Greece: Syriza and the ‘troika’

[PN: This month from the Vanguard. Please note, KKE = Communist Party of Greece]

Greece is a developed country long dominated by imperialism, and in recent times, particularly by the economic domination of European imperialism expressed through Germany and the ‘troika’ with their austerity measures which impose great suffering on the people.

The ‘troika’ consists of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. There is also the extensive presence of US imperialism with naval and air forces stationed in the country to serve US strategic interests in the region.

The Greek people have a long history of struggle for their liberty and national independence, against foreign occupation, against fascism, against the violence of the bourgeois state. As a consequence of these harsh struggles and the painstaking mass work of revolutionary communists and their allies, the working class and significant sections of the people have heightened their political consciousness and intensified their resistance to imperialism. This process has accelerated in the past few years of fierce struggle against the ‘troika’ austerity cuts.

Whilst the clear identification of imperialist finance capital as the main enemy of the Greek people, and of the “troika” as the target of the current stage of the struggle, reflected a heightening of the political understanding of the Greek people, the focus on the Greek parliament as the arena for the conduct of that struggle is an indication that the ideological level is still not high enough to carry the movement in a genuinely revolutionary direction. There still remains to be developed an active vanguard force capable of convincing the masses that it is not enough to capture, through elections, the parliamentary machine and the apparatus of the state, but that this apparatus needs to be destroyed and replaced by proletarian institutions of state power.

The election of Syriza to government reflected the surging anti-imperialist sentiments among the people. Syriza was carried to parliamentary office by a popular movement that was able to mobilise workers, students, farmers, small business, professional workers and the unemployed, bringing them together in a united front with the common objective of opposing, resisting and rejecting the imperialist agenda of the ‘troika’.

This ‘united front’ also included several ‘left’ groups that were prepared to work within the popular movement and cooperate around this common objective so as to try and raise the ideological level of the participants. Some, such as the KOE, which had done good political mass work in building the united front, were subsequently absorbed into the Syriza organisation. It remains to be seen what the comrades of the KOE can achieve from this. This will be regarded by many as a mistake, as the initiative and independence of communist organisation was surrendered. Mao referred to the error of “all unity and no struggle” in the context of the united front

Others, including the KKE, remained outside and continued to campaign separately. The KKE refused to join the broader movement that was forming around Syriza and held separate rallies and meetings of its own supporters. In the context of the united front, it was objectively a position of “all struggle and no unity” and effectively isolated the KKE from having influence over the broader united front. In the election, its share of the vote increased only marginally to a bit over 5%.

The smaller parties, the KKE (ML) and ML-KKE cooperated in the election campaign period and this may continue.

Since then the new government has backed down on its campaign commitments, and agreed in the February negotiations with key agents of European imperialism, to accepting the austerity measures and repayment conditions of the November 2012 agreement (signed with the previous Samaras government) in return for a short extension of the ‘bailout’ monies.

This is a major setback to the hopes and confidence of the suffering Greek people who had hailed the new government in massive street demonstrations in the days preceding the negotiations.

The back-down raises questions – to what extent was it forced because of the government’s immediate cash-flow crisis (exacerbated by money being transferred out of the country, by falling bank deposits, by rampant tax evasion by the rich)? A tactical retreat in the face of overwhelming odds?

Did it buy time to move forward with progressive policies or was it a totally opportunist sell-out as denounced by the KKE?

Would the consequences of alternatives, such as nationalising the key industries, seizing the assets of the big tax evaders, breaking from the European Union, trigger a coup by the fascist-backed military?

Would a stronger position have been taken if there had been a greater communist influence within Syriza and the united front?

These questions and others will probably be answered in the months ahead. In times of economic and political crisis, the situation can change rapidly. What is certain is that the anti-imperialist struggle will continue and that class struggle will intensify within and beyond the united front and the Syriza government.

The CPA (M-L) has been very much interested in the unfolding situation in Greece and the experience of building the united front, as Australia is also a developed country dominated by imperialism.

Bill F.

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Greece: Syriza and the ‘troika’

One thought on “Greece: Syriza and the ‘troika’

  1. Drunk guy at the pub says:

    I’ve neglected the situation in Greece until now believing it didn’t concern me however this story certainly rang a bell. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the entities mentioned have been pulling strings for nefarious reasons … seems to be par for the course in the 21st century.

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