Interview with Elissaios Vagenas, member of the CC of the KKE and Head of the International Relations Section of the CC.
October 25, 2021
1. At the moment, the right-wing Liberal Party of New Democracy is in power in Greece and has been promoting new laws against the class unions and peaceful demonstrations. Which tactics are the KKE and PAME using in response to these actions?
Answer: Your readers must clearly understand that the government of the right-wing, liberal ND party “picked up the baton” on this issue, the furthering of anti-labor legislation, from the previous “left” government, the social-democratic SYRIZA party. SYRIZA not only did not abolish the anti-popular anti-labor laws, which had been passed by the previous governments, but its government loaded new anti-labor measures and laws onto the backs of the people, in order to increase the profitability of capital. In addition, it sought to strengthen repressive measures at the expense of the labor and popular movement. It has introduced a vast range of legislative measures to the detriment of the right to strike, a series of measures to undermine union functioning, while its forces in the trade union movement supported and support employer intervention in the trade union movement and the control of unions by employers and the bourgeois state.
Today, the ND government is strengthening the anti-popular attack and strives to intensify the repressive measures against those who are struggling to prevent this attack.
We communists know full well that the working people, regardless of which bourgeois party is in power, are facing an enemy state, an economy, and overall social organization, which functions based on the criteria of the interests of the large monopoly groups and how they can increase their profits, how they can emerge as victors in the competition with their rivals. All this negates the possibilities that workers create through their work and that are expanding continually with the development of the sciences and technology. All this impedes the satisfaction of our needs. This is the real enemy we are facing. The attack on the working people is not going to stop, if the working people themselves do not stop it, if they don’t organize their counterattack.
In this direction, our Party is directing a “a Militant Call to Join Forces with the KKE”, which underlines the fact that “Socialism is the real progress, a society in which the working people emerge from the sidelines of political life and participate, men and women equally, active in decision-making, implementation, and monitoring, because they now hold power in their very own hands. What’s ‘new’ is the social ownership of all the wealth that exists, so the economy will cease to function based on the criteria of capitalist profit. On this fertile ground, the central planning of production can set and achieve scientifically defined social goals in agricultural and industrial production, in social services.
The KKE is issuing a call for a militant joining of forces to pave the way for socialism. This requires that we organize our struggle around key issues, such as:
-Defending a decent labor-popular income, reducing working hours, securing significant increases in wages, abolishing all flexible forms of employment, guaranteeing permanent employment for all, with fixed working hours, the abolition of VAT on consumer goods, the abolition of indirect taxation, a substantial reduction in taxation on salaried employees, the self-employed and pensioners, and the transferring of tax burdens onto big capital.
-Compulsory Social Security for all, with a reduction or even abolition of employee contributions. Capital must pay. Welfare exclusively public and free for all.
-The protection of the life and the health of the people. Exclusively public free and high-quality health services, with an emphasis on prevention and health and safety measures in workplaces, with special measures for women’s health and motherhood. Comprehensive flood prevention, fire prevention and earthquake protection measures, the ensuring of modern housing for the people.
-The defense of labor-popular rights against state repression and prohibitions, against employer terrorism, the repeal of all the laws restricting trade union action, the right to strike and demonstrations.
-The disengagement of our country from the dangerous plans of NATO, the USA, the EU, the closure of all the foreign military bases in Greece, the disengagement from those organizations, with the people in power. The strengthening of the struggle against imperialist war, the plans to change international treaties and borders, the bargaining over co-exploitation of the Aegean under “Euro-NATO” supervision.
-The right to exclusively public and free education at all the levels, pre-school, and Special Education, to the development of free time and people’s access to culture with all the requisite infrastructure.
-Guaranteed housing with special care for young couples, the abolition of foreclosures on primary residences and the prohibition of power, water, and phone cut offs for popular households that cannot pay their bills.
-The direct support of the self-employed by securing a tax-free limit of 12,000 euros and the write-off of a portion of their debts to banks and the state.
-The securing of lower guaranteed prices on agricultural products.
We believe that through daily struggles, we can create a nationwide coordinated movement of the working class and its allies. Rooted everywhere, with vanguard hotbeds of resistance in each workplace, each industry, each area. With unified demands and goals that pave the way for a struggle against the monopolies and capitalism.
The class unions, such as those that participate in PAME, lead the way in the struggle of the working class all over the country. In Athens, in other cities, the trade unions, the Labor Centers, the sectoral Federations define their demands for the defense of the life and rights of the working people and call for mass mobilizations November 4th.
2. The meeting between French President Macron and Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis created a sensation in the Press and a rise in patriotic sentiment, as well as the discussion that Paris won’t abandon Athens in the event of aggressive action on the part of Ankara. What is the KKE’s viewpoint on this?
Answer: The KKE took a stand both on the Greek-French “defense” agreement and on the corresponding agreement with the USA. The parties, which support the choices of the bourgeois class, are trying to promote the perception that these agreements “safeguard” the country’s defense capacity, since France and the United States are presented as “guarantors” of the country’s territorial integrity. The KKE considers that these agreements are the ones that safeguard and upgrade the interests of the bourgeoisie, which is strengthening its position in the imperialist rivalries. These agreements not only do not ensure the peace and security of the people, but they turn Greece into a launching pad for new wars, send the Greek armed forces on new imperialist missions abroad, and in no way protect them from the aggression of the bourgeoisie, an ally in NATO, Turkey. The people must think about what kind of “alliance” NATO is, when one “ally” threatens another with war. When one “ally” equips one “ally” against the other “ally”. The KKE is firmly opposed to the above agreements, as well as against Greece’s participation in imperialist plans and organizations, such as NATO and the EU. The only thing that can ensure workers’ interests is workers’ power in the country.
3. How does the KKE view the withdrawal of Pentagon and NATO troops from Afghanistan and the assumption of power by the Taliban? The question is related to the fact that among many “leftists” optimistic opinions dominate concerning the defeat of American imperialism and are widespread.
Answer: The KKE has shown for years that US-NATO imperialist intervention in Afghanistan was not for the so-called “war on terror”, nor was it aimed at promoting “democracy”. It took place in the context of inter-imperialist conflicts over energy resources, mineral wealth, freight routes, and the US-NATO presence in Afghanistan aimed at controlling the “soft underbelly” of Russia and China in the context of their competition with the US. Today, the United States and NATO are shifting their focus to the Indo-Pacific region, leaving the Taliban with $85 billion in weapons, believing that their interests can be served by a climate of instability in Central Asia. These inter-imperialist rivalries now seem to favor the Taliban, a reactionary movement, deeply anti-communist, which was created and exploited by imperialists in the past. The ideological cover is a religious dogma and the revival of various outdated oppressive rules of conduct, especially to the detriment of women, but always in the service of the capitalist mode of production.
Today the need for a popular struggle against any reactionary and obscurantists forces emerges, inextricably linked to the struggle against the capitalist system and the imperialist forces and plans that give rise to them and make use of them.
4. A new military alliance AUKUS was recently created. For what reason was it created, in your opinion? What is the position of the KKE in relation to this Alliance?
Answer:The tripartite “security” alliance between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, under the name “AUKUS”, announced on 9/15/2021, was a new important development in the structure of the imperialist alliances. Although the new agreement was reached between 3 non-Asian powers, at the same time, it clearly focuses on the action of these forces in Asia and the wider Indo-Pacific region, which produces 60% of world GDP, and it is estimated that in the coming years will absorb 70% of energy demand. An area that is already an important “channel” of global merchant shipping. Conflicts over the maritime and land borders are ongoing in the region, where China’s aim to call into question international maritime law and the sovereign rights of countries in the region is clear, e.g., of Vietnam.
The United States is once again seeking to establish itself as a “self-appointed protector” of the peoples, this time in this specific region, in the face of Chinese monopoly expansion plans, China’s aspirations in Southeast Asia. Already, a large part of the US Navy and Air Force has been transferred to the Pacific….
The workers are called upon to intensify their struggle against both old imperialist alliances, such as NATO, and new ones, such as AUKUS, to fight against their countries’ participation in imperialist wars, without choosing a “good” imperialist.
5. The Nazi attack on KNE activists in Thessaloniki stirred up Greek public opinion andcommunists held mass rallies throughout the country. Is this an attempt at revenge for the condemnation of the fascist Golden Dawn as a criminal organization?
The aim of the fascist attacks is to terrorize, to impede the action of those who are struggling, especially under conditions of crisis, sharpening of problems, but also the intensifying imperialist rivalries. It is no coincidence that they took place while mass struggles and collective processes of workers, students, pupils, teachers, etc. are in progress. The fascist criminal groups attacked elected members of the movement, but also members of the KNE and the KKE who are leading the organization of the struggles. It is no coincidence that these attacks were organized a few days after the great success of the KNE Festival in which tens of thousands of young people came in contact with the KKE and the KNE.
6. The electorate and Golden Dawn supporters have not disappeared after its banning. Who do they support now and is there a danger of a resurgence of the fascist party?
Answer: A year ago, when the court ruled against the Golden Dawn crimes and despite the fact that Nazi Golden Dawn criminals were taken to prison, we stressed that there should be no complacency, because fascism is bound with many threads to the very system that gives birth to and nurtures it. The recent attacks by fascist, far-right groups confirmed our assessment, and did not surprise us. In this sense, it is not just a phenomenon, but reactionary groups, anti-communist, anti-racist groups, which are linked to various centers and mechanisms and, depending on their needs, ‘take them out or put them back in the drawer’. That is why the only ones who can isolate them and put them permanently in the drawer is the people with their action. Particularly dangerous is the bankrupt “theory of the two extremes”, which equates the victim with the perpetrator, which in an a historical manner equates fascism with communism, something which the apologists of the bourgeois system have resorted to. It is characteristic that recently in the city of Larissa the municipal authority, which belongs to the SYRIZA camp, invited the representative of “Greek Dawn”(as was the ballot that was openly supported in the 2019 elections by the Nazi criminal Golden Dawn) to the events organized around the anniversary of the liberation of the city from the Nazis.
7. What are the tasks of the KKE at this stage?
Answer: We have already mentioned some things. Our Party held its 21st congress in June, observing all the necessary health protocols under the conditions of the pandemic. The Political Resolution of the Congress has been published in Russian, English and other languages, and there you can see our assessments and the tasks we have set before us in detail. Today, we estimate that we are now better able to escalate the struggle, to go on the counterattack, to pursue daily struggles and the local-sectoral coordination of the struggle which will gradually be transformed into a unified, nationwide coordinated movement of the working class and its allies; to be as massive as possible, rooted firmly in the workplaces, in the industry sectors, in every region, in an anti-capitalist-anti-monopoly direction against NATO and the EU. Only the KKE with its activity can guarantee such a nationwide and at the same time internationalist movement, as a guiding force to overthrow the current correlation of forces and pave the way towards socialism.We can decisively expand our ties with broader working-class forces, encouraging their moredynamic participation and action in the labor-popular movement, but also with their integration into the active circle of influence around the KKE, and their active participation in all the great social and political battles that lie ahead in the coming years. We can proceed more boldly and dynamically in the formation of many new PBOs [branches] of the Party and BOs of the KNE, in the creation of militant cores of the Party and KNE everywhere, in a mass renewal of our ranks, with new recruits from the working class, from the allied middle strata, especially from youth, women. We are deeply convinced that it is in the interest of the working class, the popular strata, to intensify the struggle for their own contemporary needs, against the monopolies and their power, to build their own alliance in this struggle, paving the way for socialism – communism, to build mutually beneficial relations between peoples, free from NATO and the EU, from any imperialist alliance.
Interview was conducted by the website http://socialismkz.info/ of the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan.