Greece - Solidarity with the Workers not the Capitalist Government!

The Referendum - A Moment of Capitalist Trickery

On 5th July the leftist Syriza Government ran a referendum which was trumpeted throughout the world media as a chance to decide the future path of austerity in Greece. Despite the most strident campaign by the media and the political apparatus it is true that 37.5%, well over a third, were not sufficiently deceived to exercise their "democratic entitlement". Indeed more abstained than voted in the supposed landslide for “NO”.

Writing on 7th July it is clear that the referendum made not a jot of difference to the continuing attacks endured by the working class in Greece.[1]

Communists reject the lies and mystifications of the left wing of capitalism that workers’ interests can be defended by participating in capitalism’s political circus. We state and re-state that elections, referendums etc. serve no purpose for working people today. At root, they are part of the system of smoke and mirrors which disguise the true nature of society, the total power exercised by those who own and control the means of production.

Responding to the left who want to dragoon their followers into such campaigns it might be useful to demystify the nature of the referendum exercise launched by Tsipras's Government. The forces supporting the No/OXI (pronounced Okhi) campaign ranged across the whole spectrum of the capitalist political spectrum. These included Syriza, the darlings of the left; the "Independent Greeks", their right-wing partners in government (ANEL) and the openly fascist Golden Dawn. Syriza is also in alliance with other bourgeois parties in the EU. Euclid Tsakalotos, the new finance minister, speaking at the Sinn Fein annual conference in Londonderry announced “Syriza, Sinn Fein, Podemos and others are part of a great realignment of European politics.”

Syriza - Defenders of Greek capitalism

In Britain the left applaud Syriza and urge their followers to replicate the experience. "Left Unity", a left reformist electoral coalition, has distributed cards summing up their position. On one side there's the simple proclamation - "WE NEED A SYRIZA HERE". On the other side there's a neat piece of sleight of hand. "Every great movement starts small. Greece's Syriza was only formed a decade ago - look at them now ... Across Europe a new movement is rising up against austerity ... we want to create a party like Syriza in Britain".

There is certainly emerging signs of resistance to austerity. But from that the Leftist mystifiers make a jump which identifies Syriza as being part of that resistance movement. In fact the rise of Syriza only came about after years of one day sectional strikes (led by the old unions) had exhausted the Greek working class. There was never an all out collective struggle to fight the system throughout the whole period. Voting for Syriza’s utopian claim that it could reduce the debt seemed like a last hope. The truth is that Syriza is a party which, like "Left Unity", advocates left-wing social democracy as a local cure to the massive global crisis. As that crisis has become deeper and deeper the Greek bourgeoisie have allowed Syriza to form a Government with undeliverable promises that the worst effects of the crisis can be avoided. The leftists mislead their followers into believing that electing M.Ps of a left party will mysteriously save society in a way that M.Ps of other parties are incapable or unwilling.

For those genuinely wanting to resist austerity the perspective of "Left Unity" and the other leftist hotch-potch is a total delusion. Electing a Government while all the capitalist economic, political and state structures remain intact can offer no way forward. To imagine that a single capitalist nation state can escape from the globalised economy is the crowning glory on this tower of falsification.

OXI days - First time tragedy, Second time ???

The Greek state has celebrated OXI day on October 28th for more than 70 years This festival of nationalism is linked to the date in 1940 when the Greek Government led by the dictator Metaxas refused an ultimatum from Mussolini's Italy and led their population into the Second World War. This led to Greek workers suffering years of occupation by armies of fascist Italy and Germany, followed by a bloody civil war conducted at first by the British imperialist army. Britain’s bankruptcy though meant that by 1947 they had called in the USA which was not slow to commit more atrocities.[2]

Illusions that the July 5th OXI would present any happier options for workers in Greece evaporated within hours. Threats of workplace closures and shortages of essentials stepped up immediately while the "troika" of creditors and the Syriza-led Government continue the macabre "dance of death" around the insoluble contradictions of the post-2008 phase of global crisis.

In Greece and across the world the trillions of Dollars/Euros/Pounds of debt is now a central part of the global capitalist crisis {see graphic at top of article]. This debt is unsustainable and will never be paid back. Everyone knows this but Lewis Carroll still writes the script for the ruling class. Syriza thought they could use the blackmail of the debtor to get the creditors to relent (as has happened many times in the recent capitalist past). What they did not get was that for the IMF and the EU to allow Greece off the hook would be to open Pandora’s Box to others. The fiction that debt can be managed has to be maintained against all threats. With a stagnant world economy the bosses can only try to put the burden on workers everywhere and that means global austerity. Enough is enough!

The workers' slogan in every workplace and community has to be:-

Can't Pay! Won't Pay!

National economies against Multinational agreements - Contradictions for the bosses, not for the workers

For many decades the national ruling classes in Europe have developed a series of multi-national structures to defend their own interests. The European Union (EU) has allowed a degree of cooperation between the capitalist nation states to attempt to fend off the long-term simmering crisis of profitability. Even as the crisis has deepened the Euro monetary Union came into existence and temporarily papered over the cracks of the contradictions between the pygmy national economies and the giant threat of a globalised economic crisis. However the previous monetary crisis in Cyprus and the far more extreme version currently in Greece show limits of that attempted solution.

In Greece the bourgeois factions appear united in their desire to maintain their links with the Europe-wide structures. On the other hand, in Britain the bourgeoisie are presenting a slower tempo symphony tempting any who will listen to choose between austerity under the UK or EU flag.

In neither case do workers have any interest in taking sides in the bosses' invitation to choose between poisons. The Greek referendum has already proved to be a total diversion from the real needs to develop working class self-organisation against the economic and social crisis. In Britain, Internationalists will uphold that position warning workers against the false hopes that both sides will pose. In particular, we will confront the leftist imposters who will try and lure workers into the ruling class's argument. Laughably, there is already evidence that elements of the Left are already lining up on each side of the inter-capitalist argument.

Tasks for workers in Greece

In a statement early in July Internationalist Comrades (IC) in Greece argued for "demonstrations, strikes, occupations, forms of workers’ self-organisation, which will put a barrier to the continued memorandum hurricane. It should be a springboard for a massive and dynamic workers counterattack against the system that produce crises and loads the devastating consequences on the backs of the vast majority of the people who can live only by their work, workers and unemployed. "

Such an appeal needs to find an echo amongst workers The potential was shown in a TV interview with a young Greek opponent of austerity. Q."Will the banks open on Monday?" A."Don't know", Q."What if they stay closed?" A."Banks stay closed? Good. No banks, no capitalism". That attitude stands in stark contrast to the leftist cheerleaders for the Greek Government.

For more than a century the critical "forms of workers' self-organisation" have been evident. It is not a Parliament in a capitalist state with left-talkers forming a Government. Instead the working class has repeatedly created and refined organisational forms that reflect our existence as a collective class of toilers. These appear as "assemblies" enabling mass participation. Whether based around work places or in working-class communities these forums are organs of struggle, where the working-class begins to feel its own strength and potential. Such developments in turn point to Workers' Councils (Soviets in the Russian language) which create the basis for the destruction of capitalism and its replacement by the rule of the great majority - the working class.

Socialism or Barbarism

The statement issued by the Internationalist Comrades in Greece on 1st July declared "Socialism or Barbarism. There is no other way." Time and again the Communist Workers Organisation (CWO) and our comrades in the Internationalist Communist Tendency (ICT) have argued that "Socialism or Barbarism" accurately sums up the nature of the current epoch. The current situation in Greece means that the choice is no longer abstract. Now, the options could not be starker. Either the working-class resists the attacks on its basic conditions or they face descent into an abyss of impoverishment and destruction.

Local assemblies need to emerge to carry out the essential tasks identified by IC. In addition they will need to address the vital needs of working-class communities - maintaining essential supplies and services including food, fuel and medicines.

Austerity stems from the crisis of the system maintained by and for the class of capitalists who are the only ones who benefit. Genuine resistance to austerity can only be based on the self-organisation of the working-class to defend our own interests. From resisting austerity the struggle needs to escalate from those defensive activities. Ultimately, the only successful outcome will be when our struggles, consciousness and organisation lead to the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by communism. Only the working-class can emancipate ourselves!





[1] For more on this see the ICT position piece On the Greek Referendum at

[2] Including the first barrel bombing of civilians by the USAF in Greece long before Assad.

Friday, July 10, 2015