Over one hundred angry workers were marching in the streets of Athens, on December 15, the day of the 24 hours General Strike called by the GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece involving the private sector) and ADEDY (National Federation of Public Employees). It is beyond any doubt now that there is a new upsurge of mass militancy in Greece, after a relative reflux in summer and early autumn.
Against all those skeptics who were ready to spell the “defeat of the masses”, or to deplore their “passivity” in front of the IMF/EU barbaric measures imposed by the PASOK government, a new wave of radicalization and unprecedented mobilizations is growing: in the recent regional elections , the existing bourgeois political system was repudiated by the mass abstention of the large majority of the voting population; tens of thousands demonstrated on November 17, the day of commemoration of the 1973 Polytechnic uprising against the military dictatorship; tens of thousands were marching in the streets all over Greece on December 6, day of commemoration of the assassination of the young student Alexandros Grigoropoulos that led to the December 2008 rebellion; the General Strike of December 15 was a tremendous success both in participation in the strike and in the demonstrations; and the non-stop strikes of the transport workers and in the public enterprises, under immediate threat of privatization, paralyze the country because of the strategic nature of these sectors.
All these mobilizations turn, in general, into violent street fights against the escalating State repression. The brutality of the riot police reaches new records, in the long history of barbarism of the repression forces in Greece. The previous months, there were special military exercises of the repression forces in sport stadiums to train them how to repress urban uprisings. Now, they put these “lessons” into practice, using new and old techniques as well as an incredible quantity of chemical gazes launched against everybody in sight, against demonstrators but also against old people passing by or even children, who had to be hospitalized with respiratory and cardiac problems. But in the hospitals too the injured are persecuted by police making interrogations and arrests despite the strong protests of the doctors.
The utter hypocrisy of the bourgeois media in Greece and in Europe is that they totally ignore the extreme police brutality, operating under the orders of the “Socialist” Papandreou government, while they had over-emphasized a minor incident: Costas Hadjidakis, the ex Minister of the previous right wing government, who personally was responsible for the privatization of Olympic Airways leaving thousands of workers without a job, was physically assaulted, when he was recognized walking near the parliament, by an angry crowd of middle aged demonstrators, many of them jobless after the sell out of Olympic. This expression of popular anger demanding justice was vehemently denounced and condemned not only by the bourgeois media and parties but as well by the trade union bureaucracy and the Stalinist Communist Party( which denounced, as usual, those who attacked the ex-minister to be “police agents” and “suspicious anarchists”).
One important characteristic of the 100.000plus demonstration in Athens on December 15 is that the large majority marched independently from the small GSEE/ADEDY contingent, behind the banners of the Coordination of class struggle unions and the far left organizations. The Stalinist PAME, as usual, did its own separate rally in Omonia, strictly with its supporters, in distance from the main demonstration.
It is not accidental that this time, it was not the anarchist youth groups or the EEK the only target of police brutality: the Coordination of the class struggle unions became the target of a vicious attack by the riot police near the Parliament. A similar attack was launched against a group of class struggle trade unionists, who, after the end of the main demonstration, marched to the GSEE headquarters to demand a continuation of the strike action. A section wanted to occupy the headquarters in protest against the treachery of the GSEE bureaucracy. The bureaucracy took the side of the police and the parties of the parliamentary Left denounced the “extremists”, i.e. the most combative elements of the movement.
As the militancy of this combative section grows, the confusion spread by centrism intensifies. The propaganda of the so-called “platform of the left economists” asking “for a moratorium of the debt, a public accounting inquiry, on the lines of Correa in Ecuador, and a renegotiation to cancel the illegitimate debt partially or totally” is widely promoted. The EEK organizes public meetings all over the country presenting the analysis of the world crisis, based on the last two Statements of the International Secretariat of the CRFI, criticizing the centrists, reformists and Stalinists, and advancing a revolutionary program for a socialist answer to the challenge of the evolving systemic bankruptcy.
The general line of the EEK in the mobilization of December the 15th was to call for an indefinite General Political Strike to smash the government and its measures, to kick out the EU and the IMF, to cancel the foreign debt, and to establish workers power. Behind our banner with this line, hundreds of workers and youth rallied, many of them for the first time, including the most militant wing of the Metro workers, of workers recently fired form their jobs, and of the popular movement against the payment of tolls in the privatized motor ways.
The most urgent political question is now unifying the entire workers and popular movement all over Greece on a central plan of action on a program of transitional demands. The organization and political training of the growing forces defying capitalist barbarism and the bureaucracies, the re-groupment of the vanguard in the revolutionary Party is the most crucial task.
The new upsurge is immediately connected with the upsurge all over Europe, from Britain and Ireland, to Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy. As a matter of fact, the “Memorandum”, the program imposed on the Greek people by the EU, the ECB and the IMF in May 2010, had as a target not to avoid the unavoidable Greek default but to create a protective “fire zone” in this part of Europe to stop the expansion of the fire of the Greek capitalist collapse to the entire Euro zone. The Memorandum has failed in every aspect. It made the life of the Greek people a misery but the wild fire of the capitalist bankruptcy is spreading now all over the Old Continent.
We have to prepare ourselves for revolutionary situations in the birthplace of world capitalism.
Savas Michael, 20 December 2010