Greece: the Responsibility of the Left

This is a guest post from Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson

In the run up to the recent elections in Greece, a number of facts became increasingly clear: the people of Greece can suffer no more austerity – they are at breaking point; Greece is being used as a gigantic social experiment and if it succeeds other countries in Europe will suffer the same fate; the working people of Greece are increasingly supportive of anti-austerity parties and there is a need – and strong desire – for unity of these forces on the left.

The elections showed a stunning result for Syriza, the main recipient of the anti-austerity vote, pushing its support to 16.7% and outstripping the former governing party PASOK whose vote fell from 44% to 13%.

The KKE vote also increased, but only marginally, to 8.5%. The other party experiencing rapid growth was the neo-nazi Golden Dawn, whose vote rose from 0.23% to 6.9%. Further polls taken since the election show Syriza’s support is now at 27%. Its popularity has been enhanced by the five demands proposed by its leader Alexis Tsipras.

They are:

• Cancelling the bailout terms, notably laws that further cut wages and pensions
• Scrapping laws that abolish workers’ rights, particularly a law abolishing collective labour agreements due to come into effect on 15 May
• Demanding proportional representation and the end to the 50 seat bonus to the first party
• Investigating Greece’s banking system which received almost 200bn euros of public money and posing the need for some kind of state control over the banks
• Setting up an international committee to find out the causes of Greece’s public deficit and putting on hold all debt servicing.

That Syriza must form a government on this basis is now the central political demand and one which reflects the political reality facing the country. It seems likely that a new election will be called for June and Syriza will emerge as the strongest party. The working class are looking to the left to resolve the problems they face in their daily lives and many middle class voters are also turning to Syriza as the mainstream parties have plunged them further and further into an economic nightmare. There is an increasing recognition from across the board that the policy prescriptions of finance capital hold no future for the country.

However, whilst support from ordinary people is increasing, the response from the left outside of Syriza has not been good. The KKE leader Aleka Papariga has refused to meet with Tsipras and the KKE have released a statement which includes this: ‘Syriza is lying that it will cancel the memorandum and the loan agreement and that it will free the people from the debt.’

The KKE calls not for a government in which Syriza can be worked with, tested out and held to its five demands, but for a strengthening of the KKE. It is likely that this isolationist policy has been shaped by its negative experience in the late 1980s when it helped form and briefly belonged to Synaspismos – the main element of Syriza – and participated in government coalitions with both New Democracy and PASOK. As a result of this experience, in 1991 the KKE began the process of reconsolidating itself as an explicitly communist party. But these experiences should not prevent the KKE from fighting for working class unity today. Syriza is not PASOK or New Democracy – it stands on a clear anti-austerity programme.

Now, more than ever, it is essential that left organisations put the interests of the class first – a principle which should be applied in Britain or any other country as much as Greece.

Any cooperation between Syriza and the bourgeois parties should be opposed but it is not currently on the agenda, and has been explicitly rejected by Tsipras. But nevertheless the KKE believes that a government led by Syriza would “meet the needs and interests of capital, the choices of the EU and the IMF.” However, this is not what the majority of the working class believes and the election results show it has made a different assessment. Syriza triumphed strongly in working class areas where it was the first party and amongst unemployed youth where it was also the first party. The second party for the young unemployed was the fascist Golden Dawn.

The KKE should now use its political weight, built largely on its undoubted courage during the second world war, civil war and military junta, to demand that Tsipras takes office in order to defend the working class. The role of communists in such a government would be to ensure practical steps forward for socialism.

What is necessary in Greece is a united front of all workers’ parties. The situation is so grave that historical and programmatic differences must be set aside in the interests of the working class. Parties can maintain their own organisational independence and slogans whilst the government centres on concrete political and economic issues for the benefit of working people.

The current position of the KKE is a tragedy both for itself and the people of Greece. At the next election its vote is expected to fall and many KKE supporters will switch to Syriza – but even then it is unlikely that Syriza will be able to form a government without the support of the KKE.

The same support for a united front should come from all sections of the left in Greece. Whilst it does not have the same political weight as the KKE, the far left anti-capitalist coalition Antarsya should also back a Syriza-led government. But as a leader of the British Socialist Workers’ Party – its British sister organisation – tweeted ‘Anti-capitalist left Antarsya will not prop up SYRIZA govt but is calling for joint-action to beat austerity in strikes, occupations’.

Antarsya is not in a position to prop up any government – they got 1.2% of the vote and polled 75,000 which is down on their result in the 2010 local elections when they polled 97,000. However, Antarsya contains many good activists and they have been at the forefront of anti-fascist activity and the call that they make for united action on the streets is important. On some demonstrations in Greece this is beginning to happen in practice, notably in February when cadre from the KKE opened their lines to protect Syriza supporters from the riot police in Syntagma Square.

But the lessons from Germany in the early thirties show that united action on the streets has to be supplemented with clear agreements between working class parties in defence of the class as a whole. We cannot repeat the errors of the left at that time, when calls for a united front from below isolated social democratic workers from communists and split the movement, allowing Hitler to take power. Of course there is not an exact parallel between then and now, and as yet neither a military coup nor a fascist take-over are in prospect. But it cannot be denied that the consequences of unbridled neo-liberalism and the effective dictatorship of finance capital are already creating the most devastating consequences for the people of Greece and must be understood as a most savage onslaught whose consequences will ultimately equal those that would be experienced under political or military dictatorship and may in fact lead to either of these being established. Those would be the consequences if the left fails. At the moment what is in prospect politically is the ascendancy of the working class. How can the left contemplate anything other than a united front to take that possibility forward and reject any possible resurgence of the right?

By the same token, the left across Europe should express the strongest possible solidarity with the working people of Greece in whatever practical and political ways can be established. Seventy-five years ago, the left from across Europe gave unstintingly and often with great personal sacrifice to support the Spanish republic against fascism. How can it now do less, in ways appropriate to the situation today, in support of the Greek people and to advance the prospect of a working class government?

At the moment the working class in Greece is undefeated and the opportunity to take the movement forward must not be rejected.

149 comments on “Greece: the Responsibility of the Left

  1. Tony C on said:

    ‘demand that Tsipras takes office in order to defend the working class’

    This is idealistic nonsense. The combined anti-austerity left has 97 seats out of 300. Even with the (unlikely and unworkable) addition of Pasok the maximum parliamentary strength of a ‘left of centre’ coalition is 138 seats. How does this represent a basis to govern? This is not serious politics but wishful thinking.

  2. Tony C,

    Tony, may be a good idea to read the piece again. They are arguing for a Left wing Govt after the proposed June election, when, based on present opinion polls Syriza could be the single largest party, and ironically benefit form the 50 top up deputies they intend to abolish.

  3. Nadia Chern on said:

    I agree that this is a key moment in modern European history. The intervention of the people of Greece and France has thrown the Eurozone austerity project into the air.

    The Syriza demands that have received mass support are enough to bring the Euro down in themselves. It will only take one government to reject the austerity logic to destabilize the whole situation. With Spain heading into unchartered waters in relation to its banking sector and sovereign debt, the posing of a left alternative could spread rejection across Europe.

    The European rulers are effectively beginning to concede that the Euro is finished but the question for them is containing the fallout which will hugely damage the banking sector. The JP Morgan fiasco illustrates that the banks are not in a position to weather a renewed loss of confidence.

    All of which reinforces the point that Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin are rightly making, that left unity around an anti-austerity platform at this moment can turn the tide against the neo-liberal madness that has brought Europe to this morass.

  4. Robert on said:

    Not sure the Euro is finished. It might survive but only if the economics of the Maastricht Treaty are ditched.

    I think the left in this country should consider calling for a referendum on whether Britain stays in the EU. This was Liberal Democrat policy until recently. It would have mass support and it would expose the Tories who are total hypoocrites on this issue. They a happy to encourage Euroscepticism to the point of xenophobia but their high command don’t actually want to leave the EU because the City and big business want access to the single market. Lots of their backbenders on the other hand would love to exit Europe.

    This might seem like opportunism but it’s actually a principled position. There’s a massive democratic deficit in the EU and the British public are entitled to have a vote on the issue of whether this country should stay in an institution which has evolved to become something very different from the broadly Keynesian social democratic EEC of the Seventies.

    In such a referendum I would vote to stay in but I don’t think it would be a total tragedy if the Sun and the Mail persuaded the public to leave. We would be free of EU competition directives that are destroying the Post Office to take just one example.

    The left stands for democracy above all else. Everything else is secondary to that.

    Ideal scenario would be if a critical mass of EU states threatened to leave the EU and/or the Euro unless Chancellor Merkel and the commissars in Brussels re think their ideology.

    Assuming we voted to stay in Europe the issue then becomes how to reform the EU to make it democratic. Two reforms suggest themselves. One would be for the united European public to directly elect the President of the Council and for the individual states to directly elect their Commissioner. Europeans would then be able to vote for a social democratic Commission or a free market Commission.

    The other problem is what to do about the Central Bank which is out of control and is a bastion of financial dictatorship. My suggestion is that the President of the Council should be given the power to dismiss the ECB Chairman with a snap of his fingers. Ultimate power must lie with elected politicians not technocrats isolated from the real world or you will inevitably have abuse of power.

    How to bring this about? The left must campaign for it across Europe and appeal to a critical mass of liberals and even some conservatives.

    We must have a Democracy Treaty to replace the abominations of Maastricht and Lisbon.

  5. The KKE statement said rather more than simply that Surizia was lying. It made a very explicit analysis of the actual correlation of class forces.
    KKE said in part:
    “SYRIZA, which has a social-democratic programme, bears immense responsibilities in relation to the people for the blatant lies that it told before and during the election period, for the illusions it fostered and fosters that there can be a better situation for the people without a confrontation with the monopolies, the imperialist unions.”
    They went on to argue: “The CC assesses that the election result was formed in conditions of the general people’s anger and indignation, in conditions of an acute, prolonged economic capitalist crisis and while the EU, with the agreement of PASOK and ND, chose the classic and typical way out in favour of capital and the monopolies: uncontrolled bankruptcy for the workers and the popular strata and controlled bankruptcy of capital. The memorandums and the loan agreement include measures which are based on the Treaty of Maastricht , whose implementation started gradually in all the EU member-states. They are also based on the decisions which followed and the European treaty that extends till 2020. For that reason the KKE has revealed the false character of the separation of the parties of “EU one way-street” into pro-memorandum and anti-memorandum parties.”
    Read the whole statement t here:
    http://21stcenturymanifesto.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/what-next-in-greece-the-communists-will-not-participate-in-a-government-of-bourgeois-management/

  6. Robert,

    Robert that sounds like a perfect strategy to split the UK right and essentially create the launch pad for UKIP to overtake the Tories. I strongly doubt the UK Left is in a position to benefit from the xenophobic mud slinging that would be unleashed, the campaign would be lead by the most nationalist voices of the right and it is they not progressive voices that would reap the electoral benefit.

    A modest additional reform I would suggest of the EU institutions would be to publish the minutes and voting in all Council of Ministers meetings. When I was working in Brussels on The Economist’s European Voice we employed a journalist in Stockholm,were all Govt meetings minutes are published to compare how Ministers said they voted to how they actually did vote- needless to say British Ministers were often economic with the actualite.

  7. Robert on said:

    #6 Well the UKIP exists on the sole platform of leaving the EU and once the referendum was held whatever the result it would then dissolve itself and most of them would rejoin the Tories. So it would be the end of UKIP; they wouldn’t overtake the Tories.

    I agree there’d be a fair amount of nasty xenophobia during the campaign from the right wing fringe, and maybe not so fringe, but I have enough faith in the British public to believe we’d have a serious national debate which would educate people about the EU and dispell many Mail myths.

    Much of big busines and the City would get behind the yes campaign and you’d have plenty of (relatively) enlightened Tories like Ken Clarke robustly confronting the xenophobes. It could be an opportunity to shake up the right to the benefit of us all.

    But more to the point I would argue that it is the current situation which more than anything else generates xenophobia. There is a sense that we are governed by a remote foreign elite that is totally undemocratic and the country is being sold by the river by the established parties. A significant part of the public feel powerless to do anything about it and are becoming ever more alienated from Europe. That’s dangerous and it could develop in an ugly way the worse the economic situation becomes. The left should not be afraid of British patriotism and the idea of self determination. It should say that the people have the right to make the decision whether to stay in the EU or not for themselves. We shouldn’t be afraid that they will simply be brainwashed by the Sun and the Mail into reaction.

    Nor am I convinced that it would be entirely reactionary if Britain did leave the EU. The issue is so complex that the effects can’t be predicted but it’s at least possible that without the UK the balance of power would swing away from the “free market” states to the more social democratic states. There has been an unholy alliance in Europe between the UK and some of the reactionary East European states to prevent social democratic initiatives happen at a European level. Outside the EU the City would find it much harder to prevent Hollande and others imposing witholding tax on finance and then taking action against the isolated UK if London didn’t conform.

  8. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    The commentary postulates that “the lessons from Germany in the early thirties show that united action on the streets has to be supplemented with clear agreements between working class parties in defence of the class as a whole. We cannot repeat the errors of the left at that time, when calls for a united front from below isolated social democratic workers from communists and split the movement, allowing Hitler to take power. Of course there is not an exact parallel between then and now, and as yet neither a military coup nor a fascist take-over are in prospect.”
    There is an element of truth in this with the very serious threat of the election of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn which finished in sixth place. Golden Dawn will try to exploit the anti-European anti-cuts mood to strengthen its base over the coming period and this perspective is a huge risk for the entire labour movement and democratic rights in Greece. The Parties of the Left need to co-operate and launch a serious joint struggle against the rise of neo-fascism; and this is a further reason for joint action and co-operation of the Left parties.

    Below is a small analysis of from the CWI Greek section, Xekinima:

    “Syriza gained support over the last two weeks of the election campaign mainly by appealing for a ‘Left government’ against the Troika’s ‘memorandum’.
    “The supporters of Xekinima pioneered the call for a Left ‘united front’ and for a vote for the parties of the left, over the last months. Unlike Syriza leaders, Xekinima did not call for a ‘renegotiation’ of the crushing austerity measures, but for a Left government to carry out a programme to defend working people. This would include repudiating the debt, stopping all cuts, nationalising the main banks and industries, under democratic workers’ control and management, and fighting for a socialist Europe, as opposed to the bosses’ EU – breaking with the diktat of the Troika and capitalism, in general.
    “The other main forces on the Left in Greece, the communist party (KKE) and Antarsya (the Anti-capitalist Left Cooperation) both took a sectarian attitude and rejected Syriza’s ‘left unity’ proposal. Yet if the left had formed an electoral bloc, they would probably now be in a position to form a government! With millions of workers yearning for an anti-cuts left government, the KKE and Antarsya paid for their approach in the polls. Their votes remain virtually stagnant: the KKE rose by just 1% (under 19,000) to 8.48% (26 MPs) and Antarsya finished on 1.19%, with no MPs.”
    Source: http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/5744

  9. Amilcar on said:

    Syriza are effectively the Eurocommunist wing of KKE (known as Interor some time ago). Along the road they built alliances across the left but remained organizationally and electorally inferior to the main body of the KKE.
    But the fact remains that, as Greece enters a revolutionary situaton, if we take Lenins definition, the working class is likely to migrate AWAY from the the Communist Party out revulsion at narrow minded sectarianism. Read Koestlers quasi-fictional account of young German communist militants despair at hearing the latest Comintern line to remain steadfast against the SPD as comrade after comrade is tortured by the growing power of the ruling class. KKE will destroy itself for a generation unless it accepts the urgent neccessity of a Popular Front.

  10. Jota on said:

    While people from a Eurocommunist background remain important in Syriza, the involvement of wider currents, their shift to the left under Tspiras, the de-camping of eurocommunist ‘moderates’ to the Democratic Left all mean that Syriza has changed since significantly over the last period.

    The in many ways awesome KKE needs to show some tactical flexibility. Syriza is not simply PASOK – and even if the KKE believe they are, this sort of purist approach would be no way to expose them.

  11. Vanya on said:

    I suspect that were the KKE to adopt a united front approach to Syriza this would be met with a collective sigh of relief from tens of thousands of ordinary left-leaning Greeks.

  12. prianikoff on said:

    I don’t say this very often , but the newlyweds job-share article is spot on!

    Rather like a landlord threatening to cut off the electricity and water, the EU leadership is trying to blackmail the Greeks.
    This is intended to pressurize the formation of a pro-austerity Coalition and avert new elections.
    But SYRIZA has steadfastly refused to adhere to the Memorandum.
    I don’t see them forming a Coalition at today’s “last ditch” talks either.
    There have been several public statements by its leaders to the effect that this is a “fantasy”.

    As a consequence of its stand, SYRIZA’s popularity has been rising rapidly.
    The latest polls show that the KKE’s has fallen, which is due to its sterile sectarianism.
    The KKE’s position sounds “principled” and “revolutionary”, but it’s completely abstentionist and unreal.
    Throwing a spanner in the works of a united front of the workers parties.

    Making the issue of leaving the EU an acid test makes no sense at this point in time.
    If an anti-Austerity Government was formed would it make sense for it to unilaterally leave the EU without a fight?
    No.
    It would hand over a strong bargaining position .
    The European Bankers don’t want to lose their money.
    Greece needs International funds to keep paying its public sector salaries.

    It makes far more sense to stay in the EU and fight.
    To carry out the domestic policies of defending public sector jobs and workers rights.
    To socialise the Greek banks and launch a public inquiry into their finances and the bail out.

    Let the EU leaders try to throw Greece out for this.
    It will make the task of building support even easier.
    Given the current political climate within Europe it would be possible to build international support for a Greek workers government.

    If there is an election in June, the polls show clearly that SYRIZA will be the leading party.
    The 50 extra seats that the leading party gets will mean it may be able to form a government.

    But it’s quite likely that the KKE’s seats in the Legislature might be the deciding factor .
    If the KKE’s leadership sacrifices the chance of a Left wing, Workers Government on the altar of dogmatic sectarianism, they will pay a heavy price for it.

  13. Gathering her brows like a gathering storm on said:

    Nadia Chern: I agree that this is a key moment in modern European history. The intervention of the people of Greece and France has thrown the Eurozone austerity project into the air.

    Well yes and no

    It is time for Greece to default and leave the EEC

    That being said they will need to take a chain saw to the overspending

    Why?

    Well they have no money

  14. prianikoff on said:

    #12

    “Euro” is a bit of a catch-all term.
    Some Euros represented healthy democratic currents newly emerging from the Stalinist parties.
    Others succumbed to Ministerialism and joined Coalition governments with liberal capitalist parties.
    SYRIZA’s recent decisions indicate that it’s resisting the latter option.

    The History of the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) in Italy illustrates the dangers.
    Like SYRIZA, the PRC are members of the “European Left” group.
    In 1996 they helped Prodi’s Olive Tree Coalition take power in Italy.
    They got over a million votes and 35 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

    However, PRC has never obtained more than 8.6% of the Italian vote.
    It was thus dependent on goodwill of parties to the right of it.
    It left the Coalition and helped bring down Prodi in the 90’s, but then succumbed to the temptations Ministerialism.

    PRC had a Minister in the Prodi II cabinet of 2006.
    When this voted funds for the Afghan War, there was a split in PRC.
    Its influence is now much reduced.

    In Greece SYRIZA has the possibility of forming a government without needing to enter a coalition.
    But pressures on it from the right might come from the Ministerialist Euros in the Democratic Left.
    They are actively courting SYRIZA, which might be pushed towards their politics by the sectarianism of the KKE.
    This needs be resisted by SYRIZA’s Marxist left wing.

  15. Mad Man Mclean on said:

    If Greece leaves the EU, are we looking at the possibility of Military intervention by the Colonels and how severe will their austerity regime be.

  16. sandy on said:

    The events in Greece are key to the fight against austerity in Europe. We need a European wide anti austerity movement and the signs look positive in that the mass rejection of austerity, at the polls and in struggle, is causing a split in the politics of the ruling elite. Thus the talk of a European growth project. In Britain marxists should be attempting to build a solidarity movement with the Greek left and working class. If steps could be taken by the Greek left to call a international conference to build a European wide resistance to austerity we could see the development of a real working class alternate to the present
    impasse. It is obvious there is no solution in any one country and a European wide plan is necessary.In this period if we are going to be successful in building a open democratic marxist party it will be in the struggle for a European wide working class alternative to the spiral of austerity

    sandy

  17. prianikoff on said:

    Just as an agnostic echoes an atheist, ANTARSYA echoes the KKE. Whereas the KKE simply denounces SYRIZA as liars and opportunists, Antarsya tries to place conditions on them before they’re “allowed” to take power.

    But even implementing their 5 demands will put any SYRIZA-led government on a collision course with the Troika. Whereas a unilateral exit from the EURO/ EU is leaving the field of battle without a fight.

    The Greek population don’t want this and it’s sectarian for any group on the left to try to force it on them.
    Such issues can only be resolved in practice.

    Costas Lapavitsas has always has always been in the “exit the Euro and EU” camp. But he’s modified his position due to the meteoric rise in SYRIZA’s vote.

    See this article (also printed in the Guardian)

    http://www.coalitionofresistance.org.uk/2012/05/why-europe-needs-greece/

  18. Nadia Chern on said:

    Prianikoff is quite right to emphasize that the principled questions can be resolved in practice rather than by abstract demand. The very act of forming an anti-austerity government in Greece will generate turmoil for the Eurozone.

    This is because the Euro and the structure of the Eurozone are imbued with neo-liberal premises that will be challenged by such a move. It will also offer an alternative to the rest of Europe that has not been seen so far.

    At the moment, the Euro and EU represent continuous attack on living standards for the mass of the population. For this to change, there has to be a strong political challenge to the austerity and neo-liberal project. Whether this leads to the disintegration of the Euro (highly likely) or not is not the central issue. Challenging the neo-liberal agenda and defending public services, jobs, pensions and wages is the central issue.

    ‘Gathering…’ plays into a stereotype of the Greek people, not dissimilar to Hague’s dictum that we should all work harder to get out of crisis. The bankruptcy of the Greek state is about the richest not paying taxes and not being chased. It is a classic expression of the ruling class agenda for Europe where the state is shrunk, losing its function as safety net for the poorest while acting as clearing house for helping the richest make money.

    There is also the issue of the large arms buildup that has taken place in the last 20 years as part of an arms race with Turkey.

  19. Vanya on said:

    Jimmy H. Yes the position of refusing to participate in an anti-austerity left coalition is quite possibly sectarian and ultra-left.

    It would be as if a left group in this country refused to support Ken Livingstone against Boris Johnson for Mayor of London.

  20. Gathering her brows like a gathering storm on said:

    Mad Man Mclean: If Greece leaves the EU, are we looking at the possibility of Military intervention by the Colonels and how severe will their austerity regime be.

    Eh? Come back planet earth needs you!

    Do you have any evidence to support this statement?

  21. Gathering her brows like a gathering storm on said:

    prianikoff: Whereas a unilateral exit from the EURO/ EU is leaving the field of battle without a fight.

    How can you force the Greeks to leave the EU. They have to decide to do so.

    In fact it is the only way that the Greeks will stabilise the economy- they are bankrupt simple as that

  22. P Spence on said:

    It does seem extrordinary that the KKE will not even talk to Syriza. How will that compromise their position or integrity? Their position appears to be to wait and let events move towards them. Are they not missing an opportunity to influence supporters of Syriza who must be a cohort that the KKE want to recruit from and persuade that their marxist analysis best describes the way forward for the working class.

    Accusing Syriza of lying just seems designed to inflame and provoke: perhaps Syriza do have too optimistic a view of the EU and the potential for negotiation with the Troika, but denouncing them as opportunists and worse is grossly unfair. The KKE will not persuade others by insulting them first. Syriza are neither careerist nor part of the establishment.

    The KKE with their fantastic organisation and commitment have the the power to swing events markedly in favour of the working class through a united front.

  23. Gathering her brows like a gathering storm on said:

    P Spence: It does seem extrordinary that the KKE will not even talk to Syriza. How will that compromise their position or integrity?

    Not at all

    This is no time to work with opportunists

    The main thing is that they leave the EU and the Euro

    Then they can control their own destiny

    The best thing we can do for the Greeks is to support the peoples pledge

  24. Mad Man Mclean on said:

    Gathering her brows like a gathering storm,

    Gathering her brows like a gathering storm,

    What statement for gods sake. The bile on this site amazes me. It is clear that there are many on this thread who have an in depth knowledge of the situation in Greece I was making a genuine inquiry. Surely all the conditions are there for the emergence of a Fascist state, in particular the fear of proletarianisation by an excluded Petit Bourgeoisie as the Grand Bourgeoisie up camp and escape with the spoils. Why not just say, not at this time instead of the personal attack. The money and support offered by Israel for military facilities under the new pact would usually have people on this site jumping up and down. But the Scottish Bunnet Hasslers would rather stick the boot in.
    FFS GFS

  25. Gathering her brows like a gathering storm on said:

    Good on Israel

    Remember they are the only democracy in the region and should be supported by all on the left

    Out on interest are you in the WRP?

    Mad Man Mclean: The money and support offered by Israel for military facilities under the new pact would usually have people on this site jumping up and down. But the Scottish Bunnet Hasslers would rather stick the boot in.

  26. Nadia Chern on said:

    Mad Man Mclean: If Greece leaves the EU, are we looking at the possibility of Military intervention by the Colonels and how severe will their austerity regime be.

    I think there is something in this question. There are two problems from the point of view of the military. The mass of the population has not been decisively defeated so there is no guarantee that a coup attempt would work. At the moment, the anti-austerity platform is gaining strength so the workers movemnet is articulating itself effectively for the first time.

    The second problem is that the Greek rulers do not know how to end this crisis and have no clear idea of a way forward from their own point of view. It does not suggest unanimity behind the Greek military if it acts.

    The elections have made military intevention less likely for the time being. However, if the impasse about forming a government continues for many months, it may well become an issue again.

  27. Mad Man Mclean on said:

    WRP ? cool, they still going
    , just read a McTell poem about Vanessa raising the banners in Trafalgar Sq or along those lines.
    100% non aligned, I don’t support revolutionary politics because I wouldnt have the balls to put a gun against a man or womans’ head and pull the trigger. Got a bit pissed by your answer as it was a genuine question. Obama would just love another little satellite state to play with.

  28. Gathering her brows like a gathering storm on said:

    Nadia Chern: Gathering her brows like a gathering storm: Good on Israel

    Remember they are the only democracy in the region and should be supported by all on the left

    Obvious troll alert.

    Erm why?

  29. prianikoff on said:

    #26 P.Spence “The KKE will not persuade others by insulting them first. Syriza are neither careerist nor part of the establishment.”

    The KKE’s line has been totally counterproductive for the left as a whole and out of step with reality all along.
    So the question is more like will its leadership persuade the members, or will Papariga have to resign?

    Syriza won’t be joining any Coalition of Austerity.

    At today’s talks with the President, Alexis Tsipras has refused to become an accomplice in what he called the criminal EU-IMF loan deal.

    But there are some rumours that ND, PASOK and the Democratic Left may stitch up a 2 year “interim coalition” without Syriza.

    This strikes me as much more likely than a coup, which would totally discredit the EU’s democratic credentials in the eyes of the rest of the world.
    Whether these rumours are true, or not, I would have thought it reinforces the need to demand new elections in June.

    What is definitely true though, is that Man City have beaten Utd for the Premiership title on goal difference.
    Can’t say I’m particularly bovvered either way.

    But I’m disgusted that Arsenal finished above Tottenham.
    Our campaign was scuppered by the totally futile the ‘Arry for England speculation, which seemed to demoralise the team at a crucial stage in the season.

    So I’m now rooting strongly for Bayern to beat Chelsea in the European final on the 19th.

  30. Vanya on said:

    KrisS: But there are some rumours that ND, PASOK and the Democratic Left may stitch up a 2 year “interim coalition” without Syriza.

    From what I’ve read that’s unlikely. I don’t get the impression that the Democratic Left would be prepared to enter such a government. Haven’t they just been bolstered by PASOK defections to the left?

    I may be wrong, but hope I’m not.

  31. Vanya on said:

    I don’t know why that’s quoted Kriss when it was Prianikof’s comment I was quoting. Tony- what’s all that about?

  32. prianikoff on said:

    #37 It wasn’t Kriss who wrote that, it was me.
    So far, I’ve only seen one story to that effect.
    Hopefully it won’t happen at all.

  33. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Comrade Vanya in post 22 says “It would be as if a left group in this country refused to support Ken Livingstone against Boris Johnson for Mayor of London.”
    I say what a ridiculous analogy to make and it is quite clear you do not understand the events or parties in Greece at the moment. The equivalence that you are alluding to is like the Syriza, or the KKE or the ANTIARSYA blocking/supporting with PASOK, either to form a government or in a future election. Which is something they are not prepared to do because PASOK is not, and does not have, an anti-austerity programme? Just like the Labour Party in Britain or even Ken Livingstone in London. Especially when we heard on Thursday that the Labour spokesperson on the Police Federation march was saying the cuts were happening too quick and too fast. That means the Labour Party would still be carrying out an austerity programme if they were in government.

    The leadership of Syriza is not prepared to form a government with PASOK because it was an austerity government in the past and just like the labour party it is a bourgeois political party. What the leadership of Syriza is attempting to do is put forward an anti-austerity broad left coalition to gain a majority now or if that does not work to gain a majority in a future general election, possibly in June. What is ultra-left and sectarian is the leadership of the KKE and Antarsya has refused, at the moment, to participate in discussions to form a left-social-front. Which it seems is causing anger amongst the rank and file of both these organisations. What you need to do comrade Vanya is keep your emotional reactions out of your analysis and keep your feet on the ground and maybe you will understand reality better.

  34. “YOU are sectarian”

    “No, YOU are”

    “You are sectarian WITH KNOBS ON”

    “NO, YOU are sectarian with BIG KNOBS ON”

    And so on.

  35. Marko on said:

    “It would be as if a left group in this country refused to support Ken Livingstone against Boris Johnson for Mayor of London.”

    Great analogy, though a bit far fetched. As if such sectarian traitors exist on the left!

  36. Syrizia want to draw the KKE into a parliamentary alliance that would foster illusioins that such a government could cut a better deal with the Troika. In a sense they want to use the KKE’s consistent opposition to the web of entanglement in the EU as a bargaining counter – “If not us them” – and at the same time draw the KKE’s teeth.
    It all boils down to an assessment of the balance of class forces. Will the alliance of pro-EU, ‘pay now and for the future’ forces (ND, Pasok, Dem Left and chunks of Syrzia) overcome the opposition to the so-called ‘bailout’ or will the resistance movement move on to refuse the ‘re-payment’ programme and face the consequences of this including abandoning the euro, refusing the conditions of the Troika and opening up the way to a challenge for state power rather than government office.
    Because Syrizia really doesn’t have workable plan they need to neutralise the KKE who seem to be the only left force making a hard headed assessement of the situation. Elsewhere on the left, and reflected in these pages, is a Panglossian hope that all will turn out all right.

  37. Amilar on said:

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) has gained support at the
    I thought Nick tortous rationale in defence of KKE sectarianism had more in common with Trotskist contortions – at least in method – to defence ideological canons with only passing reference to the concrete situation at hand. Old time fellow travellers often had a talent for bringing to life the necessary twists in propaganda to hold the line. That’s not the case here. KKE is a consistent and miliatant force on the left, but it does not have hegemony. Its not a PCF or PCI of yesteryear. Its trade union base may remain the current fall in support, but in itself that is a partial lever in a fragmented union movement and public sector workplace organisation dominated by cronyism through the entire workplace (heard the one about the railway workers on an average salary of around €60k?).

    On the evidence to date – it takes a perspective fossilised by decades of service to the Comm movement to beleive KKE have a monopoly on a persepective on the balance of class forces, as if a mythical manual working class is about to stride in formation into Athens with the aim of seizing state power. Young people, young unemployed consistue a large radical social current. Many greeks rely on temporary work in tourism, they are atomised from unions neverless low wages and insecurity push thme into the struggle.

    Instead of grandstanding KKE need to orientate themselves towards Popular Frontism – what could be more autherically communist? The experience, disipline and militancy will be essentail for the whole left in Greece, what ever today’s opinion polls are showing:

    Reported 13 May
    ‘expense of the other parties. It puts Syriza on 25.5 percent, New Democracy on 21 percent, PASOK on 14.6 percent and the Communists KKE on 5.3 percent, According to a poll published in the Wall Street Journal the neo-Nazi party of Golden Dawn, which swept into Parliament last week with 7 percent of the vote, would still garner enough support to retain the 3 percent necessary to enter Parliament’

  38. Vanya on said:

    #44 Thanks. Far fetched or not it provoked a rather ’emotional’ reaction from Jimmy H, which has almost made my day, and would have done if it wasn’t for City pulling off that jammy result at QPR.

  39. prianikoff on said:

    #45 re. Nick Wright on distinction between government and state power.

    Holding “government office” can become a platform for winning “state power”, which is precisely the meaning of the Workers’ Government slogan. If that’s achieved it shouldn’t rely on Leibnizian optimism, but on Transitional demands.

    Rather than applying this slogan; the political expression of a United Front of workers parties, the KKE hides behind the more nebulous concept of “People’s Power”.

    In other words, it counterposes imaginary (cross-class) Soviets to Parliamentary Democracy. This trades off an *actual* United front with a party now supported by millions of workers for a figment of their imagination.

    This is to spectacularly misjudge the political situation in which they’re operating, particularly as Syriza’s Five Points” are in such flagrant contradiction with the needs of international capitalism. (As the SR article posted today notes)

    The Troika’s reaction to this doesn’t seem to be “OK we’ll offer you a better deal”. More like, “if Syriza wins the next election, Greece is out of the Euro”.
    If so, there’s a convergence between the line of the right wing on Greece and the ultra-left sectarians who want to make this the Sine qua non for the Greek left.

    There’s a strong possibility the Troika are bluffing anyway. If the EU-IMF bankers are forced to back-track to avoid a write-off of their loans, should a left government in Greece reject all compromise?
    That would be a bit like telling the Cubans to reject an offer by the US to lift the embargo on them, because it involved trading with the capitalists!

    Even if the KKE think Syriza are opportunists, sowing illusions in the capitalist EU, or whatever, their tactics should be to help it win power and demand that it implements its platform in full.

    This wouldn’t even require them accepting Ministerial positions in a Syriza-led government.
    Instead of doing that, its actions are to try to *obstruct* the formation of such a government.
    This is unprincipled.

  40. PhilW on said:

    Nick Wright,

    The problem with Nick Wright’s argument is that there is no evidence for it. It smacks of the kinds of contorted reasoning old-time fellow travellers of the CP’s used to engage in in order to try and justify their party’s latest twist. It’s interesting that the KKE still inspires that type of support.

    SYRIZA has clearly (and rightly) entered the discussions about forming a government with more than one eye on the next round of elections. They have been vindicated in that by the fact that their support is likely to jump by over 10%. As a poster above commented, the top priority issue is not the EU, or EURO, but auterity. The Greek masses understand this, having voted for an explicitly anti-austerity party in preference to one that seems to privilege institutional issues around the EU and EURO.

    I think it is rather patronising to assume that SYRIZA has not considered the possibility that an anti-austerity government led by them might be forced to leave the EURO and the EU, when has been the sub-text of practically every article in the European bourgeois press on Greece in the last several months. Perhaps they understand that there is nothing to be gained by a precipitate decision on this issue. If they are able to form a government and then pursue their anti-austerity policies and the EU institutions don’t like them, then those institutions will have to take responsibility for kicking Greece out (if they can: how is this done constitutionally?). The EURO/EU will then be exposed for what it is – a club to impose austerity on the European working class.

  41. P Spence on said:

    # 35 As a Gooner forgive me if I cannot share your pain. I do however hope Bayern- owned by their fans lest we forget- thrash the blues.

  42. P Spence on said:

    If the KKE maintain their position it must be expected that their supporters will migrate to Syriza. I am sympathetic to the KKE but if I was in Greece I would feel a strong pull at least in an election in June to back Syriza. They seem to lack tactical awareness and I say that with great respect for KKE”s history of traumatic struggle.

  43. George Hallam on said:

    PhilW: the top priority issue is not the EU, or EURO, but auterity. The Greek masses understand this, having voted for an explicitly anti-austerity party in preference to one that seems to privilege institutional issues around the EU and EURO.

    This is jejune. The EU and the Euro are fundamental to the current situation in Greece.

    The EU is founded on the principle of a single market with the free movement of labour and capital. Free markets don’t level differences: they exacerbate differences. The divergence in the economic fortunes of the South and Mid West with other parts of the United States are a textbook example of this process.

    The adoption of the Euro without a fiscal union has speeded up developments, but the pattern was already established.

    In general terms, the North West of Europe has done well at the expense of the South and the East. Germany, or at any rate, some regions of Germany, have done very well.

    The establishment of a single currency, and a single interest rate, has made it impossible for national governments to correct the inevitable imbalances.

    For some time the full extent of the damage being done to the Greece economy was hidden by massive loans by foreign banks (including some German banks).

    The ‘rescue’ package is all about rescuing these banks from their foolishness and preventing a fresh round of financial mayhem. If, by any chance, it should work then the Greece would still be at the wrong end of a process of European economic differentiation.

    Abandoning the Euro and leaving the EU will be tough. However, this is the only way the underlying problems of the Greek economy can be tackled.

    True, most Greeks want to keep the Euro and stop in the EU, but that is just wishful thinking on their part.

  44. Mad Man Mclean on said:

    Congrats to Man city, commiserations to United. Met a neighbour coming back from the Rangers match. She took her son to see them as it may be Glasgow Rangers last match ever. She is not a great football fanatic but thought it was worth the historic value. I asked her if she got a programme and she said they were all sold out. Ebayers buying them in bulk. We live in a mad free market society.

  45. Mad Man Mclean on said:

    Oh. to clarify the matter, it SHOULD be their last match ever, nothing to do with Protestant Triumphalism but the conceit and corruption of rich men who still think they are above the law. People should be nailed and gaoled for what happened at Greyskull. The choice between the Euro and Drachma is not being discussed in the local taverns.

  46. anticapitalista on said:

    #50 Their sister organisation oin Greece do not say the same though.

  47. Vanya on said:

    #53 I’m with you on those points as well.

    As I’ve said before, there are as many ordinary Greeks who respect the KKE but don’t vote for them as there are KKE voters.

    I strongly suspect that that ratio will change, and not in the KKE’s favour.

    #45 That just reads like a conpiracy theory which paints Syriza as part of the class enemy.

    And you were surprised when I compared the KKE to the RCPB(ML).

    It’s a shame because I do, like P Spence, have a lot of time for them.

  48. PhilW: SYRIZA has clearly (and rightly) entered the discussions about forming a government with more than one eye on the next round of elections. They have been vindicated in that by the fact that their support is likely to jump by over 10%. As a poster above commented, the top priority issue is not the EU, or EURO, but auterity. The Greek masses understand this, having voted for an explicitly anti-austerity party in preference to one that seems to privilege institutional issues around the EU and EURO.

    Of course the Greeks voted against austerity (and this vote was distributed across the entrire spectrum of politics from ultra left to fascist.)
    The opportunism of Syrizia lies precisely in creating the illusion that there is some way out of austerity that does not challenge the power of the bourgeisie, big business, the banks and capital and the various international institutions that express and execise this power.
    If these illusions spread and are expressed in an increased vote for Syrizia (or any other formation that avoids this problem) then their political difficulty is compounded.
    As the KKE point out
    “ND is mocking the people’s consciousness with the misleading argument that Syriza is leading the country out of the EU and Syriza is responding that it will ensure that Greece stays in the EU at all costs, something which is true. While at the same time it is lying when it claims that the “EU one-way street” can become more humane and pro-people. PASOK is stating that it can find agreement with Syriza as it says it is in favour of the EU and the euro. Syriza is lying that it will cancel the memorandum and the loan agreement and that it will free the people from the debt. And these three together with the Democratic Left are leading the people to the same blackmailing fear, but from different approaches, and are placing a barrier against a truly different and radical alternative solution.”

  49. Vanya on said:

    #57 Why what are they saying? And is there just one sister organisation? My experience of the USFI was that by the time I dropped out there was more than one in most countries and usually more than 2.

  50. Vanya on said:

    Nick Wright, what I don’t get is that if you applied the same logic to South Africa for example, the CP would have left the government years ago.

  51. anticapitalista on said:

    okde-spartacus is their sister organisation in Greece and it is part of the ANTARSYA coalition.

    This is from their site (in Greek). Last paragraph

    http://okde.org/keimena/OKDE_080512.html

    Η επιτυχία της ΑΝΤΑΡΣΥΑ θα κριθεί από την ικανότητα να απαντήσει χωρίς σεκταρισμό αλλά και χωρίς προγραμματική διολίσθηση στην απαίτηση των εργαζομένων για «άλλο δρόμο» και απέναντι στις ελπίδες που δημιουργεί ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ, ρίχνοντας κύρια τις δυνάμεις της στο πεδίο που θα κριθεί τελικά το ζήτημα της εξουσίας: στην αυτοοργάνωση των εκμεταλλευομένων μαζών από τις ΔΕΚΟ μέχρι και τη βαριά βιομηχανία του ιδιωτικού τομέα, από τα ΜΜΕ μέχρι και τα νοσοκομεία, σε κάθε πόλη, γειτονιά και σχολείο φράζοντας την ίδια στιγμή το δρόμο στην άνοδο των φασιστών και της ρατσιστικής και εθνικιστικής άκρας δεξιάς. Εκεί βρίσκεται η δύναμη που μπορεί κάνει εφικτά τα ανέφικτα, εκεί βρίσκεται η δύναμη που μπορεί να ανατρέψει μονόδρομους και εκβιαστικά διλήμματα, Τρόικες και μνημόνια.

    Google tramslate helps a bit.

  52. Ivan on said:

    Quite amusing to see the KKE attacking forces that are generally and historically to its left for ‘opportunism’. Does not necessarily mean they are entirely wrong of course, just as the KPD in the 1930s was never entirely wrong when it denounced the “social-democratic murderers of Luxemburg/Liebknecht” etc.

    But its possible to cynically say some correct things for cynical and sectarian reasons. The KKE is not a revolutionary organisation, but a cynical political fossil trying to retain its dwindling support in the face of a class upsurge that, for all its faults , is taking place through SYRIZA.

    SYRIZA at the very least deserves critical support, and if it does take office and try to take real measures against the austerity merchants, that includes support against its reactionary enemies. That is what a principled communist organisation would do. But since when was the KKE such an organisation? Not for a very long time, that’s for sure.

  53. anticapitalista on said:

    BTW The position of okde-spartacus in the last paragraph I posted is basically the position of ANTARSYA.

  54. Vanya on said:

    #62 I tried Google translate and I’m afraid it doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. Whether that’s because it simply doesn’t make sense anyway or because the translation doesn’t work very well I can’t tell.

    Is it that SR, like the ISO and the CWI support Syriza and the USFI people in Greece don’t?

  55. anticapitalista on said:

    Not as simple as that Vanya (surprise, surprise)

    The CWI in Greece left SYRIZA about a year ago and called “Vote Left” for this election, not “Vote SYRIZA”.

    DEA (part of the ISO group) are in SYRIZA, but in the previous local elections, called for a vote for Alavanos and not the SYRIZA candidate in Athens.

  56. anticapitalista on said:

    Very loosely, the gist of the translation says that the real power to stop the Troika blackmail of cuts and the Memorandum is through workers self activity.

  57. ANTARSYA Statement on meeting with Syriza (English)

    This is the English translation from the Antarsya website http://antarsya-aigialeias.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/blog-post_9314.html

    ANTARSYA salutes the millions of workers and people who, by means of their struggles and through their vote, gave a mandate for the overturning of memoranda and of the reactionary politics of governments, the European Union and the IMF, towards a left direction. The people’s mandate can be vindicated only through a social and political movement that will fight for and impose an anti-capitalist agenda of struggle in conditions of deep capitalist crisis and attack by the capital, such as the one that follows:

    1. Cancellation of all Memoranda and Loan Agreements with the EU, the ECT and the IMF, cancellation of all impending measures
    2. Protection of the unemployed, increases in salaries and pensions, decrease of work time, steady employment for everybody, taxation for big capital
    3. Immediate cessation of payments to our creditors and unilateral cancellation of the entire usurious public debt
    4. Nationalization without indemnity and with worker control of all banks and enterprises of strategic importance
    5. Reinstatement of popular sovereignty and democracy by the people for the people, doing away with special police forces, neutralization of Hrisi Augi (*the neo-nazi party), stopping the anti-immigrant pogroms, dismantling army mechanisms that turn against people, disengagement from NATO.
    6. None of the previous vital demands can be materialized without the immediate exit from the Euro and Eurotreaties, the rupture with and disengagement from the European Union
    Based on this program, the popular movement, the Left and ANTARSYA will be defining objectively their position vis-a-vis any government in the current historical period.

    We estimate that, as history has proven, the potential participation of the Left in any government under the control and within the confines of the Troika, the EU and the black front parties, of the banks and large enterprises, will drive it sooner or later into assimilation and defeat.
    ANTARSYA believes that on the basis of the aforementioned estimations and goals, as well as along the lines of its own programmatic positions, the Left must turn to labor and popular movements in order to bring to completion the present first victory of the people, to impose gains, seeking its own rule and governance through its own bodies of struggle, paving the way for a new revolutionary perspective. We call on workers, on people, on the entire Left and the militant powers in common action and dialogue for a uniting, militant front of rupture and subversion in the direction traced previously, as well as in immediate struggles without further ado. Any attempt at forming a Memorandum-based or a “managing” anti-popular coalition government by the present parliament must be prevented through popular uprising. Beyond this meeting with SYRIZA, ANTARSYA will present these positions for dialogue to the Communist Party of Greece KKE), The Solidarity and Overthrow Front, the KKE (m-l), ML KKE, EEK, OKDE, Communist Organization “Reorganization” well as to other leftist, subversive and communist trends.
    ANTARSYA projecting independently the above program to all social and political battles, will contribute to the creation of a mass, head-on, anti-capitalist Left much needed by the popular movement and our times.

  58. frank on said:

    The reason SYRIZA are poised to do even better in a rerun election is that the population wants to reject austerity and it has demonstrated its determination to reject it.

    Talking to other parties, or the Troika, does not confirm incipient tendencies to betray (which may or may not exist) but offer a practical demonstration to the workers and their allies that all avenues have been exhausted in the struggle against the attacks on living standards.

    As one of the 5-points in the SYRIZA plan is to suspend all debt repayments, it is hard to see how this amounts to sowing illusions in the Troika.

    http://www.socialistaction.net/International/Europe/Greece/Step-forward-in-Greece-as-voters-reject-austerity.html

    The wild jump by many on British Left from leaving the Euro to leaving the EU represents a collpase into Little Englandism. Leavig the EU is definitely not supported by the Greek population for the very good reason that they would be worse off. The EU is a customs union, with tarriff barriers for those operating outside it.

  59. to be honest i think larry elliot made a great deal of sense. The majority of greeks want to stay in the eu and keep the euro, however, the eu is detirmed to force greece to suffer austerity for decades.

    It would be horrible to leave the eu in the short term, but it would get better sooner. The alternative is to rot in austerity for generations.

    Just because most greeks want to stay in the eu, keep the euro AND not suffer austerity doesn’t mean that this position is correct or has any basis in reality.

    Most people in britain would probably want the benefits of socialism-full employment, free healthcare/education/housing/withdrawal from imperialist wars..ect AND 1000 different types of cheap plasma TVs/cheap clothes that enable you to buy an entire new wardrobe load every month/two cheap holidays abroad every year….etc

    politics is about hard choices, greece needs to take a realistic one.

  60. George Hallam on said:

    frank: The reason SYRIZA are poised to do even better in a rerun election is that the population wants to reject austerity and it has demonstrated its determination to reject it…

    As one of the 5-points in the SYRIZA plan is to suspend all debt repayments, it is hard to see how this amounts to sowing illusions in the Troika.

    Think it through.
    If the Greek government rejects the austerity plan and suspends all debt repayments, then what will the EU do?

    It is highly probable that they would stop their loans to Greece.

    What would be the implications for the Greek government?

    Part of the crisis is the fact that the Greek government is running a fiscal deficit, i.e. tax revenues don’t cover expenditure. Hence the need for loans. Hence the call for cuts in public expenditure.

    If the money from the EU is cut off, how will the Greek government fund itself?
    I’ll mention two obvious responses:
    A. Take control of the economy, boost employment and enforce tax collection.
    B. Cut public expenditure, i.e. austerity

    Response B would not be popular and would very likely lead to a split in SYRIZA support and electoral defeat.
    Response A looks better. However, it is totally incompatible with EU laws. Implementing it would amount to a de facto exit from the EU.

    But SYRIZA’s position is that it wants Greece to remain in the EU.

    The only way to reconcile this support for the EU with calls to cancel the austerity program is to assume that the Troika will carry on funding the Greek government’s deficit.

    It seems to me that this very like “sowing illusions in the Troika”.

  61. SYRIZA attracted support from Greeks who want an end to austerity but still wish to remain in the EU and keep the Euro. This position is ludicrous, it is the EU that is implementing austerity in Greece. To remain in the EU is to condemn the Greek people to decades of cuts, mass unemployment and poverty.

    Although leaving the EU and the Euro would produce a greater degree of hardship initially, yet this would enable the conditions for Greece to grow their economy out of austerity within a few years-remember Argentina. The only way Greece can avoid condemning every ordinary Greek and their children to years of poverty is to directly confront the monopolies and leave the EU.

    Any group that pretends that you can stay within the EU, keep the Euro and do a deal with the monopolies-who presumably will stop their profiteering immediately out of ‘European solidarity’-is lying to the people.

    The Greek people are desperate. They want to believe that they can remain in the EU, keep the Euro and at the same time stop the assault on the people. More Greeks need to realise that the EU is an imperialist bosses club that has only ever been interested in privatising Europe’s public services and state-owned industry, tearing up worker’s terms conditions and encouraging a race-to-the-bottom in wages.

    It is the EU that is driving austerity. It is the EU that is the problem. SYRIZA are opportunists, they are fostering illusions in the EU and are trying to pretend that monopoly capitalism is a system in which you can agree to be partners with the capitalists-who will stop ‘being nasty’ and we can all be friends.

    EU directives enforce privatisation, EU laws prevent governments from investing and building up their nation’s industry. EU courts sentence workers who take strike action or seek to protect wages, terms and conditions. Forget socialism, the EU has made even social democracy illegal.

    SYRIZA will continue to attract votes as long as there are Greek people who continue to dream and live in this fantasy land and have illusions about the capitalist EU.

  62. George Hallam on said:

    frank: The wild jump by many on British Left from leaving the Euro to leaving the EU represents a collpase into Little Englandism.

    I thought that the term ‘Little Englander’ was a term coined by supporters of imperialism during the Boer War to vilify their critics.

  63. John Grimshaw on said:

    #75 Manchester Communist – I know you and I have been through this before on an earlier thread but I’m still having trouble in squaring what you’re actually saying here. That the EU is a “bosses club” etc I don’t disagree with, but equally so are the individual nation states themselves. They are similar but different sorts of “bosses clubs”. When they have common enough interests they can unite together to some degree, and when they don’t they don’t. Whatever they do their function is still to get as much value out of the working class at the least expense.

    In the light of this I don’t understand why you as a professed revolutionary put so much store by Greece leaving the EU? And of course thats different to the Eurozone. It is almost as if despite your professed politics you are really a Greek nationalist of some kind arguing that the re-institution of the drachma and greater isolation from the EU project is a panacea. Or rather that by becoming isolated socialism will be more likely to come to Greece. This a poor european country with a small working class whose capitalist economy accounts for no more that 2.2% of the total EU.

    You refer to the case of Argentina in the 90’s. Well and good, but there are differences. There was massive unrest in Argentina after they defaulted with lots of extra hardship; the economy did recover but it was in the context of the previous boom period. This aside Argentina remains a capitalist country and you using it as an example of “good practice” seems only to confirm that you have some belief in individual nation state restoration. As if under the EU they have really gone away? In fact if anything you could argue that the Eurozone project is floundering because of the failure to create one capitalist federal European state. Surely for any internationalist socialist the EU is secondary in a sense and rather its what we do to build for a workers revolution that matters and its consequent worker controlled socialist state. That isn’t going to happen in one small Greece?

  64. Hello John, I agree with you that the nation state is just as much a capitalist institution as the EU is. However, the EU was specifically set up by Europe’s bosses in order to privatise the continent’s public services and industries, to drive down workers wages and conditions and to act as a counter-balance to the socialist states of the East.

    I mentioned Argentina as an example of how an action taken that causes conditions to immediately worsen but recover fast is better than the alternative of suffering decades of austerity. I do not think that capitalist Argentina is demonstrating a different economic model, just that their action in devaluing their currency might be a useful comparison with the proposed withdrawal from the Eurozone of Greece. I think there is nothing wrong with suggesting that Greece as an individual state do so. Does my idea that a nation-state take an action offend your internationalist sensibility? Does this make me a racist nationalist? The EU’s remedy doesn’t seem to be showing the superiority of suprastate organisations over individual states does it?

    The EU was set up as a bosses club and set up to be unaccountable and impossible to change. Why are people on the left so concerned with propping up an organisation that is reactionary to its core and causing such devastation across Europe? Why continue to foster illusions that the EU is our friend and if we ask nicely it will stop attacking the people of Europe?

    I think Lenin’s old argument is just as valid now that:

    “From the standpoint of the economic conditions of imperialism—i.e., the export of capital arid the division of the world by the “advanced” and “civilised” colonial powers—a United States of Europe, under capitalism, is either impossible or reactionary.”

    The difference is, it is much easier to capture a nation state and use it to further the interests of socialists. It is virtually impossible to do so on a European level simultaneously. As Lenin said:

    “A United States of the World (not of Europe alone) is the state form of the unification and freedom of nations which we associate with socialism—about the total disappearance of the state, including the democratic. As a separate slogan, however, the slogan of a United States of the World would hardly be a correct one, first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible, and it may also create misconceptions as to the relations of such a country to the others.”

    You say:

    “In the light of this I don’t understand why you as a professed revolutionary put so much store by Greece leaving the EU? And of course thats different to the Eurozone. It is almost as if despite your professed politics you are really a Greek nationalist”

    I say, In the light of your obsession with remaining a member of the EU, it is almost as if you are a neo-liberal EU-a-crat who wants the privatisation of our industries and services and a race to the bottom in terms, conditions and wages. Or rather that the building of socialism cannot be started in one country, it has to be done over the area of Europe, at the exact same time, while remaining a member of an organization who has made any moves towards socialism illegal. This logic makes the building of socialism impossible.

    What you do not understand is that it is ludicrous to state that in relation to Greece the “EU is secondary in a sense”. As an RMT activist I am sick and tired of those in the labour movement and ‘the left’ who make excuses for an organisation that has privatised our industry and is ripping up our terms and conditions and is forcing our wages down.

  65. George Hallam on said:

    John Grimshaw: Argentina remains a capitalist country and you using it as an example of “good practice” seems only to confirm that you have some belief in individual nation state restoration. As if under the EU they have really gone away? In fact if anything you could argue that the Eurozone project is floundering because of the failure to create one capitalist federal European state. Surely for any internationalist socialist the EU is secondary in a sense and rather its what we do to build for a workers revolution that matters and its consequent worker controlled socialist state.

    The EU might be secondary to an “internationalist socialist” but for the rest of us it’s quite important.

    The whole idea of the EU is premised on the free movement of labour and capital. That is, to remove the economy from the sphere of politics.
    Yes, individual nation state remain, but they are prevented from intervening effectively in the economy.

    Yes, you could argue that the Eurozone project is floundering because of the failure to create one capitalist federal European state.

    The architects of the Euro knew very well that without a fiscal union some national governments would get into trouble. That was the whole idea.

    They hoped that they could use such difficulties would force people to accept a federal European state. That is, a state that would be pro-business and unaccountable to any form of popular control.

  66. John Grimshaw on said:

    “I say, In the light of your obsession with remaining a member of the EU, it is almost as if you are a neo-liberal EU-a-crat who wants the privatisation of our industries and services and a race to the bottom in terms, conditions and wages. Or rather that the building of socialism cannot be started in one country, it has to be done over the area of Europe, at the exact same time, while remaining a member of an organization who has made any moves towards socialism illegal. This logic makes the building of socialism impossible.

    What you do not understand is that it is ludicrous to state that in relation to Greece the “EU is secondary in a sense”. As an RMT activist I am sick and tired of those in the labour movement and ‘the left’ who make excuses for an organisation that has privatised our industry and is ripping up our terms and conditions and is forcing our wages down.”

    Careful lad. Where did I ever say I was in favour of the EU per se? On the other hand in the section above you do seem to validate what I was asking you earlier i.e. that your precondition for any socialist revolution be that it must start only in one country, and that it couldn’t be a more (in this instance) Europe wide phenomena. When I said “secondary” about the EU I meant not that I thought it of no importance but that I believe revolutionaries should always start from an international position, and also from where we’re at. I wouldn’t for one minute accuse you of this but sometimes in the past it has been difficult to distinguish the far-right’s views on Europe from those of some “far left” comrades. You say that the EU is simply a device for driving down worker’s conditions as if if it didn’t exist everything would be hunk-dory. Like it was in the days of the British Empire you mean? Its the job of bosses everywhere in which ever formulation they choose to organise themselves to opppress us and its our job to resist. All I’m saying is that I’m not convinced that your argument that there is something special (i.e. hyper exploitative)about the EU in regard of this is correct. Also as I’m sure you would agree nationalism is a serious barrier to the aims of socialism and an unintended consequence of the bosses EU might be that workers get to know each other better. Which before you get agitated isn’t the same as me saying I support the EU.

  67. John Grimshaw,

    Sorry bud I got a little too passionate there.

    I can see the point that ‘international socialists’ make when we bang on about the EU that, say if Britain left the EU, we would still be oppressed by our own bosses and the UKIP-Conservative government that would presumably be representing them.

    Just as we criticise you for ignoring the EU, we probably seem to be ignoring nationalism and the bosses in our own country.

    However, I think that we shouldn’t be afraid to fish in the same waters as the black hundreds as the Bolsheviks did. Just because the far right opposes the EU, on nationalist lines-like the BNP, or on atlanticist lines-like UKIP, doesn’t mean that we should be afraid to campaign against the same issue like with the ‘non’ vote on the constitution in France.

    While destroying the EU wouldn’t bring about socialism instantly or bring about the ultimate defeat of out bosses back home, it does destroy a key weapon that bosses across Europe use to drive down wages, terms and conditions.

    Many of us in the Labour movement have found the EU to be an especially effective weapon in the armory of the monopolies, who wield it very effectively in their assault on the living standards of working people. In Britain we elected a government in 1945 to nationlise key aspects of the economy and build the welfare state and NHS. While this did not represent a break with capitalism and was conducted in a reformist manner, heavily compensating former bosses and making them the new administrators. It was a compromise by the capitalists in the face of socialist pressure and has improved the lives of countless ordinary folk. This would be impossible to repeat as a member of the EU.

    This is an example of a national state using its sovereignty to enact supportable reforms in terms of nationalisation of industry and services and building a national system of free healthcare and benefits.

    Is there an example of the EU doing anything like this?

    From what I can see the EU has only ever forced privatisation, wage cuts, austerity and ripped up terms and conditions of workers. It has made the opposite to this illegal. Yes nation states have been reactionary, but nation states have also demonstrated an ability to be used by progressives to enact reforms. The EU has never demonstrated this.

  68. Karl Stewart on said:

    Firstly, I think it’s important for we on the UK left to keep a sense of humility when communicating with our Greek comrades.

    The Greek KKE has just won 8.5 per cent of the popular vote – many, many times the combined vote of the British party and every other non-Labour left organisations put together and doubled.

    And the Greek broad left formation Syriza has won more than double the vote that the KKE has won.

    So let’s begin by recognising their success relative to ours.

    As for the question of the EU, I think it’s a bit dodgy when people on the UK left start lining up with the right wing of the Tory Party in calling for a UK exit from the EU and start talking about defence of the “British national interest”.

    But in Greece, the EU question may well have a completely different olitical perspective and it’s for our Greek comrades on the ground over there to make that call – and our role here in the UK is to back them.

  69. George Hallam on said:

    Karl Stewart: As for the question of the EU, I think it’s a bit dodgy when people on the UK left start lining up with the right wing of the Tory Party in calling for a UK exit from the EU

    It seems you have no problem with people lining up with the majority of the Tory Party in calling for a UK stop in the EU.

    Given that there are only two options: ‘In’ and ‘Out’, it is practically inevitable that, whatever one choses, one is going to “line up” with people one disagrees with about other things.

    In such a situation one has to decide on the merits of the case, not on what others might think.

  70. Vanya on said:

    #83 Saying that there are only 2 options smacks a little bit of formal logic to me.

    My view is that the left should have a generally negative attitude to the EU.

    However the question is not really leave or stay but rather, we seek to form a government that acts in the interests of the working class and poor, and if we manage to form such a government we will act accordingly. If that leads to our counrty being unceremoniously booted out of the EU then tough. If our stance inspires other governments of EU member states to act in the same way and/or their populations to demand that they do, then even better. And that could well lead to the collapse of the EU as we know it. Result! 🙂

    That’s why I have always thought that the left should avoid getting into too much of a row with each other about the EU question, whether in Britain OR Greece.

    Btw my experience is that one of the reasons the KKE are respected in Greece outside of their immediate support is that they were the most vociferous against entering the Euro. But it’s Syriza that’s mainly benefiting from the left surge.

    Go figure.

  71. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: #83 Saying that there are only 2 options smacks a little bit of formal logic to me.
    My view is that the left should have a generally negative attitude to the EU.

    OK, four options:

    In
    Out
    Neither ‘in’ nor ‘out’
    Both ‘in’ and ‘out’

    Or five, if you include ‘Don’t know’

    Even so the chances are you will end up agreeing with someone you don’t like.

  72. Karl Stewart on said:

    George Hallam: It seems you have no problem with people lining up with the majority of the Tory Party in calling for a UK stop in the EU.Given that there are only two options: ‘In’ and ‘Out’, it is practically inevitable that, whatever one choses, one is going to “line up” with people one disagrees with about other things.In such a situation one has to decide on the merits of the case, not on what others might think.

    Hmmm…yes it’s a tricky one to strike the right note on isn’t it George?

    Of course you’re right that there are reactionary right-wing, neo-liberal forces supporting the EU too.

    I think it’s important to view the EU in the same way in which we’d view a merger between different companies – not necessarily either a wholly good or bad thing, but potential dangers in each direction.

    What’s extremely important is that we don’t allow our opposition to the EU’s neo-liberal dictats to push us into any kind of “defence of national sovereignty” or “common national interest”.

    In the same way as, if we were an organised trade union committee, we wouldn’t oppose a merger on the basis of defending “our” capitalists against rival capitalists.

  73. George Hallam,

    Well if you think about it there are any number of permutations.
    The UK is in and out, in the EU but out of the Euro, which basically excludes the UK from most decisions about the financial direction of the Union. So we get the worse of both worlds, neither independent nor actually involved in key decision making.

    We could follow the Norwegians and Swiss- be out of all decision making but forced by membership of the EFTA to obey EU rules on movement of people and of goods and services- surely a back step democratically?

    Or leave the European project entirely and have to negotiate separate bi-lateral treaties on a wide range of issues with every single EU state, and pretty sharpish as out of the UK’s top 10 export markets 8 are in the EU, representing 112 billion GBP of goods- that is a lot of workers standing around twiddling their thumbs.

    Mind you we could possibly provide other work options by refusing to issue visas to the 300,000 French people living in the UK, but whether a under employed car worker can prepare a 3 star michelin meat is doubtful. Then of course the French would do the same and all 320,000 of us Brits living in France would troop back, adding a huge strain to the NHS and ruining parties as we moan endlessly on about the British weather.

    Or we could stay in the EU and fight to build a social dimension and to transform the institutions into democratic ones rather than the Intra Governmental stitch up they are now.

  74. frank on said:

    “Response A [take control of the economy, boost employment, increase tax collection] looks better. However, it is totally incompatible with EU laws. Implementing it would amount to a de facto exit from the EU.”

    This latter is a wholly unsupported assertion. Of course it is incompatible with EU law, but nationalisation (with or wthout compensation) is often incompatible with national law too. Yet it happens. The ability of a socialist-led government to enforce this depends not on the EU rules (which virtually all countries have broken regarding deficits and debt) but on the relationship of forces between that radical government and its supporters on an EU-wide basis, versus that of its enemies.

    I cannot know in advance what that relationship of forces will be. But neither can anyone else. It can only be tested in struggle. To rule out the possibility in advance is simply defeatism, and cuts off those radical forces from the mass of the population, who, rightly, are committed to remaining members of the EU for the reasons stated previously.

  75. Pete Shield goes to the heart of the issue – state power.
    But a socialist-led government is not the same as a socialist state in which political, economic and coercive state power is concentrated in the hands of the working class.
    Getting from the one to the other really does depend on a radically changed correlation of class forces. And in the Greek situation non one but the KKE is even attempting such an analysis.

  76. John Grimshaw on said:

    BTW I don’t know much about it but a friend who is solid Labour in Brent keeps sending me facebook messages about some “cross party” campaign for a referendum on British membership of the EU. So the issue is evidentally still live in some fashion in the PLP. Personally I think its a distraction which would only serve to give the BNP/UKIP etc. air time but maybe I’m wrong.

  77. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Statement from Xekinima, the Greek section of the CWI, on the development of new elections in Greece; and the IMF are preparing people for Greece to leave the EURO according to the BBC TV news they say it will be messy. Anyway I give a quote below for you to mull over:

    “Xekinima will campaign for a government of the Left and call for it to carry out anti-austerity, pro-worker policies and to adopt a socialist programme to transform society.
    “A programme for united action by Syriza and the KKE around opposition to all austerity measures, for cancellation of the debt, public ownership of the main banks and industries and for socialist change, would win widespread support from the working class, youth and middle class.
    “Pro-worker policies would predictably cause screams of outrage from the bosses in Greece and the EU. They would probably quickly kick Greece out of the eurozone.
    “Ejected from the euro, a workers’ government would need to carry out an emergency programme, including state control over imports and exports and capital controls to stop the “flight of capital” by profit-hungry property-holders and multinationals. Democratic committees should oversee the supply of foodstuffs, medicine, oil and other vital goods to working people.
    “A workers’ government in Greece would link up with the workers’ movement in other crisis ridden euro-zone countries, like Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy, to break the diktat of the Troika, the bosses’ EU and capitalism.
    “These countries could form a confederation on a socialist basis and begin the international democratic planning and co-ordination of the economy, as part of a fight for a full socialist confederation of Europe, on a free and equal basis. This would win massive support quickly across the working class of Europe.”

    Read the full account here: http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/5757

  78. Vanya on said:

    #92 Dangerous opportunist drivel.

    That’s as reactionary as someone calling for a vote for Ken Livingstone against Boris Johnson.

  79. jim mclean on said:

    “including state control over imports and exports”

    What Exports – What Imports. Watching a documentary last night plus the Portillo programme, lots of people leaving Greece as it is, they are the main exports. In a global economy the young skilled populace will emigrate. Australia is calling out for them. So whoever wins they will have to take care that they don’t waste the Greeks main resource, people.

  80. Karl Stewart on said:

    John, I think Vanya was remarking on the paradox of JimmyH calling for left unity in Greece when he himself took a sectarian position of opposition to Ken Livingstone’s candidature for London mayor and lied in his attempts to justify his sectarianism.

  81. In its latest statement the KKE says:
    “There are no painless solutions. The path of rupture, conflict, requires sacrifices, but these will lead to the people’s prosperity. The path of compromise proposed by other forces requires endless painful and pointless sacrifices, without a positive prospect for the people (…)”
    http://21stcenturymanifesto.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/greek-elections-we-do-not-want-a-government-for-the-plutocracy-we-struggle-and-vote-for-an-other-power/

  82. Vanya on said:

    #95 John read what I wrote #92 as if I was to say to you and your mates,

    “Congratulations to Manchester City and all their fine supporters for their impressive victory over QPR and for winning the Premiership.”

  83. prianikoff on said:

    Greece: SYRIZA, the Communist Party and the desperate need for a united front
    by Michael Karadjis
    Links, International Journal of Socialist Renewal
    May 16th

    (extracts)

    “…it is important to know that the one and only section of the left that the KKE has ever actively collaborated with was …historically the “right-Eurocommunists..PASOK and New Democracy.
    …In other words, the KKE has collaborated with everyone but the left.
    To explain all this, a little history is necessary…

    In 1995, the KKE, which had faithfully followed Khrushchev, then Brezhnev, then Gorbachev, suddenly rediscovered that Stalin was allegedly one of the greatest Marxist thinkers and began doing absurd things in the 1990s like glorifying the 1930s purges. This seems to have little logic other than that of protecting its human “assets” from contamination by the rest of the radical Greek left, consisting of a dizzy constellation of Trotskyist, Maoist, anarchist and other far-left and revolutionary formations, and giving some justification to its abject refusal to work with anyone on the left…
    later in the decade the KKE adapted .. to Greek nationalism. ”

    …The KKE’s idea that it will gain from a “second wind” when the masses see the failure of SYRIZA is almost beyond comprehension in its sectarian reasoning.
    In a situation that is revolutionary, that is life and death for the masses, the nettle needs to be grasped. More likely a failure of the left to unite at such a crucial moment for Greek society will open the door to fascism as a section of the masses swing right to find an “alternative” to the crisis.

    Full:-
    http://links.org.au/node/2863

  84. prianikoff on said:

    #92 Xekinima’s statement is pretty good Jimmy. But wasn’t their decision to pull of of Syriza last year a big mistake?

    #97 Aleka Paparega hasn’t learned anything from the current situation at all. There’s an urgent need for a leadership recall in the KKE before it does even more damage. See post #100 for a good analysis.

  85. John Grimshaw on said:

    #99 Chris I spent a summer on Samos a few years ago and you are right its a beautiful place full of beautiful people. Valley of the nightingales or something. The pears were wonderful. Wasn’t Mikis Theodrakis in exile on Ikaria briefly? And Yannis Ritsos similarly in western Samos?

  86. John Grimshaw on said:

    #98 Sorry Vanya I was being a bit dense. I thought Xekinima’s statement wasn’t at all bad but I didn’t take in the implied hypocrisy. Its rather invalidated though because the CWI pulled out of Syriza last year. Feel free to congratulate Manchester City and their wonderful supporters though.

  87. prianikoff on said:

    #102 I visited Samos in the 90’s and stayed in the birthplace of Pythagoras, as well as Kokkari, where we kept running into Norman Lamont! (His wife got into the spirit of things on the beach and went topless)
    The village of Manolates is particularly beautiful. It’s up in the Mountains, in an area known as the “Paradise of Samos”. The Island has a strong KKE tradition.

  88. John Grimshaw on said:

    #104 Well this is pleasant rather than the usual back biting. I stayed on Kalymnos a couple of years earlier and got to know the TV chef Antonio Carluccio and his then wife Priscilla Conran – much more ordinary than you’d think. When I asked what two such (rich) people were doing on a package holiday they said it was because he liked ordinary holidays. In fact they had come to investigate the farmed fish to see what dodgy practices were going on. When the fish farmers found out who their “journalists” guests were to be they refused to meet with them. Most bass etc. in Greece is farmed and its imported to Italy as “fresh fish”. Which it is sort of.

  89. The KKE statement seems to provide a realist argument that there needs to be a break with the EU now, that this would cause immediate pain but would be preferable to the endless suffering required to remain a member.

    It was very interesting to see that the SEV (Hellenic Federation of Enterprises) released a statement saying that that a coalition government with SYRIZA would help with the renegotiation. Is this true?

    If so that says a hell of a lot about the role of SYRIZA.

  90. Jota on said:

    Re 92 – why did CWI leave Syzria? Seems a bit short sighted in retrospect.

  91. prianikoff on said:

    #107

    The Federation of Hellenic Enterprises called for a **National Unity Government** with the **participation** of SYRIZA.
    In other words, it was trying to use them for its own purposes. SYRIZA refused to have anything to do with the proposal. Nevertheless, the KKE tries to use it as evidence against them.

    The KKE leadership condemns SYRIZA for even talking to the other parties (besides NEW DAWN) This is just elementary diplomacy.
    SYRIZA didn’t reach an agreement with any of them.
    Going through the process means that they don’t look like stupid sectarians in the eyes of the electors.
    (recall that in the past KKE itself was actually in a coalition with ND and PASOK!)

    Even the KKE recognise that SYRIZA has been calling for a “Left Government”. But instead of taking them up on this, they deny it’s even a possibility. KKE denounces its “betrayals” in advance, but refuses to put SYRIZA to the test by forming a United Front.
    They justify this approach by saying “there needs to be a break with the EU now”.

    This is just tactical stupidity on their part.
    NO THERE DOESN’T!
    There needs to be a Left Government that rejects the Memorandum now.
    The Eurozone leaders are divided and the ball needs to be put back into their court.

    The KKE leadership think they’ll benefit from their sectarian approach, but they won’t.
    All the evidence from the polls shows that their vote has dropped.
    SYRIZA has a chance of winning without them.
    The danger is that KKE’s sectarianism will let in the Right, despite the 70% who voted against Austerity.
    Their leadership needs to be recalled by the rank and file.
    KKE members ought to demand a Special Congress.

  92. John on said:

    The more I hear and read about KKE the less impressed I become. They must be living on another planet surely.

    The unconscionable position they have taken is an example of Marxism being used as justification for inaction rather than a guide to action.

  93. “In 1995, the KKE, which had faithfully followed Khrushchev, then Brezhnev, then Gorbachev, suddenly rediscovered that Stalin was allegedly one of the greatest Marxist thinkers and began doing absurd things in the 1990s like glorifying the 1930s purges.”

    I lived in Athens in the late 70s Stalin was very popular with many Greeks I knew and they were not party members.

  94. Vanya on said:

    Again, I ask those who think the KKE’s criticisms of Syriza justify its refusal to enter government with them to compare this with the participation of the SACP in the ANC government.

    I know they are not exact comparator situations but I think some of the principles are the same.

  95. To be honest I was pretty shocked at the level of poverty and inequality that I saw when I was in South Africa. It begs the question how can the SACP be supporting this government?

    In relation to the argument about KKE in Greece and their participation in government with pro-EU opportunists, it might seem strange to support both the KKE and SACP lines.

    However, I would stress that we feel that communist parties in Greece and South Africa are best placed to assess the situation in their own country and adopt the best position.

    I think, in South Africa, there are specific relationships going back to the struggle against apartheid-which let’s remember was only defeated less than 20 years ago.

    It seems reasonable to expect communist parties in developing nations in Africa to have close relations with liberation movements to support the building of nations independent of imperialism.

    In the same vein, communist parties in developed nations that are members of the EU and NATO might have slightly different relations.

  96. #108

    Jota: why did CWI leave Syzria? Seems a bit short sighted in retrospect.

    Yes, for an organisation with the politics of the Socialist Party, events in Greece might be seeming to vindicate this position:

    All history demonstrates that, at the first stages of revolutionary upsurge, the masses turn to the mass organisations to try and find a solution for their problems, especially the young generation, entering politics for the first time. The experience of many countries demonstrates this.

    Who used to say that?

  97. prianikoff on said:

    re.#111 “I lived in Athens in the late 70s Stalin was very popular with many Greeks I knew and they were not party members.”

    What were they members of – necrophiliacs anyonymous?

  98. Reader of The Socialist on said:

    Andy (114), I think you’ll find that in every country, at every point in time, events prove the correctness of what the Militant/SP attempt to pass off as an “analysis”.
    Watch one of Peter Taffe’s speeches on the net, unless you’ve got something better to do (like topping yourself). Everything, everywhere, always happens just as they said it would. If he did the horses, he’d be a billionaire and the bookies would be beggars.

  99. Vanya on said:

    #123 I go for the anti-EU position myself, but there is surely some logic to the idea that if the EU becomes an undemocratic bosses superstate it could, then as a result of a revolutionary process become a socialist superstate, in the same way that one or more of the countries that comprise its member states?

    Let’s face it, the USSR was essentially the territory of the old Tsarist empire wasn’t it?

  100. Vanya on said:

    #125 Funnilly enough Ted Grant was a very good tipster (as are the ones in the Morning Star btw)

  101. Vanya,

    You argue that, if the EU became the undemocratic bosses’ superstate that it seeks to become, then we should try to transform it into a socialist superstate. You then go on to make a comparison with the Soviet Union and the Tsarist empire.

    You state that the EU has not yet fully become a undemocratic bosses’ superstate yet you suggest we accept the inevitability that it will become so and campaign for a ‘left’ EU, negating any struggle against the EU becoming an undemocratic bosses’ superstate ?

    Surely we must first struggle against the formation of an undemocratic bosses’ superstate, rather than be a defeatist and accept that it will happen, or worse, put ‘European solidarity'(I.E the interests of the undemocratic bosses’ superstate) ahead of the interests of the working class?

    In relation to your comparison with the Russian empire;

    Surely it would be correct for a revolution in the working class, developed parts of the Tzarist Russia (or Canada or the USA or any other country attached to large swaths of rural land) to struggle against the reactionary interests in the countryside to secure a large socialist state?

    Yet such states are not comparable to the EU, there is only one empire that took control of the area of the EU in the 20th century and I am sure you would argue that this should not have been reformed from within!

    Or would that have been the correct trot position during WW2? To stand against the ‘nationalist-racist’ liberation of individual states and struggle for a ‘workers’ Nazi-held European empire, reformed from within?

    Let’s face it the EU is constitutionally a free-market bosses’ club. It is completely undemocratic and has only ever pushed privatisation, ripped up workers’ terms and conditions and made social democracy-let alone socialism-illegal.

    There are examples of individual states nationalising industry, providing full employment…etc

    There are no examples of the EU being used to enact socialist policies. There is no possibility of this ever even being feasible, let alone conditions suggesting that this is likely to happen. At least in pre-EEC Britain, we could, technically, elect a government that had the sovereignty to implement socialist reforms. This is incompatible, more so-impossible, with EU membership.

  102. Vanya on said:

    “You state that the EU has not yet fully become a undemocratic bosses’ superstate yet you suggest we accept the inevitability that it will become so…”

    No I don’t.

    “Surely we must first struggle against the formation of an undemocratic bosses’ superstate…”

    What have I said contrary to that?

    I think you need to deal with what I have said rather than what you choose to read into it.

    For the avoidance of doubt I do think we should fight against the formation of an undemocratic bosses’ superstate and I do not accept the inevitability of losing that battle.

    However, nor do I think that the result of losing the battle would necessarally be jackbooted stormtroopers goose-stepping through every country in Europe.

  103. Over the last century, the overall trend in Europe has tended to be for large, multinational (and especially multi-ethnic) polities to break up – often acrimoniously. We have seen the break up of the Russian Empire/USSR (twice), Yugoslavia (twice), Czechoslovakia (twice), the Austro-Hungarian Empire; the rise and rapid fall of the Third Reich, the passing of the Warsaw Pact and CMEA… Against that background, the longer-term prognosis for the EU is probably not good, and the more it moves from being a trading bloc to a kind of superstate, the worse the prognosis becomes.

  104. Vanya,

    Sorry if I misread you, yet your words were;

    “there is surely some logic to the idea that if the EU becomes an undemocratic bosses superstate it could, then as a result of a revolutionary process become a socialist superstate”

    To me that suggests that you were arguing that we should accept that the EU is to become a superstate and that we should try to turn it socialist? I am sorry if I misunderstood.

    The reference to Nazi Germany was made in response to your reference to the Soviet Union;

    “Let’s face it, the USSR was essentially the territory of the old Tsarist empire wasn’t it?”

    Here you seemed to suggest that an EU superstate is the same as the Tzarist Empire in 1917 and that the correct position is to transform it into a socialist state. I am sorry if you didn’t mean this. Please explain what you did mean.

    I made the point that the nations of European Union are different to this and that the only empire to control this area was the Nazi one. This is not to say that if the EU transforms itself fully into a superstate that it would be just like the Nazis-it clearly wouldn’t.

    Then again it clearly would be on the basis of a low-wage, neo-liberal economy that has privatised industry and public services. The difference between an individual nation with a economy identical to this is the ability to change these circumstances.

    There are some on the left, who have a tradition of supporting socialism only where it doesn’t exist, who profess to be Leninist-yet adopt a position that is contrary to his teaching-that state that we must strive for European unity at any terms because only a revolution on the basis of Europe would be supportable.

    This is wrong because, as Lenin said;

    “first, because it merges with socialism; second, because it may be wrongly interpreted to mean that the victory of socialism in a single country is impossible”

    This would have us sign up the the EU and the Euro (and the constitutionalisation of free-market capitalism) first, and then hope for some pan-European socialism to emerge overnight, hopefully. Thus making the construction of socialist states, or even basic reforms such as the widespread re-nationalisation of industry/seizure of the property of the rich impossible.

    I accept that you are against the EU, I just got confused, I must have taken your pondering as a statement or argument rather than a theoretical scenario.

  105. Vanya on said:

    #130 The point I was trying to make was merely that it would not necessarally be impossible to create a socialist state within the borders of the EU, were the EU to become an actual state.

    I’m not saying that it would necessarally be easier than if the EU failed to become a fully fledged state and nor do I suggest that it may not be better for such a state to be broken back up into smaller states.

    The point is that we cannot predict the future.

    Btw, quoting Lenin to me is not going to help win me to any point of view. Leninism is in the past and I’m not sure how much use it was even then.

    Although I do like some of what he said.

  106. prianikoff: re.#111 “I lived in Athens in the late 70s Stalin was very popular with many Greeks I knew and they were not party members.”What were they members of – necrophiliacs anyonymous?

    Nope just families who remembered the occupation and the civil war and who were living under the colonels. They were to my mind very fine people.

  107. John Grimshaw on said:

    H’mmm. I think we as socialists need to keep a grip. Vanya is right that sometimes it doesn’t do us any good to keep quoting Lenin ad infintum, but then neither is a a lot of what Lenin said complete bollocks. I also think that pre-destination is ridiculous. Francis says that large super-states in Europe have a tendency to break up. Sometimes they do. Do you think it will do all the time? Why? Whats the processural logic there? From a capitalist point of view they are struggling to find a way to make the EU work. They may. They may not. Whether they have the EU or the earlier nation states or the earlier Empires this is their bag. The real question is what should socilaists be doing. Manchester Communist I agree wih you. There is no virtue in the EU per se but neither is there any virtue in the “nation state” per se either.

  108. Multi-national states in Europe in the modern era – big and small – are particularly vulnerable to the appeal of various types of nationalism, especially when things start going badly economically. Whether that will always be the case, who knows? But for the moment, I can see no sign that Europeans have outgrown their tendency to see their own nations as “us” and other nations as “them”. I hope I’m being excessively pessimistic here, but I doubt it.

    What should socialists be doing in this situation? They should be doing what they should always have been doing – trying to find ways to collaborate and cooperate with other socialists across national and state divides.

  109. The current situation on the Left in Greece

    Francois Hollande/ the PS in France and also Syriza in Greece both want to stay in the Euro. Antarsya in Greece, and the KKE in Greece want to exit the Euro.

    The Pan-Hellenic meeting of Antarsya recently voted to stand separately at the upcoming June 17 elections in Greece, not to join in Syriza/ merge with/ become part of Syriza. The KKE will also stand separately, of course

    It is very doubtful whether, if carried out, Syriza’s policies in Greece would result in staying in the Euro or the EU even. So, to an extent the debate, also a debate within Antarsya, over whether to upfront leaving the Euro and the EU may become somewhat academic. Greece will probably be booted out, certainly(?) from the Euro).

    Syriza is considerably to the left of Hollande/ the PS in France, who are simply not very left social democrats, a bit like Miliband’s Labour, though with more redistributive tax policies.

    Syriza, however, is considerably to the left of the PS/ Hollande, it merits the label `Far Left’. Indeed, its programme could even be analysed as a transitional programme, further than a reformist minimum programme, Syriza’s programme could lead to a break with capitalism, though Syriza is not calling for that. However, Syriza’s programme, whether analyses as as a transitional programme or not, its demands are not maximum, i.e. socialist/ replace capitalism with socialism demands.

    Antarsya (and the KKE, though coming from different trajectories, and with different strategies) do not agree with Syriza’s more moderate stance. For example Syriza says renegotiate the agreement and debt. Antarsya says denounce/ repudiate and reject the debt as well as restoring pensions, pay cuts etc. So Antarsya is to the left of Syriza, and so is KKE.

    The crucial upcoming question is whether KKE and Antarsya will give notice of supporting, from the outside, an agreed programme before the next election, while pushing their own programmes.

    Thus far KKE is refusing even to talk, for which, as many commentators have noted, it will likely be punished at the polls. Quite rightly. Actually this could be a bit suicidal for the KKE, it is likely it will lose votes to Syriza in the upcoming election.

    In view of the danger of an ultimate military take-over, perhaps prompted by elements withing transnational and EU Capitalism, and with neo-Nazis strutting the streets of Athens, then my view is not, repeat not, that Antarsya should join Syriza.

    Joining Syriza is the strategy of Socialist Resistance and the large majority of the Fourth International, the USFI, as part of its `Broad Parties’ strategy. Incidentally, yet another Broad Left party, Die Linke in North Rhine Westphalia, was punished at the polls this week for supporting big cuts. Anumber of other commentators have noted how broad parties swallow or eject Marxist revolutuinary currents,a nd often end up voting for neoliberal programmes.

    The view of OKDE, the Greek section of the Fourth International, is, like the view of the Irish section, opposed to the `Broad Parties’ line of SR and (most of ) the FI.

    My own view, like that of OKDE, and the large majority of Antarsya, is that Marxists should seek revolutionary Left unity, putting forward a maximum, socialist programme. (Kokkino, which has observer staus at the FI/USFI, is in Syriza). Incidentally I thought most of the CWI statement on Greece was/ is admirable. (I am a supporter of OKDE, and TUSC- with its faults! of democratic deficit and gate closed to other left groups) and a member of SR, though not in sympathy with the Broad Parties policy.)

    This is in fact what Antarsya has decided. Different from the Syriza programme (which itself is far to the left of anything New Labour, the PS in France, European social democracy is considering).

    But if Syriza can form an anti-austerity government, then my analysis is that the KKE and Antarsya should not oppose it in Parliament, should vote for those proposals that are socialist, should oppose any measures that retain any cuts, while campaigning for taxing the billionnaires, and pushing / organising the involvement of working class organs/ organisations to defend any gains by means such as nationalisations, workers control, using local asemblies as parallel systems of power.

    For Antarsya, In a nutshell, not to join Syriza, but announcing in advance of the elections that it will support a Left government, hold it to its programme, while pushing for a more socialist programme such as repudiation (rather than negotiation) of the debt, nationalisations of privatised industries and the banks.

  110. Andrew Grace on said:

    For readers in France and others who might be interested there is an announcement by The French Communist Party of a press conference in France next week to be given by Syriza and the Left Front. They intend to describe a new social and economic/ecological strategy for Europe.

    I used Google Translate to copy it into English;-

    The Left Front will host Monday, May 21 Alexis Tsipras (Syriza) in France

    After the meeting between Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel, just days before the EU summit on May 23, the coming days ahead are decisive for the future of Europe.
    After the election results in France, Greece and Germany, millions of Europeans expect a serious renegotiation of the pact Sarkozy / Merkel.
    To meet expectations, it is facing an abandonment of austerity policies that threaten growth and social justice, a new role of the European Central Bank in the service of inclusive development and emancipation from financial markets.

    Monday, May 21, under the aegis of the European Left Party, the Left Front is pleased to welcome Alexis Tsipras in France, Chairman of the Greek Parliament Syriza.
    Together we will make public our proposals to reorient social, ecological and democratic Europe and will launch a call for unity of all forces available to do so in Europe in this crucial time.

    A press conference with Alexis Tsipras, Pierre Laurent, Jean-Luc Melenchon and leaders of the Left Front, will be held at 3:00 p.m. in the National Assembly. In the presence of Roland Muzeau and MP’s Left Front in the National Assembly.
    15h00: 1st Office – National Assembly

    At 18h 30, a public meeting be held before the National Assembly.
    Place Edouard Herriot.

    Peter Lawrence, national secretary of the PCF and Chairman of PGE

  111. prianikoff on said:

    #137 Dave Hill

    There’s a problem with staying outside of Syriza while making demands on it. Namely, that it’s by no means guaranteed that it will be able to form a government at all. The electoral arithmetic makes it touch and go.

    If you look at the results of the May 6th election you’ll see why:-

    Syriza came within 130,789 votes of being the leading party, which would have given it another 50 seats.
    If the KKE had formed an Anti-Memoradum Coalition with Syriza beforehand, the two parties would have won at least 128 seats.
    A little short of the 151 required to form a government, but tantalisingly close. The additional drawing power of a coalition between them could probably have made up the shortfall.

    On June 17th the vote will be polarised and small parties will be squeezed hard.
    There are already some signs that ND and PASOK are increasing their support. In part, due to the panic caused by withdrawals of large sums of Euros from the Greek Banks. It should be expected that these pressures will increase further over the next month.
    They’re clearly part of an attempt to scare the Greek electorate by the Eurozone leaders, aided by the rich in Greece.

    On May 6th Antarsya got 75,439 votes and no seats in the Legislature, coming 12th out of 32 parties
    KKE got 536,072 votes and 26 seats.
    An independent Antarsya campaign on June 17th will amount to a propaganda exercise.
    But KKE’s vote could prevent the formation of an anti-Memorandum government.

    Nor do I see the arguments about the “inevitability” of Greece being thrown out of the Euro, or the dangers of fascism as valid reasons to stay outside of Syriza.
    There would be a whole terrain of political struggle before those issues could be decided one way or another.
    If Syriza is `Far Left’. If, its programme is a “transitional programme” that could “lead to a break with capitalism”,
    then socialists should be inside it.

    The arguments of those who counterpose “broad mass parties” to Syriza are a little confused too.

    No succesful broad mass parties have been formed anywhere in Europe that aren’t based on splits in existing ones.
    For instance, the FdG , Left Bloc in Portugal, die Linke etc..
    Syriza originated as a split from the KKE, but includes groups linked to the US ISO, USEC and the IMT.
    There’s no indication that they haven’t been able to argue their politics openly.

    It seems to me that the difference between these lines is best illustrated in the competing positions of the IMT and CWI.
    While the Greek supporters of the IMT stayed inside Syriza, the CWI split just before Syriza achieved its electoral successes.

    The Greek IMT’s paper:-
    http://www.marxismos.com/
    Their analysis of the situation is here
    http://www.marxist.com/greek-elections-3-government-of-the-left.htm

  112. prianikoff on said:

    Andrew Burgin #141

    Thanks for reminding everyone about the above article Andrew. I have my differences with the Aussie DSP, but it’s a good article.
    (I’ve already posted a synopsis of it and the link at #100)

    I’ve too been appalled by the KKE’s sectarian positions since the results of the Greek elections.
    However, they didn’t entirely surprise me.
    I’ve long been aware of their tendency to capitulate to Greek nationalism.

    But I’m also aware that the KKE has many good members and a strong base amongst the organised working class. So I resisted making the jibe that’s been at the back of my mind for a couple of weeks now.

    I was tempted to write to the effect that maybe Aleca Paparega would prefer to have a United Front against the EU with the fascists in “New Dawn”. But I thought it was going too far.

    Horrifingly, this may not be so far from the truth!

    Christos Kefalis, the editor of the Greek journal “Marxist Thought” reports that, at her meeting with the Greek President on Sunday, Aleca Paparega:

    “did not only limit herself to denouncing as a “demagogy” the prospect of a left government.
    Surpassing anything else the KKE had said until then, she even went so far as to urge for a direct legitimization of Mihaloliakos, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party leader.”

    “….defeating the adventurist stance of the KKE leadership is perhaps the most urgent task of the Greek left”

    For the full report,see:-
    http://socialistresistance.org/3528/latest-news-towards-new-elections-in-greece

  113. Vanya on said:

    #142 SW normally refers to the main bourgeois party in othe countries as “tories” (or at least they used to).

    CDU/CSU? German tories.

  114. prianikoff on said:

    A summary of the latest opinion polls from Greece

    Party- Now/ May 6th

    New Democracy 24.4%/ 18.85%
    Syriza 23.8%/ 16.8%
    Pasok 14.5% / 13.2%.
    Democratic Left 6.9%,/ 6.1%
    Golden Dawn party 5.8% / 7%
    Independent Greeks 8.5%/ 10.6%,
    KKE 5.9%/ 8.5%.

    (MRB polling- “Real News”)

    New Democracy 23.1%
    Syriza 21.4%
    Pasok 13.5%

    (Alco-“Proto Thema” )

    Syriza 28%
    New Democracy 24%.
    Pasok 15%

    (Public Issue pollster-“Kathimerini” )

    Syriza 25.1%
    New Democracy 23.8%
    Pasok 17.4%

    (Metron Analysis)

    One survey reported that 80% of voters wanted Greece to remain in the Euro zone

    See:-
    http://greece.greekreporter.com/2012/05/19/conservatives-radical-leftists-even-in-latest-polls/
    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20120519-702073.html

  115. Vanya on said:

    #146 What lessons will the KKE draw from these figures?

    Unfortunately I suspect that their position will become entrenched.

    It seems to me from looking at their position and that of Syriza that it should be perfectly open to them to stick to their principles on the question of EU membership, while entering a government with Syriza’s programme, saying, “We warn that membership of the EU is ultimately incompatible with carrying out this programme, but we believe that the key question is unity of progressive forces and the working class against austerity”.

    The problem is that they may have painted themselves into a corner, and be holding to the view that they can afford to shrink further while awaiting a situatiton where their line will be proved correct.

    For instance I get the feeling that there is very much a view among ordinary Greeks that the KKE have been vindicated about the Euro because they were the ones who were most vociferously against joining when many thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.

    On the other hand, while psople in the CPB who may be tempted to see the KKE in a better light than they deserve should look at the recent history as outlined in the article posted at #141, I don’t think the tone in that article and from some of the other more trotskyist based pro-united front stuff is particularly helpful, if the idea is to try and pursuade the KKE to change their position rather than denounce them.

    And I don’t think the complete obliteration of the KKE tradition, much as I have big problems with it, would be a positive development.

  116. Jimmy Haddow on said:

    Comrades,
    Another post from the CWI about the revolution and counter-revolution in Greece and the perspective for a Left Unity government!

    To quote one section from the evaluation:
    “At the same time, Syriza and a democratic government of workers and all those exploited by capitalism should appeal to the working people of Europe – especially those facing a similar situation in Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy – to join them in solidarity and begin building a new alternative to the capitalist EU and euro. The massive crisis erupting in Spain and elsewhere would mean the working people would rally to such a call. This could be the first step to the formation of a voluntary democratic socialist confederation involving these countries as a step towards a socialist confederation of Europe.”

    Now read the rest of the prognosis: http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/5767