Greece: "We need united working-class action across the continent"

Submitted by Matthew on 14 May, 2010 - 6:30 Author: Stavros (OKDE)

An interview with Stavros, a militant in the Trotskyist Organisation of Communist Internationalists of Greece (OKDE).

The general strike on 5 May was a huge success. It showed very clearly that there are many tens of thousands of people who are thinking seriously about politics and prepared to take militant action.

The strike on the ground actually went beyond trade union and economic demands; it looked more like a political strike. If it had continued, the government would have fallen. The trade union bureaucracy undermined this and has held back from calling further strikes. So far it's only called for an afternoon of demonstrations.

We're fighting for another, escalated general strike. We've put forward the slogan of a political general strike. Obviously, that slogan implies some sort of perspective around a workers' government but we formulate things more generally. We're saying that we need a socialist way out of the crisis; within that, we'd obviously raise ideas like the workers' government.

The movement as a whole currently has a quite serious problem. The trade union leaderships don't want to unite. The Stalinists who control some of the unions are just looking for ways to translate the movement into electoral advantages for themselves. But the far-left is not currently able to offer a viable, visible alternative pole that could provide leadership.

The union federations may be obliged to call more strikes under pressure from below, but it's a quirk of the political and social structures in Greece that historically it's been more common for big explosions of class struggle to be expressed through more directly political structures like parties rather than through the trade unions.

There have been significant social upheavals in which the unions have played a small role. Even on the 5 May general strike, the unions didn't control that, even though they called it. It's clear though that there is a growing pressure for further and ongoing mobilisation. The question is how that pressure can be organised.

There are some trade unions where rank-and-file militants have a relative degree of autonomy to coordinate action, so the tasks go further than simply raising the united front perspective or trying to push the bureaucracy to move. Some trade unions are linked to PASOK, but there is very little possibility of using those links to assert direct pressure on the government. The IMF, rather than the Greek government, is really in charge now. Besides which, PASOK has an essentially Bonapartist relationship to its social base in the union.

Many people are raising the demand for withdrawal from the Euro-zone and the EU. We think they're right to do so. We must be absolutely clear on this; the EU is not a union of European workers. It is a capitalist and imperialist organisation. Yes, it tries to regulate rivalry between European powers but ultimately its role is to attack the historic gains of the European working class.

We should fight for the dissolution of the EU through revolutionary workers' struggle. It's not about defending isolated national capitalisms against integrated capitalism across the continent, but the EU and its directives have had a concretely anti-worker role.

The best act of solidarity that workers elsewhere could provide would be to generalise and spread the struggle. We need links not simply between workers in Greece and workers in, say, Britain, but working-class unity across the continent from Eastern Europe to other southern European states. One demand that workers in Germany could usefully raise would be to demand that the German banks abolish the Greek debt. As the crisis deepens, we need to develop more creative forms of internationalism and prepare for united working-class action across the continent.

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