised way, but with a plan.


The KKE has such a plan and proposes it to the Greek people. They say “it seems difficult”. But why, is it easy to live as we do now? So many measures have come, memorandums, a 4th memorandum is being prepared now, new measures are coming, the people are bleeding daily from these, from the taxation, the incomes of every Greek worker have been decreased, the farmers also suffer and are being driven off their land. We cannot always invoke some difficulties, or that the political proposal of a party is difficult and another one is easy. Such easiness is known to us too. You don't have to be particularly intelligent in order to practice the easiness of mockery and lies. As, for example, the governmental parties did, which rule today and which in past received 4% of the vote-they fooled the Greek people with revolutionary slogans and we have seen what they have done. We warned the people then. Therefore, this isn't enough, the peoples' consciousness must work towards this direction and the workers must struggle around these issues.


Recently, I am hearing various things, from circles of the Church as well as from political persons, leaders, etc, that “we must find consensus, we must reach out with our hands”. But, of course, the KKE extends its hand to the worker, the farmer, the self-employed, the popular family, to the people who suffer and all together must be united, but this needs a raised fist, because the fist symbolizes the struggle,  the demands. Without struggles and demands, nothing can be achieved. You can't say “let us all agree and we will all be fine”. This is preaching from the pulpit and when this is said by political persons or people who have prestige within Greek society, it becomes dangerous. They actually act, without perhaps realizing it themselves, against what we call resistance, struggle, fight for radical changes.


-        Mr.Koutsoumpas, the trailer of our interview was playing for a whole week. Yesterday, at the cafe, someone told me, in good faith, to ask you a question: “I believe in the overthrow that the KKE talks about, but until it comes, in the Armageddon that we live now- while others come and talk about the 'under-minimum salary'- why doesn't the KKE lend a hand until the revolution comes?


-        Not only do we lend a hand, but also legs and arms. You know, a few days ago, to answer your friend, a major mobilization-demonstration took place, which came about from work in the workplaces, in the unions. Over 500 trade union organizations, primary and secondary level unions, federations and labour centers created a draft law, which they discussed with the workers themselves, and which refers to the needs of today, to the Collective Labour Agreements, not to the total overthrow of the system and Socialism. Of course, , the trade unions and everyone, must work in this direction, but this specific draft law referred  to the Collective Labour Agreements, to the minimum wage, to a number of labour rights that have been taken away (…). This draft law was submitted to all the political parties in Parliament, as well as to our party. However, the KKE was the only party which submitted this draft law in order to become a decision of Parliament. The other parties and the government turned their backs on it.


Therefore, why are you saying that we don't fight concerning the everyday issues or today's problems. The current problems and the struggle in relation to them paves the way for the struggle about tomorrow, when you combine them and when you don't lie to  the Greek people that you supposedly can manage, from a governmental or oppositional position, an unacceptable, rotten situation which makes our people suffer...


-        There is much talk about social democracy, about the need for social democracy, perhaps a turn of a Left to approach social democracy, whether or not and to what extent SYRIZA moves in  this direction or not...


-        In any case, the so-called “left” of SYRIZA, here in Greece, not only moves in this direction but, in our opinion, it has already crystallized as a social democratic party, a clearly bourgeois party. It takes more and more, if not completely, the position of PASOK and moves, driven by the decisions of its recent congress, to occupy the whole space of the center-left; this creates difficulties for other parties of the opposition, such as PASOK, Potami, Centre Union which are moving in this center-left space. Because SYRIZA occupies this space and this is what it intends to do. I don't know if it will succeed (to occupy the whole center-left space). In the end, that will depend on many other factors and parameters, but it moves in this direction and this has crystallized (as is perfectly clear).


Besides, it is no coincidence that (SYRIZA) more and more often participates in meetings and caucuses of Socialists in Europe, of European social democracy, has close ties with Hollande and others who also apply respective antipeople-antiworker policies in their countries, even without memorandums. It is the same direction of the EU and the Quartet. And from this point of view, SYRZA and Mr. Tsipras personally are moving rapidly towards this direction.


However, the people have experienced these policies, they are the same policies which in the past led PASOK to form a coalition with ND, to a continuous change of positions and to a collapse, which SYRIZA will obviously follow in the next period.


-        Do you think that such a possibility exists? I mean, in order to overcome the national problems, as they call them, that the two big parties can form a coalition? Do you see this as a possibility?


-        At some point in the future, of course. Currently, it doesn't seem realistic. But, a part of ND can very well, we believe- I imagine there are discussions, both covert and more open, I don't know, but this seems to be the case if you examine the political scene and the actions of the Prime Minister and the government – approach not only sections of the old PASOK (although most of it has joined SYRIZA) but also other forces which are in the center-Right political space. […]


Look, the loss of SYRIZA's forces can been seen inside the trade unions, associations, in the workplaces, in the elections in trade unions, in the struggles, the neighborhoods, where a large amount of resentment has developed over the last year, as a result of SYRIZA's governmental policies; this discontent isn't being reaped by ND. That can be seen also in opinion polls.


-        Does this resentment go somewhere?


-        There is a large mass of people who are currently worried, thinking, discontent with the policies of SYRIZA and, at the same time, they are unhappy because they have experienced the policies of ND and they don't want to go back neither to ND or to PASOK which they have also experienced for many years; these people are worried, indignant, participate in the struggles.


That is expressed in the elections in the trade unions of the private and public sectors. The forces which KKE supports are the second largest with votes of over 20% within the broader trade union movement, in the associations of women, the youth, in the students unions and school-student councils- for younger ages, as the school-students of the two last high school classes will now vote under the new law- and of course (KKE has) a large influence amongst farmers. To these people, who are more than 20%, the ones we meet in the struggles, the ones who in the past voted SYRIZA, PASOK and others possibly ND or other smaller parties as a gesture of dissatisfaction, we say to them to join with the KKE, despite their reservations. Because, it is the only proposal which can provide a way out for today but also to pave the way for a better future. And this proposal must be strengthened everywhere and within the movement, but also whenever elections take place, either national elections, local ones or Europarliamentary elections.