Third memorandum and democracy in Greece

By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos

The Third Memorandum will not only lead to the continuation of the economic and social catastrophe in Greece (the “death spiral ahead” as pointed out by SYRIZA’s favorite economist James K. Galbraith, in his latest article – POLITICO 17/7/15). It will most likely be the starting point of a period of severe, increasingly manifest, deviation from constitutional order.

The return of the (Minister of Public Order) Mr. Panousis’ police to the established practices of letting provocateurs acting undisturbed while at the same time attacking, with exemplary and unprovoked violence, the main body of demonstrators, symbolizes well the start of the new era. (1)

The program applied to Greece after 2010 is identical to the policies applied from abroad and from inside to the Weimar Republic between 1923 and 1933. The only reason that this program hasn’t already destroyed completely democracy through bloodshed in Greece is that the country had not just gone through a war but through a long period of democracy, prosperity and stability. Society was not ready for violence. The SYRIZA and Independent Greeks (Anel) parties offered a reassuring – though, as it turned out, not real – hope for a democratic and peaceful way out of the disaster. Many young Greeks emigrated. As for the third memorandum, it will be even heavier and it shall burden an already destroyed society.

Karl Marx said that Ideas are delayed in relation to the Being. He didn’t say that they never catch it!

“No alternatives”?

Was there no other option, as claimed by the government? Wrong. A government with a mandate to resist, given by 61% of the population, may as well resist based on just that. Especially as this mandate was even stronger, as Greeks gave it against a campaign of terror, blackmail and threats; threats which, at some extend, had already started becoming reality with the banks closing as a result of ECB’s financial war against Greece.

However, if we accept that the government is right, then who’s is to blame? Who left the country defenseless against the highly probable and entirely predictable political and financial war launched by the Creditors? Who let himself to be convinced probably by the secret assurances of Washington and now thanks it publicly? (Mr. Dragasakis, vice president of the government, thanked publicly Washington for its role in concluding the agreement, note of the translator). What is to be thanked for? Isn’t there anyone who is responsible for the lack of alternative? Governments are not supposed to be formed just for filling up ministerial offices.

Who stopped the government from preparing an alternative plan? Why it is that over the last two and a half years both SYRIZA and Anel have not worked on any credible plan? Why weren’t they prepared and why didn’t they prepare the country? Why, at least, didn’t they prepare after the elections, when they themselves could feel death come calling? Why did they spend the state’s last reserves over the last five months in order to sustain a parody of negotiations? Why have they themselves excluded any other financing option outside EU?

A “coup d’ etat”?

Referendums are not playground stuff. The violation of the directly expressed will of the Greek people by the Government, the Parliament and the EU constitutes a gross violation of both the Greek constitution and the European legislation, which all MPs, be them right- or left-wing, have taken an oath to serve. It, in fact, constitutes a coup; especially, since there has been no change in the country’s circumstances in the days between 5 and 10 July.

The result of a referendum may only be changed by a further referendum, as it has been the case with the four historic referendums called in Greece on the question of monarchy. Referendum results cannot be changed on a governmental whim. This coup may have been designed by Juncker and the Americans, but it is being executed by Greece’s elected government and its MPs.

These events constitute also a coup in the SYRIZA party. One hundred and nine Central Committee members, that is, the majority of the highest party organ in the period between two Party Congress meetings, according to the statuses of the Party, have signed a declaration refusing the agreement – which, shortly after that, was voted in parliament by the party’s MPs. They requested also a meeting of the highest political organ of the party, which, in the midst of a serious national crisis and while decisions are taken which clearly put the very existence of Left in Greece at stake, is yet to be called!

What is happening is, in effect, a peculiar repetition of the Varkiza events of 1945 (2), or of the later Iouliana (3) events of the summer 1965. Both these historical periods are characterized by the profound falsification of the popular mandate of the Greek people by the very same people who were chosen to execute it. But it is also a dark moment for the SYRIZA party which experiences the unequivocal dismantling of any notion of democracy in its internal party politics.

Democracy is not a luxury good, nor just an empty word. It is the fundamental requirement for maintaining peace in the country. It is also the most effective means of protection of the Left movement from the potential disasters that its leaders, from time to time, are capable of causing.

Troubles never come singly!

Maybe, dear friends and comrades, can you stop and reverse this course, if you still can do it, before you fall into the abyss taking us all with you? It seems that you are headed to this direction at breakneck speed!

Athens, 17.7.2015

PS: Surely, it must be emphasized, that any criticism of the current government does not signify the endorsement of the bankrupt policies of the old political parties and their leaders, who are responsible for the destroying, looting and essentially enslaving Greece. But SYRIZA and Anel rose to the government in order to change these policies, not to continue them!

(1) It is usual practice of former left-wing parties whose leadership clashes with their popular base to become ruthless in order to enforce their policies. The leadership of the Greek Communist Party sent Aris Velouchiotis (4) to his death in order to enforce the Varkiza Agreement. The right-wing part of the German Social Democrats killed Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919. Such turn of events is not intentional, but it is the inexorable consequence of the historical role one chooses to assume. We really hope that SYRIZA’s leaders will prove we are wrong.

(2) The Varkiza Agreement was signed on February 12, 1945 between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of a British-bolstered Greek government and the Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) for EAM-ELAS. EAM-ELAS (under communist influence) was the strongest resistance organization in Greece and all Europe. Its military wing (ELAS) operated in occupied Greece during World War II. By October 1944, when the Germans evacuated Greece, EAM controlled about two-thirds of the country and ELAS commanded more than 100.000 armed men and women. British troops and the “national government” established by London intervened military against EAM in Athens during December 1944. The leadership of the CP ordered the main ELAS forces not to intervene in the fighting. A peace treaty was signed in Varkiza, a suburb of Athens, in February 1945, providing for the disarming of ELAS. In return for surrendering its military arm, the E.A.M. was promised freedom to engage in political activities, and the government guaranteed civil and political liberties and undertook to organize a nonpolitical national army. These commitments were never fulfilled and the Varkiza Agreement was followed by a rightist reaction and widespread persecution of leftist elements leading to their rebellion and the third Greek civil war of 1946-1949. Varkiza remains, in the national consciousness of Greeks, a symbol of betrayal, or defeat by betrayal. (Transl. note)
(3) Literary meaning “the July events”, is another name used to describe the period of “apostasia” (defection) of MPs from the ruling party Center Union (Enosi Kentrou) in order to form a new government in the summer of 1965, a move sponsored by the King Constantine II and supported by the conservatives and the United States. These events are also known as the Royal Coup. Starting with a disagreement over control of the armed forces the king forced the Prime Minister George Papandreou, father of Andreas Papandreou, to resign and then moved to divide his party. The defectors from the Center Union were negatively branded as the Apostates (defectors). These events caused a massive political mobilization and an escalating crisis which led to the military coup of 21 April 1967. (trans. Note)

(4) Aris Velouchiotis is the war name of Thanasis Klaras. A member of the CP of Greece since the ‘20s, he became the main inspirator and leader of the armed resistance against occupation troops, which led to the creation of the ELAS (National Popular Liberation Army) in 1942. He came repeatedly in clash with the leadership of CP, controlled by men educated in Moscow and appointed by it to the leadership of the Party. He disagreed with the Varkiza agreement but he still signed the disarmament order of ELAS. Then, he left for the mountains with a small group of trusted men, wondering what to do and hoping for a change in Party line. He was also probably hoping to the return of Nikos Zahariadis, prisoner in Germany, popular leader of the Greek CP and the man appointed by Komintern as leader of the Greek CP in 1931. Zahariadis returned but instead of revising the party line, he expelled Velouhiotis from the Party, accusing him of Trotskyism and treachery. A small phrase in the newspaper of the Party in June 1945, “do not give him not even a piece of bread, not even a glass of water”, was probably an indirect, still clear order to betray his position. Anyway, soon after, he was encircled by enemy troops and he committed suicide, along with his deputy-commander Tzavellas. Government soldiers proceeded to cut their heads and put them on display in the city of Trikala by hanging them on a lamppost. The two heads of the rebels became the symbol if reinstating British rule over Greece.

Recently, the CP of Greece, in a special decision about history, it has reinstated fully post-mortem, as party member, Zaxariadis, recognizing in the same time that Velouhiotis was right. But it refused to reinstate him in the party, claiming essentially that Party discipline is the utmost virtue of a communist. (tr.note)
This article was published in “Paron” (19.7.2015) and was translated from Greek by Maria Komninou