The Morning Star on the 17/1 featured an article on the developments in Greece and the prospects regarding the election of a SYRIZA government (“Athens stands on the verge of its liberation” by Kevin Ovenden). The writer paints a picture of the situation in Greece today that has nothing to do with the reality and misleads the paper’s readers. Specifically, he states that SYRIZA belongs to the “Radical Left” and that the impending election of a SYRIZA government marks a rupture with the European establishment. Indeed, he attempts to depict SYRIZA as the historic continuation of the titanic struggles of the communist movement in Greece in the 20th century. This is an anti-historical approach and although an analysis of these issues is beyond the scope of our article, we would merely like to note that EAM, ELAS and the DSE came into fierce confrontations with the fascist occupier, US and British imperialism and the class enemy in Greece, paying the price with thousands of dead, years of persecution, torture and exile and in contrast to all this, the President and leading officials of SYRIZA are feted in the mansions of the plutocracy, the IMF, in Texas, in the Bilderberg Group of Italy’s (Ambrosetti Forum) meeting in Lake Como, in the City of London and provide assurances and loudly declare that our country’s membership of the EU and NATO is not disputed.
The crux of the matter is that we must not restrict ourselves to the title of a party and how it describes itself–“leftwing”, “anti-austerity”- when we want to examine its character. We must go deeper and identify the programmatic-strategic direction and examine how it acts so we can arrive at the truth.
And the reality is that SYRIZA accepts the strategy of the EU and capitalism. It has emerged as the new social-democratic party in the place of PASOK. It has become the new pole in the two-pole system of the bourgeois political system. And this can be demonstrated on the basis of a plethora of concrete evidence, some of which we will present below.
Of course, this does not mean that the two parties (ND-SYRIZA) do not have differences. It is simply that their differences express existing differences inside the Eurozone countries and amongst sections of the financial groups, bourgeois class and businessmen. The one view, which is at the moment the prevalent one in the Commission, the EU and Germany talks about a “restrictive” political line, the continuation of the austerity measures, so that each country can move out of the crisis phase and so that the Eurozone as a whole does not further slide into crisis. There is also another view that talks about an “expansive” political line, as the IMF and Draghi from the ECB do. They say that ready money must be provided to the businessmen in order for the capitalist economies to start to develop again. This is the essence of the debate and it has nothing to do with the interests of the working class and popular strata. Its lack of strategic differences with ND stems from this and is expressed, in any case, by the composition of its electoral lists that include many “pro-memorandum” figures from PASOK and other parties. We will mention only a few characteristic examples- Professor Konstantinos Tsoukalas, PASOK’s main theoretician from the Simitis era, Theodora Tzakri, a former PASOK minister who voted for all 3 memoranda, Nikos Toskas, the then PASOK Defense Ministers’ chief of staff in the period 2009-2011…
SYRIZA has abandoned its radical demagogy, especially in relation to the EU and Greece’s membership in this imperialist inter-state union. Its President, A. Tsipras, has made it clear in repeated statements that a SYRIZA government will remain inside this anti-popular edifice – “Greece has some institutional obligations as an equal member of the EU, our obligations are to achieve the fiscal goals (…) We have an institutional obligation to have balanced budgets (…) we must observe the founding treaties of the EU, this is an absolute obligation.” No comment is required, but we should bear in mind that these institutional obligations are also related to pensions, healthcare, education, foreign policy, immigration etc.
A. Tsipras is very clear on the issue of Greece’s membership of NATO: “Our country is committed to the institutional framework and agreements in relation to NATO.” Consequently, a SYRIZA government will continue to provide NATO with Greek airspace and waters, infrastructure and the Suda base so that it can butcher the peoples. A SYRIZA government will continue to provide frigates for the NATO missions in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere. Our country will continue to be entangled in the imperialist plans in a region full war flashpoints and tensions (the Aegean, Cyprus…). These issues must be a serious criterion, not only in Greece, but for every worker who fights against imperialism, for every internationalist across the entire world.
Some say that we are hasty to judge, that we should wait and see how they will operate. But SYRIZA is not an untried and untested political force. It supported the Maastricht Treaty (the memorandum of all memoranda), Greece’s accession to the Single Currency etc. In local government, it supported the reactionary changes in labour relations and the hiving off of municipal services to NGOs-all this as far back as the 1990s. But let us look at two examples from the more recent past. Rena Dourou, SYRIZA’s candidate for the prefecture of Attica stated in advance of the local elections that she would abolish the memorandum in the region if elected. But after the elections, as the new prefect, she voted for, together with the other EU-supporting parties, and implemented the budget that had been drafted by the former prefect, Sgouros, a “pro-memorandum” figure from PASOK. We are talking about a budget that provides tens of millions of euros to business interests and crumbs to projects that are related to the people’s living conditions e.g. anti-flood and anti-earthquake infrastructure. In the municipality of Drapetsona-Keratsini, the municipal leadership of SYRIZA decided to end permanent and stable work with real rights for local government workers and hired 485 workers on two-month contracts, contracts for 135 days work a year, and contracts that provide for only 5 days work a month! This at a time when the communist mayors are waging struggles so that no workers are dismissed, against flexible labour relations for the reduction and abolition of taxes, the abolition of fees for nurseries and for the expansion of municipal services, coming into sharp conflict with the central bourgeois state.
We could also talk about SYRIZA’s stance in the trade union movement. About the fact that over the last two years, it did not try to utilize its increased level of electoral support to develop mobilizations, but that on the contrary it deliberately fostered passivity, the reduction of the workers’ demands. It told the workers to stay at home and wait for a SYRIZA government that would be their alleged “saviour”.
In addition to this, it wages war on the class-oriented movement, PAME. It participates in joint electoral slates with the forces of PASKE (PASOK) and DAKE (ND) against PAME in dozens of trade unions. In the private sector, in unions where it is in the majority, it signs unacceptable agreements, like the agreement signed by the trade union in the Veropoulos supermarket chain that included wage reductions that ranged from 10 to 12%.
There can be no illusions that the so-called “leftwingers” inside SYRIZA will have a positive impact. They are the same people who voted for Maastricht, the accession to the EMU etc. They recently declared that it was an inviolable condition for them that no “pro-memorandum” figures should be on the electoral lists (we saw what happened…). This was then transformed into the demand that there should be no “pro-memorandum” figures as ministers, and they will probably end up saying that there should be no “pro-memorandum” Prime Ministers! In reality, they function as the leftwing alibi of SYRIZA in order to entrap people who have radical views.
The KKE has an approach which is diametrically opposed to this and through important struggles and mass political work it demonstrates to the workers that whatever bourgeois management formula is followed, inside the framework of the EU, NATO and the capitalist development path this will not be to the benefit of the workers and other popular strata. It fights for the emancipation of the working class and the people from social-democracy and opportunism. It struggles to isolate fascism in the popular neighbourhoods and workplaces. It works for the regroupment of the labour movement, and the formation of a people’s alliance against the monopolies, against capitalism. The KKE calls on the workers to support it in the elections so that there can be a strong workers’-people’s opposition inside and outside parliament the day after the elections.
The KKE will not support any government that is bound by the anti-people strategy of the EU and capital. On the contrary, the KKE is ready to play its role in a workers’-people’s government, where the people will be the masters of the economy and control state-power, in a workers’-people’s government that will unilaterally cancel the debt, disengage from all the imperialist organizations, and socialize the monopolies.
(emphases and small corrections to the English translation by Lenin Reloaded)