October 2011        

Update from Greece

Interview with Kóstas Papadákis, member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece


What is the present stage of the economic and financial crisis in Greece?
     The Greek economy is shrinking. GDP has been reduced for the third consecutive year. The reduction in 2011 reached 5 per cent, a fact that demonstrates that the capitalist crisis of over-accumulation, which is manifesting itself, is sharpening the basic contradiction of capital, which is between capital and labour.
     The bankruptcy and destruction of a part of the over-accumulated capital, the destruction of productive forces, is inevitable. The way out of the capitalist crisis cannot occur without bankruptcy. It is an opportunity for capital to ensure conditions of even greater profitability, having been released from decades of working-class gains.
     Either through controlled or uncontrolled bankruptcy, or through a “haircut” of 50 per cent of the debt, the people will be the losers, i.e. “uncontrollably bankrupt,” in the crisis.
     The debt belongs to the plutocracy and not the people, and it is the plutocracy that must pay for it. It has been shown that no form of bourgeois management is in a position to constitute a pro-people way out of the capitalist crisis.
     Today a tough competition is under way between the monopolies, and between the capitalist states, over who will suffer the least consequences in the crisis—which is not a debt crisis, as the bourgeois and opportunist political elements claim, but a crisis of the capitalist system itself.
     The bourgeois class of Greece is seeking the support of the IMF and the EU not because of some sort of servility but because its class interests are better served in this way in order for it not only to emerge unscathed from the crisis but to emerge even more powerful.

What are the main features as they now manifest themselves?
     Just from the new package of barbaric measures of the social-democratic government of PASOK, an average worker loses annually €2,500. The crisis is causing serious consequences for the working class and popular strata. Pensions and salaries are being cut, collective bargaining agreements are being abolished, “flexible” labour is being reinforced.
     Official unemployment alone has reached 17 per cent. As many as 200,000 public-sector workers are going to be dismissed. The unbearable heavy taxation of property and income is being generalised, while privatisations are being pushed forward.
     Particularly in relation to the the emergency tax raids, hundreds of thousands of people cannot pay. We, the communists and the class-oriented trade unions, PAME, call on these people and all those who can pay only by cutting back on their basic needs, the working class and the poor popular strata, all the people, to refuse to pay the heavy taxes, to impede the measures, and to pave the way for the questioning of the power of capital.

What psychological pressure is being is being put on the people by the EU?
     The government, the EU and the IMF are trying to intimidate the people, so that they accept the unending barbarity that they have in store for it and that they are already experiencing. They invoke the bankruptcy and the cessation of payments at the same time that every household of the popular strata has already gone bankrupt, unable to pay their bills.
     They talk about “lawlessness” and the “salvation or betrayal of the country”; but the salvation of a country has as its precondition that the plutocracy and not the people will go bankrupt.
     Every form of management proposal which they are calling forth concerning renegotiation, a “haircut,” the Eurobonds, aims at the salvation of capital, which the people will once again pay for at a very high price through repeated borrowing.

What has been the effect of the austerity measure on public health, public education, etc.?
     The measures, of course, have not left education or the people’s health care and welfare out of the firing line. More specifically, the government after the summer, through various legislation, has more decisively pushed forward the intervention of business in the university faculties and technical institutes, the division of faculties into different categories, and the abolition of academic asylum. The forces of repression can now intervene without interference in the university.
     At the same time, flexible labour relations are being generalised. The number of teachers at every level is being cut, as well as the provision of free books, in the name of cost-cutting. Similarly in the health sector, the closure and merger of hospitals are being generalised, as is there being handed over to big capital, the generalisation of payment for medicine, and the abolition of benefits.
     The activity of communists and the class-oriented forces in the schools, in the universities, in the hospitals and the other health centres illustrates the need to strengthen the struggle for exclusively free and public health care and education under people’s power with a socialised economy, central planning, and workers’ control.

While there have been many general strikes, they have slowed up the government but have not stopped it. Has this had an influence on the morale of the people? Has there been any development in the consciousness of the masses in relation to the crisis of the system?
     To begin with, it is positive that the twenty nationwide general strikes, the more general struggle of the workers with the KKE [Communist Party of Greece] and PAME as protagonists, delayed the anti-people measures and made life difficult for the government and the capitalists. The struggle continues to block the anti-people measures and is connected to new class struggles and the change in the correlation of forces.
     A second positive element is that, through this struggle and the processes that are under way, the prestige of the communists, the class-oriented forces and PAME—as a class pole in the labour and trade union movement, rallying federations, labour centres, trade unionists, struggle committees, and trade union groups—has grown. It is widely recognised as a stable, unwavering defender of workers, of their struggle, through common activity for the people’s alliance with radical rallies among the tradesmen and professionals, with PASEVE (the All-Greece Anti-Monopoly Rally of Tradesmen, Craftsmen, and Professionals, amongst the farmers with PASY (the All-Farmers’ Militant Rally), among students with MAS (the Students’ Struggle Front), and among the women of the popular strata with OGE (the Federation of Greek Women), for the overthrow of the power of capital.
     Today, when the dead-ends of capital are becoming more generalised, more and more workers are looking for a political way out. And it is here that the KKE intervenes by establishing that the only way for the needs of the people to be satisfied is through people’s power and the people’s economy—socialism.
     This perspective provides strength, endurance and courage and breaks disillusionment, a disillusionment created by capital’s offensive and the negative correlation of forces. The political preconditions are coming onto the agenda for their just demands to be implemented. It must be widely understood that the basic prerequisite for such demands to be secured in contemporary conditions is the change of the class that is in power.

What further initiatives is PAME planning?
     PAME in this period, with every class-oriented trade union and struggle committee in every work-place, is responsibly organising the people’s struggle for a mass and organised refusal to pay the heavy taxes, with a mass return of the payment orders back to the government. It continues the struggle for the protection of the unemployed, it organises the struggle in the hospitals, and supports the struggle of the secondary school and university students. Federations and unions of PAME continue the struggle with strikes and other mobilisations for collective and sectoral bargaining agreements.
     It is obvious that the consistent struggle that comes into conflict with the anti-people policies and strategy of capital is in confrontation with the compromised leaderships of the General Confederations which follow ITUC [International Trade Union Confederation], the stance of the other bourgeois parties and also of the opportunists of SYN (which belongs to the European Party of the Left), who accept that workers must pay the heavy taxes, or fetishise legal methods, thus endangering the militancy of the workers who angrily declare their intention not to pay the harsh tax bills.
     At the same time the activity of the class-oriented forces is strengthening, contributing to sectoral strikes such as those in public transport, and it is also preparing the ground for the strike of the workers in the public sector and the new nationwide general strike on 19 October.

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