Greece: from the No to the Yes

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2011 - 7:23

New Democracy (Greece’s equivalent to the Conservative Party) and Laos (an ultra-right populist party, similar to UKIP) were emphatic in their support for the official parades disrupted by anti-cuts protests on 28 October.

The leader of Laos accused the government of “losing control of the state” and “being unable to enforce law and order” and attacked the government for not “ordering the police forces to be more heavy handed with the protesters”.

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said: “Although we think Pasok is a disastrous government and we understand the people’s discontent, New Democracy totally opposes and condemns the stoppage of parades”.

We should remind the leader of the New Democracy party that his political predecessors cooperated with the German invaders and later militarily attacked the Greek workers and national resistance fighters with the assistance of the English imperialists, from December 1944.

In any case, the much-celebrated “no” to Mussolini by Ioannis Metaxas in October 1940 is grossly misrepresented. Metaxas was not a democratically elected Greek prime minister. He was a dictator. He established a fascist regime in Greece, crushing the working-class movement.

He was ideologically close to the Italian and German fascist regimes, but aligned with English imperialism because Greek capitalist interests were interlaced with those of English imperialism.

Syriza participated in the protests, but they denounced the heckling of Greek president Karolos Papoulias. In their words: “The president of Greece is considered the representative of the Greek constitution and parliamentary democracy. The institution of presidential democracy is the embodiment of democracy and the unity of the Greek nation”.

However, Papoulias, as he was leaving the saluting stand, declared: “The decisions being made by the EU summit on 26 October are positive… We should all help to make Greece a healthy economy again”. He used his supposed neutrality to cover up the austerity measures of the Pasok government.

The mainstream media totally misrepresented the people’s protests as the actions of a lawless, anarchic mob under the control and manipulation of the Syriza party and trade union factionalists.

Journalists and politicians tried to make a distinction between “peaceful demonstrators and anti-austerity measurement protesters that respect the law and the Greek constitution”, and the “violent, disrespectful and unlawful protesters that stop the parades, verbally abuse politicians and injure our national celebrations”.

But the 28 October protests were the continuation of the Greek working-class struggles of the last two years. They were “organised” by the rank and file of the trade union movement, the community movements, the student movement, and all the people that have had enough of the escalating attacks on their living standards and working conditions.

Today’s struggles are the best tribute to all those that fought against the Italian and German fascist troops and their Greek collaborators. They are a tribute to all those that fought for national and social liberation.

The historical memory of the 1940 resistance was truly honoured by the continuation of the Greek and migrant workers’ resistance against the Greek capitalists and the EU-ECB-IMF Troika’s economic invasion.

Left-wing groups had long opposed the traditional militaristic and nationalistic parades of 28 October. This year there was both a quantitative and a qualitative change.

Thousands of people spontaneously participated in the stoppage of the parades. Heads were turned to the left, to salute protesters, and not to the right, to salute politicians. Massive demonstrations stated clearly the people’s disrespect for all factions of the political establishment and the Greek ruling class.

The whole of Greek society is in turmoil. The revolution has not yet come but the social rebellion has already commenced. Maybe the social rebellion has come in a period where the revolutionary left is unprepared both qualitatively (in politics) and quantitatively (in numbers).

The challenge is there for the revolutionary left to win the most militant workers and youth; for all of the revolutionary left to contribute to the build-up of a real revolutionary party around the organised labour movement.

It is the historical duty of the revolutionary left to politically translate the “no” of this year’s 28 of October.

• No to the Pasok government that said yes to the EU summit and the Troika occupation.

• No to all the bourgeois parties.

• No to the Troika, to financial speculators, to productive and unproductive capitalist asset-strippers and predators.

• No to the Greek debt. Not a penny to the creditors.

• No to payment of government-imposed taxes.

• No to cutbacks, privatisation and austerity packages.

To go from those “nos” to positive “yeses”:

• Yes to nationalisation under workers’ control of the banks and the big business with no compensation.

• Yes to workers’ control of prices, wage increases, reduction in working hours, work for all.

• Yes to pension increases in line with wages, reduction in the retirement age.

• Yes to banning redundancies. Unemployment benefit in line with wages.

• Yes to a public sector in the service of the people and society’s needs against today’s public sector tied up with corporations, contractors and corruption.

• Yes to extending education, health, transportation and welfare state provision.

Which would all add up to the big yes for another society, which has our needs as its priority, a socialist, truly democratic, and accountable society.

It is the duty of the revolutionary left to organise, participate in, and encourage every battle, small and big, and to win to our ranks the most militant workers and youth.

Every workers’ victory is a step closer to the working class becoming the decision-makers of history.

It is a step closer to winning the final battle and opening the doors to socialism from below.

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