Monday, November 22, 2010

Interview of a member of the Communist Organization of Greece to the Ukrainian Left Press

Interview of a member of the Communist Organization of Greece
to the Ukrainian Left Press*

23 December 2008

- Tell our readers about yourself. Do you participate in the revolt?

Nikos: All the members and sympathizers of the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE) are actively participating in the revolt all over Greece, and I am not an exception.

- The revolt in Greece goes on for more than two weeks. We know that the violence of police, that killed a 15 years old antifascist, affected people. But media says nothing about social situation that pushed people to the streets. Could you say why thousands go to the street?

Nikos: The cold-blood murder of Alexis Grigoropoulos triggered a social protest that rapidly took the characteristics of a revolt. The youth, and especially the secondary education students, are in the frontline of this wave of protests that overwhelmed the whole country: from the capital Athens and other big cities, as Thessaloniki, Patra, etc., until the smallest towns of the countryside. Indeed, dozens of thousands get to the streets every day. The murder of Alexis spilled over the social discontent that accumulates since long time, and increased further during the last months. The current episode of the capitalist crisis was the coronation of a long period of attacks against the social and democratic rights of the broad popular masses. Since 20 years, the youth and the working people of Greece witness a continuous degradation of their living standards. The unemployment, the low salaries and pensions, the rapid increase of the basic goods’ prices, the lack of future for the youth … all this situation, together with the continuous financial scandals that implicate the two main bourgeois parties as well as many businessmen and the Church, fed the social discontent, increased the political crisis and became the base of this revolt.

- What the people on the street demands?

Nikos: The first and most important demand is that all those responsible for the murder of Alexis must pay for their crime: from the policeman who assassinated him in cold blood, to the government who has unleashed a huge attack against the youth and the people. All this is embodied in the main slogan of the demonstrators: “Down with this government of murderers!”. Here I must say that there are dozens of police murders during the last years, and their perpetrators always remain unpunished – this increases the justified anger of the youth. After the first days, when the revolt became more conscious and political, a series of other concrete demands were added, concerning the defence of the democratic rights, the abolition of all the legislation against the social security rights of the workers and the unemployed, against the privatization of the public services, of the education and of the health system, for the increase of salaries and pensions, etc.

- Media shows only "men with masks", who "provoke disorder". Who is on the streets of Athens now? What role are the anarchists from the "black block" playing, and who is the real force of the revolt?

Nikos: The mainstream Media would be funny, if they were not dangerous. They have a very selective way of viewing and reproducing the reality. They show indeed only the “masked rioters”. They “cannot” see the combative demonstrations of dozens of thousands of youth and people all over Greece. They “cannot” see those thousands of students, who protest outside the police stations in each and every city, without any masks, just full of hate against this murderous system. They “cannot” see the dozens of thousands of working people who demonstrated during the General Strike. There are many groups in the streets of Greece: Socially, the main force is the youth. Politically, the main force is the Radical Left. The various trends of anarchists are of course participating actively; but they themselves admit that they were “surprised by the intensity and the duration of the revolt”.

- Police violence caused the revolt. Did masses on the street attack police or defend themselves from police violence?

Nikos: As I said before, in many cases the youth (and not the “masked rioters”) besiege the police stations – and often they defend themselves and throw stones, bottles, paint bags, eggs, etc. to the Special Forces. The barbarity of the police, the cynicism of the government and the continuous impunity of all the police criminals intensifies the anger of the people. The demonstrators want to make clear that this time they will not allow the murderer, who assassinated in cold blood a young boy that was not at all implicated in any incident, go unpunished. Also there were many cases where teachers, parents and bystanders liberated arrested young boys and girls from the hands of the police.

- How the big parties could use the revolt? Can the social-democrats from PASOK become the next government? What is their attitude towards the protesting masses? What is their difference from the right-wing party, which is now in the government? Will people become calm, if PASOK will enter government?

Nikos: There are two big bourgeois parties: the government right-wing party, “Nea Dimokratia”, and the social-democratic PASOK – in reality this is also a neoliberal party. PASOK is using the “ripe fruit” method: it is not asking the resignation of the government, and waits for the elections in order to exploit the government’s party degeneration. Many of its leading cadres have publicly turned against the movement and the Radical Left, accusing them for “complicity with the rioters” and asking the government to “impose the law”. The political crisis may lead to the formation of a “big bourgeois coalition” including both bourgeois parties, or to the electoral victory of PASOK. However, even in this second case, it is clear that if the present government will be chased by the people, PASOK will not be able to apply easily its anti-people program – they will be much more afraid of the people than they were before the revolt. The people have changed because of the revolt, nothing will be the same anymore.

- KKE is biggest left party in Greece. But we know it is not supporting the revolt. They say that revolt is in favour of the rightists. What can you tell about their policy? Do people support the position of KKE?

Nikos: This supposedly left party has now revealed fully its real face. KKE is very “revolutionary” in words – especially in periods of relative social calm. But when the situation becomes critical, this party always follows the camp of “law and order”. During the 2005 revolt in the French suburbs, they were accusing the French Left for not supporting the revolt! Then, it was “safe” to pretend that they are very revolutionary. However now, that the revolt takes place in Greece, they say it’s not a revolt but a “provocation organized by foreign powers”, and that “in a real revolt, the masses will not smash even one glass”! They have accused KOE and SYRIZA for “covering the rioters and conspirators”, and they received the congratulations of the government (and even of the extreme right-wing party LAOS) for their “responsible stand”. Now thousands of communists have lost their last illusions about the supposedly “revolutionary” character of KKE and turn their back to its leadership.

- The Radical Left Coalition SYRIZA plays an important role in revolt. Tell our readers more about this Coalition and about the tactics of SYRIZA in the struggle of last week. KKE says that SYRIZA is a destructive force that plays a dangerous game with "man in masks", is it true?

Nikos: The Radical Left Coalition is composed by several forces – the bigger one is the left reformist party “Synaspismos” and the second bigger is our Organization, KOE. We can say that SYRIZA, despite its weaknesses, was the only parliamentary party in Greece that stood by the side of the revolt, and that in many cases its forces, mainly KOE, played a protagonist role in the organization and the development of the ongoing struggle. The accusations of KKE against SYRIZA are identical with those that the government and the bourgeois Media are promoting against us. They are pure and conscious slandering.

- Tell us about the Communist Organization of Greece. Are you a part of SYRIZA? We know that your organization supports Maoism; is Chairman Mao popular amongst youth? Which tendency inside the Left movement is stronger now - Maoism, Trotskyism, pro-soviet communism, anarchism?

Nikos: Our Organization was officially formed in January 2003, after a long period of preparation. Actually it is the fastest developing left force, with organized presence in 40 cities all over Greece. Our origins are in the Communist and Marxist-Leninist Movement of Greece. We joined SYRIZA in June 2007 and, as its communist current, we played a decisive role in the growth of its influence, especially among the communists and the radical youth. In the past, Maoism was rather discredited in Greece, because there were several small groups claiming to be Maoist and rivalling each other about which one is the “real vanguard party” and which is “really Maoist” – they were spending more energy in such petty-quarrels than in organizing and leading the people, and they were copying mechanically what they thought to be Maoist without taking into account the national conditions… Thanks to KOE, a growing number of people start to approach the authentic work of Mao and of other revolutionaries, like Che; and, consequently, the Communist strategy and tactics. This includes the youth, while a few years ago the KKE and the anarchists were those having a crashing influence. The anarchists are still influencing (albeit not in a permanent way) a large portion of the youth. But we must not forget what Lenin said: “Anarchism is the price paid by the workers’ movement because of its opportunism”! And there was a lot of it in the official Greek Left!

- What mass struggle did achieved now? What is the perspective of revolt? Can revolt lead to revolution?

Nikos: The biggest achievement is that now it is proved beyond any doubt what we were always saying: The people and the youth are not passive, and it is possible to mobilize them and to wage mass radical struggles. Most “revolutionary” forces, from KKE to the anarchists, have a very bad idea about the potential of the people and of the youth: they believe that the huge majority are “rotten individualist petty-bourgeois”, and in reality they have no confidence to the masses, they do not believe that anything can change. On the contrary, KOE always believed that the only way is the hard way: to go to the people, to become one with the people, to listen to the people and to give them again faith that only the organized mass struggle can bring a real change. In September, we adopted the general orientation of KOE for the next two years: there, we were saying that we must prepare ourselves for the revolts that will break out because of the generalized crisis. That’s why the actual revolt did not catch us sleeping and surprised, as it happened with the KKE or the anarchists. We were working for it, we were getting prepared for it, and we took part in it from the first moment. We will see if the revolt will achieve to further marginalize the bourgeois parties; nothing is granted. A revolt is not a revolution, and the spontaneous character is prevailing in it. The sure thing is that the systemic forces have lost their influence over the youth – a whole generation has been baptised in the struggle, despite its confusion. A lot will depend now on the conscious work of the radical left forces, and especially of us, communists. The revolt has limits, including time limits – it cannot continue for ever. But it creates favourable conditions for the next revolts that will come because of the generalized crisis and because of the work of the communists, and it prepares them to be even deeper and more radical.

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