The EU and IMF sharks have dropped their mask and revealed their real intentions, removing any illusions that an "honourable compromise" with the Greek government was somehow possible. The question is: what should be done now? What programme and policy should the SYRIZA-led government adopt in breaking with the creditors? Here we provide a statement by the Communist Tendency of SYRIZA.
The recent developments in the talks between the SYRIZA-led government and the creditors represent a key political milestone. The representatives of the creditors, in their attempt to blackmail the Greek government, have rejected the government's attempts at compromise. The stance of these loan sharks is totally unacceptable to the working people of Greece and contradicts completely the programme that SYRIZA stood on in the elections.
The demands they - the "institutions", i.e. the Troika - have posed on the government are a package of measures which would mean a relentless assault on the living standards of the working masses, who were already impoverished by the previous Memoranda measures. They are demanding: a cut in both basic and supplementary pensions; the abolition of the lower paid pensioners’ benefit; a wave of mass redundancies; a huge increase in VAT on electricity, medicines and food; and the full privatisation of DEI (the state owned electricity supplier) and the airports.
From the joint proposal of the creditors, the following policy conclusions emerge:
1) The so-called "honourable compromise" and agreement - which was supposed to be "compatible with the programme of SYRIZA", as envisioned by the government and the leadership of the party, and was also referred to completely incorrectly in public speeches by the leadership of the Left Platform - has proved to be a completely unrealistic objective. The creditors, who are behaving like loan sharks, are not only unwilling to make any substantial concessions to the government, but they clearly express their determination to politically humiliate SYRIZA and make an example of it to the working class and the Left in Europe.
Even if we assumed that the creditors in the coming period may retreat on some of the measures they have been demanding, the most that could be expected of them would be a partial compromise where the government would have to implement at least some of those same measures. In other words, at best, they would seek at least “partial humiliation" of the SYRIZA-led government. This does not constitute an honest compromise, but an absolutely dishonest and treacherous compromise of the interests of the working people of Greece.
2) These credit sharks, with their latest demands, have sent out a clear political message. The popular mandate to abolish the Memoranda and put an end to austerity - the basis upon which the government was elected on 25th January - is of no value. The demand of the creditors is that SYRIZA should buckle, suffer splits, and destroy itself, either by agreeing to enforce the merciless measures or by consenting to the formation of a new government of "national unity" with all the bourgeois pro-Memoranda parties.
3) It is now evident that the government’s hopes of a "split in the front of the creditors” were completely utopian, as was the “catalytic” role of US imperialism’s attempts to impose an “honourable compromise”. The uncompromising demands placed on the Greek government are the products of a joint agreement signed by the representatives of all the creditors, and had the full approval of the alleged "pro-Greeks" on the European Commission, together with the French and the American governments.
4) We have repeatedly stressed the point that in spite of the declared intentions of the creditors to avoid the exit of Greece from the Euro, something which would cause instability in the global economy and an intensification of economic uncertainty and the problem of debt in the Eurozone, this scenario worries them less than the political (and economic) implications that would flow from making concessions to a government whose main component is a Left party that was elected on pro-worker slogans.
5) What has been completely exposed is how hopeless and damaging it has been to maintain a policy of "negotiating", while at the same time guaranteeing regular payments on the predatory debt and not preparing the people for an alternative plan of breaking with the creditors. After months of sticking to this policy, not only have there been no real political concessions from the creditors, but even tougher measures than those demanded of the Samaras government have been put forward. This has inevitably weakened the government's position, in spite of the fact that the leadership of SYRIZA wished to avoid humiliation and being transformed into the agents of anti-worker austerity.
Having already paid approximately €7.5 billion to the creditors since the start of its mandate, the government has deprived the country of vital cash reserves that could be used as a shield for the basic needs of the people during the first, difficult period of a break with the creditors. With this policy, the government has made the break seem like a disastrous adventure in the eyes of the people and has fallen into the trap of a one-way humiliation and submission. These are the disastrous results of the social democratic shortsightedness of the present leadership of SYRIZA, which flows from their belief in the possibility of reconciling the interests of both the working people and the capitalists.
What is to be done?
What should be done now? What kind of break do we need?
To the degree that the leadership of SYRIZA sincerely wishes not to be transformed into the agents of the interests of the creditors and their allies, the Greek capitalists, it must accept that there is no choice but to break with the creditors. If the leadership does not make this break, it will become de facto “executioner” of the working people of Greece, by destroying their living standards and preparing the ground for a collapse of the mass Left party that declared that it had been founded to serve the interests of the working class. By continuing to pursue a so-called "less humiliating" agreement, and by scandalously declaring that it intends to continue with the normal payment of future instalments to the IMF, the SYRIZA leadership is creating a mood of defeatism within the masses, with a disastrous impact on the prestige and influence of SYRIZA, and this can only lead to complete submission and surrender.
Ever since its foundation, the Communist Tendency has been explaining patiently that a break with the creditors is neither an "ideological obsession" on our part, nor an alternative “plan B” in case of an "emergency", but is a basic requirement for the survival of the working class and the poor. An immediate default and the cancelling of the predatory debt - created by the wastage, parasitism and corruption of Greek capitalism, and enormously expanded by the international capitalist crisis - is a prerequisite to pursuing a policy of defending the living standards of working people, compatible with the election programme and the commitments of SYRIZA.
However, in order to enable a break with the creditors. and to pave the way for a decisive and consistent improvement in the living standards of the working people, such a break with the creditors must also be accompanied with a break with the economic and political power of capital itself, i.e. it should be combined with the application of an anti-capitalist, socialist programme.
Ideological obsession or objective necessity?
The reason for this has nothing to do with some kind of communist "ideological obsession". It is an absolute necessity if we wish to protect ordinary working people from the inevitable war that would be unleashed against SYRIZA immediately after a default, when the the international creditors and their capitalist allies in the country would attempt to strangle the country by refusing any further credit.
In implementing such a necessary programme, the socialisation of the banking system would need to be consolidated into a 100% state-owned central bank under workers’ control, to protect the deposits of small savers and to ensure the conversion of the banks from tools in the hands of parasitic speculators and blackmailers of the people into a tool of financing and designing a socially beneficial economic development.
The 500 largest companies in manufacturing, construction, services and trade, along with all transport and mineral wealth, should also be nationalised, together with big land ownership and Church and monastic property, and be placed under a central and democratically controlled economic plan by the organisations of the working class, which will invest in the creation of thousands of new jobs and supply the government with the necessary resources to finance the improvement of the living standards of working people.
The nationalisation of the 500 largest companies in the country, which according to data of the recent report by ICAP have increased their assets in the five years of the crisis, would be essential to the economic viability of the country during the first phase after a break with the creditors, where difficulties would inevitably occur in importing needed goods. Only if the economic power of the parasites of big business is removed can a genuine policy of "equitable redistribution" of wealth be brought about.
For a socialist break with the capitalist sharks!
To find the necessary resources that would guarantee the living conditions of the working class, a number of additional radical measures against capital and wealth would also be needed, such as: the imposition of workers' control over businesses that have been involved in tax evasion; the heavy taxation of large deposits and big properties; the introduction of the concept that state employees and officials should get a maximum salary no higher than a skilled industrial worker; and the setting in motion of a serious deep-going investigation into the costs of the state apparatus, to be carried out by elected committees from the mass workers’ organisations.
To thwart any attempts to undermine and overthrow the government, a radical re-structuring of the army and the security forces would have to be carried out, with the removal of all authoritarian and obscure mechanisms operating within them, and with their management being placed under the democratic control of the mass workers’ organisations. The nationalisation and freeing up of the media from the control of the capitalist oligarchy is also a crucial issue, and these media resources would have to be made available for the associations and organisations of working people.
The immediate and obvious condition for the implementation of such a policy of a socialist breaking with the creditors would include the following: the abolition, through the fastest means possible, of the Memoranda and all connected laws; exit from the Eurozone and the adoption of a new national currency; exit from the EU, which is founded on prohibitive and anti-socialist mechanisms, treaties and agreements; and withdrawal from NATO, a military alliance that is there to defend the interests of western imperialism which the labour movement is opposed to.
If the leadership of SYRIZA believes itself to be genuinely of the radical left and sincerely wish to contribute to the defence of the people against the endless blackmail and humiliation imposed by the creditors, they should adopt a policy of breaking with the creditors as outlined above, and appeal to the workers in Greece and Europe to actively mobilise in support of such measures. They should issue a public appeal to the workers of Europe, sending out representatives to speak at special pan-European meetings and conferences in defence of Greece's socialist breaking away and for a European-wide struggle for socialism.
Support the Communist Tendency of SYRIZA!
The leadership needs to draw the conclusion that it is time to put an end to all the reassuring words and wishes, all the diplomacy, that are aimed at depicting the situation as being better than it is. They must adopt a revolutionary socialist policy. If they do not do this, they will inevitably end up being responsible for the crushing of the living standards of working people, and for the humiliation and fragmentation of the party.
The working class has fully understood the lessons of reality during this recent period. If, instead, they were to see a determined leadership defending a worked out plan of breaking with the creditors to improve their lives, they would mobilise actively on a massive scale, directly intervening in the conflict with the blackmailing creditors and the "internal troika".
The first step in the realisation of such a plan would require breaking the alliance with ANEL (the Independent Greeks), that small but demagogic and nationalist party of capital, and calling for a coalition government and parliamentary support with the only natural, class and political ally of SYRIZA: the KKE. If the leadership of the Communist Party were to refuse even a vote of confidence for such a policy of socialist rupture on the part of the SYRIZA government, then the only way would be to call new elections to campaign for such a programme of socialist rupture. If, however, the present leadership calls new elections at the present time, on the basis of their confused illusions in capitalism and of a so-called "honourable compromise" with the creditors, such elections would be transformed into a political act of avoiding the real battle and would prepare the ground for a humiliating compromise based on a fresh popular mandate.
The leadership of SYRIZA has demonstrated concretely that they are unwilling to embark on the necessary political road of breaking with the extortionist creditors and the "internal Troika". The leadership of the Left Platform, supported by leading figures of the party such as Zoe Konstantopoulou, Manolis Glezos, Sofia Sakorafa, George Milios, etc., already opposed the humiliating agreement of 20th February and have expressed disagreement with the compromising policy of the leadership. They have a duty today to lead the political campaign for the necessary break with the creditors.
An immediate extraordinary congress of the party should be called to allow the rank and file of SYRIZA to express its democratic will and actively engage in the discussion of an alternative policy of breaking with the creditors, and to involve those thousands of progressive elements who are active in the labour movement, the youth and the Left, who until now have been reluctant to get organised in the party. This is the way to enforce the necessary socialist turn within SYRIZA, after the recent period in which harmful reformist illusions have dominated.
The Communist Tendency will fight with all its forces for the victory of the necessary policy of a socialist break with the creditors. It is in fact the only tendency that defends a comprehensive political project of socialist rupture, and has established a position among the best fighters of the Left in SYRIZA as a consistent voice of revolutionary Marxism within the party - the only realistic policy to provide an escape for working people from the tunnel of misery of the Memoranda. It is vital in the present critical political conditions that the voice of the Communist Tendency is strengthened and reaches every corner of the country; every regional organisation of SYRIZA and the youth organisation of SYRIZA; every workplace, every neighbourhood. When the leaders fail to carry out the requirement programme and policy, then it is up to rank and file to make sure that they do.
Comrades who agree with the need for such a socialist rupture and want to fight in an organised manner to achieve it, you have at your disposal an important political tool, the Communist Tendency of SYRIZA!