Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hope, Danger and Struggle in Greece: SYRIZA's 40-point Program

Alex Tsipras, leader of SYRIZA, the Coalition of the Radical Left in Greece
Greece is in the headlines a lot, usually in the context of various economists or media analysts predicting disaster should the Greek people be allowed to control their own fortunes and reject the austerity measures being forced on the country by the European Union. What's really important to remember is whose side the media is on, and it's not the side of Greek working people, people who have been engaged in dramatic struggle against austerity and repression.

An election was just held in Greece. Because no single party achieved a majority, or could even unite with others to form a governing coalition, new elections have already been called for June. The current government is run by PASOK, the allegedly socialist party that has ruled the country for years. It has sold out every possible principle anyone calling themselves socialist might have, and is rightfully losing most of its support. PASOK didn't get enough votes to continue a government, nor did various right-wing and center-moderate parties. Disturbingly, a literal neo-Nazi party called Golden Dawn did get a significant vote, enough to gain seats in parliament. But the most fascinating development is the advancement of SYRIZA, the Coalition of the Radical Left. In the new elections, SYRIZA is expected to come in first. It is entirely possible SYRIZA will be able to form a government if other leftists agree to join a coalition. This is an incredible development. Surely a government run by SYRIZA will face incredible challenges: the threat of a military coup, of violence from the far right, even of intervention by the EU or NATO. But SYRIZA are not merely "alleged" socialists like PASOK or the victors of the recent French elections, it is a real coalition of real left groups, even including the Communist Organization of Greece (KOE), a really interesting group often reported on over at Kasama.

I wanted to share the 40-point program of SYRIZA. (Source via Proyect). While any batch of these points could be the source of a good discussion about what is possible in elections, this list could serve as a blueprint for what is wrong with settling for the allegedly progressive dribs and drabs offered up by the Democratic Party to the legions of American voters clinging to the mistaken notion that voting for Democrats will solve anybody's problems (except perhaps those of the 1%). This arguably may not be a program for the seizure of revolutionary power by the autonomous working class, but it's a pretty thorough and radical series of demands that bridges what is possible with what is necessary, that expands the aspirations of popular power rather than shuts them down.

Here are the forty points:

  1. Audit of the public debt and renegotiation of interest due and suspension of payments until the economy has revived and growth and employment return.
  2. Demand the European Union to change the role of the European Central Bank so that it finances States and programs of public investment.
  3. Raise income tax to 75% for all incomes over 500,000 euros.
  4. Change the election laws to a proportional system.
  5. Increase taxes on big companies to that of the European average.
  6. Adoption of a tax on financial transactions and a special tax on luxury goods.
  7. Prohibition of speculative financial derivatives.
  8. Abolition of financial privileges for the Church and shipbuilding industry.
  9. Combat the banks’ secret [measures] and the flight of capital abroad.
  10. Cut drastically military expenditures.
  11. Raise minimum salary to the pre-cut level, 750 euros per month.
  12. Use buildings of the government, banks and the Church for the homeless.
  13. Open dining rooms in public schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to children.
  14. Free health benefits to the unemployed, homeless and those with low salaries.
  15. Subvention up to 30% of mortgage payments for poor families who cannot meet payments.
  16. Increase of subsidies for the unemployed. Increase social protection for one-parent families, the aged, disabled, and families with no income.
  17. Fiscal reductions for goods of primary necessity.
  18. Nationalization of banks.
  19. Nationalization of ex-public (service & utilities) companies in strategic sectors for the growth of the country (railroads, airports, mail, water).
  20. Preference for renewable energy and defence of the environment.
  21. Equal salaries for men and women.
  22. Limitation of precarious hiring and support for contracts for indeterminate time.
  23. Extension of the protection of labor and salaries of part-time workers.
  24. Recovery of collective (labor) contracts.
  25. Increase inspections of labor and requirements for companies making bids for public contracts.
  26. Constitutional reforms to guarantee separation of Church and State and protection of the right to education, health care and the environment.
  27. Referendums on treaties and other accords with Europe.
  28. Abolition of privileges for parliamentary deputies. Removal of special juridical protection for ministers and permission for the courts to proceed against members of the government.
  29. Demilitarization of the Coast Guard and anti-insurrectional special troops. Prohibition for police to wear masks or use fire arms during demonstrations. Change training courses for police so as to underline social themes such as immigration, drugs and social factors.
  30. Guarantee human rights in immigrant detention centers.
  31. Facilitate the reunion of immigrant families.
  32. Depenalization of consumption of drugs in favor of battle against drug traffic. Increase funding for drug rehab centers.
  33. Regulate the right of conscientious objection in draft laws.
  34. Increase funding for public health up to the average European level.(The European average is 6% of GDP; in Greece 3%.)
  35. Elimination of payments by citizens for national health services.
  36. Nationalization of private hospitals. Elimination of private participation in the national health system.
  37. Withdrawal of Greek troops from Afghanistan and the Balkans. No Greek soldiers beyond our own borders.
  38. Abolition of military cooperation with Israel.  Support for creation of a Palestinian State within the 1967 borders.
  39. Negotiation of a stable accord with Turkey.
  40. Closure of all foreign bases in Greece and withdrawal from NATO.

1 comment:

  1. Kasama is sending a team of reporters/activists to Greece and could use your help. If you can make a donation, here's the scoop: