Report – Greece: challenges for the left goverment and movements

Report of the workshop: Greece: challenges for the left goverment and movements

INTRODUCTION/ LECTURE

what we can do in the Netherlands

“so called left government” in Greece

there’s a humanitarian crisis in Greece

large percentage of the population under poverty lines (?)

unemployed parents, no benefits, difficult access to medical support etc.

Greece got money (from the EU inst.), but it was spent on saving banks (also foreign banks)

money given only if Greek gov. follows the rules of austerity – bad for workers’ rights

“if you choose left wing [policies], you won’t get money”

SYRIZA promised a number of things, also what various movements had on their agendas – i.e. no more austerity measures

now they need to start implementing all these things – going against IMF & EU

but SYRIZA didn’t say Greece should leave the EU – (their main challenge as a party is to) improve quality of lives

is it possible to have such a different member state in the EU?

especially a country in the South with a (possibly unpayable) debt

but results (of elections) have power of their own (we can be hopeful about the support for Podemos as well)

(we need to speak of a) Movement on different levels:

1. Local (Greek)

2. Movement in the Netherlands

3. In other EU countries

(SYRIZA is quite unique as) a party in the government which comes from within the movement (although not a “movement party” per se)

being close to the movement is easy while you’re still in opposition, but “what now”?

what about parts of the state such as riot police?

50% of police voted for the Golden Dawn

what about LGBT, immigrant rights, taxation for the Church (which currently does not pay taxes even though it’s the largest land owner in the country)

(a slide about the village which in 2010 managed to protest for 128 against armed police and finally didn’t let the investors to create a rubbish dump next to their village – an example of how all the members of a certain community can radicalise under a threat)

SYRIZA had to form a coalition with a conservative party

it could be said that people voted for an anti-austerity party, not for a leftist party (SYRIZA being both)

a big difficulty for the gov – external pressure from the troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund)

will the new gov collapse without social support (from the Greek citizens)?

still, the international markets are the most powerful actors on this stage

[the new gov] is not a revolutionary gov

PASOK was more revolutionary in 1981, but eventually nothing changed

the movement “rested” after a victory

SYRIZA’s victory might mean it’s the right time to deepen the discussion about the anticapitalism and/in the EU

in NL, the activists should pressure the gov to cancel the debt

in Greece, there are many initiatives within the movement, collectives, media being taken over, cases such as the factory in Thessaloniki run by workers (BIO.ME., they were seling soap at the festival)

on the international level, we need to change the narrative – currently, Dutch (and other North-Western EU people) are complaining about the Greeks (and other Southern countries) re: paying their debt because of media/gov propaganda

a loss of class consciousness can be observed, as people identify themselves with the elites instead of workers from other countries

here we have a potential for change, but it’s very difficult to compete with powerful propaganda

we could have info evenings, articles, websites etc. about how it was the elites (through irresponsible banking operations) who caused the crisis – use our different talents

DISCUSSION

Q: What about the coalition, why are the right wingers given the ministry of defense?

even if the right wing coalitians (?) pull a veto, other parties (from outside the gov) can still join in support of certain issues

there was a trade off before the elections: Independent Greeks (the rw party) accepted the progressive civil rights policy bc they knew they won’t be in the gov on their own

still there are clashes about the Church taxation and salaries of military officials

Q: isn’t it dangerous to give the military to fascists?

we have to remember that the state apparatus does not equal the government

little chances of a coup, CIA etc. not that interested

Q: what’s the position of anarchists on SYRIZA gov?

there are demonstrations against the euro (as a currency)

some anarchists voted for SYRIZA, some for other parties (“there was no poll among our anarchist friends”)

Q: I’ve heard each ministry will have 2 (?) people from grassroots organisations in the office, is that true?

there are indeed consultants at the ministries from grassroots organisations, mostly young people, activists, members of “old SYRIZA” (in the party for many years)

many of the ministers themselves are academics

Q: (a more general discussion about how can we support the movement in Greece and express international solidarity etc.; here are some points I wrote down)

we should convince people that paying the debt is not in the interest of other EU states – money goes to the banks; this remains unclear to many people

now EU has only one recipe (for the crisis and governance problems in general) – a concept (paradigm?) that needs to change

although the narrative in Dutch propaganda is really strong

(someone’s suggestion) there will be a demonstration on the 1st of May in the Hague on the Spuiplein which should be widely broadcasted, would be good if people spoke about this issue (debt)

but of course we should not wait until the 1st of May

it would be good to have a supportive coalition accross the EU – but maybe rather social movements than focusing on parties in elections? (as elections happen rarely, someone mentioned earlier that it’s a pity that Spanish elections won’t happen sooner, as SYRIZA’s victory might have given a momentum to Podemos)

diagonalism – a concept developed in Southern America (Bolivia etc.) might be a solution (to the horizontal vs. hierarchical organisation issue – ??? – really unsure if these were the words used)

there should be (an international) discussion we can all learn from

recently there were no strikes etc. (?)

a question: what would be the consequences of not paying the debt? – private enterprises will lose money

but still, what about the economy; regardless of the debt, it needs to be re-structured in Greece in order to avoid country’s dependence on (sex-) tourism

actually SYRIZA does not promise to cancel the debt, but erase max. ⅔ of it

but restructuring the economy is more crucial and can be done regardless of the debt

but the speculations re: SYRIZA’s stance on debt and relationship with the EU in general are based on isolated claims of SYRIZA’s politician(s?)

a (future?) coalition with Spain is important as other Southern countries are either too conservative (Portugal) or too rich (Italy) to support the Greek gov in its radical policies