Thursday, September 17, 2015

Aleka Papariga-On "the unity of the Left" and the KKE alliance politics

Aleka Papariga

From "The Alliance Politics of the KKE and the Critique to 'Left Unity'"
In Contemporary Right-Wing Opportunism, Publication of the CC of the KKE, Synchroni Epohi, Athens 2008.

The purpose of this article is to encode, as much as possible, the objective differences between these two propositions for an alliance [the alliance politics of the KKE and the notion of "Left Unity"]. Alliances, it should be understood, are not based on agreement on terms and slogans or general ideas, but on issues of strategic importance and orientation, on the issue of alternative power.

For the KKE, alliance politics is a permanent, not a conjunctural policy. We struggle to make it materialize, to foreground it and to popularize it, independently of the existence of the subjective preconditions for its materialization at the political level. For the KKE, the creation of an alliance is an issue of struggle, of developments in the correlation of forces, of radical reorderings within political and social consciousness, such that they can bring changes to the composition of the political landscape. Ultimately, the level of the movement will play a determining role in this all-important issue. Of course, we are not simply waiting for possibilities to drop on our hands like overripe fruit. We take initiatives, and first of all we foster dialogue within the people, with radical popular forces, with social agents acting in a positive direction; we follow developments, we try to assist positive trends.

The advancement of the policy of alliance is not exclusively dependent on the volition of the KKE; it also depends on the character and nature of the other political parties and movements. It can't be forced. One of the most important factors that assists the speeding up of alliances of strategic significance proposed by the KKE is the the force and power of the Party, the level of the movement, and above all the state and the role of the worker movement and its degree of politicization.

Alliances formed under the pressure of situations, and having as their basis only a goal of immediate currency, disconnected from prospects, alliances that hide their head in the sand, ignoring basic differences, will have an adverse effect on the movement--the site where what every side says and does is ultimately verified in practice.

I underline this because we have all been witness to SYN [Coalition of the Left and of Progress, Core Group of SYRIZA] demagoguery (particularly prior to elections) as to who is responsible and who is not concerning the fact that there is no alliance with the KKE. SYN is not interested in explaining differences or at least engaging with the arguments of the KKE. Because if it did, then it would become clear that the issue is not whether we need an alliance or not, but what kind of alliance we need. This fact alone suffices to show that SYN's critique of the KKE is not characterized by honesty and reliability. I add that the Congress documents of SYN underline that no collaboration with the KKE is possible -- something forgotten at election time.

SYN's goal in the pre-election period was not collaborating with the KKE but using such collaboration as an electoral card so as to blackmail emotional votes, in order to make it to the Parliament. After all, in the pre-election period, it set as its goal, besides obtaining 3%+ of the vote, to change the correlation of forces, i.e., to be the third ranking party with the KKE as fourth. This goal does not bother us. But the issue is that you can't ask for a collaboration while you pursue the weakening of your ally.

The main opponent of "the unity of the Left" or "antineoliberal unity" is the strategy of the KKE. It would be best for SYN to quit whining about this issue.


The Unity of the Left or Antineoliberal Front

Let us momentarily leave aside the issue of who advocates the Unity of the Left, since there is an issue of reliability, honesty, will and ability to respect agreements. Let us momentarily also leave aside our experience, the suffering we have been through because of the forces constituting SYN in the recent past, during the constitution and brief life of the Coalition of the Left and of Progress, undertaken with the initiative of our Party in 1989. Let us leave aside the tragic experience of the period of 1990-1991, full of events that became publicly known, and which extent up to the present. The principal and basic issue is that, if we look at the present and not the past, the proposal for a Unity of the Left is opposed to the proposal for an Anti-Imperialist, Anti-Monopoly Democratic Front [the KKE precedent to the policy of "Popular Alliance"].

The proposal for alliance (if one were to surmise that it is really addressed at the KKE and is not a propaganda trick] is nothing but a proposal for the management of the existing system, aiming at improving the social face of bourgeois power.

Perhaps the use of the term "unity" is not accidental, since it denotes a single political vehicle, a unitary political formation, which abolishes, by definition, the coexistence of collaboration and autonomy. Our interpretation is reinforced by the fact that SYN's "partners" openly pose the issue of the desirability of the evolution of existing parties to mere "tendencies" within a unitary political vehicle [nb: this formally materialized in 2012].


This discussion is not new. It was there in the period of EDA [United Democratic Left, 1951-1977], which began as a coalition but ended as a unitary Party. It was introduced by the opportunist tendency that argued that the KKE is unnecessary, that it can be replaced by EDA. This ultimately hurt EDA itself, as well as the policy of alliances, in ways that were broad and long-term.

The term "Left" is used basically with political criteria; there is no clear and determinate understanding of its social base, based on the social and class articulation and stratification of Greek society. They are also really fond of speaking of new movements. Things are clear, though this is not always admitted: there is opposition, fear, and even revulsion at everything related to the working class and its vanguard revolutionary role. Throughout Europe, the term "new social movements" is deployed to signify contempt and even active opposition toward the worker movement.

The term "antineoliberal front" is more clear as to its content. The analysis it involves basically points at the way a policy is exercised, the means of managing the economy. It doesn't point at the political -- the capitalist -- system. This is why they come up with demands, struggle goals, with propositions, that ultimately do not express an alternative, but a policy of blunting the most extreme forms of accumulating problems. They objectively buttress the dominant policy. At best, they can be characterized as utopian and groundless. In practice, they come into opposition with popular interests, and thus are truly dangerous as left-wing alibis.

Let me give a characteristic example: they link dealing with unemployment with the increase of investments, the better management of EU aid packages, at most with decreasing labor time which they don't see as a universal right. Neither SYN nor its allies want to see or can see that today, the increase of investments doesn't simply not deal with unemployment but, under conditions of capitalist restructuring, increases it dramatically. Investments, under conditions of free capital movement, free labor markets, services and commodities, conditions of increasing productivity aiming at surplus profit and capitalist competitiveness, have only one result: the destruction of forces of production, particularly of labor forces, and the eclectic development of sectors of the economy and of the service economy that bring maximum profit, while other sectors stagnate or even regress. Though they pretend to be supporters of capitalist unification, they don't consider the fact that investors have no problem locking up profitable enterprises to move them abroad so they can make even bigger profits.

They don't see, either, that the decrease of labor time does not bring an increase of jobs on its own, since the basic laws of the capitalist market and of the specific mode of production are still operative: surplus value, the capitalist use of new technologies, the falling rate of average profit and its consequences in aggressive measures to reduce, as much as possible, the price of labor power and of living labor; the utilization of reserve labor forces to decrease wages and social benefits, to manipulate and buy off the workers.

They also hide or at least cannot see that EU resources are not given to be managed freely by every nation-state, but that what will be invested in is predetermined. Indeed, a large part of EU funds is ultimately returned to the EU, and particularly to the powerful capitalist countries, as they take up the role of furnishing us with raw material, machines and commodities linked to investments in Greece. EU aid packages, for instance, led, among other things, to the increase of the Greek trade deficit for agricultural products.

The issue is not exclusively investments, but who owns the means of production and what purpose development serves. The issue is not exhausted by the increase of GNP, but by who benefits and who loses by such increase.

SYN's mistaken views have led it to a politics of compromise, inevitably at the level of the movement too. Examples and proof abound. They can be found in the fact that SYN agreed to things like the following:

- Flexible labor relations

- The logic wherein the possible is based on competitiveness and the sustainability of a competitive economy

-The coexistence of private business and the state in sectors like health and education, something that effectively voids its alleged positions on public funding, though it sees such funding as crucial for dealing with problems

- Privatizations, including its propaganda in favor of a "smaller state sector"

- The EU Agricultural Policy, including a critique of its revision

- The lack of a policy of defending the self-employed

- Most characteristically, the stance toward PASOK, where the main weight of criticism is that PASOK didn't respond to calls for dialogue and collaboration. At the same time, and despite their complaints about the central policy of PASOK, they did not hesitate to collaborate with it in the Trade Unions, in the self-employed and farmer movements, in Local Administration. This shows adventurism, aimed at gaining positions of power through "blood transfusions", but it also suggests the existence of a choice to create the preconditions for a more general collaboration with Social Democracy. The "Unity of the Left" is the hallway to the collaboration with PASOK, the move from the "small Left" to the "big Left."

Most of the times, SYN does not explain compromise at least as the result of an estimation of the balance of forces, as a maneuver or a simple tactic; it trumpets it as the modern, innovative and antidogmatic response to contemporary problems.

Of course, in the last period, SYN, along with the other tendencies collaborating with it [the tendencies constituting SYRIZA] are criticizing capitalism. But their criticism is from the standpoint that assumes that capitalism can be rectified through progressive modernization. Their most radical positions are a mere layer of "left" rhetoric, not the change of policy; they remain far from constituting a resolution to the problem of power.

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