Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Is the Greek Steelworkers' strike "over"? And for whom?

It might be best to being with a terminological issue, which pertains to the reactions towrds the decision to suspend the strike during the 20th General Convention of the Steelworkers' Union. The word is "suspension", not "termination" of the strike, as has already become the customary moniker, with an automatism that is disturbing. It is "suspension" because the workers' demands have not been met, and hence no "termination" can properly be declared. It is important that class-conscious comrades writing on the issue note the difference between these two words.

It is equally important, and immediately connected to this issue, that comrades continue to show interest in the Greek Steelworks and to inform others about the situation there. Because of course, working-class struggles are not soccer games where two teams meet, arrive at a result, and then hit the showers before they go home. The workers who returned to the factory, in the midst of the police clubs of the Riot Police and the microphones of zombie journalists in the employers' service, have also returned to an environment where harsh and health-treatening labor (see reports on radioactive residue in the Volos plant) is being accompanied by the concerted efforts of employment to move the situation to the next step: the isolation of the workers' leaders from the main body and the dissolution of the Steelworks Union. As long as a class-conscious, combative, non-employer bound Union exists, there also exists a permanent threat for Manesis, who knows far better than most that the fire of the Steelworks is not out yet. And it is perfectly natural for him to do all he can to put that fire out.

Neither for Manesis himself, then, nor for the steelworkers, is the class struggle out because the strike has been suspended. And it would be ethically and politically inadmissible for us to behave towards this struggle like the journalists of the mass media, who pick an issue to get hysterical with one day and forget all about it the next. Hence, we will continue to cover the issue of the Greek Steelworks, always from the standpoint of the labor movement, for as long as the factory continues to produce something more than steel: political education and militant unity for the working class.

As for the permanent victims of spectacle, those who have obviously not understood that the strike was not a soccer match that finishes after 90 minutes or 273 days (and have not grasped the fact that labor struggles are not related to the temporality of media perceptions that have come to inform the pseudo-revolutionary pose "I want a solution and I want it now"), they can continue preoccupying themselves with what the idle do: undertake "analyses" of strategy and tactics on the coffee-shop table, along with drinks and snacks. We will have nothing to do with such an understanding of the ethical and political tasks of supporting the struggles of the working class.

Originally published: Lenin Reloaded, 1 August 2012
Translated by: Lenin Reloaded

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