21centurymanifesto has been particularly active, as an act of solidarity, in presenting to a global English speaking readership the reports and analyses of the Greek communists and thus we are grateful to comrade Lefteris Nikolaou of the KKE for his response to our posting. which is carried below.
We will, in time, invite further contributions to a moderated discussion on the strategic questions raised.
The struggle of the KKE
A British-based website recently published a long article by Andrew Murray, a cadre of the trade union and anti-war movement in Britain, which engages with the recent election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party and evaluates this as a positive development, deals with issues related to the immediate tasks of the British labour movement in the light of his election and presents his thoughts about the trajectory of the developments.
We disagree with the central axis of the positions contained in the article. We consider that this analysis of the role of social-democracy is damaging to the labour movement and we will present the positions of the KKE in the framework of a wider and important ongoing political debate.
However, we note that the author of the article in order to support his arguments attempts to utilize the experience of the developments in Greece. Unfortunately he engages in an analysis of the role of the political forces that is not grounded in reality, detaching them from their relationship with the bourgeois class, the bourgeois state, the EU, the capitalist system. Even worse he resorts to making a baseless attack against the KKE.
We are talking about unfounded and unjustified attack with the use of slanderous characterizations, concealing the role of the KKE in the labour-people’s movement, distorting basic elements of its political line and attempting to interpret the electoral results of the KKE in an arbitrary fashion and with a rationale permeated by parliamentarianism and parliamentary illusions.
We are saddened because this article misleads the workers, popular forces and youth and gives a false picture about the situation in Greece and the KKE. We are saddened, but we will insist on keeping the ideological-political debate at a high level and providing information about the political line of the KKE in a responsible fashion.
FIRSTLY, The KKE is represented in the National Parliament with 15 MPs and in the EU Parliament with 2 MEPs, who are in the service of the workers’-people’s interests and support the struggle of the communists and class-oriented movement in the workplaces and popular neighbourhoods.
This is where the strength of the KKE is to be found. In the trade unions, in the farmers’ associations, in the associations of the self-employed, the school-student councils, the student unions, the women’s associations, in the committees of the anti-imperialist/peace movement etc.
We could mention that the class-oriented forces have acquired a significant position inside the organized labour movement, especially in the private sector. The class-oriented movement (PAME) has over 22% of the votes in the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE). The class-oriented forces have the absolute majority in dozens of federations and labour centres, in hundreds of local unions… and of course a much stronger position than the forces of the governing SYRIZA party that in practice collaborate with trade union forces of PASOK, and in many instances with those of ND, in order to attack PAME and the KKE.
The same is true in the student movement.
The lists supported by the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) receive over 20% in the student union elections and have the majority or the first position in a significant number of student unions, in comparison to SYRIZA which has about 7%.
This is one aspect of the reality.
There is also another important aspect. In the period when this article with its anti-KKE barbs was published, our party was fighting to organize mass mobilizations all over Greece against the offensive of capital, the EU and the social-democratic SYRIZA-ANEL government which passed (with the votes of ND and PASOK as well)the third and harshest memorandum.
On the 22nd of October PAME organized mass demonstrations in over 60 towns.
In addition communists have played the leading role during this period in mobilizations in workplaces, industrial sectors, in the mobilizations of farmers, school and university students, people with special needs, in interventions to support the refugees and immigrants, in the initiatives of EEDYE against NATO and the imperialist interventions and wars. Interventions that occur on a daily basis.
The communists are in the frontline of all these efforts, the decisive force in organizing the struggle that culminated in the general strike on the 12th of November. A strike that was organized in the face of employer intimidation, the hostility of the fascist “Golden Dawn” gang, in the face of the efforts of SYRIZA and other bourgeois parties to undermine it.
A strike that was carried out in opposition to employer and government-led trade unionism and the reformists, who did not lift a finger to organize this struggle.
The strike shut down hundreds of businesses, factories, ships, services. Dozens of strike demonstrations were organized with the participation of thousands of striking workers in Athens, Thessalonica, Piraeus, Patras, in over 70 other towns.
This brief synopsis of some of the party’s activity in the recent period demonstrates that accusations about the “blustering immobility” of the KKE are slanderous.
SECOND, social-democracy has been tried and tested in Europe and in other parts of the world, both in government and in opposition.
Even in periods characterized by the rapid growth of the capitalist economy and when in previous decades the system had more room to make concessions, it proved to be a decisive manager of capitalism.
In reality, it constitutes a basic pillar for the management of the exploitative capitalist system (alternating with liberal parties). It demonstrably defends the interests of capital and is a dangerous and cunning opponent of the working class and popular strata, because it uses misleading slogans, it plays the “anti-right game” and has the ability to co-opt popular forces into supporting the aims of the bourgeoisie.
This is undeniable and is a conclusion drawn from the experience of Greece, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and other European countries, as well as of countries in Latin America etc.
The basic axes of its political line are the perpetuation of the power of the monopolies, the strengthening of the bourgeois state as an apparatus for the exploitation, for the oppression of the working class by the bourgeoisie-as well as the maintenance and strengthening of capitalist ownership of the means of production, the assimilation of countries in the imperialist European Union or inter-state capitalist unions in other regions.
The experience of the CPs’ participation in or support for “left”, “progressive” governments in cooperation with social-democracy is painful. It led to the assimilation and opportunist mutation of CPs. Because these governments undertook the responsibility for implementing anti-worker measures and were on the receiving end of the discontent of working class and popular forces, which then led to the return to government of conservative, rightwing forces.
In all these instances, what we witnessed was a retreat of the labour movement and the entrapment of working class forces in the aims of capital. The level of the workers’ demands fell. This was demonstrated by the self-declared “left” governments in France, Italy, Cyprus, Denmark and other countries.
We do not judge the intentions of CPs that take part in these formations. We are talking about the laws of capitalism, development based on the profit criterion, participation in the imperialist unions (NATO, the EU etc.) and the damage done to the working class through the fostering of illusions. Illusions which the labour movement has paid a high price for and which serve the system (via “progressive” governments) by allowing it to buy time and blunt the people’s discontent and thus perpetuate its power.
THIRD, in recent years with the emergence of SYRIZA, Podemos, the change of leadership of the British Labour Party and the more general adaptations carried out by social-democracy, there is an attempt underway to present it as an alternative, radical and pro-people solution.
This development must not be met with complacency because it constitutes the basis for the mass manipulation of popular forces and poses major risks. The developments in Greece are a characteristic example of this.
SYRIZA has opportunist roots and was strengthened during the capitalist crisis in the framework of the major erosion of support for social-democratic PASOK and liberal ND and was chosen as an effective manager of the system by powerful sections of the Greek bourgeoisie, supported by leading circles in the USA, France, Italy etc. in the framework of the inter-imperialist antagonisms.
It utilized the people’s opposition to the anti-worker memoranda of ND and PASOK. It trapped the workers inside the false dilemmas of the “memorandum-antimemorandum” rationale, concealing the fact that the memoranda are part of capital’s more general strategy, of the EU’s strategy.
It used promises about providing relief measures for the popular households, about increasing wages and pensions, bringing back collective labour agreements, abolishing anti-people measures, reducing taxation etc.
In reality, it was transformed into a social-democratic party and with its ascendance to government (in cooperation with the nationalist ANEL party) it has been demonstrated in practice to be a supporter of the anti-people memoranda of ND and PASOK and in collaboration with these parties imposed the third and cruelest memorandum on our people.
After the elections in September 2015, which it won by utilizing the rationale of the “lesser evil” and a “second chance”, it is escalating the anti-people offensive. It is keeping all the antiworker-antipeople measures in place, it is imposing unbearably high levels of taxation, it is abolishing social-security rights and reducing social spending.
At the same time, it is imposing measures that are driving the small and medium farmers off the land. It is in essence also removing restrictions on home foreclosures and is providing new privileges for big capital and funding to the bankers worth billions of Euros.
The foreign policy of the “leftwing” SYRIZA government is even more dangerous. Because it assimilates the country even deeper inside NATO and the EU It maintains the existing US-NATO military bases, is committed to providing new ones and is making existing bases and infrastructure available for the imperialist interventions and wars in the region. While in the recent period it is utilizing repression against strikes and popular mobilizations.
This is the situation in Greece and those parties (abroad) that misinformed the workers, prettified and supported the anti-people political line of SYRIZA bear enormous responsibilities. After the signing of the 3rd memorandum this misinformation continued in the form of support for the “Popular Unity” party, comprised of cadres who were part of SYRIZA’s leading core and who bear responsibilities for its anti-people political line and for the attempt to manipulate the workers with various vague slogans regarding the management of the system. We are referring to slogans such as development in favour of the people and an exit from the Euro, while maintaining the power of capital and capitalist ownership.
FOURTH, In June 2012, in the conditions of SYRIZA’s electoral rise, the emergence of the so-called “left solution” and the support provided to it by many mechanisms of the bourgeois state, in an environment shaped by the orchestrated dissemination of false hopes and expectations, the KKE resisted this direction on the basis of communist principles.
It refused to participate in any bourgeois government to manage the system. It informed the people about the necessity of a strong workers’-people’s opposition and despite the fact that its electoral strength was reduced (in June 2012), the KKE continued its militant course, won over new forces in the labour-people’s movement, recovered some of its electoral losses and is today in a stronger position to conduct the struggles.
The stable stance, the predictions, the positions of the KKE have been vindicated and reality itself has confirmed the class essence of the recomposition of the political scene and the creation of the monstrosity of fascist Golden Dawn, the anti-people trajectory of the bourgeois parties, the dangerous role of the EU and the social-democratic government of SYRIZA.
Over 60 CPs expressed their solidarity with the KKE’s struggle.
We particularly appreciate this and we thank all the comrades. Of course, there are a small number of supporters of the new social-democracy who not only did not express their solidarity but continue to march together with SYRIZA and to swear fealty to the Party of the European Left, the opportunist formation that supports the EU. Everybody is characterized by the positions they take.
FIFTH, a very important issue related to the strategy of the communist parties has come to the forefront of discussions in this period.
We will briefly clarify that there are two major distortions used by forces that criticize the KKE.
One line of attack says that our party fosters the view that everything will be resolved by socialism and that we do not focus enough on the everyday struggles. This slander, which is advanced by several rightwing and marginal ultra-left opportunist groups, is absurd and is refuted by the multi-faceted daily struggle of the KKE, KNE, the class-oriented movement (PAME) and the militant rallies of the social alliance.
The KKE struggles regarding every problem related to the workers’-people’s needs and attempts to increase the level of the workers’ demands, but it is clear that fundamental problems , i.e. unemployment, can not be resolved on the terrain of capitalism.
The abolition of exploitation and the satisfaction of the people’s needs objectively pose the necessity of struggling for the overthrow of capitalism, for the construction of socialism.
Various opportunist groups that oppose this position once again resort to distortions, by saying that our party poses the question of workers’ power right now and that it does so in direct connection with the parliamentary elections, i.e. as something that can be resolved by parliamentary elections.
This is just crude. The KKE deals with issues and tactics in a very responsible way.
Our party (from the mid 1990’s) has overcome the rationale of intermediate stages, which in reality are stages on the terrain of capitalism. It came to this conclusion after studying the experience of the communist movement and the factors that led to the counterrevolutions and the overthrow of socialism.
The starting point of the KKE’s analysis is that fact that our era is the era when the necessity of the transition from capitalism to socialism comes to the fore. The era that was inaugurated by the great socialist revolution in Russia in 1917.
Monopoly capitalism, the final (imperialist) stage of the system, has developed and is strengthening in Greece. The material preconditions for the construction of socialism have matured and consequently the struggle must be directed at resolving the basic contradiction between capital and labour. The character of the revolution in Greece will be socialist.
This framework determines the direction of the struggle in the labour-people’s movement, determines the need for further reinforcement of the revolutionary characteristics of the party, the major demands for party building (in the factories, in the strategically important sectors, etc.). It determines the alliance policy, the work amongst the youth
The stance of a CP that believes in the socialist revolution cannot be vacillating and opportunistic but must be in line with the basic principle that strategy determines our tactics. Only in this way can our tactics become a tool in the service of the overthrow of the system of capitalist exploitation.
The daily work of the party is subordinated to the strategic goal and today when a revolutionary situation objectively does not exist in Greece and Europe, the focus must be on concentrating and preparing working class and popular forces, on maturing the subjective factor and changing the correlation of forces, on strengthening the class struggle.
This is what the KKE tries to do. Today, it emphasizes the regroupment of the labour movement, so that it acquires more mass characteristics and struggles in a class (antimonopoly-anticapitalist) direction, so that it is supported on strong trade unions which have real bases in the workplaces, so that it can confront the forces of opportunism, reformism (the vehicles of bourgeois ideology in the labour movement) in order to weaken and defeat them. All this requires the decisive intervention and participation of the workers themselves.
At the same time, the KKE is striving to build the social, people’s alliance between the working class, the poor farmers, the urban self-employed, the women and youth from the popular families. The joint struggle of PAME together with the other radical movement organizations (PASY in the small farmers, PASEVE in the self-employed, MAS in the youth and OGE in the women) is the first form of this alliance.
The “People’s Alliance” provides an answer to the following need: that of organizing the struggle to repel the barbaric antiworker-antipeople measures, of fighting for small victories and gathering forces together for the people’s counterattack, for the overthrow of the power of the monopolies.
The “People’s Alliance” has a clear antimonopoly and anti-imperialist orientation and in revolutionary conditions will be transformed into a revolutionary workers’-people’s front that will fight for workers’ power, which is the precondition for the socialization of the concentrated means of production, central planning and workers’-people’s control, socialist construction.
On this basis, the working class and the popular strata will be liberated from the shackles of exploitation and oppression, our country will disengage from the EU and NATO and it will form new mutually beneficial international relations.
The developments are very complex. Our party is well aware of its weaknesses, its deficiencies and tries to confront them and to respond to the heightened needs of the class struggle today.
Member of the International Relations Section of the CC