The Greek left outside Syriza

Submitted by AWL on 13 January, 2015 - 5:38 Author: Theodora Polenta

On 25 January Greece elects a new parliament, and the left-wing party Syriza leads in the polls. Theodora Polenta discusses the attitudes of Antarsya, a major left grouping outside Syriza.

Antarsya — the Anti-capitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow — is a coalition of left organisations founded on 22 March 2009. The Greek word Antarsia (pronounced the same as the acronym Antarsya) means "mutiny".

The currents inside Antarsya range from ex-Communist Party (KKE) and KKE-Interior splinters to Maoists and Trotskyists. Antarsya got 0.36% of the vote in Greece's 2009 election, and 0.33% in June 2012.

Antarsya has now formed an electoral alliance with Mars (United Radical Left Front, which includes the Plan B group led by Alekos Alavanos, a former KKE and then Syriza leader who split from Syriza because he favours Greek exit from the euro). The alliance will participate in the 25 January election with ballot lists all over Greece and 369 candidates.

Its campaign has three main themes:

1. Euro-exit. "It is clear that today neither the immediate relief of the working class people and popular strata, nor, much more, an opening to another way for society and an alternative model of development towards the socialist direction, can be realised within the monetary straitjacket of the euro and EU guardianship".

2. To proclaim a revolutionary pole and a workers’ and left opposition whatever government that is formed, Syriza or ND. They say that a government of the Left, with Syriza at its centre, is certain to degenerate into a centre-left social-democratic type of governance within the constraints of austerity capitalism, and that they are not "trapped in the pseudo dilemma about which prime minister will better manage the crisis: Samaras [ND]or Tsipras [Syriza]".

3. To proclaim a third pole (that of the revolutionary left) against Syriza’s "governmental proposal for the management of capitalism" and KKE’s "deadlock politics’.

The Antarsya/Mars manifesto is almost a photocopy of Antarsya’s electoral manifesto of 2012, but two of the groups in Antarsya, SEK [linked to the SWP in Britain] and OKDE-Spartakos [linked to the NPA in France] opposed an electoral alliance with Mars.

They argue that the cooperation with Plan B means that the election leaflets and posters of Antarsya/Mars "conveniently" omit the task of revolutionary rupture and anti-capitalist struggle and centre only around the opposition to the memoranda [the cuts packages imposed by the EU/ECB/IMF Troika], the debt, the EU, and the eurozone.

As I understand it, the main issue for SEK and OKDE Spartakos was not so much the content and framework of the electoral agreement but mainly the fact that Plan B has high profile members such as Alavanos who can get much more media coverage, and that can potentially distort the Antarsya/Mars message.

The politics of Plan B can be summed up as a “Greek road to socialism”, outside the EU and by way of a new international alliance with capitalist countries such as Russia and China and with the drachma as currency. SEK and Okde-Spartakos see Plan B as a group of the patriotic left confined to the goal of productive restructuring of the Greek economy, control of the national currency and a Keynesian management in response to the crisis of the system.

Antarsya made calls not only to Mars, but also to the Trotskyist groups OKDE and EEK, and the Maoist KKE (ml) for a broader electoral and political front of “anti-capitalist, anti-EU, anti-imperialist and radical left”. "Rupture and exit from the Eurozone/ EU and other targets of the anti-capitalist program under the weight of the working class/popular strata movement are the starting point and the links making it possible to unleash global confrontation with capital and imperialism”.

OKDE turned down the proposal and is standing independently at these elections. Its prioritises “party building” before “front building”. It is uneasy with some of the Antarsya and even more the Mars components and their ideological origins, and their positive reference to KKE, EAM, ELAS and a "left" history antagonistic to OKDE’s Trotskyist references.

Furthermore, OKDE believes that Antarsya’s Mars electoral front shifts towards reformist politics. OKDE codifies their main differences with Antarsya as being about “the slogan of worker’s government, which is key to the program, the policy and practice of OKDE. The slogan for a 'Europe of Workers', i.e. a united socialist Europe”.

EEK also refused the proposal from Antarsya and is also standing autonomously at these elections. The rejection of Antarsya’s proposal was based on EEK’s revolutionary internationalism and its stand against "economic nationalism", even with a 'left sign'."

EEK believes that the Antarsya/Mars slogan of exit from the Eurozone and EU is devoid from its revolutionary content and converges with versions of "economic nationalism" if not linked with the slogan of the “United Socialist States of Europe". “The salvation of the people requires a social revolution. The revolutionary struggle can begin in Greece or in another country but the victory can only be completed within an international scale, by uniting all social subversive struggles for socialist unification of our region and Europe on the ruins of the imperialist EU”.

KKE(ml) criticises Antarsya’s electoral proposal as motivated by “Antarsya’s drive for electoral survival” and describes Antarsya’s proposed program of anti-capitalist transitional demands as utopian and reformist, playing an “auxiliary supplementary role to Syriza”

In fact euro/drachma is a pseudo-dilemma.

Euro is the currency in which the working class people and popular strata in Greece count their poverty. Euro is the currency in which Greece went bankrupt in 2010.

Drachma is the currency in which Greece went bankrupt in 1893 and 1932. Drachma was the currency when Andreas Papandreou's government was making "the new layers" of the oligarchy, imposing a freeze on wages and pensions for the majority of the people.

The currency is an important economic-policy tool. But if the problem in Greece - and the world - was monetary, then things would be relatively "easy." We would find the best currency and “free” capitalism from crisis. But in Greece - and everywhere - the problem is not monetary. It is not even economic. It is deeply political.

Many on the left seem to “forget” that with the drachma, from 1833 to 2000, there was nothing "left" in capitalist Greece. They make the wrong assessment by focusing the issue of the currency as a "link" from which will supposedly follow the whole "chain" of transitional demands for the working class.

The "national" currency in a country made up of "two nations" will never be the currency in the service of the "nation" of the working class as long as the power remains in the hands of the "nation" of capitalists.

The crucial, decisive factor is to work towards the overthrow of the system of exploitation and brutality. Since what we are experiencing in Greece and in the world is a crisis of a systemic character, then the solution can only be through challenging the system. The warning of Trotsky in the 1930s to the Greek communist rebels remains timely: "In the Balkans, you will either be an uncompromising internationalist or you will degenerate to a chauvinist."

On 25 January, the question for the working class and the wider population is whether the destructive memoranda policies will continue, or we will attempt a first “rupture” with the election of a left government around Syriza.

The victory of the left government on 25 January is neither guaranteed nor given. The enemy has enormous political reserves, hidden in the "deep state", which may be used to prevent this victory.

A defeat of the left on 25 January, and a consolidation and fortification of memorandum politics, will mean a setback and despair for the movements. Today we have to fight for the victory; tomorrow we need to organise the opposition to Syriza's climbdowns, as and when it is needed.

The inhabitants of Halkidiki, fighting against the gold diggers of Eldorado Gold; the ERT workers who keep alive the spark of public broadcasting; the BIOME workers, a living example of how workers can run a factory without the boss... the arrival of the left in government will mean an uplift for all the workers' movements who want to take their lives in their hands.

The ruling class of Greece, and the Troika, will urge the leadership of Syriza to the right; but the movements from below will press Syriza to the left, through the daily demands for wages, work, extension of workers and civil rights, respect for the environment, against the selling off of public wealth, etc. And if the revolutionary left can intervene in that struggle in a principled but patient way, from inside the movement, then it can help the workers' movement go beyond Syriza.

It is the task of the revolutionary left to prepare politically and psychologically the working class movement and popular strata to be able, through their own structures and on the streets, to defend a left government against the Greek oligarchs and the Troika. As John F Kennedy, not suspected of being a leftist, said: "Whoever makes reform impossible, makes revolution inevitable"!

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