The Internationalist  
December 2010  

Workers Revolt: Government Wage Slashing, Jobs Massacre
“Could Lead to Civil War”

Some 300,000 marched in Athens on May 5 to protest anti-worker austerity program of “Socialist”
government of George Papandreou. Hundreds of trade unionists tried to storm Parliament. It was the
biggest strike mobilization since the downfall of the military junta in 1974.
(Photo: Agence France-Presse)

Economist Trade Unionism and Left Electoral Coalitions No Answer
Build a Leninist-Trotskyist Party to Fight for Socialist Revolution

On December 15, more than 100,000 angry demonstrators rallied outside the Greek parliament in Athens shouting “thieves, thieves” and “no sacrifice for the rich.” Workers were protesting drastic anti-labor legislation by the “Socialist” government which would effectively eliminate the minimum wage, throw out collective bargaining agreements, privatize the state railways and fire thousands of workers. Bus drivers went on a three-day strike, tying up traffic throughout the capital; piles of trash, uncollected due to a sanitation workers strike, burned; TV, radio and newspapers were shut down; workers occupied the Acropolis where 300 are due to be sacked. Police fired tear gas and flash grenades at demonstrators. Hundreds of youths used sledgehammers to break paving stones, hurling them at the cops. Police, “rioters,” journalists and cameramen all wore gas masks. It was by one count the tenth one-day “general strike” in a year, and certainly the largest and most militant since May … when workers tried to storm parliament.

Greece is where the current wave of European workers’ struggles against a massive capitalist assault on their livelihoods first broke out this past January. It is also where they have gone the farthest, bordering on a full-scale revolt. With a population of 11 million – the same as the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil – Greece has a cultured, leftist and militant working class. Despite facile talk of Greece as “the birthplace of democracy” (in the slave society of Athens!), it also has a long history of oppression. From the fascistic Metaxas dictatorship in the 1930s, Nazi occupation and an anti-Communist bloodbath in the post-WWII civil war in the ’40s to a U.K./U.S.-imposed monarchy in the ’50s and a military junta in the ’60s and ’70s, a weak but bloodthirsty ruling class backed by the leading imperialist powers held Greece in thrall for decades. This means that Greek workers have a long history of struggle against repression, and that the threat of bonapartist dictatorship is never far off – including today.

Athens in flames, December 2008, as thousands protested police murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. (Photo: Aris Messinis/Agence France-Presse)

Greek capitalists have been living in fear of an uprising threatening their rule since the December 2008 youth revolt over the police murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The center of Athens was aflame as hundreds of youths clashed with the militarized riot police; police stations were attacked around the country. In succeeding days, thousands demonstrated in protest, with the support of some trade unions and many trade-union militants. After the global economic crisis hit in 2008, the ruling class decided they needed some protection from the left to stave off worker unrest. In October 2009 elections the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) ousted the right-wing New Democracy (ND), under fire even in bourgeois circles for its rampant corruption and budgetary finagling. Despite its name, PASOK is a liberal bourgeois-nationalist party founded by former prime minister Andreas Papandreou, the son of Giorgios Papandreou who was installed as a puppet prime minister by the British in 1944 to crush the Communists, and father of the present prime minister George Papandreou.

Many voted for PASOK expecting that it would at least be more worker-friendly than the ND spokesmen for big business. But in office, Papandreou has defended the interests of Greek and European capital to the hilt, imposing vicious austerity programs of mass layoffs, drastic salary cuts and tax hikes on working people far worse than the rightist New Democracy even proposed. He has been able to do this so far because of the support of PASOK trade unionists who lead the ADEDY (public employees) and GSEE (the General Confederation of Greek Labor, including private sector workers) federations. When Papandreou announced in November 2009 that the projected budget deficit was actually 12.7 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) instead of the 3.7 percent earlier predicted by his ND predecessor, and total government debt was over €300 billion (about US$430 billion), the markets went bananas. Ratings agencies downgraded Greece’s credit-worthiness, raising the rates it would have to pay to borrow money to finance the deficit (and to roll over existing debt).

Bowing before finance capital, in December 2009 Papandreou announced a pay freeze for government employees and sharp cut in twice-annual bonuses, which make up a large part of their pay. In response, public sector unions called a strike on February 10, declaring “We won’t pay for their crisis.” A February 24 one-day general strike included private sector workers as well. But the austerity plan was not sufficient to satisfy the bond speculators. So the government announced further cuts, including an additional 10% public sector wage reductions and raising the value added (sales) tax, just to pay the €32.5 billion in interest due this year. This sparked an even larger one-day general strike on March 11. Still it was not enough for “the markets.” So the Greek government asked the European Union and International Monetary Fund to bail it out, and on May 2 ordered massive cuts to public sector pay, eliminating bonuses for many government workers, raising the VAT to 23% for most goods, slashing pensions and raising the retirement age from 61 to 65. The EU and IMF agreed to provide €110 billion in loan guarantees.

This devastating attack on workers’ living standards provoked rage in the population. While German chancellor Angela Merkel and the financial press scold “the Greeks” for “living beyond their means,” Greek workers have a longer workweek (over 42 hours on average, compared to 38 in France) and are among the lowest paid in the Eurozone (earning just over €800 a month, as opposed to €1,250 in France), while the cost of living is higher even than in Belgium. Pensions average €700 (less than US$1,000) a month. And now with the cuts imposed by the “socialist” government, teachers, for example, have seen their already low pay slashed by a staggering 30%. In addition, the unions calculate that unemployment has shot up to 1 million, out of a workforce of under 5 million. Attacks of this magnitude threaten the vital minimum necessary for the very survival of the proletariat, and have seldom been achieved except under the iron heel of military rule. It’s not surprising, then, that a new general strike broke out whose size and fury haven’t been seen in Greece since the fall of the hated “colonels regime” in 1974.

Photo: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

The protests kicked off at daybreak on May 4 as supporters of the Communist Party (KKE) took the Acropolis and unfurled giant banners in Greek and English proclaiming, “Peoples of Europe Rise Up.” Public sector workers went out, shutting schools and government offices and bringing air, rail, maritime and public transport to a halt. The next day, May 5, up to 300,000 demonstrated in the streets of Athens, with huge marches in Thessaloniki, Patras and elsewhere around the country. In the capital, the PASOK-controlled unions kept their march away from the center, yet GSEE leader Giannis Panagopoulos was loudly booed by his own ranks (on March 6 he was physically attacked by irate workers). The KKE-led PAME (Militant Front of All Workers) labor front rallied in front of Parliament. As their rally was breaking up, thousands of angry demonstrators showed up. According to the London Guardian (6 May), “hundreds tried to storm the building, screaming ‘let the bordello burn’.” Riot police then savagely attacked the crowd. Soon battles were raging between cops and protesters all over central Athens.

The KKE denounced those who tried to enter parliament. But the angry demonstrators who surged across Syntagma Square were not the “black block” or “far left.” The Guardian reported that many were “once-stalwart supporters of the governing socialist PASOK party.” Others observed that most came directly from the PAME rally. In the course of the fighting, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Marfin Bank, where workers were trapped inside: three employees tragically died in the blaze. Was the firebomb thrown by provocateurs (as some anarchists claim), or by proponents of “direct action” who had no concern for the potentially lethal consequences of their acts? The fact is, as a bank worker reported, that the employees had been required to work that day or lose their jobs, there were no adequate fire extinguishing devices, and the boss had locked the doors. While lamenting the tragedy, bank workers did not let themselves be deterred and struck the next day, rightly blaming the police and management for the deaths, while distancing themselves from the anarchists.

It may be a tad overheated to describe the May 5 general strike as “semi-insurrectional,” as some have done. But it certainly showed that the anger of Greek workers had reached the boiling point and large numbers were prepared for radical action going far beyond the ritual marches that have achieved nothing. The government and the capitalist rulers breathed a sigh of relief when subsequent one-day general strikes on May 20, June 29 and July 8 were less tumultuous, though still huge. After the August holidays (which many families saw as perhaps their last summer vacations for years to come), thousands of workers protested a speech by Papandreou at the Thessaloniki trade fair in September, where he announced a lowering of corporate taxes on profits to the lowest rate in the EU, while the VAT (mostly paid by workers) is now one of the highest. Some “socialist”! Most of the fall was taken up with campaigning for local elections on November 7, in which the PASOK lost 1 million votes. While the KKE and an “anti-capitalist left” coalition advanced to over 12% of the vote, the biggest increase was for abstention.

But after a brief electoral interlude, the battle continues. Papandreou and the PASOK have carried out every step that the “troika” of the IMF, European Commission (EC) and European Central Bank (ECB) have required – to no avail. In December 2009, after the first downgrade of Greece’s credit standing, speculators pushed the spread between interest rates on a German and a Greek ten-year government bond to 2.5% (250 basis points). Today, the spread stands at 10%! And the day after Parliament voted, Moody’s rating agency, while congratulating the government for “significant progress in implementing a very large fiscal consolidation effort,” announced it was considering lowering Greek notes to junk-bond status if it concluded that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio (currently 125%) was not stabilizing.

In fact, every reputable economist knows – and many have said publicly – that Greece cannot possibly pay the amounts demanded by the international creditors. As the austerity measures sink the country deeper into economic depression, lowering the gross domestic product by 4 percent this year, probably more in 2011, the debt will soon rise to 150% of GDP. Even with EU/IMF loan guarantees, no commercial bank will lend to it. Only a dramatic return to prosperity would enable Greece to grow its way out of this morass, and there’s no sign of that on the horizon. As the prominent German economist Hans-Werner Sinn of the IFO Institute in Munich remarked to an elite gathering at Lake Como, Italy in early September, “The policy of forced ‘internal devaluation,’ deflation, and depression could risk driving Greece to the edge of a civil war. It is impossible to cut wages and prices by 30 per cent without major riots.” In any case, the present course will inevitably (and possibly soon) lead to a blowup.

I. KKE: “Communists” vs. Revolution

Demonstrators of the PAME (All Workers Militant Front), the trade-union tendency led by the Greek Communist Party (KKE) during May 5 general strike. 
(Photo: Reuters)

This excruciating situation cries out for revolutionary leadership. Instead, most of the Greek left and labor movement are responding in their usual manner, ranging from economist trade unionism to bourgeois electoralism, opportunist maneuvering and coalition-building. The Stalinist-reformist Communist Party, by far the largest group on the left, has attracted support in recent months mainly for its name, symbolizing rejection of capitalism, rather than its actual policies, which prop up bourgeois rule. In the November local elections, the KKE raised its share of the vote from 7.5% in the October 2009 parliamentary elections to 10.7% today, picking up 60,000 votes, many from former PASOK voters. The KKE-led PAME trade-union front has also gained strength at the expense of the PASOK-controlled ADEDY and GSEE, of which it is formally a part. But what does the KKE/PAME do with this increased support? Basically they call for more one-day general strikes[1], just as the French reformist union and left leaders keep holding “days of action” that go nowhere.

In the “general strikes” that have taken place on a nearly monthly schedule in Greece over the past year, with August off for summer vacation and another break for the fall local elections, PAME has insisted on organizing separately from PASOK-controlled unions. But while criticizing the austerity measures of the Papandreou government, the Stalinists have blocked any protest going beyond usual marches. The ritualistic character of these parades can be seen in the march routes: typically PAME will start at one point (e.g., at Syntagma Square in front of Parliament) then march to another spot a couple of kilometers away (e.g., Omonoia Square, where GSEE headquarters are located). Meanwhile, ADEDY/GSEE will go the opposite route, avoiding contact by marching along separate avenues. For the next march, they reverse itineraries. The clear purpose, both for PASOK and the KKE, is to avoid at all costs united working-class action in the streets, which could lead to the fall of the Papandreou government. That, for all their “opposition” to its policies, they don’t want.

Hundreds of workers from the PAME demonstration tried to occupy parliament, for which they were denounced by KKE leaders as “provocateurs” and “fascists.”
(Photo: Antonis/Citizenside)

Sometimes, however, unable to control the workers’ anger, the bureaucrats miscalculate and get caught up short in their attempts to stage-manage militancy. What that happens, as on May 5 when hundreds of thousands of protesters poured into the streets, the KKE doesn’t hesitate to denounce the ranks of its own trade-union front as “provocateurs” and even “fascists.” For what? For trying to enter parliament hoping to prevent the despised bourgeois politicians from voting for austerity measures that will ruin the lives of millions of Greek workers. This craven denunciation is nothing new for the KKE, which dismissed the “petty-bourgeois” youth revolt in December 2008 as “Talibans,” “gangsters,” “drug dealers,” “pimps” and “police agents”! The same KKE condemned the student sit-ins at the Athens Polytechnic in November 1973, even though its leaders now lay wreaths on the monuments commemorating the uprising against the colonel’s regime (as do representatives of the ND!).

It is the same Stalinist party that betrayed the December 1944 uprising against the British occupiers, begging Churchill at the Hotel Grand Bretagne for a “government of national unity.” Meanwhile, its OPLA hit squads hunted down and killed hundreds of Trotskyists in order to head off the possibility of the struggle turning into a revolution.[2] It is the same KKE that joined a coalition government under the rightist New Democracy in 1989. The same KKE which in its December 2008 “Theses on Socialism” hails “the leadership of Stalin,” defending his nationalist dogma of building “socialism in one country” against the Trotskys Marxist critique. It even justifies the bloody Moscow Purges of 1936-37.[3] Today, the KKE calls for a “social popular front” to “repel and undermine the barbaric measures” of the government and the “plutocracy.”[4] While talking of “people’s power” and “socialization of the banking system,” there is no mention of socialism or revolution. What the KKE is angling for is a new edition of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government in Chile. We have seen that film before, and know its bloody ending.

Communist Party general secretary Aleka Papariga. (Photo: Athens News)

For these arch-Stalinists, popular-front class collaboration and patriotic appeals go hand in hand. The KKE calls on a nationalist basis for Greek withdrawal from the European Union and the Eurozone, rather than opposing this imperialist alliance with workers action (see below). It fails to mention that the attraction of leaving the euro is that it would allow Greece to devalue its currency, which while making its exports cheaper would make imports more expensive and inevitably lead to a sharp drop in workers’ living standards through inflation. And while today KKE spokesmen rail against capitalism, should Greece exit the EU, you can bet your last drachma that the Stalinists will hold out their hand to a mythical “patriotic bourgeoisie,” offering their services for another “government of national unity.” Media propaganda to the contrary, the last thing the KKE wants is to organize for revolution. Savas Michael-Matsas of the EEK (Revolutionary Workers Party)[5] reports (Prensa Obrera, 11 November):

“In a recent parliamentary debate, Prime Minister Papandreou (president of the Socialist International) challenged the secretary general of the KKE, Aleka Papariga, saying that ‘her party wished Greece to default in order to promote world revolution,’ Papariga rejected the accusation, noting that her party saw no possibility of defeating capitalism and didn’t support the idea of world revolution like ‘Trotsky, Pablo[6], Castoriadis[7] or Marcuse[8]’!”

Last May, Gen-Sec Papariga laid out the KKE’s aims: “since the political balance of forces does not permit us effective intervention in favour of the people, we put priority on the movement,” i.e., “for working people to disassociate themselves from PASOK.” Translation: since we can’t stop the attacks, we’ll use the opportunity to win over PASOK’s working-class supporters.

But what about the KKE leader’s claim that nothing can be done about the attacks on workers’ rights and living standards, except to try to limit the damage? The germ of truth in this lie is that little can be effected within the framework of capitalism and bourgeois parliamentary “democracy,” whose limits the KKE scrupulously respects. Nothing to be done? Papariga’s May 15 statement came only ten days after the biggest, most militant working-class mobilization in Greece since the fall of the junta in 1974, after a demonstration in which hundreds of militants of the KKE’s labor front tried to storm parliament (for which the KKE denounced them). There is plenty that a genuinely communist, revolutionary party could do. It could prepare for a general strike until the anti-worker laws are withdrawn by calling for the election of strike committees everywhere; it could organize the permanent occupation of central Athens by thousands of workers; it could call on bank workers to open the books, to find out what happened to the €100 billion in bailout money given to the banks to prevent their default. Etc.

All of this, of course, would bring into question the foundations of capitalist rule. And that the “Communist” Party will not do.

II. Left Electoral Coalitions: Antechamber to a Popular Front

In addition to the KKE, there are quite a number of would-be socialist and communist organizations in Greece, grouped together in two main coalitions, SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) and ANTARSYA (Anti-Capitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow). Both the “radical” and the “anti-capitalist” left coalition are electoral fronts running on platforms of reforming capitalism that, with a little finessing, could be accepted by a bourgeois “partner” – a split-off from PASOK, or some minor party, perhaps an eco-capitalist Green varietal. Each of the left coalitions is made up of  a dozen or so smaller groups, many of which have been in prior coalitions with each other. Such electoral combinations are made possible by the fact that the actual political programs of the various components are not all that different from each other. And in the struggle against the assault on the working class by the PASOK government on behalf of the EU/IMF/ECB “troika,” neither SYRIZA nor ANTARSYA call for a counterattack against capitalism. Their laundry lists of demands are entirely on the bourgeois parliamentary terrain.

Alexis Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA. (Photo: Athens News)

SYRIZA is the older of the two alliances, dating from the 2004 elections and an earlier “Space for Dialogue” going back to 2001. Its leading party, Synaspismos (which itself began as the Progressive Left Coalition), traces its lineage to the “Eurocommunist” split from the KKE, originally called the KKE-Interior (later called the Greek Left).[9] Far from representing a “radical left” alternative to the Stalinist reformism of the KKE and the bourgeois Hellenic Socialist Party government, SYRIZA’s politics are traditional reformist social democracy. As such, it has had a hard time deciding whether it wanted to be an opposition to or a pressure group on PASOK. This contradiction reached a breaking point this summer, when the right wing of Synaspismos split to form the Democratic Left, which in the November 2010 elections ran candidates on the PASOK ticket. SYRIZA, on the other hand, ran a slate in the Attica regional elections, including Athens, headed by Alexis Mitropoulos, a founding member of PASOK who recently resigned from the government party’s national council over differences with its “neo-liberal policies.”

While SYRIZA mostly consists of ex-Stalinists (and Mao-Stalinists of the KOE) who have become social democrats, a couple of ostensibly Trotskyist outfits are also part of this coalition. This includes Xekinima, the Greek section of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) led by Peter Taaffe, while Marxistiki Foni, part of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) of Alan Woods, is a current inside Synaspismos. Both the CWI and IMT come out of the Militant tendency of Ted Grant in Britain, notable for its decades-long submersion in the Labour Party. The whole Militant tradition is one of “entrism,” burying themselves in the big social-democratic or Stalinist reformist parties and seeking to pressure them to the left. Another component of SYRIZA is the DEA (International Workers Left), which is linked to the International Socialist Organization in the United States. Several of these groups joined SYRIZA in 2007-08, after a slight “left turn” in Synaspismos and when the coalition was up to 18% in the opinion polls due to a crisis in PASOK. Now that SYRIZA has split, its candidates got barely 4.5% in the 2010 local elections, and the opportunists are lamenting that they may have picked the wrong horse.

Just as they were forever calling on the Labour Party in Britain to adopt a “socialist program,” the CWI and IMT groups in Greece call for Synaspismos/SYRIZA to commit to a “clearly left-wing program” for a “left government” (Xekinima), or alternatively for a “truly socialist government” (Marxistiki Foni), in fighting the right wing of this coalition which yearned to join a “center-left” government with PASOK. Yet when the pseudo-Trotskyists talk of a “left” or “socialist” government, this would be a government of the capitalist state. Even if it commits to a program for “full employment” and “nationalise the big monopolies, all the commanding heights of production,” etc. – as the British Labour Party under Clement Atlee and Aneurin Bevan did in the late 1940s – such a government would remain subject to the capitalist market. Genuine Trotskyists explain to the masses that no bourgeois government, no matter how left it talks, can provide full employment or expropriate the capitalists (as distinguished from nationalizing the losses of certain bankrupt sectors). That can only be done by a revolutionary government based on workers councils that bring down the state of the capitalist exploiters.

ANTARSYA banners (foreground) in 100,000-strong strike demonstration in Athens, December 15. (Photo: Athens IMC)

The second alliance, the “anti-capitalist left coalition” ANTARSYA, was formed in early 2009, also as a combination of previous coalitions. Its components include the NAR (New Left Current)[10]; the OKDE-Spartakos;[11] and the SEK (Socialist Workers Party).[12] If SYRIZA’s openly social-democratic policies can sometimes place it to the right of the Stalinist KKE, ANTARSYA assumes a more radical posture – while at bottom it is no less reformist. And if SYRIZA’s vote has been declining, ANTARSYA has picked up steam electorally, quadrupling its 2009 score to 98,000 in the November 2010 vote, giving it about 1.8% of the vote and eight local councillors. This led SEK leader Petros Constantinou (who was elected to the Athens city council) to wax lyrically about how “the anti-capitalists have a big opportunity to help lead the whole of the left and the movement to a victory of historic dimensions” (Socialist Review, December 2010). To draw such grandiose conclusions from this modest result shows ANTARSYA’s parliamentarist nature.

ANTARSYA is seen by various of its components as a precursor to some kind of “anti-capitalist” left party, along the lines of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) in France, where Mandelites and Cliffites amiably cohabit in the leadership. Where the pseudo-Trotskyists in SYRIZA orient toward the periphery of the Stalinist KKE and its offshoots, their counterparts in ANTARSYA look to the “anti-globalization” movement which, as in France, also includes bourgeois elements.[13] But politically, their programs are pretty much interchangeable, so much so that if someone hacked into the websites of SYRIZA and ANTARSYA and switched their programs in the dead of night, it is doubtful that anyone would notice. The latter’s program includes: nationalization of banks under workers control; stop payment of the foreign debt; a ban on layoffs; “secure and decent jobs for all”; wage increases; tax capital; “cuts to military expenditures”; health care, social security and public education for all; legalizing immigrants; refusal to obey EU and IMF directives; exit from the Eurozone and European Monetary Union, and “an anti-capitalist exit from the EU.”

In a statement of the “European radical left” on the economic crisis and in solidarity with the struggle in Greece, these demands are watered down to: stop pension “reform”; “health and education are not for sale”; for a “public banking service and financial system under public control”(!); a guaranteed right to work, etc. (see Socialist Worker [Britain], 8 May). In either version, nothing in this platform goes beyond the limits of capitalism, and deliberately so. The call to “tax the rich/capital” was raised by none other than the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (“Greece Urged to Tax the Rich,” Financial Times [London], 8 December). And any number of bourgeois governments have pledged themselves to achieve full employment, though few have and then only temporarily. These are essentially democratic demands to be implemented by a more left-wing bourgeois regime. It is a program geared toward a popular front including elements in and around PASOK disappointed by the conversion of these “Hellenic socialists” to free market “neo-liberalism.” As such, this “radical left” platform is in reality a program to salvage bankrupt Greek capitalism when it is on the point of collapse.

III. A Revolutionary Program to
Defeat the Capitalist Offensive

Thus in the face of the existential threat to the Greek proletariat, while hundreds of thousands repeatedly take to the streets to show their anger and will to struggle, what the Greek left offers instead of a revolutionary mobilization of workers’ power, is the usual reformist pablum and hunting for votes in the framework of bourgeois “democratic” parliamentary politics.

In Greece as in France, the reformists’ demands and their whole mode of struggle reflect the basic fact that they seek not to overturn capitalist rule, but rather to find a niche within it as a pressure group. Unfortunately for them, the bourgeoisie has launched a frontal attack on the working class in order to stave off its own collapse. So when old-line social democrats, pseudo-communists and even younger “anti-capitalists” try to divert resistance to the capitalist assault into electoral politics or siphon off anger with endless marches, they have no crumbs from the capitalist table to hand out, hoping to buy off sections of the workers. In this situation, with the manifest willingness of the working class to fight back against capitalist attack and the equally clear incapacity of the reformist left, resolving the crisis of leadership is key, as Trotsky insisted in the Transitional Program. Revolutionary Marxists put forward a program of transitional demands to turn defensive struggles into a proletarian counteroffensive leading to international socialist revolution. We seek to build a vanguard workers party to lead the exploited and oppressed from resistance to a struggle for power.

The clash between reformist and revolutionary programs is constant. Take the demand for nationalization of the banks, which is put forward by the KKE, the “radical left” and “anti-capitalist left” coalitions and all their components. At the present time, the Greek banking system – at least in its operations within Greece – is essentially bankrupt. Its debts to European and North American banks and the imperialist agencies (IMF, ECB, etc.) vastly exceed its assets and any income it expects to receive from outstanding loans. Certainly the savings and accounts of working- and middle-class depositors should be guaranteed. But for the government to take over the banks today would be to rescue the leading Greek capitalists and financiers from collapse: it is a pro-capitalist not an anti-capitalist demand. Look at what happened with the nationalization of the banks by Mexican president José López Portillo in 1982 at the time the famous “debt bomb” exploded. This was a measure that saved the Mexican bourgeoisie from utter ruin. A dozen years later, after recapitalizing the bankrupt financial institutions, they were reprivatized. Trotskyists do not call for “trash can socialism” or socializing the capitalists’ losses, but for expropriation of the banks – and the entire bourgeoisie – by a workers government.

As a step in that direction, Greek workers today should occupy the banks, instituting workers control, andopen the books so everyone can see the financial swindles that have been going on. This is a very different demand than the reformists’ talk of “public ownership” under “public control,” or even “socialization” of the banks. What they are presenting is a program for a “left” bourgeois government. Thus an article by the editor of Marxistiki Foni (IMT), “The EU, Greece and the Demands of the Left” (29 June), after listing a series of demands, concludes: “To implement this program as a whole, requires the election of a leftist socialist government.” If he adds “based on self-organization of workers in every workplace and every neighborhood,” etc., this is just to cover the fact that he is calling for a government installed by a bourgeois election. Likewise, when the reformists refer to “workers control,” they mean the revisionist distortion of this transitional demand into “self-management” under capitalism.[14] But having a union commission occasionally glance at some fraudulent statement cooked up by the capitalist bankers is very different from the workers effectively taking control of the banks, on the road to workers revolution.

Similarly with the international demands of the various left groups. ANTARSYA calls for “immediate stoppage of foreign debt payments,” some left groups call for a “moratorium,” SYRIZA leader Tsipras wants to “restructure the terms” of Greece’s public debt (and “perhaps write off some of the debt”), KKE leader Papariga says only that “The public debt will be re-examined under people’s power.” These wishy-washy demands, each more feeble than the last, all present a program for a “left government” trying to work out a deal with the creditors. Temporary debt moratoriums and “restructuring” debts have been common in Latin America, although this still leaves the debtor country chained to the imperialist banks. The SEK raises the correct demand to “abolish Greece’s debt” to the imperialist bankers (but then waters this down to stopping payment for the purposes of its electoral coalition). Yet even in this “left” version, the reformists don’t make clear that the dominant imperialist powers would oust any government and subject to a devastating embargo any country that dared to cancel their debt. Abolition of the imperialist debt requires workers revolution, as the Bolsheviks did in 1917, and international extension of the revolution.

What about Greece’s relation to the euro and the European Union? ANTARSYA and the KKE call for Greece to leave the EU, various components of SYRIZA do not. For Trotskyists, our opposition to the imperialist European Union is not nationalist but internationalist, opposing the Europe of the capitalists by fighting for workers rule – a socialist united states of Europe. To call for Geece to exit the EU and drop the euro in favor of the drachma is quite different – this is a bourgeois nationalist demand, with negative consequences for Greek workers. What concretely would be accomplished by Greek withdrawal from the Eurozone? It would be able to devalue its currency, making Greek exports and Greek vacations relatively cheaper. It would increase tourist income; whether it would enable Greece to export more is debatable, since much of its industrial capacity has been destroyed. But it would also make servicing Greece’s euro-denominated debt more expensive, and imports more costly – producing serious inflation. In fact, a principal effect and main purpose of currency devaluations is to slash wages through inflation, which is a lot easier for the bosses than imposing a direct pay cut.

Thus in calling for Greece to leave the European Union, drop the euro and even to abolish the debt, leftists are angling for a political bloc with a section of the bourgeoisie, and the PASOK government in particular. In an article on “How can Greek workers beat the IMF?” (Socialist Worker, 15 May), the British SWP argued that:

“The ruling class is vulnerable. It could decide that the best way out of the crisis – and to protect its power – is to abolish Greece’s debt.
“The Greek government could pull out of the euro, take charge of its own currency and defy the IMF’s demands for cuts.”

This is not just the opinion of the British Cliffites. Supporters of the SEK in Athens argued the same pro-capitalist line.

Calls for Greece to leave the EU are not limited to left-wing Greek nationalists. Mainstream bourgeois economists like Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini and Hans-Werner Sinn have stated that as part of a “controlled default,” Greece will have to abandon the euro.[15] No matter how severe the austerity, they argue, Greece will never be able to pay the full amounts owed to the international bankers as long as it is tied to the euro. Moreover, if bankers don’t have confidence in Greece’s ability to pay, it won’t be able to get loans to finance its annual budget deficit of 13% of GDP – or even its unattainable target of 3%. If Greece does abandon the euro, Krugman writes, “it will play something like Argentina in 2001, which had a supposedly permanent, unbreakable peg to the dollar…. [I]t will send shock waves through Europe, possibly triggering crises in other countries” (New York Times, 7 May). In Argentina, the abandonment of the U.S. dollar peg led to the fall of five governments in the space of a week, factory occupations and movements of laid-off workers (the piqueteros). Capitalism is still intact on the Río de la Plata, but Argentine workers paid the price with a devastating fall of their living standards.

Many on the left, particularly in and around the KKE, speak of Greece as being subject to “imperialist oppression,” thereby portraying withdrawal from the EU as an “anti-imperialist” step. Yet Greece is not some semi-colonial country struggling for independence. It is a sub-imperialist power whose capitalists own the largest shipping fleet in the world (though mostly not sailing under the Greek flag); whose banks have historically had a privileged position in the eastern Mediterranean and are now buying up banks and companies throughout the Balkans; and which economically dominates Macedonia and Albania. Moreover, there are small Albanian and substantial Macedonian minorities in northern Greece. The KKE calls to “defend the territorial integrity and the sovereign rights of our country” and joins the Greek government in referring to its northern neighbor as  FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) while calling to “safeguard Greece” from the “irredentist views of the leadership of FYROM.”[16] In contrast, Trotskyists support the Macedonian right to self-determination and fight for a socialist federation of the Balkans.

Significantly, some who call for Greece to exit the EU do not call for Greek withdrawal from NATO. Why not? Because that could weaken Greece militarily in its eternal jousting with Turkey, both over Cyprus and the Aegean Sea, where Ankara claims that several islands held by Greece belong to it. The Stalinist-nationalist KKE, while opposing NATO, vociferously upholds “The struggle for sovereign rights in the Aegean, for the territorial integrity of our country.”[17] This is no abstract issue for the KKE: as recently as last July Greek F-16 fighter jets intercepted Turkish F-16s near the island of Ikaria, the only locality where the Greek Communist Party has close to a majority.[18] But as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto, that “the workers have no country (fatherland)” so long as the bourgeoisie rules. Genuine Marxists support neither side in Greek-Turkish disputes over the Aegean and Cyprus, and call instead for unity with Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot workers in struggle against capitalism.

While ANTARSYA calls in its program for “cuts to military expenditure” and several of its components call for withdrawal from Afghanistan, the League for the Fourth International says “not one euro for the imperialist military” and calls to drive all U.S./U.N. occupation forces (including the 125-man Greek contingent) out of Afghanistan. Domestically, the economic crisis has been accompanied by the growth of ultra-rightist forces such as the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and openly Nazi-fascist groups such as “ Golden Dawn,” which ominously got 5% of the vote in Athens and which has mounted virulent anti-immigrant campaigns. In the face of right-wing attempts to whip up chauvinist hysteria, ANTARSYA calls vaguely to “legalize immigrants.” Trotskyists fight for full citizenship rights for all immigrants and for workers defense against anti-immigrant attacks.

The same clash between reformist and revolutionary politics is manifest in the question of methods of struggle to be employed. With one-fifth (or more) of the labor force out of work, with less than one youth in four having a job (and most of those being part-time, temporary or for short-term contracts), and now with looming mass layoffs, the issue of unemployment is a key battleground for Greek workers. The call for a shorter workweek with no loss in pay (a sliding scale of hours), to provide jobs for all through distributing the available work among all takers, is a classic demand of Trotsky’s Transitional Program. Likewise with the call for indexing pay to inflation (a sliding scale of wages), which will be vital should Greece abandon the euro. But in the programs of the reformists, these demands – which prefigure a socialist planned economy – are to be implemented when a future “left/socialist government” gets elected. In contrast, revolutionary Trotskyists call on the workers movement to mobilize its power today to impose these demands against the resistance of the bourgeois rulers. 

Thus under the batch of anti-labor laws just voted by the PASOK majority in Parliament, the government plans to privatize the state railway OSE, and in preparation for that, to fire 2,500 rail workers (40 percent of the total). The POS rail union has staged repeated strikes over the last six months to protest the privatization/layoff plan, but only for one or a few days at a time. Faced with this death threat from the capitalists, rail workers should strike and occupy the OSE until the government’s plan is withdrawn, including cancelling all layoffs and wage cuts. Kick out management, stop all freight traffic, perhaps maintain passenger service. Ask government workers to help them inspect the state railroad’s books. If that is not enough, occupations could be extended to include, say, the Acropolis, where workers have not been paid for months (and riot police recently attacked union pickets). Their example would soon be followed in other sectors facing the massive jobs slaughter by the PASOK budget axe murderers.

EU chief threatens dictatorship if austerity not adopted. From left: Gen. Francisco Franco, caudillo who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975; Col. Giorgios Papadopoulos, who led military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974; and António Salazar, who established right-wing authoritarian  regime that ruled Portugal from 1932 until 1975. (Photos: AP and EPA)

The growing brutality of police attacks on demonstrators points to the danger that the ruling class could resort to bonapartist measures in enforcing its anti-worker offensive. Indeed, the head of the EU, former Portuguese prime minister Jose Manuel Barroso, told trade unionists several months ago that if austerity measures were not approved, Greece, Spain and Portugal “could virtually disappear in the way that we know them as democracies.” The London Daily Mail (15 June) portrayed Barroso’s warning as “an ‘apocalyptic’ vision in which crisis-hit countries in southern Europe could fall victim to military coups or popular uprisings as interest rates soar and public services collapse because their governments run out of money.” Clearly this is blackmail, yet the bonapartist threat is real. The workers movement must build up its defensive capacities. Unions should initiate worker defense guards to defend strike pickets and protests, including flying squads to come to the aid of workers under attack – and immigrants threatened by fascist gangs. However, the rare mentions of workers defense guards in the reformist left press have called for their formation to protect workers demonstrations from … the anarchists![19]

What will it take to defeat the bosses’ attacks? Accounts of the “general strike” mobilizations in Greece as far back as last February quote demonstrators complaining that such marches are not about to force the government to back down, and more militant tactics are needed. Yet what does the “radical/anti-capitalist” left offer? Essentially more of the same. Thus an article by Fred Weston of the IMT and Stamatis Karagiannopoulos of Marxistiki Foni states: “The fact is that the bourgeoisie can live with a few general strikes and protests as long as these don’t seriously challenge their power.”[20] Quite true. Their conclusion? “What is required is a 48-hour general strike of all sectors, both public and private, with mass rallies all over Greece.” Yet the May 4-6 mobilization already amounted to a 72-hour strike by key sectors! “After that the movement needs to be taken to a higher level,” namely an “all-out struggle … to stop the PASOK government in its tracks.” How is not specified. But the situation cries out for a real general strike to defeat the capitalist attack and open the way to workers revolution.

Workers march in Moscow during during general strike, October 1905. (Photo: Hulton Archive)

Many would-be socialists and anarcho-syndicalists make the general strike into the be-all and end-all of class struggle. (The anarchist equivalent is a fetish for occupations: “Occupy Athens, London, Rome,” read a slogan on a wall during the December 15 strike.) Some point to Rosa Luxemburg’s enthusiasm for the mass strikes that swept Russia in 1905. But by itself, the strike (withholding labor) is essentially a passive form of defensive struggle. Trotskyists stress that while the general strike poses the question of power, it alone cannot resolve it. The general strikes in Russia ultimately led to the Moscow uprising of December 1905. In his article summing up this experience, Lenin wrote: “A peaceful strike and demonstrations immediately ceased to satisfy the workers. They asked: What is to be done next? And they demanded more resolute action.” Recalling Marx’s observation that the progress of revolution also produces strong counterrevolutionary tendencies, Lenin spelled out:

“The strike was growing into an uprising, primarily as a result of the pressure of the objective conditions…. Over the heads of the organizations, the mass proletarian struggle developed from a strike to an uprising. This is the greatest historic gain the Russian revolution achieved in December 1905.”

–“Lessons of the Moscow Uprising” (March 1906)

The organs of struggle thrown up in such a battle could become workers councils, like the soviets in tsarist Russia, and eventually become the framework of a proletarian state. That depends centrally on the leadership of a vanguard workers party like the Bolsheviks, taking the struggle in the direction of socialist revolution not in the distant future but in the here and now.

The IMT article does say that “the question of who is to govern the country, and in the interests of which class, would be posed.” But what is their answer? As “a political alternative to the present government,” they call for “a united front of the KKE and Synaspismos/SYRIZA aimed at the wider labour movement.” They add: “Unless these two parties adopt a fully worked out socialist programme, come together and direct their propaganda at the ranks of the labour movement who support the PASOK, then the present stalemate will continue.” This is not calling for a united front for workers action, but an appeal to the sellout party/union bureaucracies to form a propaganda bloc with “socialist” rhetoric. The OKDE-Spartakos, for its part, calls for “united mobilization to defeat the government’s measures,” noting that the KKE/PAME “go to great lengths never to call actions jointly or in the same place as the majority unions.”[21] Others cite as a precedent Trotsky’s appeal for a workers united front in France in 1934, following a violent fascist demonstration against the bourgeois Radical government. Yet while saying that Marx and Lenin were prepared “to make practical agreements with any mass organization for the defense of the daily interests of the proletariat,” the Bolshevik leader emphasized:

“[I]t is not true that the proletariat is in need of unity in and of itself. It needs revolutionary unity in the class struggle…. Opportunistic ‘unity’ has proven itself to be the road to ruin…. Such unity is a rope around the neck of the working class.

“We need genuine, revolutionary, fighting unity: for the resistance against fascism, for the defense of our right to live, for an irreconcilable struggle against bourgeois rule, for the full conquest of power, for the dictatorship of the proletariat….

– “France Is Now the Key to the Situation” (March 1934), Writings of Leon Trotsky (1933-34)

The reformist misleaders of the unions can sometimes be forced by pressure from the ranks and the severity of the attacks to undertake defensive actions: this is what happened this past spring in Greece and in the autumn in France. But even then, they place themselves at the head of mobilizations only to sell them out. That is why Trotskyists direct their appeals for an all-out general strike to the workers organizations themselves, including but not focusing on the leaders; and also why we call for the formation of elected strike committees to take control of the struggle out of the hands of the pro-capitalist bureaucrats. In fact, the general strike with the greatest revolutionary potential in recent times, in France in May 1968, came about largely because of the initiative of the masses overcoming bureaucratic resistance. And in any case, the KKE, SYRIZA or ANTARSYA, whether separately or united, cannot be an alternative to PASOK, for they also ultimately support bourgeois rule, having been thoroughly integrated into the capitalist electoral apparatus. Calling on committed reformists to be transmogrified into revolutionaries can only breed illusions.[22]

As for the anarchists, their repertoire consists essentially of endless skirmishes with the police that, in the absence of a revolutionary mobilization of the working class to defeat the guardians of bourgeois “law and order,” can only be a form of street theater. It makes for dramatic photos, and sometimes tragedy, while offering ample opportunity for police provocation. While pseudo-socialist reformists see their number one task as “protecting” demonstrations from the likes of the “black bloc,” Trotskyists defend anarchist and autonomist militants against capitalist state repression. At the same time we underline that “direct action” by small groups, a program born of desperation and despair, undercuts the struggle to raise revolutionary consciousness among the proletariat and promote the self-organization of the workers and oppressed in overthrowing capitalism. 

There can and should be “popular uprisings” in Europe against the breakdown of services and against the bourgeoisie’s austerity plans, but it is crucial that such upheavals be led by the working class, and that they aim at bringing down capitalism and instituting workers rule. This prospect is still distant, but when hundreds of thousands of Greek working people repeatedly strike and occupy Athens, when thousands of trade unionists boo their leaders off the stage, when hundreds of workers attempt to storm the Greek parliament, the union bureaucrats as well as spokesmen for the bourgeoisie can see quite clearly where this is heading. Their response is to try to head it off, for like their social-democratic predecessors in Germany in 1918-19, they fear revolution like the plague. The formation of politically undefined “new mass workers parties” – even if you add the adjective “socialist” – cannot defeat the capitalist attack. To turn the present defensive struggles of the Greek working class into a proletarian counteroffensive and to lead it forward to the overthrow of bourgeois rule, the central need is for a genuinely communist, Leninist-Trotskyist workers party.

In a resolution on Europe from its recent international congress, the CWI writes: “But what has saved capitalism, so far, has been the political weakness of the working class, a result of the past decades’ falling back in class consciousness, that has meant there has been no general counter-posing of socialism as the alternative to capitalism” (posted CWI web site, 23 December). Actually, no: what has saved capitalism has been the betrayals of the leadership. This same argument has been proffered by opportunists the world over, in order to excuse their own failure to fight for revolution.[23] (It must be admitted that in the case of the CWI, IMT, USec and the rest, the argument has a certain twisted logic: since their own policies consist of chasing whatever is popular, if there is no “mass movement” for socialism, how can they tail after it?) As Lenin emphasized – and Marxists from the then-revolutionary Karl Kautsky to Leon Trotsky also held – consciousness of the need to fight for socialist revolution to overthrow capitalist rule does not arise spontaneously, it results from a dialectical interaction between the masses’ experience of class struggle and the intervention of the revolutionaries.

Instead of the “class patriotism” of the KKE, a Leninist-Trotskyist party would be animated by proletarian internationalism. Waging the struggle on a Europe-wide rather than a national basis is indispensable, as the capitalist offensive against the working class is continental in scope. Even a limited victory in Greece, or anywhere else, would have to spread internationally or soon be overturned. Such a revolutionary-internationalist leadership of the working class does not now exist in Greece. Should one therefore throw up one’s hands and say that, alas, until such a leadership arises nothing can be done? Or seek to pressure the existing anti-revolutionary leadership to change its spots? Both would be a betrayal of the workers’ cause. Instead we must build a Bolshevik vanguard party through intervening in the struggles of the working class on the program of Lenin and Trotsky, fighting for a socialist united states of Europe and to reforge the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution.

[1] What passes for a “general strike” these days in most of Europe is a one- or at most two-day walkout by the most militant sectors plus a big parade – one more pressure tactic rather than a showdown between the capitalist government and labor.

[2] Vassilis Bartzotas, a KKE central committee member, boasted in a message to Stalin’s GPU secret police that the OPLA killed 800 Trotskyists. See the article by Loukas Karliaftis (who barely escaped assassination himself), “Stalinism and Trotskyism in Greece (1924 - 1949),” in Revolutionary History, Spring 1991.

[3] The draft theses made an elliptical reference to “some excesses in the measures taken” in the purge trials, while quoting the approval of U.S. ambassador Joseph Davies as “proof” of the correctness of the verdict. In fact, the purge trials were a blood sacrifice to imperialism, hoping to achieve “peaceful coexistence” by killing off the entire remaining political bureau of the Bolshevik Party which made the revolution, except for Stalin who played only a marginal role in October 1917 (after earlier opposing a workers revolution). The theses also cited as an authority the Belgian “ice-axe Stalinist” Ludo Martens who justified Stalin’s assassination of Trotsky. In the final “Resolution on Socialism,” the reference to “excesses” was dropped, so the KKE is on record as giving uncritical support to the bureaucracy’s murderous anti-communist purge.

[4] Aleka Papariga, “KKE’s Proposal – Solution for the Crisis” (12 May)

[5] The EEK is affiliated with the Coordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International led by the Argentine Partido Obrero of Jorge Altamira.

[6] Michel Pablo (Mikhailis Raptis) became the main leader of the Fourth International after many of its leading cadres were killed by the Nazis or the Stalinists during World War II. In the 1950s his capitulatory policies toward the Stalinsts and other non-revolutionary leaderships, abandoning the struggle for an independent Trotskyist vanguard, led to a deep split of the FI and its destruction as the world party of socialist revolution.

[7] Kornilius Kastoriadis broke with Trotskyism in 1948, declaring the Soviet Union under Stalinism to be “bureaucratic capitalism” rather than a bureaucratically degenerated workers state which must be defended against imperialism while fighting for a proletarian political revolution to oust the parasitic bureaucracy, as Trotsky held. Kastoriadis founded the Socialisme ou Barbarie group in Paris and definitively broke with Marxism in the 1960s.

[8] Herbert Marcuse was a philosophy professor and writer originally associated with the Frankfurt School of “academic Marxism.” His Hegelian idealist views (as opposed to Marxist materialism) were influential in the 1960s, and he gained fame as the father of the New Left in the United States.

[9] A 1968 split in the Greek CP produced the KKE-Interior which rejected Kremlin tutelage, prefiguring and later aligning with the Eurocommunists. The latter was a current that arose in the West European Communist parties, led by the Spanish PCE under Santiago Carrillo and the Italian PCI under Enrico Berlinguer, which broke with Moscow in order to integrate themselves more fully into capitalism through popular fronts with bourgeois forces. Eurocommunism was a stage in the social-democratization (and in the case of the PCI, liquidation) of these parties. In the guise of rejecting Stalinism, they discarded the last vestiges of Leninism, including democratic centralism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. When the second anti-Soviet Cold War broke out in 1980, the Eurocommunists refused to defend the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

[10] Originating in a split of KKE youth members in 1989 in opposition to the KKE joining (along with PASOK) an all-party government led by the right-wing New Democracy.

[11] Greek section of the United Secretariat (USec), the heirs of Ernest Mandel who claim to be the Fourth International although their politics are counterposed to authentic Trotskyism.

[12] Linked to the British SWP and the current founded by Tony Cliff which labeled Stalin’s Soviet Union “state capitalist” and refused to defend the USSR in the imperialists’ anti-Soviet Cold War.

[13] In France, the ecologists symbolized by José Bové and the Attac movement of Le Monde Diplomatique director Ignacio Ramonet.

[14] Ernest Mandel carried out this revisionist operation in 1968, just when a fight for workers control as Trotsky defined it – dual power in the factory – was eminently possible as a means to combat the Stalinists’ sellout of the French general strike. Mandel’s embracing of self-management (“autogestion”) served as a basis for his French followers’ alliance with the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) of the long-time bourgeois Radical and ex-prime minister Pierre Mendès-France.

[15] Sinn: “All the alternatives are terrible but the least terrible is for the country to get out of the eurozone, even if this kills the Greek banks.” Krugman: “What remains seems unthinkable: Greece leaving the euro. But when you’ve ruled out everything else, that’s what’s left.” “Roubini Says Greece May Lead Euro Exodus,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, 12 May.

[16] “About the situation in the Balkans and the issue of the FYROM name,” KKE statement, 8 November 2007.

[17] “Report of the Central Committee of the KKE to the 17th Congress,” February 2005.

[18] Ikaria, located near the Turkish coast, was used as a prison island under the Metaxas dictatorship, and again for Communist prisoners during the post-WWII Greek Civil War. A number of Communists stayed on the relatively underdeveloped island and in the November 2010 municipal elections the KKE received 48 percent of the vote. However, all the other parties joined together to prevent it from controlling the local government.

[19] Following the deaths of the three bank workers in the May 5 general strike, Xekinima (the CWI affiliate) issued a press statement the next day declaring, “the first task to which the organised workers’ movement and particularly the mass parties of the Left should respond to, is the defence of the rallies and mass actions of the working class, by all means, from these ‘anti-state’ groups.” They were echoing the KKE and SYRIZA tops and along with them were capitulating to the hysteria whipped up by Papandreou and the bourgeois media. Trotskyists are against the capitalist state, including when it is administered by sniveling social democrats like Militant – in Liverpool, England between 1983 and 1987 – who consider cops to be “workers in uniform” and support police “strikes.” While taking necessary precautionary measures to protect the integrity of demonstrations, the first task for revolutionary communists would is to defend themagainst the murderous bourgeois state.

[20] “Greece: What Now?” In Defense of Marxism (18 June)

[21] Tassos Anastassiadis and Andreas Sartzekis, “Workers against the so-called stability programme,” International Viewpoint No. 423, April 2010.

[22] Note also that the “radical/anti-capitalist” left’s opposition to PASOK is only conditional (“so long as the right-wing PASOK leadership continues to collaborate in these crimes being carried out by the international capitalists against the working people of Greece,” as the IMT put it [In Defense of Marxism, 24 February]). Let Papandreou nationalize a couple of banks and these pseudo-Trotskyists would eagerly offer their support, “critically” of course.

[23] Notably the International Communist League, or Spartacist tendency, in expelling long-time cadres in 1996-97 who went on to found the Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International, rejected the IG’s assertion: “The central thesis of the 1938 Transitional Program of the FI fully retains its validity today: ‘The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership.... the crisis of the proletarian leadership, having become the crisis in mankindís culture, can be resolved only by the Fourth International.’ ”  Trotsky’s thesis, the ICL wrote in revising its program a year later, was outdated by “the present deep regression of proletarian consciousness” so that today the backwardness of the working class is key. For a discussion of how this claim has been raised by a host of ex-Marxists, see our article, “In Defense of the Transitional Program,” The Internationalist No. 5, April-May 1998)

To contact the Internationalist Group and the League for the Fourth International, send e-mail to: internationalistgroup@msn.com