(Yürüyüs weekly magazine 455, February 8, 2015, pages 17-20. Translation from Turkish)
– In Greece, the “victory” of SYRIZA means pulling the anger of the people back inside the system!
– Lacking their own ideology, politics and perspective for power, opportunism, reformism, the Kurdish nationalists and the system left are affected by every breeze that blows… Now the hope in the midst of their hopelessness is SYRIZA…
– SYRIZA cannot practise independent politics without waging a struggle for independence from imperialism…
– In all periods of crisis, imperialists and their collaborators go over to cooperation with the system “left”. This will also be SYRIZA’S mission.
– The reformist left is exploiting the demands of the people for justice, freedom and democracy!
On Sunday, January 22, 2015, the Coalition of the Radical Left, abbreviated as SYRIZA, became the leading party as expected in the general election. SYRIZA gained an important election success by polling 36.3% and winning 149 seats. But the number of deputies was not enough for SYRIZA to form a government alone. Alexis Tsipras became Prime Minister by forming a coalition with ANEL, the Independent Greeks, a right-wing and nationalist breakaway from New Democracy, which gave the two deputies needed to form a government. After the election results Tsipras said the Greek people had written history. It is not necessary to be a prophet to determine beforehand what role SYRIZA and Tsipras will play in this history written by the people.
SYRIZA is a party created from the uniting of a number of left organisations and groups. Though united around a common programme, it cannot be said that it is a homogeneous party in the classic sense. In 2001, some left organisations and groups formed the coalition that took the name of Space for Dialogue for the Unity and Common Action of the Left. In the 2004 elections a left alliance was formed. SYRIZA came into being as a coalition for the 2009 elections, coming forward as the people’s opposition grew amid economic crisis, and in the June 2012 elections it made significant gains with 26.9% of the vote. In the space of five years it grew eight-fold and came to power.
What brought SYRIZA to power was its election propaganda that it would not accept the austerity policy imposed by the imperialists through the IMF, European Commission and the European Central Bank, called the Troika.
From 2008 to today, SYRIZA, because of economic crisis and the poverty which caused growing anger towards the collaborationist parties, succeeded in attracting support with its left phrases.
– Greece was as a country subjected to the tightest and harshest austerity policies:
– All workers lost on average a third of their wages.
– Workers in the private sector were downsized by a third and were not even paid their salaries.
– People could not meet their needs for health, food and shelter.
– Public sector expenditure went down by 40%, private by 70%.
– Despite all this the state debt grew. Unemployment was 26%, youth unemployment 50%.
– Before the Troika packet was implemented, 3.74 million worked in the private sector, by 2014 this was down to 2.78 million.
– In 2008 from every 10,000 people in Greece, there were two who were recorded as emigrating. By 2013 this figure was 47 out of every 10,000.
These were the conditions that brought SYRIZA to power, promising to change them. However, the capitalists and imperialists created these problems and by seeking solutions within that same system, SYRIZA will not be able to keep its promises and will not be able to meet the demands of the people.
APART FROM “RADICAL LEFT” IN ITS NAME, SYRIZA HAS NO CONNECTION WITH THE “RADICAL LEFT”
After the election victory of SYRIZA, the bourgeois press in Turkey and the world presented it as “the radical left has won in Greece”. The concept of the “radical left” in our country and the world generally means Marxist-Leninist and revolutionary organisations and parties waging armed struggle and defending warfare. So apart from the name “radical left” SYRIZA has no connection with the “radical left”. Naturally – SYRIZA’s programme contains nothing for a radical system change, it addresses some problems of a people that have been pushed to the brink by crisis, and seeks to alleviate them without touching the essence of the capitalist system. It is an error to expect from Tsipras and SYRIZA politics and programme that will put the system under pressure.
INDEPENDENT POLICIES CANNOT BE PRACTISED WITHOUT BREAKING WITH IMPERIALISM!
Since SYRIZA was first established in 2004 and was turned into a party in 2012, despite socialist phrases it has been a party that defends the parliamentary road, the European Union and a reformist line. When we look at SYRIZA’s programme we do not see a revolutionary break with the system at its roots but rather accommodation with the system.
In periods of crisis the system left is presented before the people as “hope” and the ruling classes resort to the system left as a way of getting through the crisis. The reformist left thus plays a life-saving role within the capitalist system.
SYRIZA’S PROGRAMME CONTAINS NO EXIT FROM THE EU AND THE IMF
Will SYRIZA play this role? Will it exit from NATO and the IMF? Will it be able to break all its ties of dependence with imperialism and close its military bases? Will it be able to say re the Greek oligarchy’s debts to imperialism, “I am not paying them”? These are some of the basic criteria for determining the nature of its government. SYRIZA will do nothing to change them. Whatever the election propaganda by Tsipras that “we did not create the debt and we will not pay it”, after forming a government it changed its tune in order to reassure the bourgeoisie and imperialism. It began to talk about extensions on debt repayment schedules and reductions in the interest rates. At his first meeting with the Council of Ministers as SYRIZA Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras declared that “there will be no fights that open the way to leaving the EU and the Euro”. The same day Economy Minister Yanis Varoufakis made similar statements.
The European Union is a union for the interests of the monopolies, not the interests of the people. The interests of the people lie with an independent, democratic and socialist Greece. SYRIZA wishes to stay in the EU and this gives an idea of the character of the organisation. This movement calls itself radical left but there is no radical aspect in its politics. It does not question Greece’s ties to imperialism. It opposes neither NATO, the IMF nor the EU. The programme it puts before the masses does not aim to achieve socialism. Rather than nationalisation its programme calls for increasing taxes on the bourgeoisie.
While on the one hand SYRIZA made these statements, on the other after a week in government it started to send messages that it would keep its promises to the people. It stated that it would end privatisation, it would end the work of the privatisation commission, those illegally thrown out of work would go back to work and wages of about 400 Euros would be increased to 751 Euros.
Socialist practise socialist economic policies. SYRIZA both says that it is socialist and stresses that its economic policies are not Marxist or revolutionary. It defends Keynesian policies as a solution to the crisis of Greece and Europe, predominantly with the private sector but with a major role for the state and public sector in a mixed economy. An economics expert of SYRIZA, Kostas Lapavitsas was on the BBC Hard Talk programme and spoke about its economic policies: “… The policies are a mild form of Keynesianism. This is not a Marxist revolutionary programme. Interpret it however you wish, this is abandoning austerity policies for those of moderate Keynesianism.”
This cannot be the programme of a party that calls itself socialist. It might be the programme of a social democratic system party. With exaggerated talk of the SYRIZA election victory being a “revolution”, the system left presents its programme to the peoples as representing “hope”. It belongs to the capitalist system that creates crises and makes people swim in debt. It is not possible to solve the crisis in the country without changing the capitalist laws of operation. This cannot be done without dismantling the capitalist state mechanisms and starting anew. It is only sewing on patches and plastering over cracks. This is a renewal and refreshing that imperialism and the oligarchy desire.
NO SOLUTION INSIDE THE SYSTEM CAN GIVE HOPE TO THE PEOPLE! THOSE WHO PRESENT IT AS HOPE ARE ACTUALLY COMMITTING A CRIME!
SYRIZA’s win in the Greek elections resonated in Turkey and Europe. Among the system left it created exaggerated enthusiasm and lifted morale. What excited the reformists and revisionists was the dream of parliamentary socialism. History is full of the negative lessons and examples that put an end to the dream. Reformists flee from revolution as though from the plague. The system left that is not revolutionary is presented to the people as revolutionary and as a source of hope. And this is what they are doing today.
Reformist circles could not take their eyes off the success of SYRIZA, letting out yells about “the victory of socialists” and celebrating with the claim that “SYRIZA is a new kind of hope”. They were overcome by dreams of winning in the same way and with the same programme. “That means we can do it if we believe and this is another reason to think so,” they said, boosting their hopes and refreshing their convictions.
But even this was not enough: it was likely beforehand that SYRIZA would win but the moment SYRIZA won they started to announce it as “a victory resonating throughout the world” and a “new and universal model”. It was said that SYRIZA’s victory was a serious blow to the politics pursued by Europe. Previously we heard a lot at the time of the “Arab Spring” about a “domino effect” and “the wave breaking on the Aegean will be followed by another and it will be the turn of the peoples of Turkey”. This was their claim and their heartfelt wish.
Our own left, even those calling themselves socialists and revolutionaries have started competing to be like SYRIZA. They could not share SYRIZA among themselves. “Radical left” arguments broke out in reply to the question, “Who is the SYRIZA of Turkey?” And they started a competition to be the SYRIZA of Turkey. The ÖDP (Freedom and Solidarity Party) claimed SYRIZA as its sister party. Comparisons began to be made by the HDP (Peoples’ Democracy Party) and the United June Movement (Translator’s note: an attempt to gather opposition forces following from the June 2013 popular uprising in Turkey). Even the youth wing of the CHP (Republican People’s Party) made haste. “We will work to establish a SYRIZA model in Turkey,” it said. The most passionate defenders of SYRIZA were the ÖDP and the Bir Gün (“One Day”) newspaper. Bir Gün started writing like that months ago. Almost every day its feature writers had something about SYRIZA and the elections in Greece. “SYRIZA’s win can be a model for the Mediterranean” – headlines like that. It wrote that if SYRIZA spread to the Mediterranean, there would be serious changes to the austerity and crisis policies in Portugal and Spain.
The fraternal party the ÖDP! It said, “The success of SYRIZA is a statement of a search for a new system for the people in Europe and the four corners of the world opposed to capitalism, which promises humanity nothing other than barbarism.” As if we had seen or heard nothing yet, the ÖDP had this message: it supposed it was on the barricades “against the tyranny of global capitalism and imperialist forces headed by the USA”.
The General Secretary of the ÖDP, Alper Tas, said that the success of SYRIZA would boost the United June Movement. Oguzhan Müftüoglu saıd: “We are SYRIZA.”
The ÖDP’s Hayri Kozanoglu wrote that SYRIZA represented hope, leftism and a solution for the whole of Europe. Certainly those who think that way are not confined to that party. It was echoed among the reformist tendencies dominant on the left in Turkey. Actually neither in its programme nor its aims does SYRIZA represent hope for a solution to the problems created by the capitalist system of exploitation, nor a free, democratic and independent country of the peoples. But a reformist left that does not walk on the soil of its own country and has no straightforward and honest politics for the problems, struggle and revolution there sees no difficulty in assigning to SYRIZA a mission that it does not assign to itself.
THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE INDEPENDENT POLICIES FOR THE CONDITIONS OF THEIR OWN COUNTRY ARE AFFECTED BY EVERY PASSING BREEZE
This kind of behaviour is not new for reformism, revisionism and opportunism in our country. In the past they also tried to import revolution from the Soviet Union, China, Albania and Bulgaria. Reformism’s behaviour towards the election victory of SYRIZA shows that they have no politics to address their own country and no programme for the problems of the peoples of Turkey. Wherever the wind blows, they turn their faces in that direction. Yesterday they talked of Latin America. Now they talk of Greece. For they have no project for Turkey. At every election they take part but cannot even work up a minimum programme that surpasses that of the system parties. The best they can do is imitation.
Reformism stripped of hope for socialism and revolution is in a situation where it is tailing hopes for changes inside the system with victory in parliamentary elections like Lula, Chavez, Morales and Tsipras. Those who have lost hope in revolution, those who have exhausted their revolutionary gunpowder present the smallest crumb of pro-people reform and political change as revolution.
SYRIZA’S ELECTION FILLED THE EUROPEAN LEFT WITH FALSE HOPES
The clear victory of SYRIZA also resonated greatly among the left parties of Europe. The Podemos Movement in Spain, which will soon be competing in elections and which is like SYRIZA in front in the opinion polls applauded SYRIZA and said the breeze blowing from Greece would also boost itself. The General Secretary of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, said: “Fear has come to an end and hope has begun. We can do it and we can win.”
France’s Left Party leader Jean-Luc Melenchon: “Thanks to the Greeks, perhaps we can lay on the table all the data that has turned life into hell in Europe. I hope that in France we can achieve an upsurge like SYRIZA in Greece.”
German Left Party (Die Linke) leader Katja Kipping expressed the following sentiments: “The results show a rejection of a social disaster and of great irresponsibility based on a diktat of economic cuts. We hope that the victory of SYRIZA is a red dawn for Europe.”
Portuguese Socialist Party General Secretary Antonio Costa: “SYRIZA’s election victory is the signal for change in Europe. Henceforth by creating a different politics austerity policies must be stopped or the economy cannot be revitalised and the financial situation corrected.” Saying this Costa assigned a major mission to SYRIZA.
While the win by SYRIZA created a mood of celebration among the left of Europe, on the imperialist front the situation was not like that. Not in the sense that they think the SYRIZA government will completely break its ties. The spokespeople of the imperialist front lost no time in attempting to re-adjust it. First of all the German and French banks, under whose debt burden and interest rates Greece has been labouring, and the Troika consisting of IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank began sending signals that it would face a tough struggle.
IMF Managing Director Lagarde called on Greece to continue the reform programme on the day following the elections and actually threatened it. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Eurogroup President with responsibility for policies in the Euro area, came to the Greek capital Athens and met Tsipras and Economy Minister Varoufakis, where he made statements that contained threats. In the same hours the German Economy Minister Wolfgang Schauble issued the strong message that “Germany is not bowing to threats”. And European Parliament President Martin Schultz told Tsipras, “If you get into a fight you will lose.”
THE REFORMIST, PARLIAMENTARY ROAD DOOMS THE PEOPLE TO THE SYSTEM OF EXPLOITATION! THE ONLY ROAD IS THE PEOPLE AS AN ORGANISED FORCE AND THE ARMED STRUGGLE
On the one hand there are the interests of the major monopolies and the imperialists, on the other there is the people, impoverished, humiliated and demanding its rights. Plans based on the balance of the interests of these two sides are weighted against the people. On SYRIZA’s side are the people. The interests of the people lie in a complete break with imperialism economically, politically and militarily. Imperialist bases must be closed. Otherwise there can be no talk of independence or freedom. It cannot be said that SYRIZA is socialist if it stays in both the EU and NATO and continues agreements with imperialism and its debt relationships. In this sense SYRIZA also cannot be the hope of the Greek people and the peoples of Europe. Reformist politics have no lasting solution for the problems of the people. Reformism plays with the hopes of the labouring peoples, it creates illusions among them and ties them to the system under another name.
The interests of the people lie in revolution and socialism. “One solution revolution” is a valid slogan today more than ever. No theory can change this slogan. Those who say “not revolution but reform”, who say that the system can be changed with the parliamentary road and reforms, that power can be taken – we have seen numerous disappointments in Latin America. The reformist left imprisons the people in the system, deceives them, deepens their exploitation and can do nothing else. The bourgeoisie does not give up power easily. The midwifery of revolution is “difficult”. It is armed struggle.
THE REFORMIST LEFT EXPLOITS THE PEOPLE’S DEMANDS FOR JUSTICE, FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY! WITHOUT A REVOLUTIONARY LEADERSHIP THE ANGER OF THE GREEK PEOPLE FLOWED BACK INTO THE SYSTEM
Lenin explains the objective conditions for revolution in the imperialist age. Subjective conditions are lacking. That is, the proletarian revolutionary party. Today the Greek people need an M-L revolutionary party. Without a revolutionary leadership a reformist package was placed before the anger of the Greek people at US and EU imperialism, the IMF, the Central Bank and the Greek oligarchy. The struggle of the people flowed into solutions within the system.
The capitalist system and reformist politics cannot solve the problems of the people and cannot secure their liberation.
There is no justice in the fascist state’s elections or courts. (Translator’s note: reference to Turkey) For two years, 600 days, Berkin Elvan’s killers have not been brought to court. The killers walk around free. We want bread, water and air, which are natural rights, and we want justice but they do not listen. What will we do? Will we leave our martyrs without justice? No, in that case we will implement the justice ourselves in that case. Justice cannot be secured with reforms, elections and the disguises that the fascist state uses. To get armed and to fight for justice is not a preference but a necessity. Reformists, revisionists, opportunists sought to win their spurs in the election politics of imperialism and the oligarchy while a fighter for the Front took a weapon and went to Taksim Square to demand justice from the murderers of Berkin Elvan. For justice the fighter fired on the enemies of the people, a post staffed by the torturer police. (Translator’s note: at the end of January a DHKC [Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front] fighter sprayed gunfire at police in Taksim, central Istanbul and then escaped. Taksim has a heavy police presence since the events of June 2013.) The reformists want people to place their hopes in the system of injustice and Berkin’s murderers. Reformism commits a crime by acting as a crutch for capitalism.
1. No solution inside the system can give the people hopes of liberation.
2. No independent policies can be implemented without a complete break with ties of dependence on imperialism!
3. Reformism and revisionism are not liberation for the peoples but guarantee dependence on the system…
4. In all crisis periods, the imperialists use left, socialist and populist phrases to pacify the people’s anger and draw them back inside the system.
5. Solutions within the system cannot secure the liberation of the peoples, the only road is people’s revolutionary armed warfare!