Greek Workers Need Revolutionary Party!

Young workers and students are determined to fight for a socialist future
Young workers and students are determined to fight for a socialist future

TWO weeks before the Greek general election, due on June 17, Alexis Tsipras the leader of Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) last Friday launched his party’s ‘updated’ programme for a ‘Left’ government whose ‘very first act will be legislation to annul the EC-IMF Accord and its enforcement laws.’

But SYRIZA have no intention, if elected, of writing off Greece’s public debt and they have stated that they will re-negotiate, with the EC-IMF, the terms of the 2010 and 2012 loans (bail-outs) that add up to some 230 billion euros.

A public opinion survey published at the end of last week (before the announcement of SYRIZA’s programme) by the Greek daily Kathimerini – the bankers’ and industrialists’ mouthpiece – showed SYRIZA at the top with 31.5 per cent, up 1.5 per cent since the week before, while the conservative New Democracy party got 25.5 per cent, slightly down from the previous week.

Reflecting the collapsing eurozone and developments in Greece, the Athens stock exchange dived by 4.5 per cent at the close last Friday.

Tsipras called the forthcoming election a ‘decisive plebiscite on the EC-IMF Accord’ and branded SYRIZA’s programme as a National Recovery Plan.

There is no mention of socialism in it.

Since SYRIZA’s leaders fully accept and support Greece’s membership of the European Union and the Eurozone the party’s programme is based on ‘renegotiations’ on the bail-out loans with the EC-IMF; part of these negotiations will be a ‘suspension of interest rates payments for a given time period’.

As its sources of revenue the SYRIZA programme names EC assistant projects, eradicating tax evasion and taxing the rich.

SYRIZA have fully accepted the ‘recapitalisation’ of the bankrupt Greek private banks, but say that this should lead first to the ‘nationalisation’ and then to the ‘socialisation’ of the banks since the Greek state will hold the majority of the shares.

A SYRIZA government, the party’s programme states, will ‘re-nationalise gradually and according to the capabilities of the economy all strategic corporations that were in a proces of privatisation such as electricity and mines, telecommunications, railways, post office, water authorities, and public transport.’

SYRIZA’s programme contains a number of measures demanded by workers and youth and by several trades unions in recent strikes and mobilisations; including the annulment of last February’s legislation which abolished collective agreements and cuts the basic wage by 32 per cent.

SYRIZA promise an ‘immediate freeze of all cutbacks, and wages and pensions reductions.’

SYRIZA’s intention is to re-establish 751 euros as the monthly basic wage, while the monthly unemployment benefit will be 461.5 euros, for just a two-year period.

The SYRIZA programme also calls for the abolition of all taxes imposed in the last 12 months, such as the vigorously opposed house and electricity taxes; but these taxes would still apply to well-off households.

SYRIZA also aims for the ‘write-off in whole or in part of bank loans’ by those families or businesses unable to pay back.

SYRIZA’s programme states that there should be ‘an immediate reduction in the VAT on restaurants and tourism’. There is no mention of the 23 per cent VAT imposed on household bills nor high VAT rates on basic foods, tobacco, drinks and petrol.

For the hard-hit Greek small farmers SYRIZA offers to ‘adjust’ past bank loans and to offer new loans with low interest rates.

In his introductory speech SYRIZA’s leader Tsipras said that changes to the political system will include laws against corruption, for the accountability of ministers and for a new proportional representation electoral system.

He sees immigration as the ‘movement of peoples’ and said that a SYRIZA government would ‘gradually offer documents’ so that immigrant workers can leave Greece.

He also said that his government would offer ‘legal immigrant’ status to all immigrant workers who work in Greece and give political asylum status to those who apply.

SYRIZA does not question Greece’s membership of NATO. Tsipras said that problems with Turkey can be resolved through Turkey joining the European Union and problems with the Republic of Macedonia should be resolved through the United Nations.

The SYRIZA parliamentary deputy Thodoris Dritsas spoke after Tsipras and outlined the party’s foreign policy which would be based ‘on the principles of national independence, popular sovereignty, democracy, peace and freedom and the protection of the country.’

Dritsas added that ‘our principles are based on a political front against war, imperialism, nationalism, racism and jingoism and are inspired with respect for international law and with the principles of the Left which rejects violence.’

Dritas said that everything must be done to avoid a new war in the Middle East ‘on the pretext of Iran’s nuclear programme’, and that SYRIZA stands against ‘human rights wars’ and ‘wars for democracy’ as well as against Greece’s participation in a possible intervention against Syria.

The Greek bourgeois political parties and the capitalist media attacked Tsipras and SYRIZA for a programme that ‘takes Greece back decades.’

And they accused Tsipras of leading Greece out of the euzrozone back to the drachma which ‘would be a national disaster’.

The General Secretary of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) Aleka Paparigha said ironically that she was expecting ‘a programme for Soviets but all we got was a pittance.’

According to SYZRIZA’s leaders the party programme’s aim is to avert the catastrophe hitting the Greek people. But mass unemployment and poverty today are the results of the world economic collapse of capitalism and of the policies imposed by the EC and IMF.

There cannot be a national solution and the crisis cannot be tackled while Greece remains under capitalism and in the claws of the eurozone, the IMF and NATO.

There cannot be any future for Greek workers, youth, small farmers and the self-employed unless a mass struggle is taken up immediately for the write-off of the national debt and the nationalisation of all banks and large industry, without compensation and under workers’ control and management.

SYRIZA’s programme should not be branded simply a reformist proposal; it is an effort to save Greek capitalism from total collapse and to stop the millions of Greek workers and youth who have risen against the EC and IMF from taking the revolutionary road of overthrowing capitalism.

The revolutionary movement of Greek workers, fuelled by the collapse of the eurozone, the mass demonstrations in Europe and the uprisings in the Middle East, cannot be either contained or stopped by the SYRIZA programme or even a SYRIZA ‘Left’ coalition government.

In the June 17 elections workers and youth will vote for SYRIZA; but when the ‘Left’ government fails to deliver, workers will be on the streets once again.

Since the introduction two years ago of the barbaric EC-IMF-imposed austerity measures, Greek workers and youth have smashed the Papandreou government, forced the resignation of the coalition government of banker Luacas Papademos and last month averted the bourgois parties’ conspiracies to form yet another coalition government.

All these historic struggles must lead to the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a workers’ and small farmers’ government based on Peoples’ Assemblies (Soviets) and a nationalised planned economy.

The Greek socialist revoluton will be the first victory of the European socialist revolution and will lead to workers throughout Europe taking power.

This struggle requires the building of the Revolutionary Marxist League into the mass revolutionary party in Greece and sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International throughout Europe.