Why Don’t the Greek Communists Just Link Forces With the Radical Left Coalition?

by Johan Boyden

The political assessment of the Communist Party of Greece (which we posted here) deserves some introduction for our readers in Canada. Afterall, as Greece heads towards Sunday elections, all eyes seem to suddenly be turned to the volatile situation in the Hellenic Republic.

UPDATE: View the election results in graphic form and read the assessment of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece.

Progressive-minded people in Canada are optimistic. After years of hard struggle with countless general strikes and mass rallies, maybe these elections will hand a victory to political parties that identify with the left? Maybe they will demonstrate a different direction from austerity and economic crisis to the world?

There is also a certain renewed anxiety in the voices of the ruling class.  “We cannot have a Greek election determining the future of the global economy. That’s not fair to anybody,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said recently. Today, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney referenced Greece and the European situation to warn of more mass unemployment and ‘recession’ over here. Continue reading

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Greek Leftist Leader Alexis Tsipras: “It’s a War Between People and Capitalism”

by Helena Smith

Greece’s eurozone fate may now be in the hands of the 37-year-old political firebrand and his Syriza party.

Alexis Tsipras

Alexis Tsipras in his office at the Greek parliament building on Friday. He says Greece has been used as a guinea pig for the rest of Europe. Photograph: Martin Godwin

“I don’t believe in heroes or saviours,” says Alexis Tsipras, “but I do believe in fighting for rights … no one has the right to reduce a proud people to such a state of wretchedness and indignity.”

The man who holds the fate of the euro in his hands – as the leader of the Greek party willing to tear up the country’s €130bn (£100bn) bailout agreement – says Greece is on the frontline of a war that is engulfing Europe.

A long bombardment of “neo-liberal shock” – draconian tax rises and remorseless spending cuts – has left immense collateral damage. “We have never been in such a bad place,” he says, sleeves rolled up, staring hard into the middle distance, from behind the desk that he shares in his small parliamentary office. “After two and a half years of catastrophe, Greeks are on their knees. The social state has collapsed, one in two youngsters is out of work, there are people leaving en masse, the climate psychologically is one of pessimism, depression, mass suicides.” Continue reading

Capitalist Lifeboats Will Come “At Some Point…”

The IMF reports that Greek incomes have dropped by about 10 per cent since 2010, hours worked have dropped by 7 per cent, and unemployment (especially youth unemployment) is skyrocketing.

That isn’t good enough for Greece’s lenders, who are looking to the Greek government to engineer a further direct assault on the country’s minimum wage, labour standards, pensions and collective bargaining with the aim of imposing a substantial further drop in income. Continue reading

With Tenacity, Optimism, Militancy to Decisively Strengthen the KKE

Communist Party of Greece (KKE)

Aleka Papariga, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the KKE, held a press conference 18/4 on the enormous social issue of unemployment, which now affects every Greek family, as unemployment according to official statistics has surpassed 21%, while amongst young people it is over 50%.

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As A. Papariga stressed, in the election period the question of unemployment will be used by the other parties as a theatre piece, and they foster illusions that investments which support the profitability of capital will reduce unemployment and raise wages and pensions. The KKE has a unified proposal for struggle. Continue reading

Solidarity to the struggle of the Greek people! – Shame on the Government of Finland!

Yrjö Hakanen, Chairman of the CP of Finland – 18.02.2012

Greece is to be made into a precedent of how the bill of the financial crisis is to be paid by the working and poor people. At the same time the crisis is used to attack workers’ rights and democracy, to carry out privatization and to implement a huge income transfer in favour of big capital. The perpetrators are the same representatives of financial capital, of the European Union and of the governments, who are to blame for the crisis.

The Communist Party of Finland expresses its solidarity with the Greek workers and people, with the trade union movement and left-wing forces who struggle against the austerity policies pursued by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the plutocracy.

The CPF condemns the participation of the Government of Finland in such policies which crush the democratic rights of the Greek people, reduce the wages by half of the pre-crisis levels, operate drastic cuts in social security, privatize public services and generate growing unemployment and poverty. It is a shame that such policies are supported within the Finnish government by leaders of the Social Democratic Party, the Left Alliance and the Greens Party, too.

We Communists are on Saturday 18 February in Helsinki part and parcel of the demonstration of solidarity and support for the struggle of the Greek people: “We all are Greeks, the struggle is common. We have had enough of austerity and of the oligarchy!”

Solidarity to the Greek workers and people.

Solidarity to the Greek workers and people. / Arjo Suonperä

Heavy-Handed Response to Protest a Worrying Trend

by Rick Gunderman

One of the chief wonders that modern technology has produced, at least as far as activism is concerned, is the ability to document undeniable video evidence of police brutality. Previous victims of police violence had to rely chiefly on procuring eyewitnesses, and even then it was the word of a handful of private citizens against that of a police officer. The occasional sympathetic judge notwithstanding, victims were routinely denied justice.

A disturbing trend, however, is the relative absence of any real outrage over police brutality when the victims are protesters.

A simple search of YouTube for videos of police violence against Occupy protesters will yield countless results, few of them showing police acting in “self-defence” or using “reasonable force”.

Demonstrators at past G20 summits will remember the hostility of security forces. The Toronto summit in 2010 produced a record number of mass arrests, with 1,105 people arrested and 99 criminal charges laid. The price tag for this display of state power was over $2 billion.

Protests across Europe, notably in Greece, Spain and the UK, have all produced scenes of heavy-handed security forces brutalizing protesters. Rarely is there any visible evidence of what the victims might have done to require such a response.

The fight against tuition fees and education costs has been forefront on the international progressive struggle, particularly in countries without universal post-secondary education. Attempts to raise tuition sparked riots in the United Kingdom in 2010, and most recently students in Quebec have mobilized to fight against steep increases in the costs of education.

The struggle in Quebec shows a lot of promise. Students from both English- and French-speaking universities have joined together in protest, and previous mobilizations in that province have produced results. Their current target is the right-wing, reactionary Charest Liberal government. The increasingly centrist (and in some cases, right-wing) Parti Quebecois has demonstrated little willingness to take up the struggle or even offer more than isolated token gestures of solidarity.

Provincial politics in Quebec, previously among the most left-leaning and progressive in all of North America and especially among the non-Spanish speaking countries, has experienced a major right-ward drift in the last decades, ostensibly in the name of “moderation”. Revolutionary activists recognize any appeals to “moderation”, “middle ground” and other empty slogans as pure class collaborationism. This correlates with the abandonment of the socialist, then later social democratic, principles of the Quebec independence movement in a bid to court “moderates” to help them achieve their goal. Carrying on this tradition today in Quebec is Quebec Solidaire, a federation of socialist and left parties, including the Parti Communiste du Quebec, but the PQ and the Bloc Quebecois have lost much of their dedication to left-wing goals.

In the grander context of Quebec history, the sovereignty movement had firm working-class roots and faced themselves against the largely English-speaking bourgeois class in Quebec. As the sovereignty movement brought the grievances of poor, working, Francophone Quebecois to the forefront of Canadian politics, centrist and right-wing forces alike saw the value in placating their demands, but not through the methods they largely demanded.

By employing methods of raising the political, economic and social standing of Francophones in Canada as a whole and in Quebec in particular, the Liberal and Conservative Parties federally and the Liberal Party provincially produced the convenient side effect, intended or not, of introducing bourgeois elements into the sovereignty movement.

The sovereignty movement having led most of the progressive, working-class and anti-oppression struggles in Quebec, the debasing of its pro-worker program had the profound impact of robbing the progressive, revolutionary and democratic movements in Quebec of their most valuable allies. The PQ and BQ have since fallen into irrelevancy, as recent elections suggest, and they have nothing to blame but their abandonment of class struggle.

Within this context, the increasing willingness of right-wing and centrist elements in Quebec politics to call on security forces to repress left-wing demonstrations becomes less mystified. Student protesters on Champlain Bridge in Montreal, for example, are facing arrests and charges with no visible support coming from the PQ.

A similar trend of abandoning class struggle swept through the social democratic and democratic socialist parties in most of the developed world in the 80s and 90s, with the “Third Way” of Tony Blair’s Labour Party in the UK epitomizing this effect. The responses of British police, whether under the Labour Party or the Conservative Party, are similarly heavy-handed.

Other places in Europe experience similar responses, but to radical movements that still have some vitality. The French progressive movement has been historically very radical, and the responses of the various historical reactionary states in France have been consistently violent. The place in Europe where the communist movement is today in arguably the best position, leading a broad section of democratic and revolutionary elements in society, is Greece. The confrontations between demonstrators and police there are notorious.

This shows a desire by the reactionary forces that rule the liberal democratic states of the West in the name of the people but in the interests of the capitalist class to repress radical, progressive, revolutionary politics, both dormant and active.