Greece: One Year on
One year ago, there were three weeks of massive struggles in the streets of Greece over the police murder of a young anarchist, Alexandros Grigoropoulos. But the movement on the street and in the schools and universities had great difficulty linking up with the struggles in the workplace. There was only one strike, that of primary school teachers for one morning, in support of the movement, even though this was a time of massive labour unrest, including a general strike, and the links still couldn't be made.
However, in Greece the workers' actions have continued beyond the end of the protest movement up until today. Indeed Labour Minister, Andreas Lomberdos, has been warning that the measures needed in the next three months to lift the national debt crisis that is threatening to kick Greece out of the euro-zone might result in bloodshed. "There is little we can do to prevent that" he added. Earlier last month the Greek Prime Minister in an address to the Parliament had said that the national debt crisis is "the first national sovereignty crisis since 1974", and the new socialist government are talking of uniting all of the bourgeois parties and is seeking to forge an emergency national unity government that will be able to suspend articles of the constitution protecting the right to public assembly, demonstration and strike.
Even before the government has tried to implement its ‘reforms' (read attacks on the working class) to solve the debt crisis, there has been a large wave of workers' struggles. The past couple of months have seen strikes of dockworkers, Telecom workers, dustbin men, doctors, nurses, kindergarten and primary school teachers, taxi drivers, steel workers, and municipal workers, all for what seems like separate reasons but actually all in response to attacks that the state and capital has already been forced to make to try to make workers pay for the crisis.
The fact that the state is now being forced to implement even more severe attacks against an already combative working class show the depths to which the crisis has effected Greece. Minister Lomberdos spelled it out very clearly when he said that these measures "can only be implemented in a violent way". However, attacks made against all sectors of workers at the same time open up the real possibility for workers making a common struggle over joint demands.
Place this against a background of increased student protests, protesting farmers blocking roads all over the country, and the trial of the policemen who murdered Alexandros beginning on the 22nd of January after already having been postponed and moved out of Athens to prevent unrest, as well as other policemen being arrested for torture, and a renewed campaign by numerous armed leftist groups including a bombing of the parliament, and the country certainly seems to be sliding out of control.
Still what is important at the moment is that the working class is prepared to fight in its own interests for its own methods, and to be particularly carefully of ‘false friends'. The KKE (Greek Communist Party), which only a year ago was calling protestors secret agents of "foreign dark forces", and "provocateurs" is now saying that "workers and farmers have the right to resort to any means of struggle to defend their rights". It won't be long, however, before they return to their old tune. Furthermore, many of the workers' struggles have been controlled by the trade unions and have been one day or two day limited affairs.
Finally, the armed groups have no way forward to offer the working class. Workers build class solidarity, consciousness, and confidence through taking part in their own struggles, and developing their own forms of organisation, not through sitting at home and watching bombs set by leftist radicals on TV. The sound of a workers' mass meeting discussing how to organise their own struggle scares the ruling class more than a thousands bombs.