Greece: “The battle for a Left government: eight weaknesses that we ought to correct”

The ruling class is scaling up its dirty war against SYRIZA, and is drawing together its various political fractions in the hope of preventing a potential electoral victory of SYRIZA in the elections on June 17. From the point of view of SYRIZA, in order to achieve our aim of a Left government, we need to correct eight grave errors and weaknesses.

1) Our election campaign ought to not centre solely on the bourgeois media, which is inevitably hostile to SYRIZA. Rather, it should chiefly focus on neighbourhoods and the workplaces, where it is necessary to fight a daily battle by discussing, convincing, mobilising, and organising the most militant of workers and of the youth. SYRIZA, as a unified party of the masses, must begin to self-organise as early as possible during this critical political face-off.

SYRIZAs initiative for popular assemblies is correct; these assemblies, however, ought to not only happen in each neighbourhood, but also to spread to every workplace. They ought to not be limited to consultative assemblies, or be held purely for the purposes of making electoral speeches. They ought to recruit members for SYRIZA and decide by popular vote on what ought to be the priorities for SYRIZA’s political programme and organisation in light of the elections ahead, and they ought to elect local committees responsible for guiding and coordinating the struggle locally.

2) The lack of a cohesive political programme is clear. Not only does this open up space for improvisations and confused oscillations on the part of our leading members in media appearances, it also fails to provide a cohesive response to real eventualities such as a declaration of an extensive economic and political war on the part of capital – domestic and global alike – against a Left government.

The leading bodies of SYRIZA ought to immediately compose and submit a political programme for a Left government. This programme needs to be discussed at the popular assemblies that ought to be taking place at every neighbourhood and workplace within the next fortnight. The assemblies, in turn, ought to be electing representatives to attend a specially constituted conference exclusively charged with deciding on what ought to be the political programme of a Left government. We – Marxists who are fighting inside SYNASPISMOS and its youth organisation – will in due course be presenting our proposals – our contributions to a discussion on a cohesive political programme of action for the first 100 days of a Left government.

3) More specifically, it’s an unpleasant surprise to note the lack of any cohesive and clear positions of SYRIZA in relation to unemployment, and, more specifically, to note the total abandonment of our historical position in relation to the 35-hour working week. Unemployment is currently the most crucial issue for the working class. We owe a radical political solution to the hundreds of thousands of unemployed that are increasingly pushed towards hunger and destitution. Such a solution can only be established by the reduction of the working week to whatever level necessary and placing every unemployed person in work with a decent salary (sliding scale of work hours).

To put forward a sliding scale of work hours would reveal to society at large the inability of capitalism to secure a livelihood for, and therefore the survival of, hundreds of thousands of people. It would illustrate what a planned economy could achieve, if it replaced the anarchic and inhumane capitalist market economy. It is also necessary to draft a plan of beneficial public works that are to be funded by heavy taxation of sizeable capital and property, drastic cuts of the military budget, drastic reduction of the salaries of thousands of state office-holders and high-functionaries to the level of the average salary of a skilled worker, the socialisation of church property, the national infrastructure, natural resources, energy, transport, telecommunications, and of the most important companies in each sector of the economy.

4) The leadership of SYRIZA is blatantly backtracking on the question of the banking sector. Over the last two years, SYRIZA have publicly argued for the nationalisation of the banks. That had given hope to workers that a Left government would set up a nation-wide unitary credit system, one capable of cleaning up the interest-laden debts, which flow from the profit-seeking function and nature of the current banking system, and of take a central role in the economic and social development of the country. At the moment, however, according to recent statements by G. Draghassakis, the nationalisation of the banking system has changed to “public control” notably through the re-capitalisation with public funds of the banking sector as per the strictures of the PSI (Private Sector Involvement programme). That sort of “public control”, with capital loaned by the Troika, is incompatible with the rejecting the Memorandum. It is inconceivable that the Troika would fund banks if a Left government attempted to use its “control” over them to develop society and economy. Above all, there is nothing “public” about such type of “public control”, given that banks will continue to function as profit-maximising commercial entities whose governance would be exercised most probably by state officials of the highest level who would be answerable to shareholders rather than to workers and to society at large.

5) Our public announcements are weak and lack courage in relation to the issue of combating fat-cat tax-evasion, which we, correctly, present as important in order for a Left government to be able to secure a decent livelihood for workers and pensioners. Tax evasion, along with other instances of fraud by capital, can not be thwarted by invoking our “political determination and intention”, or by attempting to make the utterly corrupt mechanisms of the bourgeois state function properly. A Left government ought to immediately institutionalise workers’ control.

From this point onwards, in every large-scale enterprise, meticulous administrative checks and controls ought to be taking place by elected committees. These committees should involve workers aided by specialists committed to a Left government. Only in this manner would the scandals and fraud committed by capital be fully exposed. Everyone would be able to see how the Greek economy at large has historically been robbed by capital.

6) The bourgeoisie, be they neoliberals or whatever, hypocritically refer to or appear to deal with the “state” as were it not constructed in their own image. They pretend that it was not set up to pursue their class interests, but that it was set up and is defended by the Left. Correctly, SYRIZA figures have so far kept their distance from ‘Statism’, in the sense that the Left cannot be defending a wasteful, bureaucratic, and autocratic bourgeois state. However, what we ought to be adding is that we do not simply defend a less costly or more efficient state, but a state that would be democratically controlled by workers for the people, a state without bureaucracy, privileges, and autocracy.

We must publicly support positions such as the remuneration of all state office-holders with a salary equivalent to that of a skilled worker; the scrapping of the existing structures of the army and of the security forces, and their re-institution under the control of the mass institutions and organisations of the working people. We need to put forward a new Constitution that entrenches societal ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, and that establishes a true democracy buttressed by the active participation of workers in the exercising of power and in decision-making. This democracy would replace the autocratic and corrupt political system which allows the people to part-take in shaping its destiny only one day every four years.

7) The frequently awkward and apologetic stance of SYRIZA figures on the issue of the EU and the Euro is problematic. At every opportunity, we must emphasise that we defend a Europe of the working people against a Europe of banks and capitalism. We should support the proposition that the euro – as a symbol of European unification on a capitalist basis – is threatened not by the Left, but by the crisis and contradictions of capitalism.

Let us clearly state that the wellbeing of the peoples of Europe isn’t a monetary matter, but a matter of the mode of production. It is a matter that requires us to defend another, radically different, socialist European Union, against the existing reactionary capitalist EU, which, experience has shown us, is a coalition to combat workers’ interests and rights. On that basis, we must address a constant appeal to European workers to fight with us for this other, radically different, socialist Europe. A Europe that ought to institutionalise new European conventions capable of guaranteeing, not just a common currency, but also common planning of the productive forces for the mutual benefit of the European peoples at large.

8) Generally, socialist perspectives are, sadly, non-existent in our political narrative. As the SYRIZA president correctly stressed in the ‘Guardian’, there is currently “‘a war between the peoples and capitalism, and Greece is on the frontline of that war!” However, the predominant narrative of our leading figures, objectively, has taken the appearance of that of Left-Keynesians. They defend the “social state” at a time when capitalism makes loud noises about how this is incompatible with capitalism – instead of opposing capitalism itself. Their political narrative is a hotchpot of seemingly socially-minded policies which are unlikely to seek to overcome the constraints of capitalism, or, at best, it is not clear when they would attempt to overcome these constraints.

It is surely a grave error to argue that it is possible to build socialism within the territorial limits of Greece, for, as history has shown, socialism – as a system of social and economic harmony and wellbeing – cannot be built in one country alone. Due to the highly developed division of labour internationally, in order to build socialism on a solid basis, it is necessary to unify the productive forces of developed countries. However, juxtaposed against the utopia of fully establishing socialism inside the borders of Greece, it is currently far from impossible, and if anything totally necessary, to overthrow the capitalist system in Greece.

Capitalism currently finds itself in a profound historical crisis. It is not possible for it to exist without Memoranda and hordes of poor and unemployed. The only feasible avenue for social progress is the setting up over the coming years of a centrally and democratically planned economy, in which the commanding heights are socialised. Only such an economy would be capable of securing a decent livelihood for all workers, and it would provide an example for the setting up of a new, truly socialist society, across Europe and the globe.

Within the context of its daily struggle for SYRIZA’s electoral victory and for a Left government, acutely aware of the urgency to correct the political weakness listed above, the editorial board of the Epanastasi newspaper and of the Marxistiki Foni ( magazine, plans to publish over the coming days its cohesive proposal for a programme of a Left government. This proposal will be discussed with comrades and sympathisers at a specially convened event in Athens, scheduled for 6 June at 18.30 at the ‘ECSTAN’ Cultural Association, 5, Kaftatzoglou Street (close to the overland railway stop of Aghios Eleftherios).

Let’s organise to achieve a victorious SYRIZA and Left!

Adopt a cohesive socialist programme capable of shattering Memoranda and capitalism in Greece, to open up the perspective for a socialist united Europe.

Source: Marxist Voice (Greece)