Interview| Kostas Skordoulis:”Syriza-Anel government has to be overthrown”
Kostas Skordoulis member of OKDE Spartakos answered our questions about the political situation in Greece before the general strike on 4th of February .
How do you evaluate Syriza’s one year in power? Syriza-Anel government already accepted austerity and a new memorandum and now applying it. What is the cost of the crisis for the laborers in the last year?
Our evaluation has to do with the class nature of SYRIZA and the illusions for a “left government”. Reformists believe that the state is a neutral apparatus and the “left government” was nothing more than a bankrupt schema of administration of the bourgeois state in favour of the working class. As I have stated again and again, this schema has never worked in favour of the working class. The schema of “left government” was doomed to failure right from its initial conception.
My other point has to do with all those in the international left who supported SYRIZA and the idea of “left government” and now talk about Tsipras’ capitulation. From the very beginning, OKDE-Spartakos has stated clearly that the «left government» project had no chance even for a modest success, not because of Tsipras, but because this schema had not only a theoretical deficit but also because the Syriza program of social reforms could not be implemented without a decisive break with the policies of greek and european capital including a decisive break with the eurozone. OKDE-Spartakos is one of the very few voices on the Left, including the far Left, supporting independent working class action and fighting for the autonomous political expression of the working class.
The new Syriza-Anel government, after the September election, is a continuation of the previous one with one exception, openly pro-austerity policies. We had defined the previous government as a class collaboration government led by a left reformist party. This government can be clearly described as a bourgeois government in the sense that it has a program to save the ‘national economy’ through the imposition of austerity measures on the working class. This government functions in the interests of Greek and European capital and has to be overthrown.
It is canvessed that Greek economy is entering a recovery era. Do you expect an economical growth? If so, how does it effect social opposition?
There are some international Financial Rating Services (like Standard and Poor’s recently) that they envisage a return to growth of Greek economy. This of course is based on the assumption that the new social security scheme proposed by the Syriza government is going to pass through parliament and also that the plan of the extensive privatizations of public property and resources is going to be successful. Then the economy, according to them, is going to recover (so they say).
Let me clarify. For me there is no such a thing as a national economy. What is good for the capitalists is not good for the labourers. And this is clear in this case. The recovery of national economy means a recovery of the profits of the capitalists which is going to be based on further austerity and poverty of the working class. It means a total immeseration of the working population in terms of living conditions, health services, social security, neutrition etc.
And further on…a rather theoretical matter….I dont think that there is a linear dependence between the status of the economy and the actual growth of social opposition. The matter is more complicated given that the development of the consciousness of the working class (as «a class for itself») follows a non-linear pattern influenced by a number of factors other than the growth of capitalist economy.
In Syriza, there is an opposition against austerity measurements, if not wrong, it is about the half of the MPs. We know that Syriza expells the deputies voted for no, from the part. In 2016, when a new measurement comes to the parliament, and Syriza members vote for no, can the governement lose its majority in the parliamant? Is it possible?
I think this is a wrong assesment of the balance of forces inside the Syriza party. After the withdrawal of the Left Platform which later formed Popoular Unity, the left in Syriza is extremely weak if not existant. To be more precise, the left(??) now in Syriza is headed by Tsakalotos the currently Minister of Economics and it seems prety awkward to me if Tsakalotos implements a certain (austerity) policy that somebody from his group is going to disagree.
If there are any differentiations among the Syriza MPs, this is going to be the outcome of a pressure from below ie the striking trade unions and not from any organized opposition inside the party.
There’s a general strike on 4th of the February. Can we say that a class opposition against Syriza emerges? Do you prescribe a general strike movement against Syriza?
There is yet another one day genaral strike in Greece on the 4th of February. We have seen many one day general strikes in the past period. It has been proved that these one day strikes are completely ineffective. They more or less function as a safety valve to let the steam out of the boiler. What we need is an action plan of escalation of the mobilizations which will ultimately reach a permanent general strike to bring down the government.
Last November, the Greek government voted in the Parliament the legislation based on the 3rd memorandum: cuts to pensions and wages, exhaustive taxation for farmers and low-salaried employees, confiscation of housing properties for those who cannot repay their loans to the banks, massive privatization of public property (airports, seaports, railways).
The general strike on November 12, 2015 was the first general strike during the new period of the SYRIZA-ANEL government. The genaral strike of February 4, 2016 is the second one.
These strikes are important because they show the necessity of mass action and the sentiment of the working class to open a new circle of struggles against the memoranda and austerity. But this event by itself is inadequate. There has to be a continuation. Anticapitalists have to build on this event.
In general, we dont share the view that the workers movement is on the rise at this time. It has to be. The working class movement has to enter a new phase of struggles after the hesitant attitude it showed during the first period of the SYRIZA-ANEL government. Antarsya in this period has put all its potential in the struggle of the part time municipal workers supporting their demand for permanent employment. This struggle has to be combined with the struggle of maritime workers and the emerging struggle against reactionary reforms in social security and the pension scheme which in my opinion is going to be the mother of all battles. We have seen signs of this already. Farmers, lawyers, engineers and other middle strata have already entered in mobilizations against the proposed reforms in social security. But the outcome of this struggle is going to be determined by the actual participation of the main working class sectors.
In any case, this is the secong general strike under the Syriza government. It is by itself important because it shows that the working people gradually clear the illussions they have on the Syriza government and start relying on their own potential and activity to win the battle against austerity policies imposed upon them by the greek and european capital.
And at last but not least: what about the left’s ablities (especially ANTARSYA and KKE) to lead the movement against the austerities and Syriza?
We are entering a new period of struggles. In this new period OKDE-Spartakos and Antarsya will fight in their privileged terrain, the workplaces and the mass movement.
Our first task is to defend the right to social security and pension against the plans of the government. To do this we will try and build the widest possible unity in action of all the working class organizations. Antarsya has already made an appeal to other forces in the left (including KKE) for a United front action against the proposed social security scheme. This unity in action can be achieved through setting up “action committees” in the workplaces. These committees are instrumental in coordinating action since the National Trade Union Federation (GSSE) is in the hands of the trade union bureaucrats. The mobilization has to be the work of the “Action Committees”. Our first task is to win the battle against the proposed social security reforms.
Further more, OKDE-Spartakos has a program to campaign around the slogan “Occupy, operate the closed factories”. Hundreds of industrial plants have been abandoned by the capitalists and the workers have been fired. We want to extend the example of VIOME (a self-managed plant in Northern Greece) which for the last 5 years remains isolated and bring workers self-management and workers control of the economy back in the agenda. We also see this as a necessary answer of the workers movement itself to the problem of unemployment that runs still at 25%. Workers and unemployed should not depend on the mercy of the capitalist state to survive. They can emerge in the scene as active agents solving immediate problems of survival and in the long term restoring confidence in the working class.
Last but not least, comes the very important issue of solidarity with the refuggees fleeing to Greece, across the Aegean Sea, from the Turkish coast. Solidarity with the refugees and a campaign for «open borders» is a very important aspect of the work of Antarsya. Antarsya was pivotal in organizing the demonstrations in Thrace to bring down the fence across the Evros river. This campaign bringing together Greek and Turkish leftists demonstrating in both sides of the borders in Thrace was the highest and most concrete expression of contemporary internationalism. This campaign is on-going and should be intensified in the coming period since the EU proposes to close the European borders creating «fortress Europe» against the refugees but at the same time a jail for all those inside the fortress.