Greece: Open appeal for the Communist Tendency of Syriza

The following text is an appeal written by thee Marxists in the Greek left-wing party Syriza in preparation for its congress later this year. We also ask our readers to read our most recent analysis of the situation in Greece here: The Class Struggle in Greece

communist-tendency-syrizaWe - the members of Syriza who are making this appeal - are expressing our opposition to the unfolding attempts by  the comrades of  the leading group of SYRIZA to direct the party towards the bankrupted ideological and political positions of the social democracy that promote the task of a ‘progressive’ and ‘democratic’ management of the capitalist system.

This attempt of the leadership to move Syriza in the direction of Social Democracy expresses itself in the following manner:

-    The rejection of any unilateral action in relation to the national debt and instead supporting action in ‘partnership’ with lenders to manage the economic situation, that is action with the same ‘partners’ who are imposing on the Greek people policies that have led to mass political, economic, and social degradation

-    The adoption of a passive stance that tails, rather than leads, the struggles of workers and poorer layers of society

-    The replacement of the aim of a government of the Left with one of a woolly ‘national salvation’ government

-    The avoidance of a clear commitment that all anti-labour and austerity measures of the last three years are to be reversed

-    The promotion of the abstract idea of a ‘productive regrouping’ for the Greek economy instead of defending a socialist programme for the transformation of society.

To anyone that has an understanding of the history of the Greek and international labour movement, it is clear that all attempts to manage the capitalist system through socialdemocratic methods have led to an impasse, and just turned the reformist  into the political representatives  of the crisis and decline of the system.

The SYRIZA leadership’s social democratic direction is being introduced by the proclaimed aim to attract support from the ‘middle class layers’. However, at present, these ‘middle class layers’ are being crushed by the crisis, and as it was proved in the mass “movement in the squares” in 2011, in the militant struggles of many petty-bourgeois layers in the past few year, but also in the mass electoral turn of many of them to SYRIZA  in June, it is clear that they get radicalized and they lose their old faith in capitalism.

The only ones that are enthusiastic about the socialdemocratic turn of Syriza are the Greek and foreign representatives of capital who miss no opportunity to talk and write about the ‘maturation’ of Syriza, meaning, of course, the disposition of the Syriza leadership to ‘consult and cooperate’ with the pilferers and oppressors of the working class and of the poorer social layers.

If the leadership wants to offer its services to the party and to the workers, it should as soon as possible change the political line and to direct SYRIZA away from socialdemocracy and towards a genuine socialist direction. Today’s leadership – and personally, comrade Alexis Tsipras, have undoubtedly shown signs of political ability to represent the radical dispositions of the working people. They should not continue along this slippery path towards socialdemocratisation, as this would deny hundreds of thousands of  selfless activists of the labour and youth movement the political hope and would push them towards disappointment and pessimism.

Today, the only right and suitable path for SYRIZA is that of its historical origins, that is  from the heroic Greek communist movement which at every critical historical turning point constituted the main political representative of the oppressed and exploited in Greece and has offered thousands of martyrs to the cause of the social emancipation of the workers and the poorer layers of society.

The militants of the Left that we constitute SYRIZA have no reason to apologise for our communist roots, or, even worse, to renounce them. On the contrary, we must find pride in this, and emphasize at every opportunity the superiority and the validity of the fundamental ideas of communism at a time of great crisis and degeneration of the capitalist system.

At the same time, we must emphatically separate the social objectives and the ideals of communism from the stigma of Stalinism that has defamed these in the eyes of mankind. We must patiently explain that genuine socialism, in its most developed form: the democracy of working social majority.

The party needs a new, communist tendency

The thousands of SYRIZA activists who witness with disappointment and skepticism the leadership’s move towards social democracy cannot nor want to remain with their arms folded whilst witnessing these developments. A ‘SYRIZA of its members’ means a party whose members can use their elementary democratic rights to influence the political line of their party.

The right in the free formation of a political tendency is a right associated with the genuine democratic traditions of the communist movement. Its rejection or denial is associated with the legacy of Stalinism and of the leader-focused, bureaucratic socialdemocratic parties. The activists and militants of SYRIZA ought early on to oppose any plan to build the new unified SYRIZA party along the lines of a monolithic party that opposes tendencies within it.

A party of tendencies has nothing in common with the anti-democratic model of a party “coalition of left factions” which quite justly meets with the dissatisfaction of the majority of the SYRIZA rank and file, given that it’s seen as taking decisions and electing bodies through  non-transparent “agreements ” in the top,  through the rights of the different factions to veto, and finally through processes that lead to absurd situation where small factions with just a ‘handful’ of members have disproportionately high representation in the Central Committee – all these discredit the party in the eyes of its members.

In December 2012 the ‘Initiative for a Revolutionary SYRIZA’ persistently and tenaciously defended at the Panhellenic Conference a Marxist programmatic Declaration against the opaque, reformist Declaration of the SYRIZA Secretariat. We were the only political group within Syriza to have put to the Conference an opposition document dealing with specific points proposed by the Secretariat. Our document included an alternative proclamation from a Marxist perspective but we had to face procedures/parodies which, in effect, blocked any publication or discussion based on an alternative document This peaked with the unprecedented blocking by the Secretariat of the presentation of our positions [Ed. Note; here there is a link to those events – all in greek ].

This recent rapid shift towards the Right by the political theoreticians behind the leadership’s Declaration totally confirms our decision to entirely oppose their opinions and positions at the Conference. On the contrary, what the ‘Left Current’ )Lafazanis tendency) and of the ‘R-PROJECT’ (clifists sects) did is to seek to amend or to supplement the documents of the leadership. At a time that the SYRIZA leadership dares to refer to the German government and to the IMF as ‘partners’, this is a seriously misguided, unsatisfactory, and ultimately, backfiring tactic that simply leads to a ‘more Left’ version of reformism.

In view of the critical constitutive/founding Congress of a unified SYRIZA (Spring/Summer 2013), the ‘Initiative for a Revolutionary Syriza’ has taken on the responsibility to establish the primary and fundamental preconditions for the revolutionary orientation of Syriza: the creation of a genuinely communist tendency, which as an organic part of the broad Left of the party, shall give responsibly and methodically the battle for a party that is truly radical and socialist. In that sense, we have altered the name of our initiative we set up back in December 2012 for that Conference to Initiative “Communist Tendency of SYRIZA”.

Policies and Programmatic Principles of a Communist Tendency

Our appeal is directed to Syriza members and supporters that accept the necessity for a party that shall:

  • Politically represent the interests of the working class

  • Be founded on the principles of scientific socialism, as had been stipulated in the work of its founders and had been further elaborated during the initial conferences of the Communist International before the international communist movement became subservient to Stalinism

  • Be defined by genuine internal democracy that establishes the right for tendencies to exist and to function within it within the framework of respect for democratically arrived at collective decisions; and

  • That shall adopt a programme that has been formed and decided through democratic discussion between the membership/support base and that hasn’t been imposed by ‘specialist’ appointed committees

The political programme that we propose is founded on the conviction that Greece’s current impasse reflects global capitalism’s impasse which expresses itself in the most serious crisis of overproduction in the recent history of capitalism. The only thing it could ‘offer’ society is ever further poverty, unemployment, and exploitation. Greece’s impasse can only be faced through struggle to bring to power a government that would expropriate all political and economic power from the hands of capital with the aim of reorganizing society on a new, socialist, basis.

The political programme that SYRIZA proposes when in government cannot be an abstract programme of ‘productive regrouping’. No regrouping of production towards the benefit of society can be achieved within the limits of capitalism; the global programme of capital is austerity and the debasement of the majority of society.

Our party’s programme must adopt as an aim the overthrow of the capitalist system by putting forward socialist measures. A truly anti-Memorandum political stance must surely involve revolutionary and socialist measures. Every attempt by a government to apply anti-Memorandum policies without revolutionary changes to the economy and to the institutions of bourgeois power shall sadly lead to simply extending the life and space for a bourgeois reaction to allow it to regroup and attack in order to crush the Left and the labour movement.

Through that prism, one must approach the possibility of a return to a national currency/to national monetary sovereignty. Should the economic and political power remain in the hands of the ruling class, then any return to any national currency shall simply amount to a new/different signifier of the increased debasement of the working masses and poorer layers of society. In that sense, to defend remaining in the Euro or to demand an exit from the Eurozone, without putting forward a socialist programme, simply disorientates workers from the revolutionary socialist duties that our times impose on us.

The ten fundamental points of a SYRIZA programme that we propose once a Left government assumes power include the following:

1) The repudiation of the debt and the immediate cancellation of the Memoranda in place alongside the reversal of all the measures taken due to those Memoranda

2) Heavy taxation on big capital and wealth

3) Institutionalization of workers control in all enterprises through elected workers’ committees, which shall, in turn, elect a Nationwide Workers’ Control Committee (NWCC)

4) Nationalization of the banking system and the creation of a unitary State bank managed by bank employees, trade union representatives, and State representatives by equal representation (e.g., 1/3, 1/3, 1/3)

5) Nationalization and incorporation into unitary sectors of all enterprises in which the State currently has even a single share. That includes:

  • all large companies that are currently closing down
  • the transportation and transport systems

  • the water and sewerage systems

  • the energy system

  • telecoms

  • mineral wealth

  • infrastructure

  • construction  

6) The unitary sectors that emerge are to be managed again by the workers of each sector, by the workers and consumers of those sectors (through trade unions etc), and by State representatives by equal representation (e.g., 1/3, 1/3, 1/3) and through the development of a Nationwide Nationalization and Economic Planning Committee with the participation of the NWCC, of the mass organisations of the working class (trade unions, professional unions and so on), and of the State representatives, which shall institute a immediate plan for the public ownership of the totality of large-scale enterprises as per sector of the economy;

7) Nationalization of the large-scale land ownership, and the provision of incentives for the voluntary incorporation of small holds of land into cooperatives under the control of the State;

8) The application – the cooperation of the government and the NWCC - of a plan for the immediate provision of a position of employment for every unemployed person through a programme of socially-directed works, for the realization of a programme of nationalizations and the reduction of the working week to the extent possible in order to share the existing employment positions to all available labour;

9) Heavy taxation of capital and wealth, freeze any purchase of expensive military guns and material, the expropriation of Church property, and, above all, through the programme of nationalization, the necessary revenue shall be achieved to ensure that the average salary, pension, and benefit payment allows for a decent living, and for the sufficient funding of the health, educational, welfare, and social security systems, and for culture and sport;

10) The eradication of the bureaucratic and oppressive structures of the existing bourgeois state apparatus and the redesigning of the State on a socialist basis to be achieved by: elections and the right of recall on all senior civil servants and military officers whose salary shan’t exceed that of the salary of a skilled worker; eradicating all means of labor struggle suppression; placing the security forces and the army under democratic control and management of the mass organisations of the workers and of the youth; and by elections of the judiciary and the reform of the entire justice system (including the law) according to the interests of the working people. A broad debate amongst the working society for the quickest possible adoption of a new Constitution that shall establish social ownership over the means of production and the revolutionary reforms over power;

11) An application of this proposed programme would necessitate the withdrawal of Greece from the reactionary imperialist military coalition that is NATO, the collision with the capitalist EU and its institutions, and, inescapably, with an exit from it. This example of a revolutionary Greece and the open call for a common struggle to our class peers across Europe against European capital and for a United Socialist States of Europe, shall disarm imperialism and shield the country from outside threats and shall give her soon  a sure and equivalent international place with the opening of the prospect of the paneuropean and world victory of socialism

On the eve of the spectacular rise of SYRIZA (during Spring/Summer 2012), we publicised our entire set of proposals for the revolutionary programme that a Left government ought to adopt. We shall submit this set of proposals to the forthcoming constitutive Congress (Spring/Summer 2013) – this is why we call upon all activists to support and propagate it.  Read and sign this at the following link: Greece: Ten programmatic points for a Left government – our proposal

Unite with our Initiative!

Help build the Communist Tendency of SYRIZA!

Fight for a revolutionary SYRIZA, for a revolutionary – socialist government of the Left!

Friday, 15 February 2013