Greece, Athens, 18/08/10
Elias member of SEK (the Greek sister organisation to the British SWP) speaks to Tees SWP.
Interviewer: I understand the SEK is putting forward the demand of non payment to the IMF, How will the movement win such demands?
E: Everyone in Greece knows what the IMF is, everyone knows, you don’t have to give the picture of what the IMF is, everyone feels in their skin. Everyone knows what is happening in their life. The point is that to overthrow the IMF, what our part of the left are saying, we must stop paying the Greek bankers, it is irrational to save some bankers and throw into hell the rest of the society. It is very stupid and crazy. Non payment is part of the movement however it is still not the majority position. The working class can kick out the IMF with organised action. Everywhere the IMF goes there is a collapse in everything since the IMF has existed. The crisis will get worse for us, they will be collapse, the government will say they are bankrupt as a country, because it happens all over the world where the IMF goes. The problem will be whether the people throw the IMF out. I want to believe that the people will do this. What we are doing is getting people to organise in their workplace. The point is to win a big part of the working class to do this. We have these examples in Greece at the Intercom factories the revolutionary left are growing, they are taking steps forward and have organised strikes. For the last twenty free years there was not a strike but because of the crisis and the intervention of the revolutionary left there has been three big strikes in these factories to save jobs. This is an example that should be generalised everywhere
Interviewer: Do you think the rise in struggle will push racism back?
E: In Greece the government and the right is trying to make racism grow. There is not much racism within the working class but the media in an organised manner is trying to blame immigrants for many things that are happening now. Right now we do not have a big fascist party in Greece but they are in parliament. The fascists said yes to the IMF and they have little roots in the working class, but they have a media presence. We in SEK have made a United Front, the movement against racism and fascism that has organised large anti racist demonstrations. We are trying to convince the whole left, the working class, that today we must stop the fascists before they can make roots. As long as capitalism survives we cannot go to sleep about the threat of fascism.
Interviewer: The Communist party is relatively large within Greece, what solutions are they putting forward to the crisis?
E: The communist party is still big but it is not growing bigger, as the crisis grows deeper they don’t win new people. The CP is a Stalinist party, it is very traditional. It openly believes in Stalin and that Russia was Socialist. They do not let strikes and occupations grow. Practically the CP is a reformist Stalinist party; there is no contradiction in that, because it is socialism from above. They say prefer us in the next elections so that the balance of power will favour the left. They believe that only the party has the power to change things and not the working class. Members of the party do not believe that there can be a revolution today so the only solution is to make parliamentary inroads. If a strike arises that they do not control they try to ruin it. As the crisis grows the non parliamentary left are the only ones who are growing. The last elections the CP lost one hundred and seventy thousand voters and the other left reformist party (SYRIZA) lost many more, while the smaller revolutionary left electoral coalition is gaining votes. In December 2008 it was only the revolutionary left in the centre of Athens fighting the government. New Democracy, the Greek Tories said that the uprising is against social order. The revolutionary left said we do not believe in this social order because it is not a workers order. We do not pay respect to your so called democracy because it is a democracy for the rich. The CP said people who damage property are agents of the CIA and agent provocateurs. Even if they are two, three, five, ten, twenty agents of the CIA, there were seventy thousand people every day for a month, even children. You cannot call a high school student a CIA agent. A cop killed a fifteen year child, the people responded within two hours to that all over Greece. The same night when the assassination happened all of Greece was on fire. This has nothing to do with the CIA or thieves. In December in Greece the CP was in favour of protecting small businesses from vandalism, this is not the main issue. The uprising was spontaneous, the revolutionary left wanted to make it more conscious, more organised and bigger. As the crisis goes deeper there is not room for grey areas, things are becoming black and white are you with this or not? Two days ago they announced that the price of bread will sky rocket what do you say about that? Who decides the prices, the speculators? As things get worse people will want a clear solution. The CP is not growing. The only way the CP could grow is if the working class does not advance and the solutions of a great party and a great leader can then appeal to people. We are trying to advance the struggle in Greece.
Interviewer: While in Greece I have heard that there was one big demonstration in July and now people are getting frustrated?
E: The working movement doesn’t go like a straight line which goes up, I was reading Lenin’s texts from February to October 1917, it was the same not only then, it is always the same. There are people that start to fight when things start moving, this is good it’s not bad, but the day after, the biggest demonstration in Greece this year was the 5th of May it was a big event all over the world. There is a part of people which says “they are even trying to break into parliament but the next day everything is the same”, everything is not the same! I mean how the movement is growing is not a line that goes up in a even way, the revolution if it is going to come I think it will, it goes in waves, something big might happen and the day after the right wing of society might strike back very hard. Today we made five steps forward but the government may answer and put you seven steps back. There will be some people who will then say we shouldn’t do it so hard. You walk three steps forward, they will try to put you back, how it grows it is a period of advancement then a period of a steady situation or it goes back. All the time it’s growing. If you put yourself back and see the whole picture not just what happened today. For example in Greece If you see the demonstrations of this year, if you make the sum the half of 2010, this 6 months of the year you need five, ten years to have all these demonstrations. Things are moving very quickly, it is more organised and radicalised. One thing is sure the people will fight back, what Gramsci said there is this double consciousness in each person, at the same time you want to fight and the same time you are afraid to fight because you lose things. As the crisis grows deeper this is the objective aspect and the other part is subjective what you do, what you organise to help every part of the working class to make connections between them. How you organise your class, you organise yourself and the one that stands next to you, all this helps things move to a situation that makes you want to overthrow the system. The whole thing is open, it has always been open. A very good lesson for everyone to read is what happened in between February and October in Russia 1917. People at the beginning did not prefer the Bolsheviks they preferred the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries. The Bolsheviks were the majority in the soviets only in October. All these months in one way was stupid, the people didn’t want the provisional government, every worker was saying the provisional government was a right wing government, they wanted to fight against this government but they wanted to force the other parties to take power, they didn’t want a complete revolution. It was a fight for the Bolsheviks. All these things are open for a small fight, a big fight or for the final fight for revolution. I do not like to be the prophet to see things optimistic or pessimistic. What I aspect in September, everyone says in that month, in fifteen days it will be hell in Greece, not only in Greece but especially here because what they are doing to us is very hard, in one stroke they are trying to take many things back and the people will answer hard. The sure thing for me is people will fight strong and heroically, the point is how we organise to make something big and permanent and I’m not just talking about Greece but all over the world. Today we can do it in better conditions than what was in the past for example 1917 in Russia, today the economy is so global, the revolution itself is something that spreads like a virus, when it goes in one country it will go all over. In every country it is what the people will do. If you see Greece right now there is a good picture of the left itself and if you see Italy it is the opposite picture, this is not because the crisis is different, it is what the people have in their heads, the left messed it up in Italy. The biggest fight for the left is how you can make a worker realise whether they are for the revolution or reforms. I said before I’m sure the people will fight. If you fight just to lower the price of the products, you may win or you may not, even if you win, you win nothing because you are not the government, you are not the bosses, you are not the one who makes the decisions. I’m sure that globally, not just in Greece the next decade will be an important decade, not just because of the crisis, the working movement all over the world will grow. The bad thing is Stalinism makes people believe socialism is connected to the gulags. The people are right about they think about what communism was like in Russia. The point is to get people to want socialism which is not socialism from above. The good thing is Stalinism is not alive as an economic social construction of society. Before 1989 The Greek Communist Party were saying we are not just talking about socialism we have made it in the last eighty years in Russia.