Unite behind Syriza’s anti-austerity programme
Socialist Resistance editorial statement May 13th 2012.
Socialist Resistance strongly welcomes the stunning vote achieved by Syriza in the Greek elections which put it second in the poll on a solidly anti-austerity platform. It is a vote which has shaken the Greek and European ruling classes and has opened up the possibility of Syriza emerging as the biggest single party in the new elections next month.
We also strongly support Syriza’s five demands which are an action programme for a united fight against austerity. They include the rejection of austerity and the bailout conditions imposed in March by the Troika. They call for a moratorium on debt payments and an international commission to audit the Greek debt, together with vigorous debt write-offs. They also call for taxing the rich, a radical redistribution of income and wealth, nationalisation of the banks, and a new industrial policy to rejuvenate the manufacturing sector. These measures exclude any deals with pro-austerity parties and are what are needed to begin the fight-back against the ravages of austerity – though more stress on green solutions would make it stronger.
There is, however, a serious problem, in the face of another election, which cannot be avoided. That is the issue of the unity of the Greek left. Before the election Syriza was the only organisation to call for the most obvious thing – a united anti-austerity platform and for a united anti-austerity government if the left won. Now the situation is even worse. In the upcoming election both the KKE and Antarsya (though the KKE more stridently) have already said that they will not only stand their own candidates but will give no support to, or would ‘not prop up’ a Syriza-led government if it were elected! This, they say, is because Syriza’s platform is not a full revolutionary programme. But a more extensive programme is something that must be discussed and developed as the struggle advances and should not to be counterposed to the immediate needs of the struggle as it unfolds today.
This is a very dangerous situation. We could see an anti-austerity government either denied office – and the austerity continue with all its consequences – or opposed once taking office by other sections of the left! We therefore make the strongest possible appeal to all sections of the Greek left to unite behind Syriza in the upcoming elections and to unite behind a Syriza-led anti-austerity government if it is elected. This is exactly the reason for building broad organisations like Syriza – in order to unite the working class in this kind of situation.
Despite Syriza’s continued rise in the polls it should not it be assumed that victory in the next election is certain for the left. The EU élites have already made it clear that they will not only make the next election a referendum on the euro but that a second anti-austerity vote would mean the expulsion of Greece from the euro. Massive pressure is going to be applied to reinforce this ultimatum between now and election day.
It is very important that this ultimatum is rejected and the austerity offensive opposed. Syriza has made it clear that whilst it is not calling for exit from the euro, if this is the consequence of defeating the austerity drive, because of the actions of the EU élites, then so be it. It is the same with the debt, for which the Greek workers should take no responsibility. In order to advocate debt repudiation effectively you have to be prepared for expulsion from the Eurozone as a probable consequence. This approach needs to be strongly up-front in the election campaign if the electorate is to be armed against the threats and ultimatums it will be facing.
The struggle of the Greek working class is a struggle for the workers’ movement across Europe. Add your signature to the statement of solidarity with the people of Greece backed by trade union leaders, members of Parliament and campaigners which can be found on the Coalition of Resistance website.
It is not even sectarianism to demand the Stalinists of the KKE and the semi-stalinists of Syriza form an anti-cuts coalition government, it is pure adventurism.
In any case, now it looks like Coalition talks have brokend down and Syriza is going to get the blanme for it. If they had been serious they would have proposed to Pasok that they form a minority government and guarantee that its representatives will vote for all its anti-austerity, pro-labour movement proposals and against all its pro-austerity, anti-labour movement proposals but that it will not support any votes of no-confidence aimed at bringing such a government down. This would speak to the need for a workers’ government via a principled united front whilst avoiding an unprincipled `anti-cuts’ lash up with the Pasok right wing and make it difficult for that right wing to form a cuts coalition with anti-working class forces.
In the meantime Syriza should organise the formation of anti-fascists militias and local assemblies of workers and community organisations in every town and city and prepare its alternative programme to Merkozy’s ECB/IMF austerity bollox. It should insist that if it comes to power as a result of that election it will be letting Greece’s bankrupt banks go under and that it will replace these with a state monopoly of credit by which a People’s Bank will facilitate the necessary social investment and lend Euros at base rate to small business. It should then pledge to defend all necessary and desirable public spending and that it will pay for this and balance the budget by directing any austerity measures where they will do most good and where they are most deserved: at the parasitic Greek super rich through heavy taxation and emergency seizures of wealth. That way public spending is defended and the EU Fiscal treaty is met at least in spirit.
With this policy Syriza will quickly replace Pasok as the dominante political force in the Greek labour movement whilst marginalising the KKE Stalinists nipping at its heels.
I support this position 110%. The historic political opportunities presented to the entire European anti-capitalist and revolutionary left by a united front of left parties and social organizations as a result of a Syriza victory are immense.
Faced with what will obviously a co-ordinated attempt to blackmail the Greek people by Merkle, Rhen, Barrosso, Van Rompey (ad nauseam), there is a responsibility on the European revolutionary left to show active solidarity with the Greek workers and peoples. While signing a petition is one thing, perhaps Socialist Resistance can focus on the anti-ECB campaign to mobilize as any comrades as possible to get to Frankfurt for the May confrontations.
As importantly, isn’t it time the European sections of the International convened an emergency meeting of the leaderships in Athens, to discuss the need for unity with our comrades in the OKDE-Spartacus, as well as the non-section OKDE, and with the various other forces making up ANTARSYA. I realize this is an issue which opens up a question of the relations between the sections and the International, but the issues here are too important to deal with abstract questions of autonomous behavior.
We are all impacted by the struggle of the Greek workers; as the slogan says: We are all Greeks now. The pre-revolutionary situation opened by the political crisis shaking the Greece state makes it incumbent upon us revolutionary Marxists to bring to bear all our analysis and political acumen to the situation, and to mobilize active solidarity with the Greek working class and popular sectors.
Comrades, thank you again for taking an unambiguous position in your call for unity. It is desperately needed to ignite the discussion.
Unity with who bob? The stalinists of the KKE? Syriza needs to seek unity with the working class base of Pasok not the handful of Greek isolationists that follow the Stalinist KKE. There is a whiff of avoiding the class struggle withing Greece by blaming it all on the EU as if the Greek super rich aren’t the ones pushing for the bail out of the Greek banks and the necessary austerity on the poor to pay for it. They are after all the major owners of the bankrupt banks’ liabilities.
David, it is called unity built through a united front around an agreed upon program of struggle. I am not sure if you have been paying attention comrade, but SYRIZA has already been uniting with the working class base of PASOK. I would invite you to examine the constituency by constituency results of the May 6 election, especially in aeas like Athens b and Pirareus A and B, Thesalonika A, etc. May sure you also check out areas like Corfu where SYRIZA wiped PASOK off the map.
In building a united front of course you propose it to the KKE, and you do it in such a manner so that these Third Period Stalinist secterians have to turn you down and make excuses in front of their industrial working class base.
Oh, by the way, this is what is happening already. SYRIZA proposed a coalition government with everybody except the neo-Nazis, with the condition that they renounce the Memorandum. Of course, New Democracy and PASOK would have none of it; the KKE wouldn’t meet with PASOK, and the Democratic Left agreed to join.
The end result of this effort to build a left coalition government: SYRIZA is still climbing in the polls, and the other parties are all falling, including the KKE which has now just half the support it had in the election.
What the revolutionary left in Greece needs to do to build unity is to on the one hand support the program of struggle against the neo-liberals,by supporting Syriza directly or by joining in the electoral coalition with SYRIZA (broadening the existing coalition) and on the other use its influence in the mass movement to build mobilisations against the TROIKA and , against the neo-Nazis.
Finally, where ever you got the idea that SYRIZA was “semi-Stalinist” is just not from this planet. I hope whatever outfit you are lashed up with has a clearer idea of reality than your comments would suggest. There is more than a whiff of weirdness here.
The two most important priorities in Greece right now are:-
1) To prevent the formation of an undemocratic pro-austerity government, against the wishes of 70% of the electorate.
2) To ensure fresh elections take place in June and that the left wins them.
In practice “the left” means Syriza.
Pasok are discredited, the KKE have shot themselves in the foot.
Syriza’s Five Point platform represents a starting point for a struggle against Austerity. Criticisms of it from the left will only become meaningful if it’s power.
The main thing is to have a public platform from which to make them.
This could be as a faction within SYRIZA.
If Antarsya fights a new election campaign, it will only be a propaganda exercise. But in a close fought election, the sectarians of the KKE could actually prevent Syriza being elected.
If it wins, Syriza will either be forced to move further to the left, or it will compromise.
In fact, the full platform that Synaspismos/SYRIZA put forward last year at the European Left Meeting in Budapest also included the demand for socialization of the Financial System.
That demand wasn’t included in the 5 point platform during the recent election.
But it could certainly become relevant again, should a left government face the hostility of the Eurozone leaders.
As would the way it deals with working class struggles.
However, the demand that such a government should immediately leave the Euro and /or the EU is not a wise tactic.
At the moment the only people talking about this are the Eurozone leaders who are desperately trying to enforce the rules on public spending.
In reality, they’re divided on the issue, so the ball should be put into their court.
A far better tactic for a left government would be to set an “illegal” anti-austerity budget and wait for the EU leadership to try and expel them.
The Greek government could then put their case to the European Parliament and use this to rally other anti-austerity forces in Europe.
Of course none of this can happen if an anti-austerity government isn’t elected in the first place.
There is a terrific article on the Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal website entitled “Syriza, the Communist Party and the Desperate Need for a United Front in Greece”. It can be found here at :www.links.org.au
This “unity in action” thing appears to be catching.
The “stalinists” of KKE have no interest joining forces with the “Left” foot of capitalism. Specialy with those that are willing to remain within the borders of the imperialist mechanism of EU. Socialdemocracy is working classe’s worst enemy and you are its own “Left” excuse. We dont forget Maastricht and we will lead people free out of this wolfpack.
KKE- People’s Power!
Right…..next we will hear the comrades of ANTARSYA and SYRIZA described as “social fascists” and “the hooded ones” Ooops, they already have in denouncing some revolutionaries to the police, and in statements in the Greek parliment. It is no wonder that the only thing the leader of the KKE asked for was that whatever happened, her friend the Interior Minister would keep his job. (See the minutes of the meeting between AP and the Greek president at http://www.radiobubble.gr).
The international left is watching with disbelief that a sect and Stalinist cult like the KKE could still exist at this time in history. This is going to be such an instructive lesson on the difference between revolutionary Marxism and Stalinism. What will be even more instructive to those like “Greek Communist” who do nothing but mouth inane slogans in place of analysis, is to watch their reaction as their industrial working class base decides to opt for the real left, and leave the Stainist cultists behind.
With the election date now set for 17 June, let’s all organize a global day of solidarity with the Greek people, against austerity, and against the Troika. I propose that it be 16 June, the day before the elections to show the people of Greece that they are not alone in their struggle and to not be afraid to vote for a government of the left.
This day has already been designated by the Left Bloc in Portugal as a day of struggle against austerity.
To give it a global dimension, we need to propose this to the global Occupy movement and to those comrades in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland who have been organizing against the Troika already, as well as the FI and the European Conference of Left Parties.
Lets use Twitter, Facebook and our international publishing outlets to get this rolling.
Solidarity with the Greek People! Down with Austerity and Cuts! To Hell with the Troika! All out on 16 June to Occupy our Future!!
An excellent proposal, Bob, lets make it a reality.
I am going to post your comment as my Facebook status.
Just to amplify Bob’s point. The last time a mass communist party argued that that social democracy is the worst enemy of the working class Hitler came to power. It is self evident that the Greek working class is starting to support Syriza because it is moving towards embracing a revolutionary response to its society’s crisis. To suggest anything else is sectarian and ultra left.
I hope that the revolutionary militants in the KKE and Antarysa start drawing the same conclusion because a victory for Sryiza will be a victory for the European working class.
Dozens of Spanish teachers, writers and social and political activists from all the families of the left signs this letter in support of anti-memorandum Greek left:
“We enthusiastically welcome your success in the latest Greek elections, and we also applaud your insistence on the incontrovertible meaning of these results; we encourage you to persevere in this course of action which has already furnished an example and a cause for hope for millions of men and women from all over Europe”.
I notice from an article by Alex Callinicos in this week’s Socialist Worker that far from getting behind Syriza in this remarkable situation the SWP is following the line of their comrades in Antarsya. He spend his time sniping at Syriza and has nothing what-so-ever to say about the governmental situation in Greece. He accuses Syriza of ambiguity, of refusing to break with social liberalism, of seeking to contain the situation within the framework of capitalism, and speculates that they are likely to bend to the pressure being mounted against them. This he says “underlines the necessity of building a revolutionary left that is part of this great movement sweeping Europe but maintains its own political identity”. It is an argument for standing in grand isolation when the biggest class confrontation in Europe since Portugal in 1974 is taking place.
Regarding Alex Callincos comments there are several items to note.
1. Callincos, in his incredible shallow analysis, tries to paint SYRIZA as a left reformist formation, part of a rising tide of left reformism (in Callincos’ eyes, at any rate) emerging throughout Europe. In including SYRIZA Callincos is forced to resort to an ahistorical approach by trying to link the present political entity with its origins. Because SYRIZA had part of its origins in a Eurocummunist split, therefore the present day SYRIZA must be the same as it was in the past. History doesn’t happen in Callincos world.
For an antidote to this approach I would urge your readers to study Micheal Karadjis’ excellent history of SYRIZA carried elesewhere on this website.
2. Secondly, comrade Callincos is just wrong in his political characterization of the type of political formation which is qarising throughout Europe, including Greece. SYRIZA (and I would argue the Front de Gauche in France as well) are classical ,centrist political formations, vacillating between left reformist and revolutionary perspectives. SYRIZA has left reformist elements in it. It also has, and Callincos admits as much, that it also contains revolutionary currents. Comrade Callincos then, in trying to derive a schema to explain the emergence of mass left currents to the left of social democracy, has had to abandon the Marxist method by not analysing concete, as opposed to hypothetical, events and things.
I would also urge all comrades, including comrade Callincos, to study the 10 point program of SYRIZA, and then decide if the nationalization of the banks under workers and social control, for example, is the new voice of “left reformism”.
I for one detect more than a hint of a transitional program for socialist revolution in the contents of that program.
To further underline the pan-European nature of the anti-austerity front, here is an interesting a public meeting with Syriza and the Front de Gauche 21 May in Paris.
Nobody mentions Europe. It is necessary for revolutionaries to support the slogan of a bourgeois united states of Europe, i.e., for a federal, single-state Europe. This is historically progressive.
To oppose this position means effectively defending the status quo in Britain, i.e., the existence of a national, reactionary, independent and wretched British state. Alan Thornett has been pursuing this latter line for years, and it is wrong and always has been.
Roy is quite right about this. I have been opposed to a European super-state for many years, since its aim, in my view, is to more effectively exploit the European working class. Moving towards it is currently the policy of the European elites as a supposed ‘solution’ to the current crisis. As it happens SR is publishing a new booklet with a full ayalysis of precisely this issue next week. I invite Roy to review it once it is available.
I thought for a moment that Alan agreed with me! But unfortunately, he seems to still be pursuing a line which, strictly-speaking, is reactionary and similar to UKIP’s. I guess that Alan must favour the breakup of the EU and Eurozone, and Greece’s expulsion from the latter?
In politics, timing is everything and unfortunately the timing of your analysis is a wee bit off, by about a hundred years or so.
At the turn of the last century, it would have been perfectly correct to counterpose the jingoist nationalism of the various national imperialisms with a call for a United States of Europe in the context of the war preparations.
Today however, the national imperialist bourgeoisies are united in their strategic goal of uniting a capitalist EU to compete with the other big regional imperialist blocks, like the North American and Japanese lead blocks.
Today, the progressive position is to counterpose the reality of a Europe of the Capitalists to the future of a Europe of the Workers and the People; for a United Socialist States of Europe. Moreover, the tasks of revolutionaries is to propose a pan-European united front around a program of practical steps to get there; starting with the the international united front against capitalist austerity.
How about a bit of self-control Bob — less comments?