Friday, June 1, 2012

Andreas Kloke: Answer to the statement of the FI on Greece

Dear Comrades,

you've probably seen that the "Executive Bureau of the Fourth International" (EBFI) has issued a statement on Greece in "Int. Viewpoint". In this statement it declares itself unreservedly in favor of the previously published opinion of SR, the British section of the FI. Thus it challenges the view of OKDE (the Greek Section) and of ANTARSYA (which OKDE is part of). (My article that was also published last week in IV reflects the general approach of OKDE.) The declaration of the EBFI advocates unequivocally, and with all desirable clarity, the political conception of the SYRIZA leadership, especially its "5-Point Plan". The declaration states:

"We call for the coming together of all the forces which are fighting against austerity in Greece - Syriza, Antarsya, the KKE, the trade unions and the other social movements - around an emergency plan." And:

"Confronted by the policy imposed by the Troika, the Greek radical Left, and in particular Syriza, which today occupies a central place in the Greek political situation, defends a 5-point emergency plan:

1. Abolition of the memoranda, of all measures of austerity and of the counter-reforms of the labour laws which are destroying the country.

2. Nationalization of the banks which have been largely paid by government aid.

3. A moratorium on payment of the debt and an audit which will make it possible to denounce and abolish the illegitimate debt.

4. Abolition of immunity of ministers from prosecution.

5. Modification of the electoral law which allowed PASOK and New Democracy to govern to the detriment of the Greek population and to plunge the country into crisis.

There is no space here for
a deeper analysis. From my / our point of view I / we would comment as follows:

- OKDE, as the Greek section, was not even consulted before the publication of this statement. This, in itself, is highly irregular and completely unacceptable. Whether the comrades of the EBFI agree with the orientation of OKDE in the present situation or not (and it is certainly their right to disagree) it is a violation of every basic tenet of international leadership for them to adopt a position without even initiating a discussion with the comrades who are actively engaged in Greece itself.

- Whatever one may think of SYRIZA, CPG (KKE) and ANTARSYA, one can hardly deny that the "5-Point Plan" of SYRIZA reveals in no uncertain terms the true character of SYRIZA, that is, a rather right reformism to characterize it politically. It is clear that the political objectives of SYRIZA remain definitively within the framework of capitalism and bourgeois democracy (the credibility of which is, however, shaken to its foundations in Greece today).

- It is difficult to assess the differences between the orientation of OKDE (and of ANTARSYA) and the declaration of the EBFI as merely “tactical.” It seems to clearly be a matter of two fundamentally incompatible views—both counterposed political assessments and political/programmatic orientations.

- At the end of each article in “Int. Viewpoint” one can read the following: “The Fourth International - an international organization struggling for the socialist revolution - is composed of sections, of militants who accept and apply its principles and programme.” The time has come, however, to honestly ask ourselves: What principles, what program?

- Given the extreme escalation and the critical situation in Greece, which is emphasized by the very declaration adopted by the EBFI, the FI finds itself at a crossroads: Should we support a perspective that can only be characterized as (left) reformist, or do we support a revolutionary anti-capitalism and an updated transition program?
All sections, currents, groups, and ultimately every militant will have to take a position on this question.

I would like to add a brief assessment of the current situation in Greece:

After the elections of May 6 a further polarization of the electorate between "left and right" is developing, clearly favoring SYRIZA and New Democracy (ND). On the left everything is turning towards SYRIZA. The left sentiment is still rising and is currently at about 40% (on May 6 it was still at 37%). On the other hand, the intimidating propaganda (mainly from the German mass media) urging that Greece be kicked out of the euro favors ND and PASOK. The present published opinion polls are slightly different from one another but give the following overall picture:

ND 23.5 to 26%, SYRIZA 21.5 to 28.5 (or even 30) %, PASOK 13.1 to 14.8%, Independent Greeks (nationalistic - rightwing, but against the memoranda policies) 5.8 - 7.2%, DIMAR (politically somewhere between PASOK and SYRIZA, a particular phenomenon) 6.2 - 7.0%, CPG (KKE) 4.8 - 5.2%, Ch.Avgi (fascists) from 3.8 to 5.5%, Dimiourgia xana / Drasi (extreme neo-liberal) 2.4 - 3%. ANTARSYA is mentioned with 1%. It may be, however, that the result of the next election on June 17 will be well below this figure, since parliamentary illusions are in full bloom. This should be understandable in any case.

SYRIZA could therefore actually be the first party in the next electoral round. But we still strongly doubt that the formation of a "left government" can be achieved, since there is no suitable coalition partner in sight. KKE will not participate, as everybody knows. DIMAR is one likely coalition partner but that would pull SYRIZA even further to the right. The "Independent Greeks" are very unlikely to join such a government as they are rightwing-nationalist and do not fit with SYRIZA.
If ND and PASOK, and possibly still another party (e.g. DIMAR), are going to form a government, muddling along in the context of the memoranda policies as before, the country will very soon be left with no prospect. There could well be totally uncontrollable outbreaks, more reminiscent of chaos or civil war perhaps. The society itself is on the verge of collapse and cannot simply go on like this. On the other hand, a viable alternative is hardly in sight.

There is a feeling (it seems to me/us) that the rise of SYRIZA is the last chance of the national as well as the international system (addressed to the Troika, i.e. especially to the German government, but also to the "public opinion" in Germany) to save the situation with something akin to "normal" methods. But one can be sure that this exit or escape will not work, for various reasons. And then? What happens when SYRIZA fails (or, more precisely, during the time that SYRIZA is in the process of failing)? The most likely variant is a deepening polarization between left-revolutionary and fascist alternatives. Right now the fascists clearly have a considerable head start in this competition, while the revolutionary left alternative is only an embryo. This underlines the importance of following a revolutionary strategy along the lines of what the OKDE and ANTARSYA have been attempting. Now is not the time to be tailing after a reformist project. Now is the time to be building the revolutionary alternative that the Greek people need.

It is also clear that in the future “everything” may well depend on the proper TACTICAL behavior of the anti-capitalist - revolutionary forces (i.e. mainly ANTARSYA) towards SYRIZA (and secondarily towards KKE). It is obviously not enough to say, “SYRIZA means reformism, so get rid of it.” Since ANTARSYA itself is under pressure and not very united or strong, a prediction about the demise of SYRIZA is hardly the best approach. The only certainty is that the disappointment will be tremendous if SYRIZA really does come into power and turns out to be incapable of changing anything for the benefit of the people. In any case, the situation is very exciting. International solidarity will be most needed in every respect. This must be radically different, however, from the political support of SYRIZA’s reformism.

Revolutionary greetings


  1. I'm afraid I don't find this convincing. Firstly, whether or not the international bureau were sufficiently polite is not really very important. But that is a detail. It seems possible to be in Syriza and still defend revolutionary options, and that is a tactic to be considered very seriously, as it could allow to defend revolutionary options in front of a much wider audience of activists, while also urging that the first step of winning the refusal of the memorandum is something w ecan all do together. I do not have detailed information of the situation on the ground, but I would certainly say that any revolutionary group not recruiting large numbers right now in Greece is in very serious difficulty. Does anyone have info on recruitment of activists to the Antarsya components in recent months?

  2. I think that John Mullen's comments are on the mark. It's worth adding that the ANTARSYA comrades don't even have to be in SYRIZA. They can maintain their organizational independence but instead of running their own candidates in the election give SYRIZA critical support and offer to build a common front with the revolutionary currents inside it, both to put pressure on the SYRIZA leadership to move further left and to engage in non-electoral activities (such as anti-fascist demonstrations). Even if you have the view that SYRIZA will inevitably fail, this would be the best way to build a stronger revolutionary left. There should obviously be no illusions in the electoral process, but pretending that all is well as ANTARSYA's electoral support evaporates even further is crazy.

  3. Comrade Andreas, I'm afraid I have to agree with the last two comments and strongly urge OKDE (Spartakos) and Antarsya to re-think - it simply has nothing to do with having illusions in the Syriza leadership, let alone giving political support to left reformism. Revolutionary currents exist inside Syriza, as they do outside, and the maximum unity in action needs to be developed between them to push Syriza to the left, to try to push forward the momentum created by the split of the historic horrible right-wing of Synaspismos to form DIMAR, and to further mass mobilisation. The Syriza leadership has remained very firm on the key issue of rejecting the Memorandum and the austerity, which puts it in the position of clashing with Greek and EU capital whatever the subjective intentions of some of the leadership may be. You say in future the tactical orientation may become key but you haven't really explained why it is not key right now, when the question of power is posed in the minds of workers in a life and death situation. It is true that even after the next elections Syriza may still not be able to form a government by itself (and you ought to congratulate Syriza for NOT caving in as it would have needed to form a shitty government with DIMAR), but that is largely because of the 3rd period sectarianism of the KKE, which is making the type of bourgeois currency the key "class" dividing line. Antarsya is not remotely like the KKE and has a far better orientaiton overall (after all, the KKE's sectarianism goes back years now, as you well know, so it is not just about these elections), and it seems to me Antarsya should be calling for a left united front (Syriza/KKE) to take power with your own list of demands that you will be mobilising around together with other forces in the left and labour movement INCLUDING the revolutionary components of Syriza and the genuine leftist elements of Synaspismos itself, as well as, hopefully, non-sectarian ranks of the KKE. By basing your whole tactical approach on the alleged absolute certainty that Syriza will fail, you guarantee you will play no part and thus aid this failure - while not really offering an alternative in practical terms. You are correct, of course, however that the FI leadership should actually consult its members before releasing statements, Comradely, Mihali Karadjis


      Comrade Mihali,
      You are in favour of supporting SYRIZA and the “5 points” it suggests to other parties for a coalition government. KKE and ANTARSYA should form a “united front” in order to “take power” as you write. But you seem to forget that these three parties or alliances will not gain more than 40% (most likely less) in the elections of June17. How will it be possible to “take power” even in the sense of parliamentary majorities and governments of a bourgeois state? You say on the one hand we should not have illusions in the reformist SYRIZA leadership, on the other that “revolutionary currents exist inside SYRIZA, as they do outside, and the maximum unity in action (!) needs to be developed between them to push SYRIZA to the left, to try to push forward the momentum created by the split” that led to the foundation of DIMAR. It is correct to promote the UNITED FRONT between the left parties /alliances, so many independent committees and groups like the “popular assemblies” that have come into being after May 2011 in order to promote the unity in action, FROM BELOW, through the struggles of the rank and file and their SELF-ORGANIZATION. ANTARSYA is promoting precisely that prospect and a UNITED FRONT on that basis. This perspective and these should not be confused with the government question under the leadership of a reformist party - nothing too unusual in western bourgeois democracies, even if, it is true, in a situation of a life and death class struggle. The point is that there is no very significant “momentum” of the SYRIZA leadership to the left. In fact it is going to right because it is a question of interpretation what “rejecting the memorandum and the austerity” precisely means. The SYRIZA leadership intends to “re-negotiate” the loan treaties with the Troika, to keep Greece within the euro-zone, a not too “steadfast” approach for a future left government party. That is the reason why I do not “congratulate” the SYRIZA leadership. Even worse is the fact that SYRIZA leadership is suffocating the movement and the resistance due to the election campaigns for months because it wants to display a profile of a moderate and “responsible” party. Is that the way to way to prepare ourselves for the decisive class clashes that ly ahead of us?

      Red greetings, Andreas

  4. John Mullen, do you really believe that democracy within a revolutionary organization is just a question about being polite?