Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Battle for the Refendum in Greece: Days 1 and 2

Note: We are beginning publication of a diary by Savas Michael-Matsas, Secretary of the Workers Revolutionary Party (EEK) of Greece as that country prepares for the historic referendum on July 5. The following entries summarize the events of June 29 and June 30. 

Day 1. Monday June 29.
More than 200 thousand people assembled in Syntagma Square, in front of the Greek Parliament, in a tremendous mass rally supporting a “NO” vote in the coming Referendum on July 5. The "NO" vote would reject the ultimatum of the EU, the ECB, and the IMF for Greece to accept a new round of measures of social cannibalism or to be evicted from the Euro-zone (the infamous “Grexit”) and then from the EU. The size and spirit of the rally recalls the days of the historic popular mobilizations in the years 2010-12, when the troika of EU/ECB/IMF with the willingly servile Greek bourgeois governments, first imposed the infamous “bail-out” programs tied to the “Memorandum” of draconian measures of “austerity” to save their banks by starving the people of a bankrupt Greece.
The last five years of social polarization and radicalization produced a massive turn to the left, which finally led to the electoral victory of the left reformist Syriza on January 25, 2015, on the expectation that it will end “austerity”. Five months of fruitless “negotiations” of the pro-EU Syriza with the hostile troika of EU/ECB/IMF has finally collapsed.  On June 22, a desperate Tsipras government, under the blackmail of conditions of financial asphyxia imposed by the ECB, was at the point of full capitulation, accepting a new program of austerity, worse even than the previous ones that the neo-liberal governments of PASOK and the right-wing New Democracy had imposed in 2010-2014. But at the last moment, on June 24, the IMF introduced more barbaric measures. Already the signs of a Syriza capitulation had produced a vast popular discontent in Greece and a real rebellion in the ranks of Syriza itself. Returning to Athens on June 26, Tsipras faced the dilemma either to commit political suicide himself and his government or to make a new turn. Thus, he announced that the troika ultimatum would be posed in a referendum to be decided by the Greek people themselves by a “Yes” or “No” vote.
This turn produced hysteria in all the centers of global capital, in Brussels, Berlin, and Washington first of all. The leaders of the imperialist institutions expressed their fury demanding a “Yes” by the Greek voters and  a change of government. The collaborators of the troika in Greece, the bourgeois opposition parties (including the Nazis of the “Golden Dawn”) staged a counter-revolutionary  anti-communist mobilization of the middle class  named “We stay in Europe” , which revives memories of Allende's Chile in 1973.
Disgracefully, the Stalinist Communist Party is boycotting the campaign for a “NO” vote in the referendum, claiming that a "NO" to the clear and direct question “Do you accept the terms of the EU/ECB/IMF, Yes or No?” indirectly means a “Yes” to the government austerity plan. By urging their supporters to hand in a ballot with the name of the Communist Party (KKE) and its slogans instead of the official ballot, (of course, legally this does not count and it is considered a spoiled ballot) the Stalinists promote an “abstentionism” in favor of the  capitalist parties and system.
The EEK, although criticizing the policies of class collaboration and adaptation to the EU of Syriza and the entire logic of fake “negotiations”, is actively campaigning for a NO in the Referendum while at the same time advancing a transitional program of cancellation of the debt, nationalization of the banks under workers control, a restructuring of the economy on a new socialist basis, a break from the imperialist EU and for the socialist unification of Europe.
We participated today under our own banners in this tremendous rally in Syntagma, and we are organizing our own EEK rally in front of the old University in the center of Athens next Wednesday, July the 1st—one day after the non-payment of 1.5 billion euro to the IMF. Other public meetings of the EEK will take place in cities all over Greece the next days. The Secretary of the EEK Savas Michael-Matsas today gave an interview in the main News bulletin of the National Radio Station ERA, presenting the position and analysis of the Trotskyist party, criticizing as well the attempt by the government to use the referendum as a card for an impossible renegotiation with the EU. The main evening pro-Syriza daily Efsyn published the Resolution of the Central Committee of the EEK on the referendum.
A new chapter of the world capitalist crisis that erupted in 2007-2008 has been opened. Already the resistance of the Greek people that imposed a referendum on the imperialist ultimatum has produced globally a tsunami in all financial centers and a panic among the imperialists themselves who try now to advance a kind of post-modern coup d'etat to establish their government of servile stooges in Athens. Merkel, Juncker, Hollande, the President of the European Parliament Schulz, the leaders of European Social democracy are daily intervening, bluntly demanding a victory for the “Yes” vote and “regime change”.
This is class war. Despite the difficulties, the confusion, the panic produced by the Greek “corralito” imposed by the ECB, we are fighting with all our might, dedication, and confidence in the final victory of the working class in the developing confrontation between social revolution and counter-revolution.

EEK banner in NO vote rally

Day 2. Tuesday June 30.

        The battle for the Greek Referendum, for a "Yes" or "No"  vote on July 5 to the new  barbaric  “austerity” measures,  demanded  from the impoverished Greek people by  the recent ultimatum by the IMF/EU/ECB as the only way to “avoid”  collapse and  Grexit,  escalates every day.

        The class lines of the  confrontation became very clear.  All the leaders of  world imperialism- Obama, Merkel, Holland, Renzi, Rajoy, Cameron etc., all the institutions of  finance capital and their  world wide mass media intensify their threats  and  intimidation, while they try unsuccessfully to “minimize the dangers  for  the world capitalist economy". Obama, in his last statement, claimed  that a Grexit will not affect the US economy, although most  bourgeois analysts, including his own Treasury Secretary have the opposite view. Jack Lew, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, has warned the EU on several occasions that a Grexit represents “ a global systemic risk”.

       In Greece, all the bourgeois opposition parties, local government leaders of the Right and of the “extreme center” Potami, the capitalist owners of the big companies, and nearly all the TV, radio, and Press mass media are united not only in terrorizing the population,  blackmailing it  to vote “Yes”, but also in mobilizing  a counter-revolutionary “ civil society” petty bourgeois pro-EU “We stay in Europe” movement,   having as a model, as themselves say, the “Euro Maidan” in Ukraine. 

      Today, these reactionary  forces of the ruling class have organized their rally in support of the Yes, in Syntagma Square.  Large businesses, even as they withhold salaries from their  workers, blaming that on “the  communist government that has closed the banks”, blackmailed their employees into participating in today's rally, making it clear that otherwise, their jobs were in jeopardy.

     The  reactionary pro YES rally was  massive but obviously had less people than yesterday's pro-NO popular mobilization. Furthermore, as a well known atheist said, “even God is against the right wingers" because during their rally  a torrential summer rain started to fall dispersing the assembled petty bourgeois “warriors”!..

      Meanwhile, behind the scenes, feverish secret  negotiations  have started again between the EU and the Tsipras government to find an agreement at the last moment.  Yesterday’s mobilization of the popular masses against the troika-  reviving  memories of 2011 and 2012- has frightened both the imperialist institutions but also the government, which does not stop repeating that “a victory of the NO  does not mean a break but a new round of negotiations with the EU”!! In any case, the  referendum was a clear expression of the pressures  of the masses themselves against the  capitulation of the government.

A previous proposal  by Juncker was resurrected and now presented by the Greek government asking for a new  2-year loan from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) with softer austerity terms to avoid  a full meltdown of the Greek economy with uncontrollable implications in Europe and internationally.

      The previous “bailout program” with the troika has expired today, June 30, and officially Greece is without any “safety belt”. There was no payment of  the 1.5 billion euros  for the debt  to the IMF - a first  for a European country. The  biggest challenge for the institutions' will be a probable non payment of a 3.5 billion euros installment due to the ECB on July 20.

     The EEK continues its  campaign for a NO vote throughout the country. We held a demonstration in Volos under the slogan “We will not pay for the crisis of the capitalists”. Tomorrow, we have a central rally in Athens- let's hope without rain!

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