Thursday, November 17, 2011

Perspectives on the Greek Revolution

Solidarity march with migrant workers


The Greek tragedy is the lack of revolutionary leadership of the workers movement!

For Workers’ Councils, Workers’ Militias and a Workers’ Government!


1. Greece is currently the mirror image of the future of many countries in Europe and beyond in two senses. First, Greece has shown with what brutality and what devastating consequences monopoly capital in the stage of decaying capitalism tries to shift its economic and debt crisis onto the backs of the masses of the working class and peasantry. Second, we see that the existing reformist bureaucracies that control the labor movement lead our class to disaster. Either they execute the orders of the capitalist class as stooges, or they help these stooges indirectly by leading the workers with a strategy that cannot possibly win. Centrism in Greece demonstrates again its adaptation to bourgeois ideology and to the reformist bureaucracy. One must say outright: Greece proves again that without a revolutionary workers party based on a Bolshevik program the proletariat is helpless to defeat the blows of the ruling class.

Capitalist crisis and Politics of plunder


2. The crisis of capitalism pushes Greece to ruin. Already in 2010 the Greek gross domestic product shrank by 4.5% and by the end of the second third of 2011 a further 7.5%. In 2011 it is expected that there will be not enough tax revenue to service the current debt repayment. By March 2011 the debt of the country was over 340 billion Euros. This is against this background of a dramatic rise in unemployment and poverty. At the end of 2009 there were approximately 9.6% unemployed; today the official figure is 16.3%. According to the trade unions there are one million unemployed, i.e. 22% of the workforce! Among 15 - to 29-year-olds, nearly one third are without a job. Moreover, up to 30,000 wage earners in the state sector are threatened with dismissal till the end of the year. Public sector workers wages shall be cut on an average of 30-40%, and pensioners face a reduction of their pension by a fifth. The employers can now legally take advantage of high unemployment to undermine the industry collective agreements: the absolute lower limit of about € 740 gross wage for a full time job no longer applies for newly hired young adults under 25 years. You have to make do with just under €600 gross per month. At the same time the rich get their money out safety: according to the German news magazine Spiegel Greek millionaires in Switzerland alone, have deposited € 600 billion.

3. The attacks on the Greek working class are justified by the bourgeois governments, the EU bodies (including the Social-Democratic parties) and the media, by blaming allegedly high wages and government spending in Greece. This is of course one of the many lies the bourgeois ideological apparatuses uses to justify their austerity attacks. According to the French bank Natixis, the annual working time in Germany is on average 1390 hours yet in Greece it is 2119 hours. The gross wages in Greece are 30% less than in Germany. The share of government employment to total employment is in Greece (8%) below that of Germany (just under 10%) and is just over half the average of industrialized countries (15%). Similarly, the share of social spending of GDP is 36% and well below that of Germany (45%). The argument that Greece has taken too much debt and lives "beyond its means" is nonsense. It is in fact a prisoner of imperialist finance capital: in just the last 20 years the country has paid more than €600 billion in interest to the banks - twice as much as its national debt.

4. The actual cause of the devastating economic crisis and the massive austerity attack is not that of wrong neo-liberal policies as the leaders the left Social Democrats and Stalinists insist. For about 40 years global capitalism has been in a period of weak economic growth and crises, the result of the inevitable over-accumulation of capital and the tendency of the falling rate of profit. The neo-liberal policies were not the cause of this crisis because they arrived a long time after it began. There are and have been in the capitalist countries all imaginable forms of government – from a bourgeois government with the participation of radical right-wing forces (e.g., Italy with the National Alliance, in Austria, the FPÖ / BZÖ); Social Democratic governments ruling alone; governments with the participation of "communist" parties (the Jospin government in France, the PCF or twice the Prodi government in Italy with the Rifondazione Comunista); and the dictatorship by a Stalinist party (China, under the leadership of the CPC, where in the early 1990s there was a transition first from a degenerate workers' state to a capitalist state, and in the late 2000s to an imperialist power). But despite the differences in these forms of regime, they all reacted in the same way to the crisis of capitalism with the intensified exploitation of the working class and a massive redistribution of wealth in favor of the bourgeoisie.

Greece put on starvation rations

5. The crisis of the capitalist world system that erupted in 2008 with the worst recession for a long time has gone to a new level. The system has passed the stage of a crisis on its death bed and now approaches its grave where the only alternative is socialism or barbarism. During this period characterised by monopoly capital – the survival of the banks and corporations that dominate the state and economy depends on drastically cutting the value of labor power, screwing up the interest rate and looting the raw material reserves etc. to increase their profits. Weaker capitalist countries – like Greece – are the first victims of the relentless politics of this imperialist plunder. But ultimately it makes the working class and oppressed peoples of all countries pay for its crisis.

6. The aim of the imperialist EU in Greece is to put the workers and oppressed on starvation rations and to privatize the remaining state assets (and sell them mainly to large foreign corporations). So the Greek State offers for sale 39 airports, 850 ports, railways, highways, two energy companies, banks, thousands of hectares of land which the state lottery, etc. with a total value of US$71 billion. Furthermore, a significantly higher proportion of the Greek economy is transferred into the ownership of imperialist capital (so far around 90% of bank capital is still in local hands) and the rights and organizations of the working class are weakened to create a much cheaper labor force for the capitalists to exploit – not only by Western European capitalists but also Greek employers. Therefore, the Greek capitalists essentially support the EU's brutal austerity policies even if they ask for, of course, better terms for them from Brussels.

7. The political crisis in Greece and the events in the EU underline once more the thesis of Marxists that bourgeois democracy is not democracy for the workers class and the broad masses, but in reality a disguised dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. The "socialist" government in Athens can be commanded by the stock exchanges and the Greek capitalists in parliament to adopt the austerity package of the EU Commission, when it is obvious that the people are against it. Nor will the peoples of Europe have the slightest say in the austerity measures. So the government in Athens has just ruled against the so-called democratic or sovereign will of the people. The leaders of PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) and ND (New Democracy – the conservative party) vote to change the government, set the date for new elections, and decide the future of the people. How hypocritical were the "democrats" of Western governments (including the Social Democrats) and the monopoly capitalists, when in early November the then Greek President Papandreou dared to announce a referendum on the austerity package. An outcry over the "irresponsibility" of the government arose in the EU and the stock market tumbled down. Democracy for the capitalists is only viable as long as long as it does not affect their profits. Petty-bourgeois democrats a la ATTAC or the ideologues in the "Democracy Now" movement think that within capitalism a true democracy is possible. This is a childish illusion. In a society in which classes exist and one class exploits the other, there can be no true democracy. The state apparatus, the parliament, the government - they are all in a ‘bourgeois democracy’ controlled by the numerically small class of capitalists. Lenin's statement that "even the most democratic [of] democratic republic[s] is nothing but a machine for the oppression of the working class by the bourgeoisie, the masses of working people by a handful of capitalists" (‘Theses on Bourgeois Democracy and Dictatorship of the Proletariat’, 1919), is valid today than ever .

The class character of Greece

8. All this shows the hopelessness of bourgeois nationalism. It is a reactionary dead end, and chains the working class politically to the bourgeoisie. Bolshevik-Communists therefore reject the "patriotic" orientation of the Stalinists of the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) and many other left-wing reformists, towards the formation of an anti-EU "national bloc" in common with bourgeois forces, as completely reactionary and utopian.

9. In the Greek population there is a widespread mood that sees the EU as dictating a foreign austerity policy (not least Berlin-controlled) onto the country. This is reflected in numerous patriotic expressions at demonstrations and also at the celebrations marking the anniversary of the famous "NO" against Mussolini's dictatorship on 28 October 1940. Without doubt an element of national oppression exists in the current crisis, insofar as there are not equal relations between states, as the major powers in the EU – especially Germany and France, but also smaller imperialist powers such as Austria or the Netherlands – treat Greece unashamedly as a developed semi-colony whose government policy it can dictate.

10. At the same time the patriotic Stalinists of the KKE and other leftists, "forget" that Greek capitalism has also striven to take its place as an internationally active exploiter class. The Greek capitalists have traditionally been among the largest owners of ships (with a share of almost 16% of world shipping tonnage in 2010). Also since the early 1990s, Greek capital has established itself as a leading foreign investor in South Eastern European and Balkan countries and in Serbia, Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria it even takes the first place among foreign investors. Greece's leading four banks –National Bank of Greece, EFG Euro Bank, Alpha Bank and Piraeus – now control about 20% of the financial sector in Southeast Europe. In short, Greek capital is exploiting the proletariat not only domestically, but also through the super-exploitation of workers in poorer semi-colonial countries. It is however noted that part of the officially recognized "foreign investment" (referred to as capital exports) is in reality more capital flight in the face of severe economic crisis in Greece and represents less a sign of strength but of weakness of Greek capital. This shows incidentally, that the patriotism of the ruling class serves only as an ideological veil to fool the oppressed classes, but if it is conducive to their profits, they will – without batting an eyelid – readily submit to foreign masters.

11. Greek capitalism therefore has a contradictory character. While it has historically been oppressed by European and U.S. imperialism it has also made efforts to make parts of the Balkans its own semi-colonial hinterland. An overall picture of Greek capitalism is that – given the relatively low importance of the role of capital exports and repatriation of super-profits in proportion to the overall economy and the overall relatively underdeveloped nature of capitalist development in the country –Greece has no imperialist character. We reject the use of categories such as "sub-imperialism" (as used by the centrist IS/SWP tradition of Tony Cliff) as un-Marxist, because in the modern era of imperialism they blur and render indecisive the characteristic contradiction between oppressor and oppressed countries. Rather, Greece is an advanced semi-colony in subordination to the imperialist powers – especially the EU and the USA, and increasingly China. The current crisis in Greece and its open submission to the dictates of the big powers show that the efforts of the Greek capital in the past 20 years to become a small regional imperialist power were not crowned with success. The last years have confirmed the semi-colonial status of Greece.

12. The example of Greece also confirms the thesis of Bolshevik-Communists that China has now become a new imperialist superpower. The dramatic increase in its capital exports – China is now the world's fifth-largest foreign investor – shows that the country is neither a semi-colony nor a degenerated workers' state, and certainly not a socialist state. In the recent past, China has won through massive investments an influential role in Greece and thus gained a springboard into the EU. The state capitalist Chinese company Cosco controls with a US$5 billion investment the largest port in the country. China plans a number of other major investments in Greece and has already signed contracts for projects totalling more than US$5 billion for the purchase of larger sectors of the major trading fleet, telecommunications, railways, etc. For the Greek working class Chinese investment brings heavy attacks. For example, Cosco prohibits in “its” Piraeus harbor any union activity or even collective bargaining agreements. What a bizarre nonsense that many Stalinists and Chavez supporters admire China as a socialist, or at least still a progressive country!

13. The reactionary character of Greek chauvinism is also reflected in its history of oppression and partial expulsion of national minorities (Turks, Albanians, Macedonians, etc.). Founded in 1991, even the independent Republic of Macedonia was not recognized by Greece for many years. At the same time Greek chauvinism is also used to justify the exploitation of the many migrants and thus to deepen the split in the working class. This is even more serious given the fact that the migrants number officially a million (2 / 3 are Albanians) and amount to 20% of the total labor force.

Patriotism - the dead end of reformism


14. Shamefully, a large part of the reformist Left (left wing of PASOK, KKE, Synaspismos, etc.) subscribes to Greek patriotism. The KKE, for example, refers to itself in its program as a "patriotic party" and is committed to "defending the territorial integrity of the country against the new imperialist world order." The only "dangers" of the "territorial integrity" of Greece in the past few decades were the conflict with Turkey and some demands by the Macedonian minority in Greece to secede. In fact, the KKE on the Macedonian question supports "the safeguard of inviolability of borders; the avoidance of every irredentist propaganda and of actions that hinder the approach and cooperation of the two countries." (KKE Resolution 19.2.2008). In general, the KKE denies the existence of any national minority in Greece (Interview with the longtime KKE Secretary General Aleka Papariga, 02/26/2011). The commitment of the KKE to patriotism and the defense of the capitalist state against other states and against the self-determination of national minorities is nothing more than social-chauvinism and subordination to the capitalist fatherland.

15. Today the KKE calls for the withdrawal of Greece from the EU and the euro currency and the restoration of "independence" for Greece and the drachma currency. But in reality, the solution of the Greek crisis can only be international in character. A capitalist Greece outside the EU will face at least as tough austerity measures as those imposed by the present government. The reformist bureaucracy of the KKE preaches the illusion that Greece could be an independent nation because the country "has conditions to create a self-supporting developing national economy." (Aleka Papariga, 5.7.2010) Such a nation existing in isolation is not possible.

16. The struggle against the imperialist dictates of the EU must be fought internationally. The West European workers' movement must fight on the streets and in parliament against all austerity policies to “rescue” Greece and against anti-Greek chauvinism. Revolutionaries in Greece must reject the bourgeois-nationalist perspective sharply and the demand for withdrawal from the EU7 or the Euro zone and the reintroduction of the drachma. The slogan for Greece’s withdrawal from the EU and euro should be made only in connection with the slogan of a workers' government and as part of the process of socialist revolution.

17. We are opposed to ultra-left positions, which – because of the presence of Greek national flags in demonstrations and site occupations or the organized right – conclude that these mobilisations have a reactionary character. Of course, in a real popular movement, which is directed against the brutal subjugation of the country under the dictates of the imperialist EU, patriotism is understandable, in particular given the fact that the workers vanguard still does not have a revolutionary consciousness and therefore cannot decisively influence these mobilization with an internationalist perspective. Bolsheviks-communists argue against patriotism as such not with abstract teachings about the myth of the homeland and the moral superiority of internationalism. Rather, we point out that Greece can be saved only a) if it is free of rule by Greek and international capital, b) if the fight is on the basis of complete equality with the non-Greek parts of the working class in the country (immigrants, national minorities) and c) if it takes place as part of a common international struggle of the working class in the Balkans, in Europe and the Mediterranean, for a socialist federation.

18. It is particularly important, therefore, to underline the reactionary role of Greek capital in the Balkans and in the over-exploitation and national oppression of the migrants in their own country. To combat Greek chauvinism consistently, we make our program for the national self-determination (including the right of secession) for the minorities in Greece; for the full equality of migrants (full citizenship rights, equal pay, recognition of their language as equal at work and education, abolition of the official State language, etc.); for a socialist perspective for a Balkan Federation and the United Socialist States of Europe, a priority. Equally urgent is the unity of the Greek Revolution and the Arab revolution.

19. The importance of the revolutionary struggle for complete equality and integration of migrants is reflected especially in Greece. They are an important part, especially of the most oppressed sections of the working class. The struggle of the union of cleaners and domestic helpers in Athens (PEKOP) shows that migrants can play an important role in the class struggle. Its most famous representative, the Bulgarian migrant Kostantina Kuneva, was attacked in late 2008 during a labor dispute by paid assassins of the company concerned who threw sulfuric acid all over her face. She survived despite severe injuries and PEKOP – supported by a large wave of solidarity from other parts of the working class and the youth – was able to win the strike. The organization and mobilization of the lower sections of the working class – among which the migrants play a key role –is a crucial precondition for the victory of the Greek revolution.

Widespread pre-revolutionary crisis

20. The central question is: Why has the government been able to stay in power even after a string of very brutal austerity policies forced on the people against their will? Is it the lack of combat readiness of the masses? Certainly not! The massive attacks of the capitalist class were answered by the working class with a series of general strikes, demonstrations and site occupations. The statistical average in 2010 was two demonstrations per day in Athens!

21. Is Greek capitalism in such a strong position? No. Not only are the workers and the oppressed no longer willing to accept the series of savage packages. The ruling class cannot continue its existing politics unchanged. Greece is facing national bankruptcy. The political system is totally discredited in the eyes of the people. Each government crisis is followed by the next. No wonder that there is speculation among the political elite of Greece and the EU already about the need for a civil war, a military coup and a Bonapartist regime.

22. Greece is definitely facing a pre-revolutionary crisis. If we disregard the rebellion in Albania in 1997, we find in Greece the most advanced revolutionary development in Europe since Portugal 1974-75. Lenin's classic definition of a revolutionary situation clearly applies to Greece: "(1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action." (VI Lenin, ‘The Collapse of the Second International’, 1915). From the Greek revolution to the Arab revolution since January 2011, the August uprising of the poor in Britain a few months ago, and the world-wide Occupation movement, there is further evidence for the Bolshevik-Communists assessment that the historical crisis of capitalism has opened a revolutionary period.

23. So the ruling class holds on to power not because of their strength and not because of the lack of combat readiness of the working class. The cause lies rather in the fact that the proletariat and the oppressed have no revolutionary leadership. Instead, at the head of the labor movement stand the reformist bureaucracies, with their policies to betray and sell out the struggle of the masses. Either they execute the orders of the capitalist class as direct agents (PASOK), or they help these lackeys indirectly by misleading the proletariat with a reformist strategy which must inevitably end in defeat (KKE, Synapismos). Centrism (which vacillates between reformism and revolution) is incapable of a raising a truly revolutionary program as a political alternative to the bureaucracy, such as the pseudo-Trotskyist forces (Marxistiki Foni / IMT, DEA) and Maoist organizations (such as KOE), with Synapismos/SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical reform left) or Antarsya (a coalition of SEK/IST, OKDE-Spartakos/Fourth International) and others. (Xekinima / CWI belonged to SYRIZA until a few months ago).

24. The pre-revolutionary crisis threatens to degenerate. A pre-revolutionary or revolutionary situation cannot last forever. The masses are weakened by loss of momentum and lose faith in the possibility of victory. At the same time, the ruling class can prepare for a decisive counterattack and for the establishment of a Bonapartist regime with wide-ranging executive powers. Against the backdrop of a deep economic and social crisis, the continued inability of the labor movement to take the initiative inevitably leaves space for the growth of a rabid nationalism and fascism. (e.g. LAOS and Chrysi Avyi). Only the timely construction of a revolutionary workers party based on a Bolshevik program can ensure that the resolute struggle of the masses leads to the proletarian seizure of power and not to a heavy defeat.

The Crisis of Leadership – treachery of PASOK, KKE and SYRIZA

25. The working class in Greece is bound on several sides. The ruling party PASOK in this crisis proves once more to be the direct agent of domestic and foreign monopoly capital. It plays a leading role within the big trade union federations - the Federation GSEE and the public sector union ADEDY. At the last congress of the Greek General Confederation of Labor (GSEE) in March 2010, PASKE – the trade union group close to PASOK – 48.2% of the delegates voted to unite behind PASOK’s social-democratic program to weaken and limit the struggle against austerity. The PASOK government does not shy away from using military repression to discipline the workers. It used the civilian mobilization orders to break the 17-day strike of the garbage workers by force out of fear of a solidarity strike by millions of workers against their policy. This law dates from the Second World War and allows the forced provision of government services. The striking workers were effectively subjected to military discipline. If they refuse, they can be thrown in jail for up to five years.

26. However, at the same time the internal contradictions intensify in the face of growing anger among the masses. A number of leading trade union officials now sees itself forced to break with PASOK. In different unions (teachers, municipal employees, railway workers) PASKE even splits from PASOK.

27. It is significant that PASOK is part of the Socialist International. It is a counterrevolutionary instrument like the other European social democratic parties that support the imperialist policy of robbing Greece through its various EU "aid packages".

28. The Communist Party (KKE) is a classic Stalinist party i.e. it is a bourgeois workers party, which is ruled by a bureaucracy that serves the maintenance of capitalism by promising reforms to its working class social base. Its union faction PAME won 20.9% of the delegates’ votes at the last congress of the GSEE. It has important bastions of support in the traditional core layers of the proletariat like the port and construction workers - and exerts an important influence on the class-conscious workers. However, PAME is does not have the strength of the GSEE and the ADEDY (Civil Servants Unions) to organize general strikes. The KKE played a central role in the anti-fascist struggle for liberation during the Second World War. In 1944 it formed a coalition government with the bourgeois and monarchist forces to disarm the partisans and install a capitalist regime during the revolutionary crisis of 1944-45. Also in 1990-91, the KKE participated in a coalition government with PASOK and ND. It now pursues the Stalinist strategy of establishing a "social popular front" - also called the "anti-imperialist, anti-monopolistic, democratic front of the people". To this end the KKE organizes not only workers and peasants, but also the petty bourgeoisie (it has created the PASEVE –the Anti-monopolist Protest Movement of All Greeks to organise “the Self-employed and the small Tradesman”).

29. The KKE bourgeois role was also evident during the uprising of the youth in December 2008 (a weeks-long mass revolt - not unlike the August uprising of the poor in Britain - after the murder of 15-year-old student Alexandros Grigoropoulos by two police officers). While tens of thousands of youths were fighting in the streets against the police, the KKE Secretary General Papariga slandered the militants as "hooligans" and "hoodies" led by “foreign intelligence." (Interview 17.12.2008)

30. The reformist policy of the KKE is based primarily on strengthening its position in Parliament. The class struggle in the streets and in the factories is subordinated to its parliamentary position. Papariga said in the 2010 "Proposal for Resolving the Crisis" that the party only puts its emphasis on the extra-parliamentary struggle if it sees no possibilities for parliamentary coalitions and maneuver; "...if the political balance of power allows us no effective intervention in favor of the people, then we focus on the extra-parliamentary movement." The KKE is often radical and likes to talk of socialism and the power of the working class. But instead of taking advantage of the present revolutionary crisis to orient the wave of strikes and general strikes and occupation movements to organize an uprising and the revolutionary seizure of power, it demands – along with the other reformist and centrist forces (e.g. SYRIZA) – the formation of a "transitional government" and new elections.

31. Bolshevik-Communists reject the slogan for new elections as it means in the present phase of the heightened class struggle and mass mobilizations nothing but a diversion from the revolutionary struggle on the streets and in the factories back onto the parliamentary road. It reflects an orientation of the reformist bureaucracy that solve the political crisis and the mass mobilizations of popular protests by electing a new civil government to parliament, rather than by an uprising and the overthrow of the ruling class.

32. Against this background we can assess the clashes during the two-day general strike on 19./20 October. The KKE used their forces to form a barrier of people to protect the Parliament and allow the deputies access so they could vote for the recent brutal austerity package. The radical forces of “The Plirono” (We do not pay) movement, the militant Union of Municipal Employees POE-OTA, the radical Left, and the autonomous/anarchists were trapped in Syntagma Square. In response to the bureaucratic and sometimes violent actions of the KKE security forces there were violent clashes between the KKE-stewards and radical parts of the demonstrators. This was the result of the role that the KKE on 20 October played: that of a middle-class auxiliary police who guarded the Parliament against the masses, while the new austerity package was agreed. (That is why the KKE/PAME security forces are often called "KNAT" –a combination of the terms KKE youth organization KNE and the special police MAT)

33. The KKE denounced the radical forces as "anarcho-fascists." Many centrists condemned both the KKE and the radical forces. Doubtless the autonomous/anarchist forces repeatedly caused a counter-productive escalation with the police. But this should not detract from the overall political context. Against the background of many general strikes and the widespread hatred of the people for parliament and the government, the repeated attacks by protesters against the parliament building in the past, it is absurd to justify the KKE/PAME behavior against the workers' demonstration on the pretext of stopping some ‘crazed anarchists’. No, the Stalinist bureaucracy wanted to prove to the ruling class its loyalty in the face of the government crisis and possible new elections. "We are a reputable, state-supporting force, protecting the Parliament in times of crisis and we can control the movement". The policy of the KKE is clearly reminiscent of the role of the Stalinists in the Spanish Civil war 1936-39, where they defended the bourgeois republic against the radical forces of the time. But if the KKE has played out its role, the reactionary forces will sweep it away as it happened in Spain also.

34. The “Coalition of the Radical Left” – SYRIZA – is dominated by the left-reformist party Synaspismos, a Euro-communist split from the KKE in 1991. The founding leaders of Synaspismos were at the forefront of the government coalition with New Democracy and PASOK of 1990-91. Synaspismos is now part of the European Left Party and follows a left-social democratic politics, which sees neoliberal policies as the cause of the crisis and advocates a reform program and government participation in the management of capitalism. Significantly, in the 1990s Synaspismos supported extremely chauvinistic propaganda towards Macedonia and mobilized with the Conservatives, PASOK and the church, for joint demonstrations under the slogan "Macedonia is Greek".

35. In 2010 there was a separation of the right wing of Synaspismos under the former Minister of Justice Fotis Kouvelis (in the coalition government of 1990-91), which formed the reformist Democratic Left party (DIMAR). DIMAR follows the logic of social democracy more consistently than KKE and SYRIZA. Kouvelis calls for new elections so that "the political crisis does not turn into a crisis of democracy". In early November the DIMAR deputy Grigoris Psarianos along with PASOK and ND called for the formation of a transitional government to restore “normal democracy” and to keep the country "on European course". Here speaks a party appealing to the bourgeoisie as a serious coalition partner to administer the capitalist state business.

36. Even if SYRIZA today is sometimes radical and may resonate with some layers of the militant workers and youth, it is basically a left-reformist force. Significantly SYRIZA in recent months did not demand the resignation of the government, but called for a referendum on the debt and the establishment of a committee to review how much of the debt should be paid and how much should be canceled. Similar to the KKE calls for new elections, it has a reformist-parliamentary strategy in response to the crisis. Its goal is to find a place in a bourgeois government ("a new coalition of power", SYRIZA president Alexis Tsipras 04/11/2011) is. That is why Tsipras appealed to President Karolos Papoulias to hold elections to defend the Constitution. Everyone had an obligation under the Constitution to undertake initiatives to preserve social cohesion and national integrity." One should take initiatives “avoid finding ourselves faced with unpleasant events that some times wrong people, institutions and our democracy.” (31.10.2011) Such statements of the supposedly "radical left" in times of severe crisis of capitalist democracy tells us much more about the thoroughly bourgeois-reformist character of SYRIZA than hundreds of rhetorical speeches about anti-capitalism and socialism. Those who think that SYRIZA is more left-wing than the KKE’ make a big mistake. Equally significant is the fact that for years several centrist organizations like Marxistiki Foni / IMT, DEA and KOE have been part of the left-reformist SYRIZA, afraid to break with the reformist Synaspismos and thus carry responsibility for its betrayal.

37. In Greece, anarchism is traditionally relatively strong. Its strength is a consequence of the bureaucratization of the labor movement and the treachery of its leaders in the past. Given the weakness of the revolutionary forces, it is no surprise that many young people and probably some workers turn to anarchism. What they see as ‘communism’ is nothing but the Stalinism of the KKE "Leninism" and the "working class discipline” of KKE stewards calling the rebellious youth "hooligans" as a pretext for protecting parliament. At the same time we must also see that many young activists are misguided in their involvement in the ranks of anarchism. For without a revolutionary (not Stalinist!) party no revolutionary overthrow of capitalism is possible. Without turning to the working class in the factories, without tactics against the organizations of the labor movement, the working class cannot be won to the revolution. Without a disciplined approach to demonstrations and street fighting the ranks can be mislead into police provocations and other counter-productive actions. In short, we are appealing to the anarchist activists to join the ranks of the working class party in the revolutionary struggle for the abolition of classes and the state.

Return of spontaneous movements

38. The massive upsurge of class struggle in recent months has brought very important and promising developments among the masses. Out of the dissatisfaction with the unsuccessful protests organized by the bureaucracy of the unions and the KKE, there arose the spontaneous mass movement Kinima Aganaktisménon Politón (KAP –Indignant Citizens' Movement) starting with the demonstration on 25 May 2011. The movement reached its climax in the summer when tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands attending their meetings and demonstrations. It calls for the cancellation of debts and the expulsion of the Government, the EU Troika, the IMF, the banks "and all who exploit us." Like so many spontaneous mass movements it is also politically contradictory. On the one hand it embodies a desire for "true democracy", a frontal rejection of government, EU, IMF and "exploiters" and its use of bourgeois legality to square occupations has an enormously progressive potential. On the other hand, it lacks roots in the factories and refuses to allow the formal participation in the meetings of political organizations, which is a petty-bourgeois element in this movement.

39. Because of the radical-democratic nature of the KAP and thus their lack of control by the bureaucracy, the KKE leadership sees this movement as a threat. Shamefully, they condemn it as "apolitical" and reject any involvement in, and support for the movement.

40. The attitude of Bolshevik-Communists to such spontaneous bourgeois-democratic protest movements is characterized by the combination of a) an active participation in, and support for the movement, b) a politically clear and educational criticism of its petty-bourgeois orientation, anti-party sentiment, etc., c) the open advocacy of an orientation to the working class and the establishment of action committees in the factories, neighborhoods and schools, and d) a clear perspective on the necessity of socialist revolution and the building of a revolutionary combat party of the working class.

41. Another very important phenomenon is the spread of rank and file assemblies and the formation of actions in many enterprises and neighborhoods. These committees are spontaneous and are barely linked together. Related actions are also the numerous occupations of public buildings.

Program of the Revolution


42. In the past year and a half Greece has gone through a pre-revolutionary development; numerous ‘general strikes’ (12 until now), occupations and demonstrations have proven beyond doubt the fighting spirit of the masses. But so far these heroic struggles have had no success: the PASOK government has been able to push through the brutal austerity packages in parliament.

43. The reason for this failure lies in the fact that at the head of the mobilization there is no revolutionary combat party of the working class, but rather, reformist bureaucracies with centrist appendages. They pursue a strategy of impotent dead-end mobilisations which are directed at winning lucrative power and privileges via new elections.

44. The key condition to overcome the current crisis is the building of a revolutionary party. Only with such a party at its head can the working class be won to a program for the socialist seizure of power and the road to liberation opened. The first step in this direction is the creation of a revolutionary party-building organization to develop such a program and to unite activists on the basis of this program.

45. The central tragedy of Greece to date lies precisely in the huge gap between the struggle and determination of the working class on the one side and the terrible political backwardness of the leadership of the workers' movement on the other side. There is no revolutionary party capable of leading the proletariat to take power. Today many militant workers and young activists support either reformist or centrist forces (e.g. trade unions close to PASOK, KKE/PAME, SYRIZA, DIMAR, Antarsya), the Autonomists/Anarchists, or they are unorganized. From this fact follows the centrality of the united front tactic. The battle for winning over first the vanguard and then the entire proletariat requires that the revolutionary forces do more than strike together with the workers. They must also direct their demands to the existing organizations and that includes also their leaderships. To direct demands to the leaderships does not imply we have any illusions in their reformist and centrist programs. On the contrary, revolutionaries explain openly to the working class why these leaders are not able to lead the liberation struggle to victory, why they are an obstacle to the revolution and why they must therefore be replaced by a revolutionary party. In a revolutionary crisis the working class can learn ten times as fast as in normal times of relative class peace. But the working class cannot be won over to the revolutionary program solely by means of propaganda - they must go through their own experiences with their leaders’ betrayals. Therefore it is necessary to direct the calls for the establishment of action committees, workers 'militias, etc., up and including the workers' government also to the current leaders of the Greek labor movement such as the pro-PASOK unions, KKE/PAME, SYRIZA, DIMAR and Antarsya.

46. A revolutionary program for the crisis in Greece must first of all explain the character of the current crisis and draw the correct conclusions. This crisis cannot be overcome by reforms and governmental coalitions within the framework of capitalism. The working class and the popular masses will experience a social massacre, a social and historical defeat, if the ruling capitalist class – regardless of whether ND, PASOK, KKE or SYRIZA administer their businesses – is not overthrown in time. The most important element of the current situation is therefore the question of power. Which class rules - the working class or the capitalist class?

47. This is understood by the parties and felt by the masses who want to get rid of the politicians and the government. Therefore the reformists and centrists put forward their answer to the question of power. They demand new elections and a "left" or "anti-monopoly popular government". Several centrists (e.g. CWI, IMT) do not share this orientation towards new elections. They propose a prolonged or even indefinite general strike to overthrow the government and the formation of a workers' government. Their rejection of the reformist electoral orientation is correct but their concept of the struggle for a workers' government is wrong and naive. It is a characteristic of centrism that it presents the seizure of power in a (pre-) revolutionary situation as a relatively peaceful transition, without rupture, in other words, in an opportunistic, non-revolutionary way. The indefinite general strike is seen as a weeks-long strike which forces the government to resign and then a workers government based on trade unions, leftist parties, action committee etc. delegates, emerges. In a (pre-) revolutionary situation this is a completely unrealistic view of the proletarian seizure of power. Moreover, it is a dangerous opportunistic illusion which is spread by centrism in the ranks of workers vanguard.

48. Not coincidentally, several centrist groups such as the CWI or the IMT share the revisionist theory of a peaceful transition to socialism. The scenario of civil war and the appropriate political and military preparation is outside of their horizon. But the ruling class will not voluntarily give up their power and a few street fights are not sufficient to win. Already the CIA speaks openly of the possibility of a military coup and the U.S. business magazine Forbes is acknowledging their sympathy for a coup in an article with the headline: "The Real Greek Solution: A Military Coup" (26/10/2011). We warn that the Greek proletariat is threatened by that terrible prospect like that of Chile in 1973. Whoever does not consistently promote the revolution is punished by a counter-revolution. Bolshevik-Communists do not conceal their views of the necessary steps to resolve the question of power. They openly say that power can only won by means of a socialist revolution. Revolution means the armed revolutionary uprising and civil war of the organized working class, led by a revolutionary party. Revolution means the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Only under such a regime can the masses of the people be freed from the yoke of capitalist domination, can industry be planned according to the interests of society, and can the class enemies of the revolution be suppressed and the revolution spread internationally. To propagate a workers 'government in a (pre) revolutionary situation as a concrete objective, without preparing the working class for the inevitably of civil war and armed rebellion won by a workers' militia, is to spread reformist illusions of a step-by-step, peaceful transition towards socialism. Bolshevik-Communists reject decisively such a policy of centrism.

49. The question of power is the central axis of the Programme of Action at the present stage of Greek politics. From this several consequences follow. The working class can take power only when it is organized accordingly, and learns to fight for power. The revolutionary action program must take up the most urgent questions of the immediate struggle for survival and demonstrate that they can be answered only by the seizure of power.

50. In order to take control of the defensive struggle themselves, the working class and the oppressed must form Action Committees in the factories, neighbourhoods and schools. At regular assemblies of employees, residents, school students, university students, etc., the most important local and national issues shall be discussed. The decisions will then be implemented by elected delegates who are held accountable to these assemblies and can be voted out by them at any time.

51. Such Action Committees are the first step to Councils (or Soviets as they were called in Russia in 1917). Councils/Soviets are the instrument of the working class by means of which they build their counter-power and lead the fight for workers’ control in the enterprises and the education system. Such Action Committees/Councils will then elect delegates and join together locally, regionally and nationally. Demand a national conference of delegates from all the action committees/councils! Demand that the KKE, SYRIZA, DIMAR etc mobilise for the establishment of such councils!

52. Especially in the current phase of economic collapse, where many enterprises dismiss workers or close down, the slogan of workers' control is of crucial importance. All companies that want to cut wages, lay workers off, or threaten to close down, must open the books. We advocate immediate nationalization of these enterprises under workers' control. Equally important are the slogans of factory occupations and the continuation of production under workers' management. The already existing initiatives to refuse payment of higher duties, taxes, rents, etc. are a very important step. They must be coordinated through Action Committees/Councils and expanded to an effective mass campaign.

53. Hardly a demonstration passes without the attacks of heavily armed police. We know the ruling class is already publicly talking about the possibility of a military coup. All this underscores the urgent necessity of arming the organized working class and youth. Immediately, of course, the construction of powerful self-defense units is needed to protect demonstrations, strikes, immigrant communities, etc. against police raids, fascists and provocateurs. But in the current situation where the question of power is clearly posed, it is necessary to go beyond the centrist slogan of self-defense committees. State power can only be conquered when the working class creates its own armed forces – i.e. workers' militias. Instead of protecting parliament against militant demonstrators, the KKE/PAME should put their forces in the service of the workers' militia! At the same time revolutionaries must organise subversive activity in the armed forces (army, police), to prevent them being used as a decisive blow against the people.

54. No demand for new elections, but for the overthrow of the government by an indefinite general strike and an armed uprising! For the formation of a workers government based on Workers' Councils and militias! As a first step: demand that the dominant labour organizations today – GSEE, ADEDY, PAME, KKE, SYRIZA, DIMAR and Antarsya – form a workers' government based on the mobilization of the masses! Down with the PASOK/ND-conspiracy against the people! The power lies not in parliament, but on the street! A real workers' government is based on the organs of workers’ power (Councils, Militias, etc.), and must expropriate the bourgeoisie and smash the state apparatus. Of course the creation and maintenance of a workers' government that implements such a revolutionary policy will face the determined and violent opposition of the ruling class. Therefore, a workers' government without armed organs is an impotent caricature that would fall immediately to a military coup as it happened in Greece in 1967 or in Chile in 1973. Although the sequence and pace of development cannot be predicted, it is obvious that the questions of the indefinite general strike, the armed struggle for power and the workers' government are inextricably linked.

55. Against the vice of the debt trap we raise the slogan of the cancellation of all debts. No halving of the debt, no moratorium (postponement of repayment), no committee to review the debt - but simply cancel all debt! Not only the public debt, but also the debt of private households, small traders and self-employed should be deleted immediately.

56. The economy must no longer be the victim of a small group of corporate masters and financial jugglers! For the expropriation of the super rich - this elite group of monopoly capitalists! For the nationalization of the domestic and foreign banks, large industrial and service companies as well as the large landowners (including the church property!) under the control of the workers! The labor movement must develop an economic emergency plan to secure the survival of the population and the country against the extortions of monopoly capital.

57. 35% of the workforce in Greece is self-employed. Many of them are non-exploitative peasants or small traders, who can be won as allies for the socialist revolution. This requires, however, that the working class takes the path of socialist seizure of power. A workers' government needs a program for the peasants and the lower middle classes: For the nationalization of the land! No small farmer and small trader will be expropriated against his/her will. For the cancellation of the debts of farmers and small traders - instead interest-free loans! Promotion of voluntary associations with the longer-term goal of voluntary collectivization!

58. International solidarity! The international workers' movement – first of all in Europe and the Balkans - must rush to their brothers and sisters in Greece to help. The unions and workers' parties of Europe and the Balkans have to organize an immediate campaign for total cancellation of all debts of Greece. Fight the governments and the EU Commission which openly tries to blackmail Greece! For a campaign within the labour movement against anti-Greek chauvinism in the media and Social Democracy! The international trade union of bank employees must initiate independent investigations and make public both the flight of capital of the Greek capitalists and the speculation and profit rip-off of international banks at the expense of Greece.

59. No to Greek chauvinism! For the recognition of full equal rights of national minorities and migrants! For the right of self-determination of national minorities up to and including the right to secede! For full citizenship rights for immigrants, equal pay, equal recognition of their language as in offices and schools, for the abolition of the state language! For the massive organization of migrants in the unions! Equal representation of migrants at all levels of management! 

60. Fight the oppression of women! Equal pay for equal work! Instead of cuts in public services, we demand a massive expansion of public child care facilities and public and inexpensive restaurants and laundries as a step toward the socialization of housework!

61. A workers' government would immediately break with the imperialist EU and the euro-zone and instead promote the building of socialism in Greece and the international spread of revolution to the Balkans and throughout Europe. For a socialist federation of the Balkans! For the United Socialist States of Europe!

62. Let us repeat: the Greek revolution will end in a serious defeat if a revolutionary combat party of the working class based on a Bolshevik program is not built in time. Time is short! The Bolshevik-Communists of the RKOB seek discussion and unity with all serious revolutionaries in Greece. Forward to the Fifth Workers International, the international revolutionary workers party!


Resolution of the Revolutionary Communist Organization for Liberation (RKOB-Austria), 11/10/2011

Endorsed by Communist Workers Group (CWG-Aotearoa/New Zealand)

[Note: CWG endorses the RKOB statement on Greece in all its fundamental points. At the same time we acknowledge programmatic disagreements over the question of Stalinism, capitalist restoration and centrism which we are continuing to discuss with a view to resolving]

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