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Newsletter (in English)

The Greek Specter

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| Categories: Greece, Statements

Solidarity with the Greek workers!

On May 5, over three million workers in Greece paralyzed the country with a general strike, shutting down virtually all schools, offices, shops and airports. In Athens alone, more than 200,000 people demonstrated against the austerity measures of the Social Democratic government. On that day, the Greek parliament voted for 30 billion euros in cuts: raising the sales tax to 23%, cutting pensions, raising the retirement age, and eliminating two months’ wages for public sector workers. These cuts are the condition for Greece receiving a bailout worth about 110 billion euros.

The bourgeois press claims that the Greek people understand the need for “painful sacrifices” in order to “save their country”. In fact, the working population of Greece won’t benefit at all from this bailout. The Greek state has 300 billion euros work of debt, much of which is held by foreign banks (including 80 billion to French banks, 40 billion to German banks etc.). If Greece defaulted on its debt, these banks – only recently rescued by their governments by the bank bailout – would suffer major losses. Now, the bailout money for Greece will flow right back to the imperial heartland of the EU in the form of debt repayment; the EU’s major powers are essentially organizing another bank bailout.

The ongoing resistance by the Greek population is worrying investors and even contributing to turbulences on stock markets around the world. The capitalists realize that the social and economic situation is no better in Portugal, Spain, Italy or Ireland. The fear that workers all across the continent could reject austerity measures is a “Greek specter” haunting Europe.

That is why there is endless propaganda against the “lazy Greeks” who “lived beyond their means” and “can’t manage their finances”. Workers across Europe need to reject this propaganda and instead take an example from Greece: we must fight back all attempts to make us pay for the capitalists’ crisis. A first step in this direction can be solidarity actions with the strikes in Greece.

The protests of May 5 were partially overshadowed by the tragic death of three workers in a fire at a bank. It is unclear who committed set the fire: it might have been anarchists of some kind or it might have been fascist or state provocateurs. If it was anarchists, the aftermath of the fire shows how these kind of isolated, “militant” actions cannot advance the workers’ struggle against capitalism because they isolate revolutionaries from the working class – besides, we need to take over capitalist property rather than destroying it!

In any case, the political responsibility for these deaths is clear: It lies with the government who are slashing workers’ living conditions; it lies with the police who attacked the demonstration and created a climate of violence; it lies above all with the owners of the bank, who prohibited workers from attending the strike and left the bank building, on the route of the demonstration, locked – without adequate fire protection. (See: “Employee of Marfin Bank speaks out after tragic fire”).

The resistance by the workers of Greece will continue. The trade union leaders are striking up militant tones at the moment, but they are tied to the social democratic governing party PASOK. For this reason, their capitulation “in the interest of the fatherland” (and against the interests of the workers) is only a question of time.

Only a consistently revolutionary policy can provide a serious answer to the austerity package: Greece’s foreign debt must be repudiated; the banks must be nationalized under the control of the working class; speculation and capital flight must be stopped with a monopoly on foreign trade; Greece’s extremely high spending for the military must be cancelled and replaced by the arming of the population; and workers’ organizations must form a workers’ government, independent of the Greek and international capitalist classes, to implant these measures.

Only a revolutionary workers’ organization could lead the protests in the direction of this kind of fundamental change. Several forces amongst the large radical left in Greece are attempting this (we will publish an interview with the Trotskyist organization OKDE soon) and we will seek collaboration with them.

  • Let the “Greek Specter” haunt all of Europe!
  • Support the Greek general strike and resistance with solidarity actions!
  • No job cuts, no wage cuts – the capitalists must pay for their own crisis!
  • Freeze the debt payments – nationalize the banks under workers’ control!
  • For a socialist Europe!

RIO, May 16, 2010

See also: an article by Keith Harvey of “Permanent Revolution”.

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