Member of the Central Committee and MEP of the Communist Party of Greece Kostas Papadakis commented on the newly introduced bill of the Greek government banning demonstrations, on the impact of the pandemic in Greece and how KKE is advancing the struggle under these conditions.
- What is the significance of the ND bill against the demonstrations and rallies? For the working class and for the capitalists in Greece?
The ND government's bill is a legislative monstrosity that not only targets the right to popular protest, for which rivers of blood have been shed but also criminalizes the questioning of the system, the action against the current system of barbarism and exploitation. Its goal is to strike at the workers' - people's struggle. The government seeks to deprive the people of the right to protest by handing it over to the police, who will ban demonstrations, judging their purpose and content, with vague criteria, even precautionary. The reactionary predictions for the "organizer" of the demonstration pave the way for provocative actions set up in rallies that are known to be led directly by the state and "parastatal" mechanisms. Their goal is either to disperse rallies with bans or using persecutions and financial extermination of unions, mass organizations, etc. It turns out that on the one hand, authoritarianism and repression go together with the anti-popular policy, and on the other hand, the class character of bourgeois democracy, the dictatorship of capital. The government claims that it wants to ban "small demonstrations that close up the city center", but it aims at all demonstrations. Above all the rallies of the communist, class labor movement. They are frightened by the "organized disobedience", the mass mobilization, of an organized and determined people because they know that they will surely find it in front of them and against them. This was proved by the impressing May Day rally of PAME, which inspired the people and forced the government, the other bourgeois parties and their staffs to pour their anti-communist poison. But they also know very well that this people have never in history asked … for permission to claim and impose it’s right, and at the same time to abolish in practice such reactionary constructions.
- The new law is introduced to "create order in social and economic life". Is the government trying to become more strict and authoritarian? Is the law related to the new economic recession that is starting due to the pandemic? We see that all over the world there is a tendency towards authoritarianism, with the use of pandemics as an excuse. Is this bill part of this tendency?
Even the UN has recently been forced to admit, according to a study on "freedom of assembly and association", that 2019 was the 14th consecutive year that freedom has declined worldwide. The "order in social and economic life" is interrupted by the policy of governments and the EU and the strategy of the capital used to service business profits. They condemn thousands of workers to be unemployed, fired, suspended, unpaid, to work with short-term contracts, they condemn the self-employed to be under constant insecurity and the risk of bankruptcy, they condemn the patients than need exams and treatment to be delayed 4 and 5 months. They are mistaken if they think that this will stop the people, the more and more workers who realize that the bill to pay for this crisis of the capitalists has their name on. The pandemic accelerated the coming of the crisis stemming from the normal functioning of capitalism. From the fact that the work of many is being appropriated by a handful of capitalists, that in order to serve their profitability they are letting stagnant over-accumulated funds that do not give them what they expected. The crisis is capitalist, not a crisis of coronavirus. The government, the bourgeoisie parties, the capitalists and their European Union want the people to pay the inflated bill of this crisis in order to support the profits of the capitalists. People can draw conclusions. The call of the KKE "we stay strong! Let us not pay for their crisis again" is a legacy. It signals that what the capitalists are trying to do with bans, intimidation and repression will remain only on paper, the class struggle will continue and escalate.
Is the blame only on the ND government? What can you tell us about the role of the SYRIZA government in this development?
Although SYRIZA formally states that it "opposes the bill", its stance is a monument of hypocrisy. Because it was his government that imposed by order of the bankers, the ban of protests against the auctions as a specific offense, as well as the restriction of the right to strike, which is currently being used by the ND government. During his government 's days, a lot of strikes where contemned by court decisions characterized as illegal and abusive, there were many cases of violent repression against strikers, prosecutions of militant farmers, students, etc. The "Avgi" newspaper, the organ of SYRIZA, through it’s front pages, fought against the strikes who were opposing the anti-labor measures and the memorandum voted by the SYRIZA government, citing "the traffic chaos caused by the strikers and their demonstrations". SYRIZA may well demand from ND "theft of intellectual property" for the bill, which is the next episode of his own government.
Kostas Papadakis, member of the Central Committee and MEP of KKE
We note that bourgeoisie at the same time is targeting communism and communist ideology (such as the proclamation of communism as a criminal ideology by the EU), in a broader historical context. Can this be seen as a sign of a systemic crisis?
It is no coincidence that the criminalization of radical ideology and practice is an official EU policy, and based on this theory, as well as the unhistorical equation of fascism and communism, the criminal ideologies, as they say, in many countries is being promoted the criminalization of the actions of popular movements and Communist Parties. Just six months ago, the EU, in its Annual Report (for the Common Foreign and Security Policy), officially registered the popular protests as a "security risk". For about two decades now, the EU and the bourgeois governments in its member states have been cynically and openly trying to link "terrorism" and "violence" to militant and revolutionary political action. The term "radicalization", which the EU is trying to establish as synonymous with "terrorism" or "anti-social", "problematic" behaviour, does not closely refer to the "fight against terrorism", it is deliberately used to slander first and then criminalize any militant voice, ideological perception and action that defies the capitalist system and especially that fights for its overthrow. In this context, the European Commission has established the so-called "Radicalization Awareness Network" as another "anti-terrorist mechanism" of the EU. This network consists of "professional ... researchers, sociologists, Youth leaders and police authorities” of EU member states as an instrument of exchange and coordination of “ideas, experiences, information and practices” to combat radicalization and “violent extremism” starting from school and universities with a main focus on the workplaces and the new shift of the working class, where their effort is added to the employer's effort to strike at any trade union action. It is indicative that the SYRIZA government first started to issue "manuals" and programs "against radicalization" involving even sports clubs for a hefty fee of 60,000 euros so that the young athletes do not "radicalize".
They are taking measures that are a confession of their concern that the people, the youth, will not tolerate without protest everything that comes under the pretext of the new crisis.
POSTPONING TAXES SHIFTS THE SUFFOCATION TO WINTER
How is the situation of the Greek working class under pandemic conditions?
It is going to be a very difficult summer not only for all of the working people, but especially for those of the most dynamic branch of the Greek economy, Tourism, the self-employed. The workers who shouldered the burden of the “Tourism Miracle” in previous years, with the millions of arrivals and the unimaginable profits of the business groups in the branch that raked in 120 billion over a five-year period, are called upon to survive with 9 euros per day and many of them, not even with that much. In other words, they are already paying for the crisis of this year’s tourist period, with reduced arrivals due to the pandemic and the economic crisis for which the pandemic acted as a catalyst.
For the thousands of workers in the Food Industry and the other tourist professions, no substantial support will be provided for them, with months of unemployment already added up from the end of last year’s tourist period. However, for those who are “lucky” enough to work this year, the EU-devised “Syn-ergasia”/ SURE program is waiting for them – the one that provides for a reduced salary and abolishes in practice sectoral collective bargaining, handing over to employers money from workers’ taxes and even insurance contributions.
The small self-employed are drowning in debt and have no way of making payments as one business closes after another. The mockery of postponing their tax and insurance obligations just shifts their suffocation to the winter, with shops that are closed due to their seasonal nature, while their debt to banks and suppliers puts them first on the list of the new bankruptcy code.
While the working people and the popular strata are hanging by a string, many of them without any income at all, the government’s support to the large business groups, with subsidies, tax breaks and cheap loans, reduced insurance premiums and subsidies for salaries is totally outrageous. Everything for capital, the burden is on the people to pay for it all. Significant mass struggles are developing in response to this situation and an effort is being made to strengthen the organization and the demands of the working people for direct measures of support for themselves and their families. They are the ones who really produce wealth. They are the unsung heroes who shone in the days of the pandemic, workers, employees, the real protagonists. They must not agree to pay for the crisis again. To struggle for a decent wage for all, for no overturning of labor rights. To prevent employers and the government from establishing new anti-labor measures in the name of a “state of emergency”, worse working conditions and salaries, that deepen exploitation and that they will continually be faced with over the coming years. To fight for their contemporary rights.
"WE STAY STRONG"
What are the plans of the KKE to fight back against this bill?
In a period when the anti-popular attack on labor-rights is escalating, the geopolitical competitions are intensifying and the clouds of war are amassing in our region, the government is attempting to impose a silent grave. They are fooling themselves if they think that they can stop the people in that way, the more and more workers who will take their place in organizing the class struggle. Whoever considers that this monstrosity will be implemented and legitimized in the consciousness of the people and the youth are ahistorical. The people with their struggle and their “organized disobedience” will abolish it in practice, just like so many others in the past. The large rally of the KKE a couple of weeks was the first powerful response. The big rally of PAME the day that the bill was passed in the Parliament, was also a product of a flood of decisions by trade unions, mass organizations, organizations of the popular – trade union movement with statements and multi-faceted action condemn this bill-monstrosity of the government. PAME, the class unions and the federations organized this large demonstration in Syntagma Square that was hit by the riot police with suppression and chemicals, with the government to hold political responsibility of this action. The bourgeois class, its governments and parties had better be sure that independently of what the Parliament finally approved, the people will not remain with their hands crossed and the struggle to condemn the bill will not remain on paper. The people will not bow their heads to poverty, unemployment, refugeeism, wars. It will fight and lay claim to the wealth it produces; they who produce it will reap it with their own power and ownership. The more this path is strengthened and becomes more mass, the more the people will clash decisively with capital, their power and every reactionary law and mechanism, abolishing it in practice, sending them and the rotten exploitative system they are safeguarding to the dustbins of history. Bringing to the fore the only real way-out, socialism.