Greece

The following article was written forSocialist Appeal, the British website of the International Marxist Tendency. It discusses the betrayals of the Syriza government in Greece, and explains the lessons of that experience for the British working class and youth should a Corbyn-led Labour government ever come to power.

The results of the Greek general elections of 7 July highlighted two dominant elements: major class polarisation, and consolidation of the phenomenon of widespread voter abstention. The expression of class polarisation (despite acquiring a distorted character due to the SYRIZA leadership’s complete political submission to capitalism) was evident in the large increase of the votes for N.D. (New Democracy) and SYRIZA compared to the European elections of 26 May. The European elections were just 42 days ago, and saw the same level of participation by the electoral body.

An announcement from the Communist Tendency (Greek section of the IMT) on the 7th July elections.

The only possible way to stop the advance of the ND is a mass class vote for KKE: A mandate to fight for power!

The solidarity campaign for Rawal Asad (who has been held in custody since February on the scandalous charge of sedition after attending a peaceful protest in Multan, Pakistan) shows no sign of slowing down. On 4 March, comrades and supporters of the International Marxist Tendency coordinated a day of pressure against the Pakistani state by picketing, protesting and telephoning Pakistan's embassies all over the world, so the regime knows the world is watching, and we will not stop until our comrade is released. 

Alek Atevik, a member of the Central Committee of the Macedonian organization Levitsa(Left) and a leading figure in the Yugoslav section of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), spoke to Epanastasi [‘Revolution’] about nationalist myths and the need for internationalist class solidarity.

Last Wednesday, Greece was shaken by a general strike. On Thursday, there were protests in all major cities against a new round of austerity measures. Unlike previous general strikes, which are regularly called as a formality and fail to mobilise significant sectors of the working class, this time important services were affected and various ports, hospitals, and airports were paralysed.

The impasse of Greek capitalism, the lessons of SYRIZA and perspectives for the socialist revolution.

For decades the main party of the Greek working class was the PASOK, founded in 1974 immediately after the fall of the military junta. It won 13.5% in the first elections it stood in that year, seven years later going on to win a landslide victory with 48% of the vote and forming the first left government in Greece’s history. The rise of PASOK between 1974 and 1981 was a clear expression of a radicalisation to the left of Greek society.

The Greek economy has always lagged behind the much more developed economies of countries like Britain, Germany, France and other advanced capitalist countries, mainly of northern Europe. The Greek bourgeois arrived late on the scene of history, with its own independent state only in the 1830s. Ever since, Greece has struggled to establish itself economically in the face of far more developed economies on the continent of Europe.

Greece joined the European Union in 1981 and adopted the euro in 2001. What impact did these two events have on the Greek economy? Within the general boom conditions across Europe pre-2007, Greece also boomed, but this hid the real underlying weaknesses of the Greek economy, in particular its declining productivity.

The suffering of the Greek people is deep, very deep. Austerity is pushing larger and larger sections of the population into poverty. With this comes also a seriously worsening healthcare situation which is a direct consequence of the cuts imposed by the Troika, and suicides have also been going up in line with the increase in unemployment.

One year ago 60% of the Greek population said OXI [No] to the Troika’s austerity. One year later we see austerity continuing and getting much worse! I have been travelling to Greece at least once a year for close to twenty years to attend meetings and conferences and in the recent period the decline in living standards has been palpable.

Greece has been in and out of the news headlines, as other more pressing events push it into the background, such as the ongoing crisis in the Middle East, or the risk of a Brexit vote in the UK referendum on the EU, or the tumultuous class conflict gripping France. Nonetheless, Greece remains the weak point within the EU. Its crisis is being “managed”, i.e. delayed, but the country moves inexorably onwards towards a major crisis that will affect the whole of Europe.

On Sunday, May 22nd, the Greek Parliament voted in favour of a new austerity package. The austerity measures include a raise in taxes of 2.8 billion euros, the largest privatisation programme in the history of the country and the acceptance of an automatic mechanism that triggers generalised cuts in the event of excessive budget deficits in the future.

An analysis by the Greek comrades of the IMT of Thursday’s general strike, an important political development marking a new stage in the class struggle. But where should the movement go from here?

Spain is moving inexorably towards a Greek-style situation with Podemos potentially being placed in the same situation as SYRIZA. The same process is underway across the whole of Europe. Therefore the lessons of Greece must be taken on board by the European left if we are to avoid the same mistakes made by the SYRIZA leadership. Here we provide the outlines of a speech given by Stamatis Karagiannopoulos of the Greek Communist Tendency (the IMT in Greece) during his recent tour of Spain.

Here we provide an analysis of Popular Unity’s first steps, its programmatic statement and the political tasks facing the party. This was written before the recent Greek elections, in which the party failed to win any MPs, but its criticisms of the party programme and methods remains valid.

SYRIZA won the elections yesterday, which Tsipras claims gives him a mandate to continue on the road he had already embarked on this summer, i.e. to apply the conditions dictated by the Troika. He, however, conveniently ignores the not unimportant detail that his government coalition (SYRIZA-ANEL) lost a total of 416,000 compared to the vote in January.