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What is happening in Greece? Interview with a Greek Marxist

posted 22 Jun 2011, 13:07 by heiko khoo   [ updated 23 Jul 2011, 05:14 by Admin uk ]
Interview with Greek Marxist                                                                                                                                                   

SPYROS GOUGOUSSIS of Socialistiki Ekfrasi  
What is the mood among the population now that the government has 
announced a new austerity plan with large sales of public companies and 

The mood is one of anger and indignation. Not for the privatization in
particular, but for the new wave of salary cuts and further
restrictions in workers rights.     

In relation to the privatizations the bigger reaction was started by the
electric workers union, which is a very militant union led by Nikos
Fotopulos. The union started from Monday 20th repeated 48 hour strike
against the privatization. The government’s intension is to implement
the demand of Merkel for the “sale” of the enterprise to RDF, a German
power monopoly.

Why did the former plans did not work to reduce the debt?

The former plans didn’t work because they plunged the economy into a deep
recession. The government by imposing deep cats in the living standards of
the workers, the pensioners, and the lower layers in general, led to
obligatory cuts in families’ spending which had a domino effect in the whole
economy. As a result, after the all-out attack on the living standards,
the debt remains 140% of the GDP.

To what extent this debt is a result of the financial crisis of 2008?

This debt is not a result of the crisis of 2008, but a result of many years
continuous plundering of the state funds by corruption, huge subsidies to the
capitalists, huge arms expenditure, and huge tax evasion by big
capitalists, medium and small capitalists, and different types of self employed
like lawyers, civil-engineers and many other professionals. The only people
that cannot escape from taxes are the workers who are still paying 65% of
the total taxes, when they get only 35% of the wealth.

Recently it has been revealed that Greeks have in the Swiss banks 600
billion euro! What about other countries? And one can reasonably assume
that they are not workers.

They were many general strikes (almost 10 I think in less than one
year), but now the anger seems to boil up. The trade union leadership
failed dramatically to resist, let alone stop the continued attacks
against the workers. The foolish “strategy” of the TUC was a struggle
with the ‘haracteristics of a marathon race’! As a result of this
strategy they made more than nine general strikes within fifteen

Instead of escalating the general strike into two, three and more
days, concentrating the struggle when the workers were ready (long ago
indeed were ready to fight), they continued in a pathetic and routine
way their ‘usual 24hour general strikes’. So the trade union
leadership was (and still is) clearly incapable of leading the workers
and peoples fight back.

This week, even these TUC bureaucrats were forced to move into a 48 hour
general strike for next week(28th - 29th). This is a result of the intense
pressure from below, the pressure from the movement of the Indignados, and
the fact that the trade union leadership has lost all the bases they had in
the past (the mediators between the workers and the governments). In a
time of mass counter reforms, the role of the traditional reformists is none.

What is your opinion about Syntagma square occupations and the revolt
of “Indignados” youth?

What is this “Indignados” movement? It is a spontaneous movement
contained from left and right wing people, from workers and unemployed
people, from youth and elder people, with very different understanding
and all these factors of a very
confused character.

The existence of this movement is nevertheless a very positive fact and a
clear proof that the workers and the people in general they are ready to
fight to the end. The only problem is that there is no leadership to
organize this fight, neither trade union nor political.

This movement brings different people together and creates the feeling that
altogether we can do something. With few words here are the first
steps of the revolution, which will be prolonged because of the lack
of leadership.

Already this movement has created a real fear in the establishment and
nearly all the MPs. That’s why some PASOK MPs are very much afraid to vote
one more time for the new cuts for the workers and the pensions.

Is there some action of PASOK rank and file? Solidarity with the
strikes ?  What is the impact of Giorgos Liannis recent opposition
towards Prime Minister Papandreou?

Because of this huge social pressure some MPs where forced to leave the PASOK
parliamentary group. One of them Liannis kept his member of parliament position
as an independent, contrary to the two more that left their positions to the
party. The problem was that there were seven more at least that they had
expressed their intention to vote against the second E.U plan and resign!
This would mean the fall of the government.

So the general staffs of the EU and local establishment, forced the
government towards a government of national unity, but this failed. So
the next step was to move to a government reshuffle and blackmail the
Pasok MP group with the threat of an election and a very probable
electoral collapse. It remains to be
seen, if after having a “new government” the MPs will vote in few days time
this anti-labor monstrosity. It is probable but not certain.

Is a referendum a correct aim at the present stage?

No it is not, but any way they wouldn’t dare to have one for the
government’s economic policy for example. But anyway, in the past they had
voted an article in the constitution, which not allow any referendum for
economic issues! The only correct slogan is the fall of this government and
the formation of a new Labor Party by the unions.

What will be the impact of a coalition government upon the labour
movement and the mobilizations?

For the time being we will not have any coalition government. We will have
one after the elections, because none of the two big parties will have
majority. But in case that will have one, then the anger of the people will
be against all the government partners.

Should Greece exit the Euro?

No way. It can happen only if it will be decided by the EU. Why would they
do such a thing when they have the biggest historic opportunity to
impose a total capitalization of the Greek economy taking the big share of
the profit out of it?

What concrete solidarity can workers and the labour movement in Europe give?
The economic crisis of Greece is part of the European crisis particular
of debt. Already Ireland and Portugal are more or less in the same
position, with Spain, Britain, Belgium and Italy following closely. So the
movement mast be pan-European. Already this has been done by the
Indignados two weeks ago.

But this is not enough. It must be organized by the trade union
federations. Workers are the only force that can face the capitalist
attack and fight back.

SPYROS GOUGOUSSIS of Socialistiki Ekfrasi talked to Stephen Bouquin of
Rood! (Belgium)