Greece : for a workers’ and farmers’ government that cancels the debt

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Despite calumnies, manipulations and repression by the Samarás government (ND-Pasok), despite the immixture of the European Commission and of the German government in the electoral campaign, the Coalition of the radical left (Syriza) is given winner of the Greek legislative elections of January the 25th.

One of the weak links of the European Union

No nation escaped the world capitalist crisis of 2007-2009 ; however, each one was affected differently. Greece had known a sustained economic growth (the GDP had increased by +4 % yearly in average) since joining in 1981 the European Union (EU) led by the German and French imperialist bourgeoisies. In 2007, it revealed itself its weakest link. Greek capitalism sank into a real depression (the GDP has decreased by a quarter since 2009), paid at a great cost by the town and rural workers (notably youth and immigration).

The public revenue was already shrunken because of the evasion of capitalist groups (for instance, shipowners paid almost no taxes) and the niggardliness of the clergy (the Othodox Christian Church does not pay any taxes for its patrimony while it is the greatest landowner, it owns a great deal of the posh neighbourhoods and the touristic towns, it is a shareholder of the National Bank of Greece).

Recession amputated again the fiscal revenue. Then the State borrowed further on the international financial market, but it encountered more and more the reticence of lenders (banks, insurances, pension funds) made wary by the amplitude of the public debt and of the economic crisis. Therefore Greece was compelled in April 2010 to solicit from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the financial organism common to world powers that remains dominated by the United States. Altogether, the Greek State received, since May 2010, 227 milliards euros of loans from the European Fund for Financial Stability and the IMF. In return, the Greek bourgeoisie had to renounce its dream of becoming the regional power and to bear the humiliation of the interference by the Troika (EU, European Central Bank, IMF).

The safeguarding of profits of capitalist groups

The money of the UE and the IMF went into the pockets of financial groups through two ways : the reimbursement of debts and the interest payment to international creditors, the recapitalization of Greek banks.

The national patrimony (including public enterprises) was sold cheaply to big imperialist groups (among which Chinese ones). The popes remained in the load of the State and the repressive apparatus was spared. The governement has now even increased the pay of policemen and judges. The army and the police continue to equip themselves with French, American, German and Belgian weapons groups. The police is, according to European criteria, particularly brutal. The army weighs on politics by the menace of a putsch. With the clergy, it stirs chauvinism and mantains tensions with neighbouring Turkey.

Hiding behind the exigencies of the « Troika », the governments of the two main bourgeois parties ND and PASOK, separately or together, have sacrificed the social spendings since 7 years, to the detriment mainly of hospitals and of school. The deleterious effects on the working population added themselves to those of mass unemployment (official rate of unemployment : 27.6 %). The working class got out of it over-exploited and impoverished. The wages went down by 38 %, pensions by 44%, the suicide rate increased by 44 % in 4 years.

The diversions : 4 legislative elections, 32 days of action

The discontent of the population has been hitherto canalized by the elections organized by the ruling class (September 2007, October 2009, May 2012, June 2012) and by the policies of the workers’ bureaucracies. The combination of the capitalist crisis, the national humiliation and the incapacity of mass workers’ organizations to defend gains, to struggle against PASOK or ND governments, to open a revolutionary perspective, fed the rise of fascist parties : Laos and above all XA (Golden Dawn).

The trade union leaderships (Adedy, Gsee, Pame) multiplied impotent « days of action » to prevent the general strike and protect Greek capitalism, with the support of reformist parties (Syriza, KKE, Dimar) and centrist groups.

One sign of the potential for this was the rise in social struggles in Greece at the end of last year as the political crisis approached–including the first general strike called by the major union federations in seven months. (ISO, Socialist Worker, USA, 13 January 2015)

Every victory has come from workers’ struggle—including 32 general strikes. Making sure this continues will be key to delivering the hope that Syriza promises. (SWP, Socialist Worker, UK, 13 January 2015)

This political mutation is the result of the social resistance to attacks of ruling classes and of the EU. Nearly 30 days of national strike… (FI, Inprecor, January 2015)

Syriza, KKE and Dimar derive from stalinism that disarmed the Greek revolution when the British army came to save capitalism and its State in 1944. None has surmounted the heritage of stalinism (« socialism in a single country », leftism, class collaboration with the bourgeoisie…).

The Democratic Left (Dimar) stands in favour of alliances with Syriza and also the Greens and PASOK, a nationalist bourgeois party affiliated to the « Socialist » International. Dimar has even participated from June 2012 to June 2013 to the bourgeois and anti-workers government of Samarás with ND and Pasok.

Since the opening of the economic and political crisis, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) divides in a rabid way the ranks of workers and students : it splits trade union confederations for the benefit of its fraction (PAME) that calls for separate demonstrations. If it claims to be for socialism, it is for a remote future. Its self-styled socialism reduces to the state property of the means of production, furthermore within the narrow frontiers of Greece.

The dangerous illusions sown by Syriza

The relative majority in the ballot could suffice to ensure a majority for Syriza. The latter calls for a « conference on the European debt » to reduce the Greek debt by two thirds. Immediately, it asks for a « moratorium » on the debt service (expired reimbursement, payment of interests). It asks also to deduce some state spendings (such as the recapitalization of banks) from the public deficit.

The guardianship of the Troika will be lifted next spring, whatever the government. Few economists estimate that the Greek State will one day be able to honour the totality of its borrowings (318 milliards euros, or 175 % of the gross interior product). Syriza has already backed before accessing to government, since part of its audience comes from its program of 2012, when Syriza spoke of unilateral clearing of all debt. Thus, it considers that part of the debt of the Greek bourgeoisie must be paid by the Greek workers.

The remainder of the program presented by Alexis Tsipras in December rests on « four pillars ». To face humanitarian crisis, the government would subsidize food for poor families (only 300 000), health care for the unemployed without insurance. To boost growth, it would remove the property tax for small proprietors, raise the threshold for income tax of individuals, create an investment bank (beside the banking system). Concerning employment, it would cancel measures against labour laws, restore the minimum wage at 751 euros, and create jobs. At last, democracy would be strenghtened by new laws, but without ceasing to finance the clergy, without dissolving the repression corps, without arming the people.

Syriza wants to reform Greek capitalism by taking the head of the bourgeois State without questioning private property of the means of production, without expropriating big capital and the Church, by remaining within the NATO. Certainly, many of the announced measures are progresssive and if they are taken, will merit the support of workers. But it is not sure that they will ever see the light when capital and its armed gangs, legal or fascist, will show their teeth. The example of the UP in Chile in 1973 or of the UG in France in 1982 show that reformists capitulate in front of their ruling class.

Many centrist currents (among which the « 4th International » linked to the NPA of France) do not hide their enthusiasm before the polls. According to them, it would suffice that workers, beyond the ballot, mobilize themselves to support its policies, to push it forward.

In the legislative elections of January the 25th, a defeat of first magnitude for the right-wing parties and a victory of Syriza could tip the struggle against the austerity policies in Europe. (FI, Inprecor, January 2015)

The stakes are high–which is why SYRIZA and the Greek working class need solidarity from across Europe and around the world in their struggle to stand up to the bankocracy and finally stop the austerity nightmare. (ISO, Socialist Worker, January 6, 2015)

In France, EELV, the PdG and the PCF organized in Paris on January the 19th a meeting in support of Syriza. The ecological bourgeois party EELV was recently member of the Hollande government, including when it lowered retirement pensions of workers and when it intervened in Mali. The PCF and the founder of the PdG were members of the Jospin government that had massively privatized and had participated to the war of NATO against Serbia. In that same country, the support of the fascistic party FN to Syriza, which embarrasses strongly the latter, proves that its program respects capitalism.

For the break of workers’ organizations from the bourgeoisie

No worker can vote for bourgeois parties (Pasok, ND, To Potami, Golden Dawn XA…) ; if she/he wants to vote vote, she can only do it for the candidates of the labour movement (Dimar, Syriza, KKE, Antarsya, OKDE-EP, EEK).

If Syriza and the KKE did break from their bourgeoisie and the European bourgeoisies, they would raise the enthusiasm of the working class of Greece and well beyond. But these bourgeois workers’ parties only prepare new disappointments and increase in this way the risk of a military coup and of fascism.

To advance towards socialism, one must build a revolutionary workers’ party that confronts the dominant class and imperialism, in connection with the construction of a communist international.

  • Cancellation of the public debt ! Expropriation of the banks and the big enterprises !
  • Withdrawal from the NATO  ! Dissolution of the army and the police ! Armament of the people against the police and the fascists ! Democratic rights for the conscripts !
  • Separation of Church from State !
  • Unity of the Greek and immigrant workers ! Committees bringing together all workers in enterprises, administrations, neighbourhoods, villages, universities, for workers’ and popular control !
  • Workers’ and farmers’ government ! Socialist United States of Europe, Turkey included !