Convention Discussion: The Struggle in Greece — Marxism vs Liberalism

BY: Wadi’h Halabi| May 19, 2010

This article is part of the discussion leading up to the Communist Party USA’s 29th National Convention May 21-23, 2010. takes no responsibility for the opinions expressed in this article or other articles in the pre-convention discussion. All contributions must meet the guidelines for discussion. To read other contributions to this discussion, visit the site of the Pre-Convention Discussion period.

All contributions to the discussion should be sent to for selection not to the individual venues.For more information on the convention or the pre-convention discussion period, you can email

What is the extraordinary struggle in Greece really about? Hundreds of thousands of workers, retirees, immigrants, youth, housewives and self-employed, led by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the trade unions, have been marching to protest the IMF/EU/Wall Street “bailout” of “Greece”.

A Marxist analysis leaves no doubt that this struggle is over which basic class – the workers or the capitalists – will rule society, and in whose interests. The workers’ interests are to meet human needs, from peace and bread to knowledge and art. The KKE has been raising both points – which class will rule, to serve what interests.

The capitalists try to hide the truth. But the interests of the exploiters – whose ranks extend beyond Greece to the biggest owners of capital, based here in the USA – are to enrich themselves, assure payments of debts owed them, and protect their rule. The conditions the exploiters have placed on their “bailout” of “Greece” include cuts in wages, pensions, education and social services. As in previous crises of capitalism, including those of 1907 and 1929, the exploiters’ interests set the stage only for the “growth” of hunger, war, ignorance, environmental destruction, national chauvinism, attacks on immigrants, women and youth.

Enter one of US imperialism’s top liberal propagandists, the Harvard University economist Dani Rodrik. Rodrik recently authored an article, “Greek Lessons for the World Economy.” This article was unfortunately positively introduced on one of the CPUSA’s public web sites, that of Political Affairs, long identified as the theoretical organ of the Party; and also on the “Socialist Economics” site, which is hosted by an individual identified with the Party.

However unconsciously, Rodrik’s article advances the interests of the exploiters, which as stated earlier, sets the stage only for hunger, racism and war, and deeply in opposition to the interests of workers. How so?

According to Rodrik, the EU-IMF “bailout” package gives the Greek government “the breathing space needed to undertake the difficult job of putting its finances in order.” Yet even some bourgeois analysts, such as Niall Ferguson, have long been pointing out that the “bailout of Greece” is actually only a bailout of the big banks, which are mainly US-based, and which really means a bailout of the largest owners of capital. Rodrik’s is quite a telling omission.

Why does Rodrik think the government faces a “difficult job”? Because the bankers’ bailout requires weakening and cheapening labor, cutting wages, pensions, education, social services, etc. in efforts to service the debt. Why would the Greek government – which is led by a formally socialist party – advocate that? Rodrik does not say, and this can only contribute to confusion among workers and oppressed.

Communist Parties are committed to speak the truth. Marxism – the scientific, revolutionary philosophy of our parties and of the working class – understands that the government of a bourgeois state is its “executive committee,” charged with protecting the power of the exploiters as well as maximizing profits and debt servicing.

The government’s three tasks are related but not identical. In a period of revolutionary crisis, protecting the power of the exploiters takes precedence, even if profits and debt are temporarily sacrificed, they can be recovered later if the power is preserved.

Rodrik also does not mention that the government of Greece has the highest war budget of any EU member, measured as a share of the economy. A good part of the government’s debt was incurred purchasing weapons. Why is the Greek government on such a war footing? Not least, because it has been unable to break the resistance of workers, their unions and Communist Party, resistance expressed in recent years with physical blocking of US-NATO shipments for their aggressions in the Balkans, Iraq, and elsewhere.

Rodrik’s pseudo-scientific analysis contributes to confusion, not class clarity, on a fundamental question, in the midst of one of the most important class struggles to develop in Europe in many years.

But Rodrik’s “contribution” to imperialist propaganda does not stop here. He repeatedly makes references to “democracy.” But as Marx and Engels pointed out over 150 years ago, there is a world of difference between bourgeois democracy, one of the forms by which the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie expresses itself, and workers’ democracy, which is open about expressing the necessity for workers’ power and its liberating potential. Once again, Rodrik’s “contribution” adds confusion, not clarity, on a most basic question.

Rodrik’s “contributions” to Wall Street’s interests continue. Long an advocate of reactionary IMF interventions, Rodrik defines this as a “financial crisis.” But the financial crisis is just a symptom of a CRISIS OF A SOCIAL SYSTEM, A CRISIS OF CAPITALISM.

He talks about “globalization.” But as many comrades have long pointed out, as with “democracy,” there is a world of difference between capitalist “globalization” and working class globalization. Capitalist “globalization” – NAFTA, WTO, etc. – has only meant an escalation of competition among the workers of the world, driven by the deepening contradictions of capitalism. It has resulted in destruction and decay, not development, of much of the industry and agriculture of Mexico and many other states. Working class globalization spells international cooperation to meet human needs.

As with the crises of 1907 and 1929, only the working class led by its Communist Party, grounded in Marxist theory and practice, can point the way out of the present crisis, which threatens the social and environmental foundations of human existence. This is true in Greece, Portugal, and worldwide.

What does the international working class support in struggles such as the present one in Greece. Certainly we favor sharply progressive income taxes, a demand already raised in the Manifesto. We support banning of all speculation, not least speculation in currencies, which threatens to destabilize the world economy; and we support the immediate confiscation of the assets of those who engage in speculation, including the owners of banks, hedge funds, etc. and those who lend to them. And we support canceling the debts owed to the banks, while excluding debts owed to workers (such as pensions) and small business owners.

The alternative is that the exploiters will cancel debts owed to workers and cut wages, benefits, pensions, etc. – which what the capitalist state did last year, on behalf of exploiters, against the auto workers of Canada, Mexico and the US and all their unions, including the CAW, USW, IUE-CWA as well as the UAW. We in the US have a special responsibility to solidarize with the struggle and defend the Greek working class and its organizations against Wall Street and its state, which is certain to resist the struggle to cancel the debt.

 And what would the workers use the freed up funds and resources for? How about to meet human needs, whether for food, shelter, education, health care, needed infrastructure, jobs and yes, recreation. Marx and Lenin, not Rodrik and his classmates, point the way forward in Greece, and the world.


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