We interviewed Stephanos from the left Greek party OKDE (Organisation of the Communist Internationalists of Greece). This interview is part of a series of reports that our correspondent has been carrying out in Greece during a fortnight.
– How do you assess Syriza’s government?
Syriza increased from 3% of votes to 37% when they constituted its government. This change is the aftermath of the struggles that have been shaking Greece especially between 2010 and 2010. Syriza had no leading role at that time. They have even been either absent or trying to minimise the events. But the people decided to vote them against all those parties who stood for the Memorandum. Syriza is not like the old social-democracy. Their social connection with the grassroots is very weak and they don’t control the trade unions. That is even why they can twist out of their policies with not much control.
Although their programme said that socialism has always been their strategic aim, they have always been reformists. They would set up a plan of class collaboration against the memorandum in their belief that it is possible to meet the needs of the workers while complying with the requirements of the Greek and European bourgeoisie. The new government introduced themselves as “of national salvation”: all the classes against the Memorandum because even the employers would be harmed. The idea was to increase the minimum wage to encourage consumption and so solve the crisis and reactivate growth, all this, of course, within the UE and without any workers mobilisation.
The failure of this plan leads to concessions quickly. As soon as the 20th February the debt was dutifully paid and a statement was issued saying that no unilateral decisions would be taken. The signature of the agreement was nothing but a consequence of the aforesaid.
– What policy has the OKDE developed before the new government?
First of all, we tried to explain the limitations of the Tsipras plan so as to expose the danger ahead. We tried to organise the workers and the poor in workplaces and at home and also the students at schools and in universities. This is what we tried to obtain through the meetings in workers’ neighbours, at the trade unions and students’ associations.
Our political proposals are to cancel the debt, quit the EU and the euro, nationalise banks and the strategic companies under workers’ control. That is why we want a workers’ government based on the mobilisation and self-organisation of our class.
– What now?
The “no” won because of the vote of the youth, the workers and the poor. There were pressures coming from everywhere: all the mass media, the closure of the banks and even the call to vote “yes” that came from the trade unions. The “no” was deeply rooted in the struggles. The outcome was a proof of the radicalisation of the workers and a slap on the face of the EU. Surveys say now that 30% of Greeks are in favour of leaving the EU. Tsipras’ disrespect for the “no” cannot change that. People are shifting leftwards and a third memorandum would harm people but it would also harm Syriza. The illusion in them will wan as the memorandum is applied. It is our task to organise people in the “No” committees with a programme I mentioned above. We are trying to organise the struggles and deal with the growing humanitarian crisis underway.
The solution is not a second Syriza closer to Lafazanis positions. Syriza’s Left Platform is very much responsible for what has happened for they prepared nobody for what was coming and they have a lot in common with Tsipras. Its vision is that of a capitalist Greece developing autonomously, without struggles, with no workers’ control with any socialist or even anticapitalist measures.
To be sure, if Syriza is Eurocommunist and strategically declares to be socialist, just imagine what Podemos (in Spain) would do. A party that does not see the depth of this capitalist crisis, a party that does not realise that EU and the euro can only survive due to the memorandums will kneel down much faster than Syriza did.
– What internationalist coordination should we have between our peoples?
We were happy with the solidarity with Greece that took place all over Europe, but we need a workers’ International. The groundwork for this is the common problems we have and a situation that is clearly European. Imagine what we could do if we had joint parties all over Europe. We would exert a great pressure with our mobilisation… it would be a clear vision of a possible united and socialist Europe. We do hope that the bankruptcy of Syriza will allow for more radical options to become stronger in the different countries and fight these monsters such as the EU and all the other European institutions.
No shortcuts can be taken to “bring the left together” or “broad anti-capitalist parties”. The right thing to do is to get the working class organised around concrete things.
– Will people react against the new memorandum?
Sure they will. The electoral illusion is vanishing. The youth and unemployed people will explode sooner or later. They will not starve in silence. Syriza is not fit to avoid this. The question is whether future struggles will go as far as necessary, as far as self-organisation of the proletariat in readiness to take the future into their own hands; up to the unlimited strike; as far as challenging the police state because without it the memorandum can’t be applied.
– Is there any chance for a revolutionary party to grow in Greece?
The boom of Syriza blocked the possibility that such a party emerged. With Syriza now in the opposite trench, such opportunities grow. But at the same time, there are great threats. We, the revolutionaries must anchor ourselves deeply in the working class and organise it. Whoever can accomplish this task will have the groundwork for the building of a big revolutionary party.