We often hear the following, well-intentioned question: “What would you have done if you had been in the place of the SYRIZA government?”
The question is not illogical. But we must put it in the right perspective.
If we, the KKE, were in the “place” of SYRIZA, meaning the place of bourgeois management, the place of defending the interests of capital demanding the restoration of profitability, seeking to use the advantages conferred on capital by membership in the EU, the eurozone, and more generally the Euro-Atlantic alliances and the NATO; if we were in the “place” of taking over a government that is a tool of the power of monopolies; if we were in the “place” of negotiating on behalf of Greek capitalism by sitting in the roundtables of the EU, the eurozone, and other imperialist organizations. . . .
If we were in that “place,” we would not do anything more or less than what SYRIZA is already doing. We could not help but have the same dilemmas: should we continue inside the euro or opt for bankruptcy, whether controlled or uncontrolled, and a drachma-based Greek capitalism? We would weigh what is more to our capitalism’s interest and choose accordingly. And that’s what SYRIZA did.
But if we were in that “place,” we would no longer be a Communist Party, the party of the working class and the popular strata; we would have become a different party, unable to struggle on their behalf.
That is what we have explained since 2012, when workers were asking us, with good intentions, to “enter” a coalition government with SYRIZA, to support it, or at least to tolerate it on 5-10 issues.
We explained, back then as well, that every government of bourgeois management, for all its intentions, declarations, and self-characterizations, for all its aspirations, is objectively forced into a specific anti-people path, because such a government is not the product of rupture with capital, its power, the imperialist organizations, the EU, etc.
Today, the illusion and delusion that things could have been otherwise collapses before our very eyes, no matter how much various and sundry try to cover up the truth with the tatters of a caricature of rupture, such as the “national currency,” the capitalist “reconstruction of production,” the “honest compromise”; no matter how much they try to retouch the make-up and resell it, trying to snare those who are angry, or disappointed with SYRIZA’s policy, back into the corral with the shipowners, the pharmaceutical industrialists, the US and German capitalist centers supporting Grexit.
But let us turn the question around:
What would have happened if there had been a radical change in the correlation of forces, to the advantage of the working class and poor popular strata, if, in place of a government of bourgeois management, a government that is a mere tool of capitalist power, we had a real workers’ and people’s government, a tool of the power of workers and popular strata, in which communists would of course play a decisive role?
Such a governmental power would not be trapped in the dead ends of an anti-people negotiation with the imperialist organizations of the EU, the ECB, and the IMF. It would not even start the kind of process we have lived through in the past five months.
First of all, because it would not acknowledge the entire existing institutional and legislative anti-people and anti-labor framework, nor the memorandum-related and non-memorandum-related laws; it would not acknowledge the measures supporting capital, protecting its profits, the outrageous privileges of corporate groups. It would abolish all of them; it would overturn them. It would also not recognize commitments to the EU, the ECB, the IMF, and the NATO, nor the “obligations” deriving thereof. It would put an end to the participation of the country in these imperialist groups. It would disengage it from them.
It would not leave the keys to the economy, the production units, the services, energy, infrastructure, and banks, in the hands of business groups, capital of monopolies. It would undertake a series of immediate steps, launching the process of socialization and the organization of the economy on the basis of scientific central planning. It would thus open the path to the utilization of the productive capacity of the country, using as a criterion not the profit of corporate groups and capital, nor capitalist exploitation, but the satisfaction of workers’ and people’s needs, of broader social needs. This path will allow us to exit the crisis in the interests of workers and common people. It will make it possible to develop, equally and commensurably, sectors that are currently restricted because of commitments to the EU (e.g. shipbuilding, sugar, meat production).
Such a power would not acknowledge public debt, nor the obligation to pay it back. It would declare its unilateral abolition.
Such a power and government would be a product of a broad working-class and popular mobilization and the participation of the workers and popular strata in the exercise of power, through new institutions that will arise from their subversive struggle, replacing the rotten institutions of the bourgeois political system and the “democracy” of monopolies.
Such a power and government would immediately sign mutually beneficial international agreements with other states, to import medicine, food, energy, precisely because it would not have the commitment to participate in imperialist organizations like the EU, the NATO, etc.
This is the place for which we are struggling today.
The whole struggle of communists is oriented in that direction. It aims to change the correlation of forces to the benefit of the working class and the poor popular strata, in order to change the path that the country is following; in order to abandon the capitalist path to development, whether based on the euro or the drachma, along with its crises, its immiseration, its exploitation, its rightless life, the adaptation of workers’ and people’s needs to the limits always imposed by the profits of corporate groups, its commitment to participate in capitalist unions and imperialist alliances.
This is the reason why today the KKE calls on the people not simply to resist capital’s new anti-people and anti-labor attack, the SYRIZA-ANEL government, and the EU; but to use its struggle as a launching pad, to turn it into a step toward the regroupment of the labor movement, the reinforcement of the Popular Alliance; to strengthen the anti-capitalist and anti-monopoly orientation of the movement, by targeting the real enemy: monopolies, capital, employers, and their governments, their parties, their international allies the EU-USA-NATO. This is the only way to change the correlation in the interest of the people — in order for the people to form a strong, determined force, capable of blocking the anti-people offensive today, and defeating it tomorrow, imposing its own way out. In this process, workers will be able to attain successes and victories, small and large. And that is the criterion with which they must stand in front of the ballot box, if and when this happens again: how their vote will help bolster the effort to change the correlation of forces in order to help the people rise up, organized and determined to put their future in their own hands.
The original article “Η «θέση» τους και η «θέση» μας” was published in Rizospastis, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), on 19 July 2015. The text above is adapted from the translation provided by In Defense of Greek Workers.