Workers Vanguard No. 1062

20 February 2015


NYC Pro-Syriza Forum

Reformists Hail Greek Ruling Party

The electoral victory of the left-sounding bourgeois Syriza party in Greece has some self-proclaimed socialist organizations in that country and their international affiliates on cloud nine. A celebratory confab, “After the Greek Elections: The Future of Austerity,” was organized in New York City on February 6 by “State Department socialist” Joanne Landy’s Campaign for Peace and Democracy. Panelists included Aaron Amaral of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), whose Greek comrades are part of the Left Platform inside Syriza; Alan Akrivos of Socialist Alternative/Committee for a Workers’ International (SAlt/CWI), whose Greek affiliate unsuccessfully requested to run on Syriza’s ticket in the elections; and Iannis Delatolas of the British Socialist Workers Party (SWP), whose Greek cothinkers are part of the reformist Antarsya coalition, which tails after Syriza.

The panelists gushed that Syriza’s election victory was a “historic moment” (Akrivos) and a “huge victory for the workers movement” (Delatolas), and they raved about how the formation of a new capitalist government is a step toward socialism. Far from it. Despite its rhetoric against the austerity imposed by the European Union (EU), Syriza does not represent the interests of the poor and working people but of the capitalist ruling class, whose affairs it now manages from the seat of government.

The reformists’ enthusiasm for Syriza, an expression of outright class treachery, had not been dampened by its forming a government in coalition with the virulently chauvinist Independent Greeks (ANEL). Aside from one passing reference, the matter did not come up until the last panelist, the ISO’s Amaral, spoke. In the “spirit of solidarity,” he offered some “constructive” criticism of Syriza, including for its choice of coalition partner.

A Spartacist League comrade began his remarks in the discussion period, “And now for something completely different.” Cutting against all the panelists’ fawning, he argued:

“I think there need to be some basic truths spoken here. The class character of Syriza is bourgeois. The class character of their coalition government, including with the right-wing, anti-immigrant ANEL group, is bourgeois. To call for a vote to Syriza, whether explicitly as the speaker from the ISO or the CWI did, or implicitly as Antarsya does, is a betrayal of the interests of the working class of Greece that further ties them to their capitalist class enemy. This is not a step forward, but an obstacle to winning workers to socialist revolution.

“The Greek masses voted for Syriza in the hopes of getting some relief from EU austerity. They will be disappointed because this bourgeois government is beholden to the European, centrally German, imperialists and their banks. And it was the job of socialists to tell them that truth from day one. Syriza doesn’t oppose the EU, it wants to stay in the EU, which is an imperialist conglomeration. It merely wants to renegotiate the terms of oppression.”

The Spartacist speaker continued:

“Our comrades in Greece, the Trotskyist Group of Greece, said: No vote to Syriza, no vote to Antarsya, down with the imperialist EU, and underlined that the only way forward lies in class struggle and the fight for international socialist revolution and a Socialist United States of Europe.

“In that light, we did give critical support to the KKE (the Communist Party of Greece) not least because in this election they drew a crude class line and said they opposed the EU, wanted Greece out of the EU—and actually tried to win people over to that perspective—and said no vote to Syriza.”

In Greece, our TGG comrades’ critical support to the KKE was in sharp counterposition to the likes of the panelists at the NYC event. It also gained us a hearing among some supporters of that mass reformist party, which has the allegiance of the most militant section of the Greek working class. While calling for a vote to the KKE, our comrades argued against its calls for “people’s power,” which disappear the fact that the working class uniquely has the social power to overthrow capitalism. We denounced the KKE’s embrace of Greek nationalism, as shown by its defense of capitalist Greece’s borders. We also excoriated the KKE leadership’s failure to mobilize its working-class base to sweep the Golden Dawn fascists off the streets.

The British SWP, ISO and SAlt pseudo-Trotskyists on the panel directed their sharpest vitriol at the KKE. These organizations, which lined up behind the imperialists in the drive for capitalist counterrevolution against the Soviet Union, have a long history of anti-Communism, which they present as anti-Stalinism. They went into a frenzy over the KKE’s principled refusal to consider entering a Syriza-led government, blaming the KKE for forcing Syriza to partner with ANEL. SAlt’s Akrivos lambasted the KKE’s “criminal, abstentionist, ultra-left position.” The chair, Joanne Landy—a long-time promoter of “democratic” imperialism’s counterrevolutionary designs—interrupted Akrivos to underline that the KKE has a “long, rotten sectarian history.” The room broke into loud applause when Akrivos went on to describe the KKE’s policy as “Stalinist lunacy.”

The real lunacy is to celebrate a capitalist party running a capitalist government. The meeting on the “Future of Austerity” revealed, yet again, the political bankruptcy of the reformists, whose pandering to Syriza and whatever else is popular can only mislead any worker who listens. An essential task for Marxist revolutionaries is to prepare the working class so it can reject false friends and see who its true enemies are.