Political Document on Greece (June 2015)
(a document of OKDE, launched at the beginning of June, presented here
with some small amendments responding to the recent developements)
- Reality has proved the complete failure of SYRIZA’s “strategy” / program on every level and not only on the so called negotiations with the EU–IMF and the creditors–usurers in general. To sum up:
- a) From the strategic goal of socialism1 (1st Congress of SYRIZA, July 2013) we got to the program of the International Exposition of Thessaloniki (Autumn 2014),
- b) From that we passed to the outline of government policy (10–14 February 2015), which was in fact some measures to deal with the “humanitarian crisis”, as was said. In addition, all these were supposed to be implemented without any confrontation with the creditors or a disengagement from the austerity policies.
- c) A few days later, however, even these “charity” measures were annulled, or put into doubt, in their bigger part or in their whole, after the shameful agreement with the Eurogroup (20th February) and the meetings that followed in the same body or others. This agreement signified not just a retreat, but almost a complete submission to the choices of the european economic–political elite and especially that of Germany. This submission does not only concern the abandonment of the mutilated moderate outline of government policy but also the debt, the popular and national sovereignty etc., as the agreement fully acknowledges the debt, accepts to refrain from any “one–sided action” etc.
- d) It did not take long for this truth to become obvious, as –soon– all the moderate pro–popular measures were condensed into the 4 “red lines”: labor issues (no to new reductions of salaries and pensions, no to massive layoffs, reinstatement of collective labor agreements etc.), social insurance issues, privatizations (no to any new privatizations), taxation (no to new tax burdens). A little later, these “red lines” also disappeared and, today, nobody knows what exactly the SYRIZA government supports. In any case, there is an obvious retreat or abandonment concerning privatizations and taxation (Taxation of the Big Real Estate, 12.000 Euros for tax free limit income, VAT etc.), while in other issues (reinstatement of the 13th pension, labor rights) the governmental statements are ambiguous, which shows that there are problems here, too – and probably retreats.
– The same apply in the more general political level:
- a) The “government of the Left” is not even mentioned anymore; on the contrary, the swarming of SYRIZA, the government and the state apparatus with diddlers from PASOK or controversial personalities continues.
- b) Governing with “emergency” Ministerial Acts has become a routine, even if their content is different from the Acts of the Samaras–Venizelos junta–style government.
- c) In the international relations / foreign policy, almost nothing has changed compared to the previous government –at least until now–, even in the most important events (Ukraine, Middle East, Egypt, Israel, etc.), while NATO, the symbol of imperialist politics for our country, has been functioning as it used to.
The Policy of the Government and of SYRIZA
- In a first phase, the government of SYRIZA substituted the objective of abolishing the memorandums and the measures deriving from them with the objective of their no further extension – to conclude, today, to what it calls an “honorable compromise” or a “mutually beneficial compromise”, without ever clarifying its content. However, everything (starting with the shameful agreement of 20th February) shows that it is going to be a new “memorandum” – and, in any case, the application of the measures of the previous memorandums, possibly with some ameliorative changes.
– All the above are presented in a political wrap saying that the greek people gave the “popular mandate” to the government on 25th January to “negotiate”, not to “clash or rupture with the EU” and keep the country (at all costs) in the Eurozone. Not only are all these an obviously arbitrary and convenient interpretation of the leading group in SYRIZA, but also a clear affiliation to the strategy and policies of the memorandum supporters, the “Fifth Column” of the mass media and the agents of imperialism in general. Furthermore, this interpretation constitutes a misrepresentation and distortion of the meaning of the 25th January vote and of the struggles of 5 years (with their ups and downs). This is something that the memorandum supporters –and not only them– have been trying to achieve during all the recent period, especially after the elections. There is not the slightest doubt that the main meaning, almost the only one, of the elections’ result was the abolition of the memorandums, the policies deriving from them and the memorandum regime; all the rest were of very little interest, especially for the labor and popular masses, despite the constant brain wash and the scaremongering. Besides, it was because these memorandums and their consequences on greek society –and despite the hopeless efforts of the memorandum supporters and the mass media of deception to persuade that there is no such division as memorandum/countermemorandum, or that it is fictitious etc.–, that all the social and political shifts and changes took place, that the two main bourgeois parties (New Democracy and PASOK) were disintegrated or entered a mortal crisis –and along with them, the bourgeois manner of governing which has been established since 1974 (fall of the military dictatorship), that the bourgeois political staff was divided, shuttered or disintegrated and the Left was reinforced to unprecedented levels in Greece (and not only Greece), while SYRIZA, a left reformist party acceded to power.
- While SYRIZA’s policy is disproved and humiliated day after day, while the intentions and aims of the european political–economic elite are becoming more and more obvious, it keeps talking about an “honorable compromise”, which shows its bewilderment or, more accurately, the gap of policy and strategy. It is extremely dangerous or suspicious for SYRIZA to present any “agreement” to the Greek people (e.g. of the kind the agreement of 20th February) as an “honorable compromise, mutually beneficial”. There is no such thing as “honorable compromise”; there is only submission to neoliberal policies or their reasoning and to the bankrupt greek capitalism; there is submission to the memorandum policies on which the authoritarian, totalitarian capitalist structure of the EU is built up. This EU/Eurozone does not accept any other policy, any “different” policy like the one SYRIZA has been trying to splutter. Even the neo–Keynesian, charity chickenfeed constitute a paleolithic populism for Shylocks/Schäubles of the Eurozone and his sidekicks; and only“reforms, the code name for the social, economic and political devaluation and marginalization of the working people, the poor popular strata and the youth is a correct and tolerable policy.
– The notions of “productive investments”, “development” etc. are even more incompatible with the EU/Eurozone. So, the program of SYRIZA which talks about “development”, is of course not compatible with the reasoning of the EU/Eurozone, which can only see a development that comes from the creation of a competitive economy; this economy can, almost exclusively, be achieved through the constant reduction not only of the labor cost, but the value of the labor force and its reproduction, in their contemporary sense (economically, socially, morally, institutionally etc). SYRIZA’s chattering about claiming a package (money) for development, in the negotiations, is out of place and time, if they do not simply fool themselves.
– Compromise, “honorable” or not, constitutes the essence of reformist policy; it is the so called intermediate or third road, that is, the strategy of SYRIZA, which of course is being failing, as it was expected. Apart from everything else, the main concern of the EU imperialists is to close the rupture that was opened in Greece, before it is repeated and turns into a breach in the European social volcano. Thus, the rage with which the political–economic elite of the EU/Eurozone conduct the war against greek people, is due to the following facts: a) they want to keep “alive” the memorandum social and political forces in Greece, b) they want to prevent similar developments from happening in other countries of the EU, especially in the european South, c) they want to maintain german hegemony in the EU, d) they want to reinforce the imperialist role of the EU, at least in its close periphery etc.
– The effort of the EU imperialists to inflict a (humiliating) defeat to the Greek people will continue, even if there is a kind of “agreement” in the negotiations that are taking place with the SYRIZA government. The clash (which OKDE has already stated in the documents of our recent 20th national conference, November 2014) has already begun. Maybe the developments in Spain (recent elections), where the regime has been collapsing (collapse of the traditional bourgeois parties, crisis of the alternate governing of center right and center left, a great rise of the (new) left etc.), will accelerate this clash and make it even harder. On the other hand, Spain is giving a new urge to struggles, increases the crisis of the EU and reinforces the fear of the EU political–economic elite that the dangers for its interests are growing.
- SYRIZA’ policy to pay the creditors/loan sharks “fully and in time” is another reason that contributes to the growth of economic crisis, poverty, misery and collapse of everything. It is, literally, a criminal policy to give billions of Euros to the creditors/loan sharks (about 6 billion Euros have been given since the beginning of the year, that is almost 30 times as the amount estimated to be given to the “humanitarian crisis”), when at the same time there are 1,5 million unemployed, tens of thousands of homeless, hospitals without basic medical supplies etc. Moreover, for the same purpose, the fund reserves of the broader public sector have been grabbed, as well as every available resource in general; this is something that destroys economy and annihilates any prospect / potential for an economic restart. More than that, SYRIZA government keeps following faithfully the memorandum policy and the 2015 Budget that Samaras and Venizelos had drew up. They continue the “internal halt of payments” within Greece and the austerity policy, in order to look “consistent” towards the creditors/loan sharks and their doctrine “in the Euro, no matter what and at all costs”. Thus, despite the income deficit of about 884 million Euros, the budget has presented a primary surplus of 2,16 billion Euros (when the target was only 287 million!). This “achievement” was, of course, the result of an expenditure retention (according to neoliberal reasoning) of 2 billion Euros, that is, by continuing subfunding health, education etc. and cutting down the public investments’ program. All these, along with political ambiguity, the scaremongering of the memorandum supporters, the political and credit blackmailing of the european imperialists have contributed to:
- a) The appearance of new signs of recession, as a result of the decline of productive sectors.
- b) Unemployment is rising again, after a relative stabilization it had at about 27% (official data). The jungle of labor relations not only remains, but it also presents a new elevation due, again, to the encouragement of “profiteers”–employers (they increase by the day), as they watch government’s inactivity, as well as its policy not to move to “one–sided actions”. According to the latest report of Labour Inspection service: there are 1 million unpaid (from 1 to 5 months) working people (despite the pay cuts), almost half a million underemployed (up to 4 hours a day, officially, with half the payment), 1,5 to 2 million paid from time to time (not in a steady way), usually unregistered. The shame of property auctions continues, even for the first residence. The same applies for confiscations, while the relevant government commitments remained in the greek calends. Non serviced loans (“bad” loans) keep increasing –they have already reached the amount of 82–84 billion Euros. Privatizations (SYRIZA calls them utilization of public property) are used, again, to save the country, along with the social insurance system funds (known as… generations’ fund!) etc. Privatizations and the continuation of auctions and confiscations are certainly the two measures, which are included in the new “memorandum” or the new agreement, no matter how it will be named.
– Closing down of businesses, especially the small ones, continues, too. According to a recent research (April 2015) of the Institute of Small Businesses of the General Confederation of Professional Craftsmen Tradesmen of Greece, 59 of these small businesses are shutting down every day and 613 employees are being fired.
– The debts to the state and social insurance funds and organizations have been increasing resulting in the deterioration of social insurance system. The settlements of the government concerning debts to the state and social insurance funds do not pay off –at least not as much as the government hoped– for reasons connected to the general economic depression, the gloomy prospects, but also the criminal policy that the government follows by giving the creditors/loan sharks everything it collects.
- 5. The moment of truth is approaching for this policy, maybe it’s already here. There are bonds of about 1,6 billion Euros, which must be paid in 4 payments in June (starting on 5th of June). If this amount exists (i.e. if the government manages to collect it, using the ways it has done so far), the government intends –as everything shows– to actually pay, committing a further crime. However, this generosity / submission of the government is not going to change anything. The only thing that may slightly modify the situation –and only temporarily– is signing, once again, an “agreement” / extension (in the pattern of the agreement of 20th February), which, however, will contain anti–labor, anti–popular measures in the direction of the memorandum policies. This is not because Schauble or Dijsselbloem are bad people, but because staying in the EU/Eurozone means constant anti–labour, anti–popular measures and memorandums.
– Finally, in July and August, bonds of about 7.5 billion Euros fall due; however, they cannot and must not be paid. Until today, we have been in such a period that working people did not have to pay any of their typical obligations. Starting from this autumn, however, they will be asked to pay almost all their taxes (income, estate property etc.), along with the other increased expenses (schools, increased maintenance expenses etc.). Then, the problem and the current doubts of the working and popular masses can / will become much greater.
The Period Ahead – Prospects
- Signing an agreement or not will lead to stormy developments in the political things; developments which have been in standby / suspension / “repression” since the elections. Despite the consequences of not signing an “agreement”, this possibility cannot be excluded. The consequences consist of the effects that a typical bankruptcy (stoppage of payments –the greek capitalism is, essentially, bankrupted since 2010 or even 2008) will have in the european and global economy. The interest that the US imperialism has been showing is not so much due to the geopolitical significance of Greece (as, stupidly, some nationalists insist on), but the fear of the consequences or the crisis that this bankruptcy will cause on the global economy, which is in a terrible situation and can suffer an earthquake or reach the point of explosion by even a small economy like the Greek one. The geopolitical significance of Greece has been greatly undermined after the collapse of the USSR and the “east block”, although there has been a slight increase, more recently, due to the explosive situation in Ukraine, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, during the recent years and the social and political turmoil in the Balkans.
- The closure of the “agreement” / negotiation issue will bring about developments within New Democracy. All its internal contradictions and conflicts, which have been suspended or kept under control since the elections, will be exposed. There is all the evidence that this evolution cannot be prevented, not even by the coordinated efforts of the political–economic elite of the EU, which may be able to handle it within a framework. ND has entered a crisis which will not end soon, or without going through situations where its cohesion and its form (the one we have known since 1974) will be tested. Besides, this party has changed considerably, programmatically and politically, since 1974, much more than the other center right parties of Europe – a fact also owed to the circumstances of Greek capitalism bankruptcy. Under the leadership of Samaras, it is a far right party and, as such, its possibilities to (re)gain power are minimal, which is realized its most serious party cadres. ND has achieved the lowest rates in its history, under the leadership of Samaras.
– The prospects for a political survival of PASOK are minimal, contrary to the prospects of its further fragmentation. The movements made towards a reconstruction of the center left (PASOK, the “Movement” of Papandreou, DIMAR, maybe also the “River”) have no future at all because: a) there is no social base for such a reconstruction, due to the social shifts and changes, b) these parties cannot structure any reliable program – they cannot even write it down in a paper.
– This disintegrating crisis of the two bourgeois parties (as well as the gloomy prospects of their reconstruction, or appearance of new ones) leaves greek bourgeoisie without a political entity, without political staff, without a tool able to design a policy and mainly a strategy, not only for a way out of the crisis, but also a general plan for the reconstruction of the disintegrated capitalist economy. These deficiencies make the reproduction of the system of bourgeoisie on a bourgeois framework problematic. These deficiencies and weaknesses of bourgeoisie and its political entities cannot be substituted by the political–economic elite and the so called vision of the EU/Eurozone – or they can only partially, but on a constantly deteriorating course, due to the increasing crisis of its totalitarian nature. This situation of the social and political forces of bourgeoisie brings back –not only on a theoretical level– the state apparatuses (this shelter for the rescue of the bourgeois system) in politics, in a form of governing other than through the parliament. Developments in the wider area (Ukraine, Balkans, Middle East etc.) reinforce such a potential.
- Greek society cannot withstand another memorandum or measures of this kind (which may not have the stormy rate of memorandums); this does not mean, of course, that such measures cannot be imposed. SYRIZA cannot handle the crisis as Papandreou, Venizelos and Samaras did, who nevertheless paid and are still paying a severe price for themselves, their parties and bourgeoisie itself (even though this chapter is not yet closed). It seems that the developments concerning the bourgeois social and political forces will be greater and deeper than they were in Turkey (it faced a much smaller crisis), where the respective political forces (Chiller, Yilmaz etc.) disappeared and great changes were brought about in the dominant / bourgeois forces.
– In the case of a milder / softer handling of the situation (“mild adjustment” seems to be the new(?) goal or the new (?) chimera / utopia of SYRIZA), the disintegration of SYRIZA will be rapid. There are not many scenarios for a political solution: neither Tsipras can become Bonaparte, nor can he keep sitting on the spears of the River, ND and PASOK, nor can another (political) Bonaparte be found at this time (even though they have already prepared someone for the position, i.e. the former minister of finance Stournaras – who SYRIZA have kept at the head of Bank of Greece!). The issue is not whether some persons can become Bonapartes or find themselves willing to play this role – but what they will do. Should they apply new memorandums? The last ones not only failed completely, but they even increased the crisis, probably making it irreversible and in any case unmanageable: the debt increased from 115% to 180% of the GDP; they predicted a decrease of the GDP by 4% and we had a more than 25% decrease, which has not stopped growing; they have disintegrated Greek economy, health education and social insurance systems and caused numerous more sufferings to the working people, the poor strata and the youth.
- No other policy exists and is tolerated in the EU/Eurozone than neoliberal policy and the memorandums. The persistence of SYRIZA to support the opposite and remain dogmatically attached to the point of view that we must stay “in the EU/Eurozone, no matter what”, not only undermines its own program, but it also makes itself needless as a party, especially as much as greek people (as well as the other european peoples) distance themselves from the bourgeois ideological vision of “united Europe”. Thus, its persistence alone (and, of course, all that it means) causes a crisis in SYRIZA, whose signs are already obvious. The so called “negotiation” (and of course its outcome), which –as we have already said– is not going to be final, will determine a lot in its internal crisis. SYRIZA cannot become a No 2 PASOK, not because there are not significant forces in it which would have no objection to it (provided they would stay in power). There are significant such forces ready to sign any agreement, “no matter what” – the “Butienko” tendency exists in reformist parties, during this last 5 years, too and we have seen it many times (DIMAR and its cadres Psarianos, Lykoudis and the like etc.).
– European imperialists are not powerful without limits; they have great weaknesses (economic, political, etc.), they have no alternative against SYRIZA and –for the time being– they do not seem able to create one. The relation of forces is, of course, in their favor – but this is greatly due to the policy and the leading group of SYRIZA. Threats, blackmailing, credit suffocation etc. only have great effect / power because they are part of SYRIZA’s policy. Its compliance increases their power and –objectively– causes damage to economy. If this situation continues, it is possible to have painful developments, as from 1/1/2016 onwards citizens’ deposits, which imperialists have been coveting, will be able to be used for the rescue of banks. Before we get there, it is not unlikely to have a new wave of deposits’ withdrawal (about 138 billion Euros since the beginning of the crisis, they have been decreased by 100 billion Euros). Finally, there is also the solution of the “double currency” or of the “bankruptcy within the Euro”: difficult solutions / choices – and, more importantly, devastating for the working people.
- Balances due to inertia or balances of class relationship of forces, do not last long in Greece. However, no one can exclude them. It is plain as day to everybody the crisis of political forces in general, the crisis of bourgeoisie and the increasing indications that the country is an ungoverned ship. It seems that a period is starting when power is unstable, it’s “hanging on the air” – and it is even possible that it will be “brought down to the roads”, if “tomorrow” a strong labor movement emerges.
- SYRIZA’s bankruptcy leaves a great gap to the left, which favors, in mass terms, the building up of a revolutionary policy and force. The “turn” of KKE is contradictory and unreliable – not only due to its history, but also because the things it says are unconnected to each other, its actions are not consisted with its rhetoric and its relations to the movement (and the other political organizations) have become more stalinist than before. Despite that, it causes great problems to the so called anti–capitalist forces in various ideological and programmatic issues (theory of stages, labor power, united front etc.), in which it is now officially denouncing a lot of its older policies (even in traditional “taboo” issues, which formed its character for years). For example, such a thing is done by the dismissal of the policy and tactic of EAM (National Liberation Army), the policy of the Stalinist International (5th, 6th and 7th Congresses) etc., changes which, essentially, repeat however the stalinist points of view, partially or fully. OKDE –concerning this newly opened framework of ideological confrontation– is trying to make the positions of our movement (Trotskyism / 4th International) as wider known as possible, restore the truth and confute the myths which are spread in the stalinist false fabrications.
- OKDE is trying to intensify its efforts in promoting our program, our policy and tactic to achieve our objectives. For the last month (June 2015), we have given our focus to a central political campaign (with leaflets, posters, visits to neighbourhoods etc. – also, attempting to call for open assemblies in squares etc.) – a campaign which our organizations has started in time and which takes a special significance, due to the conjucture. The central slogans are so far:
- Not a single compromise with the blackmailers of the EU and the IMF
- Struggle Everywhere – We will not fall back to the Memorandums
- Stop paying the debt. Cancellation of the Debt. Out of the Euro and the EU.
- Nationalizations under workers’ control
- Reinstate all those who were fired. Restore all loses to salaries, pensions. Restore of collective agreements. Restore all democratic rights.
- For a Workers’ Government
In the above slogans, it’s now been added (due to the most recent developments) the call / demand: Stop the negotiations now! Immediate rupture with the EU and the IMF!
OKDE is preparing to call the working people, the poor popular strata and the youth to come down to squares and demonstrate, in case that an agreement with measures is signed (which is the most probable) – and we are already taking concrete steps, to help develop a militant response of the working class, the poor popular strata and the youth in the current situation.