The left in Syriza

Submitted by martin on 6 November, 2012 - 2:21

The Left Stream of Synaspismos (the largest component of Greece's left-wing coalition, Syriza) has responded to the Syriza leadership's proposals for a draft programme for the new unified party which Syriza aims to become.

This is a longer version of this article than in the printed paper.

The leadership draft states that "the fate of Greece is interrelated with the fate of Europe". "Our Europe is against today's Europe of neoliberalism and growing authoritarianism... Our Europe is the Europe of nations, the Europe of revolutions, the Europe of welfare state, the Europe of scientific revolution, the Europe of Enlightenment the Europe of radicalism".

The draft commits Syriza to:

* cancel the memorandum (the cuts imposed on Greece by the EU-ECB-IMF Troika)

* renegotiate the debt at a European level

* place the banks under public control

* gradually place the strategic sectors of the economy that are currently being privatised under public control

* enhance the welfare state.

It calls for: "renegotiation of the debt at a European level, given that the issue of sovereign debt is not only a Greek problem but a pan European problem. The aim of renegotiation should be the discarding of a large chunk of the debt as illegal.

"An independent and impartial international commission should audit the Greek debt. The remainder of the debt must be repaid on fairer terms and through a clause linking the amount of repayment with the rate of growth of the economy".

The draft says that Syriza will fight for the united front of the left; that Syriza encompasses streams of the revolutionary left; and that Syriza aims to form a government with "the left at its centre".

Panayiotis Lafazanis, the main representative of the left stream of Synaspismos, has called for a commitment to a united front at both a trade-union and a political level with KKE and Antarsya.

He wants the call for a left government to be directly linked only to KKE and Antarsya and trade union and neighbourhood community movement formations, and to close the door to government coalitions with mainstream political parties such as the Democratic Left (an ex-Eurocommunist group in the current government) and Independent Greeks (a right-wing anti-memorandum party).

He wants the perspective of a left government to be directly linked to the escalation of struggles and the overthrow of the three party coalition government.

He believes that Syriza should openly develop a plan B for the case of Greece being expelled from or quitting the eurozone and the EU. The Left Stream wants an "even more critical view of the participation of Greece in the European Union and the eurozone".

The Left Stream has made it clear that they are not advocating an open confrontation with the European Union and they are not suggesting that the solution lies within a return to a Greek national currency (drachma).

But, says the Left Stream, "all options and scenarios are open, even that of the exit from the eurozone and EU, if a government of the left is prevented from implementing its program by the EU organs and institutions". Syriza should be prepared.

They want Syriza to adopt a stance of: "Cancellation of the debt, even if it leads to default and exit from the eurozone".

The Left Stream wants Syriza to declare, explicitly and unequivocally, the aim of forming "a Government of the Radical Left", rather than "a government with the Left at its core". The Left Stream is trying to close the door to Syriza evolving into a social democratic party like Pasok.

Alekos Kalyvis and Helen Portaliou, from the Left Stream warn the leadership of Syriza to safeguard the democratic functioning of the party by giving enough time to the base of Syriza to discuss the new program. DEA and Kokkino, the two Trotskyist groups which take part in the Syriza coalition, insist that the draft adopt the slogan "no sacrifice for the Euro".

Meanwhile Rudi Rinaldi, the leader of KOE (another group in the Syriza coalition), has called for the establishment of a large, popular, democratic anti-memorandum alliance. The United Social Front of Syriza (ex-Pasok people such as Alexis Mitropoulos) argue for Syriza becoming the "big party of the left" - something like Pasok in the early years after its foundation in 1974.

The Left Stream amendments call for particular weight on the internal democracy of the party. They say that Syriza's new constitution should safeguard Syriza's collectively taken decisions and programmegainst public statements of central members of Syriza which counteract and negate the programme.

They explain that the schemes currently being discussed in the EU, in terms of further integration of the eurozone and EU states on neoliberal and capitalist terms - European banking supervision, fiscal consolidation, - escalate the anti-democratic orientation of the EU and transform the poorer countries into internal colonies.

The overthrown of that system cannot take place simultaneously across all EU member states. It is dependent upon the capacity of the working-class movements in a country or group of countries working class movement to break the vicious circle and open progressive and socialist roads. No cross-Europe mobilisation will happen unless one national working class or another "dares" to go first.

The debt is certainly not only a Greek problem but a broader problem, which concerns first and foremost the countries of southern Europe. Syriza independently and in coordination with movements, peoples and governments of other European countries, especially in southern Europe, should fight for the unconditional abolition of the debt (or at least the biggest chunk of it) for the worst affected countries.

That should be accompanied by radical changes in the political, economic and social map of the whole of Europe, having as a priority the nationalisation of the banking system under public ownership and management.

The Left Stream declares that the strategic objective of Syriza should be socialism - a new economic social formation characterised by the passage of power to the majority of society, under the hegemony of the working class. A socialist state should move towards the eradication of capitalist relations, the socialisation of the means of production, the abolition of exploitation and all forms of discrimination, and towards a new type of anti-bureaucratic state under workers' and social control.

The Left Stream emphasises that Syriza should recognise that the most likely consequence of the abolition of the memorandum by a government of the left would be Greece's exit (forced or voluntary) from the eurozone. The Left Stream criticises the "naivety" of the Syriza leadership in believing that a left government can cancel the memorandum, and the Troika funding will continue normally.

Syriza leaders assume that the Troika's threats to stop the funding, if a left government is formed that will cancel the memorandum, constitute a "mere bluff".

The recent intransigent attitude by Merkel and Holland towards the Greek coalition government's demands for a time extension on the memorandum and the fact that a bailout instalment overdue since May has yet to be paid to the Greek government put that in doubt.

It is true that to force Greece out of the eurozone would have dire consequences for Germany and the main powers of Europe. They would be the potential of a domino effect and a break-up of the eurozone.

Yet it may well be that the major eurozone leaders are prepared to risk the destruction of the eurozone rather than agree to continue to finance a government of the left that will implement a progressive anti-memorandum program and challenge the EU's and eurozone's aggressive neoliberalism.

In any case, as long as the Syriza leadership sees Greek exit from the eurozone as the greatest disaster, it disempowers Syriza from calling the eurozone's leaders supposed "bluff". If the eurozone leaders are aware that a government of the left considers Greece's bankruptcy and exit from the eurozone as the ultimate disaster; they will know that they can force that left government to buckle down and adopt cuts.

Lafazanis and the Left Stream of Synaspismos have been scapegoated by mainstream media, bourgeois politicians, the Samaras government. the supposed "Democratic Left" - and the right wing of Syriza as represented by Mitropoulos.

Lafazanis had said that: "Bankruptcy is not necessarily a catastrophic event. It is a weapon of the weak when they reach the point they cannot pay their debts. We should play scaremongering with it".

Samaras jumped and accused Lafazanis of wishing for Greece's bankruptcy. Mainstream newspapers accused him of "national- Bolshevism", "populism", and "ultra-leftism".

Alexis Mitropoulos wrote a letter to Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras and to Syriza MPs to denounce Lafazanis. The substance of Mitropoulos letter was that whoever dares to challenge the debt is an enemy of Greece and compromises Greece's position within the eurozone.

In this dilemma Syriza should respond clearly and plainly: "no sacrifice for the euro!" Syriza should also explain that taking bold, radical and socialist measures will have enormous benefits for the people.

The ruling classes in Greece and Europe see that within the next period Syriza has the potential to become the government. They know that in this case the mass movement would require the government of Syriza to immediately cancel the memorandum and implement radical measures. Tsipras and leadership of Syriza will be trapped between the working class movement and society on one hand and the bourgeoisies of Greece and Europe on the other. It is a duty of the left to support with all its might the left opposition within Syriza.

Syriza still remains the main hope for the working class and community movements, because it is the only medium that promises a left government in the next period. The forces of the radical and revolutionary left, whether they are inside or outside Syriza, have a duty to intervene in these processes, to raise a radical-socialist programme for real internal democracy in the party, and to support Lafazanis's call for a "second wave of radicalisation of Syriza".

The left should explain that we need a workers' government which would be based on workers' democracy, workers and social control self organization and management and workers militias. The main axis of struggle should be the following:

1. Fight for the development and escalation of industrial and social struggles against the attacks of the government and the Troika - rolling strikes, occupations, stoppages, demonstrations, re invigoration of the neighbourhood non-payment movements

2. Fight for the overthrow of the three-party coalition government

3. Antifascist struggle, with formation of committees and defence squads in every neighbourhood and workplace.

4. Fight for a united front and cooperation of the left in the industrial and in the political sphere

5. Fight for a government of the left and a workers' government

6. Fight to alert and prepare the working class for the prospect and the consequences of Greece being forced out of the eurozone or the EU

7. Fight for a programme of transitional demands based upon workers' self management and control and the social planning of the economy to meet the needs of the people and not the profits of a handful of capitalist parasites, including the nationalisation of the banks and the main pillars of the economy (energy sector, transportation, utilities, health sector) without compensation to the capitalist and under workers' control

8. Fight alongside the European working class and particularly the working class of south Europe, for the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of the United Socialist States of Europe.

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