Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The "New Marshall Plan" — The new, yet very old, "Great Idea" of the European capital and the communists' response

The following article, written by the General Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Dimitris Koutsoumbas, was published in the weekend edition of "Rizospastis" newspaper on 11-12 April 2020: 

The new, yet very old, "Great Idea" of the European capital and the communists' response

By Dimitris Koutsoumbas.

The outbreak of the pandemic, its rapid spread, its profound consequences for human life and especially in the more developed capitalist economies, have brought great problems to the surface, which of course pre-existed, but emerged today in a loud and tragic way. The big contradictions and contrasts are even more evident in all aspects of social, economic, political, cultural life and reality, in each country individually and internationally. We must definitely make a greater collective effort and contribution not only to record and codify the new issues, but also further highlight them as well as the main trends of the developments, to draw the necessary conclusions and tasks, both in theoretical and in political, practical level. After all, many issues and aspects are still in progress.

The developments we are experiencing at this time, in the last month in our country and a bit more in other countries, show and once again confirm more intensely that the real danger for all the peoples of the world is capitalism at its highest stage, i.e. imperialism. It not only goes against the needs of the people and the social development itself but it constantly causes, on a massive scale, irreparable damage in all sectors due to the sharpening of its contradictions. Today, it is indisputable that the health of the people, care, protection, and security are incompatible with the capitalist profit, the greedy capital and the capitalist mode of production. Either solution will be provided based on the real needs of the people or the people will suffer, they will live in miserable conditions, they will constantly pay out of their own pockets so that the few and chosen ones of the capital will treasure. It is time, and will become even more urgent with the end of the pandemic in the coming months, to strengthen the Social Alliance, the anti-monopoly and anti-capitalist line of struggle, our own alternative proposal, our own response, the response of the hopeful socialist tomorrow. The necessity and timeliness of socialism and the socialist revolution are rising to the surface, and as time passes they will do so in a more imperative way, with new dynamics.


Especially during the past days, processes and competitions at a European and global level have intensified over how to more effectively support the affected capitalist economy. The effects of the coronavirus pandemic acted certainly as a catalyst for the worsening of the serious problems that pre-existed in the capitalist economy. The KKE, even when both the current and the previous  government were celebrating "growth", warned that the problem of capital accumulation, as the root cause of the crisis, not only has not been overcome, but is sharpened, bringing closer a risk of a new crisis, perhaps faster than expected. In fact, the Greek economy is even more exposed to these shocks, due to its so-called "extroversion", i.e. the great dependence on tourism and shipping, generally on transportation.  All previous governments of ND, SYRIZA and PASOK-KINAL waved the flag of this extroversion, while undermining the country's great productive potential, which is valuable and necessary especially in conditions such as the present, simply because it was imposed by the profits of the capital and the EU commitments.


It is on this ground that the discussion for a strong state intervention in the economy, called the "new Marshall Plan", is developing. This term, in fact, is used by both the followers of the current ESM support mechanisms (Germany, the Netherlands, Austria) and the followers of the Eurobond or something in-between, from the heavily indebted countries of the south. Also, this term is used by all bourgeois forces, regardless of whether they appear as opponents (neoliberals, right-wing forces, social democrats of all shades and others). This identification shows their agreement on the need for the bourgeois states and their allies, such as the EU, to intervene with an expansionary fiscal policy, to support not the workers and the people, who are again the victims in terms of health and rights, but business groups and their profitability. At the same time, to strengthen the position of the European capital against its competitors, such as the USA, China, Russia, etc., in the framework of the realignments that will take place in the international imperialist system. Of course, this does not mean that there are no differences between them, within the EU, over who will win and who will lose, which can lead to another fragile compromise. In fact, the opposite is true. Countries with smaller deficits and debts argue that lending to economies should be a matter of each state individually, through current support mechanisms. Countries with higher deficits, such as Italy and Spain, which will need large packages to support their own business groups, argue that this lending should be done on a "debt pooling" basis.


What is being confirmed once again is the fraud of "European solidarity". The EU and the Eurozone are by nature alliances of competing states and economies that, especially in times of crisis, "show their teeth" to one another and above all to peoples. So those who are bemoaning again about the cohesion of the EU and the "common European house that is threatened", know that this false image is fading in the eyes of the people. The collapse of already inadequate public health systems, despite the heroism of the healthcare professionals, the millions of layoffs in all countries, the overcrowding of workers at factories at the risk of their health so as not to lose any profits, the competition of pharmaceutical companies and healthcare material suppliers that deprive valuable supplies, compose the disgusting image not only of the EU but of the entire capitalist world, even in the countries - “showcases” that are at the top of the imperialist pyramid. It is also confirmed that the bourgeois management mix that is selected each time, is not determined by the particular political views of each bourgeois government, but by the needs and priorities of the capital at a given time. For this reason, after all, we have seen social-democratic forces, such as SYRIZA in Greece, implying restrictive policies that they allegedly opposed, as well as neoliberal forces now implying a more expansive policy, which they have previously criticized. This is nothing new. Modern history is full of such examples. In any case, the common denominator is the following: The workers are the ones who will be called to pay the price of the new rescue packages again. The workers paid for the memoranda and the harsh anti-popular measures in recent years, and they will be called to pay the new loans and deficits, together with the new measures already being tested in the "healthcare experimental tube", on the pretext of the pandemic.


This is what we are experiencing in Greece at the moment. On the one hand, thousands of layoffs, harmful changes of employment status, workers with flexible employment relationships who are not even entitled to the meager benefit of 800 euros, the destruction of self-employed professionals and farmers. Οn the other hand, a huge amount of money for big companies and banks. This is the policy that the  ND government serves. This policy, with minimal differences, mainly in terms of the support schedule, is also highlighted by SYRIZA's "front-loaded" program. In fact, this even greater convergence between ND and SYRIZA, which is taking place on the ground and under a propaganda mantle of a false "national" responsibility and unity, may determine the political developments in the next period. This is nothing new either. Their signatures' ink on the third memorandum is barely dry. When the stability of the system requires so, they put aside these, now indistinguishable, differences. Both of them hide the essence: that from this enormous crisis it is not possible for both the capital and workers to win. Someone will lose and someone will win. And this struggle for tomorrow must be organized right now by the working class and the other popular strata. With demands and goals of struggle that are born today, in the struggle for health, life, daily survival, but that also target the real opponent, the capital, its governments and alliances.


Therefore, the "Great Idea", promoted by the capital and its ubiquitous political representatives, for a "new Marshall Plan" for the reconstruction of Europe, which is supposed to be without commitments and memoranda for the people, beneficial for both the capital and workers, is completely deceptive. The parallels they make with the post-war Marshall Plan, even presenting it as a "quintessence" in favor of the peoples, are funny. In fact, this historical manipulation is not only carried out by the ideological and political descendants of the supporters of the Marshall Plan, but also by so-called "left" forces, which simply confirm their complete bourgeois social-democratic mutation. It is worth remembering that the American funds that flowed into the ruined post-war Europe, as part of the Marshall Plan, in the second half of the critical fifth decade of the last century, was not an act of solidarity with the European peoples, but only a vital energy action for the capitalist system itself. They were used, on the one hand, for the capitalist reconstruction of Europe, which was crucial for American exports, and on the other hand for halting socialism and the revolutionary labor movement, which emerged from World War II with great prestige among all peoples of the world. For this reason, after all, a large part of the Marshall Plan was directed at infrastructure, e.g. military infrastructure, as in Greece, aimed mainly at the socialist system and the struggle of the peoples. However, the necessary post-war state intervention for the reproduction of the capital and the creation of critical infrastructure, neither interrupted the vicious cycle of crises nor ensured the prosperity of the peoples. The offered benefits, also aiming at integrating workers' and people's forces, bore the stamp of the glory of the social achievements in the USSR and the other countries of socialism, but also of the very struggle of the peoples of Europe.


Today, unfortunately, this formidable adversary does not exist. The peoples, however, will come out from this crisis with greater experience. The huge impasses and historical bankruptcy of the current exploitation system are becoming even more apparent today. It is up to the people to organize the struggle, their own alliance. To respond with the plan and the political proposal that is currently being promoted only by the KKE in our country. To respond aggressively to where the resources will come from, who ultimately produces all this wealth that few usurp. Promoting and demanding the above from today, and in the special conditions of the restrictions, with greater intensity and other ways and forms on the next day, is a basic condition for preparing the people's counter-attack, cultivating a climate of readiness, rallying and wide Social Alliance with the working class at the forefront. Promoting demands and relief measures for private and public sector employees, self-employed professionals - craftsmen - traders, scientists who work with service contracts, farmers, women and children of popular families, for the protection of people's health, for education and culture, for solving the refugee issue, by restoring democratic rights and freedoms, repealing any laws that restrict trade unionist and political action, stopping the intensifying repression, go hand in hand with revealing the causes, the great responsibilities and the need for the burden of the crisis to fall on the capital and not on the working class and the popular strata. With a simultaneous abolition of all previous memorandum laws and recent anti-popular measures. With the abolition of tax exemption for the monopoly groups, as the taxes must be paid by the plutocracy of the country. By combating profiteering and black marketeering. With the demand to cancel the state debt that was not created by the people who pay it dearly and continuously all these years. With the withdrawal from the program and the dangerous plans of NATO, which we pay 4 billion euros every year as a country. With the total and redemptive conflict for our people and disentanglement from the imperialist alliances of NATO and the EU. To illuminate the only way out, which lies in the superiority of socialism, social ownership in the means of production, scientific central planning, labor participation and power, which leads to the prosperity of the people, peace and the progress of humanity.