Greece: SYRIZA Splits after Tsipras-Government Capitulates to the EU
For a new Workers’ Party with a Revolutionary Program instead of nationalist narrow-minded Left Reformism
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 25.8.2015, www.thecommunists.net
- Greece’s ruling left-reformist party, SYRIZA, has split. The new splinter group is called Λαϊκή Ενότητα (Laïkí Enótita [LAE] which means Popular Unity). It comprises 25 former SYRIZA parliamentary deputies, currently making it the third-largest faction in the Greek parliament, and is led by the former Minister of Energy in the Tsipras cabinet, Panagiotis Lafazanis. LAE justifiably criticizes the capitulation of Tsipras to the EU which resulted in the so-called Third Memorandum even though his 5 July referendum against the EU-imposed austerity policy won with an overwhelming OXI-Vote. LAE also criticizes the collaboration of the Tsipras-government with the Zionist Apartheid state of Israel. The new party calls for a return to Greece’s old currency – the Drachma – and an exit from NATO. In addition, LAE correctly calls for mass mobilizations against the Memorandum.
- The split is a result of the historic betrayal of the Tsipras-government. Against the explicit vote of the Greek people – 61.3% of whom voted “OXI” in the referendum on 5 July – the government capitulated to massive pressure from the imperialist European Union and accepted the Third Memorandum. This memorandum constitutes a brutal attack against the Greek working class and the poor. Increases of VAT mean that estimated expenses for the average Greek household will rise by €650 a year. In addition there will be further cuts in social welfare and pensions as well as further attacks on labor rights. All of this comes in a situation in which the Greek workers have already suffered an 18% decline of real wages since 2007 and unemployment is so high that only 49.4% of the population aged 15–64 had a job at the end of 2014 (by way of comparison the figures are 71.9% for Britain and 61.7% for Portugal). Also, as part of the Third Memorandum, numerous neo-liberal deregulations of businesses are to be introduced which will doubtless result in the ruin of large numbers of small shops: many of the 15,000 local bakeries and the 11,000 pharmacies in Greece are endangered.
- Furthermore the Tsipras-government has agreed to a wholesale privatization of the country, selling vast swaths of its resources to foreign corporations. According the Memorandum, public assets worth €50 billion are to be handed over to a new privatization trust fund in order to be sold to private capitalists. 14 airports are expected to be privatized as are huge chunks in the Greek sectors of water, energy, oil, highways, the postal service, and telecommunication – in short: the whole country is up for sale to the imperialist sharks! Finally, the Tsipras government is to relinquish power over vast areas of economic and social policymaking to its Eurozone creditors under the draconian terms it agreed to for a new three-year bailout. LAE leader Lafazanis rightly accused Tsipras: “I feel ashamed for you. We no longer have a democracy … but a Eurozone dictatorship.“
- The whole political development of the SYRIZA-led government – its transformation in a matter of only a few months from a supposedly anti-capitalist party into a servant of EU imperialism which is now implementing the total sell-out of the country – demonstrates the bankruptcy of left-reformism. It is a model of the cul-de-sac of the reformist road which is propagated by SYRIZA and its allies in the Party of the European Left which includes the German LINKE, the French PCF and others. It confirms the warnings of revolutionaries, including the RCIT, who stated as early as 2012 that the left-reformist SYRIZA leadership will betray the working class.
- The split of SYRIZA’s left wing with Tsipras is therefore a progressive and long overdue development. It is clear that, in contrast to their original intentions and wishes, the leaders of the party’s left-wing decided to split only after coming under massive pressure from the vanguard sectors of the working class and militant youth. Socialists should welcome this split and the formation of LAE as a step in the right direction.
- Naturally, it would be unwise to ignore the political shortcomings of LAE. As a matter of fact most its deputies went along with Tsipras for seven long months during which he already committed a number of political crimes. These included the formation of a coalition government with the right-wing racist party ANEL, the election of a leading conservative politician, Prokopis Pavalopoulos, as the new President of Greece, and the various deals the government signed with the EU. LAE’s program is basically a repetition of the old SYRIZA program with the important difference that it calls for an exit from the EU and a return to the Drachma.
- The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) supports the slogan calling for the exit of semi-colonial countries like Greece from the imperialist EU and the Euro. However, we support such an exit only as a tactical step to weaken the grip of the imperialist powers over Greece. Furthermore, such an exit will liberate the country from the “Eurozone dictatorship” only IF it is combined with a series of other measures. In particular, it is crucial to fight for an immediate cancellation of all Greece’s debts as well as the immediately nationalization of all banks and financial institutions and the placement of industrial and service corporations under workers’ control.
- LAE erroneously believes in a model of isolated national economic growth under conditions of a capitalist economy (albeit with a strong state-capitalist sector). The failure of such a strategy has already been demonstrated by LAE’s name giver – the 1970-73 Chilean government led by the tragic Salvador Allende which failed and was finally overthrown by a bloody military coup. Isolated national left reformism is a tragic illusion. As long as the country is dominated by corporate bosses, shipping oligarchs and financial sharks, there can be no growth which benefits the popular masses. Only a workers’ government based on popular councils and militias which expropriates the capitalist robbers offers a way out of the misery. Simultaneously, revolutionaries in Greece as well as throughout Europe should fight for a program calling for the United Socialist States of Europe.
- The central task now for revolutionaries is to combine flexible tactics with programmatic intransigence. Revolutionaries in Greece should recognize that the formation of LAE reflects an important political break of the workers’ vanguard from the SYRIZA leadership. By definition such a new party is in flux and will experience many internal debates. Therefore, revolutionaries in Greece should intervene in this process and participate in these debates. It seems to us that the best way to do this in the current situation is to join LAE and help socialist workers and youth moving to the left to draw the right conclusions from the experience of SYRIZA’s betrayal. Revolutionaries should be critical – sharply in content but pedagogically in tone – of the failures of the left-reformist program of the LAE founders. They should explain that, if the new party becomes a pro-Drachma version of the old SYRIZA, in the end its fate will inevitably be like that of SYRIZA, i.e., it will become a traitor party. Such a path must be avoided at all costs. To advance the cause and prevent such a development, it seems to us sensible that revolutionaries should join LAE as an independent faction and openly struggle to win over a majority of the party members to a revolutionary program of action.
- Naturally, LAE will put forth a list of candidates for the upcoming 20 September elections and it is right that they do so. However, revolutionaries should explain that the most important area of class struggle is not in the electoral fields but on the streets and in the workplaces, schools, and universities. They should therefore agitate for a battle plan oriented to the formation of action committees in all workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, universities, and villages and mobilize for indefinite general strikes and occupations as well as for the formation of self-defense units to defend the workers’ movement against the fascists and the police. Revolutionaries should explain that capitalism cannot be overthrown by general strikes but only by an armed insurrection of the working class and youth.
- Whatever will be the upcoming developments, in the end the crucial task is to form a concrete material force to implement programs and strategies, i.e., a revolutionary workers’ party on the national level as part of a new workers’ international. Such a revolutionary party must fight for a socialist revolution in Greece and throughout Europe. We call upon all revolutionaries who agree with such a perspective for the Greek and international revolution to join forces. The RCIT looks forward to working together with Greek socialists in implementing such a political and organizational program!
International Secretariat of the RCIT
For our analyses on Greece, we refer readers to:
* RCIT: SYRIZA betrays Greece’s Workers and Poor – “OXI” was not meant as a “YES” to another austerity program! For the organization of mass resistance against the betrayal of the Tsipras government! Left wing in SYRIZA: Fight against the party leaders who are lackeys of the EU-Bosses! 11.7.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/syriza-betrayal/
* RCIT: 61.3% Vote OXI in the Greek Referendum: A Victory for the Entire European Working Class! A battle has been won, but the war against the EU and IMF continues! Nationalize the banks and media under workers’ control! 6.7.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-after-referendum/
* RCIT: Greetings to All Greek Socialists Who Are Campaigning for a Vote of OXI in 5 July Referendum. Solidarity Message from the RCIT, 3.7.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-solidarity-greetings/
* RCIT: Referendum in Greece on 5 July: Vote OXI! against the EU-Troika! No to any Austerity Program! Break with the EU and IMF! Nationalize the Banks and Media under Workers’ Control! 30.6.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-referendum-oxi/
* RCIT: Greetings to All Greek Socialists Who Are Campaigning for a Vote of OXI in 5 July Referendum, 3.7.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-solidarity-greetings/
* Brazil Trade Unionists: Solidarity with the Greek Resistance against the EU-Troika! http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/brazil-solidarity-with-greece/
* RCIT: Greece: No to the Surrender of the SYRIZA Leadership! 26.2.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/syriza-surrenders/
* RCIT: Greek Elections: SYRIZA Wins … and Forms an Alliance with Reactionary Racists! 27.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-syriza-anel/
* RCIT: Elections in Greece: Vote SYRIZA but Don’t Trust the Tsipras Leadership! Organize the Struggle in Workplaces, Schools, and on the Streets! Fight for a Workers’ Government! 22.1.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-election-statement/
* RCIT: Greece: Honor Pavlos Fyssas! Smash the fascist Golden Dawn, 21.9.2013, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-smash-golden-dawn/
* RCIT: Greece: Down with the Trial against Savas Michael-Matsas! 23.7.2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-solidarity-with-savas-matsas
* Nina Gunić: Solidarity with the Hunger Strike in Greece! Forward to a Revolutionary Migrant Movement! April 2013, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-solidarity-with-migrant-strike
* Michael Pröbsting: After the elections on 17th June: A new phase of the Greek Revolution is beginning! 19.6.2012, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-after-17-6-elections
* Michael Pröbsting: Greece: For a Workers’ Government! Critical electoral support for SYRIZA and KKE! Workers: Organize and prepare yourselves for the struggle for power! 6.6.2012, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-for-a-workers-government
* Michael Pröbsting: After SYRIZA’s victory in the Greek elections: The question of a Workers Government and the revolutionary way forward, May 2012, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/after-the-greek-elections
* Michael Pröbsting: Perspectives on the Greek Revolution, 10.11.2011, www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/greece-revolution-or-tragedy