Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Dimitris Koutsoumbas' speech: "With the KKE, for the great, the beautiful and utterly amazing, for Socialism!"

The events of the 48th Festival of KNE-Odigitis in Athens were successfully completed on Saturday 24 September. The huge “Antonis Tritsis” Park proved too small to host the tens of thousands of people and youth that participated inthe events. 
The Festival culminated with the keynote speech of the GS of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Dimitris Koutsoumbas, preceded by an address by the Secretary of the CC of KNE, Nikos Ambatielos.

The full speech by Dimitris Koutsoumbas reads as follows:
“Dear friends and comrades,

Every corner of this red city echoes with the words of Nikos Beloyannis, who with a carnation in its hand, a bright smile and an unwavering stance before the firing squad, opened the way to immortality.

Yes, the message of hope of the Festival of KNE-“Odigitis” is reverberating everywhere:

In an aging world that gives birth to monsters and can only offer nightmares, the young generation with the KKE can fight and build “the great, the beautiful and utterly amazing”; Socialism!

We are proud that with our unwavering action we give meaning to what is great and important in life. Because what is great is to become one with the thousands suffering exploitation... What is great is to “give a knife to all” so as to become “light” and “mind”[1]...

For dreams to avenge, for the youth to live as they deserve in today's world... What is great is not to conform to the suggestions of the well-fed of the system about what is “realistic” today...

That is, to be with the militant workers at the COSCO port who raised their fists, fought and succeeded! And not to be seduced by those who serve the notorious “flagship investments” and want crippled workers and rights.

It means taking a stand by the side of the wives and children of the workers of LARCO metallurgical company, in whose hands the slag becomes gold, and not with those who decide to “cleanse” the companies of workers.

It means standing with the construction workers who are working exhaustingly on the construction sites, climbing the scaffolding, and finally signing a Collective Agreement thanks to their struggles, and not with those who tell them that “it is futile to fight, because struggles bear no results”!!!

What is great is to embrace the innocence and impetus of the school students... To chant songs and slogans along the university students fighting for education and life...

And not to be on the side of those who insult and slander them aiming to suppress their struggles, either by the riot police as New Democracy (ND) does, or by  reactionary calls to avoid “further tension” and wait for a ...”saviour” instead, as SYRIZA claims.

What is great and worthy is to be everywhere, where injustice grows, where repression and authoritarianism is intensifying, where the cries of the oppressed rise so that no one walks alone!

What is great and worthy is not shutting your eyes, but denouncing the horrors of capitalism...

Because horror is when 6,500 workers are losing their lives preparing this year's World Cup in Qatar. The great veteran footballer Cantona denounced the fact and stated that “sometimes in life you have to take decisions”!

Indeed! All the young people today need to arrive at such a decision, to get rid of the horrors of capitalism. To fight together with the KKE, for what is great, beautiful and utterly amazing! For putting an end to capitalism and paving the way for Socialism–Communism!

Because today the resounding YES coming from all of you, the young women and men, when agreeing on our statute and joining KNE, is actually a resounding YES to a difficult but extraordinary journey.

To the struggle for a society in which everyone will work according to their abilities and will be paid according to their needs; a society that will be truly in favour of the people.

For a society where freedom will mean full employment; where each and every one of us will have a stable job and enjoy the fruits of our work. Where the relations of people will be freed from all economic and other constraints, where true love and solidarity will be put into practice under the slogan “one for all and all for one”!

For a society —which we are certain will come and triumph through our struggles and sacrifices— where there will be only one “constraint”; the prohibition of exploitation of man by man, that is, the prohibition of injustice.

We do not put off this vision–aim, this purpose, for the distant future. Nor, of course, do we give up the daily struggle for a living wage, social security, education, health, for a decent income of farmers and self-employed. We are everywhere, and we are always at the forefront.

Through today’s struggle, through the cracks we cause, we show the great avenue to counterattack and victory!

Dear friends and comrades,

For 48 years now, on “Saturday nights” just like this one, the Festivals of KNE have always “smelled sweetly of basil and fresh whitewash…”[2]

            The longings, sufferings, and bravery of the toiling people have been sung in the red cities of this Festival. Our people’s struggles have been praised along with those unbowed by the class struggle.

Like our comrades who, before facing death, feasted and danced in circles, confident that life would find the strength and win!

Through the works of great artists, and those of young artists… Through the theatrical sketches that school students prepare and present… Through the art contests and the invitations to visual-arts creations, the youth defy the bourgeois power and dream of a new society.

For once again, this great, magnificent political and cultural event is unfolding before our eyes. For 3 days, 350 artists perform on the 5 stages of the Festival in Athens. Delegations from 35 communist and anti-imperialist Youth Organizations are here with us. Amongst them, side by side, are comrades from the Youth Organizations of Ukraine and Russia. So are comrades from Turkey, Syria, and Cyprus; all joining hands, and raising their fists.

Comrades from our beloved Cuba are also here with us. We express our solidarity with their struggle against the crushing blockade imposed by US imperialism. We would also like to wish every success to the International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties, which will be hosted in Havana by the CP of Cuba!

We welcome the thousands of young men and women that are flooding the  Festival tonight at this great, utterly amazing gathering, for which there are no words. It’s a true oasis, an outburst of hope and optimism against everything rotten they are trying —by hook or by crook— to make us love…

But we “have loved life so very much,”[3] that is why we unwaveringly struggle with all our might to make it beautiful.

“Don’t yearn for our yielding”, we answer in one voice! We love “the man whose steps they thwart, the man they chain.”[4] We raise a wall against racism and smash fascism!

We join hands and form a chain against the multiform violence against women in Greece and around the world, particularly these days in Iran. We fight against authoritarianism, repression, the university police, and all kinds of moles and “eavesdroppers” of the state of capital’s dictatorship.

It is, indeed, utterly amazing to struggle, sing and firmly believe that no matter “how dark the night may be,” dawn is not far behind, and that “our most beautiful days are yet to come.”[5] What is happening here today is, indeed, utterly amazing!

Tens of thousands of people are enjoying themselves and, at the same time, are talking about school, universities or their jobs. They’re discussing how to organize their struggle, how, together with the KKE, to raise a shield for today, and foster hope for the future!

Indeed, that’s what is most urgent today! Through our struggle to raise a shield for today, fostering the hope for tomorrow. We can do it!

Without wasting any more time, we must avoid the well-known ‘wait-and-see’ trap set by the system’s staffs. The system wants the people to stand by and passively wait so that they can go ahead with their anti-people plans and crush them.

That is why they tell the people: “Wait until we overcome the economic crisis and growth comes, and there might be something left for you too”, “Wait lest we lose this chance for growth, and we will sort it out later”, “Wait, now there’s this run of bad luck due to the war, as there was last year due to the pandemic”, “Wait until we get through the difficult winter ahead of us”, “Wait until the elections are held in the off chance that something changes”, “Wait, wait” … And they keep the people passively waiting!

Speculation is running wild about the elections. From the discussions on whether the electoral law is going to change or not, to their calculations of whether the numbers add up or not for the next anti-people government.

And here is when Mitsotakis used the term “political monstrosity” —even daring to mention the KKE— so he can work on his narrative–false dilemma. Tsipras does exactly the same thing to fuel their debate...

The Greek people have faced a lot of political monstrosities because all the bourgeois, anti-popular governments are like that: All of them are in fact minority governments, even on bourgeois democracy terms. They serve a minority of the Greek society, that is, plutocracy.

If —the permanent for the bourgeois class— need for “political stability” requires so, it is possible to see a government of ND–SYRIZA together with PASOK. That is because what unites them, such as their common strategic choices, is more significant than what separates them.

Besides, these common strategic choices have led not only PASOK but also SYRIZA to vote for a great part of the anti-popular bills of the “hideous” ND. A few years ago, ND and PASOK voted for the third memorandum, brought by the then government of SYRIZA–ANEL, which was also called a “political monstrosity”.

Ten years ago, it was exactly those common strategic choices and the need for “political stability” at the expense of people that led PASOK, which was considered to be the “light”, to form a coalition government with ND, which was considered to be the “darkness”; something that up to that moment was thought to be impossible, as some of you may remember.

Today, SYRIZA draws similar false dividing lines with the ND to promote the same old story of the supposedly “progressive” or “democratic” governments! Of course, this is a pale imitation, but they have run out of fables...

We would like to make something clear. Besides, they are aware of it, as well as the Greek people: The KKE will not tolerate, let alone support, an anti-popular, bourgeois government, no matter what it will be called.

Those are the true monstrosities from the point of view of the peoples’ interests. In the age of monsters, that is, capitalism which is decaying and all of them try to humanize, peoples can militantly dispel such dangerous illusions.

The KKE struggles to throw —once and for all this time— the era that gives rise to “monsters” into the dustbin of history and create a new world, socialism.

Even though a few years ago some people had difficulties in understanding our position, today they are pleased to see that thanks to one Party, the Communist Party of Greece, which swam against the tide, there are still lively forces in the labour movement in our country, increasing day by day.

Without considering any cost, it neither supported nor tolerated anti-popular governments, as in 2015; that is, the government that would supposedly bring hope from the left, only to crush the labour movement, along with all hope, offering valuable services to the system.

SYRIZA is doing the same today, even talking about a “peaceful revolution”! In our days, whoever uses adjectives to describe a revolution, has already signed a capitulation with the unjust system of exploitation. Therefore, our people should not stand by and watch! They should not tolerate this situation!

Dear friends and comrades,

This normality of the capitalist path of development is the reason for high prices and energy poverty, revealing that, in capitalism, even the most necessary goods such as food, electricity, medicine, and vaccines are commodities and their prices are determined according to profit.

What the capitalists suggest as a medicine for one of the symptoms is actually a poison for the rest:

They channel plenty of state funding, coming from the people, to secure the profitability of business groups and thus raise inflation.

They increase interest rates to tackle inflation, thus increasing the public debt and sharpening competition.

No matter how many measures they take, they will not cure the disease itself, the capitalist profit. They will not cure the major problem found in the DNA of this decayed capitalist system, the over-accumulation of capital that cannot be channelled into a profitable way out.

Look what is happening in the EU, where it was demonstrated that its policy is not a protective shield, as the bourgeois parties propagate, but one of the main reasons for our problems.

Its gifts for this difficult winter, caused by its own choices, include compulsory cutbacks in heating and electricity, very expensive prices and certain allowances coming from the people as taxpayers. In reality, these subsidies will subsidize high prices and the profits of “green” business groups. These subsidies will immediately disappear due to high prices.

They will be subsidies such as the ones announced by the Prime Minister at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, increasing the heating allowance by €100 per household for 3 million households.

In other words, these are merely peanuts compared to the needs of the people, particularly of northern Greece.

The EU has been defeated in the energy war and its peoples will pay the price. It has been proven that the EU cannot make up for the losses of Russian gas. Following the new measures announced by the Commission, international gas prices have risen instead of falling.

Even if its member states agree to place a cap on the price of natural gas, they will not be able to impose it, not only on Russia but also on other suppliers, such as the USA, Norway, and Algeria, as they all refuse to significantly reduce their huge profits.

That is why closures, a decrease in production, and lay-offs have already begun in large energy-consuming factories in Europe, such as in the aluminium and chemical industry. If the war escalates and Russia completely suspends gas supplies, the situation will deteriorate dramatically.

However, the soaring energy prices are not only due to the escalation of the energy war between NATO–the EU and Russia. Fuel and electricity were expensive commodities long before the military conflict in Ukrainia broke out. The continuous increase in prices results from the liberalization of the energy market in all its forms, such as the Energy Exchange —which is the realm of profiteering— introduced by SYRIZA that now act all innocent.

They keep saying “Greece should become like the rest European states”, as if the peoples everywhere do not face the same dead-ends, as if all governments are not preparing to shift once again the burden onto their peoples.

They will do the same in our country, no matter how the electoral cooking will end up….

They only care about one thing —continuing the policy that sacrifices our needs on the altar of the big groups’ profits. This was proven once more, a few days ago, when ND and SYRIZA voted together for the privatization of the Elefsina shipyards, as they had done with the Syros shipyards, by handing them over to the same US group.

Irrespective of the fact that SYRIZA, before coming to power, was talking about the need to ensure public control and ownership of the shipyards! Today, they blame ND for the loss of 51% of the state’s stake in DEI (Public Power Corporation), but it was SYRIZA that ceded its 17% and implemented the NOME system (Nouvelle Organisation du Marché de l'Electricité), whereby DEI was forced to sell the electricity produced to its competitors below cost.

It was SYRIZA along with ND and PASOK that signed the third Memorandum providing for the reduction in the share of DEI to 50% of the total market, in order to accelerate the policy of “market liberalization”.

It was also proved that there are no pro-people formulas in the context of the liberalized market. There were increases in electricity prices burdening the popular households when 51% of DEI was owned by the state, and there are still increases today when DEI is further privatized but the management of the company remains under government control.

In any case, the burden falls on the shoulders of the people! Both when the state subsidizes the profits of the energy groups and when it takes over their losses, as was the case recently with the re-nationalizations in France and Germany. The capital’s state can never be the counterweight, but always remains the supporting pillar of the monopoly groups.

In order to truly relieve the people today it is urgent to:
- take advantage of all domestic energy sources, 
- struggle against the EU commitments, 
- abolish the Energy Exchange, the Special Consumption Tax and VAT on fuel and energy.

All other proposals by the ND government, as well as by SYRIZA and PASOK, are just a way of recycling the problem.

Dear friends and comrades,

The phone-tapping and surveillance scandal is not just another deviation but the normality of a state which shields capital dictatorship to face the enemy, that is the people, and, in fact, at a time when peoples’ anger has been flaring up. This state is profoundly class-oriented and reactionary, whether ND promotes it as “contemporary” and ”digital”, or SYRIZA camouflages it as a ”just” state. Each one of them has supported the reinforcement of this reactionary state!

Because all of them together have formed and strengthened the dark and reactionary institutional framework of the Big Brother which targets the rights and freedoms of the people. And now they are all involved in another scandal.

That is, the deliberate and methodical cover-up of the phone-tapping case overall and especially at the expense of the KKE, as was proven by their stance during the proceedings of the Investigation Committee.

They are absolutely deluding themselves if they believe that they will manage to cover up the surveillance case of the switchboard of the CC of the KKE. The KKE is wise to their game; it is well aware how the mechanisms, means and methods of the state and governments work.

Throughout our history, we have never stopped confronting such issues. And we will continue to do so, because this is the path that our entire people must follow:

They must not to put any trust in but to fight against all sorts of self-proclaimed “saviours”, who only care about safeguarding the interests of big capital and not the people’s rights.

These interests are already written in capital letters within the anti-popular programme of the next government, which they have already drawn up… There is no need for any other special pre-election or post-election gentlemen's agreements between the ND, SYRIZA and PASOK. Because all of them have already agreed in advance on the main, basic chapters of this programme, which are already marked in capital letters.

Their programme includes the “green transition” and “liberalization of energy”, i.e. policies that will make cold winter come early for the popular households, marked in capital letters.

It includes the commitments to the EU and the Development Fund, this new super-memorandum for the people, to which everyone has already agreed, marked in capital letters. Their only dispute is over which monopoly groups will get the hot money; money that once again will be paid by the people.

It includes the dangerous commitments to NATO and the military agreements with the USA and France, which put our people and our country into dangerous military adventures, marked in capital letters.

Dear friends and comrades,

We are indeed experiencing critical moments today. The imperialist war in Ukraine is heading for a new disastrous escalation. New hotbeds of tension and competition are sprouting between the camp of the US, NATO, EU and the emerging Eurasian camp with Russia and China. The sirens of war preparation are howling all around us.

At the same time, a new capitalist economic crisis, perhaps the deepest in the last 15 years, is just around the corner.

When both sides increase the build-up of military forces and materiel, the war is far from over.

The US, NATO and the EU provide with tremendous political, military and financial support. Along with Greece, they continue and escalate the war for the interests of the Western monopolies providing modern war systems, military advisers, mercenaries, and the stocks of NATO countries’ military depots.

The same goes for Russia, which considers to be drifting away from its immediate objectives following the unacceptable and reprehensible military invasion of Ukraine. It takes both political and military measures, by holding referenda on the territories of Ukraine and legalizing paramilitary “volunteer” units, mobilizing partially the reservists of the country, or even threatening to use nuclear weapons.

Today though, we are not at the beginning of the war. Months have passed, and everyone can understand that the bourgeois classes and their imperialist alliances are clashing over the division of mineral wealth, energy, territories and labour force, pipelines and commodity transport networks, geopolitical pillars, and market shares.

Today everyone can understand that the ND government and the other Euro-Atlantic parties, SYRIZA and PASOK, bear heavy responsibility for Greece's involvement in the war. They bear heavy responsibility for utilizing the country's military bases and infrastructure; for sending weapon systems, ammunition, etc; for the enlargement of the NATO alliance with new countries, such as Sweden and Finland, which was approved by ND, SYRIZA and PASOK the day before yesterday.

They bear heavy responsibility because this involvement has turned our country into a launching pad of war, but also a target of retaliation and attacks in a probable spread of the military conflict.

At the last Madrid Summit, the NATO Secretary General already spoke of a “full-scale war between Russia and NATO” leading to “suffering, damage, death, and destruction”!

Their world is precisely like that; full of suffering, damage, death and destruction… It did not get better, as they promised, after the overthrow of socialism. The big words about “stability, peace and security” of the peoples have gone up in smoke on the battlefields.

Dear friends and comrades,

In these circumstances, Turkish aggression escalates. Erdoğan is raving, putting forward unacceptable claims against Greek sovereign rights and the Turkish bourgeoisie is preparing our neighbouring people, who are starving, for war.          

Under these circumstances, the Greek government withdrew valuable military equipment from the borders.

The myths that the involvement in US–NATO plans can shield us against Turkey’s aggression are dispelled. They are dispelled by their imperialist allies who give Turkey their all to keep it away from Russian influence.

However, as they pull the rug from under Greece’s feet, whose bourgeoisie has raised the flag of NATO and the USA in the region, Mitsotakis’ claims, saying “enough with the bravado”, could be easily followed by Erdoğan’s “win-win negotiation”, leading to a painful compromise at the expense of the sovereign rights of the Greek people.

They should have drawn conclusions from history...

A hundred years ago, the Greek bourgeoisie assumed the same role for the sake of its imperialist allies resulting in our people suffering a great disaster, the Asia Minor Catastrophe. That was imposed back then by the so-called patriotism of the country’s ruling bourgeoisie…

Just as it is now imposing the involvement in the war in Ukraine and overall in Euro-Atlantic plans for the benefit of a handful of exploiters.

However, the workers and the toiling people do not have the same interests as the big businessmen and shipowners, who determine their “patriotism” as it suits their own class and their notorious “allies”.

On one hand they are sending materiel abroad, weakening the defense of the country and on the other hand they are cooking up concessions at the expense of the sovereign rights of Greece at the NATO–US negotiating tables. Really, is this patriotism?

Genuine popular patriotism is not the same as the plans of the imperialists. On the contrary, it fights against them! It is imperative that the people do not show any trust in any bourgeois government that involves them in the imperialist war.

It is, after all, well known and generally accepted that war is a continuation of politics with military means!

With the KKE at the front line, all patriots, all people of goodwill can and must organize themselves and struggle for the defence of borders, territorial integrity and sovereign rights. At the same time, they should show no trust in bourgeois governments; oppose participation in any imperialist war; demand that no military forces and materiel be sent abroad; overthrow those who drag them to massacre; struggle to seize power and secure lasting peace and prosperity!

They should side with the communists at the front line so that the people do not pay for the consequences of war; so that they can be saved from hunger and death.

For there is no doubt that even concerning the defence of the country,
“only the people can save the people”!

Dear friends and comrades,

The political parties of the political establishment want to mislead the people…In fact, their aim is to contain the growing discontent and dampen militant spirit.

And yet, if anything positive can emerge for the people, it will not emerge from the handlings and choices made by the ruling class and its parties. It will emerge only from the action and choices made by the people themselves, who do not step aside but come to the fore and become the leading force of developments!

Everything that the people have achieved did not come from waiting for solutions from above; from a bourgeois government that, each time, proves to be worse than the previous one, since the interests of capital and the EU-USA-NATO commitments are the jewel in their crown. Everything that the workers and the people have gained was through their persistent preparation, organization and assertion starting from below: the unions, the associations and the struggle committees, and is grouped into a united front of struggle at national level.

A new militant alarm must be sounded in every sector, workplace and place of studies, in every city, neighbourhood and village, calling for: “The start of fighting and of new struggles”[6]

Together with the KKE, to start changing the correlation of forces everywhere;

From every union and association to parliamentary elections, which will take place by next summer at the latest, and the municipal and regional elections that will take place next October.

The correlation of forces does change, when one supports and trusts those who are constantly fighting to change it! Those who do not care about the consequences, do not compromise, or take a step back, but struggle only to push everyone else forward. They move forward, achieve some victories and prevent the worst from happening. Because they know that the impossible can become feasible.

And so it happened in a number of unions, Regional Trade Union Centres and Federations, because the workers trusted the communists, PAME and other militants who join forces with it.

And so it happened in student unions, where the students trusted the members and supporters of KNE and voted for “Panspoudastiki K.S.”, which took first place in the students’ elections for the first time since 1986. Thus, they spread joy and optimism to young men and women, as well as to older militants.

We need to carry on further down this road. That is why the people need to join forces with the KKE everywhere, in all struggles and elections!

This is the answer today to all those wondering "what shall we do?"

That is exactly what you should do! You should trust the KKE and KNE, participate in the labour movement, the struggles, and join forces with the KKE. So that we can turn things upside down! We can do it!

When the ND, SYRIZA, PASOK, and all the parties of the capital incude the interests of the big capital in their programmes marked in capital letters, the working class, the people, must give a loud response: Strong KKE!

For only the KKE has a contemporary, elaborated programme for the governance of the country with the working class and people in power. A programme based on the productive potential of our country; utilizing the scientific workforce of the country and giving an answer to the crucial issue: The people and youth of this country must live the life they deserve, based on the scientific and technological portential; their real, contemporary needs must be met and be free from the chains of unemployment, poverty, insecurity and war.

Because only the KKE has a proposal for the great social alliance of all the oppressed against the monopolies and their system, aiming at overthrowing them. Because after all, only the KKE can lead the great popular counter-attack.

This is proven every day by the action of the communists and other militants, who fight against all odds for the workers, the self-employed, the scientists, the farmers, all toiling people, young people and women to stand up for themselves.

Because the KKE shoulders a heroic history and experience; the history of the unbowed by the class struggle from which it draws conclusions, becomes more capable and moves forward.

Because only the KKE can inspire the most beautiful, the greatest ideals; those of the struggle for what is great, beautiful, and utterly amazing! Socialism!”

[1]                      “I give no words of comfort/ I give a knife to all/ As I plunge it into the ground/ It becomes light, it becomes mind”, verse from the poem “Odigitis” («The guide») by the communist poet Kostas Varnalis. This poem gave its name to the monthly magazine and Festival of KNE.
[2]                      This is a reference to the song “Saturday Night,” which was sung by Stelios Kazantzidis. Based on a poem by Tasos Leivaditis and set to music by Mikis Theodorakis, the song tells of a beautiful Saturday night that passes and the toiling people have to return to their daily suffering.
[3]                      The line comes from a poem by the communist poet Fotis Agoules, which was set to music by Thomas Bakalakos. The chorus could be translated as following: “Don’t yearn for our yielding for a single moment/ nor as the cypress yields to the tempest/ we have loved life much, so very much.”
[4]                      The line comes from one of Nazim Hikmet’s poems, as translated into Greek by the great communist poet Yiannis Ritsos and set to music by Thanos Mikroutsikos, under the title “Microcosm.”
[5]                      A line from the song “The Most Beautiful Sea,” by Thanos Mikroutsikos. The lines are also based on a poem written by Nazim Hikmet.
[6]                      Verse from a militant song of Mikis Theodorakis with lyrics by Alekos Panagoulis