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SPEECH OF THE GS OF THE CC OF THE KKE, DIMITRIS KOUTSOUMBAS, AT THE 47th FESTIVAL OF KNE–ODIGITIS
We are all here! We are all present! The KKE and KNE are here! We are here, determined to “make the sun turn round”. To turn into action “the dream of all those ravenous and aggrieved”. For “all the people’s bread, light, and singing”! (Note: The above phrases in italics are references to poems written by Odysseas Elytis and Yiannis Ritsos, which were set to music by the recently deceased composer Mikis Theodorakis)
The great success of this year’s festival fills us with joy and optimism. It is a true message of militant uplift, of more people joining forces with the KKE.
During these hard times we are living, it is no small thing that such an event exists; that it not only stands the test of time but also gets stronger, better, renewed; that it embraces more and more young people.
Many in the past rushed to talk about the end of ideology, even the end of history. We have recently heard all these claims on the occasion of the death of the great Mikis Theodorakis.
All of us who are here today prove them wrong in a resounding way; under these banners and slogans, with the songs of Mikis and the verses of Ritsos and all the other great poets that will soon fill this place. Of course, they are also proven wrong by the very contradictions of their system.
By the fact that it fails systematically to give hope to young people, to respond to their ever-increasing needs. On the contrary, it leads them from one disappointment to another; it makes them feel that they are wasting their years, without achieving what they wanted.
It could not happen any other way, since the widening of the gap between how most of us are living and how we should be living based on the contemporary possibilities is a precondition for the accumulation of enormous wealth in the hands of a few shareholders of business groups.
For that reason, they are forced to convince the young people to compromise with less, to share the same goals with their exploiters, and to look for someone that will manage this barbarity in a better way, either from the right or the left-wing.
Even though it seems that they have achieved this goal for now, it is impossible to continue achieving it all the time. After all, the mass participation in this year’s Festival shows exactly that there is an important and increasing number of vanguard young people in Greece who “don’t take comfort in less sky”, who question and seek, who were not convinced so easily by the plan presented by Mr. Mitsotakis a few days ago in the Thessaloniki International Fair. [Note: The phrase in italics refers to the poem “Romiosyni” by the communist poet Yiannis Ritsos, which was set to music by Mikis Theodorakis]
This plan can be summarised as “all for the few rich, and if there are any leftovers, we will see about the rest...”. However, today young people are more suspicious of the traps set again by those who promise that they have the magic potion to make this barbarous system a little fairer.
Over the previous period, those young people met with the activity and positions of the KKE. They took a deep breath, assessed or at least reflected upon the fact that we did not adapt our stance because of the unprecedented —for a young person— circumstances, while everyone else was proposing as only solution to trust the bourgeois state.
For the stepwise strengthening of a movement that will be organised in the workplaces, in places of education, and neighbourhoods but will also set more cohesive goals and will acquire nationwide characteristics and coordination. And such a movement can be only guaranteed by the KKE, as its mind, heart, and organiser. We promise that we will give our best for this cause.
We also tell them that it is high time for the young people to dare! To dare to question the bourgeois state, the system, and the political parties that serve it even more.
To dare to think out of the existing box; to perceive things and the world in its movement and not in this relative and superficial stagnancy.
To dare to think how we could and should live in the 21st century and who is to blame for all that not happening.
To dare to leave their doubts, prejudices and hesitations behind. To join the ranks of KNE, the organisation that stands and fights for the most groundbreaking and daring conception the human mind has ever perceived.
This year’s Festival events, like all previous years, gave voice and promoted the struggles of the people and the youth, in which the Party and KNE members have stood consistently and selflessly at the forefront.
In the struggles for the protection of natural resources, people's property, and human lives that were threatened by the destructive wildfires; above all, for the protection from the incendiary policy followed by the current government of ND as well.
In the struggles for the protection of health and life, against the anti-people policy of managing the pandemic; a policy that, under the pretext of the necessary vaccination, inflicts a new blow on the public health system and those who work there, and feeds irrational and obscurantist theories, which are very convenient for the system.
In the struggles for the protection of the workers’ and people’s rights’ from measures introduced by the government during summer, such as the Hatzidakis’ Laws (Note: Minister of Labour), aiming at the abolition of the 8-hour day, the ban on strikes and trade-union activity, as well as the privatisation of supplementary insurance.
In the struggle for the education of our children, who are facing a harsher, classist, and multi-speed school, since thousands of young people were left outside the universities due to the Minimum Admission Score.
A particular slogan emerged from these and in many other struggles: “Only the people can save the people”! This slogan is more than a simple call to arms against the anti-people policy.
It is something more than a simple call to the people’s organisation and self-organisation, such as in the case of the recent wildfires in Evia and elsewhere, with the moving effort of the people trying to save their property, since the bourgeois state was unable to save them.
This slogan targets the very heart of the issue.
It calls upon the people to take matters into their own hands; to show no trust to the bourgeois state and its governments, which initially present themselves as saviours and end up as arsonists of the people’s interests.
The bourgeois state which appears to be exposed, useless, and unwieldy when it comes to protecting the people from natural disasters, it is the same one that, right after those disasters, rapidly promotes the plans of the so-called restructuring, along with the vultures of the so-called Green Growth that anticipate new huge profits from the Green investments —even though in reality these investments are as black as coal.
It is the very same bourgeois state that cannot provide ICUs, Hospitals, and Health Centers; substantive information on the vaccination programme; extra classrooms, cleaning staff, and health personnel in schools and universities. Nevertheless, it is the same bourgeois state that generously compensates the owners of private clinics and other health entrepreneurs, since —as all other parties say— the public health sector has to co-exist with the private one.
It is the very same bourgeois state that allocates only €1.7 million per year for the needs of the country’s forestry agencies and the crucial sector of forest fire prevention, while it does not employ even one forest worker for the forests of Attica and other regions. At the same time, it allocates €4 billion for the needs of NATO and millions of euros to save giant companies, whilst the ship-owners are entitled to voluntary taxation.
It it the very same bourgeois state that, at every possible opportunity, strikes down the people’s wages and income, skyrockets extortionate taxes, but gives up when it comes to high prices and product price-gouging, since the laws of free economy and market prevail there, i.e. the profitability of the capital.
There are countless examples showing that the state is not neutral. It is not a structure that stands above all social classes and interests and operates for the benefit of all, where the people only have to choose once every 4 years the most suitable manager of this structure.
The bourgeois state is nothing more than a mechanism of oppression, repression, and exploitation; a mechanism for the perpetuation of injustice.
This is the state of the industrialists, the bankers, and the ship-owners, a state that waves the flag of individual responsibility in order to hide its true character, which is hostile to the people’s needs.
The protection from the pandemic and the wildfires becomes individual responsibility. The education of young people, depending on their parent’s pockets becomes individual responsibility. Employment becomes individual responsibility, since the worker will supposedly freely choose to work 10 hours or 12 hours. Social security becomes individual responsibility, since under the law on the privatisation of supplementary insurance, the insured person becomes an investor that will gamble the fruit of a lifetime’s work at the stock exchange, and the amount of their pension — if at all— will be determined thereof.
It is this state, this economic system, this social organisation that the people must confront and struggle against, if they want to save themselves and their children.
And this is not just the crystallisation of the experience gained from the recent developments, but rather a timeless historic lesson.
A lesson gained from the most intense moments of the people’s struggle in our country, from the greatest “storms in heavens” such as the Paris Commune and victories like the one won in October in Russia. The wheel of history turned only when the working class and the people demanded the full satisfaction of their needs, when they believed in their strength and took their destiny in their own hands.
The people can save the people only when they decide to follow the path of the revolutionary overthrow and take hold of power to steer their own course. This conclusion is of particular importance today.
Today, a series of tremendous events such as the outbreak and the management of the pandemic, the acute imperialist competition, the threat of war and the mass refugee flows, and the environmental destruction, bring us face to face with big questions demanding real answers.
Nowadays, in the age of digital economy and the 4th industrial revolution, when there is a huge scientific, technological, and productive potential to live much better...
...Why should we stand by and watch hard-worn achievements, such as the 8-hour working day, be taken back, when we could be working fewer hours, enjoying a better quality of life, free and high-quality healthcare services, education, and culture?
...Why should we let various sectors of the economy, even whole areas with huge potential, go to waste and be destroyed just because they do not fit into the outward-oriented model of production and the “monoculture” of tourism?
In a few words, what is it that stands in the way of the people’s prosperity, what is it that makes the wheel of history turn backwards instead of turning forward?
Whichever way we look at it, we can see who are the ones who sacrifice our needs for the sake of capitalist profit and how they do it.
Today, our experience is even richer:
From the vicious circle of the alteration between economic growth and crisis, which is always paid for by the workers and the popular strata with new sacrifices; from the pandemic with millions of dead people, with dismantled health systems, with treatments and vaccines being subjected to competition and profitability; from the lack of fire, flood, and earthquake protection measures, as the priorities of the capital and the bourgeois state consider such projects to be redundant. All of the above, along with many other issues, lead today’s society and economy to operate based on the interests of the business groups, shattering the great potential of the current era, of science and technology and, above all, their utilisation for the benefit of the people.
All kinds of governments that have come to power at least over the past twenty years have served these exact interests: One-party and coalition governments, centre-right and centre-left ones, right-wing and so-called left-wing ones, governments with prime ministers and ministers that were technocrats and experts.
They have all been tested and the conclusion is that each new government took on the mantle and continued from where the previous ones stopped.
After each government’s turn in office, the vast majority of the people ended up with fewer rights and more burdens on their shoulders. The governments may change; however those who are in power, make decisions, and appropriate the wealth that the workers produce do not.
Today, all those responsible for the current impasses are promising again better days ahead.
- They advocate the transition to a fairer and more environmentally friendly green capitalism.
- They talk about new social contracts, a new social agreement, a Green New Deal.
- They wave the flag of the new EU sacred cow, i.e. the Recovery Fund, which will allegedly bring investments, money, and great job opportunities for the people.
These are stated by all parties, even with different hues and variations. Once again, they are trying to deceive us.
We are especially addressing the youth, who are justifiably distressed and worried about the destruction of the environment.
The environment cannot be protected by the governments who are responsible for the destruction of millions of acres of forest land over the years; who, one after another, have dismantled the environmental legislation to make fast track investments.
It is not possible for the EU to be the protector and saviour of the environment, while its basic policy is the “polluter pays” principle, which means that multinationals can easily pollute, as long as they cover their crimes with a few euros more on the world climate stock exchange.
There is more to this than meets the eye.
That is why we see huge productive potential being depreciated in the country, which could support another path of development for the benefit of the people.
Hence, the Development Fund packages will be directed to these businesses and the people will pay for them dearly, not only through heavy taxes or anti-labour and anti-people measures, which are prerequisites for the payments from the recovery fund and are being passed in bulk in Parliament.
They will pay for them in many other forms as well:
They will pay for them in the form of more expensive electricity, with the tariffs already on fire —since that is where the dependence on the fluctuations in the world market and the liberalisation of the energy market lead to, as the KKE predicted, and not to cheaper electricity, as the supporters of this policy were misleading us about for years.
They will pay for them in the form of higher prices for products and goods that will be produced with more expensive electricity and in the form of energy poverty that in the future will affect even more households.
They will pay for them in the form of new great risks as well, since the new markets, in the framework of today's fierce competition, are secured above all with new wars, new interventions, new aggressive imperialist plans, in which our country, under the responsibility of all governments, participates actively and in fact assumes the role of the henchman for the US and NATO.
This is what all Greek governments have been doing for twenty years now with the imperialist intervention in Afghanistan and other countries. And now the same parties, the New Democracy, SYRIZA, and KINAL, try play the innocent when talking about the allegedly “failure of the West to restore democracy”.
The new plans to engage in the US–NATO imperialist plans, in the region and beyond, are already here and have their mark on them. All the agreements with the USA on the military bases, turning thus our country even more into a magnet for danger, have their mark on them. All the huge armament programmes that have nothing to do with the country's defence have their mark on them.
The participation in NATO’s missions and exercises, the plans to encircle Russia and China, the delivery of military supplies to Saudi Arabia, the multiform collaborations with Israel, e.g. the state–murderer of the Palestinian people, as well as the inhuman agreements on addressing the refugees issue generated by this policy have their mark on them.
This is the reason why each and every one of them takes the credit by the US ambassador to Greece. They try to justify to the people all these crimes in the name of peace and security, as well as the protection of the sovereign rights of the country from Turkish aggression, which will be allegedly safeguarded by our powerful allies.
This is smoke and mirrors. It is the other side of the bargaining settlements in the Aegean Sea and the Cyprus issue with NATO’s seal.
The causes that feed the competition between the bourgeoisie of Greece and Turkey not only are not confronted, but on the contrary, they deepen, in a global setting of sharpening competition and realignments, like the recent AUKUS agreement among the USA, the UK, and Australia.
The recent developments in Afghanistan reveal how the USA, NATO, and the EU behave towards their allies.
Therefore, when the Greek parties of the Euro-Atlantic axis speak again about our “devilishly good” and “powerful allies”, who allegedly defend “our national interests”, let us bring to mind the image of Kabul airport. It is definitely educational!
Dear friends and comrades,
There is no room for any more lost time. There have been many times when the myths, the deceits, and the illusions appeared extremely appealing, advocating that it is possible for the capital’s interests to match those of the people.
There is no room for any more illusions.
The government programme of Mitsotakis’ government, just like that of the previous ones, as well as the programme of all bourgeois parties, is already written. It is written based on the anti-popular commitments of the Recovery Fund, which is the EU’s new super-memorandum at the expense of the peoples.
It is written based on the goal for the geostrategic enhancement of the country, which marks the involvement of Greece to the dangerous US–NATO plans and competition.
On the one hand, ND promotes this programme using the “stick” and a firm hand, while putting a little dose of the “carrot” sometimes. On the other hand, SYRIZA is using mostly the “carrot” and deception by fostering new illusions, even though it did not lose the chance to use the stick of repression at times while in government.
It is no coincidence that they even brought back the bankrupt slogan “Europe is changing”, connecting it with the possible win of the most “sinful” party of the European social democracy in Germany.
SYRIZA even reached the point of glorifying the US President Biden and presenting his election as a hope for the peoples and movements. However, we do not forget that he is the same person who imposes the most devastating blockade against Cuba, following Trump’s pattern.
For this reason, everyone here in Greece shouts out loud “I am Cuban”. We express our full solidarity with Cuba, “hasta la victoria siempre!”.
It is vast hypocrisy for the other parties of the opposition to protest and speak out against the anti-popular laws of the government, while accepting the strategic framework on which they are based, having voted more than half of these laws.
Therefore, when SYRIZA claims that now it will be able to implement “its programme without any obstacles” because allegedly it “will be not constrained by the memoranda”, it is essentially fooling the people.
There is no bigger lie than this one, considering that it is bound by the ultimate memorandum, that is, the EU strategy. It is the same all story once again, under a new disguise.
What were they alleging in 2012–2015? That there can be loan agreements without memoranda and anti-people measures. What are they alleging now? That there can be a good Recovery Fund, with loans included, but without anti-people prerequisites. In other words, just another deception.
This joint strategy, despite any individual differences, is what allows political cadres to switch parties that easily.
This joint strategy, for example, allowed Mr. Mitsotakis on the one hand to appoint right-wing ministers and on the other hand to be discussing with former SYRIZA ministers during the recent reshuffle, regardless of the fact that they failed to reach an agreement.
This is the appalling mixture of the bourgeois political system that may take on different forms, however is always determined by the oligarchy of wealth.
That is why no one should be deceived by their conflicts and their effort to appear as if their gaps cannot be bridged and strengthening false dilemmas in order to entrap the people. They fight each other today just as easily they will jointly vote for anti-people laws tomorrow.
The people should reject the false dilemma between “Mitsotakis or chaos” posed by the ND and “progressive governance or Mitsotakis” posed by SYRIZA.
It has been proven that no government can escape the framework defined by the competitiveness of capitalist economy, the EU strategy, and the power of capital.
The myth of the so-called “progressive governance” has failed all over Europe and Greece.
Dear comrades and friends,
The attack against us is not going to stop, unless we stop it and organise our counter-attack. This is where the progressive way-out lies.
We are calling on you to join us in this great initiative to pave the way for a truly hopeful way-out.
The KKE takes the lead and strives with all its might so that the people organise their counter-attack and the workers define the developments at their advantage; so that we organise our struggle to resolve our problems, bring our needs to the forefront, and confront all those responsible for the current situation, i.e. the power of capital and its allies, EU and NATO.
We wage this struggle with invaluable assets in our hands, which have not been utilised yet.
The organisation and regroupment of the labour movement is such an asset. The organisation in workplaces, places of education, and working class neighbourhoods. All our efforts will have a better starting point, if we succeed in strengthening the trade unions, the unions of the urban and rural self-employed, of the toiling farmers, the women’s associations, the mass organisations of the youth in schools, universities, and vocational schools.
Social alliance is also a valuable asset, as there is one common enemy, i.e. the big capital and its power, its governments and parties. In opposition to fragmentation and the “every man for himself” rationale, we must put forward the joint demands, the unity and joint struggle of all the working people:
- To secure a decent workers–people’s income.
- To abolish all kinds of anti-popular taxes.
- To abolish the whole anti-labour framework, to block the implementation of the Hatzidakis Law and all the other laws that shape the jungle of labour relations existing today.
- To make the few and big ones pay, and not the lifelong beast of burden, i.e. the people.
- To place the struggle against the attack on social security rights, the seizures, and the class barriers in education in the front line of people’s demands. To defend people’s freedoms against state repression and prohibitions. To defend the people’s health and well-being. To demand substantial relief measures for the self-employed and poor farmers.
- To struggle for the disentanglement of our country from the dangerous NATO, US, and EU plans; for the closure of all foreign military bases in Greece; for the disengagement from all these organisations with the people in power; against imperialist wars, the plans intending to change international agreements and borders, the negotiations on the co-exploitation of the Aegean Sea under EU–NATO surveillance.
Solidarity is an asset as well. The recent experience from the regions affected by wildfires, the constant effort of trade unions and mass youth organisations to support in practice those affected, and the examples from workplaces where employers’ actions are blocked by dozens of workers who turn the dismissal of a colleague into a personal matter can contribute to the formation of a militant uplift, where the slogan “all for one and one for all” takes on a true meaning.
A recent typical example is that of the “e-food” workers (Note: food delivery chain), who forced the employers to retract their decision under their militant mobilisations that took place this week. They deserve our solidarity and rousing ovation.
Through our daily struggles, we can form a coordinated movement of the working class and its allies at a nationwide level. The great power of people’s initiative can and must rise against the strong and cunning — though not powerful— opponent.
Rest assured that no anti-labour measure and law among the ones shaping today’s slave-like conditions will be abolished, unless the workers’–people’s movement breathes down the exploiters and their governments’ neck, unless the workers’–people’s struggle annuls those laws.
The policy of the bourgeois parties shows not only their strength, but also their fear. They serve a class that is well aware that the wheel of class struggle cannot stop.
They fear so much, that they even got to the point of wasting their valuable time in their Media to turn a young woman’s choice to wear a T-shirt with the hammer and sickle into a major political issue, precisely because the wishes of the youth from all over the world coincided with her stance. (Note: He is referring to a young model–TV presenter of Ukrainian descent who shared a photo on her social media wearing a T-shirt with the CCCP logo, causing anti-communist reactions.)
This shows how much they fear socialism, the red flag, the hammer and sickle.
And this is the most valuable asset that can give impetus and prospect to the daily struggle.
Socialism is the true progress, the society in which the workers no longer stand on the sidelines of political life but instead actively participate in the decision-making, as well as the implementation and monitoring of those decisions, because power is in their hands.
Social ownership is what is truly new, for the economy to stop operating based on capitalist profit. On this breeding ground, the central planning of production can set and achieve scientifically-determined social goals in agricultural and industrial production, in social services. The KKE is the only party that highlights with its Programme that this path can and must be opened.
The KKE has a plan for today and tomorrow, a contemporary programme that highlights the way-out, the potential of socialism and of the socialist construction in Greece.
Dear friends and comrades,
30 years ago, when everyone —rightists, neo-liberals, social-democrats and repentant leftists— were burning with rage, claiming that “there is no other alternative” besides the decayed capitalist system, the KKE stably held the red banner!
It kept standing, because it remained faithful to “what truly matters”, as the great Mikis Theodorakis reminded us of in his last personal letter. Both what truly matters in our historic course and all of our achievements during those 30 years keep hope alive and inspire the everyday struggle today.
All those years:
We have defended the socialist construction in the 20th century without oscillations or idealisations, against anti-communism of any kind.
We have examined the historical course of the International Communist movement and the KKE as an integral part of it, on a critical and scientific basis. We have elaborated and developed a contemporary, revolutionary programme. We have revealed to the people the truth about the EU, the steel bars of the peoples of Europe, when everybody else was deeming it a one-way street and a safe shelter.
We have struggled against imperialist wars and the NATO, US, and EU interventions, against the participation of Greece in these plans, which turn our country against other peoples.
We were based on our programme; we did not betray the working class and the people, when all the mechanisms of the system were attempting to drag at any cost the KKE to a government of capitalist management, which is completely hostile to the people.
We did not negotiate with the exploiters and the looters. We did not sign any kind of “social contracts”, which are nothing more than the code name of class reconciliation, that is, the submission of the many to the few.
We did not build refugee concentration camps like the Moria camp on the island of Lesvos, as others did, but we organised the expression of solidarity with the refugees.
We did not describe any vulture, whether it be Trump or Biden, as “devilishly good”, but we continued to stand by the side of the peoples who are struggling and resisting.
We are proud of our choices, which today can be understood by many more workers’–people’s forces.
They were choices that enabled the labour movement, the people, and the new generation to continue breathing.
Thanks to this stance during all those years, our Party has been able to be the mind and the heart, the trailblazer of every battle; it has been able to repel and delay anti-people measures, to conquer even the slightest win.
At the same time, we are well aware that in the current system there can be some wins; however, as long as the way to a radical overthrow is not opened, there can be no permanent and secure gains.
Our Party continues to cause fissures in the rotten exploitative system. During the difficult times of the pandemic, we did not feel pity for ourselves but we raised our voices in a strong and united manner. The pandemic may have left and continues to leave a tragic mark but it also has revealed who has the real value, the real power. Who is necessary and invaluable and who is unnecessary and harmful for society.
For the first time in history, those who move the world were applauded, even without all of us entirely realizing it: Doctors and nurses in public health facilities, supermarket workers, workers at food and beverage delivery services, workers in power generation and distribution, workers in telecommunication sector, postmen and couriers, all the workers.
They are the ones who keep societies standing and alive. When they stop, everything stops, the cities become immobilised! We saw it with our very own eyes.
We saw that the slogan we have been shouting for years at our rallies is true: “Worker, without you no cog can turn; you can do without the bosses”!
So, this is what truly matters. Among the challenges we face and the impasses we experience, let us all make another assessment. Beyond details, beyond individual differences and concerns that can be resolved in life and in struggle, we should keep what truly matters.
And make the decision to join forces with the KKE, to put into practice the slogan of the 47th Festival of KNE–Odigitis:
“To live, to dare, to forge ahead - For the society of true freedom, socialism.”
We wish you strength and health!