Workers Vanguard No. 1060
23 January 2015
Greece: European Union Austerity Elections
No Vote to Syriza! Vote Communist Party!
Greek voters will go to the polls on January 25 with the dominant powers of the European Union (EU), centrally the German bankers, demanding continued austerity to pay for Greece’s massive debt. The snap parliamentary election was called by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of New Democracy (ND) when the parliament in late December failed for the third time to elect a new president.
In a country suffering mass unemployment and poverty due to the deep, ongoing capitalist economic crisis in Europe, the main issue looming behind the elections is Greece’s continued membership in the imperialist EU and use of the euro. Most ostensible socialists, in Greece and internationally, look to a victory by the left-sounding petty-bourgeois Syriza led by Alexis Tsipras, despite its explicit commitment to the EU. In contrast, our comrades of the Trotskyist Group of Greece call for critical electoral support to the Greek Communist Party (KKE) as they did in 2012. Printed below is a translation of the TGG’s January 15 statement, which raises the demands: Down with the EU! For workers revolution! For a Socialist United States of Europe!
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The Trotskyist Group of Greece, section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist), calls for a vote to the KKE in the January 25 general election. The KKE, uniquely on the left, is standing in this election completely opposed both to the imperialist EU and to all those parties who defend the EU, including the petty-bourgeois Syriza party. No vote to Syriza!
As Trotskyists, our perspective is the fight for workers revolution here and internationally. We therefore oppose Syriza not only because it is committed to keeping Greece in the EU, which is a pledge for more hunger and joblessness, but also because it does not in any way represent the interests of the working class. Syriza’s program is bourgeois and its base is among the petty-bourgeoisie—small business owners, farmers and professionals like lawyers, doctors, professors, etc.—a layer with no independent class interests, which under capitalism is generally drawn behind the interests of the bourgeoisie. Syriza’s mild anti-austerity rhetoric and left-sounding stances on some social questions may make the bourgeoisie scream about their supposed radicalism. And the EU imperialists and Greek capitalists are clearly worried that Syriza cannot be trusted to impose EU-dictated austerity. But Syriza’s class character is nonetheless bourgeois. This makes it unprincipled for revolutionary Marxists to give it any form of political support.
The reformist Antarsya has no such principles and even though it claims to oppose the EU, it cannot bring itself to call explicitly for a vote against Syriza. Antarsya complains that the KKE “turn their fire more toward the militant left forces instead of the government and the system” (“ANTARSYA statement for the elections of 25/1”). Given that the KKE’s polemical fire is overwhelmingly aimed at Syriza, this amounts to an attack on the KKE from the right in defense of Syriza. No vote to Antarsya! In contrast to the rest of the reformist left, the KKE opposes any kind of political support to Syriza and has continued to reject its overtures to form a coalition in order to bring a “left” capitalist government to power.
The International Communist League has stood in principled opposition to the imperialist EU and the euro from the beginning. The EU’s purpose is to enable the imperialist powers of Europe, led by Germany, to subordinate weaker capitalist countries like Greece and impose savage austerity on working people throughout Europe, including in Germany. The EU, IMF and local capitalists have devastated the living standards of the masses in Greece, Portugal, Spain and other countries and continue to demand more vicious cuts and the total overturn of trade union rights. Working people are thus made to pay the debts racked up by the capitalists and their bloodsucking banks. There is no way forward for the workers and the oppressed within the capitalist EU!
The reformist KKE correctly says: “Out of the EU, cancel the debt” and “Reject the blackmail and lies of ND-Syriza, the people have bled enough for the EU-plutocracy.” As we did in our campaign of critical support in 2012, we call for a vote to the KKE while sharply criticizing their political program of nationalist populism, which is an obstacle to the consciousness the working class needs in order to carry out a successful socialist revolution.
A Greek exit from the EU as a result of militant workers struggle would be an important step forward, but not a solution in itself. The crisis in Greece is part of a world economic crisis of the imperialist system, which cannot be resolved within the borders of any single country, particularly within small, dependent Greece with its low level of industry and resources. The only way forward is a series of socialist revolutions that will expropriate the bourgeoisies, including in the imperialist centers, and establish an internationally collectivized, planned economy under workers rule. For a Socialist United States of Europe!
But the KKE’s leaders posit that Greece can achieve “socialism” without an international extension of workers revolution, a Stalinist distortion of Marxism. They also call for “people’s power,” dissolving the proletariat, which uniquely has the social power to overthrow capitalism, into the “people.” This obscures that the central class division in capitalist society is between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and not between the “people” and the “monopolies.” The KKE embraces Greek nationalism, as shown by their defense of capitalist Greece’s borders. To prove their patriotism they are running as an election candidate Giannis Douniadakis, a retired Greek naval officer who served in defense posts for the Greek government. This bona fide representative of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state also served in NATO, which makes a mockery of the KKE’s opposition to this imperialist alliance. We say: No vote to Douniadakis!
Greek nationalism, based on the pillars of the Orthodox church, the institution of the family and the military, is the poison used by the fascist Golden Dawn to win support among the ruined petty-bourgeoisie and to deflect its anger toward immigrants, leftists, gay people and trade unionists. The KKE leadership has remained criminally passive in response to fascist attacks on its party and others. Despite the KKE’s social weight in the trade unions, it has no perspective of taking the lead in mobilizing contingents of workers, based on the unions, to defend immigrants, leftists and gay people and sweep the fascists off the streets. The working class cannot defend itself against the capitalist crisis if it does not take up this urgent struggle. The fascists’ ultimate goal is the destruction of the unions and the left, which is why the capitalists keep them in reserve. For mass, workers united-front mobilizations to stop the fascists!
Workers must not believe that the fascists can be stopped through the jailing of some Golden Dawn leaders and other legal measures by the state against them. Such measures serve to repress the left as well. No capitalist government, even a “left” one under Syriza, will be able to satisfy the desperate demands of the masses for jobs, healthcare and pensions. In these conditions, the fascists will continue to grow. It is necessary for the working class to come to the fore in militant struggle to defend all those ruined by the capitalist crisis. A class-struggle response to the populist demagogy of the fascists is needed: Organize the unorganized! Unions must defend immigrant workers—for full citizenship rights for all immigrants! For jobs for all through a shorter workweek with no loss in pay! For a sliding scale of wages to keep up with the cost of living! Repudiate the debt! Nationalize the banks!
This struggle would point to the need for the working class to completely expropriate the bourgeoisie and establish its own government through socialist revolution. But this is not the perspective of the KKE leadership who might currently refuse a coalition government with Syriza, but are not opposed to administering the capitalist state. In fact, a KKE mayor currently administers the capitalist state on the local level in Patras, just as Syriza’s bourgeois prefect administers Attica. Nor has the KKE fundamentally broken with the program that led them to join bourgeois governments in the past, as explained at length in our article “Greece 1940s: A Revolution Betrayed” [in Spartacist (English-language edition) No. 64, Summer 2014, see the ad below to order, or read it on the ICL website at www.icl-fi.org].
We take Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolshevik Party as our model for the kind of revolutionary party that needs to be forged here and internationally in counterposition to the reformist programs of both the Stalinist KKE and the rest of the Greek left. For new October Revolutions!