By Dimitris Koutsoumbas, GS of the CC of KKE. Published in the newspaper “Rizospastis” on May 23th 2020
The situation that arose due to the coronavirus pandemic, imposed the immediate necessary adjustment of the operation and action of the entire Party and the KNE. An adaptation to the goal that our central slogan put forward from the first moment: “We stay strong, we do not stay silent”. It was our response to the inadequate “We stay home” government propaganda.
We achieved this collectively, seeking to be at the forefront of the struggle to address the impact of the pandemic on health, work, and the living and survival conditions overall, helping to implement basic and crucial tasks that are integrated into the implementation of the Party’s strategy.
The party organs remained structured and functioned with substitutes where needed. We managed to maintain a guiding channel to the Party Base Organizations, so that the directions of the CC reach the members of the Party and the KNE in order to be aware of what we, as a Party, say and do at every stage of development, to rally for the positions of the Party, to keep the morality and militancy of our forces as high as possible.
This has been achieved to a large extent. There were certainly serious inequalities in the level of efficiency and militancy, which were different from one Party Organization to another.
* * *
The attitude and action of the guiding organs, organizations, and cadres in the definitely odd conditions that arose, were a serious test and to a large extent constitute an overall criterion for the turning points of the class struggle.
Much more now that we had to deal with difficulties in the Party’s unimpeded mass action, as a result of the restrictions and the prohibitions imposed by the government and the state that objectively affect the people’s psychology, and even cause concern to broader popular forces that are more exposed to the propaganda of the ruling class than before, along with a climate of fear in the face of the existing danger of the spread of the disease.
This situation required adjustments in our action and at the same time vigilance that would not leave room for possible provocations of the class opponent and its mechanisms.
All in all, along with the known difficulties, inadequacies, and weaknesses that have been expressed, the basic and main thing that we believe should concern us, which must be properly evaluated and of course addressed, is that we eventually reach a very small part of the working class and the people, in relation to the very needs of industries, the population and the extent of the large urban centers. The situation was better where we had organized forces.
This period showed more clearly our big gaps, like having organized party forces at critical points and at critical times, such as in large workplaces, e.g. at the pharmaceutical sector, the food sector, supermarkets, couriers, etc.
* * *
As the days go by, the discussion and interest of the people about the developments are more elevated. The concerns about the developments in their life as a whole, and not just the fear of sickness, coexist and grow stronger.
The fear is now shared between the coronavirus and the fact that they will go through a new crisis that will worsen their life overall.
There are opportunities for the Party’s ideological and political counterattack, to strengthen the prestige and range of the forces that rally to the movement, and also to the KKE. At the same time, conservative and reactionary perceptions, metaphysical beliefs, conspiracy theories, and more coexist among poor popular strata, paralyzing any action or realization of the real way out.
We do not underestimate the fact that under these circumstances, misconceptions about “globalized fascism” and “world under siege” are reappearing and intensifying. The only thing they are offering at the moment is to conceal the role of capitalism in its imperialist stage. Moreover, they are tracking down the problem only in the form of the exercise of the dictatorship of the capital and the monopolies, while altering the revolutionary strategy of the communist movement.
From this point of view, it is a primary task and urgent need to conduct a more decisive struggle for the promotion of the strategic way out that the Communist Party suggests, which does not change, whatever the version of the outbreak of the virus and the spread of the pandemic or the competing interests may be. Precisely because capitalism is the incurable virus and socialism is the only timely and realistic solution to all this barbarism.
* * *
Developments undoubtedly have increased demands in our guiding work, in the action of the entire Party and the KNE.
It is important to understand that we have already entered a new phase, that we are in an economic capitalist crisis. The pandemic acted as a catalyst, brought the economic crisis, which will probably be deeper and with many unbalanced factors, closer and faster. Even its duration may be longer, although the ND government is trying to keep the spirits high, promoting more optimistic and faster growth rates next year. However, the European Commission and other rating agencies estimate that it will be more difficult to deal with the crisis, at a time when competition and contradictions are intensifying in Europe and internationally, and their plans include a variety of economic, political, military and repressive anti-popular measures.
This new phase, with its specific characteristics, requires us to adapt our political intervention and action to organize the struggle in a very specific manner, so that as much as is within our power, the bourgeoisie’s attempt to rally popular forces behind the state, the bourgeois institutions, and the government will not pass.
It also requires us to become more capable of highlighting the fierce and objective contradictions that now stand out strongly in the capitalist system, both for the management of the pandemic and the economic crisis, to show how competition increases and how this sharpening is expressed in the region also through the Greek-Turkish relations, the increased intervention and involvement of NATO and the USA, the intensity of the offensive acts and the risks of involvement in imperialist, even military and war confrontations in our wider region.
It is clear that the ND government is taking advantage of this situation to strengthen a false “social consensus” and “national unity”. In this direction, it worked propagandistically throughout the quarantine period, but also now, as shown by its communication tactics, with the fiesta it attempted on the occasion of the ten years since the tragedy in “Marfin”, where bank employees died. Moreover, the same political parties that ruled during the last decade (ND, PASOK, SYRIZA) did not even do the slightest for revealing the perpetrators and abettors of the tragedy, as well as the responsibilities of the bank, but also of their state, which does not even recognize the right to compensation to the families of the victims.
At the same time, the ND government does not give up on trying to strengthen the repressive measures on a case-by-case basis and aims at consolidating them as necessary social measures. Thus, it is quite possible that it will bring the bill for the restriction of the demonstrations to the Parliament for a vote, using crowding as an argument. But there are now more examples to show the hypocrisy and class nature of its policy. While urging the Commission to “ensure that there are no quarantines or other disproportionate or deterrent requirements” for tourism, serving only the interests of the big hoteliers, it will prevent hotel employees and other workers in the tourist and food industry from mobilizing for the protection of their rights and income, due to the so-called crowding during social gatherings!
Overall, we need to realize that we are in a time when changes can happen faster and that consciousness can change quickly, either in a positive, progressive, and overthrowing direction, or in a more reactionary way.
* * *
Our main goal is to strengthen, systematize, and establish the political action, presence, and intervention of the Party everywhere. To make the Party an enlightening and organizing force of the people’s-workers’ struggle.
An important and irreplaceable companion in this effort is “Rizospastis”, the “902.gr” portal, the announcements, posters, and banners, the electronic media, the internet, and the daily information, marking the party line massively in workplaces, in the health and education sector, in neighborhoods.
At the same time, following a specific plan, we must proceed to thousands of meetings with friends of the Party and the KNE across the country, to give answers to justified questions on the developments, but also to address a call for more active mobilization on the Party’s side.
This requires special and specific discussion and work on people who in the past voted or supported SYRIZA expecting some substantial changes, but also people who may have been supporting other opportunist forces or following us from afar, many of whom were very positive about the positions and presence of the Party during this period, much more than before.
We are on constant alert, as more and more anti-labor measures will be taken, while the big employers have found an opportunity to excel themselves by reducing wages and labor rights, promoting flexible working relationships, while non-payment of wages and layoffs are very common.
We place great importance on the gathering places of the youth, such as schools, universities, sports centers, squares, parks, and cultural events as soon as they start in June. The government is preparing to bring the reactionary anti-educational bill to the Parliament immediately. The whole educational community has already taken to the streets. Teachers, students, and parents must unitedly oppose a huge NO to the multi-bill.
It is not enough to target a minister, we must denounce their policy as a whole. Because Ms. Kerameos will sooner or later be an ex-minister, like many of her predecessors, as no one is for life. But they all have a reactionary restructuring in their plans and each bourgeois government has been putting its own stone in the devaluation of free public education, the categorization of schools, the privatization and commercialization of education and other social services and goods, as well as the crucial health sector.
* * *
The main criterion for a greater effectiveness in our action will be able our guiding effort to mobilize all the forces of the Party and the KNE, to be at the forefront of the struggle so that the workers do not pay the price of the crisis again.
The direction and the slogan are not enough for that. We need to specialize the objectives and frameworks of the struggle, to identify a plan at each place, to deploy our forces in a good and correct order, to plan and control the main sectors that we have prioritized.
We need to work our tactics on how to deal with the efforts of the state and the government, on the forms of struggle, but also how to address other social democratic and opportunist forces, as well as the far-right – fascists, who all intervene and will intervene even more so in the near future. All of them will seek, as they always do at critical times, to take the upper hand of the people’s movement.
Already after Labor Day, we have the first samples, which to some extent refer to the well-known old tactics of disorientation, a mixing of provocation, shallow and non-substantial content of slogans, and influence on the instinct of a general resistance and disposition to protest.
We must have the necessary flexibility for successful interventions, where also other forces may have taken the initiative, sharpening the struggle on the content. Particularly in the middle strata and the youth, the ground for sectional, so-called original, online and other painless forms of struggle, both in content and form, is developing, such as those made by various groups in some squares, thinking that this is how they will regain their lost prestige after a long period of awkwardness, without even raising the issue of the existence and increase of public spaces that will meet the needs of the people and the youth in their free time, for entertainment, sports, and rest. On the other hand, the government’s repression mechanisms are ready for the intensification of state repression.
Of course, not everything is set up and designed in advance, as it sometimes appears to be. The Party and the KNE have the responsibility to guide on the basis of our experience and action, directing any spontaneous and even shallow protest to a conscious voluntary mass organization of the struggle, through various forms of struggle committees, coordinating committees, committees of hygiene and security, organizing mobilizations in sectors, workplaces, and neighborhoods.
* * *
We aim that the initiatives of the communists in every field will step on existing possibilities, to rally and mobilize many organizations around demands that will open up new ways so that more and more workers rally and act.
There are important issues, such as income for all (unemployment benefits, emergency grants to the self-employed, redundancies, unemployment, labor rights, etc.); health and welfare for all with the strengthening of the public health system, health centers, and local health units, hiring school nurses, taking health measures in the workplace, staff recruitment, requisition of the private sector, opening of closed units, etc. ; exemption from electricity, water, and telephone debts during the quarantine months; no to any auction of the first property, business premises, and work tools; no to any account seizure, debt write-off; environmental issues, such as the problem with landfills that has emerged in Western Athens, etc.
We do not put these issues forward in a detached way but integrated into the anti-capitalist – anti-monopoly struggle, in direct combination with demanding measures so that the capital pays the price and not the people. Through e.g. the abolition of the various tax exemptions of large entrepreneurs, their greater taxation and the exemption of the popular strata, the refusal to accept and pay the state debt that was not created by the people, the withdrawal from the NATO plans that cost us 4 billion euros every year, etc. Such demands lead to individual and more general ruptures, pave the way for the disengagement from NATO and the EU, for the people to really come to power and construct a new socialist-communist society.
* * *
The Greek people trust us, appreciate the consistency, stability, prestige, responsibility, organization, and militancy of the KKE. Following closely the developments, we can take the lead in organizing mobilizations, utilizing the experience of the quarantine that has highlighted initiatives, through timely action and having a central direction but also developing any local or sectoral initiative from below.
Because we know that, as the restrictions and the extraordinary and special conditions form preconditions for the wider popular forces to rally temporarily behind the state and the respective government at the beginning, they also form preconditions for greater readiness and rallying for the Party line, greater vigilance and ingenuity in the forms and ways of action and organization of the people’s struggle within the forces of the revolutionary vanguard.
But all this is not always stable and static. It is constantly changing. The popular forces as soon as the first phase of awkwardness and insecurity passes by, begin to worry, protest more massively, seek for ways of expressing dissatisfaction towards a state and a government that are constantly taking measures to squeeze their income and their rights overall.
So in this phase, the action of the vanguard must raise to a higher level. It must not fade, be in a rut, get entrapped into the daily struggle to make ends meet. The conditions of the broader bourgeois legitimacy and the resumption of the usual recovery of individual bourgeois liberties, and the lifting of restrictions involve the risk of complacency, and greater preoccupation with personal, family, or professional issues, which are to some extent rightful and understandable. However, all this should in no way lead to the relaxation of quick reflexes and the suspension or slowing down of the action of pioneering workers, intellectuals and scientists, women and young people of the popular strata, cadres and members of the KKE and the KNE.
Each and one of us must not allow this to happen. We need to be even stronger and at the forefront on the path of duty, to defend health, life, and the rights of the Greek people and the Greek youth.