Skip to content Communist Party of Greece

Personal tools
You are here: Home » News » 2009 » Speech of the General Secretary of KKE, comrade Al. Papariga, at a rally concerning the economic crisis

Speech of the General Secretary of KKE, comrade Al. Papariga, at a rally concerning the economic crisis

Speech by the General Secretary of the CC of KKE Aleka Paparigha
at the rally of workers, employees and owners of small and
medium-sized businesses organised by the
AthensParty Organisation (KOA)

Sporting Stadium 22 January

Theme:The truth about the crisis, our actions and our contribution to the recovery of the labour movement


We would like to express our solidarity with the farmers in their struggle against the CAP and all its revisions, all of which aim to crush owners of small and medium-sized holdings. All working people should stand by the farmers’ roadblocks.

There is a great deal of discussion about the recession and the crisis; it has become the primary issue for all bourgeois governments, while the international capitalist financial centres are looking for ways to normalise the situation in favour of the monopolies and the system.

This isn’t the first time a cyclical capitalist crisis has broken out in one or another country or group of countries, with no effort being made to disorient people from its nature and causes. Bourgeois ideology and policy simply cannot accept that the crisis is not a temporary phenomenon, or recognise the historic limits to the capitalist system, its conflicts and contradictions. However, if the bourgeoisie will not and cannot understand, for the working class and popular strata it is a matter of priority that they understand and draw conclusions, and that they become mobilised and orient their action correctly in order to avoid the worst. The most important thing is for them to be in a counterattack position.

There are opportunities today for the labour movement in Greece and abroad to turn a new page. However, there are a number of prerequisites, one of which is the most basic: the position taken by the Communist Party and the labour movement towards the crisis in each country.

Not that we are blowing our own horn, but it is absolutely true that our Party was ideologically and politically prepared to intervene; its prognosis was correct. From the first moment, we emphasised that the economic crisis – irrespective of how it appears, whether it appears in the movement of capital, in the financial system or the stock market – cannot be detached from conflicts in the production sector or from relations of class exploitation. Crises appear inevitably because the anarchy and asymmetry in the development of branches and sectors, the undermining of the working people’s buying power and the pursuit of competitiveness are all in the nature of the system.

Today we are in a better position to intervene, convince and mobilise. Many bourgeois and opportunist myths have lost their appeal, and more working people are beginning to suspect them. However, it is of critical importance to clarify, as far as possible, what this crisis is and what the stance of the labour movement should be towards it.

With the outbreak of the crisis, the New Democracy (ND) and PASOK parties, as well as the other opposition parties, began railing against banks and bankers for lending money indiscriminately and because there is no transparency in their dealings.

ND blames it all on the international crisis and on the poor management they inherited from the PASOK government; whereas PASOK, with the advantage of being in opposition, can hold forth shamelessly, having discovered that the international crisis has not affected Greece, but that the problem is internal and can be blamed exclusively on ND, the party in power.

These two parties have grasped two different extremes of the issue, each with an eye on the ballot box, but mainly with an eye on manipulating and disorienting the working people.

PASOK and like-minded SYRIZA have no problem distinguishing themselves from ND in terms of phraseology and slogans. SYRIZA harangues shamelessly about the problems of young people, acclaiming them a social force above and beyond the working class and petty bourgeois strata. It has resurrected the old, outdated theories of Marcuse as highly original and revolutionary.

We’ve heard just about everything from cadres of ND and its political analysts, from PASOK, SYRIZA and LAOS about “casino-capitalism”, “extreme capitalism”, and the “greed of the market” that supposedly slipped out of state control, for which ND is to blame. Diatribes have been launched about capitalist “gambling” which, instead of “paying attention to productive investments, preferred to take risks on stock exchanges and in various other money market products”.

There are, however, solid grounds for hope since even though a significant number of working people may not have a clear picture of what is to blame for the crisis, they have nevertheless not been misled into expectations or hopes.

What is important today, when the crisis is still developing, is to clarify its nature


Whereas ND is trying to be convincing about the need for the working people to make new sacrifices, it suits the social democrats and opportunists to put forward – one in an abstract way and the other more specifically – the need for a redistribution of income. In their reasoning, consumption needs to be stepped up, and thus the remedy is to redistribute income in favour of the working people. They pretend not to know that redistribution is determined by whoever owns the means of production, and not to understand that there is a difference between real and nominal redistribution. They likewise pretend not to understand that the system holds many weapons, such as taxation, indirect taxes, labour relations, unemployment and price increases, that enable it to take back with one hand what it gives with the other.

The theory of under-consumption and supported redistribution ignores the other factors that play a role in the appearance of the crisis such as: deregulation of the market; the free movement of commodities, labour and services; competitiveness; anti-imperialist conflicts; Greece’s intermediate and dependent place in the imperialist system; asymmetry and the unequal dependent and interdependent relations within the EU and worldwide; and the anarchy of capitalist production.

With the theory of redistribution, class exploitation is left intact, since in essence they argue that the worker must produce ever more profits for the employer in order to earn a better salary. Otherwise how can the capitalist can afford to pay increases?

They talk to owners of small and medium-sized businesses in the same way, arguing that with their hard work and intelligence, they can secure a larger slice of the pie. We too agree that reducing purchasing power and lowering the cost of the workforce leads to reduced consumption. That is one thing, but to consider this THE SOLE CAUSE is something else altogether.

What workers and employees alike must take into consideration is that the general trend is for labour costs to go on falling. In industry, especially in manufacturing, the workers’ income keeps shrinking, since the share of production and retail trade held by countries like China and India, where wages and salaries are extremely low, is growing steadily. The problem also touches the farmer’s income, and the situation of very small businesses.

Greek and European workers are called upon to give up more and more, to prevent the competitiveness of European monopolies from declining.

The notion that the crisis can be overcome if productive investments increase, because in this way a corresponding number of jobs will supposedly be created and unemployment thus combated, is a deliberate lie told by bourgeois political parties and opportunists. In this way, they justify support, scandalous incentives and subsidies for businessmen, fully aware that the corresponding jobs will not be created and that even worse labour relations will result.


This is why it is important for us to remember, or for young people to learn,
what happened during the crisis in 1973-74 and what the measures achieved that
were taken then ostensibly to overcome the crisis in favour of the working people

The oil crisis of 1973-74 was overcome when a new form of management was adopted. The private banks that had accumulated enormous reserves of capital from the rising price of oil lent generously to the developing countries to ensure super profits.

The oil crisis of the 1970s gradually moved from one country to another, from one continent to another in a new strategy that concluded in 1992 with the Treaty of Maastricht, which introduced the known capitalist restructurings. The first to implement it was Margaret Thatcher. Her policy became known as Thatcherism even though, in reality, this strategy was an obligatory choice for the capitalist world. Thus the bourgeois parties and opportunists navigated the shoals, concealed the contradictions and conflicts, and blamed everything on one person, on one country, as is the case today when the imperialist war was identified with one person, Bush, and one country, the USA.


What really happened?

Greater freedom of action by capital beyond state frontiers was chosen. Privatisations were used; powerful incentives were provided for mergers and buy-outs. The natural result was to make labour relations even worse in the developed capitalist economies. The effect of this policy at the expense of the peoples was certainly not solely socio-economic in nature, but much worse, such as the growing numbers of local imperialist wars over the redistribution of the old and new markets that came into being with the victory of the counter-revolution.

All those who today pretend to criticise the deregulation of the market and the abolition of all obstacles to the global movement of capital and commodities are deliberately misleading the people, as though they themselves had not played a part in today’s phenomena.

For Greece, those responsible have names: ND and PASOK, but also SYN and parties like LAOS today, which also voted for and approved the Maastricht Treaty.


Let us recall what we heard during the crisis
of the so-called Asian tigers in 1998

That was when all the bourgeoisie, compromised petty bourgeoisie and opportunists were railing at profiteering hedge funds, i.e. high-risk products. The World Bank and the IMF were accused then of having contributed to the excessive concentration of capital from all capitalist economies, and of channelling it into the Asian markets that were suitable because the degree of exploitation of the labour force was higher there. Administrative measures were taken, and eventually the crisis cycle closed to reappear before us now. Each time, the crisis is worse than the previous one, and each time the measures taken are at the expense of the working people, but fail to prevent the next cyclical crisis.


The “remedy” for the recession, according to
the bourgeois parties and opportunists

The measures taken by the ND government at the end of 2008 were not substantially different from the corresponding measures taken in the US, the UK and other capitalist countries. All states were careful to support profitability through the banking system, while at the same time the strongest of them took supplementary measures to provide direct support to industries of particular importance to the country concerned.

Both the ND government and PASOK, using different phrases and slogans, say essentially the same thing, i.e. that the maximum collaboration of the social partners and of all the “forces of production” must be secured so that the crisis will be overcome as smoothly as possible. In other words, the class enemies must cooperate, which means that the working class must bow its head until it touches the ground.

At the same time, their choices and proposals have certain specific features: measures to ensure profitability as much as possible, and measures that are the equivalent of aspirins for extreme poverty. They play around with interest rates and compound interest in order to keep the working people dependent on mortgage and personal loans.

Old measures have been resurrected that nobody dared to implement owing to past struggles, such as the three-day working week, job sharing by three people, and working on Sunday, all of which supposedly help small shops, and of course the well known scheme to introduce the 65-hour working week.

Our Party has taken into account the demands that came to the fore with the outbreak of the international crisis, as well as the fact that the crisis will also manifest itself in Greece. We have worked out better the immediate demands and goals of struggle for the working class, for owners of small- and medium-sized farm holdings, and for the urban self-employed. These are largely defensive measures, but altogether different from the so-called defence measures that the government and the other parties have put forward.

Our positions and demands provide for hitting at monopoly profits, changing the correlation of forces to the detriment of ND and PASOK, and strengthening KKE , whereas their measures are no more than aspirins that some of the working people pay for, or measures that foster the logic of acquiescence, submission and withdrawal, that facilitate the alternation of the same policy in governance

But if we stop at defence measures, the trend of lowering manpower costs will not be reversed, nor will the trend of displacing owners of small and medium-sized farms owing to the general policy, and particularly that of the new CAP. We cannot stop at defensive measures because, even if the purchasing power of the working people improves somewhat, the trend of turnover being concentrated in department stores and large construction companies will not be stopped.


The reply to the questions posed by the working people:
“Yes, but what do you propose for now?” or “What can be done here and now,
because we can’t wait for tomorrow?”

There are many measures that the government can accept, but they will be altogether against labour and against the people. We are not talking about proposals here, but about measures imposed by the movement of the working class and owners of small and medium-sized businesses in the city and countryside

Let us learn from the so-called realistic proposals of the other opposition parties. Some of them might very easily be accepted by the government, precisely because they do not affect the core of its policy. One example: the government adopted the proposals regarding VAT on agricultural produce that were put forward by farmers’ union bosses, whereas we propose that it be abolished. The government adopted SYRIZA’s proposal to change the examination system regulating entrance to higher education, some variation of which it is preparing to foist on us.

The goals of struggle that we propose are for the benefit of the people, which is precisely why neither the government nor PASOK accepts them. Therefore, we are talking about the correlation of forces, and what is happening with the class struggle and the social alliance.

Regarding SYRIZA, its proposals do not go beyond the prevailing logic. And since it has to deceive people further (because on the one hand it feels squeezed by the ideologically related PASOK, and on the other because it wants to be considered a radical force and a barrier to KKE  proposal), it puts forward positions and demands that after a while it changes, blurs and compromises.

The most serious thing is that SYN/SYRIZA detaches its positions from the strategy of the monopolies, and argues that a progressive, left government could restore order and, through different management, restrict and change the nature of the monopolies, capital and even EU commitments.


What should be done by the working people struggling to find a way out?


The MAIN ISSUE IS: what is being done by those who, for whatever reason, have diminished their activity, who left the movement feeling discouraged and disillusioned after the victory of the counter-revolution, and who were influenced by the crisis that the party went through?

What are those people doing who have, quite rightly, lost confidence in ND and PASOK, and who understand the adventurism of SYN/SYRIZA?

What are those people of the Left doing who have not compromised their principles, and are not prepared to reject their experiences?

We will not succeed in anything, nor will we gain the required level of persuasion unless we put forward, simultaneously and broadly, the issue of an alternative proposal for a way out, through the movement, and above all based on the struggle to solve daily problems; unless we do systematic work on the two paths of development for Greek society, unless we raise issues of the prospect of an overthrow at the level of power; unless we work better and more intensively to form the Anti-imperialist Anti-monopoly Democratic Front aiming at power to the people and the people’s economy; and unless the forthcoming general elections and elections for the European parliament show clearly the voters’ decision to punish ND and PASOK and to support KKE .

The struggle of ideas cannot succeed with slogans, but with a lively and detailed discussion, with well worked-out arguments, with patience, persistence and multiform proofs and actions.



In the four years that have passed since our previous Congress, it is a fact that KKE has distanced itself from a number of weaknesses that we stressed at previous Congresses. We have better assimilated the Party’s strategy and the proposal for an alliance in the struggle leading to power for the people and to the people’s economy. But let us admit that we have not discussed this proposal with all the party’s voters, with workers and employees who are interested in listening and in expressing an opinion. We have approached them more closely than before, but less than conditions require.

Today, the ideological struggle is proving to be a critical factor in the organisation and struggle of the workers. The ideological struggle brings results when it is associated unceasingly, and in a well worked out way, with practical activity and with the daily struggle.

Many, if not most, of the working people today are resentful and angry, but at the same time, they believe they won’t be able to survive if their employers stop making high profits. When we talk to them about a rupture, they ask:  “But what will we do if businessmen get mad and leave the country?”

Two basically erroneous views co-exist here. One is the view that fails to see that a society and a people can live without businessmen and monopolies, but that no society can live without the working class and working people. The other view underestimates the fact that, even if businessmen leave, the wealth produced by the working person cannot get up and leave. Mind you, the road we propose is by no means strewn with rose petals, but it is the only way we can hope to live better tomorrow.

Therefore, the Party’s political proposal for an alliance and its programme, our view of socialism, must go forward in conjunction with the struggle and without giving in to the urgent needs of the moment; it must become stronger, make people think, influence minds and topple erroneous convictions have been held solidly for years now.

The battle of ideas does not help knowledge alone, nor does it merely shed light on deceptions and confusions; it can also strike a powerful blow against fear and against the lack of confidence among the workers and popular forces. This is not sterile indoctrination, but a way of working that has been enriched by history, culture and the utilisation of spare time. Let us think more about all this.

It is not enough for hundreds of thousands of working people to admire and appreciate our consistency and militancy; they must be convinced that there is a way out through their own intervention and their own initiative, together with communist men and women.

In order to cope with the ideological struggle, which is also political, all of us have to acquire the higher level of knowledge required for us to be persuasive: knowledge from books and from Rizospastis, from our history but also from developments. Knowledge of the past and present is not enough, we must also acquire collectively the ability to forecast and predict as accurately as possible.

Is it possible for bank employees to cope if they don’t know the nature of the financial system, its role in profit making and in capitalist reproduction?

Is it possible for the working class, at least a good part of it, to talk about profits and capital and to be unaware of the most basic concept, which is surplus value, without knowing that it means obligatory and additional working time, and that working time is used to increase exploitation and profits?

Is it possible for a self-employed person who runs a business alone or with family members not to know what monopoly capitalism means, and to believe that he can preserve or win back the market share he had once, if he can convince the working people to buy from small shops and not from large department stores or supermarkets?

Is it possible for the self-employed man with 1-3 employees on wages or salaries to believe that if he pays them less than the minimum wage he will be saved for long, and will be certain that nothing can threaten him?

He must be helped to understand that in this way he is contributing to the general policy of reducing the cost of manpower, and consequently that he has no hope even of maintaining his turnover. He must understand even more that his own interests, not just today but in the future as well, are more closely linked with those of the working class.

Is it possible today for the owner of small or medium-sized farms, even someone who understands the liabilities of CAP, not to understand that this policy is not bad in itself, but that it is a class choice and constitutes an integral part of the power of the monopolies and the strategy of the capitalist system?

If the men and women working in the textile industry are not aware of the overall course of their own sector and of EU policy in general, they will be unable to understand why it is a declining industry in Greece. They must also extend their knowledge to the relationship between their own sector and the future of agricultural and livestock production.


The false vision given to the people of a “strong Greece in a United Europe

Under PASOK the slogan was “Greece in the hard core of the EU”, “Greece as capital of the Balkans”. Now, ND is shouting that the interests of the Greek people lie in the Greek state and the Greek bourgeois class assuming a leading role in southeastern Europe, as a transit point for commodities, pipelines, telecommunications and transportation networks. That Greece must look outward with investments in Europe and elsewhere.

If the working people do not know the consequences of this class choice, can they hope that better days will come tomorrow?

What we need now is knowledge by branch and sector of the economy, knowledge of the changes taking place in the social field and in education today. Such knowledge is more necessary than ever before.

Today, evidence is pouring in from all sides of the need for radical change, socialisation, cooperativisation, national planning, disengagement from the EU and NATO, and power to the workers and the people. Our political proposal must be popularised boldly and unrestrainedly among the ranks of the movement and in mass struggles, taking into account, of course, that the mass movement is not a Party organisation; it cannot become a party movement, nor is it in anyone’s interests for it to become a branch of or substitute for the party.

We take into account people’s fears, inhibitions, prejudices, ignorance and confusion. We take into account the fact that the movement can and must rally together working people who are influenced by the prevailing policy, who are enthusiastic about solutions that may look good and are accepted by the system, as is the case with reformism and opportunism.

We take into account that today we must focus our attention on new forces, on the reserves that exist, on young people, who are the main target of the system, and on women.

With this position, we are not telling young people only what they want to hear – as some do flagrantly in order to win votes. We address young people under 40 years old more specifically: young people who belong to the working class, poor farming families and the ranks of the self-employed, all of whom are suffering; the young generation who knows that however many degrees they have, it will be hard for them to find a steady job, especially in their chosen field.


Criteria for Regrouping the Movement

1. For the labour movement in particular to gain an anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist direction of struggle, together with the allies of the working class. For as many working and salaried people as possible to understand that they have to get rid of the union leaderships and groupings that have been ravaging the movement’s leading bodies, and to understand the shameful role played by federations such as GSEE and ADEDY, GESASE – PASEGES, GSEBE, ESEE and others.

For united action to be developed among the different sections of the working class, irrespective of whether they are employed in the public or private sector or the former public utilities, and irrespective of labour relations. Young workers and the popular masses must be drawn into organised action and active participation in the processes of developing the movement, and shaping the social alliance of the working class with poor farmers and the self-employed. The movement will not be able to regroup successfully, however, unless it can draw foreign workers, economic migrants and their families into action, unless it steps up the struggle against the phenomena of racism and xenophobia that are exacerbated by crisis conditions.

2. The regrouping of the movement depends directly and critically on reinforcing PAME and PASY, as well as the pole for rallying the self-employed, with the prerequisite and strong demand for specialised action among young people and women by sector and branch of the economy and on social policy. New, mainly first tier union shops and trade union cadres must rally together according to developments and join or collaborate with PAME on specific critical issues until, through their own experience, they conclude that PAME can and must become the only trade union organisation that can represent the working class. This holds analogously for rallying poles in the movements of the self-employed, farmers and students.

3. The criterion for our contribution is not solely our militancy but also our HELP IN ASSURING mass membership OF union shops. Promoting the social alliance is the best and most fertile way to change the correlation and to form the AADF.


The anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist line of struggle is the basic prerequisite for the movement to regroup;

outside it is the bog of concession, inertia and assimilation


A. We denounce privatisations, we emphasise the significance of public organisations and even verticalisation in sectors of strategic importance and public benefit, together with the abolition of flexible forms of labour relations, contract work, etc. and international agreements with the monopolies. This position of ours is totally unrelated to the out-dated demand for re-nationalisation; it is a demand and a context of struggle that looks ahead to socialisation.

B. We put forward and claim combined demands that meet the need to improve the conditions under which the workforce sells its labour and reproduction, in conjunction with the fight against state repression and the network of anti-democratic and anti-terrorist laws. A timely issue is that of working hours, i.e. the 35-hour week as formulated by the class-oriented movement, in opposition to the plans to allow stores to be open seven days a week. We have radical positions regarding redistribution, minimum wages, salaries and pensions, labour relations, working hours and the tax-free minimum, social security, education and health, workers’ housing, social tourism, young couples and motherhood. We fight for exclusively public free education and health, and the abolition of corporate activity in these fields.

We are fighting for measures that combat the inequality of women, while revealing the class nature of feminism. The problems of young couples, children and persons with special needs must become central issues.

We are fighting for uniform benefits in education and health, vacations, utilisation of leisure time and access to cultural goods for the working class, farmers and the self-employed.

We support the abolition of joint ventures between the public and private sectors in the fields of social protection and public works.

We are struggling to transform forests, coasts and open spaces into public property for public use, together with works related to projects for the people, building new spaces that relieve the urban centres, aimed at working people and poor popular strata, with social, environmental and cultural projects, and places for social tourism and public campsites.

The problems of small and medium-sized businesses in the city and countryside are brought to the fore through our position regarding productive cooperativism, the prospect for Greek state trade, and the country’s development and productive potential.

C. We emphasise the multiform participation of the working people in union shops and in other forms, such as committees of struggle where leaderships have paralysed executives or use the organs to hinder the participation of the working people. We focus attention on coordinated work by sector in the places where people work and live. The class orientation of a union shop is not enough by itself, but must be carried over. The point here is to increase the number of organised people and to do this, it is necessary to ensure multiformity, to assign responsibility, and to cultivate the logic of long-term action rather than impatience to have dubious immediate profits, or anxiety to serve current needs.

D. We organise the struggle against the choices of the EU and NATO on terms of disobedience and non-compliance; we put forward the necessity for disengagement. We demand the abolition of agreements with the USA.

We respond to the pseudo-dilemma that a country cannot make it alone when it is outside, much less in opposition to the EU and NATO. Our position must be consolidated that Greece has the capability for growth with some independence, which means independence from imperialist commitments with the guidance of the people’s power.

E. We contribute to reinforcing the international labour movement with a class orientation, in contrast to the European and international organisations that represent employers’ trade unionism, managing the system and hemming in the working class.

F. We contribute to restoring the truth about the contribution of the socialist system, and about the reasons for the victory of the counter-revolution. The movement and the social alliance will not become strong unless they fight against reformism and opportunism.

We will continue as we have been working, but we must work with more demands from ourselves, and learn to be more coordinated.

We can rise to the needs of the movement today. This is the best choice for election campaign work.


Home | News | Campaigns | About KKE | Documents | International Meetings | On the EU | Theory & Socialism | Other Articles | About Greece | Photos / Music | Printings | Red Links | Contacts

Communist Party of Greece – Central Committee
145 leof.Irakliou, Gr- 14231 Athens tel:(+30) 210 2592111 - fax: (+30) 210 2592298 - e-mail:

Powered by Plone