Saturday, June 23, 2012

Andreas Kloke: New Memorandum-Government in Greece

The elections to the Greek Parliament of June 17 were needed because after the elections of May 6 no parties were able to form a coalition government. The result, not unexpectedly, was a “victory” for the rightwing New Democracy (ND) with 29.7% (compared to 18.9% from May 6). The left alliance SYRIZA rose from 16.8% (May 6) to 26.9%, but was again only the second strongest party. Thus, the 50 “extra” seats in parliament, decisive for the formation of a government, were captured by the now leading memoranda-party ND. ND is forced, however, to form a coalition government with the badly shrunk and discredited ex-social democratic PASOK, the third strongest party with 12.3% (a decrease of 0. 9%). DIMAR, the right wing split from the SYN-party (the leading force in SYRIZA), will also be involved in the new government. DIMAR polled 6.3% (+0.2%) and is thus the sixth strongest party. For the first time DIMAR openly takes over responsibility for the memoranda policies. The “Independent Greeks,” a spin-off of ND, who refuse to support the memoranda policies, achieved a fourth place finish once again, with 7.5% (- 3.1).
The neo-Nazi gang of Chrysi Avgi ("Golden Dawn" - GM) is now in fifth place with 6.9% (- 0.1). The stabilization of the neo-Nazis is even more remarkable since their terrorist character was openly revealed in the weeks after the May 6 vote, with open attacks on immigrants and leftist politicians using knives and clubs - in full public view. Nobody can say any longer that the voters do not know what they were voting for. The permanent installation of the Nazis in the Greek Parliament - but with almost daily terrorist attacks on the streets of Athens and elsewhere - as well as in social life is the most striking result of the elections. The CPG (KKE) received just 4.5% and lost 4% compared to May. All parties below the 3% - threshold on May 6 had high losses and became almost insignificant for the outcome of these elections, including LAOS with 1.6% (- 1.3), “Dimourgia Xana” with 1.6% (- 0.6), the “Green Ecologists” with 0.9% (- 2.0) and ANTARSYA with 0.33% (- 0.9). The valid votes cast represented 61.5% of the electorate (- 1.2), again significantly lower than ever before.
A closer look at the election result shows that the shift between “right” and “left” compared to May 6 is not very big. The right-wing parties (from ND to GM) together polled 47.3%. The percentage of PASOK as a “new” right-wing party should be added to this. The left received altogether 39% taking into account also DIMAR and the Greens. The memoranda-parties, so far ND and PASOK, but now DIMAR too, scored together 48.3%, and of course have a clear majority in Parliament. In accordance with the rules of bourgeois parliamentarism this might be interpreted as providing a “democratic mandate” for the continuation of the memoranda policies. Nevertheless, this “mandate” is, even in a formal sense, quite weak.
ND's ”success” must be partially attributed to the unprecedented propaganda campaign of the memoranda parties and the mass media in Greece and other European countries, according to which an electoral victory of the left would have meant Greece’s immediate exit from the euro, the absolute economic ruin of the country, the termination of all payments etc. In addition, ND was able to attract most of the traditional right electorate that was very fragmented on May 6. Nonetheless, the election results of ND are generally weak, reflecting a historic downward trend that will continue now with ND’s role as the leading government party. On the left, the SYRIZA party or alliance could establish itself as the clear leading force primarily because had it come in first this would have held out the prospect of a “left government”.

Situation and prospects of the Left

As for the left-wing parties or alliances and their prospects, it should be noted that the slogan “Elections now!” issued by the two leading reformist parties, i.e. KKE and SYRIZA, especially since the great general strike of October 2011, represents a strategic failure. It was not possible to stop the memoranda policies through parliamentary elections. The relative strengthening of the Left as a whole in the two elections was the result of the large mobilizations of social resistance from May 2010, with its high points of June and October 2011 as well as February 12. It must be understood that the resistance was not strong enough to bring down the memoranda policies. Thus it is not accidental that the strength or weakness of the entire left in the elections reflects the real balance of power between the main classes in Greek society. In this respect the election results are the political expression of the temporary defeat of the resistance movement.
The weakening of KKE in the elections can be partly explained by its resolute “isolation tactics” along with its strict refusal to cooperate with other left forces at any level. This is connected to a necessarily complete lack of any prospect designed to end the prevailing policy, whether it be by strengthening the resistance movement or by the (ultimately illusory) parliamentary path.
The SYRIZA leadership has taken clear steps to carve out space as a “left” alliance for the management of the existing political and social system—i.e. Greek capitalism—at the government level, particularly after May 6. Still, it is obvious that the ruling classes of Greece and the EU prefer to get along without the services of SYRIZA in this regard. The SYRIZA leadership has fully accepted the logic of the Troika credits and their principal legitimacy and thus the debt repayments, at the same time also the wage and pension cuts and the general lowering of living standards imposed by the first memorandum, as well as the prospect of remaining in the euro-zone. These things were seen as the primary objective of government policy, thus accepting the “legitimacy” of the extortionate dilemma posed by the ruling classes. In this way, the main demand of last year’s movement “We owe nothing, we do not pay, we do not sell!” was completely diluted, or turned into its opposite. On the central issue of migration the SYRIZA leadership succumbed in large part to the prevailing policies and declared immigrants to be a “problem.” The SYRIZA leadership has not said a single word about how the social resistance can be put back on its feet or how the deadly threat posed by the neo-Nazi hordes can be stopped.
For ANTARSYA the election results of June 17 are almost tantamount to a collapse. All of the weaknesses of this formation after May 6 have become blatantly clear—for example its lack of coherence at the central level as a result of an inability to overcome the egoism of various organizations, the weakness of the basic units of the local committees, an inability to confront the political situation after May 6, to take a stand and respond clearly and convincingly to the central issues. ANTARSYA must make the necessary self-criticism in the face of this defeat and draw the appropriate conclusions. It can hardly continue if it fails to do so. Only in this way will it be possible for ANTARSYA to develop as one of the main engines of the resistance movement and as the anti-capitalist and revolutionary pole of the left. There is no shortage of starting points for joint actions by the entire left in the spirit of a united front policy. The programmatic perspective for the battles ahead has, to a large degree, been correctly outlined by ANTARSYA. The class struggles will undoubtedly sharpen in the coming months. This is what the social resistance must prepare for.
                                                                   (Andreas Kloke, 06/21/2012)

ANTARSYA: First Estimates on the 17 June Elections

1. The June 17 elections marked a turning point in the fierce confrontation waged within Greek society. They reflected the major conflicts and divisions that transverse Greek society, the intense social and political confrontations, the big labor and popular struggles of the past years, but also the attempts of the pro-austerity forces to regroup and reorganize after their loss of legitimacy in the May 6 elections. However, the rift opened by the popular uprising, which took an explosive form in the May 6 election, is still active.

2. New Democracy managed to take the first place, having managed to regroup around it a significant number of conservative voters. It benefited from the ideological blackmail that dominated the electoral campaign and it aligned itself fully with the most reactionary forces of the European bourgeoisie and took advantage of the scandalous intervention by A. Merkel and other representatives of leading capitalist countries in favor of it. However, its electoral success is far from being a triumph. Despite the support it took, it did not manage to pass the 30% threshold, remaining in lower results than its erstwhile historical low of 2009. Along with the continuous collapse of PASOK it is a manifestation of the deep crisis of the pro-austerity parties.

3. The success of New Democracy opened the way for the formation of a government by New Democracy, PASOK and Democratic Left. This government will also attempt to introduce even harsher measures against labor. Despite all the talk about renegotiating the loan agreement and a strategy of ‘national salvation’, it will be a pro-austerity , reactionary, authoritarian government, in full conformity to the demands of capital, the EU, the IMF, ready to impose budget cuts, lay-offs, wage cuts, and privatizations.

4. Despite the support it has from the forces of capital, the EU-IMF-ECB Troika and corporate Media and in contrast to Samara’s insistence on a ‘long-term government’, the new government will be unstable, unable to last, a government that will soon face the anger of the people and a new wave of labor struggles. It is a government even weaker than the Papandreou or the Papadimos governments. That it is why they insisted on the participation of the Democratic Left, as a ‘left’ ally, in the same way they used the far right Laos in the Papademos government. However, in contrast to the rhetoric about a ‘return to growth’, the politics dictated under the terms of the loan agreements will only lead to a default and an even more acute crisis of Greek capitalism, in light of the global economic crisis and the crisis and reactionary mutation of the Eurozone and the EU in general. It is going to be a short-term government, and it is the responsibility of the movement to make sure that it does not last long.

5. During the whole period of the May – June elections there was a massive turn to the Left, mainly towards SYRIZA, leading to the biggest electoral results for the Left since 1958. The fact that so many voters turned their back to the austerity ‘black front’, refused to surrender to the ideological blackmail from the ruling classes, and chose to vote for the Left, is a sign of hopeful possibilities. Even in an uneven way, it is the manifestation of the desire of large segments of society to get rid of austerity and the terms of the loan agreement, especially if we take into consideration that most people from working class and popular strata, from productive ages, from urban centres voted for the Left.

6. The fact that the fascist, far-right Golden Dawn kept its electoral strength is a negative development. It is the result of the far-right policies of Samaras who, in the same way as Sarkozy in France, adopted all the racist rhetoric, thus offering the necessary legitimacy to the neo-nazis. It is also the result of the policies of Venizelos that even after the violence of Golden Dawn MP Kasidiaris against MPs of the Left, insisted that for this display of violence it not Golden Dawn that is responsible but the Left! We will continue to expose the nationalist demagogy of the neo-nazis, who are servile towards the EU, the euro and NATO, but, at the same time, they instigate racist hatred against immigrants and the people in neighbor countries. Golden Dawn for us is a product of current capitalist monstrosity, of the deep economic, political and cultural crisis of modern capitalism and at the same time an integral part of the repressive mechanism against the movement. It time for the Left to condemn and fight the reactionary, systemic, pro-bosses role of Golden Dawn and to confront it with a strong antifascist movement. With unity and determination, we can win in the fight against fascism.

7. The SYRIZA leadership did not manage, during the electoral campaign, to answer the ideological terrorism about the euro and the need to avoid ‘unilateral’ actions against our creditors. By insisting on ‘left europeanism’ and making the ‘yes to the euro’ position the central tenet of its electoral campaign, it could not answer the ideological terrorism of the ruling classes. Consequently, the electoral debate shifted to a terrain that was more favorable to systemic forces. This is was expressed in the way SYRIZA’s program turned more to the direction of a ‘renegotiation’ within the limits of the Eurozone and the terms of the loan agreements, exactly the limits that the ruling classes set after the May 6 election. Consequently, this program could not offer a way for the immediate relief of the popular classes, nor could it express the desire of the people for radical change. The ‘realism’ of SYRIZA leadership led to the pledges to the euro, to presenting budget surpluses as a solution, even to praising the police! And it is obvious that such positions do not answer the militant and radical aspirations of many of SYRIZA’s voters and the demand of the people for the Left to be a force of struggle against the new government and not a force of ‘responsible opposition’ that will simply wait for the government to fall under the weight of its own contradictions. The tactics of ‘responsible opposition’ do not help the formation of a broader social and political front in order to answer the attacks by bourgeois and pro-austerity forces. Without a radical program, without organized movements and a strong labor movement, it is not possible to answer the attack and to struggle for power.

8. The great electoral loss of the Communist Party (KKE) is not a positive development for the people and the labor movement. However, it is the result of its strategy and politics. Its sectarian tactics, the hostility against other forces of the movement, the postponement of any possibility for anti-capitalist changes until the far future of ‘people’s power’, the refusal to take a clear position on the dilemmas posed to Greek society such as the euro, the defeatist insistence on the impossibility of victory, the refusal of unitary action with other forces of the Left, its hostility against major expressions of popular struggle, all these contributed to this result. Today the challenge for all the forces of the Left, including the KKE is to contribute to the necessary unitary struggles and the necessary anticapitalist program.

9. ANTARSYA suffered big electoral losses in comparison to the May 6 elections. It is a negative result in contrast to the significant rise of our vote in May. It is true that thousands of ANTARSYA voters (but also from other currents of the Left and KKE), choose to vote for SYRIZA, but this should not be read as an endorsement to a ‘responsible opposition’ tactic. We have to organize with them the new struggles to which ANTARSYA has to play an indispensable role. We would like to thank the thousands of ANTARYA militants that fought a hard and difficult electoral campaign, avoiding useless polemics against other forces of the Left, and insisting on the necessary anticapitalist program, on the necessary militant front of struggle, on the need to escalate the confrontation. ANTARSYA was the only force of the Left that insisted that the exit from the Eurozone and the EU, the annulment of the debt, nationalizations and workers’ control could be the starting points for the immediate relief of the people and for the overthrow of austerity policies. ANTARSYA supported many labor struggles. It insisted on the unity in struggle of the forces of the Left. That is why ANTARSYA is indispensable for the future of our struggles. ANTARSYA is a crucial force of the Left. We have a responsibility against the movement.

That is why it is necessary to have a self-critical discussion of this negative electoral result.

  • The electoral result made evident problems and deficiencies in our ability to mobilize all ANTARSYA militants.
  • There were also problems in our ability to connect to all these people that turned to the Left, both in political and organizational terms.
  • There were deficiencies in our political and ideological preparedness. On the one hand, these had to do with the anticapitalist program. We did not manage to explain why it could lead to the relief of the people, nor did we elaborate on its reference to a socialist and communist strategy. On the other hand, they had to do with the question of power and how the struggle for political power must be based on modern conception of the revolutionary strategy, in order to avoid defeat.

We need a thorough discussion of the program, political line and tactics of ANTARSYA, in an open and democratic way, insisting on the necessary political and ideological autonomy of the anticapitalist Left, as a different current within the Left. We must work on the anticapitalist program and explain how it can lead not only to the immediate relief from austerity but also to radical social change. We must work on a strategy and tactics regarding the question of governmental and political power, the necessary forms of people’s and worker’s self-organization, the revolutionary break with capitalist social relations, the necessary forms of organizing the necessary militant front of struggle. We must intervene in the debates in the Left insisting on the need for an anticapitalist strategy.

10. Ahead of us are great challenges
-To help build the necessary militant front of struggle and escalate the struggle for a movement that will fight the new attacks and overthrow the government; to escalate the forms of struggle, instead of the ‘responsible opposition’ tactics; to insist on the necessary political demands of the movement, demanding the complete repeal of the laws associate with the austerity policies, the unilateral refusal of the loan agreements, the break with the euro and the debt, the need for immediate measures for the relief of workers.
- To take the initiative for an immediate militant response to urgent matters such as collective contracts, privatizations, mass lay-offs, tax-hikes, the University Law; to organize a strike and mass demonstration, once the government is in office; to insist on the need for the coordination of the trade unions in rupture with the trade union bureaucracy.
- To organize the people as a necessary condition for its survival and also for the reversal of austerity, through a new class-oriented regrouping of the trade union movement, through popular assemblies in neighborhoods and workplaces in order to organize the struggle and to discuss the political strategy of the movement, with various forms of solidarity, with the organization of resistance and self-defense against the ‘black front’.
- With unity and determination, we must fight against the neo-nazis. We need mass action in workplaces, in schools, in neighborhoods, to fight the social roots of the problem, to expose the reactionary role of the neo-nazis, to call for unitary antifascist action of the Left, to fight racism through the class unity of workers, Greeks and immigrants, with unitary democratic antifascist committees and initiatives.
- To take the initiative for the regrouping of all the forces that have an anticapitalist and anti-EU position, that insist on the break with the debt, the euro and the loan agreements, beginning with those currents and comrades that supported ANTARSYA in these elections, but also opening the discussion to all those that share these aspirations.
-To have a more profound and democratic discussion inside ANTARSYA, opening up the discussion on all levels, at local assemblies, at the National Coordinating Committee.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Philippe Alcoy (NPA-RCC, France): SYRIZA and the position of revolutionaries

The unprecedented results of the Greek elections in May 2012 that gave SYRIZA the possibility of forming a government led by Alexis Tsipras bring to light once more the debate around the position of revolutionaries regarding the political forces to the “left of the left”. This is even more important taking into account that SYRIZA is softening its discourse.

The outcome of the general elections on May 6, with the defeat of PASOK and New Democracy – the main pillars of the two-party system – and the large number of votes obtained by small parties demonstrate the profound crisis of the regime established after the fall of the dictatorship of the colonels in 1974. These elections also have converted SYRIZA, the coalition of the "radical left", into one of the main actors in Greek politics after obtaining a historic result, nearly 17% of the vote, with the Greek left being offered a unique opportunity to form a government.

In these elections, SYRIZA presented a clearly reformist and vague “formula” of power: the formation of a "government of the left". Despite its ambiguity, this "formula" obtained the votes of many workers and young people who were seeking an alternative to the austerity programme implemented by the "traditional parties" of the regime. It represented in particular an alternative to the left of the Greek Social Democracy, the PASOK. As for SYRIZA’s current programme, firstly it is more conservative and right-wing than the one defended by PASOK in 1981 when it first came to power. Secondly, since its electoral success in May, SYRIZA has evolved towards the right. In fact, although SYRIZA’s programme has always been reformist in its main points, the elections in June have pushed it into making further changes.

The new elections on June 17 could result in SYRIZA becoming the largest party which could lead to a coalition government of the left forces. This forecast has had an impact on the leaders of SYRIZA. They present themselves as a “responsible left” – one which would be acceptable to the markets and the European partners. In this sense, it is not an accident that Alexis Tsipras – the main leader of SYRIZA – during his recent visit to Paris on May 21 stated that he was not a “leader of the extreme left”. In an interview with Radio Europe 1 he said: “I would like to make clear that I am not the leader of an extreme left party. I am the leader of a democratic party of the left which has found itself at the centre of Greek political life and its aspirations express the aspirations of the majority of Greek society”.

The Anticapitalist Left (GA) supports Tsipras…

Undoubtedly, the electoral victory of SYRIZA has been presented as the model to follow by a considerable number of leaders within a wide range of political parties, from the Left Front in France and even reformist academics, including anti-neoliberals who are looking for electoral short cuts to reach the masses. But the SYRIZA electoral phenomenon has also dazzled the leaders of the Anticapitalist Left (Gauche Anticapitaliste, GA), the unitary current for eco-socialism in the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA), which in a statement from May 24 declared: "Today, in Greece as elsewhere, we must be part of the radical left forces that create hope. We must take part in [this type of project]  if we want to contribute to the building of a counter-power in order to have a say in key debates”. The National Political Committee (CPN) of the NPA added in its draft project of resolution that “this initiative shows how a modern revolutionary initiative could be.

At the same time they offer a lapidary criticism of ANTARSYA, the coalition of anticapitalist groups that are on the extreme left in Greece, declaring that "since they are blinded by the call for an exit from the euro, they do not represent a credible solution to the suffering of the population. ANTARSYA has obtained a mere 1.2% of the votes and it refuses to confront what is really at stake in this period, that is the call for unity made by SYRIZA, with more than a vague ’we will see in the struggle’”[1]. Besides, using a reformist method of assessing the "value" of political currents according to their election results, the leaders of the Gauche Anticapitaliste condemn ANTARSYA’s call for a withdrawal from the euro, a policy which they deem as a "fixed idea", while they are maintain silence about SYRIZA’s "fixed idea" to stay within the euro, and more broadly, in the European Union. The right-wing criticisms of ANTARSYA by the Gauche Anticapitalist, similar to those launched against Philippe Poutou during his electoral campaign and against the NPA after the first round of presidential elections[2], indicate to what extent the leaders of this movement, impressed by the outcome of the elections, have decided to take a path that will lead straight to reformism. This is one of the logical consequences of projects that seek to build "broad anti-capitalist parties" without strategic delimitation.

It is precisely the strategic ambiguity of these currents that in the end leads to liquidating any reference to Marxism, merging with the reformists of the Front de Gauche (Left Front) type.

The USFI is enthusiastic about SYRIZA

Unfortunately this stance is not limited to the Gauche Anticapitaliste. SYRIZA has also received the support of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USFI), the international current of which the former LCR was a member. Some of its main leaders are within the majority current inside the NPA. In a statement issued on May 24, the Executive Bureau (EB) wrote: "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.
The Fourth International calls on the whole of the international workers’ movement, on all the indignant, on all those who defend the ideals of the Left, to support such an emergency programme"[3] (our emphasis).

This statement, incidentally, was published without any attempt to consult the Greek section of the Fourth International – OKDE-Spartakos – which is in ANTARSYA and that is standing its own candidate in the elections on June 17[4]. But with this statement, the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International takes a shortcut that leads right to a reformist impasse. In fact, SYRIZA’s emergency programme, which the EB asks us to support, is totally insufficient to provide a solution to the workers and the masses facing the crisis of the country. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Does the cancellation of the memorandum mean the end of austerity measures?

The demand for the cancellation of the memorandum and all austerity measures which have been imposed onto the Greek people since the beginning of the crisis is without doubt a key demand in the present situation. But, does the cancellation of the memorandum represent the end of the austerity and all the sacrifices imposed to the Greek workers and urban poor? The leaders of SYRIZA let the doubt be installed. When a journalist from Europe 1 asked Alex Tsipras if SYRIZA will also ask the Greek people to tight their belts, he replied very clearly: “yes, we will ask people to do sacrifices, but sacrifices which are worth something, because so far all the sacrifices were worthless[5]. We can also quote Rena Dourou, MP for SYRIZA, which declared in an interview to Le Monde that “without being against restructuring the finances, we vindicate the renegotiation with a different logic, completely different to the current one.”[6]

At the same time, SYRIZA in its “new economic program”[7] insists  on this idea of "cleaning up the finances" of the state: "SYRIZA will present a legislation to parliament with a national plan for economic and social development, rebuilding of production, equitable redistribution of income and balanced consolidation of public finances "( underlined by us). So, once again we face the old talk about "sharing the sacrifices" that in times of crisis is useful for the trade union bureaucracy and reformist leaders.

Who spoke of the “nationalization of the banks”?

Even if the austerity measures were abandoned completely and the memorandum were annulled, in order for this to have an effect, it would have to be accompanied by other measures that want more than just “a return to the situation before the crisis”. In this sense, it is imperative to question the interests of finance capital. Nevertheless, even though we were told that SYRIZA defended the nationalization of the banks under workers’ control, the “five-point emergency program” that the USFI presented only offer the perspective to nationalize those banks who received public money (without saying under what conditions – through purchase or expropriation – or under what forms – under workers' control or not). So, if this measure was applied, there would be coexistence and competition between a “public bank pole” and another private pole, with all this would imply. Even more, this “public bank pole” would be unable to ensure cheap credits for the workers and small merchants who are crushed by the debt and the horrendous interests' rates of the private sector. Moreover, it is an illusion to think that even a simple audit of the debt would be possible without the nationalization under workers' control of the entire bank sector, a sector who is involved in thousands of scandals of corruption and tax evasion in these last years.

Nonetheless, like we mentioned above, SYRIZA is “updating” and “adapting” its program while its polls and votes are rising. In this manner, we can read in the “new economic program” which was presented on 1st June that “SYRIZA is not opposed to the program of bank recapitalization even though it gives it a different character to the direction of their nationalization. […] Nevertheless, this program cannot be interrupted during this phase of bank recapitalization without a bank collapse. SYRIZA is not, therefore, opposed to bank recapitalization in accordance with the specific loan agreement that supports this recapitalization, the only difference being that this must happen with ordinary shares after a vote (and not without a vote as decided by PASOK and ND as part of their coalition government under L. Papademos). The recapitalization of the banks with ordinary shares after a vote will result in banks going under national state ownership. […] A government of the Left will not only nationalize banks but will also socialize then, meaning that it will put them under state and social control” (underlined by us). To avoid a “bank collapse”, SYRIZA is prepared to accept the “specific loan agreement” for the recapitalization of the bank, in other words the money of the Troika, which is an obvious contradiction of its proclaimed rejection of the memorandum. Later, we discover that the “nationalizations” wouldn't be more than the purchase of some banks via ordinary shares and not the expropriation of the banks without indemnification. In regard to the workers' control, SYRIZA defends a very ambiguous “social and state control”. While “social control” would still have to be defined, we already know very well what “state control” means: the administration by bureaucrats of the bourgeois State (because SYRIZA right now doesn't question the bourgeois States) designated by the political power.

The question of the nationalization of the strategic enterprises

In the five points on which the EC of the USFI bases its support for SYRIZA, there isn't even the mention of the nationalization of the strategic sectors of the economy (to not even talk about workers' control). But without nationalization under workers' control of the fundamental industries, it is impossible to give an answer to one of the most urgent problems of the workers in Greece like the unemployment. Only a distribution of the working hours could stop the unemployment which affects more than one million people in the country, i.e. 21% of the active population. But about this point, the new economic program of SYRIZA also has something to say: “A fundamental strategic direction of SYRIZA will be the state control of strategic areas of the economy (e.g. energy, telecommunications, railways, ports, airports etc.) In this context, strategic enterprises will gradually go under state control, ones that are either in the process of privatization or have been privatized (DEH, OTE, OSE, ELTA, EYDAP, public transportation etc.)
The timeline, manner, speed and means by which the above fundamental and non-negotiable strategic course will materialize, will be specifically determined by the government of the Left based on the specific circumstances, capabilities and problems it will be faced with.” First of all, we can see that we're not even dealing with the vague “social control” but plain and simple with “state control” - capitalist state control without a doubt, even with a leftist government. Afterwards, there is no mention of the modalities or the rhythm of these nationalizations, except that the “government of the left” will decide later on. Lastly, if this plan would be put into practice one day, in the best case scenario we would see the coexistence of a public sector, limited to some sectors of the industry (communication, transport, energy) with some large state companies (or joint ventures) who are led by high functionaries and where the workers would have no right to decide and control, side by side with a private sector that is dominated by large Greek or foreign multinational companies.

Pay the “legitimate debt”?

While the demand of payment of the Greek state debt, which is led by the banks of the imperialist powers of the EU, first of all by France and Germany, is being used b them as a pretext to apply the terrible attacks against the masses in Greece, the EC of the USFI joins the calls of the reformists who ask for a moratorium on the payment of the debt and an audit to pay the “legitimate debt”. Because when they say they want to “abolish the illegitimate part of the debt”, that doesn't mean anything other than to be in favour of the payment of the “legitimate part of the debt”. However, we have to ask since when do the workers should have to pay the debts, even partial ones, of the capitalist State, i.e. the State of the bourgeoisie and the bankers who exploit and oppress the workers and who are leading us into barbarism right now? They talk to us about illegitimate and legitimate debt as if the workers and the masses could decide and control where the bourgeois State invests and under which conditions it gets into debt! Even if we considered, only for a second, the payment of the money that was used to finance the health-care or the educational budget, in reality this money was already paid a long time ago with the payment of the interest rates of the debt.
When we say that the capitalists have to pay their own crisis, this also means that the debts of the capitalist states belong to the bourgeoisie. This doesn't seem to be the orientation of Tsipras. “SYRIZA intends to annul the Loan Agreements, in order to replace their onerous terms and renegotiate the process of cancelling of the largest part of the total public debt, in order for the remainder to be repayable, under terms and conditions that will not place in doubt the national sovereignty and economic viability of our country”, we can read in the new economic program. But attention: for those who think this is already too “radical”, Tsipras' “comrades” didn't forget a small “clause”: “The manner, timing, as well as the entire political and legal aspect of this condemnation and the renegotiation of the Loan Agreements will be decided and implemented by a government of the Left depending on its capability and the particular circumstances.

Are the revolutionaries indifferent towards the question of the Euro and the EU?

Another central element which doesn't appear in the famous “5 points of emergency” is the question of the relationship between a hypothetical “government of the left” formed after the elections of 17th June, and the imperialist institutions of the EU and the Eurozone. And we can perfectly understand that because the leaders of SYRIZA don't stop proclaiming to whoever wants to listen that they want to keep the country within the Eurozone and the EU. In this sense, in the declaration of the EC of the USFI we can read that “The crisis is not Greece’s crisis, but the crisis of the European Union subjected to the will of capital and of the governments in its service. It is the crisis of the capitalist mode of production in the whole world. It is not up to the Troika, but to the Greek people to decide on the policy to be followed in that country. [...] It is not the euro, but the diktats of the Troika that have to be combated today” (underlined by us).Here we can see that the EC of the USFI, in order not to enter into contradiction with the official line of the “champion of the radical left” , presents us the EU not as an instrument of the “will of the capital” but as a “victim” of capital and its governments. Later, they intent to lull us in with sweet illusions about how the workers of Greece could fight consequently against the “dictates of the Troika” without fundamentally questioning the participation of the country in the Eurozone, or that this is at least “not a struggle that is on the agenda today”, as if we would be faced with two different struggles or phases.

However, this question is not superfluous and without implications. This is true for all the countries of the Eurozone and the EU, but the question is posed in a particular form in Greece, due to the relationship between its participation in this inter-imperialist alliance and the privileges which the Greek imperialist bourgeoisie obtains from it. In this sense, “Membership of the EU and the Eurozone constitutes a strategic choice of the Greek capitalists. It is the concrete way that Greek capitalism is integrated in the global imperialist chain. It is the concrete process through which the Greek capitalism is taking part in the international capitalist competition and the global sharing of the surplus values and the profits. Therefore, it cannot exist a contemporary revolutionary program and an actual revolutionary perspective without analysing this particular way of participation and function of the Greek capitalism in the international capitalist division of labour [...] Without any doubt, participation in the EU and the Eurozone is the new “Great Idea” of the Greek capitalism; in the name of which they call –especially now, during the crisis– the subordinate classes to suffer terrible sacrifices, which are imposed through the Memorandums and the Programs of Stability. This involvement with the EU empowered Greek capitalism to play the role of a peripheral force –a local imperialism– in the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean region. Participation in the EU made Greek capital the necessary partner of the big European imperialist forces alongside with the US to their interventions in the Balkans and in Eastern Europe (an example is the fact that the expansion of Coca-Cola in the above regions through the Greek company 3E). [...] The introduction of the Euro enriched the Greek ruling class with the necessary hard currency and the needed low interests rates in order for them to obtain the appropriate capital funds and be able to take part in the theft of public property of the countries of Eastern Europe, thus making Greece an exporter of capital all the last decade. Without its participation in the EU and in the Eurozone, Greece could not play this role in the region.”[8].

We can thus see all the superficiality in wanting to separate the question of the Euro and the EU from the “dictates of the Troika” and the interest of the Greek bourgeoisie. The participation of Greece in the Eurozone and the EU is an instrument which the Greek  periferic imperialism possesses to participate in the oppression of the semicolonies of the region. Thus, we understand better “why for the time being the bourgeois think tanks have not produced an alternative strategy on how to control the crisis; a strategy that could include the exit from the Euro and the return to the national currency of the drachmas, in order for the Greek capitalism to obtain some instruments for implementing a currency policy”[9]. In this sense, the wish to want to stay in the Eurozone and the EU at all costs, which SYRIZA defends, is not only no contradiction to the interests of the Greek bourgeoisie but it is functional to them.

But the belief in the “European values” and the “European partners” that SYRIZA expresses seems to be “firm”, to the point that they consider the expulsion of Greece from the Eurozone as practically impossible: “The possibility of a country’s exit from the euro is used as the primary blackmail on the road to these elections. For us this possibility cannot be the choice of our partners, unless they have decided on the destruction of the euro and the dismantling of the Eurozone”, we can read in the new economic program. The reason for this is that SYRIZA shares one fundamental point of its program with Nea Dimokratia and PASOK: to maintain Greece as a “viable capitalism” within the Euro. While the Right wants to show itself as more efficient in achieving this, Tsipras and the leaders of his coalition bet that the fear of a sector of the European imperialist bourgeoisie of the perspective of another catastrophe like “Lehman Brothers” (or worse) in the EU makes a SYRIZA government look like something acceptable in the framework of the crisis. In this sense, Tsipras' “gestures” towards François Hollande, presenting his election in France as a “first step towards a political change in the EU”, are not innocent.

This doesn't mean – like some leftist parties like the Stalinist Greek Communist Party (KKE) and other nationalist-bourgeois currents do – that revolutionary Marxists should advocate a rupture with the EU and the Euro in the name of a “national sovereignty”. No. We defend the rupture with the international imperialist institutions in the name of the socialist revolution and in the perspective of the conquest of power by the workers. In other words, for the proletariat, the only progressive rupture with the Euro and the EU is that one that will be the consequence of its fight to end capitalism and for the construction of its own power. Such a rupture with the EU, the euro and other structures of imperialism like the NATO or the UNO, which only a workers' government brought to power by a victorious socialist revolution could carry out, could constitute a first step towards the extension of the revolutionary struggle of the workers and the masses on the continent in the perspective of the construction of the United Socialist States of Europe. Evidently, the struggle of the European proletariat would also have an impact on the workers south of the Mediterranean who already find themselves in a full-on revolutionary process. This is the most efficient way to fight against imperialism and its international institutions, as well as against reactionary nationalist tendencies.

The illusions about a “government of the left” that reconciles with imperialism

In the framework of this scandalous programmatic support, the EC of the United Secretariat of the Fourth International proposes the following demand: “We want the Greek people to succeed in imposing, by its votes and its mobilizations, a government of all the social and political Left which refuses austerity, a government capable of imposing the cancellation of the debt. It is in this perspective that 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” (underlined by us). But this call to form a possible “government of the left” headed by SYRIZA is far away from contributing to sectors of workers and the youth advancing in reaching the conclusion that the only program to confront the austerity measures is an anticapitalist and revolutionary program. Instead it nourishes the illusions that a parliamentary and  pacifical way out of this crisis is possible, without confronting the imperialist institutions like the EU or attacks the interests of the capitalists. This policy is particularly opportunist in light of the probable perspective that the deepening of the crisis and a leap in the class struggle develop openly counterrevolutionary tendencies that are supported by sectors of the bourgeoisie and the scared middle classes, which is already anticipated in the rise of the neo-Nazi party Chrissy Avghi (Golden Dawn).

In the best case, we can consider that the call for a “government of the left” by the EC of the USFI would be an aberrant deformation of the tactic of the “workers' and peasants' government” that is expressed in the Transitional Program, as a demand towards reformist or petit-bourgeois leaderships of the workers in struggle (and not of electoral movements like in Greece today), in the framework of revolutionary situations (something that is not yet the case in Greece). For Trotsky, this demand has the objective that the masses break with the bourgeoisie and take over the power, which is insolubly connected to the audacious impulse of the development of organisms of double power of the “Soviet” type.

In the “Transitional Program”, Trotsky explains the experience of the October Revolution where “From April to September 1917, the Bolsheviks demanded that the SRs and Mensheviks break with the liberal bourgeoisie and take power into their own hands. Under this provision the Bolshevik Party promised the Mensheviks and the SRs, as the petty bourgeois representatives of the worker and peasants, its revolutionary aid against the bourgeoisie categorically refusing, however, either to enter into the government of the Mensheviks and SRs or to carry political responsibility for it. (...) the demand of the Bolsheviks, addressed to the Mensheviks and the SRs: ‘Break with the bourgeoisie, take the power into your own hands!’ had for the masses tremendous educational significance. The obstinate unwillingness of the Mensheviks and SRs to take power, so dramatically exposed during the July Days, definitely doomed them before mass opinion and prepared the victory of the Bolsheviks.”[10] (underlined by us). As we can see, the objective of this tactic was above all to accelerate the experience of the masses with the reformists and attract them towards the revolutionaries. In this sense, while the Bolshevists proposed their support to a government of the reformists in view of the attacks of reactions, at the same time they categorically denied to enter this government.[11] The USFI does the opposite thing when they give their programmatic support to an openly reformist government. An that is not a “detail”. It is a central question, above all in a moment where former members of the bureaucracy of PASOK governments (like Katseli, minister of national economy and later of labour in the memorandum government of Papandreou, or Kotsakas, also a former minister and close partner of Tsohatzopoulos, currently imprisoned for corruption)[12]. This indicates that SYRIZA could even transform itself into a “popularfrontist” force that is a force of collaboration with a fraction or elements of the bourgeoisie that until yesterday applied the plans of austerity that SYRIZA pretends to combat[13].
In this way, the USFI transforms a tactic to accelerate the experience of the masses with the reformist leaderships, in acute situations of class struggle, in an electoral support to class-collaborationist candidates and programs.

For an actual revolutionary policy

The Greek workers and youth have shown a strong will to resist and a great fighting spirit to confront the plans of austerity in the streets. Some advanced sectors, althougha minority, have even had experiences of work-place occupations. However, until now, these actions and energies of struggle were canalized by a trade union bureaucracy that sold out to the bourgeois parties which prevented the development of a tendency towards an unlimited general strike by calling for isolated days of strikes. This has also been a big responsibility of the KKE (Greek Communist Party) who has been an obstacle for the development of a workers' united front by combining selfproclamatory and sectarian policies with a reformist and  electoralist program[14].

Without a doubt, in order to defeat the plans of the EU and the Greek bourgeoisie, a revolutionary program is necessary which is at the height of the offensive of the capitalists who want the workers to carry the weight of the crisis, a program which combines emergency measures like the cancellation of the debt and the austerity programs with transitional measures like the nationalization of the bank system under workers' control, the expropriation of the grand capitalists in the perspective to impose a government of the workers and the masses based on organisms of workers' democracy, which would be a first step in the struggle for the United Socialist States of Europe.
June 8, 2012

Philippe Alcoy is member of the CCR (Courant Communiste Révolutionnaire - in the NPA and of the FT-CI. For further documents and publications please visit the website: (Spanish) and (English).

[1]                 See: “Solidarité avec le peuple grec, soutien à Syriza !”, http://www.gauche-anticapitaliste.o....
[2]                 See: Juan Chingo: “Les limites de Mélenchon et les tendances liquidatrices au sein de l’extrême gauche”, 25/04/12,
[3] Executive Bureau of the Fourth International: “The future of the workers of Europe is being decided in Greece”, (Our Emphasis.)
[4] See: Andreas Kloke, “Answer to the statement of the FI on Greece”,
[5] Entrevista de A. Tsipras por A. Chabot, Europe 1, 21/05/12.
[6] Le Monde, « La rigueur n'est pas la condition sine qua non de l'appartenance à l'euro », 26/05/12. Rena Dourou and Liana Kaneli, MP for the KKE, were violently attacked in front of the TV cameras on June 6 by Ilias Kassidiaris, speaker of the neo-Nazi group and recently elected MP for Xrissy Avghi (Golden Dawn).
[7]A summarized English version of the program and its « vital  points » can be found here:
[8] Ver: Pantelis, M. Zeta et K. Kostas, “The Greek left and the question of the European Union”, 05/01/2012,
[10] L. Trotsky, “The Transitional Program”, 1938 (
[11]This is not what the EC of the USFI wants, who calls for the formation of a government of the “political and social left” (SYRIZA, ANTARSYA, KKE etc.), i.e. A government where the revolutionaries would govern side by side with the reformists.
[12]M. Skoufoglou, « The Pendulum », 03/06/12, (
[13]Some articles by comrades of the NPA circulated in the last days with regards to SYRIZA and the situation in Greece. We share some elements that were developed by Jean-Phlippe Divès ((« Les anticapitalistes et Syriza » or Pascal Morsu (« Grèce : après le 6 mai... »). But surprisingly, these comrades evoke, with two distinct ways, the “least likely hypothesis” by Trotsky in the Transitional Program in order to apply it to SYRIZA, i.e. The hypothesis where Trotsky talks about the possibility that petit-bourgeois leaderships go further than they wanted to in breaking with the bourgeoisie. For Morsu, the fact that SYRIZA has rejected to participate in a “technical government” with the bourgeois pro-memorandum parties would already be a “new illustration of the famous remark of the program of the IV International”; while for Divès, it is a perspective for which we would have to prepare ourselves in the near future. From our point of view, this hypothesis is unlikely. As we have said, specifically the “more likely hypotheses” evoked by Trotsky could produce themselves in Greece. That is, that SYRIZA evolves into a type of Popular Front which won't go any “further”, to rephrase Trotsky, but which could transform itself into one of the principal obstacles for the development of the revolution in Greece.
[14]               This type of front of all the sectors of the workers, i.e. Including the immigrant workers or the “sans papiers” as well, who doubtlessly represent one of the most exploited and marginalized sectors of Greek society, is not in the least part of SYRIZA's projects either. On the contrary, even the topic of the defence of the “undocumented” workers, which constituted one of the preferred attack points of the bourgeois parties against SYRIZA, is being softened by the “coalition of the radical left” in its discourse. For example, after an attack of a fascist mob of Chrissy Avghi against workers “without documents”, the mayor of Patras, a big city on the western coast, who is supported by SYRIZA, didn't have anything better do say than to demand more policies to “resolve the problem of the clandestine workers”. Within SYRIZA, some currents apparently even demand to speak less of the “sans papiers” to “not lose votes”.