Leeds link-up with Syriza activists
Nassos Theodoridis, a member of Syriza’s Human Rights Commission, spoke by live-link to a meeting organised by the Labour Representation Committee, Leeds Against the Cuts and Leeds Anticapitalist Alternative.
The meeting was introduced by Andy Young of Workers Power who gave a brief outline of the situation in Greece and then Nassos spoke about the recent elections and the desperate poverty being imposed on the Greek working class.
He explained that Syriza’s huge meteoric rise from polling 4.7 per cent in 2009 to 22.1 per cent on 17 June developed under a barrage of right-wing, pro-austerity propaganda and threats aimed at the Greek voters. Politicians, media barons and bankers from within Greece and wider Europe told Greeks that they shouldn’t dare vote Syriza, and yet this party almost won the election.
Syriza’s new strategy is to mobilise people on the streets. Every day in Athens they are organising a public assembly to discuss and decide the way forward in the fight against austerity. Thousands attend these meetings, held in parks around the city, and all are welcome not just supporters of Syriza.
Nassos explained that the situation of the Greek people has become desperate – suicides have risen dramatically as people face lives of destitution. He described how a ninety-year-old woman and her sixty-year-old son had recently jumped hand-in-hand from a balcony and that a pensioner had set fire to himself on the steps of parliament. The state pensions has been cut in half over recent months, and every day 400,000 people visit soup kitchens in Athens.
After this both harrowing and inspiring introduction, most of the attendees at the meeting had questions for the Syriza representative. One of the first questions was about how the Greek working class can take power and stop austerity – whether they can do so purely through parliament or whether the street assemblies would be an alternative basis for power that organise to repel attacks from the police, army and fascist Golden Dawn party. Nassos replied that Syriza intend to win the government of Greece in the next elections and implement a moratorium on cuts and austerity.
Another question was about how the left in Greece can form a workers government and stop austerity when the Greek Communist Party (the KKE) has announced that it would refuse to form a government with Syriza and Antarsya (the Greek sister organisation of the Socialist Workers Party) refuses to join or even vote for Syriza. Nassos replied that the invitation for the KKE and Antarsya to work with Syriza remains open and that they are welcome to take part in the street assemblies as well as join the Syriza coalition.
We also discussed the need for Greece to remain in the Euro and call for the joint currency and the European Union to be used by the workers to stop austerity rather than by the rich to impose it. In response to a question about the growing threat of the fascist Golden Dawn, Nassos said that half of police officers have admitted to for voting for that party and people across Greece are organising to defend migrant communities, demonstrations and strikes against the fascists and police.
Nassos gave an update on the activities of members of the League for the Fifth International from Germany and Sweden who are on a solidarity delegation to Athens and have been taking part in demonstrations and assemblies. One Workers Power member spoke about the need to build a Fifth International, an international revolutionary party, to combat austerity and fight for socialism across Europe and the rest of the world. He suggested that if Syriza were to call for the formation of such a party then it could easily be formed and would be in a position to spread socialist ideas and movements to the Middle East where democratic revolutions have been crushed and usurped by military dictatorships.
There were many more contributions and questions – too many to account for. The meeting gave British socialists information live from Athens about the struggle against austerity as well as an insight into a political party that has inspired people and debate across the world.
Syriza is not willing to go as far as to say that it will refuse to implement austerity, only that there would be a moratorium and audit if it won power, and that it is committed to a purely parliamentary strategy that leaves it vulnerable to a coup or counter-revolution from the ruling class, the state and fascist organisations. However, it is the party that the Greek working class is looking to for answers to the crisis so all Greek socialists should join it to fight for the party to adopt the revolutionary solutions that the economic crisis demands.