After the elections on 17th June: A new phase of the Greek Revolution is beginning!
The latest election in Greece on 17th June has opened a new phase of the Greek Revolution. The RCIT believes that the most important tasks of the revolutionary workers and youth in Greece are now:
* The struggle against the coming ND-led austerity government must be continued on the streets, in the enterprises and in the neighborhoods! Build actions committees and self-defense units all over the country to organize the mass of workers and youth! These mass committees should elect delegates and coordinate nation-wide the resistance! For a mass united front of struggle of SYRIZA, KKE, GSEE, ADEDEY and all progressive activists and organizations!
* For strikes and occupations to fight back! Prepare for an indefinite General Strike! Prepare for a revolutionary insurrection to bring down the government and form a workers government, i.e. a government based on mass action councils and armed militias of the working class!
* For a militant mass campaign to drive the XA fascists from the streets!
* Employ a systematic united front campaign to fight together with the rank and file supporters of SYRIZA and KKE to force their leadership to initiate and support with all their resources mass struggles against the coming ND-led austerity government! Force the leadership of SYRIZA and KKE to throw their weight behind the building of actions committees and self-defense units!
* The leaderships both of SYRIZA and the KKE do not want to lead a serious mass struggle to bring down the austerity government. They want to wait for the next elections or for a governmental crisis where they can step in as a new government to save capitalism from complete collapse. Therefore the most important task is to build a new revolutionary party of the working class!
What do the election results show in the camp of the bourgeoisie?
The main result of the election is a consolidation of leading forces both in the camp of the ruling class and of the working class. The right-wing conservative Nea Dimokratia(ND) while still weakened compared to “the good old times” has increased its share from 19% of the votes at the 6th May elections to 29.7%. The Greek ruling class, the European monopoly capitalists and the EU governments see now ND as their main party to continue the capitalist austerity policy of plunder and impoverishment of the Greek people.
Another bourgeois party, the bourgeois-populist PASOK, again lost votes after having suffered already a historic collapse on 6th of May. They declined from 13,2% to 12.3%. (Remember: they had 44% in 2009!)
They conservative anti-memorandum party “Independent Greeks” – a split from ND – declined 10.6% of the votes to 7.5%. However the fascist Golden Dawn party (XA) again got nearly 7% of the votes. This proves that the fascists have definitely consolidated themselves as a force. Already today they hunt in pogrom-style migrants and drive them out of several districts in Athens. If the working class cannot built a revolutionary mass alternative in the coming months and years and does not organise a militant campaign to smash them on the streets by force, the fascists could grow quickly like the NSDAP of Hitler did after 1930.
Election results in the camp of the workers movement: SYRIZA’s victory and KKE’s defeat
While the ND could consolidate itself as the leading party of the pro-austerity bourgeoisie, there was also a shift inside the workers movement. The left-reformist SYRIZA has become now the leading party inside the workers movement on the electoral terrain. (not in the trade unions until now!) It continued its meteoric rise: its share of votes rose by 10.1% from 16.6% to 26.9%. (Remember: they had only 4.5% in 2009!).
The main reason for their success is that SYRIZA gives an answer to the question of power. They call for a “left government” to stop the memorandum and austerity. Of course their answer is reformist and illusionary. They want to stop austerity but hope to achieve a compromise about this with the imperialist Euro-Zone governments and hence stay inside the Euro-Zone. This is of course impossible and in fact the SYRIZA leadership around Tsipras would look for a rotten compromise with the capitalists and call the workers to stop resistance. But the masses have not made this experience and at the moment they trust those who offer at least an answer to the pressing problems.
The right-reformist DIMAR – a split from SYRIZA in 2010 – got nearly the same share of votes as last time (6.25%).
The Stalinist KKE suffered a dramatic defeat. It got its worst result ever since the early 1930s! It came out of the elections as the weakest of all parties in parliament. It got 4.5% which is nearly the half of what they got on 6th May (8.5%). Why did they lose so badly? The KKE is much better organised and rooted in the working class than SYRIZA. They have tens of thousands of members in branches all over the country, they lead important unions like the dockers and the building workers and the KKE-led trade union PAME had about 1/5 of the delegates at the last congress of the trade union federation GSEE in 2010. Not only this, in fact they were much more active in the mass struggles in the last years than SYRIZA. For example members of the PAME lead the important four-month strike and occupation of the steel workers at the Halyvourgia plant – a strike which received a lot of attention and huge support from almost every other union.
However the KKE proved to the masses to be a bureaucratic-reformist party which denounced and slandered important movements like the youth rebellion in December 2008 or the square mass occupations in 2011. SYRIZA did not lead any movement and did not even attempt so. But it gave them rhetorical support in the parliament and the media. This was definitely more than the KKE was willing to give. In fact SYRIZA as a left-reformist party has the strategy of presenting themselves as the electoral-parliamentary expression of the movement.
Furthermore the KKE leadership was and is incapable of giving an answer to the most important question in this terrible crisis of capitalism: the question of power. Their perspective for a “peoples power government” is completely abstract – who shall form such a government in the present political conjuncture? Why is this opposed to the concrete possibility today to bring a government into power which claims to stop the austerity policy as SYRIZA proposes?! As a result the KKE leadership around General Secretary Papariga combined a number of correct criticisms against SYRIZA’s inconsistent and utopian reform perspective of capitalism with a complete sectarian and passive policy concerning the question of power. They refused to commit themselves to a critical support of a SYRIZA-led government. As a result many workers considered their vote for KKE as a lost vote and went directly to SYRIZA.
The small centrist alliance ANTARSYA suffered a huge defeat. With 20.387 votes or 0.33% it received the worst result at elections since its foundation both in numbers as in share of votes. Despite the most favourable circumstances of a pre-revolutionary development since two years this alliance could not increase their influence amongst the masses in the last three years. This shows that if a political formation does not find the way to a revolutionary programme and a corresponding concept of organised agitation and activity, it will neither find the way to the vanguard of the masses. As a result ANTARSYA not only has no revolutionary programme but also is not able to apply the united front tactic towards SYRIZA and the KKE. In particular it failed to develop a campaign for critical support for a SYRIZA-led government related with the perspective of the struggle for a workers government.
This is unfortunate since ANTARSYA unites hundreds of revolutionary-minded activists who perform often excellent work in their workplaces, schools, universities and streets. To give a most recent example one has to mention the great initiative of ANTARSYA to fight the fascists in the streets. However what is most important now in our opinion, is a clear programme and a bold united front campaign towards SYRIZA and KKE to build strong links with the rank and file workers with the perspective to break them away from their leadership.
The dynamic towards SYRIZA, away from the KKE and the collapse of ANTARSYA becomes clearly visible if one looks to the detailed election results in the main cities and working class areas. In the main bastion of the KKE, Peiraios V district its voting share declined from 12.3% on 6th May to 6.6%. ANTARSYA went down from 1.1% to 0.29%. Meanwhile SYRIZA grew from 23.9% to 36.6%! In Peiraios A district KKE declined from 7.66% to 3.93%, ANTARSYA from 1.05% to 0.31% while SYRIZA grew from 19.16% to 28.15%. In Athens A district KKE lost from 8.58% to 4.74%, ANTARSYA from 1.51% to 0.45% while SYRIZA grew from 19.11% to 26.6%. Similarly in Athens V district where KKE lost from 9.64% to 5.36%, ANTARSYA from 1.49% to 0.44% while SYRIZA grew from 21.82% to 31.43%. The same dynamic could be seen in Thessalonikis A district, where KKE lost from 9.31% to 4.50%, ANTARSYA from 1.07% to 0.27% while SYRIZA rose from 17.46% to 26.95%.
Regroupment in the workers movement is likely
The coming period will see most likely intensive discussions and strong tensions including possible splits inside the workers movement. As we have pointed out there are enormous contradictions between the electoral dominance of SYRIZA and its weakness in the organized workers movement. This is a contradiction which will probably be solved in one way or another. A massive influx of workers and youth into the ranks of SYRIZA is a realistic possibility. This could lead to massive polarization given the fact that SYRIZA until now is strongly dominated by the reformist SYNASPISMOS which has amongst its leaders people like Giannis Dragasakis who was deputy minister for economy in the reactionary class-collaborationist coalition government with ND and PASOK in 1989-90. At the same time the leadership flirts with ideas like putting banks under workers control to accommodate to the growing radicalization amongst the masses. The hopes of radicalized workers and youth would inevitable clash with the reformist policy of the leadership.
Independent of the degree how many workers and youth join SYRIZA there will be a contradiction between the hope of the masses in SYRIZA and the unwillingness of the leadership to give a lead to the mass struggle against the coming austerity attacks. In an interview on 18th June SYRIZA spoke person Theodoros Paraskevopoulos made clear that his party does not intend to mobilize people against the austerity attacks. “This is the task of others like the trade unions”. This is the classic reformist concept of parliamentary policy for the party and the economic struggle for the unions.
It is also quite possible that important sections of the trade union bureaucracy will join SYRIZA since this is now the main bourgeois workers party in parliament. Why should they continue to support PASOK which is despised by the people and as a shrinking party has less privileges to offer?!
There could be also enormous tensions or even splits in the KKE. The present leadership with its bureaucratic, sectarian and reformist policy has led to party to decline. On one hand it is rhetorically certainly one of the most left-wing Stalinist parties in the world. Its programme says things like: “The revolutionary change in Greece will be socialist. The driving force of the socialist revolution will be the working class as the leading force” or “The bourgeois state and its machinery must be overthrown”. One of its leaders, CC member Elisseos Vagenas, recently argued in an interview published on 12.6., that “the KKE has arrived at the conclusion that the views concerning an “intermediate stage” between capitalism and socialism were mistaken. (…) Power will be either a bourgeois power or workers’–people’s power; there cannot be any power which has an intermediate character”. But this verbal radicalism is not translated in any strategy for today. The method of the transitional programme as developed by Trotsky is completely alien to the method of the KKE.
The KKE looks monolithic but let us not forget that it already suffered several splits in its history (KKE Interior in 1968, a big left-wing split from the youth organization KNE in 1988 which led to the formation of NAR, the split with Synaspismos in 1991 and another smaller slit in the early 2000s.)
Finally a crisis in ANTARSYA is nearly inevitable given the collapse of their project in the mid of a revolutionary crisis. Already before the elections several of the organizations who are part of the alliance (like two euro-communist groups and a sector of NAR, which is beside SEK-IST the biggest participant in ANTARSYA) were in favor of leaving it and to orientate towards SYRIZA.
The pre-revolutionary situation in Greece has not ended with these elections. It has entered a new phase in which the bourgeoisie has become more consolidated around ND and where SYRIZA is now clearly the strongest electoral force in the workers movement. As a result the new government will unleash waves of austerity attacks.
However the ND government has no real credibility amongst the working class. The majority of the people are still strongly against the austerity policy and the EU-dictated memorandum. Massive struggles against the austerity government are inevitable.
In the past years the Greek working class did not lack struggles. But it lacked victories. It suffered defeats because it had no fighting party which pursued a consistent revolutionary strategy. Such a party does not exist today.
In the coming period of struggle such a fighting party for socialist revolution must be built. It can be built. But only if revolutionaries organize now around an unambiguous Marxist program and address the militant workers and youth who today are either following the lead of SYRIZA, KKE, ANTARSYA or who are unorganized.
Such a revolutionary program of struggle must focus now on developing a strategy for taking power which recognizes the defensive nature of the coming battles and starts with the necessary tactics. We have already pointed out the content of such a revolutionary action programme in other documents. Obviously it will focus on the struggle against the austerity packages, for the immediate termination of the memorandum, the defense of all jobs and wages and the full rights for migrants and national minorities.
But the most important questions now for the revolutionary strategy are:
* How to fight against the ND and EU plunderers?
* To give a correct answer to the question of power.
The slogan must be now to organize the struggle against the ND-led austerity government on the streets, in the enterprises and in the neighborhoods!
What are the most important obstacles for this struggle? It is the existing leaderships of the workers movement of SYRIZA, KKE and GSEE/ADEDY.
Why? These leaderships do not want and are incapable to lead a serious mass struggle to bring down the austerity government. They want to wait for the next elections or for a governmental crisis where they can step in as a new government to save capitalism from complete collapse. However they are still the focus of millions of workers and youth who hope that they will give a lead in these struggles.
What are the consequences? They are:
A systematic united front campaign is necessary to build a joint struggle of rank and file supporters of SYRIZA and KKE, members of the unions and unorganized workers. The leaderships must be forced to initiate and support with all their resources mass struggles against the coming ND-led austerity government! Force the leadership of SYRIZA and KKE to throw their weight behind the building of actions committees and self-defense units!
The workers and youth should not wait for their leaders to solve the problems. They must organize themselves in actions committees and armed self-defense units. These mass committees should elect delegates to coordinate nation-wide the resistance!
An essential task in the coming period is the struggle against the fascists who gained not only seats in parliament but already control the streets in certain areas in Athens. It is urgent to form a mass united front to drive the Nazis with revolutionary violence from the streets!
Our fight back against the ND government must be militant and determined! For strikes and occupations! In the past two years we have seen 17 general strikes lasting for 24 or 48 hours. But they were not enough to stop the government and the troika. Against a strengthened ND government such limited general strikes will be even less powerful. Therefore it is urgent to prepare for an indefinite General Strike, i.e. a general strike with mass mobilizations, enterprise occupations and armed self-defense against the police and the fascists which last so long till the government back down.
However given the extreme severity of the capitalist crisis the ruling class has no room for compromises. Even if the government can be forced by the most militant means to back down from this or that attack it will only a very temporary victory. The only real and lasting solution for the working class is to overthrow the ruling class and take the power. This means the creation of a workers government, i.e. a government based on mass action councils and armed militias of the working class! Its task is the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the complete destruction of its state machinery. In other words communists fight for that such a workers government transforms into the dictatorship of the proletariat to open the road towards the abolition of all classes and state forms, i.e. communism.
How can we overthrow the ruling class and form a workers government? By an armed insurrection of the masses. That’s why it is necessary to start agitation and propaganda that the workers vanguard must prepare the masses for an insurrection to bring down the government.
The RCIT has explained in various documents why it is necessary to combine the struggle for the revolutionary programme with an orientation towards the vanguard sectors of the working class of which many are around SYRIZA or the KKE. This is why the RCIT combined raising a revolutionary action programme with a call for critical support for SYRIZA and KKE at the recent elections.
A systematic united front campaign must be waged which includes both joint struggles, calls to the leaderships and sharp criticism against them wherever they fail to meet the tasks of the hour. Such a united front campaign includes also the call to SYRIZA, KKE and the trade unions to fight for a workers government.
Fighting for such a program does not only imply to argue for the correct next steps and participate in struggles. It also involves permanent warning the workers against the reformist and centrists misleaders who consciously or unconsciously will betray the Greek Revolution.
This means that revolutionaries should wage the campaign for the formation of actions committees and self-defense units in the ranks of SYRIZA, KKE and the trade unions and also amongst the unorganized.
While revolutionaries need the utmost intransigency on question of the program and the strategy they have to combine this with high flexibility on questions of the organizational forms where to fight for such a program. If there is a mass influx of radicalized workers and youth into the membership ranks of SYRIZA, revolutionaries should make entryism in this party. This means they should join SYRIZA, form a revolutionary faction, fight for their program, and organize an opposition against the left-reformist leadership of Tsipras/SYNASPISMOS. The goal would be to break as many workers and youth as possible away from this leadership and win them over for a revolutionary strategy.
If there are serious prospects for a split from the KKE a similar flexible approach will be necessary towards them, albeit the extreme bureaucratic regime of the KKE makes a faction struggle much more difficult. Of course independent work can be also the best option. Such questions need to be decided with the most concrete knowledge of the situation on the ground.
Decisive is that the core of revolutionaries is closely organized together, fights openly for a revolutionary program and orients towards winning the most militant workers and working class youth. The organizational tactics must be flexible but the strategic goal must be fought for hard and intransigent: the formation of a new revolutionary party of the working class to lead it to victory!
Workers and Youth, fight for:
* Immediate termination of the memorandum! Reversal of all wage and benefit cuts in the past few years! Cancellation of all debts!
* For the expropriation of the super rich! For the nationalization of the domestic and foreign banks, industrial and large commercial enterprises as well as the large estates (including the church property!) under the control of the workers! For an emergency plan funded from the assets of the rich to secure the survival of the population and the country which is faced with the extortions of monopoly capital.
* For the nationalization of the land! Cancel the debts of peasants and small traders – instead give them interest-free loans! For promoting voluntary associations with the longer-term goal of voluntary collectivization!
* No to Greek chauvinism! For full equality for national minorities and immigrants (citizenship rights, equal pay, equal recognition of their language in offices and schools, etc.)!
* For a workers' government based on councils and militias! Such workers’ government would immediately break with the imperialist EU and the euro-zone and instead promote the building of socialism in Greece and the international spreading of the revolution in the Balkans and throughout Europe. For a socialist federation of the Balkans! For the United Socialist States of Europe!
Workers and Youth, build mass action committee and armed self-defense units! Elect delegates to coordinate the struggle nation-wide! Force the leaderships of SYRIZA, KKE and the trade unions to initiate and support the struggle! Prepare for an indefinite general strike and for the insurrection! For a workers government!
Revolutionaries around the world must understand that the Greek Revolution is a struggle in the interest of the whole proletariat in Europe and beyond. This is why a correct attitude to the questions of the Greek Revolution is decisive for the formation not only of a revolutionary party in Greece but also for the building of a new International. We call revolutionaries in Greece and internationally to join us in the struggle for a new world party of socialist revolution!
Victory to the Greek Revolution!
Forward in building a revolutionary party and a revolutionary International!
We refer our readers to several RCIT documents on the pre-revolutionary crisis in Greece:
* Greece: For a Workers' Government! Critical electoral support for SYRIZA and KKE! Workers: Organize and prepare yourselves for the struggle for power! (6.6.2012, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-for-a-workers-government/)
* After SYRIZA’s victory in the Greek elections: The question of a Workers Government and the revolutionary way forward (11.5.2012, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/after-the-greek-elections)
* Perspectives on the Greek Revolution. Greek tragedy is lack of revolutionary leadership of workers movement! For Workers’ Councils, Workers’ Militias and a Workers’ Government! (10.11.2011, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-revolution-or-tragedy)