After the revolt of December in Greece, a big debate develops within the Greek Left concerning the attitude of the communists in front of the bourgeois governments. This heated discussion is part of a greater debate about the tasks, the strategy and the tactics of the left and communist forces in Greece. The polemical character of the debate is owed to the fact that, during December 2008, the split within the Greek Left became more wide: One part (KOE, the Radical Left Coalition/SYRIZA and the extra-parliamentarian left groups) supported the Revolt. Another part (mostly the Communist Party of Greece/KKE, as well as the right-wingers of the former “euro-communist” current) condemned the movement and labeled it as “violent acts of masked rioters of suspicious origin and of reactionary character”. Thus, indirectly but objectively, aligned themselves with the bourgeois-governmental block of “law and order”. Since January 2009 the debate became very acute, as the KKE leadership attacked repeatedly KOE and SYRIZA with statements and publications in its Press, slandering us as “supporters of the social-democratic PASOK” because of our slogan “Down with this government of murderers!”.
Despite the fact that this debate is unavoidably marked by the ongoing “civil war” within the Greek Left, we consider that it is of interest outside the boundaries of Greece as well. In reality, the issue is whether those claiming to be communists will use as an excuse the “ultimate goal” (the seizing of power by the working class) in order to limit their “action” in exercises of revolutionary verbalism – while at the same time they let the bourgeois governments undisturbed and present themselves as “responsible” force. We are of the opinion that the reasoning used by the leaders of KKE (“we do not fight for the fall of the right-wing government because if it falls it will be replaced by the equally bad social-democratic PASOK”) is in reality attempting to hide their alignment with the camp of “law and order”, their fear of a mass movement that they do not control, and their refusal to struggle for the building of a popular front that will victoriously oppose the bourgeoisie and its political parties, the right-wing Nea Dimokratia and the social-democratic PASOK.
The leaders of KKE are feeling much safer as long as they remain self-isolated in their virtual world, receiving the congratulations and the grateful recognition by the government, the bourgeois Media and even the extreme right-wing party LAOS for their “responsible attitude” . Today they spend all their energy in the “left civil war”, attacking viciously the Radical Left, sparing the government and even justifying the murderous attacks against the revolted youth. Their actual tactics comes in high contrast with their distant and recent past, for which they have not proceeded to the slightest self-criticism: (a) in the ’70s and early ’80s they were the staunchest allies of the “socialist” PASOK, accusing the revolutionaries who struggled against social-democracy as “covert agents of the right-wing and of the secret services”; (b) in the late ’80s they participated in the government formed by the right-wing party Nea Dimokratia, and immediately after in a “national unity government” together with both Nea Dimokratia and PASOK; (c) in the late ’90s they were calling for the resignation of PASOK’s government – and this was correct, but then also the “realistic” alternative would be the other bourgeois party, the right-wing Nea Dimokratia…
The leaders of KKE pretend today that they do not understand the dynamics that could be created by a united and radical popular movement, able to overthrow a reactionary government. They pretend to ignore the very realistic scenario (if the Left would act as a combative front and thus gain even bigger popular support) of the bourgeoisie been obliged to form a “big coalition” government by both Nea Dimokratia and PASOK – and the possibilities that such a development would create for the communists and the popular movement. Instead, they continue the revolutionary verbalism while at the same time they put their forces in the service of the government (as they did in December, when, among other… heroic feats, they attempted to block the entrance of the universities in order to prevent the students to hold general assemblies and to continue the occupations…).
And the icing on the cake – just to confirm that sometimes even the formalities are very revealing: No organization of the Radical Left was invited in the opening ceremony of KKE’s 18th Congress. At the same time there were present and addressed the Congress two top-level delegations from the parties of Nea Dimokratia and of PASOK, as well as the (right-wing) president of the Greek Parliament. Apparently, the Radical Left deserves to be treated as main enemy, and not the bourgeois parties… The presence of the top-level bourgeois delegations and the… curfew on the Radical Left is indeed another marvelous result of the appeal to “wage war against the opinions supporting ‘the unity or the common action of the Left’, put forward by several intellectuals who, consciously or not, are selling the causes of the ‘progressive’ bourgeoisie and of opportunism” [KKE's daily organ “Rizospastis”, 18/1/2009]…
As the global capitalist crisis develops and deepens, the big bourgeoisie attempts to “answer” it by transferring its burden on the already extremely exploited, barbarously oppressed and increasingly impoverished popular masses. However, the peoples of the world are developing and radicalizing their resistance, as shown by the mass protests in Italy or France, for example, and by the revolts that break out from Greece to the Baltic countries and from Iceland to the French colonies in the Caribbean. Our peoples desperately need a Communist Left willing and able to orientate, lead and develop the new and increasingly radical revolts and resistances that are urgently necessary. Our peoples desperately need a Communist Left willing and able to organize victorious struggles, which will bring us more near to the overthrow of the imperialist-capitalist system. What they do not need, is a force that claims to be communist but does not believe in the possibility of popular victories, and instead prefers to patiently and “responsibly” wait for the Second Advent (which will bring socialism also in Greece, all the more without “riots” and “without breaking even one glass”, as Mrs Aleka Papariga, Secretary General of KKE, recently declared in the Greek Parliament – only to be enthusiastically applauded by the government supporters…).
[PS: For those who want to study the development of the “Greek” debate, there are a lot of references in previous documents of KOE concerning the Revolt, translated into English and available in KOE’s International Website: http://international.koel.gr – See especially the statements of:
10 December 2008, http://international.koel.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53:4th-statement-combative-general-strike-counter-attack-of-the-establishment-10122008&catid=13:rebellion-december-2008&Itemid=10 ,
11 December 2008, http://international.koel.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=54:5th-statement-we-shall-not-yield-to-the-criminal-government-the-unholy-alliance-of-law-and-order-cannot-stop-the-protest-11122008&catid=13:rebellion-december-2008&Itemid=10 ,
15 December 2008, http://international.koel.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=58:the-communists-must-have-their-eyes-and-ears-open-about-the-cpg-kke-15122008&catid=13:rebellion-december-2008&Itemid=10 ,
and 12 February 2009, http://international.koel.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=80:statement-nr-62009-new-attack-of-kkes-leadership-against-koe-12022009&catid=14:other-documents&Itemid=10 .]
Here follows a new statement of the Communist Organization of Greece, dated 19 February 2009:
The stand of the Communists in front of the bourgeois governments
The demand “Down with this government!” dominated the popular demonstrations and the youth protests during the Revolt of December 2008 in Greece. This demand met with a stiff resistance by the governmental right-wing party Nea Dimokratia, by the bourgeois Media, by the extreme-right wing party LAOS and… by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE)!
It is understandable that the parties of Nea Dimokratia and LAOS, as well as the bourgeois Media, are backing the cynical, deeply anti-popular government of Karamanlis, which through its policy provoked the murder of the 15 year old Alexis Grigoropoulos. It is also understandable that the social-democrats of the “opposition” party PASOK do not aim at overthrowing a government that follows a policy similar to theirs, and instead prefer to expect their ascension to power through the tactics of “waiting for the ripe fruit to fall from the tree”. However, what is not easily understandable is: Why the KKE did not demand the fall of the Karamanlis’ government? Why did it vehemently opposed the slogan “Down with this government!”?
Here follows a characteristic example of KKE’s “argumentation” about why such a demand is wrong:
The cadres of SYRIZA are shouting everywhere: “This government must leave; the sooner it leaves the better for the country”. They are consciously hiding from the people that the problem is not which party is in government, but which class is in power. That the problem is not just Nea Dimokratia, but the big capital, which dictates the concrete policy, as it has been in the past with PASOK; and that, as long as the big capital exists, this policy will continue, no matter which party is in government. [KKE's daily organ “Rizospastis”, 12/10/2008]
An impatient petty-bourgeois, without even basic understanding of Marxism, would perhaps agree with the above “pure” statement of KKE. However, we cannot but ask anyone who claims to be communist: Since when the communists are indifferent in front of the possibility to overturn the social and political correlation of power? Since when, in the name of the "ultimate goal" (the seizing of the political power by the working class), the partial goals, the partial political overthrows, the partial victories are condemned as negative? Unfortunately, the objectively pro-government tactics of KKE’s leadership provokes even more questions:
– Is it correct or not that the collapse of a reactionary government under the pressure of the popular outcry against its policy in favour of the plutocracy, against its murderous policy, would (even if temporary) obstruct, delay and harass the smooth application of the dominating classes' goals?
– Is it correct or not that if such a government falls under the pressure of mass popular mobilizations, the next one (even if it has similarly anti-popular program) will be more afraid of the people and more “careful”?
– Is it correct or not that SYRIZA's slogan says "Nea Dimokratia must be chased, PASOK must not be allowed to return – Only solution: the Left and the movements"? And not, as KKE calumniously claims, that "SYRIZA wants the fall of the government in order that PASOK returns to power" [“Rizospastis”, 21/12/2008]?
– Is it correct or not that if the angered and oppressed people overthrow a government, the masses’ self-confidence will grow and they will overcome more easily the poisonous opinion that “things cannot change, nobody takes us into account”?
– Is it correct or not that the greatest political and social changes have been built thanks to the legacy and the succession of dozens of previous battles and of hundreds and thousands of smaller daily struggles and mobilizations? Is it correct or not that the overthrow of governments was and is a necessary (although not sufficient) precondition in order to achieve more global political and social subversions?
Instead of any reply to such questions, we cite here what KKE itself was saying when the social-democratic PASOK was in government:
The demand that this government must fall under the popular pressure and that elections must take place now is adopted, even in half-words, by all the opposition parties; this is a positive development… The people must demand the resignation of the government. The people is the sole responsible and qualified to give a substantial meaning to the slogan “YOU MUST GO!” [statement of KKE’s Secretary General Aleka Papariga on 26/2/1999, after the government of PASOK, under prime minister Simitis, handed over the Kurdish leader Ocalan to the Turkish regime]
We wonder: For which reason the correct demand that the PASOK government who handed over Ocalan to the Turkish regime must be chased away, has now been replaced by the refusal of the demand to chase away the actual government of Nea Dimokratia? For which reason the correct polemics against one of the two main parties of the big bourgeoisie is now transformed into indirect support for the other main bourgeois party? At that time (26/2/1999), Aleka Papariga was also saying:
The resignation of the government as a result of the popular demand must not be the end but the beginning. We don’t want the elections only in order to give the cards a good shuffle. We want the elections so that a new march of the people starts, a march that will obstruct and will trip up the policy of EMU and of the “new NATO dogmas”. We want the elections so that a new march starts with the people harassing the anti-popular measures and the fake “national targets”, with one and only aim: to gather that force which, ultimately, will make the balance incline towards the other side, the side of the people’s and solely the people’s interests.
We agree with this statement of Aleka Papariga. And we wonder: Why today this position is not valid anymore? Does not this attitude of KKE constitute an indirect but very clear support towards the actual government of Nea Dimokratia?
KOE, 19 February 2009