Greece

The Greek drama becomes more intense by the day and by the hour, threatening the stability of the whole European Union. Yesterday amidst a mood of growing fury on the streets, the Papandreou government scraped through in a critical vote of confidence as tens of thousands of people gathered outside the parliament building in Athens chanting: "Thieves! Thieves!"

Yesterday hundreds of thousands of workers and youth participated in a 24-hour general strike called by the GSEE and ADEDY (private and public sector trade union confederations), marching on demonstrations to the main squares of seventy cities and towns across Greece. From the early morning hours participation in a mass gathering to encircle the Houses of Parliament was enormous.

From early this morning, hundreds of thousands of workers and youth participated in the mass rallies during today’s 24-hour general strike, encircling the Houses of Parliament. There is no doubt that had it not been for the outbreak of rioting, with such a huge level of participation the numbers concentrating on Syntagma Square would have exceeded one million.

The strategists of international capital are finally coming round to the idea that a new bail-out for Greece is necessary. With it comes an even harsher “memorandum” for the workers, involving the infamous “medium term programme” already announced by the government, which includes draconian austerity measures and the selling off of state assets. But now the labour movement is beginning to put its imprint on the situation.

Yesterday a milestone was passed in the social and political situation in Greece and throughout Europe. Impressive mobilizations rolled across the country: half a million in Athens and rallies  of thousands of people gathered in Thessaloniki, Patras, Larissa, Volos, Heraklion, etc. This places Greece on the threshold of a revolutionary situation. It means that, for the first time in decades the developed capitalist countries of Europe are faced with the prospect of a revolution with continental dimensions.

The situation in Greece is changing day by day, and is moving in the direction of a revolutionary situation. Starting on Wednesday, 120-150,000 people thronged Syntagma Square and other central squares in all the main Greek towns. The masses protested the austerity policies of the government and the brutal aggression of the European Union against the people of Greece.

This leaflet was issued as part of the intervention of the Greek Marxists of Marxistiki Foni in the demonstrations over the weekend. We publish it here in English for the benefit of our readers.

On Sunday night at Syntagma Square, as a follow-up of the mass demonstration of 150,000 people against the blackmailing of the workers by the bankers and their political lackeys, there was the biggest popular assembly since the beginning of the movement, with the participation of between 6.000 and 7.000 protestors. Among the speakers who took the floor was the member of the editorial board of “Marxistiki Foni”, comrade Stamatis Karagiannopoulos, who made the following short speech:

The tactless intervention of the EU officials in Greek politics has put the cat among the pigeons here. Until now the pretence was maintained of “political consensus” as a condition for any funding from the IMF and EU loan. There was even talk of a possible "soft restructuring” of subsequent instalments of the € 110 billion loan or a new loan of € 50 - €60 billion. It was hinted that they might lengthen the repayment of the older debt.

The workers and youth of Greece picked up the thread of the revolutionary movement in Spain, showing that the mass struggles against capitalist injustice and slavery do not respect any borders. They ignore those that considered the vision of a worldwide movement against the social crimes of capital a utopia, but also those who spoke ironically during the last 24 hours of the supposed “passivity” of the Greek people.

The February 23 general strike called by the GSEE and ADEDY unions was yet another massive mobilisation of the working class, which showed – as we saw on December 15 – that the working class after a short lull, following on from the failure to stop the PASOK government from going ahead with its austerity measures, is recovering fast. The effect of the Arab revolution was also evident.

Yesterday, December 15, Greece was shaken by yet another powerful general strike, which saw at least 80,000 workers march through the streets of Athens, with many more demonstrating in other cities against the latest round of austerity measures introduced by the government. A very angry mood is developing among workers and youth, which will inevitably lead to a major confrontation between workers and the capitalist class.

The results of the recent municipal and regional elections in Greece clearly outline the current social and political crisis in the country. The main feature that stands out is the rejection of both the PASOK government and the New Democracy, the right-wing conservative opposition. This was expressed by a high level of abstentions and also by the increase in the votes for various Left forces, especially in the largest municipalities of Greece. In particular, the growth of the KKE [Communist Party] reveals a shift to the left within the Greek electorate.

During the past few days the PASOK government in Greece and “world market pundits” have attempted to create an artificial picture of “euphoria”, regarding the perspectives for the Greek economy. In reality Greek capitalism is on the verge of an even deeper crisis which will unleash class war on a scale reminiscent of the events in the 1960s and 1970s.

The protest of the Ministry of Culture workers began on Tuesday using banners and distributing leaflets stating their demands to foreign tourists and locals visiting the Acropolis. Their request was to renew the contracts of their co-workers who cover permanent needs of the ministry but who are employed on fixed term contracts.

In the recent period the response of the Greek working class to a series of severe austerity packages has been magnificent. We have seen mass mobilisations, public sector strikes and general strikes. In spite of all this, the PASOK government has pushed through several austerity packages and is preparing even more attacks. The question is therefore posed as to where the movement goes from here. What is the next step?

The constant attacks on the Greek working class over recent months have finally brought the situation to boiling point. The workers have had enough! They are not prepared to pay for a crisis which is not of their making. Yesterday Greece was totally paralysed as the workers and youth came out massively in protest. The tragic killing of three bank workers, however, is being used to distract attention away from this impressive show of strength by the Greek working class.

As they resort to the “rescue plan” of the EU and the IMF which is usury of the worst degree, the government, the bourgeoisie and their political mouthpieces in the media cultivate a climate of unprecedented psychological terrorism towards the working class.

Since the crisis in Greece has hit the headlines there have appeared in the bourgeois media many stories about how Greece has too many civil servants, how the working week is very short, how people retire early on fat pensions, and so on, as if this were the cause of the crisis. Facts and figures, however, can be very stubborn things and they tell a completely different story.