What does the term “left” mean today?
The truth is that it is a term that has been abused by many people over time, both in Greece and internationally.
For example, it means opposition to employer exploitation, to all other forms of exploitation of man by man, to racism, to intolerance. It means always being on the side of the weak, “trembling with indignation at every injustice”, as Che Guevara said.
It means being on the side of all the peoples of the world and opposing those who massacre and oppress them for the interests of the few.
Is SYRIZA a left-wing and progressive party?
What of all the above reminded you of SYRIZA and its governance? SYRIZA has chosen to be on the side of the stability of a corrupt system, of the investors, of the EU, of NATO. Unfortunately, it can’t have it both ways...
Why do you rule out any cooperation with it?
Now it is its own cadres who say that our programmes are incompatible. It took them a decade, of course, to admit it. All this time, they have been deceiving all the people who identify as leftist saying that it is our fault that we do not come to an agreement because we are “hardliners”. Better late than never...
Let me make something clear, though: The fact that we do not take part in an anti-popular government with SYRIZA or any other party of the system does not mean that we do not embrace popular people, honest militants who believed in those parties in the past, were disappointed by them and today see hope only in the KKE.
Moreover, this can be seen in our lists. Look, for example, at the candidacy of Konstantina Kouneva in Athens, who was an MEP for SYRIZA, that also has a special symbolism thanks to the struggles she has waged and all that she has lived through; or Asimina Xirotiri, a candidate in the State list, who in the past was elected Prefect of Thessaloniki and MP for Synaspismos and DIMAR, or other militants who have been elected MPs with SYRIZA and are now included in the lists of the KKE.
Many say that the KKE is ensconced in the opposition.
Would those who say this, and I mean the cadres of other political forces, swap places with us? Let them come with the communists one day and see what it’s like to clash with your employer, to be targeted, to sacrifice your personal time to run around all day to stop evictions and repossessions, to stand by the side of all those who are struggling...
And even doing so without any financial benefit; on the contrary, you could even suffer losses in many cases, because you may be fired or you may pass up a personal opportunity that arises to stay true to your principles.
This is what the communists do, this is first and foremost the opposition of the Communist Party and that is why it must be strengthened, including its seats in the parliament. I can’t imagine that the parties, which argue about whose mansion and pool is bigger, accuse the KKE MPs, who hand over their entire salary in the Party and live like the average worker, of leading a life of ease...
They also claim that a possible governmental cooperation with SYRIZA would force the KKE to compromise and retreat from its “rigid” positions, that is why it refuses any governmental cooperation.
If we were to join any anti-popular government, we would not only retreat from our positions, but we would become something other than what we are and what the workers expect from us, who —regardless of individual differences— believe that the KKE is the most reliable party. Imagine, for example, that if we had been in the SYRIZA-ANEL government in 2015 the privatization of TRAINOSE or the handing over of non-performing loans to funds or the Katrougalos law that cut pensions, would bear our stamp of approval.
Consequently, you would not cooperate with anyone?
We will be the only counterweight to any anti-popular government that will be formed and we will be the only support for the people, who must come to the forefront from the very next day of election in a much more dynamic manner.
The stronger the KKE and the weaker the next government, the stronger the people will be. And our people need a stronger KKE, especially due to what lies ahead. You see what is happening with the banks facing bankruptcy all over the world... These are the well known problems of capitalism but the people will be the ones to foot the bill once again.
Are there no differences between SYRIZA and New Democracy?
There are, otherwise they would be one single party and not two different ones. We are not saying that they are the same, we are saying that they agree on the basics, on the essence, like the issues I mentioned before. That is why SYRIZA voted for half of Mitsotakis’ bills, and vice versa in the past.
Beyond that, they also disagree on some issues because one may get along, for example, with some shipowners, the other with some industrialists or bankers. They certainly have different backgrounds, although SYRIZA has now been organizationally transformed to a large extent; it has reunited the old PASOK and now it is also reuniting the “pro-Karamanlis right-wing”, it is not even the “renewing left” as it used to be called in the past.
And you know very well that these minor differences are revitalizing for the two-party system, because they are also amplified and used to convince the people that these parties are worlds apart, so that when they get frustrated with one they turn to the other and all over again.
Could “statism”, i.e. the nationalization of all services and apparatuses, sound repulsive to large parts of the population?
The people detest the current state, and rightly so, because it is a state hostile to them. Because it threatens them with taxes and repossessions, it passes laws against them, it alternates bureaucracy and fast track processes as it suits it, it does not carry out flood protection works or anti-seismic protection works in schools, it does not clean up the forests so that wildfires are prevented, and so on...
We do not support this state. And we are not just putting forward “nationalization”, like the one that Mitsotakis says he wants to carry out in the case of the Water Supply and Sewerage Systems Company of Athens (EYDAP), while water will continue being a commodity. We put forward socialization. That is to say that businesses, factories, ports, airports, shipyards, railways should be owned by the very workers who work them. Not by making the workers shareholders, as some others say, but by bringing all these under the control of another, genuinely people’s state that we must build from the beginning; a workers’ state and power.
What exactly does the KKE mean by the phrase “when the people decide to do so”? Some interpret this phrase as revolution with arms, others as a general uprising and destruction...
When the people decide to do so, they will find a way to express their will, as peoples have done throughout history. And then nothing will be able to stop them. For you know very well that the Establishment will do everything to prevent such radical changes. We are not afraid of the word revolution, and we declare ourselves admirers of both the revolutions that overthrew feudalism and brought capitalism to every country, such as the French and Greek revolutions, and of course the revolutions that brought socialism for the first time to many countries in the past century, such as the October Revolution in Russia or the Cuban Revolution and others.
This is certainly not about destruction, but about creating a much more just society and a better world.
Under the current international circumstances, in the event that a people’s power is established and all US bases are closed down, would this not constitute an act of hostility towards the current allies, resulting in the isolation of the small Greek state and, even worse, in a “hot incident” with Turkey?
Are you not telling me that today, when we are involved in NATO to the hilt, there are no “hot incidents”? What happened in February 2020 in Evros or afterwards, in the summer of the same year, with the research vessel on the Greek continental shelf; what was that? Not to mention the invasion of Cyprus, which was a real war...
When we deploy the armoured tanks from the islands and send them to Zelenskiy because NATO asks for it, aren't we becoming weaker against the aggressive neighbour?
Won’t the US bases, which have filled the country and are used to send NATO materiel to the north, become a target for attack by the opposing camp if the war becomes generalized and turns into a formal and all-out war between NATO and Russia? We are talking about our cities now, aren't we? Larissa, Alexandroupoli, Chania...
But then we will be completely isolated.
Let me tell you about isolation... Don't the sanctions on Russia, Iran and other countries, in which we participate as a NATO and EU member, isolate us from other peoples with whom we have had and could have relations; peoples that could buy our agricultural products, that could sell us oil and gas as long as we do not exploit our own deposits, that could come to our country for holidays and so much more?
So what you're describing is what we are experiencing right now. Look, we’re not deceiving anyone. And the path we suggest will present difficulties; however, those difficulties will arise on a path that leads to something better.
For many, such a position of independence and neutrality seems like setting the foundation of the country on fire.
We, however, do not seek the isolation of the country, if that is what you mean. Nor do we want to “get out of Europe”, as I often hear people say, as if we’re going to move the country to Australia... Europe existed before the European Union and will continue to exist after it as well.
In order to understand what the KKE is saying, one has to think a bit about things in motion, not in a stagnant way. In other words, it is unlikely that while momentous changes take place in Greece other countries will remain unaffected.
Did anyone imagine 20 years ago that Britain would have left the EU or that Finland, which was considered the definition of “neutrality”, would have joined NATO? Therefore, things are changing. The crucial thing is that the people mark the changes and that they not be dragged behind other interests that determine those changes today.
Disengagement from NATO and the EU is easy on the ear, but in reality it seems like a nightmare.
We will seek equal cooperation with all neighbouring countries as well as with other countries. Only a disengagement from the imperialist alliances we are currently involved in will allow us to do this.
Does the memory of socialism built in the 20th century still cast a heavy shadow particularly on the choices of the masses?
There is certainly some kind of shadow falling over them; however, I don’t know whether it is the shadow of memory or of absence. For sure, serious problems and mistakes occurred in the process of building socialism in the Soviet Union and other countries. Certainly, many people have memory of it in a distorted way because much ink has been spilt for anti-communist propaganda.
However, what mainly weighs them down is the thought that “socialism existed back then but it does not exist today, so it probably failed”. That beacon that allowed us to say to the people “look, they enjoy these rights over there, we can gain them here too, if we struggle in this direction” does not exist anymore.
That is why we have long started and still continue an enormous effort to study and identify the reasons for this outcome. All the evidence leads us to one basic conclusion: that ultimately it was not socialism that failed, but the attempt to solve the problems of socialism with capitalist formulas.