Greece: a “strategy of tension”?

Submitted by Matthew on 6 November, 2013 - 9:22

On Friday 1 November a motorcycle stopped outside the party offices of fascist Golden Dawn movement in the north Athens suburb of Neo Iraklio, and the riders shot the Golden Dawn members that were guarding the offices.

Two Golden Dawn members were killed, and another critically injured.

No-one knows who organised the killing, but regardless of that the murders are, politically, a provocation that will harm the anti-fascist movement and the left.

The “professional” form of the attack suggests a prescribed professional execution plan and experienced operators.

Such actions are unlikely to have nothing to do with the anti-fascist movement or the organised working class. Nor can they be interpreted as results of people’s legitimate anger over the assassination of the anti-fascist hip-hop artist Paul Fyssas by a Golden Dawn member on 18 September.

Politically, the main beneficiary of the attack is Golden Dawn. They had been indicted as thugs and murderers; now they can portray themselves as victims.

Golden Dawn can now hope to gain sympathy from the most backward-looking layers of the public, to plead “self-defence” and call for “protection” of its members.

Whoever organised the 1 November attacks, armed conflict between groups that operate in the dark will not solve any of the major social problems of economic collapse, unemployment, and poverty that are leading millions of people to despair. It is exactly that despair, which is the operative social cause for the rise of fascism.

News presenters are shedding tears in front of the cameras over the two young men who were killed. We are bombarded with family photos of the victims and appeals to end the “blood cycle”, “independent of its origins”.

The murder of Paul Fyssas is conveniently juxtaposed to the murder of the Golden Dawn members. The theory of the “two extremes” is boosted. People speak about “guerrilla warfare in the cities” and the “ultra-left” as “a breeding ground for disrespect of democracy and illegality”.

The other big winner from this kind of event is the government and the repressive apparatus. In the name of fighting terrorism, the government will attempt to legitimise in the minds of society cutbacks of fundamental rights and freedoms.

Samaras and Venizelos could scarcely imagine better political gift for their government, a few days before the general strike called by the GSEE and ADEDY union confederations for 6 November general strike, and with university administrative staff entering a defiant ninth week on strike.

When Paul Fyssas was murdered, polls showed the government parties losing support to Golden Dawn, and major industrial actions by teachers and other public sector workers had begun. The government made the most of the murder. By moving vigorously against Golden Dawn, it regained the political initiative and became able to exploit the contradictions of the forces of the Left.

It forced the opposition, Syriza, to vote with the government and to Article 187A, the “anti-terrorist law” which it had previously denounced, as the basis for the parliamentary decision on 23 October to cut off state funding for Golden Dawn.

The Left must denounce the theories of “the two extremes” and “the constitutional arc”. The Left must refuse the ideology of bourgeois stability and counterpose, against the false distinction instability-stability, the actual destabilisation imposed on Greek society by the memorandum government.

The Left should highlight the need for stability from a working-class perspective: stability in workers’ rights and social benefits.

The Left must redefine, through effective radicalisation and a worker-centred transitional plan, both its autonomy from the dominant political system and its identification with the working class and popular strata.

The government which has caused the social disaster now wants to reappear as the “referee” and “saviours” to save us from the phenomena that its policies created.

The EU-ECB-IMF Troika arrived in Athens on Monday 4 November, bringing with it suitcases full of new tough measures to be imposed on a devastated country.

If the memorandum is left to continue its macabre work alongside poverty and hunger, Greece will be drawn into bloody conflict between forces bred by the government’s policies. Moreover, if elements of the state machine and sub-state institutions, maybe linked with vested centres abroad, have decided on “strategy of tension”, deliberately stoking up violence in order to create the conditions for repression, as in Italy in the later 1970s, that will worsen the trajectory.

A united front in defence of working-class freedoms, democratic rights and the anti-fascist struggle, is crucial. The first answer is massive participation in the 6 November strike and linking of the struggle for the overthrow of the memoranda with the defence of freedoms.

Unless there is now a massive response from the labour movement, the Left and the youth, the outcome may well be the imposition of a generalised reactionary climate. We need:

A united front of the Left, unions, and youth organisations in defence of democratic freedoms

Joint stewarding and effective self-defence of the labour movement, the Left and the youth against the provocations of the fascists and the state

No illusions about the mechanisms of the bourgeois state, which are the breeding grounds for reactionary plans and provocations against the labour movement and the Left

The united front of the Left, unions and youth organizations should organise, in every neighbourhood and city, massive demonstrations against the plans of bourgeois reaction.

The answer of the Left should be to aim for power and for the implementation of a programme of transitional demands: refusal to repay the debt, nationalisation of the banks and the strategic sectors of the economy under workers’ and social control and management, planning of the economy according to the needs of society. This is the only way to remove the social base that generates fascism and terrorism of all forms.

Syriza, as the main party of the Left, has the primary responsibility for proposing such a struggle to the left and the working-class movement. The rest of the Left must contribute to it.

The answer to the memorandum government, the escalation of anti-working-class attacks, the theory of the “two extremes”, and the answer to the “provocations” and strategies of tension, is the same: radicalisation, an intransigent spirit, united struggle, a combative rank and file working class movement, a government of the Left as a first step towards workers’ power.

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