After the general strike on Wednesday, December 10, Greece still finds itself gripped by social revolt. Last weeks general strike has been the 4th this year and the 2nd in the last two months. It was a great success, as tens of thousands marched in in Athens, Salonica and other cities.
This is particularly important as the massive destruction and looting by mainly anarchist groups on Monday night played the role of discouraging people from going to the demonstrations for fear of clashes with the police and attacks on the demonstrators.
The government contacted the GSEE and ADEDY (the union federations of workers in the private and public sectors) and asked them to postpone the mobilisation for the general strike, due to the fact that for every one of the previous four days there were demos everywhere and attacks on police stations by angry youth. They trade union leaderships refused to cancel the strike, but they cancelled the demo, calling only for a rally in the central square of Athens and other cities.
However, SYRIZA (Coalition of the radical left) and the KKE (Communist Party) organised their own demos. SYRIZA marched to the rally called by the unions, but the CP followed its own separate course.
The government, in an attempt to scare people off the streets, let the rumour spread that it was thinking of imposing a state of emergency and sending the army onto the streets of the main cities. Despite these rumours, the rallies took place and were a massive success.
Many people went to rallies for the first time in their lives. We had the examples of managers or owners of small firms joining the rallies together with their employees. We had examples of chemists giving free masks and medicine to demonstrators in case of police attacks with tear gas and other chemicals.
There was a very militant mood, in complete contrast to the speeches of the leaders of the trade unions, representing PASOK (Panhellenic Movement, main opposition party) and ND (New Democracy), who were terrified and conciliatory. The only thing they proposed was another demo, but not another strike, on the day that the budget to be on voted in parliament, around Christmas. This at a time when there is a general mood in society to finish with this government and bring it down.
The rallies were absolutely peaceful. No damage, no attacks on buildings, motor bikes, cars, no looting and no clashes with the police. This shows the entirely different attitude of the mass of the working class, in comparison to the anarchist groups and some ultra-left groups who have occupied the Polytechnic and the Law Department. These groups are launching frequent attacks against the police and proclaim a ‘revolution’ at every turn.
After the end of the rallies on Wednesday there were limited clashes between anarchist groups and the police, but nothing major, merely the usual kind of skirmishes. There is a lot of discussion amongst the left in Greece about the riots.
Xekinima (CWI in Greece) fully understands the anger of the youth that throw stones at the police but explain that the power of the movement is in its great mass. Groups which have as their only aim a ‘guerilla war’ with the police in the streets, or even worse, destroying everything and looting, will only end up playing a counter-productive role. This is because they undermine the potential of building a mass, united, working class movement, which is the only force that can provide a way forward to change society.
The main thing now is to see how the mass movement can move forward. Last Thursday, the school students and the university students were out on the streets. There is no central coordination of the school students, so there are numerous local mobilisations. The university students are better organised though very much divided. There is a call for an ‘all-education national rally’ in Athens, next Thursday, December 18, which Xekinima fully supports.
School and university students can act as the catalyst for the continuation of the movement. Teachers at all levels are ready to join. A huge youth and education movement can develop in the next days, providing an example and giving direction to the rest of society. The main task faced by the forces of the left, in general, is to provide leadership to this end. Xekinima will be focusing its efforts on this task.
The main obstacle to the further development of the movement is, on the one hand, the role of the trade unions, controlled by PASOK, and on the other hand, the fact that the parties of the left are split. This is particularly due to the role of the CP, which sees as its main enemy not the ruling class and capitalist state and the government, but SYRIZA.
Thus, Xekinima, is campaigning for:
* the development of a new wave of occupations in schools and universities
* a general strike called by the Greek TUC, before Xmas
* a united front of the forces of the left, in order to take the movement forward
* for SYRIZA to call its own rallies in the course of next week, in all cities
* for the building of action committees in all areas
* the fall of the government, to be replaced by a left government reflecting the movement of the youth and the working class and based on a socialist programme.
By Takis Giannopoulos