A new upsurge of the Greek working class

A new upsurge of the Greek working class:

First General Strike against the newly elected Samaras government

Savas Michael-Matsas

The working class and popular masses of all the over-indebted capitalist countries, arrogantly named as “PIGS” by the global finance capital and the imperialist chancelleries, are now in an uncontrollable rebellion. A tsunami of popular anger against the EU and the IMF imposed measures of social cannibalism is engulfing the entire Southern Europe. The last few days, hundreds of thousands of workers are flooding the streets and the squares, from Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, to Athens, and then Rome.

In bankrupt Greece, new draconian cuts worth of 10.5 to 13.5 billion euros in wages, pensions, welfare benefits, health services and education, extension of the age of retirement of workers from 65 to 67 years plus huge new taxes against the petty bourgeoisie, have to be introduced on the backs of an already devastated people by the troika of the EU/ECB/IMF and their local instrument, the newly elected coalition government .(This government is rightly called by the Greek people “the troika of interior”, formed by the right wing New Democracy led by Samaras, the remnants of the “socialist” PASOK and the “Democratic Left-DIMAR”, a right wing former “Euro-communist” group that split in 2010 from the reformist SYRIZA).

While the ruling classes are preparing to use again the weapon of mass destruction, the Memorandum 2 tied with the second bail out, with cuts officially at 10.5 billion euros( it would be much more, around 13.5 billion, and according to German sources up to 20 billion euros!) a new financial scandal has just erupted and infuriated the people. Three ex-ministers of the ruling New Democracy, including the current Chairman of Parliament Vangelis Meimarakis are accused for money laundering of 10.5 billion euros, in the period 2005-2008( i.e. up to the non official bankruptcy of the Greek economy)- nearly the same amount as the new cuts of wages, pensions and benefits for the disabled!!! The newly elected government is already politically discredited and it has lost any legitimacy reneging from all its pre-electoral pledges for a “renegotiation of the Memorandum terms” and plunging in scandal after scandal.

The General Strike called for 26 September, with great delay and only for 24 hours, by the two bureaucratic Confederations GSEE and ADEDY, joined by PAME, the trade union faction of the Stalinist KKE as well, by the more militant Federations, class struggle unions and far left organizations, was an unexpected, both for friends and foes of the working class, triumph.

Despite the trade union bureaucracies sabotage- the only act for mobilization that the GSEE/ADEDY leaderships did was a call by a TV spot two days before the Strike! – and despite the apparent “calm” during summer, the country was paralyzed and huge demonstrations took place not only in Athens but in the main cities all over the country, from Thessalonica in the North to Volos in the center, Patras in the West and Iraklion, Creta in the south of Greece.

In the demonstration in Athens, according to the British daily Guardian, about 200 thousand workers participated. In front was a huge contingent of militant workers of local government, which is devastated by the cuts. Then followed militant Federations and class struggle unions, particularly strong from the Health and Education sectors, Syriza, ANTARSYA, EEK, other far left organizations, and anarchists.

The Stalinist PAME/KKE, gathering around 40 thousand workers, did earlier(as usual) its own separate rally in Omonia Square, a separate march to Syntagma and then they hurried to be dispersed before the main demonstration of the other unions and organizations meets them in Syntagma…

Hundreds joined the EEK banners, including a delegation of industrial workers of one of the biggest factories of the country, Aluminum Hellas, with their own banner, banners of popular assemblies from proletarian neighborhoods, the social movement of therapists and ex drug addicts from the Drug Dependency Department of the public Psychiatric Hospital of Attica with their impressive orchestra of drums, et al. Similar important contingents of the EEK marched in Thessalonica, Volos, Patras, and elsewhere.

There is a noteworthy sign of radicalization : in all 17 previous 24-or 48 hours of the last three years, the EEK slogan to transform the one or two days mobilization into an indefinite General Strike until the defeat of the Memorandum austerity measures and the overthrow of the government of troika was followed only by a small minority. Now, on September 26, a big section of the march of strikers, many unions, such as those of the workers of local government, hospital workers, the workers of the occupied and self-managed factory VIOMETAL in Thessalonica, the independent Center of Workers Struggle in Volos, popular assemblies like that of the Petralona neighborhood et al, adopted it unanimously and enthusiastically, in their general assemblies, as their policy and demonstrated on this basis.

The 26 September General Strike was a real breakthrough after the post-electoral stalemate. After the June elections, there were, disappointment from the results, the victory of Samaras and the formation of a pro-Memorandum government, and a growing skepticism towards Syriza as a loyal Official Opposition rapidly moving to the right, insisting to its orientation within the framework of the EU and to its loyalty to the “institutions” of the existing social order. A series of events strengthened this skepticism, such as an even more moderate and pro-EU social economic program presented by Tsipras in Thessalonica early September or his meeting with Simon Peres, the president of Israel during the recent visit of the Zionist leader in Greece to build up further the new strategic alliance in the region between Tel Aviv, Athens, and Nicosia.

The political force that was extremely active after the elections was the Nazi “Golden Dawn”, a counter-revolutionary phenomenon that the Greek and international Left, mesmerized by the rise of Syriza, ignored or underestimated for a longtime. The Golden Dawn is not like other far right groups in Europe; they are a fascist party or rather gang acting like its predecessors in Germany under Hitler. After achieving a 7 per cent of the vote and a parliamentary representation (with parliamentary immunity), the last three months, their storm troops escalated their murderous pogroms every day and every night, first of all against the immigrants but also against militants of the left, homosexuals, drug addicts etc. even disabled people considered as “menace to the Greek race”. They have the full protection of the police(53 per cent of the police voted for Golden Dawn), of the State, of the Samaras government which wages too its own pogroms, with the assistance of the Nazi thugs, against the immigrants and establishing by law concentration camps for these economic refugees. The Nazis demagogically try to create social networks for material help “for Greeks only” and to penetrate the popular neighborhoods. Recently two Golden Dawn members in Laconia were found preparing terrorist acts by bombs (and they were left free by the police). They have close connections with the army, and the reservist officers associations making propaganda for a return to the “prosperous and peaceful years” of the CIA dictatorship of the black colonels of 1967-74. It is obvious that there are behind them sectors of the big capital and imperialist agencies.

The majority of the Left, both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary, although horrified by this rise, is restricted to antifascist rhetoric, and some demonstrations. Syriza, the KKE, or the antiracist movements of the SEK (close to the British SWP) in ANTARSYA and of DEA (close to the US ISO) in Syriza are insisting to use exclusively legalistic-pacifist means and reject with horror proposals by the EEK and a few others to form Workers Defense Squads, as a part of a United Front of the working class organizations, and develop a revolutionary program to eradicate the social roots of the phenomenon.

Three months after the elections, while the parties in government loose rapidly their constituency, Syriza does not have any significant gains from that decline. On the contrary, the Golden Dawn, according to the polls, is raised to the position of the third most popular party. In three different polls, New Democracy is between 19 to 24 per cent (30 per cent in June), Syriza between 20 to 23 per cent (27 per cent in June), the Golden Dawn between 9 and 12 per cent (7 per cent in June)…The other parties, like the disintegrated PASOK or DIMAR, are falling behind, with the Stalinist KKE coming last among the parliamentary parties, somewhere between 3.5 to 4 per cent.

While the bureaucrats and the centrists are blaming the workers for “lack of militancy”, the powerful mobilizations in the General Strike of September 26- and earlier, on September 6, the 30-35 thousand strong demonstration against the troika and the government policies in Thessalonica- are proving the readiness for battle of the working class, of the unemployed, particularly of the youth (55 per cent unemployed), of the deprived popular masses of the cities and the countryside.

But the rulers in Greece, in Spain, in Portugal, in Italy, in the entire EU forget nothing, forgive nothing, and learn nothing. The Samaras government will present in parliament troika’s barbaric program very soon, and the unions are preparing a new General Strike, probably next week.

Many class struggle trade unionists, including the militants of the EEK, immediately after the General Strike of 26 September, are holding meetings to discuss a plan of action and how to transform the next mobilization into an indefinite General Strike until victory.

Athens, 28 September 2012