Panos Garganas spoke to Socialist Worker about a Greek exit from the euro—and the tasks for the left
What will an exit from the euro mean?
The conservative New Democracy party and the Labour-type Pasok say it will be a catastrophe.
The truth is, it will be a break with the austerity imposed by the European Central Bank and the European Commission.
An exit can break this vicious circle if it is part of an anti-capitalist programme that will cancel the debt and nationalise the banks under workers’ control.
It depends who takes the initiative. An exit imposed by the European Union (EU) may be punitive action. One organised by the left, a people’s default, can make the bankers pay—and give a lead to workers across Europe.
What do you make of the caretaker government?
Their only mandate is to organise elections. In reality, they’re entrenching themselves in office, anticipating a political crisis.
The ex-chief of staff of the armed forces was appointed defence minister. The chief of police took over the Home Office. The chief economic adviser under former prime ministers Papandreou and Papademos is now finance minister. The prime minister is a judge.
There are left-leaning figures too, but the overall picture is a bad omen for struggles to come.
The scene is dominated by the 17 June election. But there were strikes last week.
A new law imposed with the bailout threatens more pay cuts. Workers in the food and leather industries, along with printers and bookshop workers, struck together.
What does Golden Dawn’s vote reflect?
The electoral success of this neo-Nazi group came as a shock for millions of people.
In part it was orchestrated from above. Electoral analysis shows that almost half of police personnel voted for the Nazis.
But there were people who thought they were voting to punish mainstream politicians. Small shopkeepers, ruined by the crisis, gave a frightening 19 percent to Golden Dawn. An urgent task is to isolate the hard core from these people.
What is Antarsya?
Antarsya is the Alliance of the Anti-Capitalist Left, born out of the revolt after police shot dead a 15 year old student in Athens in 2008.
It brought together strands of the revolutionary left dating from the 1973 Polytechnic uprising against the military Junta, the New Left current that broke away from the Communist Party when it entered government with Greek Tories in 1989, and student and trade union militants.
Syriza is the Coalition of the Radical Left. Its main component is Synaspismos, whose roots are in what used to be called the “eurocommunist” left.
Militants of Antarsya and Syriza work alongside each other in many struggles, in the strikes and occupations of the squares.
And what is SEK?
SEK is the Socialist Workers Party—the British SWP’s sister organisation in Greece.
We started as a small group in 1972 during the dictatorship and grew by relating to student struggles and workers’ fightbacks.
We worked with Synaspismos comrades in the European Social Forums, but always insisted on an anti-capitalist orientation.
We played a key role in the formation of Antarsya.
What shape has Greek reformism taken?
Syriza’s leaders promise we can escape from austerity by reforming the EU. They say a left government shouldn't take unilateral steps like canceling the debt and breaking with the euro.
They seek a negotiated exit from austerity. They claim a budget with a surplus would strengthen Greece’s negotiating position with its creditors. This effectively postpones the promise to end austerity until the German government and banks agree to it. That’s why Antarsya says we need a strong anti-capitalist left and a continuation of the strikes.