The capitalist crisis in Greece is at a turning point. The vast majority of the working class, the oppressed, and even the middle class want an immediate end to the brutal austerity. Many hope that the new elections on 17th June will bring a decisive change through the formation of a "leftist" government under the leadership of the party SYRIZA. For which perspective should militant workers fight now?
The answer of our international organization - the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) – is:
* For the elections on 17th June we call for critical electoral support for the reformist parties SYRIZA and KKE. But nobody should have false hopes: The leaderships of these parties will try in every step to betray the interests of the workers. They can not and will not lead the workers out of the current misery. But as long as the mass of workers still have hopes in them, the most progressive activists must fight with them and direct demands to these parties: SYRIZA, KKE and DIMAR: Form or support in parliament a “left” government! Such a government must be forced by mass mobilization to implement demands in the interest of the workers!
* But the decisive changes are not made in parliament, but in the enterprises and on the streets. Everything depends on that the workers organize themselves and fight for their demands with strikes, general strikes and ultimately an armed insurrection. The main goal must be: building of action committees in the enterprises, neighborhoods and schools, and of armed self-defense committees! For a workers' government based on such committees, whose task is to overthrow and expropriate the ruling capitalist class!
* The most urgent task now is to build a revolutionary party that fights for an action program for the seizure of power, that pushes aside the reformist leaderships of KKE and SYRIZA aside and prepare the masses for the tasks ahead.
The current situation
Greece is facing ruin. The workers have lost a quarter of their wages within the last 12 months. At the end of the year it is expected that the production will be a fifth below the level of 2008! The official unemployment rate will then amount to 25%.
The country is being plundered by European banks: Greece owes the banks €340 billion Euro, although it has already paid €600 billion – much more than it ever owned the greedy financial sharks! The unscrupulous small class of super rich shifts its assets abroad, while the masses sink ever deeper into poverty and misery.
In the past two years, the workers have shown with more than a dozen general strikes that they reject the austerity policy. But these protests were fruitless. Why? Because they left the question of power untouched. As long as the capitalists and the banks own their factories and banks, they can do with it whatever they want. As long as the caste of politicians – which is closely linked with the capitalist class – control state power, they can legislate and send the police against the demonstrations as they like.
Masses are hoping for SYRIZA
Given the experience of the last two years, many workers are now hoping for a decisive change through the parliamentary elections. Already in the elections on 6th May, the left-reformist party SYRIZA won a sensational victory. It increased its vote share from 4.5% to 16.6%. The Communist Party KKE, also a reformist party with strong roots in the core layers of the working class, could increase its share from 7.5% to 8.5%. According to a recent survey of 30th May SYRIZA is predicted an electoral victory with 31.5%, while the right-reformist DIMAR is said to have the support of 7.5% and the KKE of 5.5% of the electorate.
This demonstrates the recognition of the masses that a transformation is possible only if political power is changed. But this recognition is still incomplete, subject to many illusions. This is not surprising when one remembers that the reformist policies of the leading parties in the workers' movement told them that policy is better left to the politicians and that the working class itself should not take power.
These illusions can be overcome and replaced by the socialist recognition that real democracy can be introduced by the abolition of capitalism along with its parliament and by its replacement by a democracy rooted in the factories and neighborhoods councils.
Revolutionary, however, can not base their politics on future possibilities, but must take into account in their tactics those illusions that exist in the current phase. Revolutionaries must not themselves fall victim to the illusion that the illusions of the masses disappear by itself, spontaneously through the fight. No, for this the active intervention of revolutionaries, patient agitation, sharp propaganda and the practical participation in the class struggle is necessary.
SYRIZA leads to a dead end
To remove illusions of others, revolutionaries must first of all make sure that they don’t fall victim to their own illusions. They have to say the correct views and openly transmit them into the masses.
It is essential that the revolutionary-minded activists clearly recognize the true nature of the SYRIZA leadership around Alexis Tsipras and explain this in their propaganda. His party calls for a very moderate program of suspension of austerity, but they are not willing to take the necessary steps for this. SYRIZA calls not even for a complete cancellation of the debt of the country. By this, however, the country would remain trapped in imperialist debts. Tsipras spreads the illusion of finding a joint solution with the capitalist governments of the Euro zone and the European Central Bank to solve the debt crisis. Such a "solution" in reality mean a continuation of austerity programs, and therefore can only go at the expense of the already impoverished population. Similarly, SYRIZA advocates remaining inside the Euro-zone which is controlled by banks and corporations. In various political crises in the past Tsipras has declared SYRIZA’s willingness to maintain "order" and the Constitution – which is nothing but the order of the banks, corporations and their politicians caste. He also met with the army leadership and announced SYRIZA’s readiness for the military defense of the capitalist country against its enemies and for "expanding the striking force of the army."
The leadership of SYRIZA is thoroughly reformist. It is neither willing nor able to eliminate the misery of the masses, because they dare not to touch the power of the banks and corporations and their political instrument of power, the corrupt state apparatus, including the Parliament. It leads the masses unprepared into the coming sharp confrontations, in which the ruling class will try to crush the working class with the help of police, military, and the entire state apparatus. In recent months some sections of the elite have already openly speculated about the possibility of a military coup, as they did in 1967.
KKE is no alternative
Today the KKE criticizes SYRIZA partially with left-wing arguments for their illusionary perspective. But it combines this criticism with a politically devastating tactics: they refuse to give SYRIZA any support at all in Parliament. This is wrong! The RCIT says: The KKE should rather support in parliament the formation of a SYRIZA–led government and defend it against attempts by the right-wing parties to bring it down. The KKE should vote only for those bills that are in the interests of the workers. (E.g. stop of the memorandum, cancellation of debt, etc.).
Despite their criticism of SYRIZA from the left, the KKE leadership itself is part of the bourgeois order. It has helped the ruling class in the past to overcome political crises (e.g. by forming coalition governments with the conservatives and royalists 1944-45 or with the Conservatives and PASOK in 1990-91). When the youth revolted in December 2008 after of the murder of 15-year-old school student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, by police forces, the KKE leadership denied their solidarity and denounced the youth as "hooligans." And when a mass demonstration on 20th October 2011 – during a two-day general strike – wanted to disturb the parliamentary session, which decided on another austerity package, the KKE security service defended Parliament against the demonstrators with violent means and with the benevolent toleration of the police!
The dilemma of SYRIZA leadership is that it promises to the workers a way out of poverty without creating the conditions for it: the break-up of the power of the Greek and European big business over the economy and state apparatus. But as long as the capitalist robbers hold this power, they will bring any government to its knees or overthrow it with a coup. This is what they did in the 1930s in France and Spain, in 1973 in Chile and 1974/75 in Portugal. It can not be otherwise, since a ruling class can not be pushed to the side peacefully and gradually. It wages a battle to the death to save their profits and privileges. The workers must wage such a struggle too!
Therefore, the central axis around which the future perspective must be built is the question of preparing the working class for the struggle for power. Contrary to the hopes of the reformists and centrists (such as CWI and IMT), the capitalist rule can not be destroyed peaceful, but only by the armed uprising.
The key steps to prepare for the struggle for power are the widespread formations of Action Committee of the masses in the factories, neighborhoods and schools. Equally central is the formation of armed self-defense committees to fight against the fascist thugs and the uniformed thugs (police/army). Out of these committees real militias and workers' councils can emerge in the future. The perspective must be the formation of a workers' government based on such organs of the masses. The task of such a workers government must be the overthrow of the ruling class, the expropriation of the banks and corporations as well as the dismantling of the armed state apparatus.
What does this mean for today's situation? Today action committees exist only partly and in embryo. The masses still hope for a way out through a "leftist government" with SYRIZA at the top. Revolutionary-minded activists must take into account.
For this first and foremost it is necessary to disseminate among the masses a concrete, revolutionary action program. Such a program must include among other things:
* 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!
Today, when the masses still have illusions in SYRIZA and KKE, the struggle for such an action program must to be combined with a critical electoral support for these parties and the demand that they (and the right-reformist DIMAR) form or support the formation of such a government.
Deputies of the workers' parties, which claim to honestly represent the interests of working people, should grant a SYRIZA-led government no political support. This would be an illusionary, bourgeois workers’ government and no real workers’ government! If SYRIZA forms such a bourgeois workers' government with the support of DIMAR and/or KKE, socialist deputies can support such a government only against attempts of the right-wing parties to bring it down. They can vote only for concrete bills which serve the interests of the working class. However, they may not grant general, political support for such a SYRIZA-led government or they should not vote for the budget, which by its nature serves the maintenance of the capitalist order.
Various opportunists (like the Mandelite Fourth International, the IMT, the LFI and others) criticize revolutionary-minded activists in Greece for not forming a "leftist government" with SYRIZA or even for not withdrawing their candidacy in the elections at 17th June in favor of supporting SYRIZA. This criticism is directed mainly against the radical left alliance ANTARSYA which got in the elections on 6th May 1.2% of the vote.
The RCIT rejects such an opportunistic criticism. Our criticism of ANTARSYA is that it does not put forward a revolutionary action program and carry this into the masses. Whether ANTARSYA competes independently in the elections or limits itself to one, two constituencies and otherwise calls for a critical electoral support for SYRIZA and KKE, is a tactical question. It is quite possible that the second option would be advisable at this election given the mass illusions particularly in SYRIZA. It is important that the organizations in ANTARSYA use the revolutionary tactics of the united front towards the two major parties, direct demands to them, attempt to work together with their rank & file and support critically a "leftist government" against the right-wing forces.
In case of an electoral victory of SYRIZA, the European monopoly capitalists, their governments and their media will unleash an even worse smear campaign against "the lazy Greeks". The international workers movement must hurry to help their brothers and sisters in Greece. The unions and the social democratic, Stalinist etc. workers' parties of Europe have to organize immediately a campaign for the total cancellation of all debts of Greece. Down with the governments and the EU Commission which try to blackmail the Greece!
Instead, we need a Europe-wide campaign which includes pan-European general strikes against all the austerity packages and for the cancellation of all debt in Europe!
The key to a revolutionary solution of the current crisis is the timely formation of a revolutionary party. Only if such a party exists, can the working class be won for a program of the socialist seizure of power and then the door to liberation can be pushed open. The first step in this direction is the creation of a revolutionary pre-party organization to develop such a program and to unite activists on this basis. The RCIT will do it´s best to support the Greek revolutionaries in achieving this goal.
We refer our readers to our pamphlet "Perspectives on the Greek Revolution" (see also www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-revolution-or-tragedy) and on our analysis of the elections on May 6, "After SYRIZA’s victory in the Greek elections: The question of a Workers Government and the revolutionary way forward" (see also www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/after-the-greek-elections)