National Sections of the L5I:

Greece: How can the workers and youth win? Tactical and strategic questions of the Greek revolution

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As the movement in Greece against police violence grows and the Greek government is in danger of being toppled, the League for the Fifth International looks at how a victory for socialism could come out of the recent events.

1. A pre-revolutionary situation has developed in Greece. The right wing government of Kostas Karamanlis was already wracked by crisis because of a number of corruption scandals and faced growing resistance from workers and young people. Students in schools and universities have, since 2006, been engaged in a series of campaigns against neoliberal ?reforms? in education - part of a Europe-wide privatisation offensive (?the Bologna process?), which has led to demonstrations most recently in Italy but also in Germany, Spain and France. For their part the unions had called a general strike for December 12.

2. Thus the murder of 15-year-old school student, Alexandros Grigoropoulos, by Greek police on December 6 proved to be the spark that set off a tremendous social explosion The militant revolt of students and the youth, drew widespread sympathy and support from workers and the poor and has led to days of mass demonstrations and the occupation of hundreds of schools and universities. The right wing government of N?a Dimokrat?a, a party originating in an alliance stretching from liberals to monarchists ?has become hated as a result of its vicious neo-liberal and capitalist politics. ND is the mainstream bourgeois party that led Greece into the EU and the Euro-zone. It is responsible for policies, which have led to mass impoverishment of the working class, youth and social decline even for large sections of the middle strata and petit bourgeoisie.

3. For a long period, this has been accompanied by daily police repression and intimidation, especially targeting young people and immigrants. The murder of Alexis was not an ?exception?, but the culmination and extreme expression of the daily harassment which young Greeks suffer - and against which they are now rebelling in their hundreds of thousands.

4. Even if the explosive material behind the uprising was long accumulated anger against a reactionary, pro-business and corrupt government, it is a product of the world economic crisis, which has hit Greece particularly hard. Greece is the first country in Europe where the economic crisis has triggered a situation where the question of power is posed, the question of who rules the country, in short, where the class struggle has entered a pre-revolutionary situation.

5. Of course, the government is doing all it can to derail this situation by a combination of a ?strategy of tension? on the one hand and incorporation on the other; tension, since it wants it wants to drive a wedge between ?anarchists? and ?autonomists? ? in reality meaning the whole of the enraged youth ? and the working class by calling on the parliamentary opposition (PASOK, KKE, SYRIZA) and the unions to condemn the ?violence?, i.e. the resistance of the youth to the police.

6. Obviously, PASOK is perfectly prepared to enter negotiations, if they lead to a peaceful, i.e. parliamentary change of government ? be it a PASOK-government, a grand coalition between ND and itself, under the label of ?change?-or a ?government of national unity?. The trade union bureaucrats had already showed their preparedness to block with the government when they toyed with the idea of calling off the general strike on December 12.

7. This not only proves the treacherous character of the trade union bureaucracies and the bourgeois character of PASOK ? it also opens a way to the government for ?another option? ? i.e. a turn towards more severe repression including the utilisation of armed right wing and fascist organisations in co-operation with the police (as was the case in Patras).

8. Not only PASOK and the union bureaucracy, but also the Stalinist reformist KKE have taken a disgraceful stance. They refused to join in the demonstrations with the youth and other left wing forces. They even denounced the ?violence? of the youth, branding them as ?Taliban? and equating them with the violence of the state forces.

9. SYRIZA ? a coalition of forces ranging from left-reformist Synaspismos to far left Trotskyist centrist and Maoist groupings ? has taken a more progressive role, siding with the youth and mobilizing for the demonstrations. But Synaspismos essentially also calls for? ?peaceful? and ?democratic? (i.e. a reformist) solution to the crisis, in short for new parliamentary elections.

10. The fact that general strike took place on December 12 and that it led to mass demonstrations in Athens and other towns, even though the union leaders wanted to prevent this, demonstrates that the masses are on the offensive in the current situation. Also, another general strike has been called for the December 18 by the rank and file mobilisations in the universities and schools, by left wing working class organisations and many organisations of the far left.

11. But such a situation, where power lies on the streets, will not last forever. Indeed, it may not last for much longer. What is needed is a rapid mobilisation of the masses to develop the current pre-revolutionary situation into a fully revolutionary one.

12. For this it is essential to generalise and unite the movement around a political aim, around a political strategy and goal: this is overthrow of the Karamanlis government ? this must be the central uniting demand of the existing movement. To achieve this will require an all out, indefinite, general strike, not only to bring down the government but also to replace it with a workers? government composed of the left wing organisations, the workers? parties and the trade unions. For such a government not to be simply another bourgeois government it would have to come under the control of, and be made accountable to, the fighting organs created to organize and lead such a strike in the factories, the offices, the towns and districts ? i.e. councils of action.

13. Probably, embryonic forms of such councils are already in existence or are about to be created amongst sectors, particular amongst the youth. Such fighting organs, councils of action, have to be built throughout the country, in all the workplaces, offices, estates, small towns and villages. They have to elect accountable and recallable delegates. These have in turn to build regional and national council of the workers, the youth and all the other non-exploiting classes (small peasants, middle strata). Such a nationwide council needs to become the organising centre of the masses, a coordinator of the Greek revolution and an organ that can act as an alternative centre of power, opposed to the government and the parliament.

14. In the current period, the question of the indefinite general strike assumes a major importance. Why? Firstly, to unite the whole working class, the students, the school students and even large sections of the middle strata and petit-bourgeoisie against the government; and, secondly, in order to weaken the forces of reaction and prevent them resuming the offensive. Thirdly, in order to build fighting organizations that can hold to account, and replace, the miserable leaderships of the unions and also develop organs of power to challenge the state.

15. The call for a general strike has to be combined with the call for, and the building of, organisations to defend the universities and the youth against the police and reactionary gangs, but also to defend the strike itself and other forms of mass action. The example of Patras, where the police collaborated with right wing and fascist organisations to attack students and youth, shows what the ruling class is up to. It will not refrain from declaring state of emergency, from using fascists, the police, or even the military, against not only the youth, but the working class as a whole as well. It will do so the moment it feels mass reactionary forces are willing to take to the streets.

16. The youth and other activists in Patras rightly not only fought back against the police and right wing attack, but also went onto the offensive, storming and burning down police stations. They showed that many activists and fighters are seeing the need to defend themselves against the state apparatus and, indeed, to disarm it, if they want to achieve their political and social aims, if they want to prevent further police terror against the youth, if they want to force the cost of the capitalist crisis onto the ruling class.

17. But Patras and the riots also demonstrate that the fight back has to be organised it if it wants go beyond local, but ultimately uncoordinated, clashes. It has to be turned into organised self-defence. The calls for disarming of the police /(and the actual disarming itself) have to be combined with calls on the lower ranks in the police (and also in the army) to refuse to attack the youth and the people. Such calls are necessary to weaken and break the command chain in the bourgeois repressive apparatus ? a necessary element of any strategy to seize working class power. Moreover, the self-defence organisations have to be accountable and led by democratic councils of the workers, the youth, the poor.

18. The general strike, the self-defence, the disarming of the police etc. are not only designed to disorganise the order of the ruling class ? they have to be combined with the creation of a new order, an order of the working class. Their goal has to be the overthrow not only of the government, but of the whole ruling class it represents and the creation of a workers? government, which can solve the tremendous social and economic crisis that gave birth to the youth uprising and opened a pre-revolutionary situation.

19. The programme of such a government must include:

- Bringing to book all those responsible for terrorising of the youth, migrants and other criminal actions by the state organs (e.g. kidnapping of political activists from other countries). This would obviously mean to bring the police, its officers, but also responsible government ministers, the secret services etc. to court ? not before their class brothers, the bourgeois judges ? but to peoples? tribunals.

- It would include the disarming of the police, the disbanding of the secret police, of special ?anti riot? units, the replacing of the standing army by a workers? and youth militia. It would mean scrapping all involvement in the wars of NATO, the EU, the imperialists, all military pacts, and the immediate recall of all the troops in foreign countries.

- It would mean implementing a working class programme against the crisis, which takes up the most important demands to improve the lives of workers, the youth, the poor.

This will include:

? Scrapping of all the anti-working class and anti-youth legislation of the current government; scrapping of all rises in taxation for the workers, the poor, the peasants, the urban petit-bourgeoisie and middle strata, replacing them by a massive taxation on the income and property of the rich;
? nationalisation of all the banks and insurance houses, the stock markets in Greece (i.e. also the deposits of foreign capitals), their centralisation into one bank under workers? control;
? stopping of all privatisations, the nationalisation without compensation of all the large scale private capitals and all those companies threatening to sack workers or cut their conditions;
? a national minimum wage and national minimum pensions, unemployment benefits and maintenance grants for the students at levels set by workers? and youth movements organs; a sliding scale of wages and income (pensions etc.) against the effects of price rises;
? cutting of the working week and working hours without loss of pay and in order to bring back unemployed to work;
? a programme of public works under workers? control, in order to secure work, but also to rebuild and improve housing, infrastructure etc. according to the needs of people and the environment; addressing the grievances of non-working class poor and the classes hit hard by the crisis (peasants, fishermen, small shop keepers and artisans, etc.).

20. Such a programme would be designed to solve the current crisis in a revolutionary way, to open the way for the seizure of working class power in Greece. Such a programme is necessary in order to give a working class answer to the crisis on the political and economic level. This is necessary since, in a pre-revolutionary (or for that matter also in a revolutionary situation), there are only two ways to ?solve? the crisis:

a) The victory of counter-revolution, ranging from an overt repressive form (like the declaration of a state of emergency by Karmanlis) to a newly elected ?reform? and ?social? government of PASOK, backed by the trade union leaders and, maybe, by KKE and/or Synaspismos. Neither type of government would touch the rule of the capitalist class, they would, in one way or another, try to split the movement against the government, repress some, integrate others. In any case, such an outcome would mean that the ruling class could try to offload the cost of the crisis onto the masses, restoring capitalist law and order.

b) The victory of the revolution, the revolutionary overthrow of the government via a general strike and the creation of a workers? government ? a government that will reorganise economic, social and political life in the interest of the vast majority.

21. The pre-revolutionary character of the period has also been testified by a move to the left by many far left organizations in Greece (KOE, signatories of joint statement of anticapitalists like OKDE or OKDE-Spartakos or the Socialist Workers? Party) and indeed by left wing forces across Europe as witnessed by the various solidarity statements with the Greek struggle.

22. A number of far left organisations ? namely the signatories of the call and the KOE ? recognise the struggle must be directed against the government, they call for the disarming of the police and the overthrow of the government; they call for the actions to be turned into a popular revolt and a general strike and that communists must give leadership to the rebellion of the youth and the working class. However, they do not address the question of what to replace it with and how to do so in revolutionary way - i.e. workers? government, arming of the people etc. Nevertheless, the common call of the anti-capitalists, and the statements of KOE, signal that there are left-ward moving centrist forces who try to address the questions of overthrowing the government via an intensification of the class struggle and move towards revolutionary answers.

23. We want to encourage these steps forward without hiding our criticisms and differences, but also without hesitation: We propose to these organisations that the current situation demands that they should unite around a programme for the conquest of working class power, a programme of transitional demands ? forming a revolutionary workers? party of the youth and working class militants, who can give a lead to the Greek revolution.

24. Most (if not all?) of these organisations are part of the SYRIZA. Whilst we agree that the question of revolutionary strategy has to be brought into SYRIZA ? it has to be done so in order to break the rank and file workers and youth of Synaspismos from their reformist leadership, i.e. preparing the separation from the alliance on the crucial questions of reform or revolution. In the current situation and coming period, the crucial question posed is the building of a revolutionary party of the working class, of a vanguard party, which is politically clearly differentiated and separated from the reformist organisations and alliances, so that the working class and the youth can see its banner, its strategy and tactics operating in the open.

25. The developments in Greece and the question of leadership and the revolutionary combat party posed in acute urgency is not only a ?Greek question? ? it is an international one. What we see in Greece today is probably the most advanced class struggle situation we have seen in Western Europe since the 1970s. Moreover, as the 12 million strong general strike in Italy showed, Greece is not an isolated or ?exceptional? event, but the fore-runner of great events to come. Also the French government has postponed the introduction of bourgeois education reforms in fear of another round of CPE-protest and the Greek revolt spreading to France. The European bourgeoisie smells and fears the taste for the socialist revolution spreading across the whole of the continent.

26. The creation of a workers? government based on workers? councils and a programme as outlined above, would not only open the path for the socialist revolution in Greece but also spread the struggle to the whole continent. Indeed, it would require it, since, whilst the socialist revolution could begin with the seizure of power, socialism cannot be achieved in Greece or in any other country on its own. Indeed, the struggle in Greece has to be, and is, linked already to the whole struggle in Europe and internationally against the crisis, against the increased threat of imperialist war, racist immigration regimes and the further and further impoverishment of the masses. The socialist revolution in Greece has to be linked to the fight for the European revolution, a Socialist United States of Europe and the struggle for the world revolution.

26. If the ruling classes recognise the international significance and character of the Greek revolution, we ? the working class and the youth - must as well and with much more determination.
This means that we have to pledge ourselves to organise solidarity action with the youth and working class.
It means building direct links and exchanges with the militants involved, discussing and learning from the questions of the Greece revolution.

27. It also means that ? just as in Greece ? we have to address the question of building a revolutionary party not only on a national basis, but as an international party. The League for the Fifth International believes that all the anti-capitalist, socialist, fighting working class forces in Greece, in Europe and internationally, should convene an international conference to discuss how to respond to the crisis politically, how to fight for an international programme against the capitalist crisis and against capitalism itself, how to build a new revolutionary working class International.