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Greece: 'For an anti-austerity government of the left'

By Socialist Resistance (Britain)

This statement was agreed to at a meeting of the Socialist Resistance National Committee on May 26, 2012. Socialist Resistance is affiliated to the Fourth International. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal to promote left discussion. For more discussion and analysis on the political crisis in Greece, click HERE.]

May 28, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- Syriza’s stunning vote in the recent elections has shaken the Greek and European ruling classes to their foundations. It was a total rejection of the austerity package, on a progressive basis, by 60% of the electorate and has created not only the biggest crisis, but the most significant class confrontation in Europe since the Portuguese revolution of 1974.

The combined left vote was 27%, with Syriza gaining 17%, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) gaining 8% and the Front of the Greek Anti-Capitalist Left (Antarsya) 1.9%. If we add another 6% who voted for the Democratic Left – a right-wing split from Syriza which is against total rejection of austerity because it believes Greece would kicked out of the Euro and therefore only wants to soften the package – the vote to the left of PASOK was nearly one third of the electorate. The inability of any party to form a government has resulted in the president calling a new election next month on June 17, and a caretaker government has been sworn in, led by high court judge, Panagoiotis Pikramenos.

Before the election, Syriza was the only organisation to call for a united anti-austerity platform and for a united anti-austerity government if the left won. Syriza has decisively rejected austerity and the bailout conditions imposed in March by the Troika. Alexis Tsipras has called the 130 billion euro rescue plan “an agreement of poverty and wretchedness.”

After the result – with the Greek left being offered a unique opportunity to form a government – Syriza again sought the unity of the left and workers' movement, approaching the other left formations and the trade unions to try to put together a government of the progressive anti-austerity forces. But this was rejected in a sectarian fashion.

Despite this, recent opinion polls suggest that the new elections could result in Syriza becoming the largest party and possibly forming a government. This is not guaranteed, but the momentum behind Syriza means that the ruling class and political establishment fear a new election. The EU elites have made it clear that they will make the new election into a referendum on the euro, but that a second anti-austerity vote would mean the expulsion of Greece from the euro. Massive international and internal pressure is being applied around this ultimatum – and between now and the election it will only increase. This campaign has already boosted the right wing New Democracy, which is now running neck and neck with Syriza in some polls.

It is important that this ultimatum is rejected and the austerity offensive opposed. The Greek workers should take no responsibility for the debt. The demands in Syriza’s programme are imperative at this juncture.

Meanwhile, many, mostly middle-class, Greeks have already begun withdrawing hundreds of millions of euros from Greek banks – withdrawing 3 billion euros since the elections and investing in safer havens, especially in German bonds. This has raised fears of a run on the banks even before the results of a new election, with serious fears of the banks running out of money and the possibility of Greece falling out of the euro in the short term. At the time of writing a crucial 18 billion cash injection to stabilise Greek banks has been held up – all the Greek banks are on a life support system run by the European Central Bank.

It is to the great credit of Syriza and its leadership that they have held the line against the massive pressure on all fronts, which has been thrown against them. Syriza’s election platform is a radical anti-capitalist action programme, which will be an essential baseline if they eventually form a government. It includes:

• A moratorium on debt payments.
• Taxing the rich and a radical redistribution of income and wealth.
• The nationalisation/socialization of the banks and their integration into a public banking system under social and worker’s control. The nationalisation of all public enterprises, of strategic importance.
• The administration of public enterprises based on transparency, social control and   democratic planning.
• The ecological transformation of the developmental model including energy, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture.
• Well-paid, well-regulated and insured employment, the restoration of the minimum wage and
collective agreements, opposition to lay-offs, universal unemployment benefit and the introduction of a guaranteed minimum income.
• A guaranteed minimum income or unemployment benefit, medical care, housing and access to all services of public utilities.
• Price controls and price reductions.
• The introduction of direct democracy and institutions of self-management under worker’s and social control.
• Improved of the rights of women and young people in the family, the work place and in public
administration.
• The social inclusion of immigrants and equal rights protection.
• Restoration of the pensions and the universal system of social insurance.
• A free health service and universal, public and free education.
• End to tax avoidance and tax havens.
• Disengagement from NATO and shutdown of the foreign military bases.

The manifesto concluded with a declaration that the current economic and social system has failed and must be overthrown! It goes on: “We are calling for a new model of production and distribution of wealth, one that would include society in its totality. Our strategic aim is socialism with democracy, a system in which all will be entitled to participate in the decision-making process.”

It is a programme that puts Syriza in good stead for the challenges that will come if they win the election. Cancellation of the debt will be of crucial importance if such a programme is to be carried out.

In or out of euro?

Syriza is accused of ambiguity over the euro because they do not call for withdrawal. The fact is, however, that they are dealing with a contradictory situation amongst the population. Whilst a big majority are against austerity they are also in favour of staying within the eurozone – which are mutually incompatible aspirations. Syriza has rightly confronted this situation with what is essentially a transitional approach. They do not call for exit from the euro but say that they will make no sacrifice for the euro. They then advance a series of demands, which are incompatible with membership of the eurozone. This puts the ball in the court of the EU elites. If they want Greece outside of the euro they have to expel it from the euro.

Tsipras has also said the threat to accept more austerity or exit thee urozone was a high stakes game of bluff, led by Berlin, which would not happen because the eurozone had too much to lose. This is a clear reference to the threat of "contagion" within the banking system, which would probably lead to Portugal and Spain crashing out of the euro and the possible collapse of the euro itself, with bond yields going through the roof. This would lead to slump. Merkel has even called for a specific referendum on the euro to be held alongside the election itself!

Division is therefore opening up among economists and within the European political leaderships, with many arguing that the European Union can’t afford to allow Greece to leave. This would provide a Syriza-led government, according to Tsipras, with a powerful bargaining position. However, a new "Marshal Plan" to shore up Greece and southern Europe would represent a total and massively costly about-turn by Germany, which seems unlikely. It would be rash to assume that this will happen. The stakes are too high. What is far more likely is that Merkel will hold the line and every nerve will be strained to terrify the Greek population into voting for the establishment parties on June 17.

However there is ambiguity in Syriza’s position, for while presenting a radical anti-capitalist platform against the bail-out and austerity, Tsipras has also called for negotiations to reform the euro and the EU. A position of not calling for a break with the euro is not a political problem if Syriza and its supporters are fully prepared for such an eventuality. 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 face.

In this situation, nationalising the banks, imposing capital controls, taxing and collecting taxes from the rich, canceling internally held public debt, freezing the assets of the wealthy to stop them being moved out of country, will be necessary and urgent moves.

These are demands in Syriza’s programme that must be implemented at the beginning of any term of office, so that the new government can pay state employees, pensions and, also importantly, to immediately control the flow of capital and protect Greece from the manoeuvres of international finance. The nationalisation of the banks will allow the government to stop a run on the banks, ring fence the financial system and cancel internally held public debt, which is the majority of the Greek public debt. These are the measures needed to begin the fight-back against the ravages of austerity.

Other measures are also important, such as opening the books to public scrutiny of private companies, the nationalisation under workers' control of firms creating redundancies, factory occupations and the building of local support committees, which are already emerging, sharing of the work equally between all those who want to work – work sharing with no loss of pay. Action should be started to recover the billions of euros that the ruling class has already taken out of the country.

If implemented these measures would ignite an international explosion, and would have a domino effect elsewhere. There is considerable fear of ‘contagion’ in the European banking system at a time when the firewall designed to bail out other banks, especially in Spain or Italy, is not yet fully funded – this could result in the collapse of the euro. A maelstrom could threaten to bring down a new left government in Greece. Consequently a massive mobilisation of the Greek working class and international solidarity will be needed.

A Syriza government should prepare for a possible expulsion from the euro and devaluation by drawing up a plan to take all necessary measures to protect the working class. A re-introduction of the drachma in these circumstances, i.e., on a capitalist basis, will not be easy for the Greek working class, but will allow Greece to have some control of exchange rates. Weaker economies like Greece and Portugal after entering the euro became uncompetitive due to suddenly inheriting a stronger currency. An important part of their crisis stems from euro membership. Under the fixed euro for all, weaker economies could not compete with Germany, leading to industrial decline and unemployment, but at the same time credit was cheap, encouraging a massive growth of private and personal debt in these countries – enabling them to buy German goods. In effect the German economy is being subsidised by the single exchange rate, enabling it to unload its goods onto countries like Greece or Portugal.

Another important demand Syriza has made is to end tax avoidance. This is on a massive scale and would be difficult to achieve quickly because of entrenched systems of patronage. A restructured tax authority to collect taxes efficiently would be needed. This policy is essential, for clamping down on tax avoidance and corruption and canceling the debt repayments would alone eliminate the Greek deficit.

A Syriza-led government that carried out its policy to restore pensions, would have to provide alternative retirement through nationalising the pension system and creating the free provision of all basic needs after a certain age. This would be made possible by offsetting losses from defaults to the country’s banks and pension funds, as most public debt is held domestically. This in turn would leave a smaller proportion of the debt owed to foreign banks, pension and insurance funds. The heavy taxation of the rich and wealthy and corporations are important here as well.

Defaulting on the debt repayments and leaving the euro, which will result, will be essential to put an end to the austerity attacks, boost exports, lifting the burden of debt repayments, allowing the economy to recover, creating jobs and develop by orientating demand towards the internal production that meets peoples’ needs in a green sustainable way. A boost in exports would offset the inflationary pressure of devaluation.

If implemented by the Greek people this programme would inspire all of us across Europe who are fighting the same type of austerity attacks. It would be the start of the building of a different type of society – one determined by the people for the people, which will put an end to the greed of the bankers and politicians.

Left unity

However, as the Greek working class faces another election, there is a serious problem that cannot be avoided – the issue of the unity of the Greek left. Before the election Syriza was the only organisation to call for a united anti-austerity platform and for a united anti-austerity government. If there are new elections both the KKE and Antarsya (though the KKE more stridently) have already said that they will not only stand their own candidates but will not give support to, or would "not prop up" a Syriza-led government if it were elected! This, they say, is because Syriza’s platform is reformist, and not revolutionary. But a more extensive revolutionary programme is something that must be and will be discussed and developed as the struggle advances and should not to be counterposed by revolutionaries to the immediate needs of the struggle as it unfolds today.

The most appalling sectarianism comes from the KKE, which, in third-period Stalinist style, has declared not only that Syriza is reformist but that reformists are the main enemy! Antarsya rejected the appeal in favour of a call for mass action against the cuts and declared that they would not "prop-up" a Syriza led government! With the Greek SWP section the main force in Antarsya, this approach is reflected by the SWP in Britain. An article by Alex Callinicos in Socialist Worker has nothing to say about the governmental situation in Greece, or of left unity, but accuses Syriza of ambiguity, of refusing to break with social liberalism, and of seeking to contain the situation within the framework of capitalism. 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”. We can agree with the last sentence but that must be as an active part of the Syriza coalition and with a united front method.

This is a dangerous situation. A victory for the left is not guaranteed, but we could see an anti-austerity government with a radical anti-capitalist action programme either denied office – and the austerity continue with all its consequences – or be 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. Of course the movement must be vigilant, but in the concrete situation that exists in Greece today, building a broad anti-capitalist organisation like Syriza – that can unite the working class – is what is needed, and what revolutionary Marxist currents should be engaged in.

We call on the KKE and Antarsya to break from sectarianism to become part of such a movement and a possible left government. If Syriza carries out its programme, and there will be massive pressures against it doing this, it would be a true workers' government, leading to the first major political battle in Europe against austerity and the capitalist crisis. The Marxist left should do everything in its power to ensure this succeeds, not stand aside in sectarian purity and isolation.

To conclude, the new elections, in which Syriza stands every chance of becoming the largest party, or winning, could lead to a coalition government of the anti-bailout, anti-austerity forces. The task of revolutionaries is to fully support the formation of such a government, but with vigilance against any compromise on Syriza’s action programme. This is particularly important if the reformist Democratic Left holds the balance of power and according to opinion polls two-thirds of Syriza’s voter in the first round were in favour of a political compromise to form a government. However it is important to recognise that Tsipras has shown no signs of any political compromise on Syriza’s programme. He states time and again that the “memorandum of understanding must be revoked”.

If at the end of this remarkable opportunity the Greek left and workers' movement fails through internal divisions to form a government when the opportunity had been there and the right-wing take control as a result the organisations which opted for sectarian isolation will have a great deal to answer for, and not just in Greece. In fact the strategy of building broad parties (either anti-capitalist parties like Syriza or radical left reformist formations in other situations) capable of uniting the left and radical trade unions across the political spectrum, from revolutionary socialists to those who have not reached such conclusions, is designed for exactly this kind of situation – when no single current or tradition can meet the challenge alone.

It is an urgent necessity for the social movements in Europe to show active, practical solidarity with the Greek people and to constitute a common European platform of resistance to austerity, which in Greece must include cancellation of the debt. In Britain, this means building support for the Greek solidarity campaign, set up by Coalition of Resistance and the Peoples Charter, and supported by SERTUC and the TSSA. Across Europe it means following up the eminently sensible proposal which appears to have emanated from the indignados movement in the Spanish State for a day of action against austerity on June 16, the day before the Greek elections, with a major focus on solidarity with Greece.

Comments

Thanks

Thank you Socialist Resistance, this is certainly one of the best and clearest articles to come out of the left on this situation to date.

Latest Poll

Here are the results of today's (May 30th) polling as reported by the Guardian newspaper:

Two new opinion polls have been published in Greece today, ahead of the crucial June 17 elections.

I've only got the information off the newswires, alas, but here goes...

One poll, by Pulse, put New Democracy and Syriza neck-and-neck on 24.5%.

The other, by VPRC, put Syriza ahead on 30% followed by New Democracy with 26.5%, then Pasok on 12.5%.

Greek polling data can be tricky to interpret, as it can be unclear how 'don't-knows' and abstentions have been handled. But it appears that these polls, which both show support for the 'anti-bailout' Syriza party holding up well, are the trigger that sent the euro falling.

End story---

The interesting thing about this is that the VPRC poll has almost the identical numbers of the Public Information (P.I.) poll of two weeks ago. PI has been the most accurate of all the polls to date in relation to the last election.

It shows that SYRIZA has maintained and strengthened its popularity with the Greek working masses, withstanding everything which the imperialist European bourgeoisie has thrown at it politically. Now, with only 17 days to go, active and practical solidarity with the Greek masses by the international revolutionary left is more important than ever.

All out together June 16! No to austerity, no to the cuts, no to the Troika! Solidarity with the Greek People! Occupy our Future, the Peoples of Europe are Rising!!

An open letter regarding the Greek left to UK Socialist Worker

http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=28641

Disagreements are not only normal and, in any case, unavoidable within the left. They can also be productive provided they are formulated in terms that do not excessively distort the positions of the interlocutor.

In a recent issue of Socialist Worker answering the question “What shape has Greek reformism taken?” (the terms of the question seem already biased to me), Panos Garganas summed up Syriza’s position in the current situation as follows: “Syriza’s leaders promise we can escape from austerity by reforming the EU.

“They say a left government shouldn't take unilateral steps like cancelling the debt and breaking with the euro. They seek a negotiated exit from austerity. They claim a budget with a surplus would strengthen Greece’s negotiating position with its creditors.

“This effectively postpones the promise to end austerity until the German government and banks agree to it. That’s why Antarsya says we need a strong anti-capitalist left and a continuation of the strikes.”

With the exception of the last sentence, I’m afraid this statement is quite far from giving an adequate picture of Syriza’s position but also of the lines of demarcation within the radical left and, more broadly, within the current conjuncture.

It is true that Syriza’s general position is in favour of an internal transformation of the EU, but on the basis of denouncing all the existing European Treaties (Maastricht, Lisbon etc).

It is also true that Syriza is against exiting the eurozone, although significant currents both within Synaspismos and in other components of this political front (which, by the way, also includes many significant organizations of the Greek far Left, mostly from Maoist and Trotskyist backgrounds) are in favour of such an exit (or of considering it as an unavoidable consequence).

But Syriza won the support of the majority of the left electorate, and, as its leading position in recent polls suggest, probably of a relative majority of the Greek people as a whole, not by proposing to wait for an EU reform or negotiations to end austerity but by electing a unitary government of all the anti-austerity forces of the left.

Such a government would immediately, as “its founding act” like Alexis Tsipras keeps on repeating, abrogate, by a vote in Parliament, the whole framework of the infamous Memorandums. The Memorandum is non-negotiable, stating the contrary would be like “trying to negotiate hell” as Tsipras also recently said.

On that basis, and that unilateral move, an anti-austerity government would ask for a renegotiation of the debt in order to write-off the major part. If this demand for renegotiation is rejected then Greece would stop the repayment of the debt, declare a moratorium which would last as long as necessary in order to allow a favourable outcome of the renegotiation, along the lines that similar negotiations have taken in the past (more recently in Argentina).

Syriza says that these moves will not entail an exit from the eurozone nor the interruption of the current payments to the country given as part of the bailout plan.

The statements of EU officials and European leaders claiming the contrary are presented as a propaganda war aiming at putting pressure on the electorate and blocking the rise of Syriza. This position, it should be stressed, reflects the mood of the vast majority of the Greek population, which rejects austerity but doesn’t want an exit from the eurozone.

It also corresponds to the fact that, as Larry Elliott wrote in yesterday’s Guardian, ‘Europe has form when it comes to ensuring that electorates vote the ‘right’ way’.

It is nonetheless true that it seems extremely unlikely that the EU, representing the interests of Greece’s creditors, and more broadly of European finance capital, would not react to the unilateral exit from the Memorandum-based austerity framework.

Recent statements of Syriza leaders show an awareness of the necessity for such a contingency plan, but its lines remain very unclear, since it would almost inevitably amount to exiting the euro and immediately defaulting on the debt.

The two logical possibilities that appear, if Syriza wins the June 17 elections and leads the next government, are either surrender and reneging on the commitment to abrogate the memorandum, which would amount to an unmitigated disaster not only for Syriza but for the entire radical Left and, moreover, for the Greek people, or engaging in a protracted battle which would almost certainly lead to results that go beyond the current objectives put forward by Syriza.

This would conform I think to a quite familiar in history pattern of processes of social and political change, where the dynamic of the situation, boosted of course by the pressure of popular mobilization, pushes actors (or at least some of them) beyond their initial intentions. This is what scares most the dominant forces in Greece and in Europe and explains their hysterical campaign against Syriza and the perspective opened up by its possible coming to power.

The stakes of this battle are immense, probably the more significant we had in Europe since the Portuguese Carnation Revolution. In such a context, all the forces of the radical Left should work together as closely as possibly, not only on the terrain of struggles and mobilizations, which is the indispensable starting point, but also politically, to help the situation to radicalise and to unleash its full potential.

Sterile polemics, reiterating the all-too familiar pattern of ‘unmasking the reformist enemy’, should therefore be avoided in favour of fraternal discussion, which includes of course in-depth clarifications of the real and welcomed disagreements between the forces of our camp. Our responsibilities are huge, millions of progressive people have their eyes turned to Greece as a name, and place, for hope, and of a concrete possibility for a long-overdue popular victory.

Stathis Kouvelakis, London

UK SWP's Alex Callinicos on staying out of SYRIZA

Greece’s real battle comes after election
Alex Callinicos
29 May 2012

It’s a cliche but it’s nevertheless true that the eyes of the world are on Greece. I get feverish updates of the latest opinion poll from revolutionary Marxists and bourgeois economists alike.

The reason is simple. The election on 6 May revealed that the mass of the Greek people rejected the austerity programme imposed under the Memorandum of Understanding between their government and the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The main vehicle for this rejection proved to be Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left. Its leader Alex Tsipras has denounced the programme as “barbarous”. His refusal to form a coalition with the parties that support the Memorandum has forced Greece into a second election on 17 June.

According to the polls, Syriza and the main party of the Greek right, New Democracy, are in a close race for first place. The stakes are very high. If Syriza formed a government that rejected the Memorandum, the European Central Bank might well react by ceasing to fund the Greek banks, precipitating Greece’s full default on its foreign debts and departure from the eurozone.

But Syriza isn’t the only force on the radical left. The Greek Communist Party (KKE) is one of the biggest surviving Stalinist organisations, with deep roots in the organised working class.

It is also very sectarian. Aleka Papariga, the KKE general secretary, refused to meet Syriza after the last election. Its vote is being squeezed, and deservedly so.

There is also Antarsya, the Front of the Anti-Capitalist Left. This is a coalition of far left organisations, some from Maoist and Trotskyist backgrounds. Its two most important constituents are the New Left Current (NAR), a breakaway from the KKE, and the Socialist Workers Party (SEK), Greek sister organisation of the British SWP.

Distinctive

Antarsya has a distinctive programme which calls for Greece to default on its debt, nationalise the banks, cut the working day, and leave the euro. Syriza, in sharp contrast, is dominated by Synaspismos, representing the pro-EU wing of the Greek Communist movement.

Antarsya won 1.2 percent in the elections—an advance on its previous performance but not enough to get into parliament. It is standing again. But there have been numerous calls for it to withdraw, some from inside Greece, many from outside.

The critics—including some who agree with Antarsya’s call for a break with the eurozone—argue that in office Syriza will move left and take on the EU. Maybe this will happen, but I don’t see why one should count on it.

Interviewed on Channel 4 News on Thursday last week Tsipras said that, faced with a Syriza-led government, Germany and its allies would back down. This isn’t the message of IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, who announced in a callous interview in last Saturday’s Guardian that it’s “payback time” for Greece.

Much of this discussion takes place in an electoral vacuum. Since December 2008 Greece has blazed with the fiercest social struggles Europe has seen in a generation. Austerity has provoked 17 general strikes plus many more national and local strikes, and occupations.

This is what pushed Greece to the left. Syriza has benefitted electorally but it hasn’t led the anti-austerity movement. Trade unions have traditionally been controlled by Pasok, the Greek equivalent of Labour, though its dominance has now collapsed. Activists from the KKE and Antarsya have been much more important on the ground.

I don’t expect Antarsya to get a big vote. But its presence in the elections will provide a political voice for some of those leading the real struggle—which must now include a big push against the fascists of Golden Dawn. Antarsya has made it clear that it sees itself working alongside and in dialogue with those who support Syriza.

The stronger its voice is, the greater the pressure will be on Syriza to stand firm in the face of the forces trying to impose austerity as Greece’s permanent condition.

The decisive battles will take place after the polls have closed, and here Antarsya will have a big part to play.

* Socialist Workerk, Issue: 2305 dated: 2 June 2012

GREECE: ANSWERING THE CRITICS OF A UNITED FRONT

This is a guest post by Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson

Greece stands on a precipice. There can be no return to the old politics there and a revolutionary situation is emerging amid the chaos of everyday life. The classic conditions for revolution are present: a working class no longer prepared to live in the old way and a ruling class no longer able to rule in the old way.

Even the people who decide to end their own lives are not doing so quietly. They are going to the squares to die and they are leaving messages that talk not so much of their own despair but of struggle – ‘hang the bankers and the politicians’, said one.

The political situation in Greece has to be resolved either by the working class or by the forces of reaction – there is no third way. Either Greece will have a workers’ government or the forces of the extreme right will grow and threaten the existence of the left as a whole.

One force has emerged on the left and has galvanised mass support – Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, a coalition of communists, Maoists and Trotskyists and other progressive currents. In Marxist terms it is a left-centrist formation – different in essence from the Socialist Party in France or the Labour Party in Britain.

Syriza has come under fire, since its stunning election result in May where it went from 4.4% to 16.8% of the popular vote, from the entire Greek establishment – from all the media and the main bailout parties. The attempt to demonise Syriza is also being promoted throughout the whole of the European Union and the Troika have concentrated their fire on Syriza. You only have to listen to the lectures being given by Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, about Greeks not paying their taxes to know which way the wind is blowing.

Syriza have rejected the bailout terms. The party has refused the memorandum and called for the defence of workers’ rights. Their leader Alexis Tsipras outlined 5 demands that a new government would undertake. In addition Syriza are on record as calling for the complete nationalisation of the banks.

There is no doubt that Syriza is under enormous pressure to compromise its principles and that within Syriza there may be rightist tendencies that might buckle under pressure from the EU and others. These are decisive days in Greek politics. In this situation what should other forces on the left do?

This week major comment pieces have appeared in the two main left papers in Britain, the Morning Star and the Socialist Worker, written by Kenny Coyle and Alex Callinicos respectively. Rather than calling for critical support for Syriza in opposing the memorandum and defending the working class both articles argue that the working class have chosen the wrong party to support -‘it should have been me’ shout the jilted revolutionaries and expecting a quick divorce proclaim that once the working class have come to their senses it will be [one] of them.

The sister party of Socialist Worker [SEK] works within a much smaller left coalition than Syriza called Antarsya. Antarsya picked up 1.2% of the vote in the May general election. They did not pass the threshold for parliamentary representation in Greece which is 3% and although they are standing again are unlikely to increase their vote significantly and certainly not to that threshold – as Callinicos admits ‘I don’t expect Antarsya to get a big vote’. Callinicos is not wrong here – polls show Antarsya support dropping to 0.5% – the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition got more votes on the London Assembly list.

So why are they standing?

Callinicos’s main point seems to be that the election itself is not that important. In fact his piece is titled ‘Greece’s real battle comes after the election’. So the election is not a real battle – the real battle is taking place on the streets in the struggle against the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. No one doubts the bravery of Antarsya comrades and their commitment to anti-fascist work. Their offices have been attacked by the fascists in recent days because they are at the heart of anti-fascist work in Greece. Everyone there knows that.

But this is not a good reason for Antarsya to stand against Syriza and possibly deny it the possibility of becoming the largest party – which given the peculiarities of Greek electoral law gains an extra 50 seats. In fact in return for calling on its voters to support Syriza it should put down a number of proposals for joint anti-fascist work – some of which could only be introduced by a government – outlawing paramilitary activity, purging public institutions of Golden Dawn supporters.

Elections are important and the May election saw the vote for Golden Dawn increase from 0.3% to almost 7% – this has emboldened them and they have been at the heart of anti-immigrant riots in Patras this week. They are not fascists in suits but fascists in uniform and bearing arms. Almost 50% of the police voted for Golden Dawn.

Callinicos argues that Antarsya has a distinctive programme and lists Greek default, bank nationalistion, shorter working day and leaving the Euro. It’s not that distinctive – in fact the KKE has the same programme and Syriza has three of the four. They only differ on the question of the Euro – and there are those who support Syriza such as Costas Lapivitsas who are arguing for Greece to leave the Euro. The question of the Euro anyway does not lie in the hands just of the working class – the Troika are making preparations for Greece to leave the Euro. In any case a distinctive political position does not have to be jettisoned because you lend electoral support to another organisation. The SWP would presumably not dream of standing against Jeremy Corbyn in his constituency especially if it jeopardised his seat.

Callinicos argues that the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and Antarsya are the most important forces battling against austerity on the ground. If this is the case why has the working class in a period of struggle turned to Syriza? The fact is that this is simply untrue. The Coalition of Resistance took a delegation of national trade unions to Greece and saw for ourselves how embedded Syriza was in the struggles of the class – it was Syriza who took us to the town councils in the working class areas of Athens at Nea Ionia and Ellinikon where local committees have been set up to distribute cheap food and free medical care.

Syriza are arguing for and part of setting up committees of action throughout Greece. In a poll last week for the Greater Athens area they were at 31% – the working class is looking for a left party willing to take office and improve their daily lives. Nobody is arguing that the KKE and Antarsya do not contain good militants devoted to the class but they are being misled – and many are now joining Syriza. Callinicos says that ‘the stronger Antarsya’s voice the greater the pressure will be on Syriza to stand firm’. But as Antarsya’s electoral voice is likely to be diminished it is hard to see the value of this position. In fact, the decision of Antarsya to stand weakens the whole left and makes it more likely that Syriza will not be able to form a government and if the left is disunited the forces of the right will grow. Antarsya should either be inside Syriza arguing its politics or – if remaining separate – calling for a critical vote for Syriza.

What of the KKE?

The KKE received 8.8% of the vote last May and had MPs elected. Nobody is calling for them not to stand. They should. The question is what their MPs will do when elected. Will they support the formation of a Syriza-led workers’ government or will they open the door for the pro-bailout parties to return?

Comrades in Athens tell us that the main message of the KKE is ‘Don’t Trust Syriza.’ The KKE leader, Aleka Papariga, has refused to meet with Alexis Tsipras and, according to Kenny Coyle, has reserved her sharpest words for Syriza – not for the forces of the bourgeoisie. Coyle’s article strives to explain the politics behind this extraordinary decision: to make attacking Syriza – a party of the working class – central to the work of the KKE in the forthcoming election. From the KKE’s own publications it is clear that it sees Syriza as part of a ‘facelift’ of the Greek political scene organised by the bourgeois class ‘in order to preserve its power’. But the reality is that the regrouping of right-wing forces around New Democracy and the political and media war against Syriza comprise the attempts of the Greek – and European – bourgeoisie to preserve its power.

The KKE analysis and approach has diminishing support from the Greek working class, and like Callinicos, Coyle acknowledges that his sister party will fare badly at the polls. But the KKE is determined to disregard the desire of the Greek workers to choose political representation that will take concrete steps in their interests – an intention clearly outlined by Syriza. Coyle tries to explain why the development of the mass movement in Greece, with numerous general strikes and mass ‘can’t pay won’t pay’ campaigns, has led to the rise of Syriza electorally but not the KKE. He is forced back on the KKE argument that Syriza has pulled the wool over the workers’ eyes – that they are lying to the working class and must be exposed. But the great weakness is that the KKE’s exposure of the great Syriza ‘confidence trick’ relies on words and propaganda alone. The hollowness of this approach is dismaying given the gravity of the situation facing Greece. The real test of the KKE as a workers’ party would be in joining a Syriza-led workers’ government and holding it to its pledges.

The terrible irony is that Coyle says the KKE would support a Syriza government if it had a plan B – a programme to deal with exit from the Eurozone. The problem for the KKE is that their decision not to critically support a Syriza-led government will lead to Christine Lagarde’s plan A – further austerity measures being imposed on the people of Greece by a New Democracy government supported by PASOK and others.

The great tragedy is that the KKE and its supporters are willing to pursue this hand-washing isolationist line, expecting electoral losses to be short term and assuming that at some point in the future the working class will rally to the KKE: a kind of ‘after them, us’ analysis. As Coyle observes, the KKE has decided it is better to suffer short-term electoral losses than to participate in a Syriza-led government whose policies ‘will result in rapid disillusionment and the demobilisation of Europe’s most vibrant extra-parliamentary mass movement’. But many will interpret this as an abdication of the KKE’s responsibility to the working class, potentially unleashing even more extreme austerity and brutality on the Greek people at the hands of a resurgent right.

As Marx said, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Coyle and the KKE’s argument is one that we have heard that before – it is remarkably similar to those used by the German Communist Party (KPD) in the late 1920s and early 1930s to defend the decision not to work with the SPD, the German Social Democratic Party. In Germany this led to disaster and the coming to power of the Nazis.

These are momentous days in world history. Capitalism has entered the period of its structural decline. Unlike the 1930s little can be done to halt the ever-increasing economic crisis. A solution in one country opens up economic fault lines in another. The Euro cannot be saved; the real question – and one posed more by mainstream economists than by Marxists – is whether capitalism itself can be saved.

Both Callinicos and Coyle downplay the importance of the parliamentary elections, saying that the real struggles lie on the streets and ahead. What they fail to understand is the relationship between parliament and the street. There is a deep desire amongst the Greek working class for a government that will begin to solve the problems that they are facing. Of course no solution is possible for any workers’ government without a mass mobilisation of the people but in their refusal to support a Syriza-led government they are merely vacating the space for the right, undermining the mass movement on the streets and potentially ensuring their defeat.

From Cairo to Quebec via Athens and Mexico City and Santiago millions are fighting back.

The task for socialists is to try and unite the working class under a single banner.

Callinicos and Coyle take a sectarian approach – sectarian in the sense that they represent the interests of their political currents and confuse those with the interests of the class as a whole.

Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson
Wednesday May 30th

Change the World Without Taking Power, Marxist Edition

"...The main danger in Greece is not reformism or opportunism on the part of SYRIZA. If SYRIZA had strong opportunist tendencies, we would have seen pressure after the May 6 elections from within its ranks to water down, weaken, and compromise on its five-point pledge to halt austerity. Such a rotten and unnecessary compromise would have been the necessary precondition for a SYRIZA-led coalition government with PASOK, ND, and/or DIMA (a rightist split from SYRIZA). Instead, Tsipra stood firm and resisted the temptation to trade principles for power and enjoyed the full and unanimous backing of SYRIZA’s constituent elements in doing so.

"All of this makes the claim by British socialist Alex Callinicos that SYRIZA’s actions thus far are illustrations of reformism’s contradictions either a bad ultra-left joke or a hopelessly dogmatic attempt to force SYRIZA to conform to the British SWP’s schema for categorizing political organizations as reformist, revolutionary, or centrist. Fighting to implement SYRIZA’s five points will be far more revolutionary than anything the SWP has ever done...."

For the rest, see: http://www.thenorthstar.info/?p=787

Change the World Without Taking Power, Marxist Edition

by Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street on May 29, 2012

The Weekly Worker’s Eddie Ford wrote richly detailed (http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004829) and engaging overviews (http://www.cpgb.org.uk/article.php?article_id=1004838) of a political earthquake in Greece that is rattling international investors and European governments alike. SYRIZA, a radical left coalition, may soon control the Greek government. Instead of concluding his articles with timeless, useless truisms like “what happens now depends on the class struggle,” he directly confronted the question posed point-blank by Greece’s upcoming elections: capitalist state power and what the left (specifically SYRIZA) should do with it.

Ford’s answer? “[R]eject all invitations to join or form a government” since “there is no Marxist party in Greece capable of forming” a “government committed to carrying out the full minimum program of Marxism.” Instead, we are told, it is better to wait “[t]ill we have a clear majority committed to a transition to socialism it is far better to be parties of extreme opposition which intransigently fight not only against the cuts but for a new, much more democratic, constitution.”

This is the Marxist edition of John Holloway’s Change the World Without Taking Power.

If SYRIZA can form a government based on Alexis Tsipra’s (SYRIZA’s leader) five conditions, it would be criminal not to do so. Under the rules of the Greek constitution, refusing to form a government would mean ceding that power to an election’s runners up, meaning PASOK (social democrats) and/or New Democracy (ND, a right-wing big business party), the two parties responsible for the severe austerity policies that have unraveled Greek society.

For SYRIZA to voluntarily surrender power to ND and PASOK would be treason to the millions of Greeks who are giving SYRIZA a chance to govern. What use is voting for SYRIZA if PASOK and ND lose the election and form the government anyway because SYRIZA refuses to live up to its campaign promises? If SYRIZA hands power to PASOK and ND, becomes a party of “extreme opposition” instead of a party of government, and then begins to “intransigently fight” PASOK and ND for a “new, much more democratic, constitution” it will be met with well-deserved mockery and derision.

The single best way to demoralize SYRIZA’s new supporters and guarantee their return back to the PASOK camp would be for SYRIZA to follow Ford’s advice, washing its hands of its political responsibilities because conditions are far from ideal for the implementation of the “full minimum” Marxist program of a non-existent European Union Communist Party. This course of action (or rather inaction) by SYRIZA would give the very “bourgeois political game” the Communist Party of Great Britain derides a new lease on life. It would also preserve the game’s main players in the workers’ movement, Stalinism and social democracy, two forces that have held us back from revolutionary breakthroughs in Greece and almost everywhere else for almost 80 years. When was the last time millions of workers shifted their support from Stalinist and social democratic parties to the radical left, creating the possibility of supplanting both? Should we let this pass us by because circumstances are far from ideal and because the difficulties ahead are great?

What today exists in Greece is an opportunity of world-historic importance to “win the battle of democracy” as Karl Marx so eloquently put it in the Communist Manifesto and reminds us that “[t]he democratic republic is the nearest approach to the dictatorship of the proletariat,” as Lenin wrote in State and Revolution.

Clara Zetkin (l) and Rosa Luxemburg (r)

In short, the hypotheticals that the Comintern discussed are now a real possibility Greece.

The main danger in Greece is not reformism or opportunism on the part of SYRIZA. If SYRIZA had strong opportunist tendencies, we would have seen pressure after the May 6 elections from within its ranks to water down, weaken, and compromise on its five-point pledge to halt austerity. Such a rotten and unnecessary compromise would have been the necessary precondition for a SYRIZA-led coalition government with PASOK, ND, and/or DIMA (a rightist split from SYRIZA). Instead, Tsipra stood firm and resisted the temptation to trade principles for power and enjoyed the full and unanimous backing of SYRIZA’s constituent elements in doing so.

All of this makes the claim by British socialist Alex Callinicos that SYRIZA’s actions thus far are illustrations of reformism’s contradictions either a bad ultra-left joke or a hopelessly dogmatic attempt to force SYRIZA to conform to the British SWP’s schema for categorizing political organizations as reformist, revolutionary, or centrist. Fighting to implement SYRIZA’s five points will be far more revolutionary than anything the SWP has ever done.

The main danger now is that the rulers of Greece and Europe will use force, fraud, and fear-mongering to thwart SYRIZA’s victory at the polls. They fear that such a victory would strip the austerity regime of any remaining democratic legitimacy and create the threat of a good example for the rest of Europe should SYRIZA make good on its pledge to reverse austerity and, in so doing, stimulate economic growth, much as Iceland did when it refused to socialize the losses of its big banks. A popular regime whose austerity for banks and the wealthy brings general economic growth and prosperity to the 99% is the last thing they want.

The lesson of Greece is this: we can change the world without taking power, but only within the limits set by the political parties that have that power. Like it or not, states continue to be among the world’s most powerful institutions, and the forces that hold the reins of state power control the direction and speed of the carriage we ride in. ND and PASOK ignored the dozen general strikes and mass mobilizations that shook Greek society for two years, rendering those actions ineffectual from the standpoint of steering policy away from austerity. Only when a political organization born of and inseparably linked to those mobilizations – SYRIZA – began to compete with ND and PASOK electorally for the reins of state power did the possibility of changing the direction Greek society go from the realm of popular demands at demonstrations to the realm of political realism.

To be truly effective, direct action in the streets, workplaces, and campuses must be matched by direct action at the ballot box. We must take power, not because we crave power over others or aim to replace the old hierarchy of party bosses with a new one but because we can no longer afford to allow the 1% to control any government, anywhere, for any reason, whether it is because we are against states in principle or think elections are a difficult and boring waste of time.

We don’t want to take power so much as we want to stop them from using it on us. To protect ourselves and the lives of the elderly, poor, pensioners, and differently abled who depend state incomes to survive, the levers of government must be pried from the hands of all parties working in the interests of the 1%, whether they label themselves liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, Tory or Labour, socialist or democratic makes no difference. It is too dangerous to allow these parties to control politics or policy at any level – global, national, regional, local.

This is not a matter of anarchism, Marxism, principles, or ideology, it’s a matter of survival – for humanity and for the planet. If the economic system is controlled by an international band of rapacious fraudsters and organized to systematically disregard human decency, ecological sustainability, and common sense, the political parties that are loyal to that system and those fraudsters cannot be allowed to wield the reins of state power unchecked, unchallenged, because as long as they do, the closer and closer to the precipice we get.

Removing the parties of austerity and environmental destruction from existing governments will not create the horizontal, borderless, corporationless, stateless world we want since state institutions are so intimately part of the oppressive social fabric that must be unraveled to get to that world. However, at this point, we are not going to have much a world left to win unless and until we occupy governments and stop their ruinous policies ourselves.

There is nothing revolutionary about abstention from elections

I strongly agree with your argument here. Leftist nitpickers might seize on your use of the phrase "taking power" here to claim that you conflate winning elections with really taking power, even though that is not your intent. The Comintern discussions about workers governments and workers and farmers governments is apt here.

Engagement in elections to win (not just to make propaganda) is not alternative to building the movement in the streets, workplaces, campuses and neighbourhoods for serious revolutionary socialists It should go hand in hand.

Hopefully the discussion in the left around the world on the challenge for the Greek left to unite put up a serious challenge to austerity in the coming elections will bury some of the abstentionist madness that is a part of the sectarian heritage that the socialist movement desperately needs to break from.

You only have to watch the frustration and demoralisation of Egytian socialists and other revolutionaries at the recent elections to understand how important is the opening that Syriza's anti-austerity platform and public support offers.

The other thing that is laughable is the superstitious faith that some people place in the paper programs of tiny outfits which are untested in struggle. Put those people in under the pressure of real political responsibilty and I bet most of them would go to water faster than some of the so-called "reformists" in Syriza, who (unlike the armchair socialists who would stay out of the political fray and hang on to their pure paper programs) will in due course be put to the test.

We continue to distribute from Resistance Books (Australia) a very useful pamphlet by Maurice Sibelle called Revolutionaries and Parliament, which surveys the attitude of Marx, Engels and later the Russian Bolsheviks to parliamentary elections. A small excerpt follows:

* * *

In his 1895 introduction to Marx’s Class Struggles in France, Engels noted that “The Communist Manifesto had already proclaimed the winning of universal suffrage, of democracy, as one of the first and most important tasks of the militant proletariat.”

When universal male suffrage was granted in Prussia by Bismarck’s government in 1866, “our workers immediately took it in earnest and sent August Bebel to the first, constituent Reichstag.” Through such socialist election campaigns, the German Marxists had been able to transform the parliamentary franchise “from a means of deception, which it was before, into an instrument of emancipation.” Engels continued:

"And if universal suffrage had offered no other advantage than that it allowed us to count our numbers every three years; that by the regularly established, unexpected rapid rise in the number of our votes it increased in equal measure the workers’ certainty of victory and the dismay of their opponents, and so became our best means of propaganda; that it accurately informed us concerning our own strength and that of all hostile parties, and thereby provided us with a measure of proportion for our actions second to none, safeguarding us from untimely timidity as much as untimely foolhardiness — if this had been the only advantage we gained from the suffrage, it would have still been much more than enough. But it did more than this by far. In election agitation it provided us with a means, second to none, of getting in touch with the masses of the people where they still stand aloof from us; of forcing all parties to defend their views and actions against our attacks before all the people; and, further, it provided our representatives in the parliament with a platform from which they could speak to their opponents in parliament and to the masses without, with quite other authority and freedom than in the press or at meetings."

Engels went on to say that electoral propaganda was a more effective means of struggle than “revolutionary” adventures “carried through by small conscious minorities at the head of unconscious masses” — referring to various ultraleft attempts by small groups to seize power through street fighting. He viewed the participation of socialists in elections as “one of the sharpest weapons” to fight the state institutions and expose the other parties to the masses; as an effective method of reaching the masses of people with the ideas of the party; as a useful platform to express the ideas of the party and attack its opponents if the party succeeded in winning seats; as a gauge of strength and support of the party among the masses; as a means of legitimising the party before the masses and putting the party in a position where attempts to outlaw the party could be fought more easily. This was particularly important in Germany in light of the Anti-Socialist Law. The party’s legal activities — its election campaigns — were powerful weapons enabling it to fight for the right of the party to exist.

More here:Revolutionaries and Parliament

Greek FIers respond to FI & SR

Friday, June 1, 2012

Andreas Kloke: Answer to the statement of the FI on Greece

Dear Comrades,

you've probably seen that the "Executive Bureau of the Fourth International" (EBFI) has issued a statement on Greece in "Int. Viewpoint". In this statement it declares itself unreservedly in favor of the previously published opinion of SR, the British section of the FI. Thus it challenges the view of OKDE (the Greek Section) and of ANTARSYA (which OKDE is part of). (My article that was also published last week in IV reflects the general approach of OKDE.) The declaration of the EBFI advocates unequivocally, and with all desirable clarity, the political conception of the SYRIZA leadership, especially its "5-Point Plan". The declaration states:

"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." And:

"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.

There is no space here for a deeper analysis. From my / our point of view I / we would comment as follows:

- OKDE, as the Greek section, was not even consulted before the publication of this statement. This, in itself, is highly irregular and completely unacceptable. Whether the comrades of the EBFI agree with the orientation of OKDE in the present situation or not (and it is certainly their right to disagree) it is a violation of every basic tenet of international leadership for them to adopt a position without even initiating a discussion with the comrades who are actively engaged in Greece itself.

- Whatever one may think of SYRIZA, CPG (KKE) and ANTARSYA, one can hardly deny that the "5-Point Plan" of SYRIZA reveals in no uncertain terms the true character of SYRIZA, that is, a rather right reformism to characterize it politically. It is clear that the political objectives of SYRIZA remain definitively within the framework of capitalism and bourgeois democracy (the credibility of which is, however, shaken to its foundations in Greece today).

- It is difficult to assess the differences between the orientation of OKDE (and of ANTARSYA) and the declaration of the EBFI as merely “tactical.” It seems to clearly be a matter of two fundamentally incompatible views—both counterposed political assessments and political/programmatic orientations.

- At the end of each article in “Int. Viewpoint” one can read the following: “The Fourth International - an international organization struggling for the socialist revolution - is composed of sections, of militants who accept and apply its principles and programme.” The time has come, however, to honestly ask ourselves: What principles, what program?

- Given the extreme escalation and the critical situation in Greece, which is emphasized by the very declaration adopted by the EBFI, the FI finds itself at a crossroads: Should we support a perspective that can only be characterized as (left) reformist, or do we support a revolutionary anti-capitalism and an updated transition program? All sections, currents, groups, and ultimately every militant will have to take a position on this question.

I would like to add a brief assessment of the current situation in Greece:

After the elections of May 6 a further polarization of the electorate between "left and right" is developing, clearly favoring SYRIZA and New Democracy (ND). On the left everything is turning towards SYRIZA. The left sentiment is still rising and is currently at about 40% (on May 6 it was still at 37%). On the other hand, the intimidating propaganda (mainly from the German mass media) urging that Greece be kicked out of the euro favors ND and PASOK. The present published opinion polls are slightly different from one another but give the following overall picture:

ND 23.5 to 26%, SYRIZA 21.5 to 28.5 (or even 30) %, PASOK 13.1 to 14.8%, Independent Greeks (nationalistic - rightwing, but against the memoranda policies) 5.8 - 7.2%, DIMAR (politically somewhere between PASOK and SYRIZA, a particular phenomenon) 6.2 - 7.0%, CPG (KKE) 4.8 - 5.2%, Ch.Avgi (fascists) from 3.8 to 5.5%, Dimiourgia xana / Drasi (extreme neo-liberal) 2.4 - 3%. ANTARSYA is mentioned with 1%. It may be, however, that the result of the next election on June 17 will be well below this figure, since parliamentary illusions are in full bloom. This should be understandable in any case.

SYRIZA could therefore actually be the first party in the next electoral round. But we still strongly doubt that the formation of a "left government" can be achieved, since there is no suitable coalition partner in sight. KKE will not participate, as everybody knows. DIMAR is one likely coalition partner but that would pull SYRIZA even further to the right. The "Independent Greeks" are very unlikely to join such a government as they are rightwing-nationalist and do not fit with SYRIZA.
If ND and PASOK, and possibly still another party (e.g. DIMAR), are going to form a government, muddling along in the context of the memoranda policies as before, the country will very soon be left with no prospect. There could well be totally uncontrollable outbreaks, more reminiscent of chaos or civil war perhaps. The society itself is on the verge of collapse and cannot simply go on like this. On the other hand, a viable alternative is hardly in sight.

There is a feeling (it seems to me/us) that the rise of SYRIZA is the last chance of the national as well as the international system (addressed to the Troika, i.e. especially to the German government, but also to the "public opinion" in Germany) to save the situation with something akin to "normal" methods. But one can be sure that this exit or escape will not work, for various reasons. And then? What happens when SYRIZA fails (or, more precisely, during the time that SYRIZA is in the process of failing)? The most likely variant is a deepening polarization between left-revolutionary and fascist alternatives. Right now the fascists clearly have a considerable head start in this competition, while the revolutionary left alternative is only an embryo. This underlines the importance of following a revolutionary strategy along the lines of what the OKDE and ANTARSYA have been attempting. Now is not the time to be tailing after a reformist project. Now is the time to be building the revolutionary alternative that the Greek people need.

It is also clear that in the future “everything” may well depend on the proper TACTICAL behavior of the anti-capitalist - revolutionary forces (i.e. mainly ANTARSYA) towards SYRIZA (and secondarily towards KKE). It is obviously not enough to say, “SYRIZA means reformism, so get rid of it.” Since ANTARSYA itself is under pressure and not very united or strong, a prediction about the demise of SYRIZA is hardly the best approach. The only certainty is that the disappointment will be tremendous if SYRIZA really does come into power and turns out to be incapable of changing anything for the benefit of the people. In any case, the situation is very exciting. International solidarity will be most needed in every respect. This must be radically different, however, from the political support of SYRIZA’s reformism.

Revolutionary greetings
Andreas

2 σχόλια:

John Mullen June 1, 2012 9:14 AM

I'm afraid I don't find this convincing. Firstly, whether or not the international bureau were sufficiently polite is not really very important. But that is a detail. It seems possible to be in Syriza and still defend revolutionary options, and that is a tactic to be considered very seriously, as it could allow to defend revolutionary options in front of a much wider audience of activists, while also urging that the first step of winning the refusal of the memorandum is something w ecan all do together. I do not have detailed information of the situation on the ground, but I would certainly say that any revolutionary group not recruiting large numbers right now in Greece is in very serious difficulty. Does anyone have info on recruitment of activists to the Antarsya components in recent months?

Phil June 1, 2012 10:17 AM

I think that John Mullen's comments are on the mark. It's worth adding that the ANTARSYA comrades don't even have to be in SYRIZA. They can maintain their organizational independence but instead of running their own candidates in the election give SYRIZA critical support and offer to build a common front with the revolutionary currents inside it, both to put pressure on the SYRIZA leadership to move further left and to engage in non-electoral activities (such as anti-fascist demonstrations). Even if you have the view that SYRIZA will inevitably fail, this would be the best way to build a stronger revolutionary left. There should obviously be no illusions in the electoral process, but pretending that all is well as ANTARSYA's electoral support evaporates even further is crazy.

Appeal by Political and Union Activists: Unity against Troika!

GREECE
Appeal by Political and Trade Union Activists Gathered in Nauplia [Nafplio], Greece, on May 17, 2012

"Unity for the Cancellation of the Troika's Memorandum and its Barbaric Measures!"

Workers, political and trade union activists gathered in Nauplia [Nafplio], Greece, on this 17th of May. We have discussed the situation. Many of us voted for Syriza on the 6th of May, others for other candidates, but all of us are united to say that what gathers us together -- we and the immense majority of the workers and the people of Greece -- and what has been expressed in the strikes and mobilizations for over a year and a half now, as was expressed in the May 6 elections is this central demand:

UNITY FOR THE CANCELLATION OF THE TROIKA MEMORANDUM!
Cancelling the memorandum means opening the possibility for the unemployed to find employment; it means opening the possibility for the employed and the retired who can no longer feed their families to win back their salaries and their retirement pensions, at the level of before the memorandum. Cancelling the memorandum means opening the way to cancelling the privatization of energy, water and railways; it means winning back the means for ensuring public education for the young, and the means for the hospitals to re-establish the right to healthcare for the ill. It is the first step towards the cancellation of all the austerity measures, including the undermining of collective bargaining agreements and minimum wages.

Cancelling the memorandum means opening the way to the re-establishment of the democracy and sovereignty that the Troika has been violating for months now, in our country as in all of Europe. For over a week, the leaders of IMF, the European Union, the ECB, the "financial markets", the bankers of New York, London, Paris, Frankfort -- the Merkels, the Barrosos, the Junkers -- have been posturing, sounding the alarm, threatening and blackmailingŠ because Alexis Tsipras, of SYRIZA, dared to declare that the MEMORANDUM MUST BE CANCELLED, while also refusing to put together a coalition government in order to pursue the implementation of the barbaric Memorandum.

Whatever our political and trade union affiliations, we say this: ALEXIS TSIPRAS IS RIGHT WHEN HE SAYS: CANCELLATION OF THE MEMORANDUM!

Because for us, for all the workers, the unemployed, the young, the retired, the peasants Š CANCELLING THE MEMORANDUM is a question of survival! Shouldn't all parties claiming to defend the workers unite around this elementary demand?

At their joint press conference on Tuesday May 15, Angela Merkel and François Hollande sent out "a call to the people of Greece". It was no surprise to hear Merkel declare that, whatever the result of the elections, "the Memorandum must be respected". As for François Hollande, he contributed: "I have no answer that would be different from the chancellor's".

But weren't those «commitments» to implement the Memorandum -- made to the Troika by the PASOK, the ND and LAOS -- rejected by the vote of the Greek people on May 6?

This rejection is the rejection by all the workers in all of Europe of the parties and governments that implement the Troika's policy of austerity. Whether it be in elections, as was recently the case in France, in Italy and in the German Lânder of Rhenania North-Westphalia, or in the mobilization of the workers with their trade unions in strikes and demonstrations, as in the strike of 10 million workers on March 29 in Spain against the Labour Law reform, or in the demonstrations in January-February in Romania against the healthcare reform, the workers' and peoples' rejection is overwhelming against these counter-reforms which are the direct consequences of the demands of the European Union and the IMF.

We are not alone. We are sending out a call to say that nothing is more urgent than to work for building the broadest UNITY -- in all shapes and forms - FOR THE CANCELLATION OF THE TROIKA'S MEMORANDUM AND ITS BARBARIC MEASURES!

Nauplia, Greece -- May 17, 2012

Exchange between the FI Bureau and OKDE-Spartakos

Exchange between the FI Bureau and OKDE-Spartakos (Greek section)

FI Bureau, OKDE-Spartakos

Following the elections in Greece on the 6th of May the Bureau of the Fourth International published a statement “The future of the workers of Europe is being decided in Greece” available here. OKDE-Spartakos, the Greek section of the Fourth International wrote to give their opinion on this statement. Their letter and a reply by the Bureau are published below.

*************************

Answer to the Central Committee of the OKDE-Spartakos (Greek section of the Fourth International, see below)

Dear comrades,

First of all, we should say we should have consulted you before publishing the declaration of the Bureau of the International. So this is noted.

It is the urgency of the situation as well as the need to mark our solidarity with the Greek people and all the radical left which pushed us to react quickly.

We don’t agree with your reaction to the declaration.

It does not deal with your orientation or your party-building choices. We do not deal with Antarsya’s relations with Syriza, nor the electoral question, nor the problems of characterization of Syriza, nor what should be an overall transitional approach. On all these questions opinions are divided in the International, and even in the Greek section.

We tackle only one question: given the campaign of the “troika” against Syriza which refuses to apply these same austerity plans should we or should we not support Syriza in this opposition to the current policy of the Greek ruling class and that of the European Union? Our answer, like that of almost all the sections of the International, is clear: it is necessary to support Syriza, which so far has been opposed to the austerity policies, notably by refusing to constitute or support a government applying these policies.

You then take up another question returning to the formulations of the five principal demands of Syriza by explaining that these are not transitional demands. We know that Syriza is a coalition dominated by left reformists. We know that they do not share our conception of the transitional programme. It is true also that the formulations of Syriza’s demands are often changed, but beyond the formulations, they reject the EU “Memorandum”, commit to a moratorium on the debt, reject the austerity measures already applied, and in particular, so far, refuse any agreement with the plans of the EU. This position which, over and above the many variations in the declarations of leaders of Syriza, has been officially reaffirmed it seems. [1]

By definition, a transitional demand is not often (even generally) explicitly anticapitalist, since it starts from the really existing level of consciousness: it must be from the start considered legitimate by a broad part of the population. It is the fight for its implementation, in a situation of open crisis, which “reveals” its anticapitalist implications and makes it possible to raise the level of consciousness and struggle. From our point of view, the rejection of the memorandum and austerity measures, the moratorium on the debt for its cancellation – at least for the greatest part – can indeed correspond to the level of consciousness present while constituting a breaking point making it possible for a transitory dynamic to start up.

Once again, under these conditions, should we or should we not support this policy? Should we or should we not participate in solidarity with the Greek people and this refusal by Syriza, supported by all the Greek and international radical left? Our answer, is, yes, we must be in solidarity.

This is what the declaration says, neither more nor less. The pressures from the ruling classes are enormous. It is probable that differentiations will appear, that there will be reorganizations of the left, and we must be attentive to all that, but at this stage, Syriza holds good, and they should be supported, because we will be listened to by their militants and their voters to the extent that we have supported them against the enemies of the Greek people. We do not think that a policy which, in the name of future possible treasons, leads revolutionaries to be opposed to Syriza is a good one. We prefer a unitive policy, unity of the organisations of the radical left, trade-union unity, and unity of the grassroots movement, in particular by encouraging and supporting all the experiences of self-organisation. This is also the meaning of our stance in favour of a convergence of Syriza, Antarsya and KKE, and in the perspective of a left anti-austerity government. It is in any case a proposal to discuss in order to oppose an anti-austerity block to ND and the PASOK.

We know that the obstacles to this unitive policy are enormous, in particular because of the policy of the KKE, but faced with the scope of the captialsit attacks there is not other path than to propose the path and means of workers’ unity.

This perspective must combine with the coming together of all the anticapitalists who are in Antarsya but also in certain sectors of Syriza and beyond and in the trade union and associative movements.

Given the importance of Greece, the discussion will continue. It should tackle all the questions, but in such a situation, it is duty of revolutionaries and the Fourth International to seek the ways to carry out a unitive and anticapitalist policy.

Bureau of the Fourth International

6th of June

Dear comrades of the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International,

A few days ago we received in the mailing list of the bureaus an e-mail containing a link to your statement “The future of the workers of Europe is being decided in Greece”, which is published on the site of the International Viewpoint.

It was a big surprise for us to realize that it was a statement concerning Greece and the social, class struggles that are taking place in the country during the last 2.5 years, without any attempt to ask the Greek section or at least some of its members beforehand. Something like this should have happened even for your own information, as we can detect inaccuracies in the statement’s content and references to political positions (of SYRIZA) that are not valid any more. This exposes the Executive Bureau’s deficient knowledge of these subjects, but it exposes even more the lack of coordination within the FI. We want to underline that it is not the first time that our section is ostentatiously ignored and that decisions concerning the movement and the political environment we act in are taken without asking us about the section’s positions, without even expressing any interest in what its political decisions are and what problems a statement which is opposed to those decisions may create. OKDE-Spartacos is a political organization with a leadership and with collective processes by which it decides its political directions and planning. If anything, you should be interested in this planning. It is not always easy for us to translate our texts in other languages, however the FI’s role remains to coordinate all sections in order to avoid misunderstandings, errors and distortions.

Dear comrades, you know that the Greek section has taken the political decision to participate in the Unitarian anti-capitalist left project of ANTARSYA. We are building this front confronting consistently its contradictions as well as the political disagreements and the different political traditions there are within it. We spend much of our political and personal time working for the reinforcement and for the success of this anti-capitalist left front by applying its planning, in which OKDE-Spartacos itself has contributed. As you can easily understand, therefore, a statement such as the one published on the IV leads to questioning our political decisions and our organization’s credibility in the eyes of our allies, it deprives us of the support of our international organization and it displays our international as if it were a pendulum, swinging according to the (electoral) wind. In this way it undermines our effort to make ANTARSYA approach the International.

To be more concrete, you focus on and you propose as a spearhead of the political struggle in Greece the 5-point emergency plan of SYRIZA, with which its leadership has negotiated with New Democracy, PASOK, the Independent Greeks and the Democratic Left to form a government. This plan includes, for example, point 4 about abolition of immunity of ministers from prosecution, a demand which is irrelevant for the left and was put onto the agenda by the populist and the far right. By the way, these 5 points have recently been reconsidered by SYRIZA itself, which is continuously yielding to the pressures applied by the dominant class. The newest official development is that SYRIZA doesn’t promise any more to unilaterally abort the memorandum, but to replace it by a new national economic plan renegotiating with creditors and the EU. SYRIZA doesn’t speak about nationalization of banks (let alone workers’ control), but about “public control” by the state. This is something different from point 2 of Syriza’s five point agenda, which, by the way, concerns only those banks that have already received generous help from the state. It is really a question about which demand we consider to be a transitional demand: the three year moratorium of payoffs which SYRIZA proposes or the cancellation of the debt advanced buy ANTARSYA? Who is going to be asked to pay for the debt after those three years? Unless we think that nowadays, in the middle of the biggest crisis of capitalism after World War II and in a country that has been living under class war conditions for 3 years, a transitional program would be a luxury and that what we need instead is simply a bourgeois-democratic “emergency plan”.

It is astonishing that the statement doesn’t even propose a critical vote or an effort for a programmatic agreement, but a total political alignment with SYRIZA and its emergency plan!

We all realize the importance that the formation of a government to the left of social-democracy in the next election would have for working people in Greece and all over Europe. Such a fact could improve their self-confidence and contribute, under certain circumstances, to a further rise of struggles. However, SYRIZA does its best in order to prevent the development of such a process in favor of working people. The only hope for something like this to happen is for a credible anti-capitalist force to its left to exist. Otherwise, after some months a possible SYRIZA government will collapse leaving an open field for a right-wing government, like has happened in other cases in Europe (Italy…), or, even worse, for a far right turn. We think it is crucial for the Greek anti-capitalist left and particularly for ANTARSYA to go on with a united front tactic, but at the same time it should preserve its political independence and the anti-capitalist transitional program by which it has carried out difficult struggles in trade unions, workplaces and among the youth. ANTARSYA shouldn’t turn into one more left force that tails after reformist administrative illusions. Comrades, an anti-capitalist left exist in Greece, and it cannot negate itself in the name of 5 points that set aside the unilateral rejection of the memoranda, the cancellation of all debt and the nationalization of banks and big enterprises under workers control.

It is significant that while you are asking Greek workers to vote for a left government that would abolish the memoranda and all reactionary labour counter-reforms, SYRIZA has already started to speak about a renegotiation of the memoranda so as not to lose votes, yielding to the pressures of mass media and the dominant class. It is enough to say that the president of SYRIZA has proposed as prime minister of the transitional government G. Arsenis, a former Minister of Education of PASOK who was a devoted enemy of working people, the youth and the large-scale movement that resisted his reforms and who was responsible for thousands of unemployed teachers and for the accentuation of barriers against working class children and poor strata trying to enter second-grade or third-grade education (we just wonder, where means to an end should stop?). One more example: SYRIZA doesn’t promise any more to cancel all cuts, but just to restore wages to the level they were at before February, which is after two years of austerity and of social struggles (this makes a lower salary of 751 euro, obligatory fund contributions and taxes included…). Despite all this, ANTARSYA met SYRIZA and agreed to cooperate and march together in the struggles. However, in case of a left government, ANTARSYA will take a critical stance, supporting progressive measures and actively opposing any retreat.

We are in agreement with the struggle for the United Socialist States of Europe. But how can this happen? By defending the “EU of the peoples” and its bourgeois supranational mechanisms, like the reformist left does, or by a class struggle in European-scale coordination in order to destroy the EU? By concealing or by revealing in the eyes of working people and the unemployed masses that the EU serves the interests of international Capital and squeezes workers, a majority of whom still consider it a progressive institution? Euro-zone, the Euro currency and austerity policies that have accompanied their existence since the very beginning are not something to be fought against by workers in Greece and all around Europe? Will the EU disintegrate by itself or must the working classes of Europe challenge it, having a counter proposal instead?

Unfortunately we realize with anguish that the Fourth International is not capable of playing the role it should play in this historical period and we wonder where we are going… Although the Fourth International is an international coordination of small revolutionary organizations around the globe, its word and its statements have considerable weight and resonance among the international workers vanguard which is getting ever more massive and politicized. It should offer an orientation, with all the forces at its disposal, for the accomplishment of a transitional program that breaks with capitalism. This is even more valid for Greece, where the rise of workers’ movements puts on the agenda aspects of such a program, as happened last October, when we had the first signs of a direct challenge against the employer’s managerial prerogative, with all public services occupied by workers. The Fourth International should cultivate the conviction that revolution is possible today.

On behalf of the Central Committee of OKDE-Spartacos (Greek section of the Fourth International)

-The executive bureau is a subcommittee of the Fourth International’s international committee. It is mandated to organise the implementation of the decisions of the IC, the good management of the International’s practical components (press, education, regional and sectoral co-ordinating bodies), the preparation of meetings of the IC and the work of the International staff.

-OKDE-Spartakos is the Greek section of the Fourth International

We want SYRIZA to win

Dave Packer replies to Manos SKOUFOGLOU and ‘Greece: The Pendulum’.

Manos SKOUFOGLOU, a supporter of Antarsya, in his article, ‘Greece: The Pendulum’ (3 June 2012) (http://4thinternational.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/manos-skoufoglou-pendulum...) provides us with an interesting and useful analysis of the relation of class forces in Greece today, the conflicts, divisions and shifting consciousness within the different contending classes.

However, its political substance is to justify why Antarsya should not join an electoral pact with Syriza, or even give critical support to Syriza forming a left government, a position with which we profoundly disagree. What the working class and its allies are confronted with today in Greece is either a ND-led government, or even an undemocratic, imposed ‘technocratic’ administration that would lead to a greater assault on the working class, or an anti austerity Syriza-led government which would be an inspiration and stimulus to the Greek working class and the workers movement across Europe. Skoufoglou and Antarsya’s avoidance of this choice in the election is isolationist, ultra-left and sectarian.

We can agree with Manos Skoufoglou that:

“the result of the May 6th election is one more trembling in a political seismic sequence. It reveals and it expands the deep rupture which has opened a real revolutionary potential – not sometime in the future, but in this period . . . But if we really believe that revolution is still today a real possibility, first of all we must take the risk to accentuate social and political contradictions.”

For Skoufoglou and Antarsya that means posing only half of the solution: “immediately back on the streets for what we already know (strikes, occupations etc) but also for political demonstrations – against class collaboration governments, for an immediate rejection of the memorandum and cancellation of the public debt or under the banner of any other political demand needed. This should be our role before the election as well as after it, not fishing for votes.” However, it is not a question of fishing for votes but rather a question of building for a workers government and workers’ power. But rather than offering a strategy for workers’ power, Skoufoglou proposes mass rank and file action and some key transitional demands both of which are absolutely essential, but insufficient. There is no credible governmental solution offered. He writes, “Antarsya can’t adopt the slogan ‘for a government of the left’”. In other words he simply dismisses support for Syriza, which he describes as reformist – this smacks of British SWP-type syndicalism.

After discussing some of the political limitations of Syriza’s programme and some ambiguous statements by Tsipras, such as, “to do whatever possible so that the country remains in the Euro zone” (however a central slogan remains, ‘no sacrifice for the euro’), and some apparent backtracking on issues such as limiting nationalisation to “public control” of the banks, or that Syriza is now setting aside the issue of class unity among immigrant and Greek workers so as not to frighten voters, (certainly of concern if true) Skoufoglou concludes they are designed to accommodate to potential governmental allies to its right in PASOK and the Democratic Left. But what is noteworthy is the way Syriza has withstood the bourgeois onslaught without bending.

For a workers’ government

He argues that the backtracking therefore “restricts the progressive potential of a government headed by Syriza,” so that Antarsya can’t adopt the slogan ‘for a government of the left’. He then writes that although they are “not indifferent about such a perspective (of a left government). Of course it’s not up to us (OKDE and ANTARSYA) whether such a government emerges or not. What is up to us is, in case it actually emerges, to pull the pendulum of class struggle to the left, supporting progressive measures, opposing reactionary ones and promoting further workers’ demands.”

Skoufoglou argues that what is necessary is not votes but mass action and the united front. He writes that, “Antarsya is now big and visible enough to propose a genuine united front of the working class. Genuine, which means with its original political sense, neither like an electoral conglomeration or an attachment to reformism, nor like a coincidental de facto meeting in the struggles. We need to propose a clear, explicit, brief and public agreement for common action, which should include left parties (CPG/KKE, SYRIZA), extra-parliamentary communist organizations, anarchist groups, collectives, trade unions etc. We don’t need and we can’t have a common programme, but we can agree on 5 or 6 points: common self-defence against neo-nazis and common antifascist action, common organization of strikes, occupation and autogestion/workers’ control of closing enterprises, common participation in assemblies or committees in workplaces and neighbourhoods, common campaign for international solidarity. Such a proposal is what we urgently need, not a virtually governmental programmatic consensus, which is rather unfeasible and thus just propagandistic, and moreover not necessarily relevant to the united front.”

Leaving aside whether or not Antarsya has the weight to build the kind of united fronts being discussed, we can certainly agree with the necessity of building the movement around these five or six points, although not necessarily as a block. The main problem here is not these demands but that mobilising the movement in mass campaigns is in practice counterposed to the task of fighting for a workers’ government, or even conjuncturally a left government.

Syriza has a radical left, anti capitalist programme, but we agree this is not enough to ensure it will form a workers’ government, that would lay the ground for socialist revolution. We make a distinction between such a government and a left government that makes compromises with reformism and becomes a reformist bourgeois government. However history has not pre-determined the outcome of a Syriza victory at the polls. We should be vigilant, but revolutionaries should support such a government and push it as far as it will go, calling on it to implement its programme, as Trotsky did in relation to the De Mann Plan. We should call for a Syriza led government of the left and demand it implements it programme. We should back this up by building the broadest possible movement behind the kind of 5 or 6 points outlined by Skoufoglou. In this way Antarsya would be at the centre of the political struggle that will likely ensue after the elections, rather than find itself cut off from it and preaching from the side.

When Skoufoglou argues that we urgently need mass action, “not a virtually governmental programmatic consensus, which is rather unfeasible and thus just propagandistic, and moreover not necessarily relevant to the united front”, he misses the point: the crucial element of a revolutionary programme is a political solution to the capitalist crisis. It must involve the working class forming a government, a workers’ government that if it is to survive, must increasingly base itself on the mass organisations and the new forms of power thrown up in the struggle. The abject failure of Antarsya to pose a concrete governmental slogan in this near pre-revolutionary conjuncture (except as an abstract, propagandistic slogan of a workers’ government – what government – when?), is a retreat into a form of syndicalism, which offers struggle, which is necessary, but no concrete political solutions now, in the actual political struggle that is taking place.

Balance of class forces

We can agree that Syriza is not a revolutionary Marxist organisation with a clear revolutionary socialist programme. It is a broad left alliance, originating among diverse left forces, which has evolved leftwards and is now committed to radical anti-capitalist solutions to the Greek crisis. They are partial solutions that do not challenge the continued existence of capitalism, but whose implementation in government would profoundly challenge the logic of capitalism in this juncture and create a pre-revolutionary crisis in Greece. The possible victory of Syriza in the elections would be a massive advance for the Greek working class, which all socialists should support, but with vigilance, demanding that Syriza carries out its programme with no compromises.

An electoral victory for Syriza is not just “propagandistic”, merely votes not struggle, irrelevant to the united front, as Skoufoglou suggests, it would change the balance of class forces in favour of the working class, stimulate the mass movement, which is why the Greek and international bourgeoisie is doing everything to stop a Syriza victory.

Skoufoglou’s real position in relation to governments is made clear when he writes, “because of course we know that things don’t actually change by voting’ – this is crass syndicalism.

During the inevitable intense class confrontations that would ensue after a Syriza victory the tasks of revolutionaries will be to continue to build the mass movement, fight for clarity and the necessary strategy and programme to take the struggle forward – eventually to a revolutionary outcome favorable to the working class. Yes, there is always a danger that a left Syriza government will betray its own programme, vigilance will be necessary, but together with the working class we may have to go through the experience in order to rise to the tasks posed by the crisis – there are never any guarantees.

For more on all this, see our Resolution on Greece, which begins to outline such a programme. See also our pamphlet on the capitalist crisis, which discusses generally the issue of the role of a ‘workers’ government’ – written before the outbreak of the current Greek crisis.

FIers call for support for SYRIZA

For a program of confrontation with capitalism, for an independent anticapitalist and revolutionary party

Gaël Quirante

Greece is today the epicenter of the crisis of capitalism. It is the target of the most vicious attack by capital. The youth and the workers of Greece have answered this offensive with massive mobilization that has discredited the traditional political Greek regime of PASOK and ND. The ruling class no longer controls the situation, but the working class is not yet able to seize power and overthrow capitalism.

Under those circumstances, a part of popular anger has been capitalized by the far right, but it is mostly Syriza that embodies hopes for change just before the elections.

The Spanish State and Italy are the next targets of Troïka (then maybe France): the outcome of the ongoing struggle in Greece is decisive for all anticapitalists and revolutionaries throughout Europe and in the world.

There is now a debate about the position the revolutionary should take. Should they support a government led by Syriza? Should they support Syriza? Should they withdraw electorally in favor of Syriza? Or should they propose their own policies, independently from the reformists?

1- Syriza’s program and the declarations of its most famous leaders express both a popular rejection of anti-workers policies, and a will to reach a compromise with the ruling classes of the European Union, as Tsipras’ positions indicate: his categorical refusal to even consider going out of the euro zone or the EU, and his willingness to reform the EU so as to restabilize it.

A government that would abolish the memorandums would be a positive step for the workers and their struggles.

But how can you abolish the memorandums without abolishing the debt? How can you finance the necessary and urgent measures without socializing the banks? In short: how can you improve the Greek masses’ situation at all without confronting the capitalist minority’s power over the economy and society?

For it is obvious that if any government would put in question the program dictated by capital, the banks and the EU would immediately put an end to all sources of financing and all possibility of loan and wouldn’t hesitate to throw Greece out of the EU. In such a situation, one would be forced either to bow down and then go on with the same old disastrous policies, or confront the bankers’ and capitalists’ powers, by taking back what they stole and putting in question their control over the economy.

In terms of measures that need to be taken, a program of confrontation with the Capital is necessary. A program of transitional demands such as the general increase of wages, the radical decrease of working time, the cancellation of the debt, the socialization of the banks and of the key sectors of economy under workers control. Such a program implies a clash not only with the Greek ruling class but also with the European bourgeoisie and its institutions.

2- The only way to put in practice a program of struggle against the crisis and a break with capitalism is a general mobilization of workers and the popular masses.

It is not a slogan or an abstract idea. The pressure of capital is huge. The 24 or 48 hour strikes, the sectorial strikes… have resulted in a grave political crisis for the Greek bourgeoisie but have not been sufficient to stop the capitalist offensive.

It is therefore necessary to lean on the partial struggles, to strive to extend them and systematize the elements of self-organization that already exist and, under certain circumstances, that can be the core of a future dual power. It is through a generalization of the struggles and by federating the organs of self-organization that a worker’s power will rise and face the bourgeoisie. It is with the threat of an extension of their struggle to the rest of Europe that the Greek workers will be able to protect themselves from EU’s pressure. The youth and the working class of Greece have the key to current issues in their hands, they are the ones to be counted on to find a solution.

3- In this situation, the motto “workers’ government” becomes relevant. It is not applicable at once: it is even difficult to imagine its possible composition in the present situation. Nonetheless, it is indispensable to propose an overall political solution and to start to developing an understandable answer to the question: “who must hold power in Greece?”

Such a workers’ government would have to put into practice a program against the crisis, would have to be ready to apply with key transitional measures, such as the socialization of banks and strategic sectors of the economy. A government resting on a general mobilization of the workers and based on their self-organization. A government that would regroup all forces ready to defend the masses’ demands. The revolutionaries would be ready to participate in such a government with other forces on the basis of a confrontational program and of a high degree of workers’ and youth’s mobilization. Because such a government would encourage the possibility for the workers to seize power themselves.

Under the present circumstances, and given the character of Syriza, a Syriza-government would be something more than a mere left parliamentary combination, which is not the same as a workers government.

The evolution of the situation is uncertain: will Syriza be able to build the necessary alliances to form a government, how will Syriza and the masses react to the counter-offensive of Capital… But what is certain is that a global confrontation is necessary. And we therefore need a political instrument to prepare this confrontation and to popularize the program that is needed.

4- If a government led by Syriza took measures favorable to the workers, such as putting into question the memorandums, it is obvious that the revolutionaries would support those measures. However, such a critical and conditional support to a Syriza government does not in any way imply for the anticapitalist and revolutionary left (mainly represented by Antarsya) renouncing its political and organizational independence.

An independent party, whose center of gravity would be the class struggles, not the parliament and the bourgeois institutions. A party able to embody a visible political pole in the elections as in the mass struggles is necessary to defend the only perspective allowing the Greek workers to avoid the catastrophe. A party both able to have a united front policy towards the other forces in workers’ movement and to defend its own political perspective: the break with capitalism and the seizure of power by the workers. We assess that, under the present situation, the creation of such a party depends mainly on the developments within and around Antarsya, despite its contradictions. This project may also include common actions with anticapitalist minorities in Syriza and small revolutionary organizations that work independently.

If a “left wing” government collapsed in failure, the far right would probably be the one to profit from the situation. But it is not an inevitable fate. All will depend on the capacity of the revolutionary left to take the lead in the struggles and to make a program of break with capitalism creditable in the eyes of the working masses.

That is why, we, anticapitalist and revolutionary militants of several European countries, call to support the Greek revolutionary left, particularly Antarsya, and to strengthen the links between the militants that share a revolutionary perspective in Europe and worldwide.

Signed by members and sympathizers of the Fourth International

- France/NPA: Gaël Quirante (member of the Executive Committee), Xavier Guessou (member of the National Political Committee)

- Spain/Izquierda Anticapitalista: Ruben Quirante, (member of the Confederal Secretariat), Pechi Murillo (member)

- Greece/OKDE-Spartacos: Charis Mertis (member of the Political Bureau), Anastasia Vergaki (member of the Political Bureau), Panagiotis Sifogiorgakis (member of the Political Bureau/delegate at the 16th World Congress of the FI), Manos Skoufoglou (delegate at the 16th World Congress of the FI)

- Germany/RSB: Jakob Schäfer (member of the Political Secretariat, member of the IC of the FI), Peter Berens (member of the Political Secretariat)

- England/Socialist Resistence: Dave Hill (member of the National Council)

- Ireland/Socialist Democracy: John McAnulty (secretary), Kevin Keating (member of the Central Committee)

- Belgium/LCR-SAP: Mauro Gasparini (youth sector)

- Denmark/SAP: Jette [Lulu] (member)

-Gaël Quirante is a member of the Executive Committee of the NPA in France, and of the Fourth International.

Polls Show Greece Ungovernable

As a supporter of the Fourth International for more than 40 years, I wish to agree with Comrade Kloake that if the EBFI failed to discuss their statement with the comrades of OKDE-Spartakos, this was more than an impolite thing to do, it was a breach of respect among comrades and an apology needs to be forthcoming.

I also wish to agree with Comrade Kloke's assessment, that of the OKDE-Spartakos, that of Kokkino (a Permanent Observer to the Fourth International and a member of SYRIZA), that of OKDE (another Trotskyist organization in Greece which received 0.03% of the vote in the last election), and with the great majority of ANTARSYA and others, that Greece is in a pre-revolutionary situation, a situation where the rulers are no longer able to rule in the old way, and the ruled no longer will be ruled in the old way. This is not just an historical shibboleth, but is confirmed by the analysis as presented by Comrade Kloke above.

No matter who wins the election, the issue of governance will not be settled. I would refer readers to todays edition of Athens News where the latest polls are presented. These are the last polls which can be published. The site has a presentation of all the polls done since 10 May which I am including below, the the interactive nature of the poll results is best seen at the site: www.athesnews.gr

Poll results:

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Agency Date ND Syriza Pasok Ind Greeks KKE Dem Left G Dawn

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*Public Issue 01/06/2012 25.5 31.5 13.5 5.5 5.5 7.5 4.5

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Kapa 01/06/2012 26.1 23.6 9.9 5.3 5.7 4.4 5.1

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Rass 01/06/2012 26.5 24.2 12.1 5.8 5.2 5.4 3.6

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*MRB 31/05/2012 27.6 26 14.6 7.1 4.7 6.6 5.4

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*Marc 31/05/2012 28.8 27 13.9 7 6.3 5.9 4.6

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Alco 31/05/2012 25 22.7 12.5 6.5 5 5.2 4.5

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*Data RC 31/05/2012 28.4 25.6 13.9 7 5.7 6.2 5.4

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Pulse 30/05/2012 24.5 24.5 13.5 7 5 5 5

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*VPRC 30/05/2012 26.5 30 12.5 7.5 5.5 7.5 4.5

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GPO 30/05/2012 23.4 22.1 13.5 7.4 5.9 5.1 4.2

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*Pulse 26/05/2012 26.5 26 15.5 7.5 5 5.5 5.5

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*Marc 26/05/2012 27.7 25.5 15.2 7.7 5.5 6.3 4.4

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*Alco 26/05/2012 25.6 22.9 14 6.4 5.6 4.6 4.6

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Kapa 26/05/2012 25.8 20.1 13 5.4 6.3 5.3 5.2

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*MRB 26/05/2012 27.1 25.6 14.7 7.7 5.2 6.1 5.2

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*Metr. 25/05/2012 27 27.2 14.8 7.2 5.2 6.2 4.9

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*VPRC 25/05/2012 26 28.5 12.5 7 3 7 5.5

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Rass 25/05/2012 23.6 21.4 13.1 5.8 4.8 6.2 3.8

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*Data RC 24/05/2012 29.4 28.8 13.3 6.6 5.8 4.1 6.4

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*Public Issue 24/05/2012 26 30 15.5 8 5 6.5 4

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*Public Issue 19/05/2012 24 28 15 8 5 7 4.5

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*Alco 19/05/2012 23.1 21.4 13.5 7.3 5.2 6 3.8

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*MRB 19/05/2012 24.4 23.8 14.5 8.5 5.9 6.9 5.8

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*Metron 19/05/2012 23.8 25.1 17.4 7.8 5.8 6.3 4.8

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*Marc 17/05/2012 26.1 23.7 14.9 8.1 5.8 6.3 4.8

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*Pulse 17/05/2012 21.5 24.5 15.5 8 6 6 6

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VPRC 16/05/2012 14.5 20.3 10.9 3.7 4.4 6.1 2.2

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Kapa 13/05/2012 18.1 20.5 12.2 8.4 6.5 5 5.8

.
*Metron 12/05/2012 21.7 25.5 14.6 10.5 5.3 5.4 4.7

.
*Marc 10/05/2012 20.3 27.7 12.6 10.2 7 4.9 5.7

.
Election 06/05/2012 18.9 16.8 13.2 10.6 8.5 6.1 7

.

.
Note: * Anticipated vote share: Poll result effectively excludes undecided voters and those who refused to say how
they will vote, to project how the poll data would translate into an actual vote result.

What is important about this polling data is the trend. As in all polling, a single poll represents a snapshot in time, but a series of polls over time show the underlying processes at work. In Greece, the two primary process, from the point of view of revoltuionary Marxism are the following:

1. SYRIZA has replaced PASOK as the political expression of the working class and popular sectors hammered by the policies of austerity. As a subset of this, the industrial working class base of the KKE is moving to SYRIZA.

2. The trend for SYRIZA is up, but the trend for New Democracy has stalled at the 25-26% level. With 16 days to go to the election, this means that nobody will be able to form a government by themselves; that the strength of the anti-memorandum forces is hardening in the face of the propaganda onslaught by the instruments of the European bourgeoisie;that the social polarization of Greek society is reflected in the political polarization; and that there is no electoral exit from the crisis AT THIS TIME!

So, at the level of analysis, Comrade Kloke is correct in saying that SYRIZA is placed in an impossible situation, given the projected electoral results. Or, to put it in other words, neither the bourgeoisie nor the Greek proletariat will be able to impose their political solutions through parlimentary means. Thus the question, and discussion/debate, what to do, what to do.

The difference between the position of the OKDE-Spartakos and those of us who support the position as outlined in the Socialist Resistance article above, is not one of analysis. Indeed, as the SR article points out, this is the first pre-revolutionary situation in Europe since the 1974 events in Portugal.

No, as Comrade Kloke points out, the difference is not a tactical one either. Rather it rests on a different interetaation of how to apply the transisitonal methodology in the situation. Comrade Kloke and OKDE-Spartakos have, I believe, a propogandistic conception of how to prepare the masses for insurrection. I don't believe I would be too far off the mark by saying that OKDE-Spartakos and the rest of ANTARSYA believe that their role is to propagandize their analysis, and try to reach the masses in this fashion.

Those of us who differ with our beloved Greek comrades believe that struggle through mass action round a set of specific political demands is the best teacher. That include the mobilization of the workers to drive the fascist scum from the streets of Greece. This was the thrust of the statement of Socialist Resistance, and that of the executive bureau of the Fourth International as well. It is also, my I remind Comrade Kloke, that of Kokkino (RED) as well as other sectors of the revolutionary left, including currents within ANTARSYA and indeed, I suspect, within OKDE-Spartakos as well.

This is hardly "tailing reformism". The task is to prepare the working class and its allies for the inevitable and massive confrontation with international capital as well, and as our joint analysis suggests, to win politcally a big majority of the working class and the petite bourgeoise to the revolutionary option, to the creation of organs of popular power upon which a workers' governemnt can base itself.

These are not abstract tasks. These are life and death issues for the Greek workers and popular sectors. The "generals" are plotting and have their plans being prepared as we speak, ready to step in and "save the nation" as their sworn duty. If the forces of revolutionary Marxism don't understand this, then we have failed history, and our ourselves.

The time for plain talk has come. I pose the following questions to Comrade Kloke, to OKDE-Spartakos, to OKDE, to Kokkino. Syriza is in the process of forming a mass, centrist workers party, not only legally, but literally as well. As SYRIZA has said: "SYRIZA at 16% is a far different party than SYRIZA at 4%". The 70 public party creation meetings around Greece being held by SYRIZA to form the party is in full swing. What is emerging is a mass, anticapitalist workers party as envisgned by both the 15th and 16th World Congress of the Fourth International, theses which were endorsed by OKDE-Spartakos. Are you going to stand aside from this process or are you going to join together to work to unite the working class and prepare it politically for taking power? This does not mean giving up any organizational independence, nor does it mean having to muzzle your ideas. No, what it does mean is rethinking the approach to politics, to dropping the "small group" mentality and thinking the big question: how do we, the advanced workers and our allies, prepare our people for insurrection, for the seizure of power. That,comrades,is what is on the agenda.

Finally, Comrade Kloke's appeal for international solidarity is an imperative for European and international forces. That is why Socialist Resistance endorsed the call of the Spanish indignados, and of the Portugese Left Block, for an international day of struggle on 16th of June.

All out together 16 June! No to austerity, no to the Troika, no to the European capitalist offense! Solidarity with the Greek people! Occupy our Future, the People's of Europe are Rising!!

Antarsya Comrades, Please Reconsider

Comrade Andreas,

I'm afraid I have to agree with the above comments and strongly urge OKDE (Spartakos) and Antarsya to re-think - it simply has nothing to do with having illusions in the Syriza leadership, let alone giving political support to left reformism. Revolutionary currents exist inside Syriza, as they do outside, and the maximum unity in action needs to be developed between them to push Syriza to the left, to try to push forward the momentum created by the split of the historic horrible right-wing of Synaspismos to form DIMAR, and to further mass mobilisation. The Syriza leadership has remained very firm on the key issue of rejecting the Memorandum and the austerity, which puts it in the position of clashing with Greek and EU capital whatever the subjective intentions of some of the leadership may be. You say in future the tactical orientation may become key but you haven't really explained why it is not key right now, when the question of power is posed in the minds of workers in a life and death situation. It is true that even after the next elections Syriza may still not be able to form a government by itself (and you ought to congratulate Syriza for NOT caving in as it would have needed to form a shitty government with DIMAR), but that is largely because of the 3rd period sectarianism of the KKE, which is making the type of bourgeois currency the key "class" dividing line. Antarsya is not remotely like the KKE and has a far better orientation overall (after all, the KKE's sectarianism goes back years now, as you well know, so it is not just about these elections), and it seems to me Antarsya should be calling for a left united front (Syriza/KKE) to take power with your own list of demands that you will be mobilising around together with other forces in the left and labour movement INCLUDING the revolutionary components of Syriza and the genuine leftist elements of Synaspismos itself, as well as, hopefully, non-sectarian ranks of the KKE. By basing your whole tactical approach on the alleged absolute certainty that Syriza will fail, you guarantee you will play no part and thus aid this failure - while not really offering an alternative in practical terms. You are correct, of course, however that the FI leadership should actually consult its members before releasing statements.

Comradely, Mihali Karadjis

Vote for Antarsya and a Transitional Programme

Vote in Greece in the June 17 2012 election for Antarsya and a Transitional Programme

By Dave Hill

May 30, 2012

In this paper I argue that Antarsya should not join Syriza in an electoral coalition or joint list, but that Antarsya should fight the elections and continue to stick with and advance its Transitional Programme.

Antarsya should announce, in advance of the June 17 parliamentary elections, that it will support a Left government and hold it to its programme, while pushing for a more socialist programme such as repudiation (rather than negotiation) of the debt, nationalisations of privatised industries and the banks.

For Antarsya to continue with its Transitional Programme.

Programme and Strategy

The type of Programme demand by revolutionary Marxists and by Parties (such as Socialist Resistance in Britain, and OKDE-Spartakos in Greece) within the Fourth International is related to Strategy i.e. whether to support the

(1) Broad Party concept strategy or

(2) the Revolutionary Unity strategy or

(3) a revolutionary sectarian/ us alone policy

The implications can be seen in, for example

France (whether in the first round of the 2012 Presidential elections to support the (left social democrat) Front de la Gauche of Jean-Luc Melenchon, or whether to support the NPA)

The UK (what to do about the Manchester Central and other parliamentary by-elections) and more widely, to work in Broad Parties such as Respect, to work in broader coalitions such as the Coalition of Resistance (with, for example, the Green Left, other Greens, Left Labour MPs and supporters), or whether to work with avowedly Marxist/socialist parties and individuals in organisations such as TUSC (The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

In Greece, whether to support Syriza or Antarsya in the upcoming elections of 17 June 2012 and what advice we should give to OKDE-Spartakos, the Greek section of the FI, regarding whether Antarsya should (i) fight the elections alone, or (ii) as part of Syriza, or (iii) alone but saying we will support (and join? or support and not join) a Syriza led government (which, if it happens, will likely be in government coalition with the Democratic Left (of Fotis Kouvelis), a right-wing split off from Synaspismos the major component of Syriza.

The actual results of the Greek general election of 6 May 2012, e.g. at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_legislative_election,_May_2012 and at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/20/1092730/-Anti-Capitalist-Meet-up-The-Mouse-that-Roared-Greece-s-Struggle-Against-Austerity. Current (late May 2012) opinion polls indicate high levels of support (between 20% and 30% for the (conservative) New Democracy party, and the (Left of PASOK) Syriza, with clear class polarisation and political polarisation taking place. The 6 May 2012 election, and the upcoming 17 June 2012 general elections, take place amidst the terrible economic and social and human consequences of the austerity programme imposed on the Greek people by the international/ transnational capitalist class and their institutions (`the Troika’) and their tools, the formerly dominant parties of neoliberal capital in Greece, New Democracy (Conservative) and PASOK (now neo-liberal, formerly social democrats). (For `The effects of the crisis on daily life’ in Greece, see Andreas Sartzekis and Tassos Anastassiadis, at http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2614).

This class polarisation has been evidenced by massive resistance to the austerity measures imposed by the Troika (European Union, International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank) in February 2012. There have been 17 general strikes and one fifth of the population of the country has been on the streets in recent months protesting against occupations. There have been re a number of workers’ occupations, such as hospitals, newspapers, steel works (though not yet on the scale of Argentina's fábricas recuperadas movement, which emerged in response to the 2001 economic crisis in Argentina).

Minimum, Maximum and Transitional Demands (how to get from minimum to maximum)

The Death Agony of Capitalism: and the Tasks of the Fourth International

The Mobilization of the Masses around Transitional Demands to Prepare the Conquest of Power (Online at the Marxists.org website, at, http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/tp/index.htm). Trotsky explains,

The strategic task of the next period – prerevolutionary period of agitation, propaganda and organization – consists in overcoming the contradiction between the maturity of the objective revolutionary conditions and the immaturity of the proletariat and its vanguard (the confusion and disappointment of the older generation, the inexperience of the younger generation. It is necessary to help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find the bridge between present demand and the socialist program of the revolution. This bridge should include a system of transitional demands, stemming from today’s conditions and from today’s consciousness of wide layers of the working class and unalterably leading to one final conclusion: the conquest of power by the proletariat.

Classical Social Democracy, functioning in an epoch of progressive capitalism, divided its program into two parts independent of each other: the minimum program which limited itself to reforms within the framework of bourgeois society, and the maximum program which promised substitution of socialism for capitalism in the indefinite future. Between the minimum and the maximum program no bridge existed. And indeed Social Democracy has no need of such a bridge, since the word socialism is used only for holiday speechifying. The Comintern has set out to follow the path of Social Democracy in an epoch of decaying capitalism: when, in general, there can be no discussion of systematic social reforms and the raising of he masses’ living standards; when every serious demand of the proletariat and even every serious demand of the petty bourgeoisie inevitably reaches beyond the limits of capitalist property relations and of the bourgeois state.

The strategic task of the Fourth International lies not in reforming capitalism but in its overthrow. Its political aim is the conquest of power by the proletariat for the purpose of expropriating the bourgeoisie. However, the achievement of this strategic task is unthinkable without the most considered attention to all, even small and partial, questions of tactics. All sections of the proletariat, all its layers, occupations and groups should be drawn into the revolutionary movement. The present epoch is distinguished not for the fact that it frees the revolutionary party from day-to-day work but because it permits this work to be carried on indissolubly with the actual tasks of the revolution.

The Fourth International does not discard the program of the old “minimal” demands to the degree to which these have preserved at least part of their vital forcefulness. Indefatigably, it defends the democratic rights and social conquests of the workers. But it carries on this day-to-day work within the framework of the correct actual, that is, revolutionary perspective. Insofar as the old, partial, “minimal” demands of the masses clash with the destructive and degrading tendencies of decadent capitalism – and this occurs at each step – the Fourth International advances a system of transitional demands, the essence of which is contained in the fact that ever more openly and decisively they will be directed against the very bases of the bourgeois regime. The old “minimal program” is superseded by the transitional program, the task of which lies in systematic mobilization of the masses for the proletarian revolution. (Trotsky, 1938)

Alistair Mitchell (1985) has a good enough summary of the three different types of programme

Marx and Engels didn’t just call for the introduction of a socialist society (the maximum programme) without charting the way of getting there. Neither did they merely advocate reforms which fell way short of breaking from capitalism (the minimum programme). The key to their method lies in the extract quoted above with its steps which are by themselves inadequate, but through the workers’ struggle for them lead to other attacks on capitalism. These further measures become possible and necessary as the workers gain in confidence and rally others to their side, learn the next steps required and challenge a weakened and retreating ruling class. The method of Marx and Engels is to connect the present situation and immediate aspirations of the proletariat with the task of the socialist revolution. The minimum and maximum programmes are linked in a transitional programme’. (http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Newint/Tranprog.html)

As Wikipedia summarises,

It is necessary to help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find the bridge between present demand and the socialist program of the revolution. This bridge should include a system of transitional demands, stemming from today’s conditions and from today’s consciousness of wide layers of the working class and unalterably leading to one final conclusion: the conquest of power by the proletariat.

Trotsky urges that transitional demands should include the call for the expropriation of various groups of capitalists- sometimes translated in modern terms into the nationalisation of various sectors - under the control and management of the workers. Transitional demands should include opposition to imperialist war. Such demands intend to challenge the capitalist class's right to rule.

By fighting for these "transitional" demands, in the opinion of the Trotskyists, the workers will come to realize that capitalism cannot meet their needs, and they will then embrace the full program of the Fourth International. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_Program)

Antarsya, Syriza and Greece and the elections of 17 June 2012

Now let’s apply this to Greece

Syriza Programme following the May 6 elections (taken from the Coalition of resistance website, 9 May, http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2012/05/tsipras-lays-out-five-points-of-coalition-talks/

* The immediate cancellation of all impending measures that will impoverish Greeks further, such as cuts to pensions and salaries.

* The immediate cancellation of all impending measures that undermine fundamental workers' rights, such as the abolition of collective labor agreements.

* The immediate abolition of a law granting MPs immunity from prosecution, reform of the electoral law and a general overhaul of the political system.

* An investigation into Greek banks, and the immediate publication of the audit performed on the Greek banking sector by BlackRock.

* The setting up of an international auditing committee to investigate the causes of Greece's public deficit, with a moratorium on all debt servicing until the findings of the audit are published.

Or in the words of Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson on the Socialist Unity website, 12 May, http://www.socialistunity.com/greece-the-responsibility-of-the-left/) words

• Cancelling the bailout terms, notably laws that further cut wages and pensions

• Scrapping laws that abolish workers’ rights, particularly a law abolishing collective labour agreements due to come into effect on 15 May
• Demanding proportional representation and the end to the 50 seat bonus to the first party
• Investigating Greece’s banking system which received almost 200bn euros of public money and posing the need for some kind of state control over the banks

• Setting up an international committee to find out the causes of Greece’s public deficit and putting on hold all debt servicing.

Analysis: What type of Programme is Syriza’s

I thought the 5 point plan put out for negotiation by Syriza serves well as a socialist minimum, defensive, programme. It is at

http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_23909_08/05/2012_441181).

In other countries such a plan would (currently, with existing states of political and class consciousness) be considered more than a minimum programme, but such is the state of political and class consciousness in Greece currently that this can be regarded as a minimum programme. However, it can also be analysed as a left social democratic programme, and this is my view of what it is. A huge advance on neoliberal, neo-conservative pro-austerity programmes of ND and PASOK for example, but Syriza says, essentially, overall… `no more cuts’… it does not say,` reverse the cuts! Restore the wages and pensions’.

Paul Mason (online at http://paulmasonnews.tumblr.com/post/22914870033/greece-trying-to-understand-syriza)

When I interviewed a SYRIZA spokesman earlier this year I explored the problem of a far-left party, which is anti-NATO etc, taking power in a country whose riot police have been regularly clashing with that party’s youth since 2008. The message was that they would be purposefully limited in aim, and that the core of any programme would be a debtor-led partial default – that is, the suspension of interest payments on the remaining debt and a repudiation of the terms of both Troika-brokered bailouts. What SYRIZA shares with the Dem Left and PASOK it its commitment to the EU social model: they are left globalists.

… the resulting government may, in effect, be little more than a left-social democratic government, despite its symbology and the radicalism of some of its voters..

The Antarsya programme

The anti-capitalist Left, ANTARSYA, is the only tendency of the Left that openly called for an immediate annulment of debt payments and exit from the Eurozone, (Sotiris, at http://www.newsocialist.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=626:greek-elections-the-vengeance-of-a-people-in-struggle&catid=51:analysis&Itemid=98

1. Immediately terminate the loan agreement, any memoranda and all related measures.

2. Do not recognize the debt, debt cancellation and suspension of payments.

3. Break with the system and with the euro/EU.

4. Nationalize the banks and corporations without compensation under workers’ control.

5. Immediately increase wages and pensions! Cancel the poll tax and increase the taxation of capital.

6. Prohibit layoffs and fully protect the unemployed. Shorten working hours and reduce the retirement age.

7. Expropriate hundreds of closed factories and re-commission them controlled by the employees themselves.

8. Provide cheap and good quality food through agricultural cooperatives, poor and middle farmers—without middlemen and large producers.

9. The solution is a strong Left struggling for a break with the system and the anti-capitalist revolution!

The Antarsya statement continues

The parliamentary parties of the Left do not meet their historical responsibilities. SYRIZA suggests a "leftist government," but does not dare to say anything against the euro and the EU. It is increasingly in search of “solutions” to the debt problem through agreements with the creditors! The Communist Party (KKE) now rejects the recognition of the debt and takes a stand against the EU position, but points to the metaphysical presence of “peoples’ power” that should come into existence through parliamentary channels and through the conquest of the parliamentary majority in the election. This party avoids any overt political conflict and still refuses to participate in a united front for a workers and popular uprising. Such an approach is a barrier to the struggles. Joint action is more necessary than ever!

What is needed is the mobilization and organization of goals and demands, put today on the agenda by reality itself (cancellation of debt, leaving the euro zone and the EU, nationalization and workers’ control). This can be achieved by a united front of all those who want a break with the system and revolution, by the escalation of the workers’ and popular uprising combined with strikes, occupations, demonstrations, also by the organization and coordination of struggles at the level of the rank and file on the basis of an anti-capitalist program. This is the way to achieve the power of working people, true democracy combined with a socialist and communist perspective.

This is the left ΑΝΤΑRSΥΑ is struggling to create. We are committed to ensuring that this left—one which will break with the system and aim for the insurrection, the anti-capitalist revolutionary left—will come out stronger from the national parliamentary elections.

In the elections we give our voice and support to ΑΝΤΑRSΥΑ!

Analysis: What type of Programme is Antarsya’s

This is a revolutionary Marxist programme that would lead to the expropriation of Capital/ism and its replacement by a Socialist state. It can be regarded as a Transitional programme.

The Ways Forward for Antarsya: a) Support/ Coalition with/ Join in with Syriza/ Become, or at least Support, `the Broad’ (Left) Party

Socialist Resistance, together with Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson, various socialist and Marxist groups nationally and internationally (such as the ISO in the USA) and the SP in Britain argue for various versions of Left Unity. SR’s position (to be voted on at an NC meeting on 26 May 2012 (the fuller extract from the policy statement is below) states:

In fact the strategy of building broad parties (either anti-capitalist parties like Syriza or radical left reformist formations in other situations) capable of uniting the left and radical trade unions across the political spectrum, from revolutionary socialists to those who have not reached such conclusions, is designed for exactly this kind of situation - when no single current or tradition can meet the challenge alone

Socialist Resistance in Britain:

In a Socialist Resistance Editorial statement of 13 May, (online at http://socialistresistance.org/3510/unite-behind-syrizas-anti-austerity-programme) SR stated,

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.

In a further statement, SR’s position is very clear, in its title for the statement: `Unite behind Syriza’s anti-austerity programme’ (also online at http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2619

Editorial statement by Socialist Resistance, Britain

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.

The SR EC statement (sent to SR NC members, to be voted on as a statement of policyto be voted on at the SR National Council meeting of 26 May 2012) states

The most appalling sectarianism comes from the KKE, which, in pure third period style Stalinism, which declared Syriza not only to be reformist, but that reformists are the main enemy! Antarsya rejected the appeal in favour of a call for mass action against the cuts and declared that they would not ‘prop-up’ a Syriza led government! With the Greek SWP section the main force in Antarsya this approach is reflected in the SWP in Britain. An article by Alex Callinicos in SW has nothing to say about the governmental situation in Greece, or of left unity, but accuses Syriza of ambiguity, of refusing to break with social liberalism, and of seeking to contain the situation within the framework of capitalism. 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”. We can agree with the last sentence but that must be as an active part of the Syriza coalition and with a united front method.

This is a dangerous situation. A victory for the left is not guaranteed, but we could see an anti-austerity government with a radical anti-capitalist action programme either denied office – and the austerity continue with all its consequences - or be 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. Of course the movement must be vigilant, but in the concrete situation that exists in Greece today, building a broad anti capitalist organisation like Syriza – that can unite the working class - is what is needed, and what revolutionary Marxist currents should be engaged in.

We should call on the KKE and Antarsya to break from sectarianism to become part of such a movement and a possible left government. If Syriza carries out its programme, and there will be massive pressures against it doing this, it would be a true Workers Government, leading to the first major political battle in Europe against austerity and the capitalist crisis. The Marxist left should do everything in its power to ensure this succeeds, not stand aside in sectarian purity and isolation.

To conclude, the new elections, in which Syriza stands every chance of becoming the largest party, or winning, could lead to a coalition government of the anti-bailout, anti austerity forces. The task of revolutionaries is to fully support the formation of such a government, but with vigilance against any compromise on Syriza’s action programme. This is particularly important if the reformist Democratic Left holds the balance of power and according to opinion polls two thirds of Syriza’s voter in the first round were in favour of a political compromise to form a government. However it is important to recognise that Tsipras has shown no signs of any political compromise on Syriza’s programme. He states time and again that the “memorandum of understanding must be revoked.”

If at the end of this remarkable opportunity the Greek left and workers movement fails through internal divisions to form a government when the opportunity had been there and the right-wing take control as a result the organisations which opted for sectarian isolation will have a great deal to answer for, and not just in Greece. In fact the strategy of building broad parties (either anti-capitalist parties like Syriza or radical left reformist formations in other situations) capable of uniting the left and radical trade unions across the political spectrum, from revolutionary socialists to those who have not reached such conclusions, is designed for exactly this kind of situation - when no single current or tradition can meet the challenge alone.

In this analysis of the Greek political situation and necessary strategy, SR stands alongside The Socialist Party/ Committee for a Workers’ International (or at least, its Greek section, Xekinima, which on 16 May stated:

In this situation, what should the Greek Left do? Xekinima welcomes Syriza's public call for left unity. Syriza should open up and develop its structures as a broad left alliance, so that fresh layers of workers and youth can join and decide party policy democratically. Xekinima supports united action of the left parties ahead of the next elections and for working people to vote for Syriza.

This should be done concretely, with the convening of mass assemblies at local, workplace, regional and national levels to discuss and agree programme, demands and electoral tactics, to campaign for a left government and to strive to ensure that such a government pursues anti-austerity and pro-working class policies.

The communist party (KKE) and Antarsya (the Anti-capitalist Left Cooperation) both took a sectarian attitude before the last elections and rejected Syriza's 'left unity' proposal, with the result that their votes remain stagnant. To the amazement of many millions of workers, the KKE leadership still continues to refuse to form a block with Syriza.

But under growing pressure from their rank and file, and the working class in general, a section of Antarsya has indicated that it is prepared to have joint collaboration with Syriza. (http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14508/16-05-2012/solidarity-with-greek-workers)

Michael Karadjis in an article for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal on May 16 (republished by Socialist resistance at http://socialistresistance.org/3535/greece-syriza-the-communist-party-and-the-desperate-need-for-a-united-front made a clear call for a United Front, the article is entitled `Greece: SYRIZA, the Communist Party and the desperate need for a united front’

Karadjis concludes,

All the smaller parties of SYRIZA and Antarsya need to take the lead in ensuring continual mobilisation, alongside the ranks of Synaspismos and the KKE, as well as the trade unions and even the traditional base of PASOK, in demanding a left united front to smash the austerity as a minimum program and sustain such mobilisation through the intensification of the crisis that will inevitably result from the collapse of the Memorandum, the exit from the Eurozone and the cut-off of EU cash.

The KKE’s idea that it will gain from a “second wind” when the masses see the failure of SYRIZA is almost beyond comprehension in its sectarian reasoning. In a situation that is revolutionary, that is life and death for the masses, the nettle needs to be grasped. More likely a failure of the left to unite at such a crucial moment for Greek society will open the door to fascism as a section of the masses swing right to find an “alternative” to the crisis. The massive 7% vote for the neo-Nazi, immigrant-bashing criminal gang Golden Dawn on May 6, alongside the 10% vote for a right-wing nationalist split from ND, may end up being a signal of the future direction if the left cannot offer an alternative. Those leftists who pave the way for this will be, and ought to be, judged harshly by history.

Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson in Socialist Unity website (12 May) http://www.socialistunity.com/greece-the-responsibility-of-the-left/

What is necessary in Greece is a united front of all workers’ parties. The situation is so grave that historical and programmatic differences must be set aside in the interests of the working class. Parties can maintain their own organisational independence and slogans whilst the government centres on concrete political and economic issues for the benefit of working people.

The current position of the KKE is a tragedy both for itself and the people of Greece. At the next election its vote is expected to fall and many KKE supporters will switch to Syriza – but even then it is unlikely that Syriza will be able to form a government without the support of the KKE.

The same support for a united front should come from all sections of the left in Greece. Whilst it does not have the same political weight as the KKE, the far left anti-capitalist coalition Antarsya should also back a Syriza-led government. But as a leader of the British Socialist Workers’ Party – its British sister organisation – tweeted ‘Anti-capitalist left Antarsya will not prop up SYRIZA govt but is calling for joint-action to beat austerity in strikes, occupations’.

Antarsya is not in a position to prop up any government – they got 1.2% of the vote and polled 75,000 which is down on their result in the 2010 local elections when they polled 97,000. However, Antarsya contains many good activists and they have been at the forefront of anti-fascist activity and the call that they make for united action on the streets is important. On some demonstrations in Greece this is beginning to happen in practice, notably in February when cadre from the KKE opened their lines to protect Syriza supporters from the riot police in Syntagma Square.

This view is supported by organisations such as the ISO in the USA (http://socialistworker.org/2012/05/09/political-earthquake-in-greece)

The Way Forward for Antarsya: Stand separately at the elections, not by joining in Broad Party, but by standing as a Revolutionary Party with a Transitional

A variety of commentators, Marxist groups and individuals nationally and internationally support this analysis, including the OKDE-Spartakos itself, the SWP in Britain and its sister party in Greece, which is part of the Antarsya coalition

Alex Callinicos suggests that `Over-simplifying a little, it (Syriza) is essentially some version or other of left reformism. (http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=28461)

Andreas Kloke (a member of OKDE-Spartakos, writing in International Viewpoint) http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2619 16 May

ANTARSYA had not a sensationally good, but solid election result gaining 1.2%. It was the main force on the left that placed the importance of social resistance through strikes, occupations and mass protests, the self-organization of all victims of the memoranda policies, of the workers, young people, pensioners and of the partially “illegal“ immigrants at the center of its election campaign. ANTARSYA has shown the way how social resistance may be victorious through the propagation of a program of actual transitional solutions that are geared to the real needs of the vast majority of the population and aimed at the self-organization of these people, and by adhering to the perspective of the anti-capitalist revolutionary overthrow of the existing political and social system.

In his commentary on Syriza, Kloke argues,

The SYRIZA leadership is coming under attack because of the ambiguities of its election promises from two sides: first, the forces of the establishment can harass SYRIZA to do everything to ensure that Greece remains in the euro-zone, or make SYRIZA also responsible for a possible failure of this intention and expose it; on the other hand, there are critics on the left, pointing out quite rightly that the various promises of SYRIZA leadership are inconsistent and contradictory. It is virtually inconceivable that a Greek left-wing government, if it came about, could accomplish a revocation of the memoranda policies and thus of the credit agreements agreed with the Troika, that are leading to a strangulation of the Greek society, without Greece’s exit or expulsion from the euro-zone.

My own view is as follows.

I am a supporter of OKDE-Spartakos, indeed, speaking at OKDE and Antarsya meetings in Greece over the last two years, and being with them on various strikes and demonstrations. In Britain I am a supporter of TUSC, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, and stand for them at local, national and Euro-elections -while recognising its faults of democratic deficit/ top-down control and its (current) policy of closing the door to to Marxist/ Socialist national parties other than the SP / CWI and the SWP. (It would welcome the participation of the CPB, the Communist Party of Britain). TUSC has, though, welcomed, local groups of activists into its electoral campaigns, and has an individual membership facility group, the ISN (Independent Socialist Network) and has an embryonic branch structure. I am also a member of SR, though not in sympathy with the Broad Parties policy and not in sympathy with its (related) policy of calling for OKDE and Antarsya joining in a coalition with Syriza.

Dave Hill response (17 May) http://www.socialistunity.com/greece-the-responsibility-of-the-left/

Joining Syriza is the strategy of Socialist Resistance and the large majority of the Fourth International, the USFI, as part of its `Broad Parties’ strategy. Incidentally, yet another Broad Left party, Die Linke in North Rhine Westphalia, was punished at the polls this week for supporting big cuts. A number of other commentators have noted how broad parties swallow or eject Marxist revolutionary currents, and often end up voting for neoliberal programmes, in coalition with (formerly) social democrat ruling coalitions, nationally or locally.

The view of OKDE-Spartakos, the Greek section of the Fourth International, is, like the view of the Irish section, opposed to the `Broad Parties’ line of SR and (most of) the FI. I happen to agree with, for example, the critique of Broad Parties put forward by John McAnulty (20 Jan 2012) in his Book Review: New Parties of the left: Experiences from Europe - Bensaid, Sousa et al Resistance Books (2011) online at http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentReviewNewPartiesOfTheLeft.html and with the FI Discussion Document prepared by Jette Kroman in December 2011, A class answer to the capitalist crises: A transitional Program of action for Europe.

Conclusion: For Antarsya to continue with its Transitional Programme.

My own view, like that of OKDE-Spartakos, and the large majority of Antarsya, is that Marxists should seek revolutionary Left unity, putting forward a Transitional, Socialist, programme. (Kokkino, which has observer status at the FI/USFI, is in Syriza, and would disagree with this view of mine and of OKDE and Antarsya more widely). This is in fact what Antarsya has decided. Different from the Syriza programme (which itself is far to the left of anything New Labour, the PS in France, European social democracy is considering).

But if Syriza can form an anti-austerity government, then my analysis is that the KKE and Antarsya should give a Syriza government, and a Syriza led Left government, critical support.

The KKE, the Greek Communist Party, is thus far, resolutely isolationist and purist. The Greek Communist Party refuses to enter dialogue with other left-of-PASOK coalitions such as Antarsya and Syriza, and for a long time has held off joining pan-Left anti-austerity marches and demonstrations, preferring instead to hold its own, separate events).

In contrast, Antarsya demonstrates with and has very good street level and also some good leadership level relations with elements in Syriza, marching together, being teargassed and `sound grenaded’ together regularly on strikes and demonstrations.

The analysis and proposal I am advancing is that Antarsya should not oppose Syriza in Parliament, should vote for those proposals that are socialist, should oppose any measures that retain any cuts, while campaigning for taxing the billionnaires, and pushing / organising the involvement of working class organs/ organisations to defend any gains by means such as nationalisations, workers control, using local assemblies as parallel systems of power. Antarsya is dominated politically by groups of neo-stalinist origin (NAR is a left split from the KKE and ARAN and ARAS are considered as post euromaoists and neo-althusserians). This is reflected in most of the Antarsya declarations regarding the call for Greece pulling out of the eurozone without connecting it with the overthrow of capitalism in (the whole of) Europe. Together with comrades in OKDE-Spartakos, I believe that we should call for revolutionary Marxists should also fight for a genuine transitional program inside ANTARSYA, as well as within Syriza and the country at large.

For Antarsya, In a nutshell, not to join Syriza, but announcing in advance of the elections that it will support a Left government, hold it to its transitional programme, while pushing for a more socialist programme such as repudiation (rather than negotiation) of the debt, nationalisations of privatised industries and the banks.

For Antarsya to continue with its Transitional Programme.

Revised 30 May 2012

References

Burgin, Andrew and Hudson, Kate (2012) Greece: the Responsibility of the Left. Socialist Unity website 12 May. Online at http://www.socialistunity.com/greece-the-responsibility-of-the-left/ Accessed 30 May 2012.

Callinicos, Alex (2012) The politics of the rising European left. Socialist Worker online. 15 May. Online at http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=28461 Accessed 30 May 2012.

Ekathimerini.com (2012) Tsipras lays out five points of coalition talks. 9 May. Coalition of Resistance website. Online at http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2012/05/tsipras-lays-out-five-points-of-coalition-talks/ Accessed 30 May 2012.

Ekathimerini (2012) Tipras lays out five points of coalition talks. Ekathimerini.com. Online at http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_23909_08/05/2012_441181 Accessed 30 May 2012.

Hill, Dave (2012) The current situation on the Left in Greece. 17 May. Socialist Unity website. Online at http://www.socialistunity.com/greece-the-responsibility-of-the-left/ Accessed 30 May 2012.

International Socialist Organisation (2012) A political earthquake in Greece. 9 May. Socialist Worker.org website (USA) Online at http://socialistworker.org/2012/05/09/political-earthquake-in-greece Accessed 30 May 2012.

Karadjis, Michael (2012) Greece: SYRIZA, the Communist Party and the desperate need for a united front. 17 May. Socialist Resistance. Online at http://socialistresistance.org/3535/greece-syriza-the-communist-party-and-the-desperate-need-for-a-united-front Republished from Links: International Journal of Socialist Renewal, 16 May. Online at http://links.org.au/node/2863 Accessed 30 May 2012.

Kloke, Andreas (2012) The shadow of the Weimar Republic hangs over Greece: The election results of May 6. International Viewpoint IV Online magazine: IV448 - May 2012. 16 May. Online at http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2619 Accessed 30 May 2012

Mason, Paul (2012) Greece: Trying to Understand Syriza. Paul Mason blog. Online at http://paulmasonnews.tumblr.com/post/22914870033/greece-trying-to-understand-syriza) Accessed 30 May 2012.

McAnulty, John ( 2012) Book Review: New Parties of the left: Experiences from Europe - Bensaid, Sousa et al Resistance Books (2011). Socialist Democracy website (Ireland). 20 Jan. Online at http://www.socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentReviewNewPartiesOfTheLeft.html Accessed 30 May 2012.

Mitchell, Alisatair (1985) Transitional Demands Reconsidered. What Next?: Marxist Discussion Journal. Online at http://www.whatnextjournal.co.uk/Pages/Newint/Tranprog.html Accessed 30 May 2012.

Pashkoff, Susan (2012) Anti-Capitalist Meet-up: The Mouse that Roared! Greece's Struggle Against Austerity. Daily Kos. Online at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/20/1092730/-Anti-Capitalist-Meet-up-The-Mouse-that-Roared-Greece-s-Struggle-Against-Austerity Accessed 30 May 2012.

Socialist Resistance (2012) Unite behind Syriza’s anti-austerity programme: Editorial statement by Socialist Resistance, Britain. International Viewpoint IV Online magazine: IV448 - May 2012. 16 May. Online at http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2619 Accessed 30 May 2012.

Socialist Resistance Editorial Board (2012) Unite behind Syriza’s anti-austerity programme: Editorial statement by Socialist Resistance, Britain . 13 May. Socialist Resistance. online at http://socialistresistance.org/3510/unite-behind-syrizas-anti-austerity-programme Accessed 30 May 2012.

Sotiris, Panagiotis (2012) Greek Elections: The Vengeance of a People in Struggle! New Socialist: Ideas for Radical Change. 9 May. http://www.newsocialist.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=626:greek-elections-the-vengeance-of-a-people-in-struggle&catid=51:analysis&Itemid=98 Republished from The Press Project, online at http://www.thepressproject.net/detailsen.php?id=19492 Accessed 30 May 2012.

Sartzekis, Andreas and Anastassiadis, Tassos (2012) The effects of the crisis on daily life. May. International Viewpoint IV Online magazine: IV448 - May 2012. Online at http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article2614 Republished from Tout est à nous! no. 143, April 5, 2012. Accessed 30 May 2012.

Trotsky, Leon (1938) The Transitional Programme. In The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International: The Mobilization of the Masses around Transitional Demands to Prepare the Conquest of Power. Online at http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1938/tp/index.htm Accessed 30 May 2012.

Wikipedia (2012a) Transitional Programme. Wikipedia. Online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transitional_Program Accessed 30 May 2012.

Wikipedia (2012b) Greek legislative election, May 2012. Wikipedia. Online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_legislative_election,_May_2012 Accessed 30 May 2012.

[Dave Hill is a political activist in TUSC (the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) and in SR (Socialist Resistance) in Britain, and works with OKDE-Spartakos and Antarsya in Greece. He is Visiting Professor of Education/ Equality at the Universities of Athens, Middlesex and Limerick. He chief edits the journal, the Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, www.jceps.com, and, with Kostas Skordoulis, organises the annual International Conference on Critical Education in Greece (http://icce-2012.weebly.com/).

[An earlier version of this paper (27 May) is online at http://radicalnotes.com/journal/2012/05/27/greece-vote-for-antarsya-and-a-transitional-programme/.]

Left should unite around SYRIZA in the Greek elections

I agree with Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin in their rebuttal of the Callinicos’ defence of ANTARSYA and Coyle’s defence of the KKE that the only real difference (in action plans/platforms) is these two group’s demand that leaving the Euro be on the list. ANTARSYA’s action program reveals it acknowledges that the primary question is opposition to the austerity package as it argues it is not possible to do this without leaving the Euro. So why can’t ANTARSYA support SYRIZA on this primary question and while independently putting forward arguments about how to get there?

There is a whole complex and challenging political process ahead to go through to convince the Greek masses – let alone political groups – that Greece should leave the Euro, and a simple declaration like ANTARSYA’s point 6 doesn’t allow any escape from this challenge.

The same can be said for nationalisation of the banks and other measures that challenge capitalist property relations. Declaring that you are for such measures is one thing. Winning the masses to support, mobilise and fight in whatever way is necessary to win such measures, is a whole different matter.

In the current political situation in Greece, the prospect of electing an anti-austerity government gives the left an unprecedented opportunity of going through the public discussions and debates that will be needed to develop real mass agreement about how to defeat the austerity package. And in such a debate relatively untested revolutionary socialists who have been prepared to put aside their (presumptious and probably pretentious) claims to be the “genuine” revolutionaries, and build the united front against austerity around SYRIZA’s platform, will get a better hearing.

Of course, socialists should have no illusions about the tumultous character of such a process and public debate. An anti-austerity government around SYRIZA would be operating not just with the pressures from the still existing capitalist state apparatus but also with stepped up pressure from other powerful European governments and the capitalist conglomerates they act for.

Revolutionary socialists will also be better placed should an anti-austerity government not be elected,if they had united and made their best effort to get an anti-austerity government elected in the elections.

Surely revolutionary socialists need to embrace this opening with a Napoleonic “On s’engage et puis on voit”. This is what I understand Pham Binh’s slogan “occupy government” in his blogpost "Change the World Without Taking Power, Marxist Edition" (reposted in this discussion thread) to mean.

The alternative is abstentionism. I agree with the conclusion by Michael Karadjis in his article “SYRIZA, the Communist Party and the desperate need for a united front” in Links:

‘…In a situation that is revolutionary, that is life and death for the masses, the nettle needs to be grasped. More likely a failure of the left to unite at such a crucial moment for Greek society will open the door to fascism as a section of the masses swing right to find an “alternative” to the crisis. The massive 7% vote for the neo-Nazi, immigrant-bashing criminal gang Golden Dawn on May 6, alongside the 10% vote for a right-wing nationalist split from ND, may end up being a signal of the future direction if the left cannot offer an alternative. Those leftists who pave the way for this will be, and ought to be, judged harshly by history.’

Sectarianism eats

Sectarianism eats itself.

The marxist tradition has been supplanted in this discussion by the shibboleth of Grece removing itself from the Euro Area, or even, wildly, the EU.

This is no part of the revolutionary tradition. Trotsky throughout his revolutionary careeer counterposed the slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe or, later, the Soviet United States of Europe to the inter-imperialist war, or the march of the Hitlerites across Europe.

Now, even the most fevered opponent of the EU must admit that nothing like an inter-imperilist war nor fascist invasion is taking place. The EU and its impositions are not that reactionary. Why then counterpose to it currently a break-up of the EU? This can only be on natinal, reactionary lines given that thee is already some degree of economic intgration on a pan_EU basis that has taken place.

The Stalinists, who derided Trotsky's slogan, found themselves implementing it (bureaucratically) in COMECON. But our modern 'Trotskyists' have made themselves sects (raising their specific point above of difference above the requirements of the class struggle) on one of the most reactionary bases possible.

There definitely appears to

There definitely appears to be a broad consensus developing throughout the left that in Greece unity between SYRIZA and formations to its (self-defined)left, with certain exceptions of schematicist secterian groupings like the SEK and the SWP of GB, is a critical task. That this is so is revealed in the following interview with Dimitris Hilaris, a leader of the OKDE-Spartacist and a member of the International Committee of the Fourth International, and published at International Viewpoint. This interview reveals a much less secterian approach to SYRIZA than that enunciated by Andreas Kloke, at least in its tone, and as well it begins to define the negotiating framework for a left government supported by ANTARSYA.

It still begs the question of how, that is, what form that unity will take. It is not just good enough to say the left needs to unite around SYRIZA, but those who promote this view need to be clear on the tactical implications of what they are proposing, and why.

First, the interview:

Toward a government that will break with the Troika?

Interview with Dimitris Hilaris

On the eve of the elections on May 6, 2012, Germany’s Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, called on Greeks to elect a majority "that respects the commitments made to international creditors by the present coalition government " [1].He was wasting his breath, since more than 65 per cent of Greeks voted against the diktats of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. A new period opened on May 6 in Athens. To discuss it, we interviewed Dimitris Hilaris of the organization OKDE-Spartakos, which is part of the Antarsya coalition.

Dimitris, can you draw a first balance sheet of the vote on May 6?

Dimitris Hilaris: We have to stress three important facts. First, the result on May 6 was a stinging rebuke for the Troika. It was a vote against the austerity imposed on us; it was the culmination of the mobilizations of the last few months. Next, we should underline the fact that, for the first time since the fall of the dictatorship, it was not PASOK which took the majority of the votes of the popular classes, but the forces to the left of social democracy. Syriza (the Coalition of the Radical Left), the Communist Party and the coalition of the anti-capitalist Left, Antarsya, together won almost 30 per cent of the vote. If we add on the Greens, it was close to 35 per cent. Definitely, there is a change in workers’ electoral behaviour.

And the third important fact?

Dimitris Hilaris: It follows from the preceding points. It is the polarization of political life, on the left and on the right. At the moment when the pro-austerity parties are collapsing, it is the radical Left which is polarizing the debates on one side of the political spectrum and it is the Nazis who are successful on the right…

Exactly, they got 7 per cent. That’s enormous, isn’t it?

Dimitris Hilaris: The 7 per cent is only the Golden Dawn party. We should add to their result the scores of two other smaller parties of the far Right. Yes, there is a radical Left that is emerging, but also a radical Right.

Are the middle classes leaning towards authoritarian solutions?

Dimitris Hilaris: In my opinion, the far Right got its votes from three categories: students who have been influenced by the intervention of the far Right in the universities, a part of the "social" Right which no longer believes in the conservative Right that is in thrall to the Troika, and finally disillusioned voters of PASOK, but also of the Communist Party, the KKE, for whom there is an anti-system logic to voting for the far Right. They won 500,000 votes, but this is not yet a stabilized, loyal electorate.

They will probably lose ground in the elections on 17 June, but it is almost certain that they will get into Parliament, since 3 per cent is enough for that.

Some people have drawn parallels between the present situation in Greece and the Weimar Republic, which was the prelude to the coming to power of Hitler…

Dimitris Hilaris: Comparisons should be made with great caution. We are not emerging today from nearly five years of war. And we are not, contrary to the Germany of the years from 1919 to 1923, in such a disastrous economic situation. And moreover, unlike in that period, there is not in Greece activity by paramilitary groups such as existed in 1919, for example… There is a similar dynamic, but... let’s be careful.

And Syriza, the coalition of the radical Left, anti-liberal, founded in 2004?

Dimitris Hilaris: It is the party which has been able to capitalize on the dynamics of the movements that are taking place, which has shattered the hegemony of PASOK and New Democracy party. Syriza has been able to be in step with people. While the KKE offers a prospect of a distant paradise and we, the Antarsya coalition, remain largely propagandistic, Syriza has been able to provide a credible solution to the situation, through the slogan of a left government. At the same time, its responses are often confused: when they are put under pressure, we hear a cacophony from leaders of Syriza. Some claim that they will unilaterally abolish the debt and the agreements with the Troika. Others, more conservative, give priority to staying in Europe. The situation is complicated, but we should approach it without sectarianism.

Which means?

Dimitris Hilaris: We, the coalition of anti-capitalist forces, must participate in this debate. Syriza, which is likely to emerge stronger from the elections on June 17, will probably ally with others to govern. But there is a new fact, the hypothesis of a left government. This question must come down from the leaderships of the parties into the social movement.

There are two conditions for the creation of a left government: firstly a political programme to break with the Troika, a government that cancels the debt and the memoranda, at the risk of being excluded from Europe.

And then, the transfer of power downwards. A left government can only represent the interests of those below only to the extent that those below have power. So what is necessary is a transfer of responsibilities and powers to popular assemblies. This would be the first task of a left government - to convene a national Constituent Assembly of popular assemblies.

Dimitris Hilaris is a member of the leadership of the OKDE-Spartakos (Greek section of the Fourth International) and of the International Committee of the Fourth international. This interview was conducted by Paolo Gilardi and published in L’Anticapitaliste, no. 70, journal of the Anticapitalist Left in Switzerland.

-Dimitris Hilaris is a a member of OKDE, Greek section of the Fourth International

NOTES

[1] In effect, a call to vote for the centre-left PASOK or the centre-right New Democracy

The three things that are most obvious to me from this interview are:

1. At least some sections of ANTARSYA recognize that SYRIZA is more in step with the people and that its call for a left government gave rise to an alternative to the PASOK-New Democracy program of the Troika.

2. Because of this, SYRIZA is supplanting PASOK as the mass party of the working class, and is seen as much more credible in its project than that of either the KKE or ANTARSYA.

3. There is a recognition that those in ANTARSYA must be involved in a non-secterian manner in the dicussions unfolding around the prospects of a left government, and whilst its two primary demands have a maximalist and utopian tint, nonethessless it shows that ANTARSYA is prepared to discuss the framework for left unity around a common program. That is a step forward, it seems to me.

What is missing from this discussion is the question of how best those to the left of some of SRIZA's leadership actually engage in the unfolding dynamic. Dave Hill in a contribution above,while I disagree with its conclusions, nonetheless attempted to put forward a unity plan consisting of an election contested by ANTARSYA, a declaration before the election that ANTARSYA would give critical support to a Syriza-led left government, and that it would show that support (or lack thereof) on a case by case basis.

While this plan may have had some credence if ANTARSYA was in a position to give or take-away support in the national assembly, such will not be the case as ANTARSYA is projected to lose 40-50% of its 6 May vote. It therefore will be in a weakened position in any negotiations with SYRIZA, after the elections.

The central analytical point I am proceeding from is that SYRIZA is becoming the mass, anti-capitalist workers party in Greece, and that it has broken the political hegemony by the classical social democracy represented by PASOK, and is on its way to supplant the Third Period Stalinists of the KKE as the leading party in the industrial proletariat.

So, how can ANTARSYA intervene into the unfolding discussion. I am here not going to deal with the street mobilizations, which form an important part of ANTARSYA's political arsenal. As I have stressed before on these pages, ANATARSYA's ability to organize the street is much greater than its electoral showings, and it is an important part of the political vanguard.

I believe it has two BASIC options (with of course permutations and combinations). The first is to retain its independent existance seperate and apart from SYRIZA, to continue with its propagandistic efforts, to to try and win a hearing before those workers who have broken politically from PASOK and are giving SYRIZA a try. The strategic thinking behind this is much the same as the strategic thinking behind the KKE's line: After SYRIZA, US!

The second option which I believe makes the most sense both tactically and strategically, is for ANATRSYA to join en mass and en bloc with SYRIZA, negotiating an accord which would leave it with the rights of a recognized current. This is the case with Kokkino (FI), International Workers Left (CWI), Marxist Voice (IMT) and the other components of SYRIZA.

The reasoning behind this is it will allow the greatest possible unity around those programmatic issues: cancelling of the Memorandum, restoring the social wage and workers rights, withdrawing from NATO, etc. at the organizational level, and it will provide the political space for the revolutionary socialists to show their organizational and political skills as they fight to win the workers and the broad masses to their ideas.

We know from experience that once in struggle, workers see things in a much different light than when engaged in a passive, electoral exercise. It also provides, through the building of democratic local party committees, a chance for all forces to work and discuss together, to trade experiences and to develop a common analysis of what is to be done next. It allows the revolutionaries to merge,join up, and become one with the mass movement, where each step forward is a fight against the oppressors, where the oppressors are revealed for what they are, and where the labour fakirs and labour lieutents of imperialism are exposed for who they are.

The report to the Fourth Congress of the Third International on building the united front should be mandatory reading before anyone is allowed to join a revolutionary Marxist organization. If it were, a lot of this discussion around how to approach the developments in Greece would take as its starting point a common set of assumptions and could concentrate on the concrete analysis of concrete things.

A long time ago in the Canadian section of the Fourth International there was a song which went like this: "In revolution, there is one rule. Experience is the greatest tool." The pre-revolutionary situation in Greece is providing a good experience discussing at the level of theory the importance of building the workers' united front. I for one would like to augment this with some experiences from comrades who are building that united front from above as well as from below.

What are the dynamics within SYRIZA as it transitions from a coalition to a Party? How do the various currents within SYRIZA meet and discuss the next step? Does the present structure allow for the greatest possible discussion of ideas, or are there improvements which can be made to allow for a more effective exchange of ideas and proposals? Perhaps someone close to the action within SYRIZA can be persuaded to make a report of these things here at LINKS.

Internal Polls -SYRIZA moves ahead

Sources within Greece have said that two polls conducted this weekend for internal consumption (that is, they were not intended for publication) have both shown SYRIZA holding a 4-6 point lead over New Democracy, amongst committed voters, and that over the past week PASOK appears to be collapsing with a good percentage of its voters moving to SYRIZA, though some are now supporting ND.

This would tally with some of the recent statements coming from Venizelos begging Greek voters not to desert the "responsible left". [What a poor choice of words!!]

The polls were conducted for an "international agency" in one instance, with the firm identified as one which had previously used by the US Embassy in Athens. The other was for a "newspaper group", and while I can't verify it, I suspect it is probably Public Issue polling since the trend line numbers appear to match those of the published polls from 10 May to 1 June.

These poll results probably confirm two things which many already suspect to be true. Obama's forceful intervention last week telling the Europeans to get their act together quickly, that they had two weeks to get Spain sorted out; and the indecent haste in which the 100 Billion Eurofraud foisted upon the Greek people to bailout the banks was negotiated, are signs that the instability which will accompany a SYRIZA victory will mushroom into a pan-European political crisis of immense proportions.

With less than a week left until the vote, the international revolutionary left, as weak as it is, can still play a role in building active solidarity with the Greek people. On 16 June, mass demostrations and a transport strike is planned for Lisbon, called by the CGT and backed by the CP and the Bloc of the Left.
In Spain, a call to occupy the center of Madrid to demand the resignation of the government and abrogate the Billion Euro Bailout have been called by a coalition of left and trade union organizations.

While these are the two biggest demonstrations planned, in other cities across the globe activists are planning solidarity actions with Greece, within the framework of fighting austerity. The conscious linking of the international dimension of the resistance is of utmost importance. Hopefully we will see many banners proclaiming: People of Greece, Stand Firm! The Peoples of Europe Are Rising to Join You!carried on the marches, or hanging from the Effil Tower in Paris to Big Ben in London to the Winter Palace in Leningrad and draping that poor naked mermaid in Copenhagen harbour.

Greece must not be left to dance alone!

SYRIZA Now Confident of Victory

This is posted from today's issue of Athens News, and tends to confirm the previous post.

BL

SYRIZA Now Confident of Victory

This is from todays Athens News and tends to confirm the previous post.

Tsipras confident of victory and leftist government

13 Jun 2012

Alexis Tsipras gestures as he addresses reporters during a news conference in Athens, 12 June 2012 (Reuters)

The Radical Left Coalition (Syriza) will win Sunday's election, its leader said on Tuesday, but ruled out forming a government with pro-bailout parties.

Instead, Syriza chief Alexis Tsipras said that, if elected, he would lead a government of the left – mentioning the Democratic Left and the Communist Party as potential partners – against the austerity measures demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Tsipras, who wants to scrap a 130bn euro bailout deal signed in March, rejected what he called an "all-party ragtag" following calls for a unity government in case next week's vote proves as inconclusive as the last one held in May.

"After two consecutive elections, people demand a clear direction," he told reporters, rejecting an approach by Evangelos Venizelos, leader of Pasok, who said at the weekend that the country risked social unrest unless all parties were involved in making the hard decisions which lay ahead.

He pledged that a Syriza would “put an end to the rotten, corrupt and ineffective political and economic system that threatens Greece’s eurozone membership,” promising to replace the memorandum with a national plan for economic restoration, which will guarantee dignified living standards, job security and fair wages.

The last opinion polls published before a pre-election blackout showed Syriza running neck-and-neck with the conservative New Democracy party, which wants only minor adjustments to the bailout.

No party appears strong enough to form a government alone.

Tsipras repeated his pledge to keep the country in the eurozone, despite his promise to renege on the bailout accord.

"Lest there be any doubt, my movement - Syriza – is committed to keeping Greece in the eurozone," Tsipras wrote in a column for Wednesday's edition of the Financial Times.

"This Sunday we will bring Greece into a new era of growth and prosperity. The new era begins on Monday."

The country's European partners have insisted that any new government must stick to the bailout agreement or face seeing funds cut off, but Tsipras expects they would back down before accepting the havoc that a Greek exit would cause to the world economy.

The dire consequences for the economy of being forced out of the single currency have prompted speculation that Tsipras could back down if elected, but he gave no hint of softening during Tuesday's news conference of more than an hour.

Responding to recent claims that European officials were preparing a worst-case scenario that would involve limiting ATM cash withdrawals, among others, Tsipras said this was scaremongering on the party of domestic and foreign politicians and economic figures.

If elected, Tsipras promised he would halve his own salary as prime minister and scrap benefits for politicians.

He said that Syriza will restore the minimum wage to 751 euros and the unemployment allowance to 461.50 euros and will abolish the emergency property tax and help indebted households.

He also pledged to bring the banking sector under state control.

"If we are elected, we will move swiftly to recapitalise banks with common voting shares, what we call socialisation of the banking system, put them under public and social control so that Greek depositors feel safe," he said.

He said that the banks represent the biggest threat for the country because they fear they will not be able to feast on state money anymore, adding that vested and entangled interests fear of the rules of democracy.

The Syriza leader maintained that the country's military alliances are not necessary but added that a withdrawal from Nato is not a party priorities. He clarified that Greece will not participate in alliance operations. (AMNA, Reuters)

The Making of Syriza

Excellent outline of the formation and transformation of Syriza by one of its component revolutionary organisations:

The making of SYRIZA

PANOS PETROU

June 11, 2012

http://socialistworker.org/2012/06/11/the-making-of-syriza

Latest article from Antarsya clarifying position

What is our discussion on Greece about?
KLOKE Andrea
11 May 2012
http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?article25531

Kokkino (SYRIZA affiliate): Support SYRIZA on June 17

On June 17th we are supporting SYRIZA for the election of a left government
We are preparing for the next day of a harsh class conflict in Greece and in Europe
Kokkino
The elections of May 6th generated a real political earthquake in
Greece, foundering the parties of the Memorandum and destabilizing the
bourgeois political system, which was targeting at forming a "memorandum
government", taking advantage of the bonus of 50 parliamentary seats in
order to carry on with the destructive work of the previous
governments. At the same time, the election results sent a strong
message to Europe that the "Greek guinea pig" reacts by threatening to
shake the air of austerity plans of the entire European ruling classes.
Since then, and now in front of the feasibility of the formation of a
left government after the elections of the 17th of June, the terror of
bourgeois "headquarters" is evident and manifested daily through the
launch of rabid attacks against SYRIZA.
New Democracy, as the authentic representative of the capital’s
interests, having flown for a few months the anti-memorandum guise by
participating in Papademos’ government, have reinserted it on May 7th,
promising to "renegotiate" the memorandum that New Democracy voted for
and Samaras vowed in Merkel that he will implement it! Even in front of
the "risk of SYRIZA," Samaras does not hesitate to call to a war
invitation all the right-wing, neoliberal, fascist-friendly and extreme
"elements of the Right", unearthing the vilest anti-communist rhetoric.
Those who put their signatures to the extermination of the people to
safeguard the profits of bankers, unable to offer any kind of positive
vision for the society, they dig up as the ultimate weapon the risk of
exiting from the Euro to chain the society itself. They deliberately
identify the memorandum with the Euro, cultivating fear of a possible
exit of Greece from an already seriously battered Eurozone, investing
openly in fear and political speculation.
PASOK is following, which competes with ND (New Democracy) in the
scaremongering, terrorist dilemmas and slanderous attacks against
SYRIZA. Without a trace of regret, those who destroyed social rights of
decades within two years, shake their finger at SYRIZA with the
accusation of being irresponsible. Having been divorced from the working
class and poor popular strata, they condemn anything popular-friendly
as populist, putting in the prescription of austerity a little bit of
development. They surpass all limits of insolence when they destroy the
public health, leaving millions of people to their fate and blaming
SYRIZA because it is against this policy and struggles to overthrow it.
The camp of terror is filled by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, which, by
stepping on the human dust created by the impoverishment of large
segments of the population and the ideological legitimacy offerred by
New Democracy and PASOK, is now a real threat for the working class and
the Left. Their emergence as a legitimate parliamentary power should not
create any illusion for any decline or deficit of their "extreme"
features, as that parliamentary power is cloak for the launching of a
wild terrorism against immigrants, the labor movement and the Left.
Against the nightmare of the long-term memoranda, the prospect of a
Left government has enormous potential among workers, unemployed people,
employees and youth who have experienced at first hand the consequences
of their wild class attack. It was the experience of two years
struggles against the troika and the realisation by broad sections of
the people "from below" that it is necessary to block the memoranda
government machine that made this prospect possible. The fissure that
opened on the 6th of May should lead to the total subversion in the
elections of the 17th of June, and this is the only thing that can
ensure a massive vote in favor of SYRIZA and the formation of a
government of the Left.
Such a government, however, has to confront the system the very next
day in order to implement its program, since the forces of capital, both
domestic and international, will react with acid. The conquest of the
governmental power by the Left is only one step towards the conquest of
the real power, located at banks, big business, media, the army and the
police. Historical experience shows that this battle can be victorious
only when it is backed by an organized labor and popular movement, as
this can be a guarantee that such a government will not be overthrown,
or will not fall under the suffocating pressures that is going to
experience by the ruling class and its apparatuses. Only the creation of
institutions of working and popular control, labor unions and
committees in every workplace, popular assemblies and committees in each
neighbourhood can ensure that such a government is truly "by the people
and for the people. "It should be understood that the government of the
Left is not a plan of award and management of the system, but a simple
moment of the overall battle for power, in order to be properly prepared
for it. In this direction, while thousands of activists and militants
are approaching SYRIZA, it is necessary not only to join massively its
organizations, but for SYRIZA itself to transform and to create a single
and multi-current party so as to creatively integrate them in its
ranks.
For this reason, the need for unity and coalition of the Left (SYRIZA
- KKE - ANTARSYA) acquires urgent significance, since this is the only
thing that can ensure the necessary rallying forces of the working
people to give this battle decisively. The same applies at European
level as well, since only a coordinated labor movement and a new spring
of the European people can prevent the attempts of isolating Greece,
which is something that Brussels will try to do.
The forthcoming battle is difficult and the challenges are enormous
because of the historical scale of the crisis. Let’s step into this
battle with the greatest possible optimism, by building the conditions
for this to be victorious for the working forces, with the goal of
building a society without poverty, unemployment, fascism and human
exploitation.
9th June 2012
KOKKINO for the recomposition of the left, revolution and socialism (member organization of SYRIZA) kokkino
-Kokkino is a member organisation of Syriza, and a Permanent Observer wthin the Fourth International

Croatian FIers on SYRIZA

Statement of the Workers’ Struggle on strategic questions of the anti-capitalist movement in Greece and attitude towards SYRIZA

Workers’ Struggle

After familiarizing itself with the statement of the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International on the situation in Greece, the analysis of the Greek section of the Fourth International, the exchange of messages between the Bureau and OKDE-Spartakos and upon discussion and vote on the matter within the organization, Workers’ Struggle takes the following stance on the question of attitude towards SYRIZA and the Executive Bureau’s statement:

1. We believe it was wrong of the Executive Bureau to make a statement without prior serious discussion with the Greek section, OKDE-Spartakos. It is the Executive Bureau’s right to take a stance different from that of the individual section, but that should come only after consultation and discussion with the section’s representatives.

2. We find that the Executive Bureau’s resolution has a few significant shortcomings. First of all, it states uncritical support for SYRIZA and its leadership. Uncritical call for gathering around the five point program is also expressed. That program, as well as all the demands made by SYRIZA, is fundamentally reformist, quite distant from the transitional program and as such entirely insufficient. First of all, an intervention to set more radical demands and further develop the five point program in a more radical fashion would be needed. However, there are no guarantees that SYRIZA’s leadership will even be able to carry out the proposed program, moreover according to statements from some of its leaders; exactly the opposite is to be expected. In any case, political struggle against SYRIZA’s leadership and radicalization of political situation arise as tasks in the immediate future.

3. Also, the resolution lacks a more consistent class analysis as the complex question is reduced to one-sided support of SYRIZA. Because of that the resolution completely lacks the strategic part, i.e. outlining the course of action that would take the present situation to a pre-revolutionary state. Primarily, we are referring to the strategy of activities that would, among other things, include: transitional strategy, left-wing criticism of SYRIZA, maintaining a critical distance from SYRIZA and its leadership, continuous work on radicalizing the student and workers’ movement in the non-parliamentary sphere. Therefore there is a huge void in the resolution between two parts: the uncritical support of SYRIZA at this moment and gathering around it today, and in an undetermined future the overthrow of capitalism and the Socialist United States of Europe. It is not at all clear; actually it is completely incomprehensible how the prior can directly lead to the latter.

4. Despite that – and based on the information we have – we believe that critical support of SYRIZA seems to be the most prudent strategy at the present moment.

5. Despite its bourgeois leadership and reformist dominant organization, there are also several revolutionary groups in SYRIZA, and SYRIZA by no means represents a homogenous organization.

6. SYRIZA’s rise to power could lead to intense radicalization. Its leadership would compromise itself as it would not able to meet the demands, thus opening the space for criticism from the revolutionary left and further radicalization; even partially implemented social measures would prove to be insufficient on one side, and on the other side they would face strong resistance from the bourgeoisie and the imperialists that could ultimately push the situation in direction of need for even more radical solutions and towards a revolutionary path.

7. Revolutionary fractions inside SYRIZA could use the situation to strengthen their influence and intensify the conflict with the current leadership. Splits in the leadership are possible as well. We can already ‘’hear a cacophony from its leaders’’.

8. Similarly, the Bolsheviks called upon the Mensheviks and Social-Revolutionaries, while they still had the majority, to ‘’take the power in their own hands’’ and ‘’fulfill their promises’’. That led to the strengthening of the Bolsheviks and the growth of their party, as well as weakening of the position of previously mentioned parties.

9. Of course, the revolution will not be achieved through elections, yet they should be seen as a platform for achieving strategic priorities at a certain moment. ANTARSYA’s present politics will probably mean a fall to less that 1% of the vote in the coming elections, whilst SYRIZA’s support will increase even more. That way nothing will be gained strategically from the elections, moreover ANTARSYA potentially alienates itself from one of the potential focal points of the future events. Independence of the revolutionary currents in relation to the reformists, in our opinion should primarily be achieved through work on building an independent revolutionary organization and revolutionary program, maintaining a critical distance from SYRIZA and through independent activities, without any illusions in the leadership of the SYRIZA and the potential of parliamentary activities, but with simultaneous work on approaching the widest layers of masses which at this moment stand with SYRIZA.

June 16th 2012

-Workers’ Struggle is an organisation in Croatia with Permanent Observer status in the Fourth International.

FI-IS calls for unconditional support to Syriza

http://quatrieme-internationale.org/spip.php?article317

For the Sovereign Right of the Greek People to Oust the Troika’s Memorandum!

Declaration of the IVth International - International Secretariat

1 June 2012

The declarations of threat being made by the American administration, the European Union and the IMF towards the people of Greece have but one objective: to align the world in a raging offensive to force the Greek people to capitulate and thus, by the same token, to send a warning to all the peoples of Europe.

Are the people of Greece responsible for the bankruptcy that all the peoples of Europe are being engulfed in? Are the people of Greece responsible for the situation that is brewing in Spain, in Portugal, in Italy?

No! The only ones responsible for the crisis and the chaos, in Greece as on the entire continent, are those who impose and apply the Troika’s memorandums and their barbaric measures!

They are holding the people of Greece “responsible” because six months after the uprising of October 19-20, 2011, which pushed Papandreou out, the Greek people went on, in the legislative elections of May 6, to inflict defeat on the parties — the PASOK ahead of them all — that had subjected themselves to the supranational dictates of the Troika (the IMF-European Commission-European Central Bandk). They are threatening the people of Greece because, just after the elections of May 6, the Greek people prevented the constitution of a government that would not cancel the Memorandum.

Ms. Lagarde, trampling all forms of sovereignty and democracy in the name of the IMF, following the European Commission, professes to forbid the people of Greece to confirm and extend their May 6 vote on June 17.

By demanding the cancellation of the Memorandum, the people of Greece are but expressing the will of all the peoples of Europe to be done with the austerity plans, to put a halt to the march towards the installing of a veritable dictatorship of the Troika that the ratification of the new European TSCG treaty would mean.

We, activists of the IVth International, say: the people of Greece, the workers and the peoples of Europe refuse to be subjected to the implacable law of financial capital. They refuse to pay the barbaric consequences of the system of private ownership of the means of production with their flesh and bones.

We, activists of the IVth International, assert that the only positive way out for the workers and the peoples of Europe requires breaking with the European Union, with its institutions and its treaties, from the Treaty of Rome to the TSCG, including the Treaty of Maastricht. The only way out of the chaos and barbarism lies in the fight for the United Socialist States of Europe, free from the yoke of the debt, pillage and exploitation.

The first act along this path is the cancelling of the barbarous memorandum, which the people of Greece demand, and the non-ratification of the TSCG treaty and its “golden rule”, and its repeal in the countries where it has been ratified!

This is why the IVth International unconditionally supports the people of Greece and those — like Syriza — who represent them and who say: cancellation of the Memorandum! Respect for the sovereign will of the people of Greece!

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