Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Battle for the Referendum in Greece: Days 3 and 4

Savas Michael-Matsas addressing the rally of the EEK at the old University of Athens

by Savas Michael-Matsas

Day 3.  Wednesday, July 1, 2015

       Tension and pressure are increasing daily. The European Council tried -unsuccessfully- to  prevent the coming Referendum on the EU ultimatum to Greece, claiming it was ...“illegal”. But pressure  to cancel the referendum also came  from within the country, not only from the Right wing and the other smaller bourgeois opposition parties  but also from within Syriza, from well known cadres of the party, members of the European Parliament elected on the Syriza list (the “Green”  K.Chrysogons and the journalist St.Kouloglou) and left intellectuals, such as the “Third Worldist” Kostas Vergopoulos, known in France and Latin America.

       The campaign of intimidation on behalf of a victory for the 'Yes' vote by the bourgeoisie, the mass media, bourgeois politicians, and the  trade union bureaucracy is intensifying. The nearly non-existent  GSEE (General Confederation of Labor, a union organization that had disappeared from the scene for many months, particularly after the January 2015 elections) suddenly reappears as part of the campaign for a 'Yes' vote. Confusion and discontent  are spreading by the closure of the banks and the anxiety of pensioners to get their  small pension. 

      Tsipras made a last moment desperate overture to the leaders of the troika, Draghi, Juncker, and Lagarde. He sent them a letter accepting many of their demands in the last ultimatum and that are put to the question in the language of the referendum. But all “discussion” on this proposal of capitulation is postponed till after the referendum. It becomes obvious that the goal of the troika is not only the victory of the 'Yes', but also the crashing defeat of Syriza and the overthrow of the Tsipras government, to be replaced  with “a new  government with  the necessary credibility to discuss with the European institutions”, as Schauble and Juncker have said. The emergency meeting of the Eurogroup of Finance Ministers of the EU also ended with the same postponement of any discussion till the aftermath of the referendum.
       “They blackmail the Greek people either to accept  and say Yes to an endless horror of austerity or, in the case of No, to be condemned into a horrible end , of  social economic chaos”  said  Savas Michael-Matsas, secretary of the EEK, in his speech at  the successful public rally of the Trotskyist Party in front of the old building of Athens University at the center of the Greek capital. “Our task” he said “is to defeat both an endless  horror of austerity as well as a  horrible chaos  by putting an end  to the horrors of bankrupt capitalism and open a socialist way out from this inferno.”

       In front  of an applauding audience , which also included many rank and file supporters of Syriza,  he concluded: “We have to reject the imperialist ultimatum by a triumphant 'NO' next Sunday as the beginning not for new hopeless negotiations but  for an uncompromising struggle of the working class and the popular masses to cancel the debt, nationalize the banks and the strategic sectors of the economy under workers control  by taking  power and initiating the socialist revolution in Europe. In this way, we could celebrate in 2017, in two years, the centenary and the return of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 ”.
EEK banner at rally. 'Down with Imperialism!' 'For a Red Socialist Europe!'

 Day 4. Thursday, July 2, 2015

      The build up of tension  accelerates as the D-day of the referendum approaches. The intensive cultivation of mass fear by nearly all bourgeois media  to manipulate public opinion for a victory of the 'Yes' to the troika's ultimatum   on July 5 is coordinated  with non-stop provocative  statements by   the heads of the European Commission , the European Council, of the ECB, of the European Parliament, by Chancellor Merkel and her finance minister Schäuble, by the French  President Hollande, and his minister et tutti quanti   calling  for a 'Yes' to their orders  and, now, openly  for an overthrow of the Tsipras Government to be replaced by a new governmenet of “national unity” or a government of appointed technocrats. Democratic European imperialism demands openly the strangulation of  parliamentary democracy, in the name of which it governs.

       The role of the mainstream  international mass media also  should not be underestimated. The “serious” Reuters News Agency  published a photo of the magnificent   pro-NO popular rally of  June 29 in Syntagma Square as  a picture of the  reactionary rally of the next day, June 30, which was significantly smaller!!

     Manifestations of fear but also of defiance  are seen every day in the streets of the cities all over the country.  Civil strife  emerges. A small but characteristic example: a group of comrades  of the EEK was campaigning for the 'NO'  and our revolutionary program in the streets of the working class  neighborhood of Petralona ( not far from Acropolis of Athens) when it was brutally  attacked by pro-Yes “civilians” and finally arrested by the police,  to be later released.

      Today, a quite  massive central rally of the Stalinist Communist Party of Greece (KKE) took place in Syntagma. In his speech the General Secretary of the KKE, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, advocated  a null vote in the referendum. Specifically he advocated use of a special leaflet  printed and distributed by the KKE  to serve as a protest. The leaflet says 'No both to the Syriza government and to the EU Memoranda'... This is not just sectarianism: it is reactionary political blindness in an extremely crucial and dramatic moment of the history of the working class. It manifests the alienation from reality of a sclerotic bureaucracy, which puts its self-preservation above the class interests of the workers and in the service of the  capitalist system in crisis.  In conditions where, the orchestrators of the hysterical  pro-EU campaign  revive all the old slogans of the anticommunists and imperialist propaganda during the Greek civil war of the 1940s, the bureaucrats at the head of the KKE discredit communism.

      Today also ANTARSYA, the coalition of about 20 centrist organizations, together with a small front of nationalists named MAS, had their own central rally in front of the old building of Athens University ( at the same place where the EEK held its own independent rally yesterday). They call for a No vote next Sunday, criticizing, at the same time, Syriza  with a KKE-like rhetoric,  demanding a break from  the EU and the euro and  a return to the drachma, without breaking from the framework of capitalism.

     Tomorrow, Friday July 3, is the last day for the public political campaign  before the Referendum. In Athens there will be two  central rallies of the opposite camps of the Yes and of the NO.

      The right wing reactionaries of the “civil society movement”(?) “We Stay in Europe”, the self proclaimed Greek “Euro-Maidan” will assemble in the Stadium of Athens.

    The popular rally for the NO called by Syriza will take place  again in Syntagma Square. The EEK  will participate in the rally with its own banners. On the contrary the KKE, as well as the Maoists (who call for abstention in the referendum) will boycott it. Antarsya is split on the issue with one part participating and the other boycotting it.

     The State and private TV stations  offer hours and hours  to the proponents of the yes, much less to Syriza as proponents of the No. For the EEK, the  Ministry allows only 10 minutes on the National TV  for tomorrow...

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