Interview with a Greek revolutionary student activist
Published by the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency, 7 September 2019, www.thecommunists.net
Note of the Editorial Board: Below we publish an interview with Christos Papadopoulos, a correspondent of the RCIT in Greece. The comrade is a revolutionary activist in “Ενιαία Ανεξάρτητη Αριστερή Κίνηση” (EAAK, United Independent Left Movement), a left-wing student alliance in Greece.
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Question: Hi comrade, thanks for taking the time for this interview! Could you first tell us a bit about yourself and about EAAK?
Answer: EAAK is a student movement in the universities of Greece. It consists of some communist/left-wing organisations or parties as well as of independent activists. EAAK stands up for all the students and their rights especially inside universities. Also we do not have any hierarchical stratification as we are all equal. EAAK are in front to the most general strikes that have happened in Greece and sometimes, when these strikes are related to student issues, EAAK even initiates them.
Question: What is the situation for students? Have there been cuts in education?
Answer: There have been a number of cuts in education in the last years in order to service national debt, to pay for militarization (NATO, etc.) and so on. Right now the new conservative ND government tries to abolish the university's asylum that protects students to have their political discussions and to help the community. In this effort, the government is aided by an old law from the previous government led by the reformist SYRIZA party. Of course we have a lot more problems like some students can not find houses when they study in another city because of airbnb and a lot more but right now these are the things that bother us more.
Question: Greece had a SYRIZA-led government for four years which has been characterized as “left-wing” by various European observers. What are your characterizations of SYRIZA and the politics of the government?
Answer: I think that SYRIZA is worse than a clearly right-wing party because it won the elections as a left-wing party and they made things which previous governments of ND and PASOK couldn't do resp. feared to do. Also the concrete experience of the SYRIZA government is useful to explain how silly it was to talk that people in Greece somehow used to live in a communist system. All this was just propaganda! In fact, after four years of SYRIZA being in government, a number of people and most of the left-wing movements were disappointed of what SYRIZA had done. Many left-wing activists could not imagine that SYRIZA was able to do such terrible things despite the fact that they were aware that it was a social-democrats party.
Question: Greece has still a strong orthodox Stalinist party – the KKE. What is your view of this party?
Answer: KKE for sure is the biggest left wing party in Greece with thousands of members. However, the KKE and its youth organisation (KNE) preferred to stay outside of the movements since 2006. And this despite the fact that many important mobilizations took place in these years! The worst thing is that KKE has done in all those years is to announce themselves as the only real communists in Greece. This has not helped the movement or the KKE itself but rather the right-wing organisations which are on the other side of the barricade.
Question: Greece has seen a series of general strikes in the past decade. However they did fail to defeat the austerity offensive. What have been the main reasons for this? And what are, in your opinion, the main lessons to be drawn?
Answer: I think that you can find the answer if you see what happened in the two elections of 2015. That is because a lot of the people who participated in general strikes did not want to make a step further and have advance towards a serious uprising. The lessons that we have to draw are two things. Firstly, we have to stop believing that a party can change something through parliamentary elections. Secondly, we have to be ready and prepare for sharp turns in political events in the next years!
Question: Many thanks for taking the time for this interview and good luck for your work!