Greek Young Communists ‘Combatively Marching for a Socialist Tomorrow’
From Rebel Youth
From the 19th to the 21st of December, the Young Communist League of Canada attended the 11th Congress of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), held under the slogan “Pioneer youth of KKE (Communist Party of Greece), combatively marching for a socialist tomorrow, without crises, wars or exploitation.” It was an occasion to reinforce the ties between our organizations and increase collaboration based on the principles of proletarian internationalism.
Among European countries, Greece is certainly the most ravaged by the current crisis of capitalism. After two memorandums imposed by the Troika (European Union – IMF – World Bank), the unemployment rate totals 60% among youth, and yet, this has not been enough. In 2014, a restructuring plan forced the loss of almost 500 000 jobs in the public sector. Hospitals and schools are closing and the population now relies on help from the Red Cross and other humanitarian associations to provide them with the medical care they need. As for education, with the quality of the public system declining, parents are turning towards private schools, with Greece having the highest enrolment in private schools of any country in the EU.
In these conditions, a new political alignment is developing with the rise of two forces aimed at safeguarding the system.
One is the ultra-right fascist and nazi movement Golden Dawn, which has made dangerous gains in popularity, especially among the popular unorganized masses. Through anti-system rhetoric, Golden Dawn spreads an anti-communist, anti-immigrant, and anti-organization ideology, although it benefits from the support of the biggest oligarchs like the boat construction corporations. Objectively, their main targets are the communists, who they physically attack violently.
The other emerging political force is the opportunist and social-democratic party Syriza. The party uses leftist rhetoric, but the truth is that this formation does not advance the interests of the working class and the popular masses. As a member of the European Left Party, an organization funded by the EU with the aim to liberalize and liquidate European communist parties, it advocates for a ‘better’ or more ‘fair’ integration of Greece within the imperialist EU alliance. Its true role is to replace the traditional social-democratic forces after they became too compromised by their implementation of austerity measures. Social democratic parties across Europe, like the SPD in Germany, PSOE in Spain or the PASOK in Greece have adopted austerity programs.
Despite these particularly difficult conditions, the Communist Youth and the Communist Party of Greece are still strongly organized among the popular masses, as the last European and Greek municipal elections demonstrate, as well as the success of the frequent strikes organized by PAME, the communist led trade union movement. The 11th Congress of KNE is also an example of the vitality of the communist movement in this country. With almost 1000 delegates gathered to discuss the thesis and the statutes of the organization for three days, along with 20 international delegations, the least we could say is that we were in the presence of a massive and organized movement with a rich history of struggle.
A Congress focused on how to better connect with the youth
As the “bearer of communist ideology and the program of KKE towards the new generations”, the KNE unanimously accepted the program of the Communist Party, with discussions mainly focusing on how to apply this program among the youth and on the evaluation of the work achieved since the 10th KNE Congress in 2010. In total, 70 young women and men intervened during this discussion and no less than 111 written contributions were presented.
The general feeling was positive towards the achievements since the last congress and that it was necessary to forge ahead in the same direction, but that there was a necessity to increase standards and develop campaigns such as the promotion of popular sports and culture while fighting their commodification, campaigns for international solidarity, against fascism, etc.
Most of the interventions attempted to answer what was identified in the theses of the Congress as the main challenge: “the need to conquer the necessary ability of how to intervene within the masses of youth”.
The international activity of KNE was also discussed and the theses outlined the importance of a strong global communist and anti-imperialist movement. The KNE’s committed itself to strengthening joint actions with communist youth organizations, doubling efforts to contribute to the regrouping of the international communist movement and to the reinforcement of the World Federation of Democratic Youth – the youth’s main anti-imperialist organization, of which the YCL-LJC Canada is also a member.
The Congress benefited from the presence of guests from the labour movement, cultural and intellectual scene, and from the ambassadors of Cuba and Palestine.
The unity of the congress was also a key characteristic of the meeting: the proposal for the political bureau’s renewal, the remarks of the Central Council and the statutes were all adopted unanimously by the congress.
International delegations meet with Dimitris Koutsoumpas and Thodoris Chionis
As previously mentioned, the Congress benefited from the strong presence of international delegations: 20 communist youth organizations from around the world were present. To name a few: EDON from Cyprus, CJC and UJCE from Spain, KP from Turkey, ULDY from Lebanon, Syrian Communist Youth Union – Khaled Bagdash, COMAC from Belgium, JCP from Portugal, FJC of Mexico and many other organizations were present. It was an occasion for the YCL-LJC Canada to strengthen bonds with these organizations and to discuss our different activities and struggles against imperialism.
Comrade Koutsoumpas also stressed the importance of our actions as the development of a global war in the near future cannot be ruled out due to sharpening imperialist contradictions worsened by the economic crisis. An economic crisis, which despite what is being said in corporate media, is far from over. Actually, as he outlined, there is even a danger of a successive economic crisis, which would be very likely to lead to larger conflicts. Therefore, he identified as a necessity that in order to strengthen the anti-imperialist movement, we should adopt a unique position in the eventuality of an imperialist war, that we refuse all imperialist alliances and that we refuse to enter in a governing coalition in any government within the bourgeois framework. He also reiterated and stressed the importance of promoting solidarity with oppressed peoples in countries such as Palestine, Cuba, Venezuela, Cyprus, etc.
During his address to the Congress, Comrade Koutsoumpas also made the position of KKE towards the new Greek general elections clear: Greek people should not have any illusions about these bourgeois elections, as opposed to the opportunistic party Syriza, which spreads the illusion that a governmental shift is enough to improve the situation for the Greek people.
The main enemy is not Samaras right-wing government, but the capitalist system itself, which Syriza has not rejected. Despite its radical words, it never opposed the “flexibilization of labour” reforms, it never had a clear stance towards the ‘renegotiation’ of the debt, it has decided it is not necessary to leave NATO or the EU, it never clearly opposed capitalism, and therefore, it cannot achieve the interests of the people which can only be answered by socialism. Tsipras, Syriza’s main leader, met several times with the ‘City boys’ of London, with IMF and with European Union traders to ensure them that they will find mutually beneficial arrangements. In brief, he wants to promote his political formation as a contender to form a legitimate government ruling in conformity with the rules dictated by the system.
To the KKE, it is more than clear that it is by strengthening the movement and organizing the class struggle, with actions like this November 27th’s general strike, that austerity policies will be defeated and only that way will it be possible to overthrow capitalism.
Connecting with history
The current communist youth organization of Greece, the KNE, was created in 1968, during the military dictatorship, after a decision of the KKE, but the KNE sees itself in continuity with the previous communist youth organizations. The first youth organization of the KKE was OKNE (Federation of Communist Youth of Greece, 1922 – 1943) which fought, among others, the Italian and German fascist occupation of the country during World War 2, along with EPON, the youth of the National Liberation Front (EAM). During the bloody civil war (1946 – 1949), the “Democratic Youth” fought along with the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE) in order to overthrow bourgeois power under the guidance of the KKE.
As international delegates, we were also invited to take part in events recalling the lasting struggle of the KKE, and the youth. We were taken to Kesariani, a suburb located in the south-eastern part of greater-Athens. This town is locally known as Mikro Stálingrad (‘Little Stalingrad’) as it was the theatre of one of the bloodiest Nazi occupation scenes in the country: on May 1st 1944, 200 communist militants were savagely assassinated as a retribution for the assassination of German general Franz Krech a few days before.
We had the opportunity to visit the martyrs’ monument and pay tribute to those who had fallen during their fight for the country’s liberation, along with the newly elected communist mayor as well as with a former mayor and now president of the local association of veterans of the Democratic Army who lived this tragic episode and who took the time to relate to us his experience.
Although this might seem like old history, we all agreed that this reminded us what we are fighting for. As a closing remark, our guide stressed the importance of our struggle against the barbaric system that produces wars, exploitation and imperialism.
The necessity of this fight is more salient than ever. The world has changed since the creation of the KKE in 1918 and of the KNE in 1968. However, the new objective conditions in which our organizations must evolve does not mean our political project, our analysis, and our ideology have, to be abandoned. It means that we need to analyse the new challenges that we are to face and be ready for them. Through its 11th Congress, Greek young communists proved to be prepared to keep fighting.