Syriza's Government Withdraws Cash from Hospitals to Pay the Debt

Written by IWL-FI – International Secretariat
Friday, 15 May 2015 16:18
After the agreement signed between the government of Syriza and the new Brussels Group (the “politically correct” name for the original Troika – the IMF, European Commission and ECB) a new round of negotiations on the Greek debt is ongoing. But for this new “refinancing” is concrete (actually, just an accounting balancing), the Greek government must effectuate payments of interest due soon.
To ensure them, Syriza’s administration passed in Parliament a tough austerity Act by which all government agencies (from municipalities to hospitals) are required to make available their cash reserves.
This Act has already caused a rebellion of the municipalities in their meeting with the Deputy Finance Minister. And it can generate a strike of hospital workers that, if carried out, would be the first against Alexis Tsipras’ administration.
Hope is transformed into nightmare
Thus, the hope for changes deposited by the Greek people in Syriza is quickly becoming the continuation of the nightmare of increasing impoverishment and misery that the country has experienced for many years.
Syriza’s triumph was a deformed electoral reflection of the tenacious struggle of the workers and the people throughout this period, marked by 35 general strikes and countless demonstrations. They eroded the governments of New Democracy and PASOK that, at the service of the troika, have looted and bankrupted the country. By putting Syriza in office they showed their will for a radical change in this situation. Its victory also generated much sympathy and expectations around the world.
But Syriza has been increasingly downgrading its ideological commitment. In previous years, it spoke of the need “to repeal the memorandum” that ties Greece to imperialism and to promote a “massive European resistance.” During the recent election campaign it lowered the tone while keeping its promise to “put an end to austerity,” raising taxes on corporations and the rich and to promote a National Reconstruction Plan. In the very day of inauguration of Tsipras, its program was reduced to 11 limited measures (including a minimum wage increase from 586 to 751 euros, the suspension of privatizations and ongoing review of previous privatizations), whose implementation would mean a small relief for the Greek people. But, after the agreement of March 20 (in which it capitulated to the Troika) even those measures were neglected (including increased minimum wage) and were replaced by the withdrawal of funds from hospitals and other basic services to pay the public debt.
At the same time, the first signs of a crisis within Syriza appeared, as the letter by the MP Manolis Glezos (hero of the resistance against the Nazi occupation) who sharply criticized the agreement made in March.
Syryza’s government prepares another capitulation in the new round of negotiations. It substituted Yorgos Juliarakis for Yanis Varufakis as chief negotiator, who is considered “more moderate” and whose nomination was considered “very positive” by the European Commission.
An atypical bourgeois government
To understand this policy, it is necessary to start with some key features. The first is the class character of the current Greek government. According to Marxism, it can’t be defined by its ideology or social class origin of its members but by the class character of the state it rules. According to this criterion, Syriza’s is undoubtedly a bourgeois government without any intention to change class character of the Greek capitalist state.
That’s why Alexis Tsipras had no problem to make an alliance with a bourgeois rightist party – ANEL (Independent Greeks) – or to support in Parliament the choice of Prokopis Pavlopoulos as president of the country (representative of New Democracy, the bourgeois rightist party that Syriza had just defeated in elections). While this is essentially a ceremonial position it is a clear sign that his government would not “break bad.”
This is an “atypical” bourgeois government that we call Popular Front. That is, a government in which the main role is assumed by labor organizations or petty bourgeois leftist leaders of the mass movement that make alliances with minority sectors of the bourgeoisie to rule the country. Actually, the Syriza government is not a historical novelty: it’s a renovation of old formulas of governments of class collaboration, used many times in the past, especially in periods of huge mass upsurge, to try to maneuver in this situation and defeat the working class ascent. The difference is that the place formerly occupied by Social Democracy or the old Communist parties is currently occupied by new political formations as Syriza (or those aspiring to that role, like Podemos in Spain).
This atypical character makes, on the one hand, the masses see a Popular Front government as “theirs” and, therefore, it would entail a more or less long time to experience it. On the other, it is not the preferred government to imperialism and the national bourgeoisie. They will try to return to a “normal” bourgeois government of their traditional parties as soon as they can. If they can’t, they tolerate and push this government to do the “dirty work”.
A semi-colonial country
The second assertion is that Greece is a semi-colonial country. That is, it is a country where political and economic agreements submit it to imperialism. This is expressed in the character of its membership of the EU and the euro area (which led, for example, to the destruction of its main industrial sector: shipyards) or through foreign debt and its consequences (the sacrifices to pay and the ongoing monitoring of its economic policy). The Greek situation is similar to that of Latin American countries regarding its subordination to imperialism. The policies imposed on Greece by the EU and the IMF plunged the country into poverty and will continue to sink its economy, as they did in all countries that are subject to the dictates of the IMF and international creditors.
Therefore, the response of the troika, especially the head of the EU (German imperialism), far from showing “mercy” is to push harder without any concessions. The European economic crisis forces the EU to bring Greece and Syriza’s government to their knees to prevent new electoral experiments from spreading to other countries like Portugal, Spain and even Italy and to present them as “rebel bad examples.”
There is two options for Syriza’s administration, to meet the aspirations of the Greek people or to capitulate to the troika. It chose the latter course of capitulation. It is demonstrated that any government that doesn’t break with the bourgeoisie and imperialism ends up (sooner than later) an instrument of finance capital.
What policy should the revolutionaries adopt in Greece?
The IWL-FI supported the struggle of the Greek people against the governments of PASOK and New Democracy. We call the critical vote for Syriza to accelerate the experience of the working class and the masses.
Now, due to the bourgeois character of Syriza’s government, we are at a left and working class opposition to it. Our support and solidarity with the struggles and aspirations of liberation of the workers and the Greek people remain unconditional. This means not giving any support to the government that is betraying them. No trust in this government, exposure of each of its capitulation!
At the same time, we demand an immediate increase of wages and the reversal of privatization, as it was promised during the election campaign. Centrally, we demand to break with imperialism and the Greek bourgeoisie as the only way to bring Greece out of the disaster. Therefore, we encourage the independent mobilization of workers and the masses in the way that the possible strike by hospital workers may point to.
We believe that the immediate task in Greece is to organize the working class and popular opposition to confront the government. This is the only possibility of building an alternative that is directed towards a real government of workers and the people, backed by their democratic organizations to break with capitalism.
In Europe, we affirm that solidarity with the Greek workers and the people must be expressed essentially in demonstrations to demand the cancellation of the Greek foreign debt by each European country government.
We also call on the German government to pay 278,000 million euros related to compulsive loans imposed by the Nazis on Greece during the occupation of the country in World War II, and compensation for damages caused by that occupation.
The situation in Greece and other countries shows up the true nature of the EU in the service of the European imperialist powers, especially Germany. It reveals that, while these countries don’t stop paying the foreign debt and break with the euro, they will fall increasingly into poverty and decay. Finally, it shows that the EU must be destroyed by the struggle of the workers and the masses, and replaced by a union of workers and peoples, a European Union of Socialist Countries.

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