speech by Dimitris Mitropoulos, member of the leading body of Polular Unity at the Second Assembly of the CLN (Confederation for National Liberation), 1-3 September 2017, Chianciano Terme
The first question we need to address is which the elements that compose the current image and describe the developments in Greece are.
First, for many decades Greece will be the EU‘s contemporary colony of debt.
The recent deal between the Greek government and the Troika has not made any decision on the Greek debt, while at the same time it anticipates a yearly surplus rate between 2,5 and 3,5% until 2060, in order to save the necessary resources for the repayment of a debt that has mainly been created by the banks themselves and has been magnified for the sake of their survival.
This means an endless austerity, though lower than the one that we have experienced during the last 7 years. But in any case is an austerity built on the ruins of an economy that has lost 25% of its GDP.
The main victim of austerity is the welfare state: the schools, the hospitals and the security forces. This lack of personnel and infrastructure was also proven in the latest summer’s forest fires. 3 airplanes tried to put out more than 80 fires all over Greece. Many others could not fly because the state would not invest money on their technical maintenance.
It’s clear that as a result of the ongoing austerity, Greece gradually tends to become a failed state.
Moreover, a contemporary colony of debt means at the same time a reduced national and popular sovereignty.
Greece will be under an ongoing supervision for almost 40 years, a supervision that is going to be harder than the one provisioned by the Stability pact for the rest of the eurozone’s country members. The reason is because the fiscal requirements will be stricter for the sake of the surpluses and that the Greek debt is unsustainable.
The markets will punish the slightest derogation from the repayment of the debt with increased interest rates. The danger of a new blockage from the markets and new memoranda will function as a permanent and almost automatic mechanism of supervision and discipline.
Nevertheless, Tsipras will have the opportunity to present a new success story, equal to the one that Samaras had presented in 2015: a slight development for the first time after 8 years of recession, accompanied by an agreement for the repayment of the debt after the German elections, especially for the years 2021- 2024, when the expiring bonds will exceed the capabilities of the economy, even if we had a yearly surplus of 5-6%.
In this way, Tsipras will try to preserve himself during the next elections, after one- one and a half years. But the key point here is that the government has in fact prolonged the imposition of this neo-colonial regime until 2060.
Second, a basic characteristic of the contemporary Greek reality is a peculiar social-national depression after the defeat of the anti-memorandum movement in 2015.
The expanding poverty, the dead ends that many families face as a result of the high levels of unemployment or the increased taxation meet the general lack of a future positive perspective.
The Greek people feel frustrated with the EU but do not believe that there is a solution. Several polls have shown a positive attitude towards a political proposal that would take the country outside the Eurozone. But they don’t believe that there is a force that could reliably lead the country without throwing it into chaos.
The annexation of Tsipras in 2015 has not only brought a new Memorandum of austerity. Its main consequence has been the defeat of the spirit of a small people that had the courage to say “No” to the markets and to the anti-democratic monster of the EU.
It made the people believe that there is no way out and no solution away from the embarrassing supervision and the permanent austerity. In this way everyone tries individually to get accustomed to such a living.
Furthermore, it has caused the humiliation of the left. Twenty five years after the fall of USSR, during the years of 2010-2015, the case of Greece was the opportunity of the European left to regain its lost reliability, to fight imperialism and retrieve the national dignity and the popular sovereignty against the projects of imperialistic integrations like the EU but in favor of the peoples.
This is Tsipra’s biggest crime, not the neoliberal policies he has implemented. In 2015 the Greek people were in revolt, ready to give fights and collide. Today, the same people are embarrassed and disappointed.
The third element is a political system between ridiculousness and decadency. SYRIZA and New democracy address each other as if they were in the ring, only to create a fake polarization on unimportant issues such us the place where each political leader has spent his holidays, or if the high school students should pray before the start of the lessons or not.
At the same time, they almost completely agree on privatizations, destabilization of labor rights, pension system cuts, external, pro-NATO and pro- Israel relations of the country. The Right wing never gives up the opportunity to accelerate the neoliberal counter-revolution to the limits, given that it has such an opponent as SYRIZA. It deploys an anti-communist rhetoric and adopts extreme positions, such us supporting for example the privatization of forests or the abolition of all the antineoliberal restrictions for the companies that want to invest in Greece.
As a result of all these we are talking about a political system that alienates the people and especially the youth from politics. That’s because all these fights in the parliament and in the media has nothing to do with solutions to the severe problems such us the unemployment, the unbearable taxation, the low wages, the destruction of the healthcare system, the existence of a parliament that simply votes for what the creditors request.
Given the above, which are the duties of the left and the resisting forces?
We are in a different era, we face the end of an era. During the previous years, from 2010 to 2015, the fight against the Memoranda has been the one uniting the people and amplifying the antitheses with the EU and the oligarchy.
Today this is not the fact anymore and the reality is the one described above. We need new initiatives and a great effort to reconstruct the Greek popular movement.
First, we need a new process of unity among the anti-neoliberal space, the left and the wider democratic space that will agree that anti-neoliberalism without a plan for an exit from the EU and the Eurozone, without the reclamation of the national and popular sovereignty cannot exist. As LAE (Popular Unity) we are willing to take such initiatives, together with other political forces.
Second, we need a plan of social mobilization. No political development is ever possible without the resistance movements. Within 2017 the government has already proceeded to the selling of the port of Thessaloniki. Other privatizations are going on. The auction of popular houses by the banks is also about to happen. Companies and manufactures are also being sold to multinational companies. The privatizations fund held by Troika will supervise the Greek property for 99 years! The whole country is being sold. So this is the basic axis for the resistance movement.
Third, we need a direct popular program of claim and change. The three basic elements of our program (cessation of debt payments, exit from the Eurozone, nationalization of the banks) always remain our lap but the people does not pose today the question of the exit so they are not enough.
We need an immediate program of popular claims regarding the wages, the pensions, the labor rights, a program of invigoration for the welfare state, a program to regain our national and popular sovereignty from Brussels and Berlin.
Fourth, all the above will be useless if we forget that the basic problem of the left after 2015 is its lack of reliability. The Greek people today puts its trust into no one, are suspicious with all political forces after being deceived by SYRIZA. They believe that the left is verbalistic but in practice they acts exactly the same as the neoliberals.
Consequently, unity around a specific program is not enough. Without a program we are heading to opportunism and without unity we cannot be effective and we should always keep these two in mind. But at the same time we have to understand that the main problem for the Greek left is the lack of our reliability, and this is not something that we can easily reclaim from disappointed people.
The Communist Party does not bother to deal with these issues. It feels satisfied having a percentage around 5-6%, mostly due to its history. In reality, it abstains from the political struggle. It rejects any cooperation, it poses the agreement on socialism as a precondition, it underestimated the struggle for national independence.
The majority of Antarsya, has already made it clear that there is no space for political cooperation. Two years ago their excuse was that we as LAE are not clearly against the EU. After our national assembly, when we made our pro-EU-exit position clear, the excuse was that we do not fight against capitalism.
The reality of the Greek left makes our job more difficult and increases the unreliable image of the left. But the problem is not only unity. This is actually only one aspect of it. The other is the way we make politics. Let us see how Podemos, La France Insoumise or Grillo, beside our differences, have covered the political space and managed to create a political dynamic. There was a potential, but it has not been covered by the forces of the revolutionary left. Why is this?
Allow me to make three observations that we consider at the same time as crucial for Greece, in our attempt to answer the question, what comes after SYRIZA.
First, there is no political force that can intervene politically from a left-progressive side without posing the central issue of the EU. That means posing the deterioration of the national and the popular sovereignty. The European left pretends to be deaf when it comes to this.
Today, we desperately need an alliance against the EU, accompanied by a plan for the reclamation of our national currency.
Second, it is not only the workers that are affected by the process of the neoliberal globalization and the EU. Let us see what has happened to the EU itself within the crisis.
The employees have lost, the middle strata have lost, but at the same time whole countries have been degraded by German capital and the markets. There is space left to build a wide alliance among the “losers of the globalization”.
We do not talking about a left or an anticapitalist alliance with a direct target towards socialism but for an alliance of democratic forces focusing on the fight against the contemporary imperialism and having at their core the issue of sovereignty in the framework of the nation-state, which has been lost into uncontrollable centers and international organizations.
This is even more important for the states of the south. The relationship between the solution of the problem of gaining sovereignty and the fight against capitalism is obvious. Let us just see the cases of Greece or even Venezuela.
Third, the old-fashioned political discourse and habits are not functional today. New faces, a reliable leadership, new figures and an easier language are necessary in order to make contact with the so-called losers of the globalization. If the left keeps moving as usual, there will be other forces that will cover the political space.
This is the discussion that should open in Greece today, in order to start creating a new liberating political subject, not just a recycling of the old leadership and personalities of the past SYRIZA.
The historical analogies are not always successful. But since this year we celebrate the 100 years of the October revolution, let us remember that the defeat of 1905 was followed a long period of disappointment and retreat of the popular movement.
We can wait for 12 years. But it is even better if we start working from now on to organize the political subject of our needs, to liberate our country, a country-colony of debt. As Popular Unity, we are going to work on this purpose.